The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 9/13/20-9/24/20

How I Found It: High School English

I am so excited to finally be reading the entire series. Many moons ago, at the ripe old age of 14, I had to read The Giver for my freshman English class. At some point while I was in college, I had discovered that the book I loved from my English class was really the first in a four book series. For years, I have always said “I will get to it eventually”, and I think it is about time that I do just that. So I’m buckled in, let’s see what these books have to offer!

Side note: Books one and two can be treated as independent works. Books 3 and 4 depend on the information/ characters from the first two books. Unlike most series posts, I will be making a rating for each book individually, and an overall rating of the series at the end.

The Giver

Set in a small community, Jonas is about to turn Twelve. Within this community, the first 12 years of life bring a new achievement into the path of independence, with Twelve being the age of earning a job. Jonas is given the job of Receiver, known as the most important and private job in the community. As The Receiver, Jonas has to be given the memories of the communities before this one, which includes the happy memories and the sad ones. But when Jonas learns of the atrocities that occur in this community that no one talks about, Jonas and the former receiver, known as The Giver, come up with a plan to escape the community and begin life anew.

I normally don’t do this, but I wanted to talk about this book specifically before I start reading the other books in the series. As mentioned before, this book was a requirement for my 9th grade English requirement. And other than talking about Utopian/Dystopian themes, I don’t remember a whole lot about what we talked about with this book. But for people who were never forced to read this book, there are themes of sameness/uniqueness, governmental control, and “ignorance is bliss” to name a few. There are a lot of things that as a society we are dealing with, and I don’t think that it would be a stretch to say that this book shows you aspects of what would happen if we went into a state of complete control.

This book won a Newbery Medal for its contribution to children’s literature. It was also adapted for film in 2014, which I will not be reviewing. I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Gathering Blue

We begin the book on Kira, a young crippled girl who has just lost her mother to an illness. Now an orphan, Kira finds herself begging the Council to let her stay in the town. They decide to keep her in a living quarters in the Council of Guardians (essentially a town hall) where she would work as an embroiderer. Every year they have a big celebration where a singer would sing the town’s history for hours, with the cloak he wears being a mural of the history, and the staff he stands with being a reminder of the parts of the story so he wouldn’t get lost in the song. With Kira the future for the robe, Thomas the future of the staff, and Jo the future of the song, the young children discover the dark pasts of the town, and how they ended up in this position.

I personally don’t think that this book is as good as The Giver (which might be more nostalgia than anything else), but I do think that it is very good, so I will be giving it a 4 out of 5 star rating.

Messenger

Matty now lives in the Village, but works as a messenger for the Leader (Jonas from The Giver). When dark trades start to occur, the people within the Village start to change, including the selfish notion of closing their borders to refugees. The Leader sends Matty to put up signs to warn travelers that they cannot enter the Village, and the Seer (Kira’s dad), asks Matty to bring Kira back to the Village before the borders close. In order to get to Kira’s town from the Village, Matty must pass through the Forest, which is getting thicker and more dangerous. Quickly things become more treacherous, and Kira and Matty have to push themselves through obstacles, and I’m really struggling to make the open-ended “will they make it” statement, but uh… will they make it?

Compared to the other 2 books, I think that this is the saddest one. It is also the shortest one. I do not think it was anywhere near as good as the first two books, so I will give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Son

There is a lot that happens in this last book, so bear with me on this synopsis. So we start with Claire, after she gives birth to a son, whom we later learn is Gabriel (I’m realizing now that I didn’t list Gabriel in The Giver synopsis, but he was the baby from that book, and he’s really important for this book, so heads up on that). Anyway, as a Birthmother, Claire isn’t supposed to have any contact with Gabriel after he is born. But after a complicated delivery, Claire is no longer able to give birth, forcing her to go into another job. Anyway, some stuff happens, Jonas disappears with Gabriel, and Claire, heartbroken, leaves on a boat.

Flash forward a bit, Claire wakes up on a beach in a small village. She has no memories and she has no understanding of the world. As she slowly understands the world, she remembers her son and the pain of losing him. She decides to leave the village to go find him, but that journey came at a price. She met the Trademaster, who took her youth in order to take her to her son. And that leads to the final part of the book, which I won’t describe here.

