Where The Wolves Read

A blog where I review mostly books. I also review, if my appetite allows, movies, music, and video games. Enjoy the feast!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Content warning: Talk of suicide, "suicide is selfish" brought up a couple of times

SynopsisAt sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass was refreshing. It is not only a retelling with queer elements, but the way the narrative is structured is certainly unique. This book is told from 2 perspectives, Mina and Lynet, when both girls are teenagers. But they are not teens at the same time, so it feels like 2 distinct stories that come together to make a single cohesive one. It was surprisingly well done. I really enjoyed reading Mina and Lynet both. While their backgrounds are similar, they both had their quirks that made reading both of their stories very enjoyable. Their relationship was also really great. I'm glad it didn't take the "wicked stepmother" route. From the first page, I felt like Lynet and Mina had a very strong relationship and I was rooting for them to find a way through their struggles together.

The story itself was well done. There were a lot of interesting elements that I felt were fleshed out fairly well. I enjoyed getting to experience the north kingdom and the south. That being said, I think this book could have either been longer, or the story could have been a duology. We got to explore a good bit of the north kingdom, but everything that happened in the south felt a bit rushed. I wanted more time to soak in that part of the world. Still, the world building was well-done and the romance was A+. I love retellings, and this one definitely stood out among the rest.

4 howls

Monday, October 16, 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Content Warning: Violence, hazing, bullying, verbally abusive parents, murder, talk of murder

SynopsisOne-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

Review: I love horror movies. I find them fascinating, but incredibly cheesy. When I found out Stephanie Perkins was writing a horror novel, I was excited. I didn't know what to think about it until I heard her talk at a signing about her ode to the horror genre. I definitely got some Scream vibes from There's Someone Inside Your House. I don't know if that's because she talked about how much she loves Scream, but I made a lot of connections between the two. I did have a few gripes with this story though. I honestly didn't care too much about Makani's life. I was a little interested in what happened to make her move to Nebraska, but it wasn't a secret I was aching to have exposed. I did enjoy the secondary characters, but one of the scary things about horror movies is no one is safe. I didn't get that vibe from this book. I knew the main cast was not going to be killed and that took away from the horror experience. Also, considering what the title of the book is, I was very disappointed in how few murders actually took place in houses. That being said, the scenes where people were getting attacked in their houses were my favorite by far. This might be a personal thing, but I even told Stephanie that I have recurring nightmares about being chased in my house. This is probably what helped put me in that head space while I was reading. I know some people don't enjoy getting scared like that, but I thought it helped with the reading experience. Overall, I enjoyed bits of what this book was, but wished it was much more.

3 howls

Friday, October 13, 2017

IT by Stephen King

Content Warning: Violence, abuse, domestic abuse, bullying, sexual harassment, sex featuring children, racial slurs, slurs against women, detailed descriptions of guns, murder, torture, suicide

SynopsisTo the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw - and felt - what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one's deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

Review: It is only the second Stephen King book I've completed, but I can already tell it's going to remain a favorite. This story is one of the very few that has ever scared me, and stuck with me for a long time. Thanks, Tim Curry. Thanks a lot. As far as characters go, Stephen King does a really good job of fleshing out all of his characters. And I mean, all of them. I adored the main cast. I loved them when they were children, and I loved them as adults. Mike is my baby because he is a librarian. Outside of the main cast, it was interesting to see how Stephen King made their families different. As someone who grew up in a small town, it's easy to buy into the stereotype that all the families look the same, have the same beliefs, act the same, etc. King turns this idea on its head and gives each family their own unique background. Actually, I read something recently about how contemporary books do not have fleshed out worlds the same way fantasies do. Writers sometimes use generic phrases to build a terrible town for their stories. King does not have this issue. Every moment I read about Derry, I felt like I was actually there. Everything was easy to visualize and I was surprised at how easy it was to stay connected with the overall story. This book was over 1000 pages, but I was never bored. The only time I felt even a little burned out was when I spent my day off reading over 600 pages. Pennywise is such a great, creepy monster. I love that he can lure children close to him before they realize his sinister intentions. He was incredibly creative. The last thing I'm going to talk about is the sex scene with the children. I don't even know if calling it a sex scene is appropriate. It was awkward and honestly kind of funny to read. Kids have sex. Teens have sex. Adults have sex. I'm not going to say it's something you have to be personally comfortable with. But it happens and this scene was done tastefully. It wasn't like reading a passage out of an erotic novel. It was confusing and difficult for the kids to even know what they were doing, but I understand why it was in the book. It happens at the end of the novel if you want to know more specifically where it is so you can prepare yourself. IT was a fantastic book. I'm extremely glad I finally got to read it.

