The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What. A. Book.

I am legitimately impressed, and I do not say this lightly. The Great Gatsby is the type of book that makes me want to tackle everyone I meet to ensure they have read it, and if not, acquire a copy to shove into their hands. It really is that good.

The strange thing is, I’m not even sure what it is about the story that draws me to it so much. Symbolism and meaningful prose typically have little to no effect on me. I prefer a straightforward story with little to no extra fluff. But this book. Dang.

While I was in high school, and now in college, I have never been assigned The Great Gatsby, which I think takes most everyone I meet by surprise, especially considering I am such a big reader. To be truthful, when I began reading the book myself the other week, I was a bit disappointed that I had never gotten to it before I reached 22 years old. However, now that I’ve finished it and gotten a chance to truly appreciate the writing, the story, the meaning behind it all, I think I’m grateful to have only just now read it by choice.

There is something about deciding to read a classic on your own that makes it exponentially more special than being forced to rush through it for a class. It’s a more meaningful, enriching experience, if only for the fact that I didn’t have to complete some Godforsaken busy work alongside it.

I got to read The Great Gatsby as it should be read. Or perhaps a better word for it: experienced.

My very first reaction to the book? I love Daisy. Did anybody else just fall in love with her instantly? She’s so strange and oddly alluring.

Something I found really interesting about The Great Gatsby was the connection I felt with the characters. With many books, particularly more dated ones and those considered “classics,” I truly couldn’t care about the individual stories of each character within the book. But I had a really different feeling here.

There was so much more to this book than just a story with bland, one-dimensional characters. I found myself instantly caring about the well being of Nick, Gatsby, and Daisy, and as I learned more about each of them throughout the book, I only found myself more and more connected to them.

This is especially surprising to me, since The Great Gatsby is a relatively short book. (I was able to finish it in just a couple nights. Crazy, right? For as much of a reader as I am, I never do that!) But the bottom line being, F. Scott Fitzgerald knew what he was doing, and was far ahead of his time even, when it came to character writing and development.

In short:

So, is this review essentially just me pushing a book on you that you’ve probably already read? Absolutely.

And if you have read it, I encourage you to revisit it, perhaps look at it in a new light now that you’re older and you don’t have to read it for school (since that seems to be when most people I know read it). Who knows? You might find something you didn’t think of before. You might see it in a new light.

Or maybe it’ll just remind you how incredible a writer Fitzgerald was. Either way, that’s a win in my book.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and giving my review a read! Have a fantastic rest of your week (for real, please do so).

You by Caroline Kepnes

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In all seriousness, this book is probably going to put me back several years in the world of dating. I mean, seriously, I can’t remember the last time a piece of fiction has had me this paranoid, and had me going this many times over every interaction I’ve ever had with a man.

And that is the magic of Caroline Kepnes’ You.

I really, truly enjoyed large parts of this book. It was insane, totally unlike anything I’ve read before, and a definite page turner. Joe’s character was particularly interesting to me (obviously) because I loved getting to see his jumping between relatively sane thoughts and total lunatic behavior. He contradicted himself, in his words, his reasoning, his actions, his thoughts.

I paid particular attention to the way he described Beck. When comparing her to Karen, he said that Beck would never repeat something she said like Karen did. Yet Beck does repeat herself, a lot, particularly when we get to the full-psycho-Joe end scene. I noticed him do this a lot surrounding Beck’s actions and character traits; he was completely wrong about her multiple times, but he either insisted on thinking of her a certain way, or he changed his mindset and said whatever she did was okay with him.

Now, none of his misconceptions would have been a problem had he not been positively frightening. But I think we’re all in agreement on that much.

Except maybe for the people who claim they are attracted to Joe after watching the Netflix series. (But maybe the show is really different from the books and portrays him in a new light? I wouldn’t know.) Regardless, whoever wants him can have him. Believe me, I’m not trying to steal him for myself. Please, take Joe and stay far, far away from me.

