Friday, January 5, 2018

Queen of Shadows Review (Throne of Glass #4)

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
By: Sarah J. Maas

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.




Ok, so if you've read my previous TOG reviews you know that I love this series and this author, so believe me when I say that writing this review is a bit painful for me. I wanted to love this book. I began this installment already loving it based on the last 3 books in the series, but this book didn't do a whole lot for me. Don't get me wrong, by no means did I hate or even dislike it. It just didn't live up to the expectations that I had from the first three books. I did like the overall book, I did. But I don't know that it needed to be over 600 pages long. There was not enough action happening to warrant being that long a novel. 

I loved Manon in the last book, and I loved her even more in this one as her progression has her becoming more caring and more aware of her surroundings and those who lead her. I did not love that for the first half of the book her character was a waste of time. Other than her submission to her grandmother (and coven leader), which we saw the extent of in the last novel, nothing really happened. At least, nothing that made any bit of difference in the end of the book. 

The author introduced another new character that I find myself liking, Elide. I'm not sure yet as to what her powers are, if she even has any, or what her hopes are as far as her future, but I am hoping to see a lot more of her in the next book. 

It was very rewarding to get to see Celaena/Aelin finally get some long awaited revenge on people who have harmed her and the people she cares about in the past. Even more rewarding to see her make a new and lasting friendship with someone that she never used to like. It's nice to see a side of her character that you don't get to see often, a more human side of her. One that's not consumed with war planning and killing, not that I mind those parts of her either, but change is always welcome to keep the character from getting stale.  

The battle that Celaena brings with her  in this book is fantastic. It has been building for the last 3 novels and the end of this novel did not disappoint me in any way. The action, the war against the king, the alliances that Celaena makes along the way were perfection. It was exactly what the author's writing has been promising us throughout this series and we finally get to see it all unfold. 

I know I've made it all sound amazing thus far, but this book took me three days to read. I'm sure you're thinking that 650 pages in three days is pretty good, but for me it's not. Especially with this series. I've been known to devour the TOG books in a day, a day and a half at most; all the while still living my life, going to work, spending time with my family, getting housework done and making meals. I had no trouble plowing through the first third of this book, but once I hit the middle I was so disinterested and bored with the little things that were happening that I had to make myself sit down to read it to get through it at all. I think it took me longer to get through the middle of the book, than it has taken me to get through any of the other books in their entirety. It was painful. But if you read this book, the end is worth getting through the dull middle of the book. 

I have the next book on my shelf ready to read and now that Aeling is in Terrasen I am excited to read the next chapter in her story. The author has been leading up to a much larger war, a worldwide one and if the last battle is any indication of what is to come, I won't be disappointed.

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✫
Probability of Rereading:
Yes


Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Bellevue Square Review

Bellevue Square
By: Michael Redhill

Jean Mason has a doppelganger. At least, that's what people tell her. Apparently it hangs out in Kensington Market, where it sometimes buys churros and shops for hats. Jean doesn't rattle easy, not like she used to. She's a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving business, and Toronto is a fresh start for the whole family. She certainly doesn't want to get involved in anything dubious, but still . . . why would two different strangers swear up and down they'd just seen her--with shorter hair furthermore? 

Jean's curiosity quickly gets the better of her, and she visits the market, but sees no one who looks like her. The next day, she goes back to look again. And the day after that. Before she knows it, she's spending an hour here, an afternoon there, watching, taking notes, obsessing and getting scared. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the market's only park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she'll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants--the regulars of Bellevue Square--are eager to contribute to Jean's investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, it becomes apparent that her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate stranger than death.



I just finished the book a few minutes ago, and wanted to get this review done before I have to start getting ready for work, but I really have no idea what to say about this book. I have no idea what the hell happened or how I feel about it. About halfway through the book I realized that I had no idea what was happening, much like the main character Jean, I couldn't figure out what was real and what wasn't. I never did figure it out, if you're wondering. There was such a complicated web woven, full of strange characters and odd circumstances that I feel as though I needed a road map to navigate my way through it. I did expect a bit more suspense and fear based on the synopsis of the book and there was none of either of those things.