5 howls

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Content Warnings: Explicit sex and violence, slavery

Synopsis: Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.

Review: Godsgrave was an experience and a half. From the start, the story was engaging and I found myself flying through this book. Even when I was at work, all I wanted to do was check in on Mia and her companions. Mia was as delightful as ever. Well, as delightful as Mia can be. My absolute favorite aspects were the interactions between Mister Kindly and Eclipse. I love them so much. Can we have a supplemental book where it's just them going on an adventure together and being awful to one another? I need this so bad. I enjoyed getting to spend time with familiar characters again. I won't say who and in what context, but I was surprised at how much I looked forward to these moments. As for new characters, I loved reading about Leona. She was fascinating. Sid was also delightful to spend time with though I am still fairly wary of him. I was hooked on the story as soon as I opened the book. I was waiting to see what would happen next and who Mia would lose. I will say that, for the most part, the footnotes didn't bother me, but there was one instance in the first part of the book where it was a little distracting. That was slightly disappointing. Other than that, I still really enjoyed the way this book was written. The ending definitely took a turn that I'm still not sure how I feel about. I'm mostly heartbroken that I have to wait what feels like an eternity for the last book. I highly recommend this series if you are looking for an incredibly dark fantasy.

4.5 howls

Monday, October 9, 2017

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

SynopsisJane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

Review: Jane, Unlimited was a weird book, but in the best of ways. Jane was a great character and her struggle with grief felt incredibly real. I also love how she made umbrellas. That isn't something I thought I would be interested in, but it was nice being in Jane's mind as she worked on umbrellas. Jasper was wonderful. I grew up with basset hounds, so I felt an immediate connection with Jasper. He was a delight to read about for such a simple character. I feel like I can't really talk about other because of how different they appear in the different parts of the books. I did find them all interesting and I wanted to explore the stories with each character and see what secrets they hide. I went into this book without really knowing what it was about. No one could really give a good description of what this story was supposed to be. Honestly, I was okay with that. I enjoyed not knowing what I was getting into when I opened this book. I did get a wicked case of deja vu when I was reading the second section of Jane's story. I did catch on pretty quick as to what was happening, which made me even more excited to see what was coming next. It was nice knowing that you were essentially getting five stories in one book. I didn't feel bored at any point when reading Jane, Unlimited. Overall, a wonderful, unique book.

5 howls

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Content Warnings: Violence, explicit sex, mentions of rape, racial conflict and talk of slavery

Disclaimer: There has been some controversy over this book and how it depicts people of color. Specifically, Maori people. The person I originally saw discuss this took down her post. I'm not Maori. I'm not a person of color. I read this book before the controversy, and re-read it just now. I enjoyed the book and cannot speak on the racism. If you're a person of color, and especially if you're of Maori descent, you might want to stay away from this book.

SynosisIn a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Review: Nevernight is one of those books that you either love or you hate. From the first chapter, you can tell that the writing is rich and unique. Each of the characters are haunted by their past and they don't try to hide it. The story follows Mia, but you get an interesting cast of characters who all add to the story. I adored Mia. She takes no shit. Even from Mister Kindly. She starts off being really harsh to just about everyone at the Red Church, but she slowly realizes that she can have friends in this school of assassins. Which brings me to Tric. Tric. Is. Precious. I enjoyed watching him learn how to love and how to appreciate himself. Mister Kindly was my absolute favorite. He isn't afraid to speak his mind, but he is never cruel. He always looks out for Mia, but doesn't hold her hand. I loved hearing his insight to situations Mia got herself in.

This story is dark. Not just because it's set in a school for assassins. Its clearly an adult fantasy book. There is sex and gore, but none of it felt unnecessary. The story moved slow at first, but picked up when the trials began. Kristoff did a great job of showing what was at stake as the students progressed through the trials. None of the twists felt obvious to me which was appreciated. I was always left wondering what would happen next and who would end up on top. Overall, I loved this story and I can't wait to get my hands on book 2.

5 howls

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Katherine Ormsbee

Synopsis: After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.

Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

Review: I don't know how to compose my thoughts without spoiling aspects of Tash Hearts Tolstoy so buckle in. Man, this book. First off, I really appreciated Tash as a character. It's always refreshing to see ace characters in book, and I enjoyed following Tash's experience. I liked the side characters well enough. None of them stuck out, sadly. The story itself is what fell a little flat for me. I had fun seeing Tash and her friends adapt to the sudden fame they were exposed to. The first thing that bothered me was Tash's relationship with Thom. I found this part of the story very predictable, and I honestly wish I was wrong. I was hoping Tash was going to form a really good online friendship/romantic partnership. Honestly, I think having a long distance online partnership would have worked well with a character like Tash who has a hard time explaining what being ace means. It would have been nice to see her in a relationship with Thom where he is forced to think of other ways to appreciate Tash that doesn't involve sex. Then they could have come together at the end and he wouldn't have been a super dick about Tash being ace. I was disappointed that Thom was made out to be a bad guy. Online relationships are special to me and I wanted Thom to be good for Tash. Even if they just remained friends. The other thing that bothered me is deeply personal. I HATE when the love interest is the best friend. With the way Tash/Jack/Paul were all described, I had hope that this was going to be a very special book where Tash and the best friend don't fall in love. It's exhausting to read story after story where people can't just stay friends with those they've spent a majority of their life with. I wanted to like Tash Hearts Tolstoy so much, and I think it had a lot of potential. It just missed the mark for me. I would definitely recommend it if you don't have such a large problem with the best friends become lovers trope.

3 howls

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


Triggers: Slavery, racism, racial slurs

SynopsisA novel of breathtaking sweep and emotional power that traces three hundred years in Ghana and along the way becomes a truly great American novel. Extraordinary for its exquisite language, its implacable sorrow, its soaring beauty, and for its monumental portrait of the forces that shape families and nations, Homegoing heralds the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary fiction. 

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Generation after generation, Yaa Gyasi's magisterial first novel sets the fate of the individual against the obliterating movements of time, delivering unforgettable characters whose lives were shaped by historical forces beyond their control. Homegoing is a tremendous reading experience, not to be missed, by an astonishingly gifted young writer.

Review: Homegoing was a rather unique story. It doesn't follow a single person, but it follows the bloodlines of two different people. Because of this, Homegoing read more like a set of short stories that go together than a fully cohesive novel. This isn't a bad thing, but it's something to be aware of before you pick this book up. I'm also not going to really make a paragraph talking solely about characters. I found most of the perspectives really interesting to read from, but I probably enjoyed Effia, Esi, and Willa's perspectives the most. I don't have a specific reason for that, but they stood out to me and I still think about those characters. There were a couple of perspectives towards the end of the book that I didn't care for which is why this book wasn't a full 5 star read for me. Another reason why I didn't give this book a perfect rating was because I didn't read it in one sitting. I think that pulled me out of the progression of the stories. This is definitely a book I want to re-read as I get a bit older and I gain some more life perspectives. Overall, Homegoing was fascinating and definitely worth picking up.

4 howls

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


Triggers: Gangs, gun violence, racism, abuse

SynopsisSixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Review: The Hate U Give was one of the few books that 100% deserved the hype it got. Starr was incredibly easy to relate to. I especially appreciated how she internalized the change she has to make between school Starr and neighborhood Starr. I feel like that's something people do all the time. If not for physical places, then people change between their online selves and their offline selves. I'm also glad she struggled with whether or not to come forward. It's easy to see situations like this on the news and say, "If I were the witness, I would come forward," but Starr had legitimate concerns that made coming forward one of the most difficult decisions she will ever have to make. The story focused on Starr, but I liked how we got a few different opinions of those around her. The most notable one was of Starr's uncle. I appreciated that he was a cop and the story didn't turn into an "all cops are bad" narrative. All of the side characters were fascinating. Everyone from Starr's parents, to King, to Seven and Sekani. They all felt genuine and fleshed out. Every character was unique with their own flaws. It was refreshing to read such deep characters.

Everything about The Hate U Give was heart-wrenching. I didn't grow up in the "ghetto" but my hometown is far from safe. Some of the situations Starr found herself in, I recognized. One of the things I appreciated the most about the story was the unashamed use of AAVE. Hearing Starr talk with her friends from her neighborhood was like listening to my African-American friends talk together. There was a comfort in that. I'm just saying, if anyone deducts points from this book because of the use of AAVE claiming that it isn't proper grammar, they need to spend time talking to more black folk. I'm gonna just say that and move on. The other thing I liked was how Starr speaking out encouraged change. I'm not going to say in what form because I feel that's one of the strongest parts of this book, but reading the last few chapters was an incredible experience. Another thing this book did extremely well (guys, it was a lot. This book is great.) was handling topics like racism and assumptions. 

I will re-read this book later to make sure I gave this rating fairly and not just because I got caught up in the hype, but for now it is definitely on my list of best books of the year.

