The Queen of Hearts Backstory You Didn’t Know You Wanted: Heartless By Marissa Meyer

Heartless By Marissa Meyer book cover
Heartless

Marissa Meyer

Rate: 4

I’ve never read the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland so I’m not sure if or how much Lewis Carroll goes into the backstory of the Queen of Hearts so I’m not completely sure if Heartless is a retelling or not. Nonetheless, the story is good. I enjoyed watching Catherine’s descent into madness and I knew she had truly arrived when she began thinking “Off with his head.” A Queen of Hearts isn’t a Queen of Hearts until beheading is involved. Anyway, Heartless totally fits the Wonderland universe, at least in my knowledge of the animated and live action movie, and I totally believe these events could have been the actions leading up to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

“I reject the jury’s verdict,” she seethed. “As the Queen of Hearts, I declare this man guilty. Guilty of murder. Guilty of thievery and kidnapping and all the rest, and for his sentence – I call for his head. To be carried out immediately.”

Off with his head gif

“For the murder of Jest, the court joker of Hearts, I sentence this man to death.” She spoke without feeling, unburdened by love or dreams or the pain of a broken heart. It was a new day in Hearts, and she was the Queen.

“Off with his head.”

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The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

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The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1)

Rick Yancey

Rate: 4

First of all, the 5th wave is the first audiobook I’ve ever listened to. I don’t think I could have picked a better first book. Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza did an amazing job narrating and bringing the story to life. I liked and enjoyed the telling of the 5th wave more than I liked the movie.

I also enjoyed the multiple perspectives. I don’t think all of them were necessary, but I did like Cassie’s and Ben’s POVs. Through Cassie’s POV, I was able to learn about both the physical and emotional devastation of each wave. Each wave killed millions to billions of people, but each time it also took away a bit of emotional stability and safety. Cassie had to go through life questioning who she could trust, and if life was worth living, if she was all alone, and if keeping a promise was worth all the physical and emotional obstacles she had to face. Through Ben’s POV, I was able to see what it was like to be molded and manipulated by the others and slowly come to the realization that you aren’t on the side of the war you thought you were on. Ben tried his hardest to be Zombie, but he couldn’t kill off all of his Ben mannerisms. I think this is what made it so hard for Ben to accept he had been manipulated by the others: Zombie was an obedient soldier who didn’t want to see fault in his commanding officers, Ben was a teenager who couldn’t deny that things didn’t add up – the technology, the base, the kids – unless they were being controlled by the others.

I could have done without the Cassie-Evan romance. Yes, I fell for parts of it, but I couldn’t get past the predator-prey dynamic of the relationship. You have to be a special type of woman to swoon at being compared to and called a mayfly. Sorry, but I prefer guys to view me as an equal, as human, not some bug to be crushed. But I guess if a woman can fall for and marry a guy who admits to being addicted to her blood and wanting to kill her, a gal can enjoy being the bug to his boot. I guess I’m just weird for wanting something different.

All in all, I enjoyed the 5th wave. However, I think this is, in part, due to the narration; it really brought the story to life. I don’t know if I’d have liked the book as much in my own mental voice. I don’t know if I would have appreciated the different perspectives if I had read the text. Though I can say this experience has made me more open to trying more audiobooks. They won’t replace the pleasure of reading, but I won’t actively avoid them either.

I Thought I Would Be More Emotional: It Ends With Us By Colleen Hoover

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It Ends With Us

Colleen Hoover

Rate: 4.5

It Ends With Us was good, borderline great, but it wasn’t fantastic. I’m not going to analyze the book or the characters; there are probably many reviews that already do that. I’m just going to (briefly) talk about how It Ends With Us made me feel.

It Ends With Us left me with a heavy heart. It wasn’t dark, but it went through so much. Both the good times and the bad times began piling one atop the other until I felt physically weighted and emotionally unsure of my exact feelings. I just knew that I felt heavy and full (and extremely book hungover), but I couldn’t confidently identify if I was also feeling happy or sad or drained. I was in a gray space of emotion, neither here nor there.

But It Ends With Us isn’t Confess. It wasn’t trying to be Confess, but it didn’t cause me to react like I did with Confess.

It Ends With Us didn’t make me laugh out loud like Confess did.

It didn’t make me cry like Confess did.

And I (probably) won’t read it over and over like I do with Confess.

It Ends With Us is a good read and has a great message (so you should read it), but it didn’t touch me the way I was expecting it to.

