Journey with me into London Below | Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I absolutely LOVE the way he writes. I’d been meaning to read this book for a while and only got around to it when it was picked for my book club. I’m so happy I finally read it!

Our main character, Richard Mayhew, is so unspectacularly normal and all of these unbelievable things happen to him. I thought he was such a well-written character. Even though he’s super basic, he has a hidden depth to him and in the end, the reader really wants things to work out for him. Something about him being such a beige person made the colorful world of London Below that much more brilliant.

I loved the relationship between Richard, Door, Hunter, and the Marquis. When Richard, Door, and Hunter got to the Friars and found out that Richard had to do the third task, I literally laughed out loud and Door and Hunter’s reactions. While the Marquis was a pretty sketchy character, he was also delightful and was a wonderful Puck-ish contrast to Door. The Marquis is the embodiment of what London Below is. If you haven’t read the short story How the Marquis Got His Coat Back, I highly recommend it as it gives another perspective on who the Marquis is.

Another fun aspect of this book is that our protagonist is not the story’s “hero”. Door is clearly the hero in this story as she tries to avenge her family and Richard is a mildly doofy sidekick whose most important job proves to be getting Door curry at the market.

Circling back to Gaiman’s writing, I love how his humor is scattered throughout the book as it only serves to enhance the reading experience. I love the different locations that our group visits and how Gaiman takes each name literally. Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar are seriously creepy individuals, but with Gaiman’s writing, they almost seem harmless. It’s an interesting contrast because on paper, the reader knows how terrifying they are, but the humorous way in which they’re written waters them down a bit–but not in a bad way.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who already loves Neil Gaiman or anyone who wants a fantasy escape.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate

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Another book about kids with special powers | The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

I found this book to be SUPER underwhelming. I read it because the movie was coming out and Mandy Moore is in it and it has such a high star rating on Goodreads. Honestly, I just feel like I read the book too late. If I had read it about five years ago not long after it came out, I think I would have loved it. As it is, I felt like the book really dragged and the characters weren’t super interesting to me. The author didn’t really explain anything either, but maybe that comes in the later books?

I found the romance to be cringey at best and eye-rolly at worst. It verges on insta-love and the love interest is this perfect specimen of a teenage boy. Literally, his only flaw is that he cares too much about the little guy. The main character’s motivations seemed extremely fluid and didn’t make for a very concrete character. I will say that the secondary characters of Zume and Chubs were a nice addition, but they weren’t enough to save this book.

While there were a few plot points that genuinely took me by surprise, overall this book was predictable and much, much longer than it needed to be. It took me almost an entire month to read simply because there was nothing drawing me back to it.

While the cliffhanger was surprising and, honestly, completely wrecked me, I do not plan on reading the rest of this series. Or watching the movie tbh.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Mild

Review Catch Up: T.H.U.G. and Smoke & Iron

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I know that everyone loves this book and now it’s a movie and it’s important, etc. etc. And while I appreciate the book’s message and themes, I had a really hard time relating to it on any level. Characters and themes just didn’t resonate with me. I acknowledge that I have lived a pretty privileged life and as an Asian American, I just don’t personally have that much in common with Starr or any of the other characters (even the Asian character).

So my review comes from that perspective. There were some aspects of the book that I couldn’t tell if they were on purpose or not. For example, Starr is going through this really traumatic experience and is trying to make these big decisions, but then she has these moments where I feel like she’s super immature. Is that the point? Or is she an inconsistent character? I honestly can’t tell. I didn’t find her super likable, but again, is that the point?

I also felt like some characters were a bit exaggerated. I thought her boyfriend felt like an exaggerated white boy, I felt like her racist friend was an exaggerated frenemy, I felt like the cop who shot Khalil was an exaggerated bad and manipulative cop. Once again, is that the point? Have I been so sheltered my whole life that these characters seem a tad unrealistic to me? I know that extreme people exist and have even dealt with some of them, but these characters just felt less genuine, like cardboard cut-out characters.