5/5 howls

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins


Triggers: Attempted rape, slurs, domestic abuse, gaslighting

Review: I'm not going to share the synopsis to this book, because it can spoil some of the story. That being said, the synopsis is on Goodreads, so you could always click the link above and read it there. This book hit weirdly close to home for me. I enjoyed getting to know Maya and Ariel. I found both characters to be refreshing and easy to love. I did find Ariel to be more fleshed out than Maya which was a bit of a shame. Understanding how the story played out, it makes sense that Maya would have shorter chapters and she isn't necessarily the focus of the story, but I still wish we got to experience more with her. Though, that could just be me. Maya was actually why I felt so connected to this book. Her story and relationship with Jason was eerily similar to that of one of my friends which freaked me out a bit (in a good way). Even with my personal connection to Maya, I wanted to stay in Ariel's story and see what happened to her. I wanted to experience the moments she shared with her friends. I really appreciated how she struggled with her sexuality, and how her family played a part in that. Some might find her hesitation towards a f/f relationship to be problematic, but I thought it was justified considering how she grew up with her dad. This might also be a personal thing since I was raised in the south and here, if you're anything but straight, you're on a fast train to Hell. It can be scary to see how people judge you when you come out so I completely understood her aversion. I enjoyed getting to know Gabe and Monica as well, but I felt like Hillary, Tati, and Syrah were less important and didn't get quite as fleshed out.

The whole story centers around gaslighting and how this toxic thing can shape humans. This is particularly harmful for children who would not understand what's happening. I found the story to be fascinating and engaging. Anyone sensitive to slurs (particularly LGBTQ+ slurs) might not enjoy this book because of Ariel's dad. Again, coming from the south, I grew up hearing awful things like this so it didn't bother me. If anything, it helped me relate to Ariel. Her dad is a horrific character. All I wanted was to tell Ariel to stay at Monica or Syrah's house and get away from her dad. I did find the ending of the story a wee bit predictable. That could also be because I read the synopsis before I read the book (this is also why I'm not sharing it on here). The way everything played out was still heart-wrenching in the way only Ellen Hopkins can do. Having Ariel's story written in poetry, and having Maya's written in prose, helped to distinguish between the girls. I found myself really enjoying how the book was set up. Overall, this was a solid Ellen Hopkins book. I'm sad it took me so long to get to it, but boy was it worth the wait.

4.5 howls

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thirteen Reasons Why (book and show)