In books like this one the one thing that always stands out is the amazing writing by the author. I can't begin to fathom how, if I felt as though I needed a map to help me figure out what was going on, someone think up such a complicated web of events and characters and so perfectly put them on paper, making them come alive in a way that almost but doesn't quite make sense to the reader. In a sense it's complete brilliance, in another it makes me wonder if the author has a screw or two loose. How can someone so completely comprehend such an intense type of mental illness and then characterize it for other people to read and try to understand? I apologize if this is all gibberish, my brain still feels scrambled and confused. 

As much as I may not completely understand what I read or how I feel about it, and I doubt this will ever be a book I want to reread, I do think this book will haunt me for a while. I have been trying to unravel the twisted ball of yarn, that is this book, in my brain since I finished reading a few minutes ago and am no closer to figuring out the truth. If anything I have created more questions than answers. This was one of the most complicated and well written books I have ever read, and while it may not have been my cup of tea, I am glad I read it. I love a good puzzle every now and then. 

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✫✫ 
Probability of Rereading:
No

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Child Finder Review

The Child Finder (Untitled Series #1)
By: Rene Denfeld

Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too. 

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defenses that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?



I'm going to start this review with a rather embarrassing confession; before last week I had never been on Indigo's website. Sure, I have visited my local Coles bookstore a handful of times (if you understood how much of a ghost town our mall is and how out of the way it is you would understand why I don't go there more often) but I had never gone to their website to order anything or even just browse. However, that changed when I got an Indigo gift card for Christmas and now I'm pretty sure my bank account will never be the same. I decided to buy books that I hadn't heard of and are not already on my 'To Be Read' list, so I chose from their bestsellers sale list, and after reading my way through all the different book summaries one of the books I chose was The Child Finder. I can honestly say that had I been able to view the cover in person it is most definitely a book I would have chosen to read, as I have a penchant for pretty book covers and this one is made of some sort of shimmery paper. Between the shimmery paper, the pretty snow scene and the beautiful blue/green colour scheme I would not have been able to resist it. Usually when that happens, me choosing a book based on the appealing cover, I end up disappointed that the story did not match the cover in greatness, I can honestly say that this book could not be labelled the same way. 

A thriller, mystery is not my typical choice of genre as of late, but it was a reminder to me of how much I really do enjoy that particular genre. The writing came alive in this book and there were definitely some creepy moments when I was glad that I was reading in the middle of the day surrounded by people (yes, I'm a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to suspense). I have to say that I was most impressed by the vocabulary and descriptors used by the author when describing the sexual abuse suffered by victims. It's hard enough to read stories about children being helpless victims, but getting more in detail than necessary has definitely put me off books in the past, however, I do tend to be more forgiving if a book is non-fiction but since this one was not I was grateful to the author for allowing child victims some privacy and dignity when talking about the abuse they receive at the hands of their abusers. She didn't gloss over any detail but rather told it in a way that was heartbreaking and respectful to those children. 

There was a lot more going on in this book than I had anticipated. The main character, Naomi, was investigating two missing child cases simultaneously as well as dealing with her own childhood flashbacks/memories, and her current circumstances with her romantic issues. During all that there were the snow girl points of view. It was a lot to keep track of and sometimes it got a little confusing trying to figure out what was past and current. The different stories could have been more precisely separated to make everything more straight forward. Things got a little slower moving in the middle of the book when Naomi was dealing with her feelings about Jerome, it was dragged on a little longer than it needed to with unnecessary flash backs into their shared childhood. For a romance lover like myself I was surprised that I wasn't all that interested in Naomi's relationship with Jerome, but that really wasn't what this book was about. 