Slowly Transitioning into New Adult (Review)

Proposal (The Mediator #6.5)

Meg Cabot

Rate: 4

Originally, I wasn’t going to read Proposal since I normally don’t take the time to read novellas (even though they are gaining popularity in YA). However, when I realized that my library had both Proposal and Remembrance available, I decided whichever hold came first would decide if I would read Proposal. If Proposal came first, I would read it, but if Remembrance came first, I would just read it and cancel my hold on Proposal. But a higher power (possibly the book gods) must have thought I needed to read Proposal because lo and behold it became available for checkout first so I read it. And I’m glad I did. I knew it had been a while since I read the last book (Twilight) but it wasn’t until I checked Goodreads that I realized the last book was published back in 2004 so I needed a refresher. Proposal serves as a great reminder of what the series is about and the characters without having to reread the series. It also serves as a smooth transition from young adult to new adult. Cabot doesn’t instill any large changes into the series, but she highlights that the story has fast forwarded about 5-6 years so the reader expects more mature language and experiences. However, Cabot doesn’t make a large maturity jump so the story goes from innocent/traditional YA to steamy/awkward erotica. Cabot creates a sensible shift from YA to NA.

Storywise, Proposal isn’t overly exciting, but it isn’t boring either. As a novella, Proposal isn’t full of drama and side-stories and subplots, but it does have a clear problem and solution while filling in details about the main characters and their backstory. Proposal isn’t fluff. Is it necessary to read Proposal? Since I’ve started reading Remembrance, I can clearly say no, but Proposal gives a nice taste of the series and you get to read Suze getting someone to confess to murder. The whole solution seems convenient like everything miraculously fell into place at the right time, but I enjoyed (and focus more on) the tidbits about Suze’s life since the last book.

Reading Update

Recently, due to a heavy schoolwork load, I haven’t had time to read for pleasure and I haven’t had the energy to write reviews. However, in the past week, at a cost to how well my work has been completed and my sanity, I’ve scarfed down two stories. I’m still too busy and mentally exhausted to write full reviews, but I thought at the very least I could shout out the books.

The Hurricane (The Hurricane #1) by R.J. Prescott

Rate: 4

Shadowboxer (Tapped Out #1) by Cari Quinn

Rate: 4

Both The Hurricane and Shadowboxer share a theme. I was in the mood to read a story in which a super protective yet sensitive boxer/MMA fighter falls for a girl with a traumatic past and the girl finds the strength within herself. I got this from these two stories. They were both great stories.

Sadly, as passionate as the romance is in these books, they aren’t for everyone. The books contain sexual content, rape, and abuse. The latter two can be triggers for some people.

Anyway, even though this isn’t the full review these two books deserve, I decided to acknowledge them because they gave me exactly what I was looking for in a quick(-ish) manner and didn’t disappoint. Hopefully, some time and energy opens up in my schedule soon so I can read and review books carefully.

Sweet Let Down (Sweet Temptation By Wendy Higgins)

Sweet Temptation (The Sweet Trilogy #4)

Wendy Higgins

Rate: 4

You may be thinking “A trilogy is three books why are there four?” Well, Sweet Temptation is like a companion novel to The Sweet Trilogy where the trilogy is retold in Kaidan’s (the love interest) POV. Yes, you need to read the main story first for Sweet Temptation to make sense.

Unfortunately, Sweet Temptation was a bit of a disappointment. I expected to learn more about what makes Kaidan tick like I did with Four in my Fun With Four series. I learned that Kai is mostly controlled by his lust (like I couldn’t already guess) and he didn’t have a favorable upbringing (obviously, based on his relationship with his father), but I don’t feel like I learned much about Kai. For the most part, I just got to see Kai fall in love with/ develop a love addiction for Anna and I got to see him battle his insecurities. I knew there weren’t going to be many scenes different from the main story, but I had wanted to learn more about Kai. I had wanted to learn secrets about Kai, but instead I got Anna this, Anna that, Anna, Anna, Anna. I would be cute if I wanted a story that was only romance.

Anyway, Sweet Temptation is a nice read, especially since Higgins give us fans exactly what we wanted. Who am I to ask for more? It’s just saddens me that Kai in Sweet Temptation didn’t make me swoon the way Kai in the other three books did. If anything, this book has caused Kaidan to move down on my book boyfriend list because he isn’t as interesting. *Sigh*  I guess I just have to find a book whose boyfriend makes up for what this Kai lacked.

