The Sculptor

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Title: The Sculptor

Author: Scott McCloud

Rating: 2.5 stars

So this is the last pre-written review that I have left from GoodReads. I read this book a couple of months ago for another readathon (Tome Topple) and, while enjoyed it while reading it, I wish I had devoted my time to a different novel because I really enjoyed the art, and the story does touch on some very difficult subjects like failure and the desire to excel at what you do, losing loved ones, and mental health. However, this book is just overflowing with poorly done tropes.

To start, the who plot of the story is so over used and there really isn’t anything new being added to it. A guy who has nothing to lose gives up his life in exchange for an ability or gift and on the way to his last day on earth meets the girl of his dreams. The girl is question is Meg, who is pretty much the definition of manic pixie dream girl. The first time he sees her she is literally dressed like an angel. The whole situation is kind of cute, but the pedestal she is put on from the beginning of the story to the end is so ridiculous that she doesn’t even seem like a real person. And of course, even her flaws make her seem more perfect.

Back to the main character, David. From the beginning you’re made to feel bad for David, and honestly at first I did. But as the story goes on more and more things keep getting added to his story that by the end it no longer felt genuine and I no longer cared. Between his money problems, being homeless, his career going down the tubes, and the deaths or ALL his family, it felt so overly dramatic that I couldn’t really connect with him as a character. Early in the story David willingly decided to trade his life for the ability to create anything in any medium with his bare hands, and is told he only has 200 days left to live and create. When he finally meets Meg, which doesn’t take long, he’s instantly smitten and tries to make a move. She brushes him off but it doesn’t take long for them to fall for each other. From start to finish the relationship doesn’t feel realistic. There is a mutual “we can fix each other” vibe underlying much of the plot with them. At some point David find out that Meg has an undisclosed mental health issue (probably depression) that causes her to push people away and get super down on herself, but it is forgotten almost as quickly as it is mentioned, and the story rolls on and on, simply spiraling around their relationship, as well as some minor and half forgotten side plot lines until the ending. Also at some point in there David tells Meg he only has less than 200 days left to live and she’s super okay with how it all went down, not at all questioning his story or sanity.

I think that this story could have worked if more time was spent developing literally ANY plot points outside of their relationships. This is one of the reasons that I hate books with romance plots in them. The main plot of the book gets derailed by the romance until that becomes the major plot and then some BS is whipped up at the end to try and make up for the fact that nothing has been happening for the past few hundred pages. If some of the deeper topics from the beginning (the failure, lose, mental health bits) had been delved into deeper over the whole story it would have been much more interesting. Another problem that held the story back was the side characters. All of the side characters were developed just enough to serve the plot devices of the story. Other than that they have no personality and no point to the story. They might as well not even be there. They are either made to be beneficial to David’s will or completely antagonistic. In general, I get that this is the point of writing in side characters, but it shouldn’t be that half-hearted and transparent.

The ending of the book was actually a surprise to me. I thought that there was going to be some magical solution to the fact that David’s days were quickly dwindling and him and Meg would live happily ever after. I have mixed feelings about what happened. On the one hand I loved that McCloud took the chance of having a bittersweet and dark ending. I did not like that he killed off one character to drive the actions of the other, or the fact that it felt like a quick clean ending to an otherwise messy story. Despite that, I appreciate any author taking a chance on ending their story on a bittersweet note. It’s risky in any book.

 

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Spookathon TBR

The most wonderful time of the year is almost upon us, and it is deserving of a wonderful readathon. What better day to talk about Spookathon than Friday the 13th? Spookathon is hosted by Lala from BooksandLala, Paige from Paige’s Pages, and Shannon from Bookerly. The readathon runs from the 16th to the 22nd of October and there are a total of 5 reading challenges: read a thriller, a book with orange on the cover, a book with a spooky setting, a book based on a childhood fear, and a book with a spooky word in the title.

I generally don’t make TBRs for myself because I never stick to them, but I’ve been waiting for Spookathon since August and I’ve been saving a few books just for this coming week! I also feel like a tentative TBR will at least keep my on track and accountable. My goal is to read at least three of the five books I picked up for next week.