The book ended with Naomi deciding to investigate into her own past and find out what happened to her and were she was. I am looking forward to the next installment and learning more about Naomi's childhood and how she came to be a lost child. If the writing in the second installment is as suspenseful as the first one then I have no doubt that the author will have another bestseller on her hands. 

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✫
Probability of Rereading:
Yes

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Friday, December 29, 2017

Heir of Fire Review (Throne of Glass #3)

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)
By: Sarah J. Maas

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?


I try to avoid reading reviews of a book if I know that I am going to be reading it. I don't want other people's opinions to colour mine in any way. However, I did not own this installment of the Throne of Glass series before reading the first two and my curiosity got the best of me in the time that passed between reading the second and third installments. I read a few reviews on Goodreads and was surprised at some of the poorer reviews. They said that this was the most boring book of the series thus far and they did not enjoy it as much as the first two. If you have read my reviews of the first two books you'll know that I enjoyed them immensely, so I was reluctant to begin this book as I thought it might negatively impact my opinion of the series and make me hesitant to keep going with the rest of the books. If you've already read this book and you're not reading this review I have no doubt that you're thinking 'this girl is an idiot' and you're right. I was definitely being idiotic. After reading the negative reviews and the book, I respectfully disagree with those reviewers; this was, in my opinion, the best book of the series thus far. 


Heir of Fire is the largest book in the series and as such it's also the most action packed. There were three separate stories happening throughout the book and they remained separate through to the end, which I loved. It adds to the anticipation of the next novel; will any of the three story lines intertwine? Will the characters finally meet? What is the purpose of the witch covens the author introduced? Which side will they ultimately be on? 


I think the most impressive part of this book for me was the witch chapters. Typically if there is a standalone story line that doesn't involve the books main character in any way I get bored of it very quickly. No matter how it comes together in the end I always hate the time I feel I waste on things that have nothing to do with the books main plot line and are essentially irrelevant until the very end. I did not ever have that feeling of boredom with this particular story though. The new characters that the author created for this plot and the adventures and trials they endured were engrossing and I found myself looking forward to their chapters. I loved that even with a smaller story than that of Celaena the main character of the witch chapters, Manon, underwent a dramatic character growth that we will hopefully see the repercussions of in the following installments. 


I had a hard time with Celaena's character for the first half of the book as she had gone through some devastating losses in the last book and in this book her character seemed damaged almost beyond repair. She was certainly not the strong, independent character that we had become accustomed to from the first couple of novels. It made it that much more rewarding when at the end of the book Celaena is on her way to becoming stronger and more powerful than the reader could have been prepared for. The author created such a sense of hope in the end of the book that I am dying to get the fourth book to know what happens next. Sarah J. Maas certainly knows how to keep her readers wanting more. 

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✬
Probability of Rereading:
Yes

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

House of Night Review

House of Night Series
(Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, Untamed, Hunted, Tempted, Burned, Awakened, Destined, Hidden, Revealed, Redeemed)
By: P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast

When 16-year-old Zoey Redbird is Marked by a vampyre tracker and begins to undergo the Change into an actual vampyre, she has to leave behind her family in Tulsa and move into the House of Night, a boarding school for other fledglings like her. It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling. She has been singled out by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx. Although Zoey has awesome new powers, it’s not so easy to fit in when everyone knows you’re "special" – and some people wish you weren’t....

As Zoey tries to make new friends and maybe find a hot boyfriend (or three), she comes up against all kinds of evil, from the perfect-looking, super-popular girl with not-so-innocent plans, to the mysterious deaths happening at the House of Night and all over Tulsa, and the beautiful high priestess, Neferet, who seems to have Zoey’s best interests at heart…or does she? Things at the House of Night are rarely what they seem. Can Zoey find the courage deep within herself to find the truth and embrace her destiny?



