April Wrap Up of 2019

It’s a wrap up for April 2019! This month has been awesome. While I haven’t done anything remarkable, I’m back into the writing community again. Overall, I’m just thankful to be able to get out of bed every morning. There’s always challenges in life but I’m happy that I’m able to live it again. So anyway, let’s get onto the wrap up.

April Wrap Up

The novel follows Sadie who has had a hard life, but her only solace was caring for Mattie, her baby sister. Mattie is found dead and Sadie is determined to kill her sister’s murderer. West McCray, a podcaster/journalist finds out about Sadie, he becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to the two girls. He promises Sadie and Mattie’s family that he will find Sadie alive before it’s too late.

I read this book via audiobook and let me tell you, if you decide to read this book it has to be through this format. The audiobook is separated by episodes of the podcast that West McCray hosts. It switches point of view from West McCray fictive present and Sadie fictive past. The format made a huge impact in my reading experience and I’ve never read a book that way.

While I was reading Sadie, I felt weird. I don’t usually read books like this and it was jarring because I felt like it was a psychological thriller, which was wild. This book addressed scary things that happen in everyday life. In my life, I’ve grown up privileged and definitely don’t think about runaways, murder, and pedophilia throughout my day. Courtney Summers wanted to make her audience uncomfortable and she definitely achieved that.

All of the characters felt two dimensional. I could tell that Summers wanted to add small details to add to the bigger picture, which I acknowledged but it was never enough. This would be acceptable for the side characters but it was applicable to Sadie and other main characters. I thought that this mystery was meant to add intrigue to the reader, which it did but I never got to know Sadie. When I finished the book, I was left wondering why I even started.

The setting ranged wildly as Sadie and West McCray travel across Colorado, I think. Honestly, the name of the other cities escapes me because they are forgettable. I know some vague idea of what the atmosphere was in each city but I can’t tell you who lived in it or why it was important to the plot. Too often, the setting wouldn’t be described until the middle of the action when it wasn’t appropriate. It was jarring and confusing not knowing where the characters were.

I definitely appreciated Sadie’s internal conflict and character arc. As the reader, I could definitely feel Sadie’s pain as she tried to convince herself that the ends justified the means. Another nice thing is that Courtney Summers does not underplay her audience. She knows that teenagers can handle and comprehend some serious topics because it happens to them. Pedophilia and addiction apply to teenagers when we’re so often the victims of it.

This book is loved by a lot of BookTubers and bloggers. Even on Goodreads, I searched through six pages of reviews and couldn’t find one review that was three or less stars. So I guess I’m the bad egg in the bunch. In all honesty, I still would recommend it to most people, it was just a situation where I personally was overly critical because of the hype.

After forty years of the treaty between dragons and mankind, there is still high levels of intolerance and bigotry on both sides. Seraphina Dombegh is somewhat of a musical prodigy, which puts her in the spotlight. She joins the court just before the death of Prince Rufus that suspiciously reeks of the works of a dragon. Seraphina is suspected, then partners up with the bastard Prince Lucian Kiggs. As the plot unravels, Seraphine struggles with her loyalties and wondering how she can keep herself safe and secret.

I was craving a high fantasy book to escape my life and I definitely found it. YA fantasy doesn’t always speak out to me and I definitely had my gripes with it but it wasn’t as bad as I expected (to be honest). My favorite part about fantasy is the worldbuilding and it was absolutely amazing.  I felt like I was in the city and could smell the sweets in the bakery. The atmosphere of the capital was just so real. This book makes a point to show off the magnificent architecture and every arch. A lot of people despise worldbuilding but I was so down for it.

Seraphina as a character felt real. Maybe it’s just because I’ve had my own struggle with self-image and self-harm but I definitely felt for Seraphina in those moments. She’s hard-working and confident but in the same breath, she’s also insecure and lacks the love she needed in her childhood. One could definitely see why she’s like that way with her backstory, which was revealed slowly so it never felt like an info-dump. Seraphina was a strong heroine. The side characters as well felt flat at first but all of them earned a character arc, which strengthened their depth.

Okay, the plot twist. I’m not going to spoil it but holy hot damn. I pride myself on being able to sniff out plot twists but I was bamboozled. The last few chapters got me tripping over my own feet at every step. I’d have to reread it again to see all the hints Rachel Hartman sprinkled in, but I really don’t want to reread it. There must’ve been little sprinklings of  the plot twists. While I understood some, othertimes I was left confused. I’m not sure whether it was because Rachel Hartman was just so good at dropping subtle foreshadowing or it was a plot twist dropping in like a bomb.

