Bookish Reviewish~ In Which I Gush About Siblings, Cousins, And A Magic Tablecloth

Greetings, blogger buddies!

Apparently we’ve gotten to JUNE already, and I can’t for the life of me fathom how quickly time passes these days. I swear there are some Time Thieves sneaking around somewhere.

Anyway. As time whirls by me at its rapid pace, I sit in a burrow and eat books. I am here to tell you about all of the books I have consumed in the past few months. So grab your eyeballs and settle in for another extremely illuminating bookish reviewish post from your favorite sponge.

The Murderbot Diaries (books 2-4) by Martha Wells

I reviewed the first Murderbot novella in my previous bookish reviewish post, and the sequels are (unsurprisingly) extremely similar. In each book, we have Murderbot telling us how much it Dislikes Humans and how much it Doesn’t have Feelings whilst it spends the duration of the story risking its life to protect Humans and having all the Feelings. So.

As always, the best word to describe pretty much everything about this character and the world it lives in is “Unhealth”. There is so much Unhealth.

YEA:

  • MURDERBOT (This character is what makes these books worth reading)
  • unreliable narrator (Murderbot does NOT realize the levels of Unhealth, and reading from that skewed perspective is so fascinating)
  • um…also Murderbot (did I say that already?)
  • low-key addressing the issues of cloning and slavery (I actually wish it had gone more into this, but the fact that it was there at all was great)

NAY:

  • not enough exploration of the cloning issue (I am being picky, but I was disappointed by the way several things were introduced and then never really delved into)
  • the marriage situation (just no)
  • the world being overall too depressing without much redemption to speak of (I need me my redemption, folks)
  • foul language (Just too much. There are other ways to express yourself, son)
  • average sci-fi plots in a fairly eposidic structure

Verdict: So…I guess overall I will take Murderbot and leave the rest.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This is the biography of Olympic runner Louie Zamperini, who survived the brutality of multiple Japanese POW camps during World War II.

As you may know by now, the bulk of what I read is fiction. I find nonfiction harder to get into. But this was a compelling and powerful book, and I would highly recommend it. It’s brutal and difficult to get through at parts, but ultimately it’s so redemptive and beautiful and absolutely worth it.

And a good chunk of the book takes place before he gets to any POW camps, so there’s that. It’s not all trials and suffering.

YEA:

  • Brothers (and sisters too, actually! ALL THE SIBLINGS)
  • food (there was more starving than eating, but I loved the way they talked about food when they couldn’t have it)
  • friendships (So many powerful relationships!)
  • highly detailed research (Holy cow, Laura)
  • Redemption (Seriously. it hits HARD)

NAY:

Honestly there isn’t much to complain about? I mean, some of the descriptions of the violence and such were extremely unpleasant to read, and some of Louie’s personal life choices aren’t exactly rated PG, but it’s what happened and you couldn’t exactly leave it out. It was all really well written.

Verdict: It’s beautiful and you should read it, even if (like me) you don’t read a lot of nonfiction.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

This was a reread, actually, but I did NOT remember it very well.

I DID NOT REMEMBER HOW GOOD IT IS.

This middle grade fantasy story follows sisters Meryl and Addie, princesses of a kingdom suffering from a deadly disease known as the Gray Death. Together they might stand a chance of finding the cure.

YEA:

  • SISTERS (I am 100% here for fiercely devoted sisters)
  • the magic tablecloth (it’s just SO PLEASING. If I went on a quest I would NEED one of these. I love it SO MUCH)
  • Rhys (What a kid)
  • the bittersweet ending (I am pretty sure this upset me the first time, but MAN it’s good)

NAY:

  • Parts of it felt rushed? (Maybe I just wanted it to be longer?)
  • The engagement happened very quickly, but then in fairy tales that’s normal so…yeah.

Verdict: WHAT A GEM.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Another reread. This small, unassuming middle grade book certainly packs a punch, let me tell you.

Jonas thinks his world is perfect. But as the story unfolds (BEAUTIFULLY), he begins to realize the truth- which is a mesmerizing and terrifying thing.

YEA:

  • the UNFOLDING (the fact that I am reading this for the fourth or fifth time and STILL enjoying the way the story unfolds seems like a good sign that it’s done well)
  • the elegant way it handles truth, free will, memory, pleasure, pain and sacrifice
  • the purposefully stilted utopian society
  • the narrator progressing from unreliable to reliable
  • ASHER
  • ASHER
  • DID I MENTION ASHER

NAY:

Um…there is nothing wrong with this book except for its sequels. (And maybe that there isn’t enough Asher.)