A Thriller: For this challenge I’m hoping to read A House At the Bottom of the Lake by Josh Malerman. I say hoping because I’m still waiting for this to come through the mail. It should come in time so, fingers crossed! I chose this book because I’m not really a big thriller reader, but I’ve heard great things about this book, plus it’s super short. I think the title kind of give away the premise of the book, so, on to the next.

A Book with Orange on the Cover: I picked up a brand new book from the library for this challenge and aside from just having orange on the cover, I think it’s going to be the perfect October book. The book is The Bone Mother by David Demchuk, and revolves around various creatures of Ukrainian and Romanian folk tales.

A Book With A Spooky Setting: I don’t personally find the woods spooky, but I would if I were in the woods with a killer roaming around. For this challenge I chose The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis, about a young girl who gets taken in by a hunter who lives out on the desolate frontier, and turns out to be a serial killer. I’ve wanted to read this for a while, so what better time than now?

A Book Based on A Childhood Fear: Originally I was going to use House At the Bottom of the Lake for this challenge, but I’ve been wanting to read something from Victoria Schwab for a few months so I decided on the ‘monsters under the bed’ fear so that I could read This Savage Song. I think the premise adds a new layer of discomfort to the fear as the book is based on the idea that acts of violence cause the creation of monsters.

A Book With A Spooky Word In the Title: For the last challenge I was actually inspired partly by a movie trailer, and even though I was already interested in the book, the trailer definitely sealed the deal. For the spooky word challenge I picked Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. This book follows a group of four women sent to assess a place called Area X, a place where multiple teams have been sent before, some never to return, some wishing they never had.

So even though I picked a book for each challenge, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get through them all in a week, but I’m prepared to try. Regardless of whether I read them all by the 22nd I’m still going to finish them. I tried to pick shorter book but The Wolf Road and This Savage Song kind of throw off that plan. Ah well, what are you gonna do.

Are you participating in Spookathon? If not are you still going to try and read some spooky books for Halloween?

Top 5 Wednesday: Creepy Settings

Top 5 Wednesday is a GoodReads group where participants discuss their top 5 favorite books for a different topic every week. There are new topics posted every month on this page.  This group is hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and Lainey from gingerreadslainey.

Today’s topic is your favorite creepy settings. These settings don’t necessarily have to be intended to be creepy and they don’t have to be strictly from horror novels, they just have to be settings that sent chills up your spine. So, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite creepy settings.

1. The Shining by Stephen King: I feel like no list about creepy books would be complete without a King book, and even though it does seem like an obvious one, I absolutely loved The Shining. The Overlook Hotel play such a huge role in the book. It’s not just the setting, it’s another character in the novel and it almost feels as alive as the people that are living in it and lends to the increasing insanity that Jack Torrance experiences. Not only that but how freaky would it be to be stuck in a giant hotel for three months with someone whose slowly losing their mind, haunted or not?

2. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist: This book takes place in Blackeberg in Sweden, and while I’m sure Sweden is lovely, this setting is not. I don’t think it’s so much the actual place the novel is happening in but the convergence of so many sad stories taking place there that really does the job. It seems like every one of the people followed in the book is struggling so deeply with some aspect of their life and the entire town is cast in a bleak light that adds to the gloom and despair that’s hanging around Blackeberg.  Also there’s a serial killer stalking around draining their victims of their blood, if everything else wasn’t creepy enough for you.

3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas follows multiple stories in multiple timelines, so this one feels a little like a cheat because their are two setting in this book that feel creepy. The first is in ‘Sloosha’s Crossing and Everything After’. This setting at first seems like a primitive society that is set in a pre-technological world, but you soon realize that it is actually taking place after the fall of modern society. I think it’s a bit unsettling to me because it really drives home the idea that history is doomed to repeat itself when we ignore the lessons of the past. The second, and more disturbing setting, is Neo Seoul in ‘The Orison of Sonmi-451’. Neo Seoul is the advanced future that we see in so many sci-fi movies where there is crazy advanced technology but there is also a primitive side, complete with enslaved clones, corruption that sways the everyday functioning of society and a dying earth. The creepiest part of the story is definitely what they do with the clones O_o.

