Book Review – Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I saw this book on a number of peoples TBR lists and it sounded like something I would be interested in reading. I’m actually pretty certain this was my first LGBT novel. I’ve read a number of books where there are homosexual characters, but this was my first where it happened to be the main character. I do read manga so I have come across some yaoi (male x male) stories that I’ve enjoyed, making me not new to the topic. I guess I just never really thought about it while looking for non-manga books. But I’m extremely glad that I picked this one up. So, without further ado, my review on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

Goodreads summary:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

If one happens to scroll through my ‘read’ shelf on Goodreads, they’d notice that I don’t have many books on it that aren’t fantasy or supernatural based. What can I say? ‘Normal life’ plot-based books don’t usually intrigue me. It’s most likely because I wish my own life was more exciting (don’t we all?) and reading about someone else’s typical every-day life (that has no fantasy-based elements) just doesn’t do it for me. But with this book I didn’t even care. It was freaking adorable and I loved it.

Let’s start off with the characters. Simon. He was an awesome main character. His sense of humor and the fact that he loves Harry Potter made him very likable, to me at least. I also found him quite relatable because, like myself, he’s nosy and uses the terms ‘freaking’ and ‘just saying’ often. His three best friends, Nick, Leah, and Abby were all fun characters and the reader was able to see how Simon reacted with each one a bit differently. There was some typical high school drama between them, but obviously it’s to be expected in a high school based book. Martin, the guy blackmailing Simon, was also a pretty fun character. I had a kind of ‘like-dislike’ thing going on with him throughout the book, much like Simon did. Simon’s entire family was great as well. Again, very relatable.

And then there’s Blue, the guy Simon has been emailing. As I’ve mentioned in some of my other posts, I’m not a very mushy kind of person, but reading the emails between Blue and Simon was just…gah. Emotions. The emails were adorable and hilarious. Throughout the whole book the reader is obviously trying to figure out who Blue is. My guess jumped around so much. I thought it was one person but then it seemed like it was too obvious, so I switched to another, then another. Let’s just say I wasn’t completely surprised to find out who it was. I was definitely happy about it.

I also really enjoyed Albertalli’s writing style. It flowed well and it was very ‘to-the-point’. No unnecessary descriptions of how the school was twenty shades of brown or anything like that. Don’t get me wrong, detailed description is great, especially when you’re trying to picture a scene in your head, but sometimes I feel it’s simply irrelevant. Depends on the situation I guess. Maybe that’s just me.

So yeah, go read this book. I read it in a couple of hours yesterday. I read books I really enjoy quickly, so that’s saying something. Otherwise it normally takes me a week or so. Once again, it depends, but still. Do it.

Happy reading! :)

Book Review – Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck

Alrighty, I have finally finished up this series (well, until the fifth one comes out) so here is my review on the fourth book, Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck.

Goodreads summary:

With three of the goddess Durga’s quests behind them, only one prophecy now stands in the way of Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan breaking the tiger’s curse. But the trio’s greatest challenge awaits them: A life-endangering pursuit in search of Durga’s final gift, the Rope of Fire, on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.  It’s a race against time–and the evil sorcerer Lokesh–in this eagerly anticipated fourth volume in the bestselling Tiger’s Curse series, which pits good against evil, tests the bonds of love and loyalty, and finally reveals the tigers’ true destinies once and for all.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

WARNING: There will be minor spoilers throughout the rest of the review.

Like the last two books, it jumps right in to where the previous one left off. At the end of Tiger’s Voyage, Kelsey is captured by Lokesh. While she’s held prisoner, the reader gets more of a taste of the sorcerer’s twisted personality and his true goals. Because this takes place at the beginning of the book, it’s fairly obvious she isn’t going to remain a captive for long. Her tiger’s come to her aid and soon thoughts of Lokesh are set aside as they return home and prepare for their next quest.

Mr. Kadam’s and Nilima’s futures were uncertain in the last book, but I was happy to find them safe at the house. And with more surprises in store. Let’s just say I did not expect time-traveling in this series. The trio make their way to the next temple but once again Lokesh appears to disrupt their plans. I won’t go into further detail due to spoilers, so certain events unfold and they continue on their journey.

I enjoyed their voyage in the last book, but I enjoyed this one even more. They travel to a land underneath a volcano and have to endure many tasks in order to obtain the goddess Durga’s Rope of Fire. All of the tasks were interesting to read and kept me wanting more. Once they complete this challenge, however, there’s a pleasant plot twist and finally the time to defeat Lokesh and break the curse has come.

Out of all four books this one gave me the most feels. There were about four scenes that had me teary-eyed. If you’ve read this book you probably know what scenes I’m talking about. I also liked the fact that romance wasn’t a key factor in this book until closer to the end. It’s main focus was breaking the curse.