I got things to say and feels to feel so let’s get started. First, let me say that Thirteen Reasons Why is one of my favorite books of all time. In the way of re-reads, it even rivals the Harry Potter books. I picked this book up on a whim when I was in high school. I read the synopsis in my school library and I thought it would help me a lot. High school is also when my thoughts shifted from, “I need to leave South Carolina” to “I should kill myself.” I know some kids with mental health issues probably shouldn’t read books about suicide, but I was hoping that I would find something about loss and hurt. Thirteen Reasons Why did that for me. It was a book I needed in that time of my life, and it continues to be a book that I refer to even as an adult. When I found out one of my favorite books was going to be turned into a TV show, I was cautiously hopeful. Then I saw the trailer and my heart sunk. It looked like this big mystery and it didn’t feel like the book I fell in love with. Sure, there is some mystery involving all of the people on the tapes and how they interconnected, but the trailer for the show made it sound like most of these people were small and there was one major person who really caused Hannah to kill herself. Don’t worry, I’m not going to shit on the show. After the first couple of episodes, I realized I was enjoying it far more than I expected to. It’s actually a fairly decent show. Of course, there are some positives and negatives. Yes, they do involve the changes that were made but, out of respect for the author, this book, and everyone involved with the show, I’m going to try to be fair. So, here are my thoughts about Thirteen Reasons Why, the book and the show.
In standard Kim fashion, I’m going to hit some of the characters. I’m not going to talk about every character in the story. Just the ones that impacted me the most. Either good impact or bad. First, there’s Clay. I LOVED Clay in the book. He is the kid you can’t help but like because he seems so kind and aware. Don’t start with the, “If he was aware then he would have known Hannah wanted to kill herself.” This wasn’t a book about people trying to save a girl. She was already gone before the book started. I still enjoyed Clay in the show. The fact that he was a nerd made my heart happy. I didn’t really like how aggressive he got at certain points. There was a part with Skye where he grabbed her arm and exposed her self-harm scars. Don’t do that. Don’t ever do that to a person. Another thing I didn’t like about Clay in the show was when his parents brought up medication to him. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with anyone taking medication. Clay in the books wasn’t on any sort of drugs. Yes, it’s hard to tell when the book takes place over the span of a single night, but I like to think Clay was a pretty well put together person. The drugs made me sad because it seemed like there was something deeply wrong with Clay and it played into the myth of “the only person who can love someone mentally ill is another ill person.”  As a teen, I hung out with a lot of ill people so it wouldn’t have bothered me as much back then, but my perspective as an adult is vastly different. I’m blessed enough to have made friends who are well and loving. They are patient and kind. They do not look at me and see my disorders. They just see me. Maybe Jay intended Clay to have some dark secrets about his own mental health. I just don’t see Clay with those kinds of struggles.
I really liked Tony in the book. I thought he was an interesting secondary character with his own share of secrets. In the show, Tony immediately became my favorite character. He is suave, but honest. He is kind, but reserved. His interactions with Clay are humorous and heartfelt. I loved him. I also loved that he is gay, but it isn’t a big deal. It’s just part of Tony and he even says that everyone knows he’s gay. It isn’t some weird secret Tony has to wrestle with. He’s comfortable with himself. He did say something that bothered me. When his boyfriend confronted him about the phrase “my friend” versus “my boyfriend,” Tony said Ryan called him “my boyfriend” and he wasn’t comfortable with the possessive tone. But “my friend” also has that possession aspect. If anything, the wording should have been “a friend.” Correct me if my hearing is off and they did actually use “a friend.” It’s such a minor thing, but it seemed really contradictory. Beyond that, Tony is fantastic. I could spend hours gushing over him.
Skye. Oh Skye. I have feelings. In the original story, she wasn’t the most necessary character. She was a chance for Clay to try again when he sees someone in need. That’s fine. I’ve accepted that. I actually thought that was a nice way of ending the book off. Then they brought her into the show. She was fine, but she embodied the stereotypical “emo” girl with the dark clothes and the “I don’t give a fuck about anything” attitude. Fine. I rolled my eyes when she was introduced because I had no real attachment to her character anyway. What DID bother me was towards the end of series when Clay exposes her self-harm scars. Skye says that her self-harm is what she needs to do in order to survive. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to writing about any kind of mental illness. Especially depression. This idea that your options are either kill yourself or live, but you have to self-harm. Yes, those sound like the only two options to some people. Those sounded like my only two options for a very long time. But I wish that wasn’t what Skye’s character had become. She could have easily been that quiet girl who tries to stay out of everyone’s bullshit but still manages to get dragged by bullies. She wouldn’t have been as interesting for people watching the show, but it would have been a healthier representation of depression compared to how she was depicted in the show.
I’m done talking about characters for now. Those were just the three big ones that I had a lot of feelings about. Now, I want to talk about the story. A large part of why I love Thirteen Reasons Why is Hannah already died. It isn’t going to be a story about trying to love a girl back to health after she tries to kill herself. She’s gone. There is no fixing that. I’ve seen some people get upset over this approach to depression. They say it focuses less on Hannah and her mental health and the focus is more on Clay. That’s fair. But I like how the narrative was about the people left behind. Yes, this includes Clay. I like how the story isn’t about fixing the broken girl and it’s about where to go from here. What I really enjoyed about the show was the overarching story of Hannah’s parents and their lawsuit against the school. I’m sure it’s for legal/personal reasons, but we don’t really hear about that side when kids commit suicide. I was fascinated by how they both struggled with how to approach the lawsuit and how both parents changed throughout the story. I admired Hannah’s parents a lot. I’m sure it isn’t easy to deal with the loss of a child. Especially when that child commits suicide. I wasn’t really bothered that they lengthened the time in which the story takes place. It actually made a lot of sense. My friend committed suicide a couple of years ago and, if I got a mysterious letter or box of tapes from her, I would have to take longer than a single night to process everything. I also appreciated seeing how the school as an organization and the student body changed throughout the story as Clay moved along with the tapes. Overall, the story was good. They changed things and moved some stuff around, but it was still solid.
Here comes the not so positive things. There were a few things with the story that got on my nerves. First off, Justin. I appreciated how the show gave us more insight to the bullies and what their home lives were like, but I still hate Justin. He doesn’t get a pass because his home life is crap. Bullies do not get to use that as an excuse for why they are terrible people. Maybe my past makes me too angry at Justin’s story, but I don’t care. Something else that bothered me was the last scene with Tony and the last scene with Alex. Much like my problem with Skye, I felt like their reactions were predictable. They made me roll my eyes. I do think stories like theirs are important, but they also deserve their own focus. Their struggles shouldn’t be tacked onto the end of Hannah’s story. The last thing that bothered me was Hannah and Bryce’s last interaction. First, this brings up the question of how a person defines rape. In the book, Hannah was fingered by Bryce. In the show, it is definitely rape. Both of those are bad and Bryce is scum. That isn’t my problem. My issue is with how the scene was done. In the book, Hannah allows herself to be in this position as a farewell of sorts. Like, this interaction with Bryce was the only thing missing before she could commit to killing herself. In the show, Bryce uses force and takes advantage of Hannah when she clearly doesn’t want any of it. I felt like the scene in the book was more empowering because Hannah had that situation planned out. She knew what she was getting into. She wasn’t trying to make excuses. In the show, Hannah appeared trapped. This depiction of her was unfortunate. I think I’ll stop here. This is already way longer than I thought it was going to be. As a whole, I still love Thirteen Reasons Why. I still give the book 5/5. I would probably give the show 3/5. I just wanted to express some things as a fan of the book.

