Book Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

made you up.jpg“Why should you believe your eyes? You were given eyes to see with, not to believe with. Your eyes can see the mirage, the hallucination as easily as the actual scenery.”

      –Ward Moore

This book has been screaming at me to read for such a long time. I regret not picking it up sooner.

Made You Up is about Alex, a girl that was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was just seven.

The book starts off just before Alex starts her last year of high school. From what we know, she used to be home schooled, but was sent to public school due to a recommendation from her therapist. And we also learn that she was expelled from her last school and is starting her senior year in a high school she’s never been to.

Zappia did a great job of summing up schizophrenia. I don’t know much about it, but I do know that schizophrenic people aren’t psychopaths, or sociopaths. Alex is literally just a girl who happens to have a mental disorder. It doesn’t affect her life too much. She has a job. She has school crushes. She struggles with certain classes (even though she’s in a bunch of AP classes). She’s intelligent and just trying to make sure people don’t see her as someone to be afraid of.

Zappia did the schizophrenic community justice with this book. She really made you feel like Alex. Sometimes you weren’t sure whether Alex was experiencing something or not. There were several moments in the book when I was caught off guard about something I thought was real or not. I started making guesses with Alex, thinking things like “she’s not really seeing that”  when she actually was. Or being so sure something was real because it was so constant in the story and then having the table flipped on you.

There was a twist at the end of the book that I didn’t see coming at all. I had to set the book aside and think about everything that happened previously, and sure enough I was able to remember the foreshadowing at the very beginning of the book.

Made You Up made me start to question my own eyes after reading it. I’m better now but it really threw me through a loop. By far one of my favorite books.

5/5

Book Review: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

the trials of apollo.jpg

Where do I begin!

I will never get tired of Riordan’s books.

Apollo is one of my favorite Greek Gods, and reading this just made me love him even more. He’s an egotistical ass, but it’s hilarious. And he even goes through some character development. His arc goes from selfish prick to not so selfish prick. There’s an obvious difference.

So this book takes place several months after The Heroes of Olympus series. I highly recommend picking that up before you read this otherwise you will be lost at times.

So if you haven’t picked up The Heroes of Olympus books yet, turn away.

The book starts off with Apollo being sent to the mortal world by Zeus. And he is mortal. Zeus has stripped him of his godly powers for however long he deems fit (until Apollo learns his lesson).

Zeus and many of the other gods blame Apollo for the war that happened in The Heroes of Olympus series. Gaia nearly woke up, and thus, nearly destroyed the gods.

So being mortal is Apollo’s punishment because it was one of his demigods, Octavius, that was helping Gaia rise.

The story is written in first person and I truly think Riordan should only write in first. There’s a better connection with the characters this way, even if it’s only told in one point of view. And he can always do several POV’s (I bring this up because in Heroes of Olympus, it was 3rd person and hard to connect with the characters).

Percy is in the book at the beginning and the end. I didn’t like that he showed up at all. I wanted this to just be Apollo’s story. I feel that Riordan added him in to please the fandom of the ‘where’s Percy’ questions. It’s similar to how Annabeth shows up at the beginning and end of the Magnus Chase books.

Who knows, maybe it was the publishing company that asked him to do it.

If you’re a fan of the Percy Jackson series, please do yourself a favor and read this book. It’s comedic gold.

5/5

Book Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

mask of shadowsOne of the first things that grabbed me as the cover. The crossed daggers and the light blue/grey background. Add that with the title, Mask of Shadows, and I couldn’t wait to find out what it was about.

Mask of Shadows is about Sal, who lives in a world where magic has been expelled from. They live under the rule of a queen they refer to as Our Queen. Sal, a thief, ends up finding out that the queen is looking for a new assassin to replace the one that just died. The title for this assassin is Opal. She has four assassins: Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal.

The book intrigued me, even more so when I learned that the main character is genderfluid.

Mask of Shadows is written in first person, past, so as the reader you never get a proper description of Sal. So you can imagine them however your mind wants to physically. I’m not gender fluid, but I think Miller summed it up pretty nicely:

“Rath had asked once, a while after we’d met and been living together, and I’d not known how to explain it yet. I didn’t have the words. He always felt like Rath, and I always felt like Sal, except it was like watching a river flow past. The river was always the same, but you never glimpsed the same water.”

When I started reading Mask of Shadows, I was really curious of the world. I wanted to know more about Erlend and Alona. And the story definitely had a Throne of Glass vibe. The whole book had that vibe, only it was poorly executed.