As for the characters, like the last book, more of them were introduced in this one and it really made the book more enjoyable. Kelsey was still overly emotional and a tad whiny, but you could most definitely tell she has grown as a person from the first book. Kishan and Ren were both awesome, as always.

I thought Tiger’s Destiny made for a fitting end to the series, so I’m not sure how I feel about the fifth book. There isn’t a synopsis of it (that I could find) so I have no idea what it’s going to be about since this book pretty much wrapped everything up. I’ll just have to wait and see. As many who have read this series know, there is a movie planned for the first book and, although I’ve learned not to expect much from movie adaptions, I’m still looking forward to watching it when it comes out.

Overall, this was a fairly enjoyable series and I’m glad I decided to give it a try.

Happy reading! :)

Book Review – Connor Grey series by Mark Del Franco (Part 1)

As I’ve been plugging away at the Tiger Saga series by Colleen Houck, I’ve also been reading this series on my NOOK. There are a total of six books but, this review is only on the first three because I have yet to read the last three and feel like I’ll forget too many things if I wait to do a review until I finish the series.

  

The three I’ve read so far include:

  • Unshapely Things
  • Unquiet Dreams
  • Unfallen Dead

Here is a Goodreads synopsis of the first book in the series, Unshapely Things:

In the alleys of the decrepit Boston neighborhood known as the Weird, fairy prostitutes are turning up dead. The crime scenes show signs of residual magic, but the Guild, which polices the fey, has more “important” crimes to investigate and dumps the case on human law enforcement.

Boston police call in Connor Grey, a druid and former hotshot Guild investigator-whose magical abilities were crippled after a run-in with a radical environmentalist elf. As Connor battles red tape and his own shortcomings, he realizes that the murders are not random, but part of an ancient magical ritual. And if Connor can’t figure out the killer’s M.O., the culmination of the spell might just bring about a worldwide cataclysm.

My Rating: 4/5 stars for each bookfour-stars

This series takes place in modern-day Boston, but with a twist: the fey and humans live side-by-side. Due to an event over one-hundred years ago known as Convergence, the fey were separated from their original world, Faerie, and ended up in our own. I really like the world Franco has created. Through his enjoyable writing style he describes this world with amazing detail and you really feel like you’ve been sucked into it. The series is mainly focused in the Weird, the neighborhood where the main character, Connor Grey, resides. The fey, who think they’re better than humans, don’t get along all that well with non-fey folk, so the Weird is a place where both humans and the fey live because the individuals who live there really don’t give a crap if you’re fey or not.

As mentioned in the synopsis, Connor is a druid and former Guild member who has now lost most of his abilities. The first book takes place about one or two years after that, so readers are introduced to the ‘new’ Connor. It’s mentioned that, due to his former position, he used to be an arrogant man who didn’t give anyone below his station a second thought. Because of the loss of most of his power, he now has a different view on life. He’s a fun main character who doesn’t care what others think about him and, although at times he still pines for his old life, he makes due with what he has.

A few other main characters include Murdock, a police detective that asks Connor to help him on the occasional fey-related case, Joe, a hilarious flit who has been by Connor’s side since he was a born, and Meryl, a take-no-nosense, smart-mouth Guild researcher. All of these characters, as well as others that I haven’t mentioned, are likable and make the plot even better.

Speaking of the plot, readers may find this series a bit on the slow side, but I found that aspect enjoyable. You really get a feel of Connor’s everyday life and, although there is plenty of action, it’s realistic in the fact that a bad guy doesn’t pop out from around a corner every couple of pages. Also, each book focuses on its own story line, but at the same time you can tell something bigger is happening behind the scenes that steadily builds up throughout every book.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next three and being able to see how Connor’s story concludes.

Happy reading! :)

Reading Habits Tag

Thanks a bunch to Analee from BookSnacks for tagging me! :)

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Yes. Most of the time I’ll be reading in a comfy rocking chair we have in our family room. My mom always tells me I make her sick, because sometimes I’ll subconsciously rock while reading and she gets motion sickness… xD But whenever I’m kicked out, because that’s where our main television is, I’ll read up in my room.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Bookmark. I have about twenty or so different ones. You could say I collect them, but I usually use one specific one for a long period of time. Right now I have one that has the metal head of a dog at one end and a bone at the other and it’s connected by a black string. It’s magnetic so you wrap it around and connect the bone to the dog.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?