Another aspect of You that I only now realized, as I’m writing this post, might be the scariest of all. At the end (not the full-psycho-Joe scene, but the end-end), Joe sees Amy again and decides she will be his next girlfriend. That’s creepy in general, of course, because Joe’s a pretty scary dude. But beyond that, I spent the whole book thinking there was something wildly unique about Beck that drew Joe to her. The ending proves this wasn’t the case. There isn’t something super special about Beck or Candace. Joe would stalk and steal from and murder any girl who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which means any of us could meet a Joe Goldberg. Goodbye to my next few nights of sleep and my next few years of dating.

All of this, I devoured. What an enthralling story and a wild ride.

The only little, tiny thing I didn’t like about the book (tiny, really) was the fact that I can’t remember one page that didn’t make a sexual reference. Like, a descriptive, completely-overdoing-it reference. In moderation, it’s okay. But every single page? Woah. It was honestly a lot, and by the second half of the book, I’ll be honest, I was lagging a bit. I started to get bored. I understand that the characters are hypersexualized–partially on their own, and partially through Joe’s eyes. But seriously, it just got a little boring to me after a while. And I can only be bored for so long before docking some stars. (I’m sorry, I didn’t want to.)

For this reason, I’m going with a 3.5/5 on a pure vibes basis only. That’s the only way to rate books if you ask me. If I feel it, I feel it. If I don’t, I don’t. And if, like You, I feel it but I also don’t, it lands here, in the 3.5 star category. I’m satisfied, but I could certainly be more satisfied, you know?

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This is the most fun I’ve had reading a fantasy book in a while. Heck, it might be the most fun I’ve had reading any book in a hot minute. The characters, the writing, the story, the everything is so utterly unique compared to books I’ve read in the past.

While ACOTAR is not without flaws, it puts its best foot forward in almost every aspect of compelling storywriting. One place I really found it to shine is in its character structure and development—particularly with my favorites, Lucien, Rhys, and Feyre.

Character arcs are oftentimes my favorite part of a story, though a really good one can be difficult to find. Maas was able to take each of her characters, including those that are going unlisted, and form them into something special and completely their own. She even made me love the main character, a feat completed successfully by very few writers, sometimes not even by myself.

Also—does anybody else get a strong Loki vibe from Rhys, or is that just me?

I decided to make a short podcast review to go along with the written version, where I go more in-depth with my thoughts on the characters, story, and writing of one of the most popular young adult books today. Tune in and let me know your thoughts on the ACOTAR book/series!

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Good morning and happy Sunday!

I want to start off by saying a quick thank you to everyone who has supported me in my writing endeavors, especially those of you who have picked up a copy of my books. I am very happy with how my Better Luck This Time release went, and I have you to thank for that.

In other news, I have decided to pick back up with my podcast, We Talk Books. I recently finished reading The Selection, a surprisingly lovable book in my opinion, and thought: what better way to start my second season?

My Second Book Release!

I am so happy to announce the release of my second young adult suspense novel and sequel to The Half Theft, Better Luck This Time. I’ve spent more than a little time stressing over whether it is the perfect book and whether I am ready to hand it over to the eyes of the world. I think I finally am.

I can’t ever say thank you enough times for any of you to understand how much your support means to me. To those of you who visit my blog posts, to those of you who read The Half Theft, to those of you who leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and say you can’t wait for the premiere of Better Luck This Time: thank you. I love you guys endlessly.

Please consider picking up a copy of Better Luck This Time (or The Half Theft, if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience the killer city of Collinswood for yourself.)

ICYMI

The Half Theft follows the journey of my main character, Charlie Riverson, as he sets out to find his missing best friend, Elle Vikander, and solve a crime committed under his nose, all while combating the city’s most infamous criminal family, the Ducartes (who may or may not hold some very valuable information regarding Elle). As Charlie digs his way deeper into the family’s schemes, he builds something of a team, determined to get to the bottom of things and recover the person he loves most in the world.