Verdict: Still one of my favorite books ever.

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

World War II. And planes. And code breaking. And a German opera singer.

This book follows three narrators: 1) Louisa, a high-spirited girl with a Jamaican father and English mother who has recently been orphaned, 2) Ellen, a Scottish traveler who is now a driver for the RAF, and 3) Jamie, a Scottish pilot who is trying to maintain control of his squadron.

YEA:

  • the thoroughness of the research (the author knows her stuff)
  • Scotland
  • secret codes and spies
  • Felix (I don’t know why I liked Felix so much)
  • Old people and young people forming friendships
  • Jamie
  • Jamie’s lads
  • Jamie
  • Just mainly Jamie

NAY:

  • Honestly it switched between narrators WAY too frequently (I WAS SO CONFUSED)
  • While I applaud the historical accuracy for the most part, sometimes I was distracted by the fact that it was clearly published in the past year (take that as you will)
  • The plot was overall not super memorable

Verdict: Aside from Jamie, pretty much just okay.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Yet another reread. After reading about Jamie in The Enigma Game, I had to remind myself how I was originally introduced to him.

Emphasis on “remind” because I had VERY LITTLE MEMORY of this book as a whole. Even though it wasn’t that long ago that I read it.

Anyway. Also a World War II story, this one centers around Jamie’s little sister, who is a spy, and her friend Maddie, who is a female pilot.

YEA:

  • the fierce friendship between Julie and Maddie
  • UNRELIABLE NARRATOR
  • Maddie
  • the format (reports to the secret police/flight reports/sort-of-diary entries is a FANTASTIC format)
  • SIBLINGS
  • Scottish castles
  • MA- MA CHERIE (WHY am I laughing so hard??)
  • Jamie making breakfast
  • Jamie flying planes
  • Jamie protecting his sister and her friend
  • Jamie existing

NAY:

  • Paul (DISGUSTING HUMAN)
  • torture descriptions (sometimes just…a little too much pain)
  • the fact that Jamie is basically the only man in the story that is not either totally incompetent and/or a complete jerk (come on, now)
  • Did I mention Paul though (BLEGH)

Verdict: A solid story with excellent characters. Just…intense. And really sad.

The Promised Neverland volume 19: Perfect Scores by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu

Was it the best so far? No. Was it still pretty great? Yes. Was I surprised? Definitely yes.

(I am not going to tell you anything about this one really, but you can read my post about the earlier volumes here.)

YEA:

  • MY KIDS
  • MY KIDS BEING AMAZING
  • Isabella being simultaneously awful and wonderful
  • Nat (My son, I am SO SORRY THAT I DOUBTED YOU)
  • Anna (MY CHILD, I love you)
  • Hayato (SO PROUD)
  • Oliver (bursts into tears)
  • Vincent (sobbing intensifies)
  • Just all my kids being absolutely the best, I am so proud of them all

NAY:

  • not enough conversation/relationship building moments
  • a few rushed moments
  • not enough Ray (it’s a crime, I hope you know)
  • it’s the second to last volume and the story needs more time to be told properly
  • too many demons

Verdict: It’s a definite possibility that I am counting down the weeks until the final volume comes out.

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

The Soria family can give you a miracle. But there is always a second miracle that needs to take place, and that one you have to do yourself.

Set in the 1960s in the little town of Bicho Raro, Calorado, this YA novel is full of magic, radio waves, and cousins.

I guess that’s pretty much all you need to know.

YEA:

  • COUSINS (the closeness of the cousins was WONDERFUL and we need more if this)
  • Pete being absolutely solid and absolutely adorable
  • darkness metaphors (I geeked out SO MUCH about this)
  • romance that doesn’t make me gag (who knew that was possible in YA)
  • The writing style (whimsical and thoughtful and poetic and absolutely not what I was expecting)

NAY:

  • honestly I have a love/hate relationship with the magic in this book?
  • the Realization at the end about danger vs. taboo (I was confused, okay)
  • the purpose of a certain character’s darkness in conjunction with why it come on him in the first place?? (yeah, confused)
  • general confusion about miracles/the rules

Verdict: I liked it. But I’m confused.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

World War II again! This time set in England. Ada and her little brother Jamie are sent to the country to escape possible London bombings.