I have to stop after a chapter, normally. Sometimes I’m able to read at work so I’ll  have to just stop reading and help a customer, but when I’m at home I usually always stop after a chapter. If a chapter is too long or I should be doing more…productive things I try to at least stop after a certain scene.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

I usually always have a cup of water with me, but I rarely ever eat when I read. Mostly because I use both hands to hold the book so it’s just uncomfortable if I’m trying to eat something. And, depending on what I’m eating, I’m usually on the messy side…^^;

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

None of the above. Both are too distracting. I like peace and quiet when I read. Occasionally, if I’m watching TV, I’ll mute it during commercials and read during that time. My siblings used to tease me about it…

6. One book at a time or several at once?

My answer is very similar to Analee’s. I used to be a strictly ‘one book at a time’ person, because if I ever read multiple I usually ended up zipping through the one I liked better and taking a lot longer on the other. But recently there’s just been so much I want to read that I’ve been branching out and reading two or three different ones at a time. It’s also because there are some series I can only read on my NOOK, because my library doesn’t have a physical copy, and since I occasionally get to read at work I like having a physical copy of a book with me.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

Since I prefer quiet when I read I enjoy reading at home the most but, as I mentioned, I’m able to read at work at times and I’ll also bring a book with me when I go on trips or even to the doctors so that I’ll have something to read while waiting. So both?

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Silently in my head. I don’t like reading out loud because I tend to read too fast and usually end up stumbling all over the words.

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

I don’t skip entire pages but, like Analee, I’ll look ahead to see how far it is until the end of the chapter and something will catch my eye and I’ll end up reading a small section or phrase. And occasionally it happens to be a spoiler so I mentally kick myself.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

Nowadays I prefer keeping my books like new, but when I was younger I didn’t care so much. That’s why some of the books I’ve had forever aren’t the prettiest anymore. You should see my edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone…definitely not pretty. But I tell myself that they aren’t ruined, just loved :)

11. Do you write in your books?

No. I can’t…just no.

Thanks again for tagging me, Analee! <3 I tag anyone who enjoyed this tag and would like to do their own!

The Creative Blogger Award

Thank you so much Parneet from The Enchanted Book for nominating me for the Creative Blogger Award! Please give her blog a look! :)


The Rules:

  • Nominate 15-20 blogs and notify all nominees via their social media/blogs
  • Thank and post the link of the blog that nominated you (very important)
  • Share 5 facts about yourself to your readers
  • Tell the nominees these rules

5 Facts:

  1. I actually don’t like talking about myself and I’m sure I share this with many others. The facts I had to give in the posts of my other awards were actually hard to come up with. I’m not sure why I’m this way, but I prefer listening to others than talking most of the time. I find I’m the most animated when communicating through the computer and when I’m with people I’ve known for a long time.
  2. One of my favorite sweets is Twizzlers Cherry Pull-N-Peel Licorice. If I didn’t have any self-control I would wolf down an entire package in one go.
  3. When my mom took me to the shoe store as a child I always played with the metal thing used to measure your shoe size. Because of that, I had decided I wanted to measure people’s feet when I grew up. That was my first career choice. I was like, five, so don’t judge me too much…
  4. Recently I’ve been in the mood to attend weddings. My sister got engaged last month but they aren’t actually getting married for two more years. I’ve never been to one before, I’ve only been to funerals, sadly, so I just really want to go to a wedding.
  5.  Two of the things I would like to accomplish in my life include: seeing the Broadway musical of The Lion King and visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.

I’m super lazy at the moment, so I’m going to bend the rules and nominate anyone who reads this post and would like to participate! You deserve it! :D

Book Review – Tiger’s Voyage by Colleen Houck

In my review of Tiger’s Quest I mentioned I would probably be doing one post for both Tiger’s Voyage and Tiger’s Destiny. But once again I overestimate my laziness. So here’s my review for Tiger’s Voyage, the third book in the Tiger Saga series.

Goodreads summary:

With the head-to-head battle against the villainous Lokesh behind her, Kelsey confronts a new heartbreak: in the wake of his traumatic experience, her beloved Ren no longer remembers who she is. As the trio continues their quest by challenging five cunning and duplicitous dragons, Ren and Kishan once more vie for her affections–leaving Kelsey more confused than ever.

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

At the end of the second book, Ren had lost his memory of Kelsey so the beginning of the third obviously focused on that large detail. To be honest, however, I did internally groan when I saw that the first chapter was titled, ‘Living Without Love’. Despite that, this book jumped quickly back into the main plot of breaking the curse. There was definitely more tension between the three main characters, but I actually found it refreshing because Kelsey and Ren were butting heads once more, like when they had first met.

Enter the dragons. The main objective of this book is for the group to find Durga’s Black Pearl Necklace. And to obtain the necklace, they were to be aided by five dragons. Dragons are my favorite mythical creatures, so I was excited. The dragons were located out at sea, so the majority of the book takes place in the ocean and on the boy’s yacht (I wish I had a yacht…)

The reason why I gave this book an extra half of a star is because of the new characters. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the five main characters – Kelsey, Ren, Kishan, Mr. Kadam, and Nilima – but after two books of mainly them, it was nice for some other characters to be thrown into the mix. These new characters included Wes, their diving instructor, and of course the five dragons. Wes was my favorite out of the six. I wish he had been in the story longer.