4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: The whole town of Henrietta has a creepy feel to it, but Cabeswater specifically is an eerie place. Although it is beautifully described and has a very dream-like quality there is an underlying sense of danger to it as well. I don’t think this feeling of danger is really prominent until the second book, but from the beginning there was definitely something off about it. There are even a few parts of the series where Cabeswater seemed like it might turn on the characters and hurt them. I think this idea is only confirmed when you find out that Ronan dreamed Cabeswater into existence.

5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Ahhhhhhh! How can it get worse than getting lost at sea with little to no chance of being found before you die? How about we throw a 400 pound predator into the boat with you for company? This is probably the creepiest setting because the book is not a fantasy novel and it is the closest to something that could happen in real life… not that I spend a lot of time in open waters, but still. Just the idea of being lost on sea is so scary to me. Not only is it dangerous but it’s so incredibly isolating. I would never want to be stuck in a situation where I didn’t know if I would ever make it back to civilization or real life again. I don’t know if this book was meant to be terrifying, but it was.

So these are some of my top favorite creepy settings. What are some of yours?

Sleeping Giants

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Title: Sleeping Giants

Author: Sylvain Neuvel

Rating: 3.5 Stars

I’ve been eyeing this book for the past year or so, wanting to pick it up one day and then not wanting to the next. I finally decided to give it a shot and it did not disappoint. I’ve already reviewed this on my GoodReads page. I have one more pre-written review from last month, but I have decided on a format, so after the next review they’ll be a little more uniform. But back to this book. P.S. you may be treading into spoiler territory.

Sleeping Giants is a pretty good introduction to a promising series. I listened to this on audio book and I blew through it in less than a day. I don’t want to say anything about the pacing because while listening to it I felt like things were moving very quickly but by the end I realized that everything had happened in a span of about 2-3 years (not including what happened in the epilogue which took place 4 years after the start of the book). This was part of the reason that I was originally going to rate this a three star, as well as the fact that there isn’t much intense action throughout the first half of the book. This is definitely a back heavy book whose plot is mostly used to set up what’s to come in the next installment. However, I gave it an additional half star because the last third of the book made up for the beginning.

The audio book is a full cast recording which really lends to establishing the characters personalities. There are about four characters that are prominent and returning throughout the novel, while there are many that are only around for one or a few files and not heard from again. Despite this, all of the characters are adding something of importance to the story. The main characters are diverse in personality and motive. Some are lovely, while some are made to be extremely unlikable. I thought the development Alyssa’s character was a bit strange. She went from kind of bland and unassuming to a diabolical mad scientist who may or may not be implicated in some crazy human experiments with not a lot of clues being dropped within the story between her introduction and the end that hinted at her true personality. She definitely seemed snubbed when she was fired from the first project, but after everything that happened with Rose it was like she became a completely different character. Alyssa was one of the elements in this book that, while I understand why they happened, I wish had been handled differently. Another one of these elements was the half-hearted semi-love triangle. It felt like a convenient way to drive the plot forward and it seemed like it was going to be used to create tension between three characters but it was never really fully developed enough to feel genuine. Kara seemed to jump from Ryan to Vincent without any real motivation. I honestly don’t understand what the point of Ryan’s character was in the book. You could lift his character from the story and with some tweaks it would still flow the same. Vincent could still be involved in a different accident, Kara still could have made it out of the compound at the end. The situation between Kara, Ryan, and Vincent was such a plot device it felt like a recipe for a huge eye roll. Towards the end it felt like a device to create a relationship rift and distance between Kara and Vincent.

The only other part of the book I didn’t really believe was the intensity of the relationships between some of the characters. I think part of this is because the whole story is told in a found files/interview-after-the-fact format so a lot of the descriptions of the relationships were clipped. Again, the relationship between Kara and Ryan was strained at best, between her and Vincent it was a little more believable because more time was spent developing their relationship. Rose’s character was very “big sister” reminiscent, which wasn’t a bad thing. She’s the kind of person who can get along with anyone, which made her friendships with both Kara and Vincent feel real as they both were introduced as relatively self-isolating people.

