BOOK REVIEW: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy

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Author: John Green
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic: ★★★★/5

SUMMARY: Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

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REVIEW: Before I get into my review for this book, I want to point out a few things. One, this is the first book I read after a very long reading slump. Two, I don’t commonly read many young adult fiction novels, as I usually stick with books with a fantasy/supernatural element to them. Three, I had no idea what the book was about before I began reading it. Okay, so now here we go!

I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. I didn’t necessarily like the plot of the book, but I did really enjoy John Green’s writing style. While I’ve watched many of his movie adaptations of his books, this was the first book by John Greene that I have read. The writing was light, contradictory to the shadow of heaviness of its subject. I found myself breezing through the pages. One thing about the writing that really stood out to me was the dialogue. It’s something special when the character’s personality shines through their dialogue.

In the beginning Aza is somewhat likeable as a character, but as the story goes on she becomes more obsessive to the point it makes you uncomfortable to read her. It really fell into the theme of spiraling down and down and down. She struggles with being stuck in her own head, bombarded by her obsessive thoughts, that sometimes made her do some crazy things. Mental health isn’t something I’ve read about much so I’m not exactly familiar with it. While I don’t suffer from mental health issues, I sort of realted with Aza for the past couple of weeks. Something has been weighing on my mind for awhile; something I wanted to forget, but my mind would continue to grasp at it until it was the only thing swimming around in my thoughts. It got to the point that I would have inner dialogues with my own head trying to convince myself to believe one thing, but “someone” else would be trying to make me believe something else. I just wanted it to stop, but it felt out of my control; so I felt the frustration Aza was feeling at the times she would spiral down. Even if it’s not Aza who you relate with, I think there is someone in the book for every reader to relate to.

Overall, I think it was an insightful book. It was a bit intense at times, but the characters really made the story shine.

Get your copy of Turtles All the Way Down here!

BOOK REVIEW: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo

The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale/Dark

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic: ★★★★★/5

SUMMARY: Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

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REVIEW: This book is a collection of six different stories. I won’t be reviewing each story but instead just reviewing the book as a whole. My favorite story of the six was the last one, which was a spinoff of the Little Mermaid. I’m not a huge fan of the Little Mermaid movie, so it was a surprise to me that I enjoyed this story so much. It’s much more of a prequel to how the Little Mermaid and Ursula came to be.

Each story was innovative and filled with a dark, yet magical retelling of well-known fairy tales that children grew up reading and watching. The writing was fantastic as usual; I expect no less from Leigh Bardugo. She has a way with her words that really pull you into the world you read about. Even though there were colorful illustrations throughout each story, evolving as you delved deeper, her words were more than enough to paint the picture in your mind.

The illustrations were positively beautiful. It made the book even more magical. Each story starts with a small, humble image. However as you continue to read on, more and more details are added to the illustrations, until the end where a full illustration emerges. I’ve never seen a book quite like this and it can be considered a classic on its own.

Overall, I would highly recommend you pick up a copy. It’s definitely something you’ll want in your collection. And when you’re feeling a little dangerous, crack open this book and read yourself a dark bedtime story.

Get your copy of The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo here!

BOOK REVIEW: What Do You Do With A… by Kobi Yamada

The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy

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Author: Kobi Yamada
Genre: Picture Book

What Do You Do With An Idea: ★★★★★/5
What Do You Do With A Problem: ★★★★★/5
What Do You Do With A Chance: ★★★★★/5

SUMMARY:

What Do You Do With An Idea: This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It’s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s just getting started.

What Do You Do With A Problem: From the same author and illustrator as the #1 nationally best-selling What Do You Do With an Idea? comes a new book to encourage you to look closely at problems and discover the possibilities they can hold. This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn’t so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared.

What Do You Do With A Chance: In this story, a child is visited by his first chance and unsure what to do with it, he lets it go. Later on, when a new chance arrives he reaches for it, but this time he misses and falls. Embarrassed and afraid, he begins ignoring each new chance that comes by, even though he still wants to take them. Then one day he realizes that he doesn’t need to be brave all the time, just at the right time, to find out what amazing things can happen when he takes a chance…

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Despite what you may think, picture books are not just for children. There are deep meanings hidden between its simple wording and colorful pages. Yamada’s three picture books, What Do You Do With An Idea, What Do You Do with A Problem, and What Do You Do With A Chance, are by far one of the cutest and most meaningful children’s picture books that I have ever read.

The illustrations are so tasteful and creative that you can’t help but want to turn the page to see what’s on it. The one aspect of the illustration that really stuck out to me was the gradual saturation that increases as you continue to read the book. By the end of the book you get your full glorious brightness of the illustration.

What Do You Do With An Idea: The idea is illustrated as an egg. Eggs are viewed as fragile but also the beginning of life. You need to keep an egg warm and close to you for it to hatch into this new life. I thought it was the perfect representation of something intangible as an idea. This was the first book of Yamada’s that I read. I was attracted to the simple cover and ended up reading the whole book in a Target. Once I finished, I immediately bought it. I had to have my own copy because it was such an innovative idea (see what I did there? haha). I then proceeded to ordering all of Yamada’s other books as well.