The trigger warnings at the start of the last few episodes were greatly appreciated. That being said, this is also really helpful if you want to know specifically what troubling things are in the show:

There are also a few scenes that involve guns. One is in the very last episode, and the other is a few episodes before it. Sadly, I don't remember exactly which episode off the top of my head. It's the scene with Bryce and Jessica. If you've watched the show, then you know which scene I'm referring to.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Most Intimidating Books Tag

Original Creator: The links I've been finding don't work so I'm not sure who the original creator of this tag is. :(

1. Name a book on your TBR that you haven't been able to finish:

There isn't a specific reason for this. I tried to read it years ago, and I never actually finished it. I'm going to try again, but this was the first book I could think of.

2. A book you haven't had the time to read:

I got the first 3 books in this series fairly recently and they can all fall under this question. I work at an academic library, so trying to find time to read books like this during the school year is hard. I've been trying to collect them so I can marathon (maybe?) the series when summer break starts. We'll see.

3. Name a book you haven't read because it's a sequel:

I read all the way up to this book and then I stopped because I know book 9 is still being written. I didn't want to be caught up with another series just to wait an eternity for the next book. *cough* GoT *cough*

4. Name a book you haven't read because it's brand new:

I got this in the January Owl Crate, and I just haven't gotten around to reading it. I love retellings, but I haven't read a retelling of Phantom of the Opera. I'm going to read this soon because I'm really stinking excited for it.

5. Name a book on your TBR by an author you've read previously and you didn't like their book:

I've had Icons for awhile and I just haven't gotten to it. This might be cheating, but I enjoyed the Beautiful Creatures series a lot. Then Margie came out with this book, then Black Widow: Forever Red. I read Black Widow already and I wasn't super impressed. It just didn't wow me the way I was hoping it would. I might give it another go later and read the sequel, but we'll see. I DO need to read Icons and Idols though since I have both of them.

6. Name a book on your TBR pile that you're not in the mood to read:

I read the first book in this series and I really liked it, but I didn't have the other books. Now, I have all of them and I'm just not in the mood to read them. I'm going to check out the audio version of Furies of Calderon to see if that'll help me get back into the world a bit.

7. Name a book on your TBR pile you haven't read because it's huge:

Sanderson, why do you write such massive books? Jeebus

8. Name a book on your TBR that you bought because of the cover, but it has also gotten bad reviews:

I read Hush Hush and I wasn't a fan. I saw a copy of Black Ice on Book Outlet hecka cheap, so I picked it up. I want to believe Becca can do a really good job with a book. I've also heard a lot of negative things about this book, so we'll see.

9. Name the book on your TBR pile that you find the most intimidating:

This book is massive, and literary fiction can be hard for me to get through. I've heard it's excellent though and I want to expand my reading tastes. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Where the Wolves Read: A Darker Shade of Magic

SummaryKell is one of the last travelers--magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city. 

There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King--George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered--and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London--a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they'll never see. It's a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they'll first need to stay alive.

Review: I'm going to be straight up and tell you this was a re-read and the Shades of Magic trilogy is one of my favorite trilogies of all time. Characters. I loved all of them. There has never been another book where I've loved all the characters. Even the bad ones. Kell was mysterious, but lovable. Lila was fierce. Holland is broken and I just want to hug him. I even liked the Danes. I found each of the characters unique and fascinating. Kell's ability to travel between Londons was a great way to experience the different ways magic has affected these seemingly similar places. Lila is my baby. Lila has this great attitude and just is not here for Kell's "I'm better than you because magic" bullshit. I need Lila to be my friend in real life. Just throwing that out there. Lila didn't let anything get in her way which is something I really appreciated. Regardless of the situation, she was willing to give it everything she had. Holland was fascinating. Is there a novella of Holland and Kell growing up? It would be excellent to see both characters learning how to craft their magic into what it was when ADSOM started. Rhy was such a fun character and (I've already read book 2) I know he only gets better and more complex as the stories continue. I do wish we had gotten more of him in ADSOM, but I think we got a feel for how playful, yet loving he can be.