Despite my complaints about the few things I didn’t like in the book, in general, those things did not take away from the interesting plot line and I am excited to see where this story goes. It hints at the idea that the technology recovered in this book was left by aliens waiting for us to get smart enough to discover it. So now that we’ve discovered it, what happens next? There were a few subtle mentions of the implications that the discovery of other, more advanced life in the universe could have on us and I’m hoping that these concepts are explored more in the next book.

Six Of Crows

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Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Rating: 5 Stars

Since this is my first review post I still haven’t exactly decided on how I want to format everything, so here’s to winging it. I have a few reviews from September to October, but I decided to start with this one because it is my highest reviewed book from the past month. I had started reading this back in March but had to stop because school became overwhelming, but I picked it back up at the very end of the summer and flew through it.  I know that in the YA reading community this book has been pretty hyped up for a while, but I honestly believe that, in this case, it is 100% deserving.  The following review is also on my GoodReads page.

*** FYI: Spoilers in here somewhere!

I don’t know what to say about this book other than it was FANTASTIC. I’ve been going between 4.5 and 5 stars for this one but I feel like the problems I had were only little gripes that really didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story overall. I also couldn’t stop thinking about this book once I had finished it and I wanted to start the second one right away. I was blown away by this book mostly because it’s such an upgrade from her original series. I’ve only read Shadow and Bone, which I liked, but it didn’t feel polished. This book however, exceeds the writing and plot of the first Grishaverse novel.

My favorite part of this book is the characters. All of the characters have distinct and well rounded personalities. I love that not all of the characters got along during the story just because they were occupying the same space, and that their relationships were given time to develop. Every relationship is unique and all of them feel genuine, even the angsty, slow building relationships feel real instead of over dramatic and childish. All of the characters have interesting and well developed back stories that exhibit their flaws as well as explain their strengths. Even minor and side characters are well thought out and not developed just enough to serve their purpose in the plot, which I loved because I feel like a lot of books I’ve read recently suffer from this problem.

The setting in this book jumps around to a few different places, all of which are beautifully described. The descriptions of the settings are woven into the story and all of the places seem very real. The world building is fantastic and I appreciated that, although it is in the same universe and shares many of the same elements, it is completely separate from Shadow and Bone.

The story is very well written. It flows perfectly and precisely and you can tell that it was reworked to make sure that there were little breadcrumbs dropped throughout the entire story. There were many plot elements that circle bad from the beginning to the end and it was nice to see how well they were handled. Apart from that the actual writing style was beautiful and brutal but not overdone or flowery at all. There were a lot of really great metaphors and quotable moments, but none of the writing felt forced. The story unfolded at a good pace and it didn’t feel like there was anything that was squeezed in just to serve the furthering of the plot. Everything had it’s place.

Like I said, I only had a few tiny complaints about this book. The first of which is that there was a little bit of lag in a few places in the book. I honestly don’t care about this that much because I expect it in any book that’s over 400 pages. For a book to be that long without lag is pretty impressive. I wish that Wylan had a POV in this book because I really would have liked to get to know his character and personality better. However, I think it point to how strong Bardugo’s writing is that the fact that he didn’t have a POV didn’t really take away from his character development. I still felt like his character and back story was pretty well rounded and by the end I kind of understood why he didn’t have his own POV. The last thing I wish had been handled differently was finding out that Jesper had grisha powers. I didn’t even mind that he did, but it felt a little convenient that you find out he has powers right when they are needed and it’s not even hinted at before this. It could have been mentioned even a few scene before this. It didn’t have to be revealed to everyone at once or anything, i just wanted it to be a little less conveniently placed in the story.

Overall this book was great. I couldn’t read the ending of it fast enough and I’ve been itching to jump into Crooked Kingdom ever since I put this one down.

An Intro of Sorts

I don’t really know what to write since I’m not sure anyone will ever see this other than me. Maybe a few people will. I made this blog for myself to keep track of all of my reading. I used to be a huge reader as a child and a teenager but when I started college I essentially stopped all together. Over this past summer I discovered the wonderful world of booktube and I’ve pick up more books this summer than I have in the past five years. I’d like to keep that up, so here I am. I’ll at least be posting reviews of books I read and using my blog to keep track of any readathons I enter. I’m hoping that this blog will keep me accountable, so here goes nothing.