What Do You Do With A Problem: The problem is illustrated as this dark ominous cloud in the sky that follows the little boy. Problems never disappear and will hover and cast a shadow over you for as long as it may. The ending illustration for this book was fantastic! The two-page spread was explosive and shows that though problems may look dark in the beginning, they can reveal great new opportunities.

What Do You Do With A Chance: The chance is illustrated as an origami butterfly. It’s small in the beginning, but bright and magical. Like a butterfly, chances will flutter around but eventually it flies away if you don’t take a hold of it. Third book by Yamada and I wasn’t disappointed.

Overall, I recommend all three books to read. If you have children or if you want to take a little breather from the more serious pieces of literature, these three books are a great choice.

Buy your copy on Amazon:

What Do You Do With An Idea
What Do You Do With A Problem
What Do You Do With A Chance

PICTURE BOOK: Moon Lily

The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy

Excited to say that I will be publishing my first children’s picture book by the end of April!

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Moon Lily is about a white flower who wants to be beautiful. She journeys to become beautiful and meets many beautiful things, but can’t seem to find beauty in herself. When she meets a guiding light, the true meaning of beauty is revealed to Lily.

Paperback and hardcover copies will be available on Amazon!

 

BOOK REVIEW: Six of Crow by Leigh Bardugo

The Phoenix Ashes Trilogy

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Six of Crows (Duology)

SIX OF CROWS: ★★★★★!!! (5)

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SUMMARY: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don’t kill each other first.

REVIEW: I loved the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo so I was sure I was going to love Six of Crows as well. I am actually a bit obsessed with Bardugo’s writing style. There is a special complexity with they way she weaves her words together that truly brings the whole story to life. I started this book months ago, but because life got really busy I wasn’t able to finish it until now (though I read the remaining 200 pgs in one night!)

The first thing I’ll mention is that the book is written from six different perspectives. When I first heard this, I was a tad bit skeptical because I’ve read books that bounce between characters and sometimes they begin meshing and you end up losing track of who’s who. But, not once did I get confused while reading Six of Crows. I always knew who was speaking because they each had such a specific feel. And I appreciated the fact that Bardugo delved deeper into the background of each character, really only giving us small tastes into each personal drive for committing themselves to this impossible heist. There was no repetition of the story and it flowed so flawlessly that I really felt as if I was part of the heist itself!

Weakness. Six outcasts with special sets of skills, yet still human with their own weakness. First driven by money and greed, each outcast discovers something about themselves and their true reasoning for agreeing to the heist. The way Bardugo unravels the history of each character humanizes them and even though they have done terrible things, you feel for them. Everyone has a weakness, even someone who seems so untouchable as Kaz Brekker, it only takes one moment to realize that no one is without a weakness.

KAZ BREKKER: Kaz is the leader, the brains, the mastermind. Despite his bad leg and young age, people fear him and know he is a force to be reckoned with. Kaz is a thinker and a solver; never giving in to failure, he always finds a way. I can’t wait to see what Kaz has up his sleeve for the next book. He has been so hardened by his past that he doesn’t allow himself to show any vulnerability, but I do hope he’ll find that there is more to life than money.

INEJ: Inej is a Suli girl who makes a name for herself as the Wraith of the Dregs. She’s a strong and capable young girl. Despite her past at the menagerie, she devoted herself to overcoming the darkness and becoming someone others fear and respect, while staying true to herself and her Suli beliefs.

NINA: Nina is a Corporalnik Grisha. Despite her beauty, she has a sharp wit and mouth. Despite what you may think, Nina is the most selfless character. She’s never really thinking of herself and acts for the greater good of others.

MATTHIAS: Matthias has a bittersweet past with Nina as he was betrayed and convicted of a crime he had never committed. He’s a Fjerdan who is also betraying his home country, ironically to be reinstated his freedom to it. He made me nervous at times because if anyone was going to betray the group, it would be Matthias. But as Kaz says, Matthias is too “decent” a man.

JESPER: Jesper is a sharp-shooter. There’s a secret reveal during the heist too that I didn’t see coming. Kaz always has something up his sleeve and he chose Jesper for the heist for a specific reason. There’s a subtle undertone of homosexuality with him and Wylan, though it’s not outright confirmed in this book. Maybe the next…

WYLAN: Wylan is a mercher’s son who ran away. At first Kaz adds him to the heist more so as leverage for the exchange after the heist, but Wylan proves to be quite useful during the heist. At the beginning, he acts like a nervous, naive young boy who doesn’t belong with the seasoned group. However, he grows stronger and more confident in himself as he finds a place among the other outcasts.

One thing I do want to know is if others noticed the similarities between Fjerdan-Grisha conflict and Nazi Germany. I’m not sure if the connection was intentional or if I’m just reading into it too much, but it reminded me of the Nazi regime. The Fjerdan (Nazis) hate the Grisha (Jews) and basically burn them on stakes and run tests on them because they’re different and have powers they don’t believe they should have. I guess I made the connection more so because the Fjerdans are described to have blonde hair and blue eyes. It might not have been intentional, but I thought it was something worth mentioning. I’m curious to see if anyone else made that reference too.

I’m also very proud to say, that I did see that twist at the end coming! I guess after reading into Kaz’s mind so much, I started to think like him as well 🙂

Anyway, I DEFINITELY recommend you read this book. It’s fantastic and you will not be disappointed. It’s also a duology and Crooked Kingdom is slated to release in September! I can’t wait.

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