As far as plot goes, I'm a sucker for parallel universe or alternate dimension stories. ADSOM did a good job of focusing on one specific city, but making it feel fresh and new every single time Kell traveled. I also really liked how the dual perspective narrative was handled throughout the story. It was nice seeing Lila's fresh take on everything and then compare it to Kell's experienced eyes. I don't know if this is because the book was a re-read, but there were some parts I found a little predictable. That didn't take anything away from my enjoyment though. From start to finish, I was in London with Kell and Lila. They had such a grand adventure for the story taking place in one city. I did use the audiobook to re-experience this story and I think it was a great decision. The audiobook was very well done and I had no issues getting into the narration. I'll try to stop gushing now.

5/5 howls

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix)

Where the Wolves Watch: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Disclaimer: I have read through this entire series a couple of times. When the TV show was released, I re-read the books as they corresponded with the episodes.

Review: If you're looking for a series where kids go on an adventure and are back home with their parents at the end of the day, or a series where there is love and frivolity until the end of days, you should look for these more pleasant things. I, myself, have been quite invested in the Baudelaire children for quite some time. As a young child, I was fascinated with the horrendous things that take place within the pages of these books. When Netflix decided to make a TV show of the Baudelaire children, I was appalled. Why would a company as well known as Netflix make a mockery of such tragedy? Unfortunately, the show exists, and so does my continued heartbreak for these children. The first segment of the show follows the Baudelaires as they are put in the loathing hands of Count Olaf. The most despicable man of all time. Count Olaf is already a rubbish actor, but his performance was somehow out done in terribleness by the equally frightening Neil Patrick Harris. I quivered with fright as these two men became one and Count Olaf was brought to life once more. Patrick Warburton did a passable rendition of my dear Lemony Snicket. I desired nothing more than to jump into the screen and help him with the Baudelaire children. Let's speak about the children. The horrors they have experienced are indescribable. They were threatened and almost murdered numerous times. They have a commendable will to live that is unlike anything I've ever seen. They are truly special children. Sadly, that is not enough to keep them away from the upcoming tragedies. Now, I have learned Netflix is not done with the Baudelaire children. They plan on exploiting their pain for another season. Possible two more seasons. I will continue to watch for research purposes, but I implore everyone else to pry their eyes from the horrors within this series. I'm going to talk with the very favorable dissenters and see if there is anything we can do to keep Netflix from continuing this travesty. Good luck, Baudelaire children.

5/5 miserable howls

Friday, February 17, 2017

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

Original Creator: The Book Archer

1. Name a popular book series that you didn't like:

Twilight will always be my answer to this question. There are other books in series I hated more than Twilight, but I've completed the Twilight series so I felt it fit this question better than other books. I will say that I've grown a lot since I read this series. So, while I still hate these books, I can appreciate that they are the reason why the YA genre has grown to what it is now.

2. Name a popular series everyone seems to hate, but you seem to love:

Obviously, Vampire Academy has its fans, but lately I feel like people have been dragging this series. I feel like it's because they don't like Richelle's more recent books, so they feel the need to crap on VA as well. This series ended years ago, and the ending STILL sticks with me. I bought The Last Sacrifice the week it came out and loved everything about it.

3. Name a love triangle where you didn't like who the main character ended up with:

I'm not going to have the "Team Gale" or "Team Peeta" conversation today. I don't really have a preference between either of the guys, because I wish there was no romance at all. I get why it was there, but I still didn't like it.

4. Name a popular book genre you rarely reach for:

My two least read fiction genres are probably contemporary and historical. I've included pictures of books in both of these genres that I've read and loved, and The Book Thief is my favorite book of all time. So, clearly, reaching out of my comfort zone can be a very, very good thing.

5. Name a popular book character that you do not like:

Jace from The Mortal Instruments series. I hate him so much. I probably would have enjoyed this series a lot more if he wasn't a part of it. Oh well.

6. Name a popular author you can't seem to get into:

I had to read Ender's Game for two separate classes in college. This is supposed to be OSC's big novel, but I didn't really like it. The story was fine, but I couldn't get past Ender starting the novel at the age of 5. Plus, I just didn't like him as a character. I enjoyed the side characters, but not Ender. For the record, no OSC's personal beliefs had no part in my disliking of the novel. I'm pretty good about separating the author from their work.