This book is approximately the length of the first 3 books combined. And despite its length, I think that is is more a wrap-up than an individual book. But I’m at a conundrum here. I personally don’t think this book is bad (and I think that it is better than Messenger), but I don’t particularly like the rating I’m about to give. I’ll give it a generous 3.5 out of 5 stars, purely based on the rating on the other books.

The Giver Quartet

An included map of The Giver Quartet world

I really enjoyed The Giver and Gathering Blue. I don’t think that they needed to be connected. With that being said, I enjoyed Son. And with all that being said, I don’t necessarily think that Messenger was a bad book, but it was slightly purposeless. I personally would have loved a collection of stories, including The Giver, Gathering Blue, and the story of Claire when she tries to leave the seaside village. It felt forced that these stories were interwoven this way. I think that as a series, I would give it 3 out of 5 stars (though I think that might be slightly generous).

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Well, well, well. So here’s a way to tell how old I am, the book Breaking Dawn came out while I was in middle school (my best guess is 7th or 8th grade based on memory, based on released date, I am going to guess that it was probably 7th grade), and I remember this because it was a banned book at my school. But to give you guys an idea of how long I have had these books, my Twilight book (which had to be from middle school since I distinctly remember reading it on the bus) still has the Borders barcode on the back. Yep, ladies, gents, and nonbinary folks, I’m that old.

My plan for this month is to read the original 4 novels (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn), The Life and Death of Bree Tanner, Life and Death, and Midnight Sun. There are works that have come out of these novels (including the Fifty Shades of Grey series), but I will not be focusing on these this month (or really ever).

I have read the original 4, and I have seen the movies, but I have not read any of the other books. Very recently (August of 2020), Stephenie Meyer recently released Midnight Sun, which is the book Twilight, but from Edward’s perspective. It has definitely been awhile, so hopefully these are as good as I remember from when I was a young’un.

Twilight

Isabella (Bella) Swan is forced to move to Forks, WA to live with her father after her mother’s new husband is working on finding a new job.  Having moved from always sunny Pheonix, AZ, Forks is an incredibly depressing landscape. Since this is such a small town, Bella becomes the talk of every conversation, leading to teenage drama galore.

And look, this town has some weird characters. There is this family called the Cullens, and they are incredibly beautiful, they talk to no one, and there is this dude named Edward who is the sulkiest and attractive-est of them all. So, when Bella and Edward meet, obviously things take an interesting turn.

Turns out, Edward has a secret. He survives off the blood of animals. Yes, dear reader, he is a vampire. Dun, dun, dun. Now, to normal people, this probably would be a red flag. But for our dear Bella, this leads to a really toxic and uncomfortable relationship. But when a group of vampires come into town and catch Bella’s scent, we go on a wild ride trying to hide from the tracker.

New Moon

 So after the vampire adventures of the last book, Edward starts to believe that maybe he is putting Bella in too much danger. To make matters worse, Bella got a paper cut at her birthday party and ended up in stitches. Edward goes “oh that’s crazy, maybe I should leave” and he tells her in the middle of the woods and then abandoned her.

Bella went bat-poop. She became catatonic (because that’s a normal reaction), and for months, she essentially becomes unable to function. Her dad gives her an ultimatum, get yourself together, or I’m shipping you back to your mom in Florida.

At this point, Bella starts trying to get her life back in order. She begins to realize that when her life is in danger, she hears Edward’s voice, which is a totally normal thing and not a sign of overdependence. Bella ends up finding a couple of motorcycles, and goes to her childhood friend, Jacob, to rebuild them.

A lot happens and also not a lot happens, but when we break down to the exciting parts, we learn that Jacob turns into a werewolf, and that this is a part of his heritage. Also, Jacob helps pull Bella out of her depression, but their friendship leads to a weird extreme sports competition.

Anyway, Bella jumps off a cliff. Yea, it’s a thing. Anyway, Edward thinks that she died, and now he is headed to Italy to do the only type of suicide that vampires know. And of course, Bella has to save him, because this is a romance saga after all.

Eclipse

There are a lot of deaths in nearby Seattle, and that has Bella’s father, Charlie, on edge. And with Edward back and Bella on essentially house arrest, there is a lot of tension going on. Charlie decides to take Bella off her house arrest as long as she spends time with more people than just Edward and the Cullens. Due to the whole werewolves vs vampires thing, Edward doesn’t want her anywhere near Jacob.