Overall, Khalil’s story is heartbreaking. I feel for every family who has a story or is living a life that echoes Khalil’s. I think this book did a good job of tackling an issue that shouldn’t really be political, but has somehow become political. This book is obviously really popular and a lot of people have really loved it, it just wasn’t so much for me. The characters, the language, and the pacing all combined together made this one hard for me to get through and in the end, I thought it was just okay. 3/5


Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine
I think this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy? I’m not even mad that it’s stretched out to be at least five books. There are definitely some series where it feels like the author drags everything out and nothing of consequence happens from book to book, but that is not this series. This series is action-packed and this latest book is no different. We’ve got all the same characters that we know and love and it’s such a joy to watch them continually develop through this fourth book. Jess is such a delightful main character and I really enjoyed the switching perspectives, especially when we got to Khalila’s portions. I can’t remember if the previous books switched perspectives like this one, but it was definitely necessary with all of our characters separated.

I think this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy? I’m not even mad that it’s stretched out to be at least five books. There are definitely some series where it feels like the author drags everything out and nothing of consequence happens from book to book, but that is not this series. This series is action-packed and this latest book is no different. We’ve got all the same characters that we know and love and it’s such a joy to watch them continually develop through this fourth book. Jess is such a delightful main character and I really enjoyed the switching perspectives, especially when we got to Khalila’s portions. I can’t remember if the previous books switched perspectives like this one, but it was definitely necessary with all of our characters separated.

I think this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy? I’m not even mad that it’s stretched out to be at least five books. There are definitely some series where it feels like the author drags everything out and nothing of consequence happens from book to book, but that is not this series. This series is action-packed and this latest book is no different. We’ve got all the same characters that we know and love and it’s such a joy to watch them continually develop through this fourth book. Jess is such a delightful main character and I really enjoyed the switching perspectives, especially when we got to Khalila’s portions. I can’t remember if the previous books switched perspectives like this one, but it was definitely necessary with all of our characters separated.

Something I really love about this series is that it has such a wonderfully diverse cast without seeming to try too hard. Sometimes books include diversity for diversity’s sake and it’s done in a really stiff and obvious way–not the case with this series.

I love books that imagine different iterations of the library and what Caine has come up with is really quite fascinating. The entire world that she’s created is so rich and detailed. She really brings her vision of Alexandria to life. I would highly recommend this series to pretty much anyone and those covers are to die for. 4/5


DISCUSSION: What it’s like to work at a library

Hello everyone! I’ve been so flaky on here lately and I APOLOGIZE. Life has been hectic to say the least. New baby, new job…you know how it goes. But everything’s good and everyone’s good and I’m finally ready to share a new part of my life with you!

I just started a part-time job at my local public library and I LOVE IT. I’d been sitting on my MLS for a couple of years without doing anything with it because I already had a full-time job with great benefits and I wasn’t finding any comparable library jobs opening up in my area. Then I had my baby and I’ve been concentrating on that for a bit. In September, I saw a listing for a part-time Librarian position and it felt like good timing for me to go back to work so I applied and I got it! I started at the end of September so I’ve only been working for a couple of months, but it’s been a really great experience so far.

Right now I’m working 24 hours a week as an Adult/Teen Services & Reference Librarian. Here are some of my day-to-day duties:

  • Reference desk – This consists of helping patrons face-to-face with questions or problems they may have, book recommendations, selling internet passes, and scheduling our private study rooms.
  • Collection Development – I’m over the 900s which is mostly Travel and History. I’m in charge of maintaining the collection and purchasing new materials.
  • Various library teams – I’m currently on teams for Supplies, Inter-Library Loans, and Booklists.
  • Programming – I have yet to do any programming, but my first active teen program is scheduled for February. I’ll also be doing some family programming.
  • Professional Development/Training – My manager puts out a job chart every month with various tasks like exploring our Special Collections, making sure we know how to use various services that we provide, etc.

One of the big things that stood out to me with this library is that all librarians, even the part-timers like me, are over a collection. I think that’s so cool! I’ve loved everything that I’ve been asked to do so far, but I’m a little nervous about doing programs. I’m not really a “stand at the front of the room” kind of person…so we’ll see how that goes.

Now I’ll toss it over to you guys, do you have any questions about what it’s like to work in a library? Or, if you also work in a library, what has it been like for you?

Cartoon Strips and Wedding Disasters | Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Save the Date

The Grant siblings are all about to be in the same place for the first time in what feels like forever and Charlie can’t wait. She loves her siblings and they’ll all be together for her older sister’s wedding. What could go wrong?

TL;DR – Wedding planning/shenanigans/disasters, comic strip characters come to life, and a random dog. If these things sound good to you, you will like this book.

