Uglies by Scott Westerfeld ~ Book Review!!

Uglies is the first book in the Uglies quartet by Scott Westerfeld. This is my second read through of the book, my first read was over 10 years ago! I’m rereading because he’s started a new series to expand on this world and I want to do a reread of these books before I start the new series. I’m glad I reread this book, I remembered parts of the story but definitely not the main details and I enjoyed getting to know the world again.

Uglies is a dystopian story about Tally, who is an ugly, waiting for her 16th birthday (when everyone gets to become Pretty). She wants to become pretty but makes a friend that has other ideas. Through her new friend, Tally gets tangled up in a world of deception and survival and learns what it really means to become a pretty.

The world building is good. It feels like a more modern world with the obvious changes: castes broken down by age and everyone essentially being “equal” in looks. and the technology is way beyond what we have now. When I read this for the first time in 2005/2006 I was amazed at the technology that they have for every day items, and I still think it’d be cool to have that type of stuff implemented into our lives. The technology of the world is highly unique and well thought out that from safety measures to mundane clothing it all seems really unique. The background and history of the Uglies world isn’t really clear until later in the book, that could lead to some confusion for some people, but I found it really engrossing anyway.

World: 4

The characters and their development is sort of flat, to me, in this book, I think Tally is really quite boring. She talks about doing tricks and being rebellious but it seems to all be on accident and when she has a chance for a real adventure she downplays it quite a bit. She also has almost no growth, she goes through quite a bit, and while she learns new skills, she doesn’t really become a more mature or stronger person. The other young characters that grew up with her are similar in their flatness, no one seems to have much in the way of history or interesting things to think or talk about. The adults in the book though are made to feel not only more experienced, but more well rounded. I imagine that this difference is done on purpose to show how sheltered the young people of the city are and that once they become old they’ve had some experiences to build character… I think it held the story back a little bit though, because the main characters are dull.

Characters: 3

Relationships in the story are more strongly friendship based. Friendship seems to be the driving force behind all of Tally’s actions and her friends are what motivate her to do literally anything. Love interests are mostly just referenced, there is one kind-of love, but it seems to lack a spark for me making me wonder if it will last though out the other books in the series. Nothing explicit happens, just a little kissing is talked about.

Relationships: 3

Emotions in the book are pretty nonexistent. I enjoyed the ride of getting to know the world again and seeing the crazy technologies, but that wonder is all that drove me forward. I didn’t feel anything for the characters, this could be because it’s an older story and I’ve read many books since initially reading this, in the same dystopian genre, that give me tons of feels. it’s also possible that it’s due to perspective, this story is told from 3rd person perspective and therefore doesn’t have a lot of internalized feelings. There are several moments that could have been more intense, more sad, more happy, more scary, but it all felt like it was just glazed over because it was hard to know what the characters felt.

Emotions; 2

The pace of the story is really just about perfect. It covers a lot of information in a lot of time, but does it without any huge time skips or long drawn out sequences. The lulls of the story are easily balanced out by all of the action and crazy things going on in the world. I was never bored or waiting for the scene to be over, but I was always eager to know what happened next.

Pace: 5

Overall, I give the story 3 stars out of 5. It is a good introduction to the world and full of new interesting technologies. It’s lacking in the emotions and character department for me though, probably because it’s told in 3rd person and it’s nearly 15 years old.

ttyl,

❤ Squared

 

Advertisements

A Court of Thornes and Roses by Sarah J. Mass ~ Book Review!!

Well… I did it. I finally read the much talked about ACOTAR. Here’s my thoughts and spoiler free review!

I knew going into this book that it has an almost cult like following and people love this book and the rest of the series. The ‘hype’ around a book doesn’t usually effect how I feel when reading a book so I wasn’t worred about that… however, I had since of my own already formed opinions and thoughts about the book before reading it.

If you’ve been following me for a while you may know that I fell into a very unfortunate situation where I ended up with THREE copies of A Court of Mist and Fury (the 2nd book in this series) without ever hearing about the series before. It annoyed me in many ways and I began to lothe just looking at that thick blue book so I set one copy on my shelves and figured I’d never read it. Then when I started joining more bookish groups on Facebook & Instagram every time a book by SJM was released people would go nutters! The series and what I knew of it and how people reacted to it reminded me a lot of Twilight and it’s insanity. I was 15 when Twilight (the book) was released and I was definitely the target audience! I loved the books, hated the movies, and while now as an adult I see how many flaws it had it still is special to me. ACOTAR seemed exactly like that to me, this generation’s ‘Twilight’ type obsessive craze… was I right? Was my mind changed by reading the book? I won’t say anything more until the end of the review.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is about a human girl that by unfortunate circumstances ends up in the fairy realm. I admit that I haven’t read a lot of fairy/fae books, not since reading the Tithe series by Holly Black when I was in high school actually. It was a quite difficult getting through most of the names, and so I just pronounce them the way I want to – I can’t wrap my mind around most of the actual pronounciations – sorry, but the rest of the story seemed to flow well. However, I can’t compare it to any new-ish fairy books.