So this becomes a whole thing, and Bella starts sneaking around so that she can get her sweet sweet Jacob fix. Anyway, so we figure out that the stuff that is going on in Seattle is caused by newborn vampires. Someone is trying to form an army in order to hurt the Cullens, the werewolves, but most importantly, Bella.

Now, on top of all of this, we spend the entire book grasping with Bella’s future change, and her upcoming graduation. Add on that a dash of potential werewolf love, and we got ourselves a book about dilemmas and the choices we make during them.

Breaking Dawn

 Okay, so Bella and Edward get married. And after people get married, they tend to go on a honeymoon, and that honeymoon includes some adult times. No one thought that a vampire could get a human pregnant, but surprise! Bella gets pregnant.

We spend the first half of the book getting to the point where Bella gives birth to her daughter, Renesmee. We then spend the second half of the book preparing the Cullens and friends for the unfortunate arrival of the Volturi when they find out that there is a child in the mix.

The series as a whole

Okay, I have a lot of opinions on this one. I was 12 when I first read these books, and I was in high school when most of the movies came out. Genuinely, the fandom related to these books is a lot of my childhood. HOWEVER, now that I am looking at these books as an adult, they aren’t as good as I used to remember. I have a lot of problems with these books, which I plan to talk about this month, but I just can’t look past those things in my head.

With all of that being said, let’s talk about what these books do right. Firstly, these are a really good baby step into the YA world. Keep in mind, these books do not have explicit language or sexual content (although there are some scenes in Breaking Dawn that imply sexual situations, Meyer doesn’t describe the actual sex like some other YA books), so they are okay for the younger end of the YA spectrum. There are some things I picked up that have slightly sexual connotations, specifically a scene in Twilight where Edward swipes a tear from Bella’s face and then sucks it off his finger, but I can guarantee that younger young adults probably wouldn’t have picked that up. Secondly, we all need a Charlie. Write this down parents, be the person who your child can’t imagine losing, even if it means that they can’t tell you everything about their choice (or lack thereof). Support your child through their sexuality, their gender identity, and/or their partner choices.

I’m going to be spending the rest of the month trashing these books, so I’m going to leave this here. But, uh…. If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

December is Twilight Month!

Hear ye, hear ye! I am here to announce that the month of December, I will be reading and giving my thoughts on the books pertaining to the Twilight Saga.

Before this month begins, I would like to start with a warning. I had all of the intentions in the world to go into this month with positive thoughts. I had planned to write happy reviews, especially because these books and subsequent movies have been a part of my life since I was pre-pubescent. HOWEVER, I went in. I went so far in that I feel like I need to write an apology letter to Stephenie Meyer.

This month, I talk about a lot of really rough topics. Many of them involve abusive situations. I will always give you a warning before going into such heavy topics.

It is my intention that the week of Christmas 12/21-12/25, I will be posting reviews associated to the holiday (at this moment, I am unsure how many novels that will be). I am not sure when I will be receiving my Advent Calendar from Once Upon a Book Club, but I will be posting those gifts as a lead up to the day. I also have order the Christmas and New Year’s Eve boxes, and I am hoping to be posting those around the time of those holidays as well.

I have received invitations from many independent authors to read and highlight their novels. If you or someone you know would like their works reviewed, please feel free to email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. Or, if you have a book that you are hoping I will read, also feel free to reach out. I am always looking for new books to read!

I have been incredibly humbled by the amount of support I have been receiving this year. I am grateful to each and every one of you, and I hope you have enjoyed being a part of this adventure with me. 2020 has been rough for all of us, but I am so happy with we are heading. Thank you all, and I will see you again Friday!

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 8/8/20-8/16/20

How I Found It: Word of Mouth

An oldie but a goodie, I recently picked up The Hunger Games trilogy because a prequel named The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (expect a review later this month) came out in May of this year. After finally getting my butt in gear and writing reviews again, I felt like now was the time to write my thoughts on the series, so here I am. Side note: it’s been a hot minute since I have picked up a book are read it in one day, but man, have I missed it.