7. Name a popular series you have no interest in reading:

I remember this series making its rounds when the NA genre was starting to take off. I heard it started as One Direction fanfiction. I don't have anything against fanfiction, but I don't like One Direction. Plus, I'm not really in the space to read a rocker romance blah.

8. Which book-to-movie adaptation is better than its source material:

I know this book has controversies surrounding it. As someone with disabilities, I honestly wasn't too bothered by how ablest the book was. Of course, I can see how people would be bothered, so the criticism is definitely necessary. I was really quite bored with this book. I didn't find it that compelling compared to other contemporary books I've read in the past. I did enjoy the movie. It might be because the movie sucked a couple of hours out of my life versus a few days. It could also be because I had a previous fondness for the actors involved. It was a solid adaptation so if you're curious, and you aren't bothered by the ablest tendencies, watch the movie. Skip the book.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review: The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

Where the Wolves Read: The Sculptor

SummaryDavid Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding  what  to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn't making it any easier! 

This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world's greatest city. It's about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface. Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work. (Goodreads)
Review: The Sculptor follows David who is a struggling sculptor who makes a deal with the devil. In doing so, he gains the ability to sculpt whatever he desires. David was interesting to read about and I found his struggles to be easy to relate to. Except for the conversation with Death. I also appreciated that David still struggled after he struck his deal. Death didn't give him an incredible ability and David was suddenly set. There was plenty of conflict to keep the story moving. There were side characters that David interacted with throughout the story. One of them was Meg. She reminded me of people I knew in my real life which was interesting. I've never had that experience with a graphic novel. She is quirky and fun, but she has her own demons to fight off. There was a specific scene between her and David that I really appreciated, but I'm going to let you guys figure that one out on your own.

The art was incredible. I've only read one other Scott McCloud book, Understanding Comics, but that was structured completely differently from The Sculptor. The drawings were beautiful and realistic. Then there is the artwork associated with the sculptures David creates. Every piece was unique and striking. The struggle for identity that David goes through in the book hit especially close to home for me. The Sculptor is a big book, but it is definitely worth checking out.

5/5 howls

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: Erased (anime)

Where the Wolves Watch: Erased

Summary: Growing up, 28 year old Satoru has always suffered from "revivals" where he will jump back in time 1-5 minutes and have to fix some tragedy. After a series of events, his revival takes him all the way back to his 10 year old self. Through this, he takes it upon himself to solve a series of kidnapping/murders that occurred in his town.

Disclaimer: I have only read the first volume or so of the manga, but I've watched the anime in its entirety. 

Review: This series gave me so many feelings. First of all, let's talk about the characters. Satoru was an interesting guy and I appreciated how the revivals were already a part of his life before the story initially begins. It gives us an idea of what kind of person Satoru is without being an info-dump about revivals. I can't talk about specific side characters without feeling like I'm going to spoil certain aspects of the story, but most of the characters felt thoroughly explored and fleshed out. I will say, some of the kids 10 year old Satoru interacts with feel a bit more mature than I would have expected, but overall this didn't pull my attention away from the story. 

Now, for the actual story. The story in Erased was absolutely beautiful. There were so many heartbreaking and encouraging moments for the adult characters as well as the children characters. Of course, it wasn't perfect. On a personal note, I sometimes have a hard time with stories about people trying to fix mistakes and save another person's life. That being said, I enjoyed that this story had a thriller aspect to it, versus a strictly sappy storyline. One thing that I'm torn on was the length of the story.  When Satoru goes back to his 10 year old self, we find out there were 3 children who were kidnapped and murdered in his town. A large part of the anime's story focused on only one of these children. Part of me wishes they gave the other 2 children a bit more of a story. That being said, I'm not exactly sure how they would have been able to pull that off without the story becoming repetitive. That was probably my biggest gripe throughout the series, but it didn't diminish how much I loved the show. I will also add that I found the ending a bit predictable. I'm curious to see if other people were blown away by it, but I saw the ending coming from the start. Still, I would highly recommend this for anyone. It's short enough so, if a person doesn't frequently watch anime, they will not be intimidated. It's also griping so anime veterans will have an enjoyable time following along with this story.

5/5 howls

Additional: Have a video of AmaLee singing an English translation of the ending and opening songs from Erased

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Long Time No Post

Well, hello there. I have not posted anything on here in a hot minute. I thought I was done doing text based reviews. I was going to try to upload video reviews on my youtube channel for a variety of reasons, but that didn't pan out. I might revisit this idea later but, for now, I'm going to try to get back on text reviews. I miss doing reviews and discussing things I liked and disliked about certain books. So, here's oping I manage to get back into this.