Better Luck This Time picks up the same night its predecessor leaves off and follows the team’s journey to protect Charlie and save the city from a threat greater than they ever could have imagined.

Who might be interested in these books?

Anyone with a love for:

  • Morally gray characters
  • Friends to lovers
  • Cats (not the musical, but rather appearances by an actual animal)
  • A story to keep you on your toes
  • Young adult and suspense genres (obviously, haha!)

Where can I buy your books?

Girls Don’t Want Boys, Girls Want Malina

Just a couple days ago, I finished reading Ruin and Rising. The reason it took me until now to post a review is only because I needed a minute to process what I just read. Also, I was busy crying. Many times. So let’s start where it makes sense. It’s a five-starrer.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you saw my reviews for Shadow and Bone or Siege and Storm, you already know I’m a fan of these books. But this one was simply ridiculous, in the best way possible. It’s been a long time since a book has ripped my heart out of my chest, crushed it, then put it back in place and made me so happy I can’t stop thinking about it. That is the power of Leigh Bardugo.

Ruin and Rising so exceeded my expectations I can hardly put it into words. Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a fair try.

I’ve never been one for love triangles (or whatever was happening with poor Alina) or much for romance in books at all. I loved Wylan and Jesper in Crooked Kingdom, along with a select few couples I’ve read about throughout the years. But Mal and Alina are it. I have no better way to describe it; they are just it.

For a book boy to actually outdo Nikolai in the making-me-love-them-endlessly department is quite a feat, considering he is practically the perfect character. But that’s exactly what Mal did. And I’m really quite confused over all the reviews from people saying they hate Book Mal. Granted, I haven’t watched the show yet, and Show Mal might be even better. But even in the books, he’s a solid 10 for me. Are we sure we read the same story?

Then, there’s the Darkling. He really put his all into being not only a villain but also a generally horrible individual. He’s easily one of the best bad guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about. I truly hated him from start to finish, which is exactly the point, right? Aleksander carried his weight, for sure.

I know I’ve already doted on her in previous reviews, but Alina is just such a compelling character, I think it’s worth mentioning yet again. Needless to say, Leigh Bardugo has a way with character writing that I’ve seen among very few authors. I instantly develop strong feelings toward almost everyone—at least everyone who’s important. No room for blasé MCs around here.

In favor of complete honesty, I will admit Ruin and Rising took a long time to pick up for me. The beginning, with the Apparat and all the underground living, was so boring I found it hard continuing the book. It felt like it was never going to end. I let the poor thing sit on a shelf collecting dust for I don’t know how long contemplating whether I really needed to read it, and if it would end up ruining the two great books that came before it by being painfully dull.

Fortunately, I did pick it back up, and it more than redeemed itself, earning a five-star rating I give out about twice a year to a very special book or two. And I owe my praise almost exclusively to Mal and Alina. Who would have thought?

Childhood FOMO Made Me Read Goosebumps

Everybody loves a good old FOMO sesh every once in a while, right? Just a gripping, sudden fear of missing out on anything and everything people have done and experienced that you haven’t yet?

Well, that’s exactly what led me to the Goosebumps series. Perpetually frightened child I was, horror books never particularly struck a chord with me when I was little. Even now, I tend to stray from them in favor of anything mysterious or thrillerish.

That being said, I have been catching up on some of the books I missed out on as a kid in the past few years. (The Chronicles of Narnia and A Series of Unfortunate Events are two of my particular favorites, but the amount of guilt I feel knowing I could have grown up with those books instead of reading them at the age of 20 or 21… Perpetual anger, I tell you.) Bottled up rage aside, or perhaps because of it, I gave the Goosebumps series a chance. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

For starters, it turns out R.L. Stine is a fantastic author. Goosebumps are kids’ stories, and that much is clear as soon as you start reading, but they’re written in such a way that they’re entirely readable, and not at all annoying, from the perspective of an adult. Though I tend to use the term adult very loosely when speaking of myself.