My real gripe was with the romance. Oh dear, the romance was hard to swallow. I don’t know if I say this because I’m not a romantic person in general but dang. There was a love at first sight situation or more accurately a love at first week right after a huge death. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t be quick to navigating the dating waters after a meaningful death in my life. The two characters hadn’t even spent a lot of time together yet they were ready to drop the L word.

I was so confused when Seraphina said that she loved the love interest. I can understand infatuation but love? I can even understand how Seraphina could think she was in love, despite her character being incredibly practical and logic-driven. But Rachel Hartmen was trying to sell me on the idea that Seraphina was actually in love. I was so confused man. Hopefully this gets answered in the second book of the series but honestly, I don’t even know if I give Rachel Hartman the benefit of the doubt.

Do I even need to give a synopsis? It feels insulting. It’s the end of Harry Potter’s journey as he finally fights Voldemort one on one. It’s filled with death, corruption, and realistic subplots.

I was never a huge fan of Harry Potter and to be honest, I didn’t want to finish this. I read most of it by audio-book, thank the Lord. It took me months to finish this because I just wasn’t interested. I pushed through because I felt an obligation to finish a series so vital to our culture.

I love the fan culture that Harry Potter has created but for the writing, I just wasn’t that huge of a fan. I found it difficult to care for any of the characters and the magic felt really faulty in this particular book.

I’m obviously stepping on toes and I’m not a fan of doing negative reviews. So I’ll just leave it here. I just wasn’t entertained by this book.

Amina is a young girl who is struggling with her identity of what it means to be Muslim and American. It doesn’t help that her best friend, Soojin is planning to change her name to a more Americanized version. She’s starting to hang out with one of the popular girls who’s made some racist comments to the both of them. All the while, she learns that her local mosque has been vandalized.

While I didn’t give this book a five out of five, I do think this book was written for young Muslim girls who have not had this type of representation. I don’t want to take away what kind of impact this could’ve had on someone who has been so rarely represented in fiction. My opinion on this book is coming from a Filipino, Catholic daughter of first generation immigrants. While I could relate to some of it, I definitely feel I can’t give an opinion on the subject of Islam and Palestinian customs.

This book was honestly so relatable. I had a really hard time in middle school and I could relate so well to Amina. The struggles of feeling your friends drift away and struggling with the popular girls. I went to a Lutheran school so religion was a huge part of my everyday life. A lot of people weren’t Lutheran. I’m Catholic. Some were Christian, Orthodox, or Baptist. We’d spend recess arguing about how to do the cross before and after prayer properly, right or left first.

While I loved this book, I definitely was expecting more. The vandalism of the mosque comes towards the end of the book meanwhile I thought it would be the inciting incident. It was more of what caused the climax of Amina finally being accepted by her peers.

The circus arrives without warning. It’s filled with wonder and mystery. Everyone who steps into the circus leaves with something they hadn’t had before. But behind the scenes, Marco and Cecelia duel out in a battle of wits. The rules are left unclear along with the end goal, but they were bound at a young age to verse the other. It’s finally thrown into chaos when the two fall unexpectedly in love.

I was super excited to read this book. It was compared to The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill, possibly one of my favorite book of all time. This book sounded like everything I’d love. It was a literary fiction with romance, told in a mystical way. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan.

This book is very confusing. I don’t mean to say that I didn’t know what was going on, but I did keep wondering why certain scenes were in the story. More often than not, I’d ask myself how the chapter was adding anything to the story and I’d be left disappointed. I just felt like there was too much words for the story.

The characters felt incredibly two dimensional. I just wanted some sort of personality from them. I wanted to know that one character was snarky, or one was comedic, or one was stubborn. But I felt like every character was too similar to the other, there was no diversity in terms of personality. That made it more exhausting that there was such a large cast.

The world building was exhausting. Erin Morgenstern kept on emphasizing how amazing the circus was, but I find it hard to believe every single person that attended the circus was left awestruck. The circus travels the world for more than decade. The fact that the circus was so fantastical, it only increased the lack of work put into the side characters as they all loved it. I can’t help but compare it to a fantasy book when every person has the same religious beliefs. It’s unbelievable because people are so unique. I found that incredibly frustrating.

Finally the magic, my lease favorite part. There were no rules that were applicable to the magic. I understand it fit into the fictive canon, but it was so frustrating. Because the rules of magic are left so vague, at the end of the book, I was left wondering why we didn’t just magic away all our problems to begin with. I felt like I wasted my time.

I am glad that I read it. I’ve had this book on my shelf for years and always thought I’d love it. While I didn’t like it, at least I know what happened in the story.

May TBR


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