The Hunger Games

In a future United States, called Panem, the Capital declares a Hunger Games, where 2 tributes from each of the 12 districts are forced to compete for the death with one victor remaining in reminder of the former rebellion made by the districts. These tributes are chosen from all the children aged 12 to 18 using a lottery-type of method. Our focus is on the tributes from District 12, where Katniss Everdeen volunteers in place of her younger sister, Prim. Forced to go compete in the games, Katniss proves to be a challenging and cunning competitor, which leads many to wonder if her relationship with fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta Mellark is just an act or if they have feelings that surpass the Games. Fighting for their lives against all the other Tributes, only person can make it out. Who is it going to be? But more importantly, what is the cost?

Catching Fire

Following the end of the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta have to come to terms with their victory. Forced to go through a Victory Tour, the victors must keep up their romantic façade in an effort to curtail the growing rebellion within the districts. President Snow (leader of Panem) announces the Quarter Quell, which marks every 25 years after the rebellion, where the twist for the Games this year is that the tributes would be selected from the living victors. Forced back into their nightmares, Katniss and Peeta must compete for their lives again, but they know this time that they can’t get away with having 2 victors again. With both of them making deals to save the other’s life, they must do everything they can to keep each other alive.

Mockingjay

After being rescued and healed in District 13, Katniss has to come to terms with the new reality in front of her. District 12 has been destroyed, Peeta is a Capital prisoner, and Katniss is the face of the revolution as the Mockingjay. I’m kinda at a loss as to what more to say, but essentially we spend the book watching as Katniss has survivor guilt, the rebellion continues to barrel through, and we sit helpless as we watch how people in this position make decisions that would affect Panem history forever.

What I remember from my experience of reading this trilogy the first time (which has almost been a decade at this point), I devoured the first two books and spent a lot longer reading the last book. I didn’t have the same issue this time, but I also had a ongoing reminder of the movies, which may have affected my speed.

I really enjoyed the series as a whole, and it is one of the first series that I truly got into the fandom of. I even made my dad take me to the movies so I could see Mockingjay Part I, which if you know my father, was a big deal. I also had a year of crippling anxiety, and the movies from this series really helped ground me.

I feel like I am probably too emotionally invested to be able to give an objective review, but I would probably give this series 4.75 out of 5 stars. I wouldn’t say that universally these books would be well accepted, but I think that there is a huge nostalgic factor, a large fandom, and the ability to make an enterprise out of them, which makes them ranked very high. If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

These Witches Don’t Burn Series by Isabel Sterling

How I Read It: Audiobook

Dates Read: 9/29/20-10/2/20

How I Found It: Instagram

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

As far as I know, this “series” is only two books, and will only be two books. But, if I’m wrong, I will definitely be reading any other additions to these books.

These Witches Don’t Burn

A lot happens, so bear with me on this one. Our main character is Hannah, who is an Elemental Witch in Salem, MA. She just recently ended a relationship with Veronica, who is also an Elemental. They had a really bad experience with a Blood Witch, so when things started acting weird, they immediately think that a Blood Witch is out to get them. So they fight the whole time, but suddenly extremely dangerous and scary things start happening, which puts everyone’s lives in mortal danger. Turns out, a Blood Witch isn’t the problem, but a Witch Hunter is. But who could be the Witch Hunter, and can Hannah stop them before they kill her?

This Coven Won’t Break

Going from book one directly into book two, I don’t remember the cut off point very clearly. So we spend this book dealing with the grief of losing a father, the PTSD of almost being burned to the stake, and the pure hatred Hannah feels for the people who caused all of this pain. With everything that happened, Hannah is struggling to regain control over her powers. Despite this struggle, Hannah works along with the agents of the Council to find and destroy the Witch Hunters’ plans to strip all witches of their magic.

There is a prequel to these books, but I am going to be reading that on my personal time, and not making it part of this post. Firstly, having gone through the process of losing a parent, I totally understood the pain that Hannah was experiencing, and the complete dread of thinking you will lose someone else. Secondly, can we please normalize having YA authors featuring less famous work in their books? Truly feels great to see that. Thirdly, I am so happy when I get to read works that feature non-hetero-cis relationships. There’s no better way to increase acceptability than to continually include a wide range of people into your literature.

I definitely had fun listening to this series, but there were some moments where I just wanted to facepalm. At the end of the day, I think I would rank this series pretty high, so I am going to give this series 4.5 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Majesty by Katharine McGee

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 9/7/20

How I Found It: Continuation in Series

This is a review for the second novel in a series. If you haven’t read the first novel, this post will contain spoilers. If you would like to read my thoughts on the first book, you can see my post here, otherwise please read this review at your own discretion.