YEA:

  • SIBLINGS (always)
  • characters dealing with residual trauma (Ada’s character arc was done so well!)
  • found family

NAY:

  • the rushed ending
  • not as immersive in the time/place as some other books (maybe because it’s MG (which really shouldn’t be an excuse), maybe because the research wasn’t as extensive?)
  • wasted character potential (several of the side characters could have been fleshed out way more)

Verdict: Good story that could have been excellent if it had a slightly less strong middle-grade flavor. (This may sound odd as I adore many middle-grade books, but hopefully you know what I mean…)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

This book spans between the 1970s and the early 21st century. There is much turmoil in Afghanistan. MUCH. Mariam has way more than her share of misery throughout the story and I think that Khaled Hosseini enjoys torturing his characters even more than I do.

YEA:

  • Redemption (I am an absolute sucker for redemption)
  • in-depth/complex portrayal of a tumultuous time in Afghanistan’s history
  • flawed characters
  • a mother’s fierce devotion to her children
  • Mariam

NAY:

  • sexual content (WHY I ASK YOU???)
  • flawed characters (I know I put that in the “yea” category as well, but)
  • sexual content (DO YOU HAVE TO PUT IT IN JUST BECAUSE IT’S FOR ADULTS)
  • a few troubling thematic things (I know that’s super vague, but yeah, that’s all I’m giving you)
  • sexual content (HAVE I MENTIONED YET THAT I WAS EXTREMELY BOTHERED BY THIS)

Verdict: Honestly I don’t know what I thought of this book? In some ways I don’t think that the good parts outweigh the gross/traumatic content that I do not want in my brain, but on the other hand some of the story was powerful and super redemptive in ways that I love? I wish that adult books would stop being so frustrating that way.

Epilogue

The past few months have been a mixed bag for new books I guess, but the rereads were SPECTACULAR. Especially since for a couple of them it was practically like reading them for the first time. Regardless of how well I remember them, rereading old favorites can be so satisfying (I am kind of on a rereading streak at the moment, as I just started rereading the Harry Potter series. What comfort food.)

What have you been reading lately? Do you like to reread books? Have you discovered anything amazing in the past few months? Do you like reading nonfiction? Is there a series that you are really excited/terrified of finishing? Do you get frustrated when a really great story is ruined by bad content? Do you love stories about siblings and cousins as much as I do? Let me know all of your bookish news in the comments!

14 thoughts on “Bookish Reviewish~ In Which I Gush About Siblings, Cousins, And A Magic Tablecloth

    1. Really? Interesting. If I only read books once, I probably wouldn’t remember any of them very well… πŸ˜‰ I used to reread books way more than I do now. For a while I pretty much read LOTR and Narnia every year. I always love going back to favorites!

      Like

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed your re-read! What book was it? Wow, I don’t think I will ever go months on end without reading mostly fiction, but I admire all you nonfiction readers out there. πŸ™‚

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  1. “There are other ways to express yourself, son” << me @ so many people honestly, both real and fictional
    But yes. Murderbot. The Unhealth.
    I think it's interesting you put the plots under the Nays? I like the plots. They don't feel groundbreaking, but they do feel exciting and tense and…plausible??? And nice to have as a familiar grounding in the weirdness that sci-fi just is. Like, they are sort of Generic Sci-Fi Plot but at the same time there's so much detail that it doesn't feel Generic Sci-Fi Plot until you start analyzing it. Until I start analyzing it, that is. I don’t actually know why I’m explaining this.
    The important thing is: MURDERBOT.

    Oh oh The Two Princesses of Bamarre!! I am so pleased you enjoyed your reread! I am so pleased by your whole review of it, actually, almost as pleased as I am with the magical tablecloth. And the bittersweet ending. And the sisters and Rhys and the whole FEEL of the world. IT’S SUCH A GOOD BOOK. I must get on with MY reread, methinks.