I want to start this review by thanking my friend Stevie and my sister, Alli, for both recommending this series to me and allowing me to borrow their books so I wouldn't have to go buy all 12 books without knowing whether or not I would like them. There's always a measure of trust that you extend to someone by allowing them to borrow books, especially if they're favourites of yours, and I'm grateful that they trusted me enough to lend them to me. 


This is a bit of a different kind of review as I am going to be reviewing all the books in the series as one. As you all know I am a speed reader, and these books were pretty short compared to my usual novels, with good reason as they are geared to a young adult, almost teen-aged audience. So unfortunately with the speed that I read combined with the length of the books, I read them so fast and so close together that they melded into one another. I read one or sometimes two per day. Honestly, I'm not sure I could figure out which content was in which book specifically to write twelve separate reviews. So please keep that in mind when reading this review. I'm sure some of the books were better than others, and I distinctly remember reading one or two of them and thinking how pointless I felt they were because of lack of detail or lack of main plot involvement. 


When I began the series I was impressed with the idea of teens getting "marked" and thus changing them into vampires. It's an interesting concept of some 'higher power' selecting only certain people to be apart of the vampire race, and even then their place is not guaranteed. It seems they still have to partake in some sort of test that determines if their bodies are even equipped to deal with such a drastic change. It is definitely an original idea that gave me a lot of hope and high expectations right from the onset of reading the first book. Unfortunately, the series overall did not live up to my high expectations and although I did enjoy it for the most part, I was a little bit bored quite a lot of the time. I began the series knowing that it was a Young Adult series, but I really didn't realize just how Young Adult it was. Most of the YA books I read have a level of maturity that I've come to expect from all YA books now, but this series seemed to be aimed for 10-13 year old audiences. Once I acclimated myself to that fact I was able to get into the series a little more, although I have to say, the use of the word "bullpoopie" which is used constantly in all of the books, was the most annoying thing I've ever come across in any book I've read and it was almost enough in itself to put me off reading the books.

The main plot line carried through the entire series, which I enjoyed, much to my own surprise. I usually find that drawn out conflicts can quickly become stale but the authors did a great job at keeping the reader interested in seeing the issue resolved and the villain dealt with.  There were a series of smaller conflicts thrown into every book in the series, and most of them were geared to the 'pre-puberty' audience so there was a lot of relationship issues, boy issues, mean girl issues and friend issues. They were mostly dull and failed to keep my attention, unless they involved characters that I found myself emotionally invested in. 

There were a lot of characters in this series. A lot of main characters even. The forefront character, Zoey, was not a character that I liked. She spent the first half of the series flitting from guy to guy and drawing out her issues with them, making the problems a million times more dramatic than they needed to be. I found her slutty tendencies and her lack of regard for the feelings of the males that she dragged along to discolour my opinion of her early on and she never did anything to raise my opinion of her. She had five close friends in the series, only one of whom I liked. I felt the supporting characters went through more personal growth than Zoey did, so even though I may have been indifferent to all of them in the beginning I grew to appreciate their respective stories. I think the only character that I liked the whole way through the series and really felt for was Heath. He had such a bad hand dealt to him and his character was a genuinely good person. His story was heartbreaking. 

Overall while I may not have loved the series it's a series that needed to be written. It's a fantastic introductory Fantasy series for a younger generation who aren't interested in reading all about sex and more adult problems that they can't relate to. I fully believe that this series could absolutely help turn a young reader into a YA Fantasy fanatic. The authors did a great job at keeping all the content in the books relate-able to pre-teens, while keeping the books age appropriate. 