So here’s the thing, I just reread the review for American Royals since this is its sequel, and I am kinda disappointed with how I handled it. I definitely could have been more verbose about the book, so I’m going to be giving a much more detailed account of my reading experience.

So this story (and American Royals, since I described it so badly) is told from 4 women:

1) Daphne Deighton: The high-profile socialite ex-girlfriend of Prince Jefferson who is trying to rekindle her relationship with the prince in order to become a princess. She is willing to fight dirty, including using her romantic counterpoint, Ethan, to ruin Jefferson’s relationship with Nina, pushing him into Nina’s arms. When Daphne’s childhood friend, Himari, recovers from her coma (which Daphne caused, mind you), Daphne thinks that she got away with everything she did in order to get the crown. But karma finds a way of catching up to you.

2) Nina Gonzalez: Following her split with Jefferson followed by the death of the King, Nina is trying to be respectful for her grieving best friend. But soon Nina is back into the public appearances as Samantha’s best friend, but that still is a complicated part of her life. When Nina and Ethan connect for a school project, they start to develop a relationship. Since Ethan is Jefferson’s best friend, and Nina is Jefferson’s ex-girlfriend, things get complicated FAST. But juxtaposed with the reader’s knowledge that Ethan was talking to her for the sake of Daphne, it becomes a trainwreck of a situation that we know will be really bad, but we can’t look away.

3) Samantha Washington: Following Beatrice’s engagement to Teddy, Sam is looking for any way to not be the perfect heir. She ends up meeting Marshall, the heir to the Duke of Orange, who she forges a fake relationship with in order to make Teddy jealous. But soon, their relationship becomes more and more real, causing heart confusion. As Sam struggles with the new responsibilities as the heir, she is trying to find her place within the family, especially as a sister to Beatrice.

4) Beatrice Washington: Now that she is the queen of America, Beatrice is expected to marry her fianceé, Theodore “Teddy” Eaton. Following her breakup with her Revere Guard (the Secret Service of the monarchy), Connor, Bee finds herself falling for Teddy. But Bee is reminded at every turn that she is a woman as a monarch and that she will be a better monarch if she was married. Struggling to find her place as the monarch, Bee reveals more of herself to Teddy, causing them to fall more and more everyday.

Since it’s been a solid 7 months, which also included a pandemic, killer wasps, and protests, I reread American Royals to try and refresh myself with what happens. It took me a solid 3 days to get through the book (keep in mind that rereading books means that normally I can speed-read through books), with times where i felt like I read 50 pages in 2 minutes, and other times where I only picked up the book again because I wanted to finish. Now that I have the power of hindsight, I can tell you that I think that American Royals is a book that I really enjoy, but it isn’t a book that I could imagine picking up and rereading often (though I will definitely reread it if there ends up being a 3rd book, which I don’t think will happen, but I’m here for).

I read Majesty in one day. I didn’t feel the need to put down this book as often today, and that’s crazy because I had many things I also needed to get done around the house today. I think that the first book is great when you are just falling in love with the characters, but is hard to reread because once you know kinda the arc of the characters (assuming you remember them, which according to my friends, they normally don’t remember the books they read? Are they okay?), the characters are hard to re-fall in love with, if that makes sense. Since this was the first time reading Majesty, I think it was incredibly easy to find myself drawn in to all of these characters. I cannot guarantee that it would be this easy to delve into this story now that I know what happens in this story. And I’m not sure if anything I just said in the last two paragraphs made sense, but essentially, I’m not sure that these books are totally rereadable.

I was slightly disappointed that this book was not as stylistically marked as the first book. While I first book was red, white, and blue, this book was just blue. There also was not a crown embossed into the hardcover, which I’m embarrassed by how badly I wanted these markers. But I also realize I sound like a petulant child that didn’t get my way.

Quick spoiler warning: I truly would love for there to be a third book. I think now that Daphne is now completely alone, I would love for her storyline to progress. I also think we could know more about Nina’s break from Ethan and how that will change the dynamic in their relationship. Plus, I really like Marshall and Teddy, so sign me up for more Washington sisters love.