    JAMIE. BEAUFORT. STUART. (is why I am considering reading The Enigma Game even though for some reason I’m reluctant to. is it worth it???)
    (and can we just….I know Paul dies but can we just kill him)

    Maggie Stiefvater is SOMETHING ELSE, because I’ve read two books by her and the romance in BOTH of them didn’t make me gag. It’s astounding. I think only Elizabeth Marie Pope is MORE astounding, because not only did she write two books with non-gag-inducing romance, one of them had THREE WHOLE ROMANCES in it and none of them were…you know. (If I say “gag” too many times, I start wanting to actually gag…) Elizabeth Marie Pope is just Another Sort of Human Altogether, though.
    Anyway, isn’t the writing absolutely scrumptious??? I like to say the narrator of All the Crooked Saints is basically a more well-adjusted Beatriz, because it’s so whimsical and thoughtful but also scrupulously scientific with these precise metaphors and I just!! adore it!! And the COUSINS. And I’m confused about the ending too. I really want to reread it.
    Also, what exactly do you mean about your love-hate relationship with the magic? I thought it was sort of gorgeous but at the same time I was uncomfortable and I’m curious if that’s what you mean (and can explain it better than me) or if it’s something different.

    I do know what you mean about the middle-grade flavor in The War That Saved My Life! It was too middle-grade even though I…love middle-grade. I was really disappointed in that book, despite the siblings, beautiful character growth, and found family, just because I couldn’t get into it. It’s sad when a book has great potential but kinda falls flat through lack of skillful writing or scene-painting or…something.
    And, on that mournful note, I shall end this Very Long Comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I was actually on the fence about mentioning the Murderbot plots at all. I mean, I kind of enjoyed things about them, but at the same time, I just didn’t care? And I wanted to. Part of it was the fact that I had to concentrate really hard to even follow what was going on most of the time (mainly because I don’t read much sci-fi) and it often felt more like an action movie than a book, which isn’t my favorite. I guess I am not big on super action-heavy plots? But there were good things about the plots, and they did seem feasible in the world and everything. Honestly I can see it both ways, and yes, Murderbot is the important thing.

      Thank you! I am glad that you liked my Two Princesses of Bamarre review. Isn’t the magic tablecloth just the best? I am immensely glad that I reread it, because I did NOT fully appreciate it the first time.

      Jamie is always worth it- as long as you go into The Enigma Game knowing it’s nowhere near as masterful as Code Name Variety. The best thing really is getting some backstory on Jamie.

      I was pleasantly surprised by Maggie Stiefvater. I would like to read more of her books. Ah, Elizabeth Marie Pope is the MASTER.

      Ooh, I ADORE your narrator theory about All the Crooked Saints! It makes so much sense.

      WHY WAS THE ENDING SO CONFUSING.

      Like you said, the magic was gorgeous and yet it made me uncomfortable. I loved the metaphorical quality of manifesting the darkness and such, and it all felt so poetic and aesthetically pleasing…and yet…it also bothered me because I DO believe in the spiritual realm and magic isn’t just a hypothetical thing. Since it was set very much in the real world, it actually felt like something that could feasibly be happening somewhere (that might sound weird) and it kind of felt like witchcraft? I don’t know why, but that’s kind of how it came across. For some reason it bothered me more than something like Harry Potter, even though that’s openly about witchcraft…I do not understand my reasoning AT ALL.

      I am glad that you know what I mean about The War That Saved My Life! It was pretty disappointing. I think I ended up liking it more than I would have on my own because I did it for a book club and was consciously making an effort to find good thing about it… It really was pretty disappointing.

      Thank you for your Very Long Comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First off, I adore this book review format. Secondly, YES ADULT BOOKS ARE SO FRUSTRATING. They so often have such good plots and such good themes and I’m happily reading along when BAM. Sexual content or swear words or other forms of nastiness that are just NOT NECESSARY. Urghghgh. This is a huge part of why we need to fill the world with more high quality, nasty-free books. (Movies too, now that I think about it, but publishing books is much more attainable for me than writing films, which is saying something because it’s probably going to be a long long while until publishing happens. XD)

    *ahem* Anyways, Unbroken sounds really interesting! I might have to try that one. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I kind of stole the format from my sister The Temperamental Writer and just disguised it a bit so that no one would notice… but she seems to be okay with it. πŸ˜‰

      THANK YOU FOR RANTING WITH ME. We definitely need more adult books/movies that keep the good stories and dispense with the unnecessary content. Because really now. More often than not, that stuff does NOT enhance the story in any way. It’s SO FRUSTRATING.

      Yes, Unbroken is so good! It does have some language and such, but it’s worth it for the excellent story. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I just love your book reviews because they are so entertaining and relatable. πŸ˜„
    (also, I get you about the middle grade thing. you want them to be mg but you don’t want them to feel mg…it’s a real problem, man.)

    Liked by 1 person

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