Beyond the writing, I have to say I really liked the story structure and the way it was written in such a way as to keep it lighthearted enough to not scare the daylights out of children, but spooky enough to actually give you a minor case of the creeps.

Don’t quote me on this because it was a while ago, but I remember watching an interview with R.L. Stine where he described how, as a child, he was afraid of literally everything. I think that comes across really well in this aspect of the books, where he is able to play to both the scary and fun aspect of a children’s horror series.

One part, in particular, I couldn’t get over was the excessive use of the word excellent by the children in the books. It’s absurdly funny to me to picture 10 year olds running around, yelling the word excellent to one another. But honestly, it just dates the series back to the 90s, which makes me love it even more.

I’ve only read a tiny portion of the series so far, but a few I would definitely recommend are: One Day at Horrorland, Stay Out of the Basement, and Night of the Living Dummy. And allow me to say, Mr. Wood is an absolute legend. The best and most offensive roaster of all time. 10/10 would walk out of a conversation with him with lowered self-esteem.

To sum it up, I don’t care about your age. Goosebumps is a must read. Need I say more?

P.S. Better Luck This Time is getting even closer! Ahh! Meet my sequel to The Half Theft on October 1st.

Cover + Release Date: Better Luck This Time

Hello, fellow bookworms! Brooke here. I just changed the domain and name of my blog, so don’t be too confused. This is the new and improved older sister of my books and brooke blog.

While my blog focused originally on reviewing books, I now plan to share more about myself and my own writing in addition to the reviews. I will definitely still be writing reviews since, as I suspect you all know, I love reading and sharing my opinions.

Now onto personal book news…

I’ve written and set a release date for my new YA suspense novel and sequel to The Half TheftBetter Luck This Time. The story begins just minutes after the conclusion to the first book. There is nothing I love more than picking up right where we left off!

For those of you who read the first book, you might understand the title of The Half Theft sequel already, but I promise I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t given it a read yet.

I am in the process of reading through my (hopefully) final draft of the book, and I’ve set the release date to October 1st. What better day to release a book than my birthday?

The Blurb:

Separated after their lethal night inside the museum, the team flees from Collinswood to seek shelter and tend to their wounded. Surrounded by allies, running from their enemies, things appear clear enough on the surface, but nothing is quite as it seems. As years-old lies are uncovered and trustworthiness is questioned, friendships must be put to the test.

When Charlie and Elle find a clue to the next step in the Ducartes’ schemes, they also dig up a darker fate and the truth behind the criminal family’s actions—one whose aim is much larger and much deadlier than ever before.

The fight against the Ducartes, a fight in the family’s own arena, becomes a race against time, as their own goal finally becomes clear: revenge.

I am so, so excited to share with you the second and final half of my duology.

I’ve spent years putting excessive time and effort to make this not the perfect story, but my favorite story with my favorite characters, who I only hope you’ll fall in love with as much as I have.

If you’re interested in Better Luck This Time but haven’t read its predecessor, feel free to click here to check out the thrilling (says me, the author) first chapter in the fight for the city of Collinswood.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Let me start by saying this is easily one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, and I’m beginning to think I may like the Shadow and Bone trilogy even more than the Six of Crows duology, which is really saying something. I think I could probably go on for a week or so telling you everything this book did right, but I shan’t waste your time. Here is a condensed version of my absolute adoration for this series and, above all, this book in particular.

First of all, I’d like to thank Alina for actually being likable. It is so very rare for me to find a main character I like and feel like I can relate to. They usually feel like too far a stretch from being regular people, especially in the case of YA and fantasy. But with Alina, I instantly liked her. She’s rather ordinary, but not so much that she’s boring. And her thoughts and feelings are always understandable. As much as I like to be confused by a character, it’s sometimes nice to feel like I just get someone.