Our first impression of Sal is of them robbing a noble, lady, Elise. They show no violent side, and they actually let Elise keep a necklace that is important to her, but could probably get pawned for nice amount. Sal shows generosity and kindness, even though they do take everything else from Elise, like her purse. It’s through stealing this purse that Sal learns that Opal died and there are auditions for the new Opal.

It’s just a little weird that the queen is advertising that one of her assassins died and she’s in need of a new one. Sal finds a flyer in Elise’s purse. I don’t get why Elise had the flyer to begin with.

The queen is described as all powerful. Just staring at her knocks the breath from your lungs.

I knew why those who’d worshipped The Lady had rebuilt their temples to honor Our Queen. She was power trapped in mortal form.”

Announcing to your kingdom that your assassin is dead and you need a new one kind of shows weakness. It would feel more real and authentic if the assassins that the queen used weren’t so easily connected to her. To the land the queen rules, the assassins should be known as her advisors. It would make a much more interesting story if Sal signed up to be an advisor and then found out they’re actually competing to be an assassin for the queen. And that leads me to my next point.

We need to see more ruthlessness from Sal if they’re supposed to go from a thief to a killer in a matter of pages. Even if they were a street fighter in the past. In order for Sal to become a killer, and a cold one at that, we need to know more about what drives them. We vaguely know that the family was murdered–slaughtered during a war. But we need to feel more of the pain that Sal feels. We need to feel the vengeance that drives Sal to kill without thought.

As the reader we need to know Sal’s incentive to become this killer that lists off names like Arya Stark.

I don’t know much about this world. I don’t know where the continents are. I don’t know if a body of water separates any of them. I don’t know how long ago this war was that Sal mentions time and time again. I don’t even know how old Sal is or how they got to be where they are. There are tons of questions I kept asking myself, and I was hoping that they’d be answered by the end, but they weren’t.

What I do know is that magic has been abolished by the queen, and with it, an entity they call: shadows. I don’t exactly know too much about them except that Sal is deathly scared of them, and that Sal’s siblings were killed by them.

The world building needed a lot of development. This might be because Miller herself doesn’t know too much about it yet, or that she knows so much about it she forgot that the reader doesn’t and needs to be informed. I don’t know. It’s sad though because the world, from what I gather, is a pretty interesting world. I wish I knew more.

The pacing in the story was off too. Things that Miller should’ve elaborated on, she didn’t. Sal, as a character that has to kill without question, should have a lot of internal conflict. Especially if they never killed before. Which they haven’t.

Sal’s first kill is their boss. They do it without though and without remorse. Further on in the book they say:

“”He recanted.” I pulled the nightshade extract from my pocket and shook the vial. “It’s not worth it.”

Ruby took the vial and pocketed it. “Because killing doesn’t bother you.”

I nodded. I’d never kill before auditions–all those people I’d robbed and fought could bounce back from boxed ears and a few missing jewels–but I wasn’t killing because I liked it. It was a job.”

Killing is killing. It’s going to affect you no matter what. You have to have something chemically wrong with you if it doesn’t bother you and I’m sorry Sal, but you don’t. It doesn’t matter if it’s a job, or self defense (not that they’re using that here) but it’s going to haunt you. You removed someone from the world. You don’t bounce back from that so easy.

When Sal gets to the audition to be Opal, they’re asked to kill a guard. Sal does it without hesitation or thought. Sal just lunges. I get that the test is to see if Sal would do it, no questions asked, but it was a little alarming how fast they act. I had to reread what was going on because it was so sudden. This happened throughout the book. Something would happen and Sal would just act and I got lost because there was no build up to it. Sometimes it’s not even an attack but boiled down to the placement in a room.

There’s one scene I remember in chapter eight that just confused me. No one’s placement, but Emerald’s is mentioned.

“…Emerald leaned across the couch and rested her chin on long, crooked fingers…Ruby peered at me through his eyeless mask, and the sting of it burned the tips of my ears…”

And at moments it’s as if Miller forgot where she put each of the characters.

“…Emerald studied my feet and worked her way up to my face. She corrected my posture till my spine was straight as hers…”

There was no mention of Emerald standing or walking towards Sal.

“…Ruby crossed his legs and let out a soft laugh…”

So Ruby’s sitting. That’s what I assume with the crossed legs.

“…Amethyst beckoned me and pried off my gloves…”

This is the first time Amethyst is mentioned. She basically checked Sal’s muscles and hands. Emerald did too. At the end of the chapter Ruby is mentioned “unfurling from his chair”

Scenes are awkwardly written and dialouge is badly placed. It was hard to follow at times and I found myself rereading paragraphs and pages just so I could mentally check to see who was saying what. There weren’t enough dialogue tags, just actions, like a smile or a laugh. And even though that sometimes signified that the person doing the action is the one that spoke, I still got lost and had to reread to make sure.