World building was good. The descriptions of the lands and the layout of the world and houses were very good. Getting to know all the different types of creatures in the world was also seemingly easy as their descriptions were done well. I particularly liked that the background of the world is layed out well, but not over done, in this book. The history of the two realms and the war and the misgivings that occurred during that time. I never had any problem putting myself right into the world with the characters.

World Building: 5

The character development was also good. Most of the characters had a lot of good back story that was laid out and they were easy to get to know. The main character I thought was pretty stagnant, I hate when a character is unable to adapt to her new world or new way of life, and she had this issue. It’s possible that she will grow into her new life in the next books, but this one she seemed really resistant to me. The guys were a little bit better in terms of character growth, but it was their world and were clearly hiding something that the main character wasn’t able to pick up on. I do however, hate the tropey “I had no idea [character] was this way though I’ve known them my whole life” thing, which this book threw in towards the end and it was pretty annoying to me.

Character Development: 3

The relationships to me in this book were ok. Friendships and relationships in general were lack luster and had me wondering why they even tried. The friendships that the main character developed seemed forced, like she literally forced herself to be around these prople until they tolerated her, but they still dodn’t really care about her in any real fashion until it came to the possibility of a tragedy, and then only so much. (This next part might be kind of a spoiler, you can skip if you want) As a teen, I loved the “human girl falls in love with an immortal” story, and if I was still that young I’d probably love this book for exactly that reason. However, that type of story line, especially with teenagers and immortals, isn’t really my type of thing any more and I find it creepy and disturbing. I had an idea from the beginning that this is what would happen, and I wasn’t wrong. There is also some sexual references in the book, that I wasn’t really expecting and it bordered in the realms of what you’d find in a romance novel when described though not super explicit. PG-13+

Relationships: 3

Emotions were pretty mediocre in this book. My core feeling while reading the book was annoyance in the main character, and shock that I kept seeing similarities to other popular stories like ‘The Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Twilight’. I did tear up once because of a kind thing that was unexpectedly said, but there was no other real emotion for me in the book. This is unfortunate, becuase I felt there were several times when I thought “Ok, this one is going to hurt” but it didn’t. There’s a sizable amount of fights, death, and other disturbing moments in the book and I thought at least half of them would make me feel something, but they didn’t.

Emotions: 2

The pacing of the story was good. A few days would be skipped here and there but  not big time skips and overall the story flowed really well. I felt that nothing was overlooked and the events that occurred took an appropriate amount of time. The ending of the book was more intense than the bulk and it wish it would have not been drawn out as long as it was, but that’s because I wanted to get through to the end to find out what happens.

Pace: 5

Now, there were some similarities to the Twilight story, but at the end I don’t think it was really like that story much in the final execution. It is more mature, especially in the first book and there’s no obsessive love going on or any love-triangle yet. However, after reading only the first book I would still call ACOTAR this generation’s Twilight because it has a similar (possibly more obsessive) following and a similar premise to what happened in the Twilight books. It’s not AS bad as Twilight, better writing and the girl at least has a simblance of self confidence. I’d tell a 14 year old to read Twilight over ACOTAR (it’s too dark and mature in my opinion), but I’d tell a 17 year old to read ACOTAR over Twilight. I think the book was too young for me, at 28, but I could see how it appeals to a slightly younger audience.

Overall, I give A Court of Thorns and Roses 3 out of 5 stars. It’s not my type of story but I think the world building was particularly strong. If I continue reading the story it’ll be to get another taste of the world and hopefully a broader view of the other kingdoms.

ttyl,

Squared

Meet The Blogger

I’ve been running rampant on this blog for TWO years. May is my WordPress anniversary month, doing book reviews and bookish posts (and a few bookish rants lol). I just realized that I haven’t done anything to really introduce myself to you, the reader. So here it is finally, a real introduction.

My name is Stephanie. Most people call me Steph, and a nickname I’ve had for the last 10 or so years is Squared. I’m 28, a Sagittarius, a Hufflepuff, and in a relationship with the greatest guy I know.