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✫✫
Probability of Rereading:
No

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Alpha Review

Alpha (Alpha, #1)
By: Jasinda Wilder

The first time it happened, it seemed like an impossible miracle. Bills were piling up, adding up to more money than I could ever make. Mom's hospital bills. My baby brother's tuition. My tuition. Rent. Electricity. All of it on my shoulders. And I had just lost my job. There was no hope, no money in my account, no work to be found. And then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I found an envelope in the mail. No return address. My name on the front, my address. Inside was a check, made out to me, in the amount of ten thousand dollars. Enough to pay the bills and leave me some left over to live on until I found a job. Enough to let me focus on classes. There was no name on the check, just "VRI Inc.," and a post office box address for somewhere in the city. No hint of identity or reason for the check or anything. No mention of repayment, interest, nothing…except a single word, on the notes line: "You." Just those three letters.
If you receive a mysterious check, for enough money to erase all your worries, would you cash it?
I did.
The next month, I received another check, again from VRI Incorporated. It too contained a single word: "belong."
A third check, the next month. This time, two words. Four letters. "To me."
The checks kept coming. The notes stopped. Ten thousand dollars, every month. A girl gets used to that, real quick. It let me pay the bills without going into debt. Let me keep my baby brother in school and Mom's hospice care paid for. How do you turn down what seems like free money, when you're desperate? You don't. I didn't.
And then, after a year, there was a knock on my door. A sleek black limousine sat on the curb in front of my house. A driver stood in front of me, and he spoke six words: "It's time to pay your debt."
Would you have gotten in?
I did.
It turns out $120,000 doesn't come free.



Did you read that synopsis?
Yes? Well, good. Because that's basically the extent of this novel. 
The writing was good, but the story itself lacked....well.....story. There seemed to be no purpose to this book other than writing good sex scenes, and sure, who doesn't love a good steamy sex scene? But in between those scenes should have some content that keeps the reader entertained and want to continue reading the novel. I had a hard time with this one. I felt like I had to keep coaxing myself into continuing to read the book when I really just wanted it to be over.

The characters were shallow and lacked personality. Their actions were never really explained to the extent that satisfied me into believing their actions were warranted, for example, who continues to cash random cheques from a stranger, knowing full well that they don't come without strings attached? Furthermore, who willingly goes with a stranger, to meet another elusive stranger and allows themselves to be told what to wear and blindfolded?? Honestly, just reading the account of the interaction was enough to make me uncomfortable, but to make myself believe that anyone would be stupid enough to put themselves into that situation is beyond comprehension. 

Seriously readers, do yourselves a favour and skip this book. Again, props to the author on her descriptive writing style, but next time add a bit of story between those sex scenes to keep us interested!

Final Rating:
✬✫✫✫✫
Probability of Rereading:
No

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

If You Find Me Review

If You Find Me
By: Emily Murdoch

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.


I began reading this book in between reading the House of Night series, and thought this would be a good break from the Young Adult fantasy genre that I seem to be obsessed with as of late. I prejudged the book by it's dark cover and anticipated reading some sort of crime or mystery novel; what I ended up reading was so much better than I had predicted. 

I was instantly drawn in by the description of the dirty, backwoods setting the author created. She described a place that not many people would willingly live in, a place without any of the most basic  modern comforts (which we now think of as necessities) such as electricity and running water. Somewhere that no one who had once lived within modern society would ever dream of raising their children. Yet, there you are, reading about this shabby place and the two young girls who call it home. The idea of it is heartbreaking, but the story, while sad is not one of complete despair.

The characters were portrayed as normal, friendly people and there really isn't any character that I could say I didn't feel anything for. The main character, Carey, is a strong fifteen year old girl who has already suffered through more than most people go through in an entire life time and yet she's still positive and still trying to improve the lives of herself and her sister, who she cares for like a mother would. She never got to experience a normal childhood and is so loving and protective of her younger sister that you can't help but to admire her spirit.

The story, while starting off quite dark, very quickly took on a tone of enlightenment and prosperity and the journey that the reader gets to watch the characters go on is so heartening and inspiring to read. The author really displays how resilient children can be, even when faced with an absent drug addicted mother and a father they never knew who is trying to help assimilate them into a new kind of life. 

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✫
Probability of Rereading:
Yes


Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Queen of Shadows Review (Throne of Glass #4)

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) By: Sarah J. Maas Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last retu...