And we are back. Okay, so I rated the first book at 3.75 out of 5, and I think that the second book is better, so I am going to go with a 4-4.25 out of 5 for this book. I think this book has more of an ending, it flows better, and it’s connections between characters is much stronger.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

American Royals by Katharine McGee

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 1/31/20-2/2/20

How I Found It: Amazon

This book marks off the “A Romance” badge on the 40 Book Reading Challenge from Once Upon a Book Club

Have you ever wondered what America would look like if it was a monarchy instead of a democracy? This book takes us on a trip through the romantic lives of the 3 Washington children as they their love lives are blown up in their faces.

The oldest child is Beatrice. She is the future Queen of America, especially because her father is not doing well. She is forced to find a suitable match, leading her to Theodore “Teddy” Eaton. The only problem? She is in love with her guard.

The oldest of the twins, Samantha (“Sam”), met Teddy before her sister, and had a proper makeout. Now she is trying to deal with watching her older sister maintain a relationship with the man she loves.

The youngest and only male, Jefferson (“Jeff”), had a relationship with socialite Daphne, but ended the relationship after realizing his feelings for Sam’s best friend, Nina. But Nina never asked to be a royal, and the attention she begins to receive creates a wedge between the two lovebirds.

Because this book is the first in a series, it ends very abruptly. I believe that there is a way to finish an early book in a series without leaving on a complete cliffhanger (see Ninth House for a better example or the Caraval series), but I also recognize that this book ended on a really important moment. There are tradeoffs between what I want and what actually happened, but it did leave me wanting more, which was the purpose, right?

One of the greatest things personally as an avid book collector is the stylistic markings of the hardcover. The page break symbol is on the cover of the book, the hardcover is red, white, and blue, and the overall aesthetic of the book is so beautiful and thoughtful.

I did enjoy the writing style, but it did take me a hot minute to get into it. I feel like some of the story is missing, but I can’t figure out if I feel like there are parts lacking of the story because it ended so abruptly or if I wish a specific storyline was fleshed out more. All I can tell you is that I feel like something is missing. I feel like overall I would give this book 3.75 stars, with the possibility of being more if and when the story (aka the series) is completed.

The next book comes out in Fall of 2020, and I will make sure to update you guys on the sequel when I can get my grubby little hands on it.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy by Jenny Han

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 8/22/19-8/24/19

If you are wondering where you have heard that author from, you probably have heard of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the wildly popular Netflix movie franchise and/or the wildly popular trilogy. I read the TATBILB (okay, that was a lot harder to make than necessary) trilogy around the time that I saw the movie, and it was okay. I loved the first book, but it quickly fizzled out for me. I bought this box set around the time I finished the first book for (please don’t make me type that all out again), so I figure it’s time to get a crack at it. Plus, the summer (for all my friends still in school), just ended, so let’s relive that feeling a little bit!

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

On Cousins Beach, there is a summer home filled with 3 boys, 1 girl, and 2 moms. Isabel (Belly) has been in love with her mom’s best friend’s son, Conrad, since she was 10 years old, much to the chagrin of her brother and his. This summer, Conrad has been acting very strange (partying, drinking, smoking, etc.) and Isobel realizes that she can’t wait around forever. She goes to a party where she meets Cam, a super sweet guy from her past. As their relationship blossoms, Belly finds herself stuck between Cam and Conrad, but she can’t have her cake and eat it, too.

It’s Not Summer Without You

After Susannah’s death, Conrad and Belly’s breakup, and all the drama of the past year, Conrad goes missing. Jeremiah calls Belly to help him find Con, which leads them back to the beach house at Cousins. Turns out, Conrad found out that the beach house was being sold, and he went there to try and stop the sell. But, there is always more to the picture. Both Conrad and Jeremiah have feelings for Belly, and she finds herself in the middle over and over. She isn’t over Conrad (how can you be “over” the boy you loved for 6 years?), but he isn’t the boy she fell in love with anymore. Trying to make sense of everything that is going on is a lot for a 15-year-old, but she is trying her best. The hardest part? Not letting her heart completely shatter while she is still picking up the pieces.

We’ll Always Have Summer

After 2 years, Belly and Jeremiah get into a huge fight because he slept with someone while they were on a break. In an effort to prove his devotion to Belly, he proposes, and she accepts. Belly’s mom doesn’t support what is happening, so Belly goes to the summer house, where Conrad happens to be staying. As they are living together, Con and Belly are trying to understand all the feelings they still have. But with the wedding at the end of the summer, Belly has to finally choose, Conrad or Jeremiah.