The Early Years

I was born in Missouri but grew up in south east Kansas. Some of my childhood passions included crafts, sewing, singing, sign language, and of course reading and telling stories!! I was (and still am) horrible at sports, especially basketball… I almost “died” once playing basketball during recess, but I really enjoyed swinging on swings and playing tetherball. I also believed in dreamcatchers and what they could do, they were the only way I could sleep for a LONG time; therefore, I have a large collection of different styles of dreamcatchers and ones that I’ve made myself.

Words to Live By

I LOVE inspirational quotes. Since the days of MSN I’ve been obsessed with quotes and happy lines that give me inspiration. I also have some favorite song lyrics, and of course my own mantras that mean a lot to me. There are currently 1,089 pins in my “inspirational quotes” board on Pinterest. The ones that resonate with me the most are:

      “Sometimes on the way to your dream you get lost and find a better one.”

      “Though she be but little she is fierce.” – Shakespeare

“You will be exactly as happy as you decide to be.”

  “We’ll happen again and again, cause you and I will always be back then.” – BMO (Time Adventure Lyrics)

  “We must be swift as the coursing river. With all the force of a great typhoon. With all the strength of a raging fire. Mysterious as the dark side of the moon.” – Mulan (lyrics)

Ok, I’m kind of joking about the last one, but those lyrics are freaking awesome no matter how you look at it! If I had to pick just one quote that I love the most, it would be this:

      “Live like the lions do.”

Family

I have a large family. My parents were together for 9 years and had me and my little sister, then they divorced when I was 7 and my dad remarried and then I got even more siblings! I have 5 siblings, 1 full sister, 1 half-sister, and 3 step siblings – but really, we’ve been together now for 19 years so it’s all relative and we’re basically just normal siblings. And, now that we’re almost all adults there’s in-laws and nieces and nephews all over the place lol. I hope to one-day have children of my own, but not quite ready yet.

Of the animal variery, my boyfriend and I have 7 amphibians. We have 2 toads, 3 frogs, and 2 axolotls! We wish we had a dog, but the current living situation doesn’t allow for that.

Biggest Accomplishment

I am most proud of myself and my career path to this point. It hasn’t all been easy, but I know it’s ultimately what makes me happy. I currently work as a Quality Engineer and feel that as long as it’s a career that’s rewarding and still allows for a good quality of life for the person it’s a good choice.

If I were able to make a real career out of reading and writing book reviews or doing Beta reads I absolutely would. Unfortunately, that kind of thing wouldn’t pay the bills or allow for the quality of life that I’m used to.

Favorite Hobbies:

I love reading, of course, but I also love crafts. I’ve done a little bit of everything when it comes to crafting from painting to sewing to rug making, now I’m more into the cricut and die-cutting side of things. Of course it’s all bookish and fun stuff like that! I also want to start a bookTube channel where I would talk about and review books regularly! That will require a little more setup than I currently have but hopefully soon!

 

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard ~ Book Review!!

Red Queen is the first book in a dark fantasy style dystopian series. I was recommended this book by my sister, and since I already had been interested in it I gave it a go.

The story is told from the point of view of Mare, a Red, who by happenstance falls into the Silver world of trickery and royalty. At the beginning this book I was reminded of ‘Red Rising’ and ‘The Selection’, however I don’t think I’d really say it’s like either. Don’t let any feelings at the beginning of this book fool you, it’s a story uniquely all it’s own. I will try very hard to not put any spoilers in this review, try!

For the world building, this book was great! It’s a unique world that is described so well at times I felt like I could see the land or at the very least the map of the land. The characters do a lot of travel and everywhere they went the author puts you right next to her characters. The community hierarchy is also well laid out, yes Reds are the bottom and Silvers at the top but it’s a lot more than that.

World: 5

Characters… I’ve had to think a lot about this. Their development is somewhat lacking, no one really changes you just learn who they are. The characters are incredibly filled out though. You get to know so much about the characters around Mare and Nearly every character you meet matters to the story or becomes important in one way or another, it’s quite interesting. Message in interesting and not overly annoying, I thought she was an actual strong female role unlike most of what I’ve read lately where the girl’s just annoying.

Characters: 5

I felt that relationships lacked a little. There was some somewhat forced “love” peppered around but it never felt like it naturally occurred to me. Relationships on all fronts: family, friendship, love, all of it really just kind-of didn’t feel real. The story is focusing more on the dark and mysterious ways of the royal Silver families rather than any type of family dynamic. There’s no real friendships or romance to talk of. I will say there’s one character that loves another so much she literally does whatever it takes for him… it’s not who or how or what you think, but I totally respect her for it. I hate it, but I respect it and that one character saved the book’s relationship score for me.