For example, at the end of chapter eight:

“He [Ruby] opened the door. “Now, get out.”

He shut the door behind me.

“The Left Hand will grant you time to collect your thoughts.” The servant with the red collar smiled, the crook of his lips more consoling than happy.

I thought Ruby was talking but he just shut the door so then I thought he followed Sal out. I don’t know. It’s just badly placed.

And the last thing, the relationship with Elise was unnatural. I just wasn’t rooting for it. They didn’t really have a click. It was forced. And would you really want to be with someone that robbed you at knife point and is now training to be an assassin for the queen?

Mask of Shadows has a lot of potential, but it needs work.

3/5

PS. Sal literally fell out a window at the end of the book and by the next chapter it wasn’t even mentioned. Like I think I might’ve imagined it.

PPS. I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book.

Series Review: Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness

I love Patrick Ness. If you’ve read my other reviews of his books then you know I’m a big fan. He never ceases to amaze me. Whenever I’m in a reading slump, picking up one of his books always helps me get through it.

He. Never. Disappoints.

This review is coming a little bit late. I finished this series weeks ago (maybe a month ago). I just haven’t had time to write up a review about it.

The concept of this story is so original. Being able to read everyone’s thoughts at any given moment. It’s something many people wish they had. But Ness managed to highlight the side of why you shouldn’t want that power. That gift.

Everyone in this world can read everyone’s mind, except women. Women are silent. They have no Noise.

This story takes place on a new planet. Humans have left Earth (I assume) and have inhabited this new planet. When they first arrived they didn’t have Noise. They were like you and me. No one knows what the other is thinking. But after a few minutes the men started hearing each others thoughts and they’ve never been able to ‘cure’ it. All the animals of this planet have noise too and they communicate through single-worded thoughts.

The main character, Todd, is on the run with Viola. They’re heading to Haven for sanctuary. The town Todd grew up in is after him. They want to make him a ‘real man’. And they have a really twisted way of doing that.

While they’re on the run, they encounter the next intelligent life on the planet (kind of like how dolphins are super smart). This intelligent life are called Spackle. We don’t know much about them other than the fact that there was a war with the Spackle shortly after the first humans landed on the planet.

Ness does a great job of balancing the asks and the answers throughout the book (pun intended). He gives away information at a great pace and answers other, older questions while he does it. He doesn’t ever stray from the main plot.

And Todd goes through some of the best development I’ve ever read a character go through. He starts off as a very timid and frightened boy, and then he becomes this great leader without ever attempting to become a leader. And that’s how the best leaders are made.

What I also really enjoyed about this series is that we never truly know how old Todd is. I’m sure it’s easily figured out, I just don’t know how to do the math. This planet has thirteen months and Todd starts off the series as a 12-year-old. And he turns thirteen in a month. Around the middle of book two, he turns 13. I think it makes him 16 or something? If you want to do the math, let me know in the comments or something.

But the age isn’t even important. Ness brought Todd to life. And he usually does that with his characters.

Despite him being my favorite author, I still have about four books of his that I need to read. And I can’t wait to crack them open.

5/5

Book Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

sleeping giants.jpg

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book. Like how it’s original and feels like a classic sci-fi book. And it does feel like that, and it is original.

But I just wasn’t that fond of it.

The book is written kind of like Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. So it’s written with case files? Only it’s the format of a voice recording. So it’s only dialogue, with some cringeworthy details from the character speaking. The different dialogue is differentiated by bold text and regular text. It was still rather hard to figure out who was saying what at times.

Sometimes the story moves through a ‘personal journal entry’.

The story starts with regular prose writing, which is why I figured it was going to be written as such. But it starts with Rose Franklin on her eleventh birthday. Long story short, she ends up falling into a hole where at the bottom is a giant metal hand.

And then the real story begins. The main character, the one that records all his interactions with everyone, has no name. We don’t know who he is. Who he works for. How he has access to things the POTUS is even unaware of. This guy is an ‘all knowing entity’ and he’s kind of annoying.

He basically knows what you’re going to say before you even say it. He literally has everything planned out. He plans for all situations so he’s never caught off guard. He’s almost like Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows, but poorly executed.

The main goal of the whole book is to find the rest of the body of this metal being that Franklin found in the prologue when she was eleven.

Other characters are introduced and they’re bland characters. There isn’t much that seperates them from cliche YA tropes. There’s an military helicopter pilot, Kara, and she doesn’t believe in love so she doesn’t ever get too close to anyone, until there’s One Guy that’s worth her troubles.