Then, there’s Mal, another (extremely ordinary but in his own strange way not at all ordinary) gem, and really another thing that makes these books so worth reading. As often as I see complaining about poor writing with female characters in a variety of series (and believe me, I often agree with the critiques), I think there is also so much room for improvement in the writing of men. The Kaz Brekkers of the world provide just the right amount of spice, but the Mal Oretsevs help to ground their stories in reality, which I adore.

I know I have a whole lot to say about the characters today, but can we quick hit on the topic of the Darkling? Because quite frankly, he scares the hell of me. Really, how could I ask for a better villain? While he’s generally horrid in the first book, I like that his utter lunacy and murderous nature are ramped up even further in Siege and Storm. I always like the villains best when they seem truly unstoppable, which is exactly what he appears to be at this point. I can’t even guess where Alina’s headed next to actually take him down. (I mean, I do have a guess, but I’m not going to spoil it because that wouldn’t be very nice.)

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s Nikolai. Once I got a bit of the way into Siege and Storm, I suddenly couldn’t even remember what the books were like before he came along. What a boring story the first book must have been without him! (I’m only kidding. I love them both.)

I guess the moral of the story here is that Leigh Bardugo has unstoppable character-writing skills, and we all owe her an immense debt of gratitude for providing us with such an amazing series. I just started Ruin and Rising, so I’ll be sure to leave a review once I finish that one as well. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everybody who talked about these books so incessantly I couldn’t avoid hearing about them (mostly my sister because we’re in the same house). I owe you all big time.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Well, Patrick Ness has done it again. I can’t even begin to describe my feelings for this book without first saying that I am utterly in love. The characters. The story. The structure. The writing. The different POVs. It’s all one big chef’s kiss, and an utterly perfect end to a perfect trilogy.

Let’s start with the characters, because that’s one of the places where these books really shine. In Monsters of Men, I somehow developed even more conflicted feelings regarding the mayor. I mean, I like him, but I’m also scared of him, but I’m also intrigued by him, but I also hate him, but I still want to trust him for some reason. He’s easily one of the best written characters I’ve ever read in any book. He’s utterly fascinating.

Next up: the story. My favorite part of Chaos Walking’s story is its originality. Usually when I read a book or a series, I can connect certain aspects, sometimes even many, back to one or more previously written stories (which makes sense, since all ideas have to come from somewhere). However, I really don’t see Patrick Ness’ story ideas elsewhere. The universe, the dynamic between the general populations of men and women, the individual characters and their key traits and their journeys—it’s so unlike anything I’ve read before.

This leads to the writing, which is another place where these books really stand out from all others in their genre. English teachers, beware. There are a whole lot of incomplete sentences in this book, even ones that use…periods at the end. And enough em dashes to sink a ship. All of which only lead to a more dynamic story. The action scenes in Monsters of Men are unlike any other, drawing me in completely until I feel like I’m inside the scene, experiencing the story.

Now, many of the things I’ve previously listed can be applied to all three of the Chaos Walking books, but the POVs in the final installation are completely their own. The Knife of Never Letting Go has one POV. The Ask and the Answer features two. Monsters of Men ups the game even more, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect strategy. It is clear the author knows exactly whose viewpoints his readers want to hear throughout the story.

The one teeny, tiny part of this book I have to admit isn’t my favorite is the romantic aspect. Todd and Viola, individually, are fantastic characters I have been rooting for (almost) since the moment I met them—Todd was kind of a jerk at first, so I took a minute to warm up to him. But I did, in time! My problem is that I don’t really care about their relationship in a romantic way at all. I loved them as friends, and I enjoyed the first book in particular because that’s what they were. Friends. As the books progressed, however, they became more and more romance based, and Todd and Viola began acting like they’d known each other forever, not for the short while they actually had.

But I digress. Monsters of Men was simply another beautiful installation in the fantastic series that is Chaos Walking. If you ask me, it is the perfect end to a perfect trilogy.