Relationships: 3

Emotions are somewhat mixed. No tears or laughs or anything outwardly was felt. Really for most of the book there wasn’t a whole lot of emotions at all. I felt at one point that I might need to stop reading because nothing was happening emotionally… then with a plot twist (that I probably should have seen coming) I was stuck on the edge of my seat anxious to know what happens next. The last bits of the book was constant action and anxiously wanting to know how it’d end.

Emotions: 3

The pace of the book is good. There’s no time skips, nothing goes too quickly and nothing drags on longer than necessary. I did feel myself wishing time would move faster in the book at times. Not in a bad way, but because the fights and battles and build up was very good and I needed to know what happened next.

Pace: 5

This book is not for the faint of heart. It’s a dark fantasy dystopian with pleanty of death & fighting, and what seemed like a very dark history and gloomy out looking future. I liked it quite a bit, it’s unique in how things come together in the end but does have some reminiscences of other books like it in it’s genre.

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I thought it was good and even though the emotions just weren’t there for me, the characters and the world made the book unputdownable.

❤ Squared

🌟🌟🌟🌟

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling ~ Book review!!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in the Harry Potter series. This is my third time finishing this book, and I really can’t remember how many times I’ve seen the movie.

If you’ve never read the books, I highly recommend them. I know people who read them for the first time as adults and still love the story as much as children do.

In ‘Chamber of Secrets’ Harry is back at school and is met with a few challenges right away trying to ruin his school year. Then once the chamber opens even more dark stuff starts happening. Once again, Harry and friends take it upon themselves to find the truth and stop the bad guy!

The world building is amazing! I’m biased, probably, but in this book we get to see more of the wizarding world than before. We have our first view of family homes in the wizarding world along with all the little quirks and creatures that they behold. We also get a peek at the other side of magic and magical shops down Knockturn alley, not just the happy good magical shops of Diagon Alley. We even see more areas of Hogwarts with our first trip into Slytherin house! I think the little expansions of the wizarding world are import to the story and keep the reader learning along with Harry and keep our curiosities peaked.

World building: 5

Character building is good in this book. We meet some new characters, and creatures in this book and all seem very well described and thought out. We also get to know some of the characters better that we’ve seen before, from good to bad many characters are starting to become more real to the story.

Characters: 5

The relationships in this book are still strongly friendship based. The friendship between Harry and others, and a few other groups of friends are seen. The friendship is very well developed and it’s truly amazing to see all that these kids will go through for eachother. Family also starts to play a bigger role in the story as we get to see not only more Weasleys but their home too! Harry starts tho learn about what other families are like and feels a connection with those that grew up similarly to himself. The only love in this book is just hinted at from some minor characters, this book is still in the children’s/ middle grade category so I wouldn’t expect to see much.

Relationships: 5

The emotions in this book are very appropriate for what is happening in the story. I would feel anxious or upset with the characters when things start going sideways. I understood their happiness and wonder. I like this book, though it doesn’t make me cry or anything I think it’s very well felt.

Emotions: 5

The pace of this book is good. It takes place over one school year and though there are some time skips nothing is going in during that time to change the characters. It’s more of a “before they knew it, it was Halloween” type of skip. I never felt like I was missing anything or that any scene was rushed or too drawn out.

Pace: 5

Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. It’s great for people of all ages and it’s full of magic!

Squared

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The One by Kiera Cass ~ Book Review!!

“The One” is the third book in the Selection series. I started this book immediately after finishing “The Elite” because the emotions were just so high I had to know what happened next.

I’ll start by saying that the one thing I’ve appreciated about this series as a whole is that there isn’t a lot of fluff about remembering what happened in previous books. The author expects that you’ve read the prior books and doesn’t waste time trying to retell what has already been done before. That means that you have to read these books in order to know what is going on, and I’m completely fine with it, I prefer not to have too much retold over and over again in a series. Reading along through the series the story is leading to a very obvious conclusion though. This book is it. Now, I couldn’t have guessed everything that was going to happen in the end, but it ended just as one would have expected it to… with a few shocks thrown in.

Now for the scoring.

The world in this series keeps expanding throughout the books and I love it! I love that it seems in every book we get to see a little more of what the world is like outside of the castle’s walls. In The One we also get to see more people from outside. It’s all turned into a quite complex society and it’s very lovely. I love the world building that had been done in the story already, and this book really brings it into a better light and the world and it’s inhabitants suddenly make a lot more sense.