I am a big fan of Morgan Matson in general and this was another solid showing. I loved the premise of the main character’s mom being a cartoonist with a strip based on the family. I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Foxtrot, etc. and Grant Central Station felt really nostalgic to me. Another small thing I liked was the premise of the cartoon characters aging with the actual family members–I always did wonder how that was supposed to work with Foxtrot.

Charlie is a typical Matson main character. She’s a little quiet and wants to be helpful to other members of her family. I loved her devotion to her family, though. While I thought the drama this caused between her and her best friend was a bit unnecessary, I loved the FAMILY theme of this book.

There is a bit of a mystery hanging over the reader throughout the book. What exactly happened between Charlie’s brother and her mom? For the record, I do believe that Charlie’s mom was in the wrong here but…that’s just my opinion. There are so many fun little things throughout the book. I love the cameos of course, I love seeing the strips scattered throughout, I love the relationship between siblings, I love the little quirks that the characters have like the way JJ says “Scoff”. It feels like a real family.

The ending is…sad, but realistic and hopeful at the same time. I feel like the ending is much more realistic than a lot of other contemporary YA novels and I appreciated that. While this isn’t my favorite Matson novel, I would definitely still recommend it.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Sexual Content: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

BLOG TOUR: Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene [GIVEAWAY]

Amber and DuskAmber & Dusk
by Lyra Selene
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Kobo

SYNOPSIS: Sylvie has always known she deserves more. Out in the permanent twilight of the Dusklands, her guardians called her power to create illusions a curse. But Sylvie knows it gives her a place in Coeur d’Or, the palais of the Amber Empress and her highborn legacies.

So Sylvie sets off toward the Amber City, a glittering jewel under a sun that never sets, to take what is hers.

But her hope for a better life is quickly dimmed. The empress invites her in only as part of a wicked wager among her powerful courtiers. Sylvie must assume a new name, Mirage, and begin to navigate secretive social circles and deadly games of intrigue in order to claim her spot. Soon it becomes apparent that nothing is as it appears and no one, including her cruel yet captivating sponsor, Sunder, will answer her questions. As Mirage strives to assume what should be her rightful place, she’ll have to consider whether it is worth the price she must pay.


Amber and Dusk BT

Click on the banner above to be taken to the giveaway!



Lyra SeleneABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lyra Selene was born under a full moon and has never quite managed to wipe the moonlight out of her eyes. When she isn’t dreaming up fantastical cities and brooding landscapes, Lyra enjoys hiking, rainstorms, autumn, and pretending she’s any good at painting.

She lives in New England with her husband, in an antique farmhouse that’s probably not haunted. AMBER & DUSK is her debut novel.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Facebook|Instagram


Fantastic Flying Book Club 2

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

NEW SARAH DESSEN BOOK

I’m sure a lot of you have already heard, but contemporary romance queen, Sarah Dessen, is coming out with a new book next year! It’s going to be called “The Rest of the Story” and it releases June 4, 2019. She’s moved to a different publisher now (she was with Penguin, but is now with HarperCollins) and she’s also created a new lake town (!!!) which will be the setting of this book. I have a special place in my heart for Colby, so I’m a little disappointed it won’t be set there, but this is still exciting! I’m hoping we still get cameos from some of our favorite characters–I bet Louna and Ambrose will be there for a summer wedding for sure.

Here are some quotes from Sarah regarding this new book:

  • “I realized that I wanted to do something different, so I created a new lake town”
  • “It is a summer novel, taking place in the summer, like many of my other books. Some of this book came from the fact that I am a regular reader of my local obituaries. There are all kinds of strange things in this book that I love. I want readers to know that it’s going to be a new chapter in the world that I’ve created and I can’t wait for them to join me there.”
  • “[This book is] a big-hearted, sweeping novel about a girl who reconnects with a part of her family she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl—and falls in love, all over the course of a magical summer.”

Yes. Please.

This book already sounds amazing and I’m excited about the promise of many more books set in this new town. Also, obituaries? I’m intrigued.

How do you guys feel about Sarah moving away from Lakeview and Colby? Who do you hope to see in a cameo?

Lastly, HATE SPINNERBAIT.

Source: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/78562-ya-author-sarah-dessen-moves-to-harpercollins.html