The Series

Here’s the thing. This series is meant for someone half my age (12 and up), and I have to treat it like such. But dude, this series is completely messed up. Firstly, this girl is choosing between 2 brothers. Like that’s messed up in itself. But then on top of that, this girl is pining for her boyfriend’s brother. That is completely messed up, and this series romanticizes that feeling. I can’t support this series purely by the unhealthiness of the relationship.

HOWEVER, this series was incredibly easy to read. I literally read the last 2 books in 1 day. It is obvious that it is written for a younger audience, so the comments are naïve and innocent. The last book does touch on some topics that may be inappropriate for the younger members of the age range, but otherwise, I think that the books are good for kids, especially romantics. I would give the overall series a 3 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Caraval Trilogy by Stephanie Garber

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 7/15/19-7/20/19

Caraval was a book that had been sitting on my TBR pile for a while. I had seen it on Goodreads and was interested mainly for the cover (I know, I know, the cliché is real) because I couldn’t tell you any part of the synopsis. In a moment of weakness, I purchased the books on Audible, and then in a more pressing moment of weakness, bought the books on Kindle. Figuring that I had busy days at work that required me to be by myself A LOT (aka more reading time) and a day off, I figured this is the week to GET IT DONE! And here we are!

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

Book 1: Caraval

The story begins in Trisda as Scarlett Dragda (plus guest) and Donatella (Tella) Dragda get invited to Caraval. A sailor, named Julien, took Scarlett and Tella to the Caraval island, dropping Tella off first before he came back for Scarlett. Scarlett, with the help of Julien, gets into the Caraval game. Given only 5 nights (during the day, the doors to the hotel are locked and everything is turned off), she must find her sister who seems to have been kidnapped. But every chance at help comes at a price, and everything is not always what it seems. Every time Scarlett thinks she has figured it out, another twist in the road comes into play, making finding Tella more and more difficult. Will she find her? And more importantly, will she find herself in the process?

Book 2: Legendary

Tella is reeling from her experience at Caraval. Soon after the after celebration, news spreads that there will be another Caraval in a few weeks in Valenda, the capital of the Meridian Empire. Unlike the first Caraval, everything reminds the players that everything that happens in this game are completely real and have real-life consequences. So I didn’t mention him in the synopsis of the first book because he didn’t play THAT big of a part in it, but there is this performer, Dante. He ends up convincing the people at the hotel that Tella is the empress’ heir’s fianceé, so she gets a special room. Turns out, that heir is the Prince of Hearts, a Fate who is has the power of killing someone with a kiss. He strikes a deal with Tella that he will give her her mother in exchange for the Caraval prize, Legend. But as the game progresses, Tella begins to fall for Dante, causing her to be put between a rock and a hard place between her fianceé and her love.

Book 3: Finale

This one is hard to explain, so bear with me. Okay, so this story is told from both Donatella’s and Scarlett’s POV. Now that the Fates are released into the world, Tella and Scar must find a way to remove their powers in order to save humanity (and Legend). Both Tella and Scarlett are caught up in their individual love stories, which continues to get more and more complicated as their individual plots deepen. For Scarlett, that means discovering the Fallen Star (aka the maker of all the Fates) is her father, and then having to try and find a way to follow his plans to then kill him. For Tella, it means getting caught between the obsession from Legend and the obsession from the Prince of Hearts, when really all she wants is love, WHILE also trying to protect her sister. Yea, if you haven’t figured it out, it is kinda a mess and a lot of the time I felt like:

Image result for always sunny solving meme

The Series

As for my personal feelings, I enjoyed Caraval, the book. I thought it was a cool idea and while I saw a lot of people on Goodreads say it was similar to other books (I specifically saw Hunger Games, the Lunar Chronicles (which I haven’t read yet, but own, so I’m not sure how true that is), and The Night Circus (which I purchased because I wanted to see the connection that people listed)), which is up for interpretation. Whatever the first book may be like, the second book is basically a carbon copy of the first book except it was now in Tella’s POV. The third book was so incredibly convoluted and un-directional that I found myself thinking we were going one way for ANOTHER twist to magically be added. I am glad I read the first book, but I could have lived without the rest of the trilogy. As a whole, I would list the Caraval trilogy as 2 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!