World: 5

I hate to say it, but the protagonist, America, has become one of my least favorite characters in the whole series. Not THE least, but one of them. She’s stagnant and unwilling to grow or change throughout the course of her experience in the Selection (even though Aspen somehow thinks she’s changed?!?) and it’s annoying. The characters around her though have really broken though their shells in this book and become more fleshed out and real. I felt like I could see who the other characters were while I got to know more of the people we’ve met in other books on a more personal level. I think that waiting so long to finally get to see these characters was a mistake though. In my opinion it was done for one specific reason and that alone is enough to irritate me.

Characters: 3

The relationships in this book are becoming more solid. There’s love, as expected (but nothing R rated). I am happy to announce that the love triangle finally ends here (it sort of had to) and more meaningful romantic relationships are seen with the secondary characters. It was nice to see love happening outside of the Selection too. Family starts to play a bigger role than in the second book, it was nice to see people’s lives again from a more family perspective. Friendships have been lacking up until this point… finally in this book America is able to make more friends and starts to understand people better. However, I feel like this sudden ability for America to make friends was contrived for a very specific reason, and as I said in the ‘characters’ section, I don’t really appreciate it.

Relationships: 4

Emotions in The One fell flat on their face for me. After crying through the end of the previous book I was hoping for some real amazing moments here. It felt like the author was trying way too hard to force the reader to feel a certain way instead of letting it happen naturally. It just didn’t work. Ther were a few moments of intensity during an attack that caused me to catch my breathe, and of course a few sweet smiling moments with Maxon.

This isn’t really a spoiler, but characters die. Not characters I would consider important or integral to the story line though. Their deaths didn’t even mean that much to me, maybe one was shocking but the others just seemed forced to try to push emotion that didn’t even exist. It didn’t work and I didn’t feel anything strong for the duration of the book. I think that if the emotions were built better or if the characters deaths meant more to the story it would have been a grand slam. It fell through though and the enotions struck out instead.

Emotions: 2

The pacing in this book is along the same lines as the previous in the series. There are a few more action sequences that made for some quick intense moments, but other than that it was standard for the story. No big time skips, no long crazy drawn out nothingness. It’s hard not to appreciate the pace and steadiness of the pace throughout the series as a whole.

Pace: 5

Overall I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. It was generally lacking emotion and character strengths but there were some good action sequences that I have to recognize.

Squared

🌟🌟🌟

The Elite by Kiera Cass ~ Book Review!!

“The Elite” is the second book in the Selection trilogy (series if you want to count the continuation). You can find my review of the first book “The Selection” here!

In this book America’s adventures during the selection continue. It’s down to five girls and the competition is getting harder. She is managing more difficult tasks all while the world outside the walls is getting more dangerous.

The world is developing into what it should have been in the first book. In this book you start to understand more of why the castes are bad and how the segregation of the people is used in bad ways. As more rebels get through the castle walls it also made me wonder what exactly was going on behind the scenes. I felt like I could finally start to see the world for what it was in this book!

World: 5

The side characters are developing well. You get to know the top 5 girls a little better and see more of the staff at the castle. It does feel like America is going backwards as a character though, she started off strong and confident in her convictions but by the end of the book she’s getting annoying and too much of a goody-two-shoes. She’s also constantly doubting the Prince’s love and wondering about the other girls which also adds an annoying quality to her character. If the side characters weren’t so strong in the book I’d probably have given up on this one mid way through.

Characters: 4

Relationships are pretty stagnant from the first book. We see more of the families, which is wonderful and heart warming, when they come to the castle. There are some kind-of friendships born in this book as new characters are brought in from other countries which I think will have an interesting impact later on in the story. The love relationships though… there’s this love triangle that’s really driving me nuts! If nothing else pushes me to finish the series it’ll be seeing if she makes the right choice. There is also some love involving other characters that will make you hopeful to know what could be possible for our protagonist.

Relationships: 4

Emotions in this book were relatively high. I was worried, happy, shocked, annoyed, sad… literally all over the board. Then I cried for at least the last 10% of the book, different reasons had tears constantly running down my face (mostly happy). I like it when things are described well enough with emotion to move me to tears of any kind.

Emotion: 5

The pacing is good in this book. I felt like nothing was skipped or skimmed over. I wish some of the scenes were a little longer but for the most part I was content with how the story progressed.

Pacing: 5

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I felt that the secondary characters really shined and there were somengood emotions!

Squared