Anyway, during the visit to each dragon, Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan had to basically preform some sort of task to show that they were worthy enough to acquire Durga’s Necklace. I won’t spoil anything about that, but out of the five visits the one to the green dragon was my favorite.

I also believe I rated this one slightly higher than the previous two because it was even more action-based. The romance was still there, but the plot kind of bulldozed its way over it for the most part. However, this book did make me realize I like Ren and Kelsey together. Like Kelsey, I wanted to give Kishan a chance, and I still really enjoy him as a character, but I just think her and Ren click better.

Overall, this was a great installment to the series with a number of twists. Let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to wait a year to read the next one.

Happy reading! :)

Anime Review – Hunter x Hunter (Part 2)

Okay, well I’m not as lazy as I thought. Although I said I may write another review once I’ve finished watching this series, I’ve decided to do it a bit earlier. My previous review was on the Hunter Exam arc (ep. 1-21), but this one will focus on the next three: the Zoldyck Family arc (ep. 22-26), the Heavens Arena arc (ep. 27-38), and the Yorknew City arc (ep. 39-58).

In my other review I expressed that I was really loving this show. I said I hoped it only got better from the first arc. Guess what? IT DOES! I’d like to think I’ve watched my fair share of anime, and I have to say this one is turning out to be one of my favorites.

BE WARNED:  This review will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t watched this anime before and are planning to, I would suggest you don’t read any further. If you don’t care, feel free to continue reading! :)


 

The Zoldyck Family Arc

This arc is short, including only five episodes. I can’t quite remember if it’s revealed at the end of the first arc, or the beginning of this one, but it’s now known that Killua comes from a family of professional assassins. It’s not all that surprising, considering some of Killua’s actions during the first arc. After facing his brother and failing the Hunter Exam, Killua returns home. Gon, having been unconscious during the event that led to Killua’s failure, heard what happened and decides to go ‘rescue’ him. Leorio and Kurapika join him.

Killua was a bit of a mystery in the first arc, so I enjoyed these episodes because you get a glimpse into a bit of his background. Having met one of his brother’s in the previous arc, I’m sure people were curious to find out what the other members of his family are like. You don’t get to meet every member but you are introduced to most of them, including his brother Milluki, his mother, Kikyo, his brother, Kalluto, his grandfather, Zeno, and his father, Silva. These few episodes give you a taste of their personalities and why Killua is the way he is.


The Heavens Arena Arc

After Killua rejoins the group, Leorio and Kurapika decide to go their own ways. Gon and Killua wish to train more, and make some money, so Killua suggests they head to Heavens Arena, where people can make money by fighting one another as they ascend the giant tower. While there, they meet a few new characters and once again encounter Hisoka. Due to the events in the first arc, Gon is in Hisoka’s debt and the only way he’ll be able to repay that debt is when he can punch Hisoka in the face. That’s one of the main reasons he’s been training so hard.

During their training, the two boys learn about Nen, a technique which allows a person to manipulate their own life force. After being taught this ability, they are able to defeat more difficult foes. Impressed, Hisoka invites Gon to fight him.

The fight between Hisoka and Gon is definitely one of my favorite parts in the anime so far. They are two of my favorite characters. Hisoka is one of the creepiest (if you watch it you’ll see why) ‘villains’…ever, but that just makes him an even better antagonist. Gon manages to punch Hisoka and return his tag. Unfortunately, he doesn’t win the fight. Deciding it’s time to leave Heavens Arena, the boys take their winnings and head back to Gon’s home on Whale Island. There they find a clue left by Gon’s father, Ging.


The Yorknew City Arc

This arc focuses mainly on Kurapika and the Phantom Troupe, the group of Nen users that murdered his people, leaving him the sole survivor of the Kurta clan. Back at the end of the Zoldyck Family arc, the four main characters promise to meet back up in Yorknew City on September 1st, due to some information Hisoka gave Kurapika during the final stage of the Hunter Exam.

It’s known that an underground auction is happening in the city. Kurapika finds a job as a bodyguard for someone with connections to the auction, and Gon and Killua wish to attend the auction to gain access to a video game called Greed Island, due to the clue from Ging. Leorio also comes back into the picture to help out.

This arc is extremely fast-paced and just as great as the others. You get to witness Kurapika’s development during the past six months (he’s pretty bad-ass now, not that he wasn’t before) and you get an intimate look at most of the Troupe members. I enjoy books and anime that focus on the side of both the protagonists and the antagonists.

I don’t want to spoil anything else, so I won’t go into further detail about this arc. But it’s awesome. So go watch it. Like, right now. Seriously. GO!


And that’s about it! I’ll probably write a review for the last three arcs as well, although that may take awhile since I still have…90 episodes to watch. And I’m watching other things at the moment as well. But it will get written! Eventually! :D

Thanks for reading!