And there’s a military guy, Ryan, that falls in love with Kara but she doesn’t want him, she wants the Other Guy (I forgot his name).

Romance was too big of a focus with the sci-fi plot. Kara would go on and on about why she liked the Other Guy and what made him different. yada yada yada….

And the characters found the body parts way too easily. Most of them (like 90%) were found on US soil. Y’know, not the giant East Asia, or Antarctica. What about Africa? South America.

For something that clearly wasn’t man-made, it was conveniently put on a continent with which the characters had access to.

One thing that really bothered me was the use of exclamation points. Not only were four or five used per page, but sometimes they were misused.

There was one part of the story, and I managed to mark where so I could talk about it, that conveyed a very different meaning than what the author was going for.

“We killed a child today. We killed a little girl!”

Kara says this in one of her journal entries. When I read it at first I had to reread it. I read it as if Kara was psychotic and took pleasure in killing a little girl. It’s the first two sentences in the chapter so there’s no context clues before to gauge Kara’s mentality toward it. As you read further you do see that she was remorseful:

“We should have seen this coming. It was bound to happen at some point.”

The exclamation point is poorly placed.

3/5

PS. Even though I wasn’t too fond of the book, I do have book 2 on my shelf and will be finishing the series.

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

the knife of never letting goPatrick Ness never lets me down.

I decided to pick this book up because I’ve been reading books that I didn’t enjoy. It went downhill since A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.

Bad book, after bad book.

But like I said, Patrick Ness delivered, as usual.

If The Giver and 1984 had a baby, this book is it.

The first thing that really grabs your attention in The Knife of Never Letting Go, is the protagonist—Todd—his voice is all encompassing. And going right into the series, you know that his, and everyones, thoughts are on blast. And yes, that includes his dog, Manchee.

So you can even talk to animals in this New World. You won’t have an intelligent conversation, but you can certainly try.

There’s one line that is so in character for a dog. I have two dogs, and whenever there’s a knock on the door… well…

For a second, nobody says nothing, everyone just freezes. Manchee’s got so many things he wants to bark that nothing comes out for a minute till he finally barks “Door!”

There were many times when I just cracked up laughing because of this book.

And like I said, Todd’s thoughts are on blast, so even when he’s not talking, he’s talking. Everything he said was always in his ‘accent’. Instead of ‘through’ it was ‘thru’. Words were abbreviated, and slang like ‘cuz’ was used. Ness even spelled words how they sound, like direkshun, informayshun, confirmayshun, temptayshun, to name a few.

Todd’s illiterate, so it kind of makes sense that he thinks those words are spelt that way.

Even though the spelling isn’t traditional, you still fly through the book. The weird spelling of words probably slows you down the first time you encounter it, but then you expect it and the book speeds up as fast as you can read it.

It’s a real page turner, which doesn’t surprise me because Ness has always been a page turner, at least to me.

I just can’t wait to start the second book.

5/5

Book Review: The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

24157347.jpgI usually give a book until page 100 before I decide to give up on it, but I just didn’t want to waste my time with this book.

Keeley was childish. Not just that, but the writing wasn’t that good either. It’s fast paced, there aren’t really any descriptions and there are things like:

“When she noticed me noticing, she said with a chuckle,”

Noticed me noticing??? You couldn’t use “looking”? I literally stared at that line for a good five minutes before I continued. And then I ran into this,

“its googly eyes googling with every bump in the road.”

Googly eyes googling.

I’m not even going to get into it.

Keeley is very childish and annoying. She says completely random things that no one would ever say, and she’s like “Boys don’t know what to make of me.” And although Keeley has two friends, they’re never around because the book is solely based on the weird friendship between Jesse and Keeley (he’s the love interest).

Their relationship is built weird too. I’m a little confused with ages in the book.

“I knew for a fact that he had actual six-pack muscles because he had this terrific habit of peeling off his sweaty soccer jersey after games and slinging it over one shoulder.”

So he has “actual six-pack muscles” and he’s a senior in high school. He’s also a man-whore, having being described as always kissing a different girl between class periods. And from my understanding, Keeley is a junior, about to be senior, so that would put her at 17 or 18. But then,

“I was supposed to pick something special for my sixteenth birthday,”

So this bitch is sixteen and she’s ‘flirting’ with an 18-year-old? And he’s graduating too, which means he’s probably going to be 19 soon. Literally get someone your own age.

I’d bitch more about the book, but that’s when I stopped reading. Her behaviour made sense as soon as I read that line though. She has a middle school mentality, and I’m not surprised because it’s not been long since she left.

2/5

PS. I think I angered the Book Gods. I keep reading bad* books.

*They’re not bad. But books I dislike.