Tugging At My Heartstrings (The One Thing)

The One Thing

Marci Lyn Curtis

Rate: 4

I received an e-copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What I Liked

Ben and Maggie’s Friendship: I enjoyed that The One Thing was centered around Ben and Maggie’s friendship. Often YA stories focus on romantic relationships, but this one centered on friendship. A friendship that didn’t turn into a romantic relationship! Because of the age difference. Plus, I liked that Ben and Maggie’s interests weren’t identical. They introduced new things to each other and just enjoyed spending time together; Maggie didn’t spend time with Ben because it was socially acceptable or she was growing out of her friends. Even though there were times Maggie spent time with Ben for self-interested, self-destructive reasons, for the most part, she was a real friend to Ben.

Maggie’s Character Development: I can’t even begin to imagine how I would react if, like Maggie, I lost my eyesight and had to relearn how to live. That’s why I enjoyed Maggie’s development so much. Sure, in the beginning, she kept setting herself back and wasn’t trying to acclimate to her situation, but I’m sure I would’ve reacted similarly. However, over time, Maggie realized that she was her own obstacle and that if she tried, things would eventually get better. As an added bonus, it didn’t take a boyfriend or crush for Maggie to come to this realization. (Yeah, the repetitiveness of YA is starting to get to me so I had to point it out.)

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Two Across By Jeff Bartsch

Two Across

Jeff Bartsch

Rate: 4

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed Two Across more than I expected. I became wary of the story when I first started reading and realized it was historical fiction – I don’t like historical fiction – but history doesn’t play a large role in the story so I was able to keep going. To me, it seemed like the few historical events that were mentioned were only meant to be points where the reader could center his-/herself to the date since so much was going on. The story focuses on Stanley and Vera’s relationship not their opinion of current events so historical events don’t play a factor in the progression of the story. For the most part, the story could have taken place in current times except the existence of the internet would have made it easier for Stanley and Vera to track each other down and would have made the theme of the crossword obsolete.

What I liked most about Two Across was that it was unlike any other new adult novel I’ve read. Though I haven’t read many so that’s not saying much. What stood out to me though was the fact that the story revolves around Stanley and Vera’s relationship and yet there’s barely any romance. Vera and Stanley are both geniuses, but they are also both emotionally inept so, to a degree, it makes sense that they would be unable to express their feelings and fully understand how they feel for each other. Sure, parts of the story feels like a stereotypical rom-com with Vera repeatedly running away from Stanley, but for two people who were taught to know and not taught to feel it makes sense. Yet even without Vera and Stanley being all lovey-dovey like a typical YA or new adult novel, I could still sense how much they cared for each other, which made the story a good read.

Overall, Two Across was a good read. Even though I had to consult a dictionary a couple of times – I’m neither a genius nor a crossword solver – I liked how the story unfolded, especially since it was different from what I’ve gotten used to.

Just the Book I Needed: Confess By Colleen Hoover

Confess

Colleen Hoover

Rate: 5

In a previous post, I included a side note where I mentioned that I was becoming tired of YA tropes and I wasn’t sure how that was going to affect my content and my posting schedule. Not long after writing that post I got the urge to read. My options were a young adult novel I had received from Netgalley and a new adult novel I had borrowed from the library. I chose the latter and it was the best decision I could have made. While reading Confess, I felt it begin to pull me out of the reading slump I was falling into. Confess was definitely the book I needed to improve my mood.

Why Confess Was So Awesome

Dual Perspective: Often times, when a story is told in dual perspectives, some aspect of the story is not fully developed since it is such a difficult technique to use. Either you can’t distinguish the two voices, the story is over-saturated with details, or secondary and tertiary characters come across as flat. However, Hoover beats the odds in Confess and creates a story with two distinct voices that  aren’t rambly and has fleshed out secondary characters. My favorite part of the dual perspective is the last part. I loved seeing characters like Linda and Trey from both Auburn’s and Owen’s POV because I got to see how those characters behaved with different people; how they could be sweet and concern one moment and threatening the next.

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Every Last Word By Tamara Ireland Stone

Every Last Word

Tamara Ireland Stone

Rate: 4

I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sam: I loved Sam’s character. Even though she’s going through a lot, most of it internal, I still got to see her developing as a person and figuring out she was and wanted to be, even if that meant giving up her mean-girl friends. Sam’s narrative offers great insight into what someone with Pure-O OCD might be going through. Sam is an admirable character.

Poetry: Not every poem in Every Last Word was a good poem, but some were amazing. I don’t why I didn’t think poetry would be included in the story when the premise said that Sam joined a secret poetry club, but I’m glad I didn’t expectation anything because I was able to enjoy the poems for what they were instead of what I wanted them to be.

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