An Abundance of Katherines review

Colin has dated nineteen Katherines, the most recent one breaking his heart. So he sets off to create a theorem of Katherine predictability, hoping to save dumpers and dumpees everywhere by forecasting what will happen. He draws information from the past, revisiting many of his failed relationships, only to realize that maybe the future isn’t as predictable as he thought. A fun roadtrip, a witty best friend, and a backwaters town in Tennessee teach Colin more about life and love than he had ever thought possible.cathereads.wordpress.com (2)

An Abundance of Katherines

Just like Colin, I had a theory. However, my theory dealt less with numbers, and more with John Green’s novels themselves. From past experience, I determined that no matter what order you read them in, you will like the new one significantly less than the last. Seeing as how my favorites list was in the order I read them–Paper Towns, Turtles All the Way Down, The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska–this seemed to ring true. However, this book showed me that you can’t really use the past to predict the future by making my theory turn upside down.

I loved this story. The writing was easy to read, as it is with any John Green novel. The characters are mini-Socrates, waxing eloquent about their teenaged lives and problems, but in a way that didn’t seem overdone. I loved Lindsey Lee Wells and how she became an important part of Colin and Hassan’s lives, and how her roots ran deep in the town, as well as her search for recognition, or the lack thereof.

This book is underrated, and while some things might seem cliche and there wasn’t a lot of diversity in the cast, it packed a punch with its messages of finding meaning, yourself, and love through the story of two boys on a road trip to nowhere and a mathematical formula.


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Explosion of Color: I’m a Gay Wizard review

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a Gay Wizard by V. S. Santoni left me with a lot of mixed feelings. It has it’s pros and cons, leading me to rate it three out of five stars.

Johnny and his friend Alison perform a magical ritual to summon the Cintamani. Something goes wrong and they are whisked off to the Marduk Institute, a school for wizards-in-training where they are told they’ll be able to hone their powers. Yet nothing is as it seems and the two friends have to learn whom to trust as they navigate a new world filled with monsters, magic, and mayhem.

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First of all, I love the cover. It’s exploding with color, proclaiming in bold text the title of the story. I’m a Gay Wizard promises readers a tale filled with queer magicians, and it does not disappoint. The entire cast of characters is queer and diverse, starting with Johnny—a gay Latino protagonist—and his friend, Alison—a trans girl. This type of representation is important to have, showing diverse kids and young adults that they’re not alone.

The characters all had different backgrounds, some coming from loving families and others from abusive households, shaping their personalities and their reactions to the different situations portrayed in the story. The romances were all queer, although none of them really seemed like a good pairing in my opinion, causing me to not really care what ended up to the couples. Some of the character reactions also didn’t make sense to me, such as one character being incredibly secretive about being gay, only to not care a few pages later, announcing it to literally everybody. I’m glad he was comfortable enough to take pride in it, but it seemed unnatural and rushed for that character to achieve that level of comfort so soon.

Some parts were difficult to understand due to the writing, and I found it hard to engage in the beginning. However the plot picked up in the end, making the last half a fast read for me.

The plot was fast paced and somewhat interesting, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how this book reminded me of other stories that I’ve read. Wizarding school, the stuck up lineage wizards, and ventures to the town next to the school reminded me of Harry Potter. Other plot points reminded me of middle grade books I read back in my early teens about dimensions and magic. So for me, the plot didn’t seem to be fully original, and I wished there was more worldbuilding and details on how the magic worked and what the limitations were.

Overall, it’s a great book if you’re looking for queer representation and diverse characters and not much else. I found it lacking in originality, pacing, and characterization: making it not the book for me. It is an explosion of color from the cover to the characters, and I only wish it had been more memorable.

Hello Old Fear: camping and my childhood

As a child I had a lot of fears. I had to walk around the swimming pool at least once to check the crystal clear waters for any signs of sharks or other monstrous water creatures. I would always close my eyes when flipping the pages in a picture book about dinosaurs just in case there was a scary image on the next page. I couldn’t sleep in a vacation home in the mountains because I was terrified that Bigfoot would unlock the back door and come eat me in my sleep.

It probably doesn’t surprise you then that I haven’t been camping in three years, even though I have gotten over many of my fears. I know that sharks don’t live in swimming pools and don’t often venture into the shallow waters at the beach, dinosaurs and the Loch Ness Monster won’t be snacking on me anytime soon, and Bigfoot isn’t real. I’m still terrified of bears and sharks, but only because they actually exist.

However, last month my family had a reunion all the way out in Montana. In order to save on air fare, thirteen of us (my family and our cousins) decided to drive the whole way from Pennsylvania to Montana. The first three nights consisted of us sleeping at friends’ and family’s homes in Indiana and Minnesota. But finally the fourth night came around–the night that I was dreading. It was the first of two nights that we were camping.

I thought I was prepared. There were no bears in Theodore Roosevelt National Park so I didn’t have to worry about them. We weren’t camping at the bottom of the ocean so I didn’t have to worry about sharks. Bigfoot isn’t real. I wasn’t going to be afraid of him. We had all of our camping gear and were prepared to rough it for the night.

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park

We pitched our tents, ate our supper, brushed our teeth, and went to bed. My sister and I shared a tent. She brought in her journals and was writing when I first drifted off to sleep. I thought it would be a nice peaceful night with scattered rain showers and a nice dry tent undisturbed by the wild critters that live in the great American wilderness.

I didn’t sleep for long. The crashing thunder and flashing lightning made sure of that. My tent was flapping around and my panicked half awake mind thought that some animal was charging our tent, causing the loud noises and the tent to cave in on us. I thought it could’ve been a bear, but then I remembered there weren’t bears in this park. It could’ve been a bison, a mountain lion, or maybe even Bigfoot my terrified mind thought. Turns out it was nothing more than the wind, scaring me as the top of my tent almost touched my toes under the pressure. Sheets of rain assaulted the “waterproof” sides of the enclosure, causing a cacaphony that assured me I wasn’t falling asleep again anytime soon. 

The lightning flashed again, a clap of thunder a half second behind it, sending a bolt of fear through my body. This is how I was going to die. I wasn’t going to go peacefully in my sleep, or even at the hands of one of my greatest fears. Instead mother nature was going to electrocute me out here in the middle of nowhere. I wasn’t ready to die.

Panicked, I began to count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder, remembering that it’s one mile away for every second. Counting under my breath I began to relax as the number stretched from one all the way to four. Then panicking all over again as the intervals shortened to two or three seconds, some striking as soon as one second apart. I couldn’t relax, and I was in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t have anywhere to go and I was going to die.

Fear and exhaustion must have caused me to pass out after what seemed like hours because I woke up in the dim light of morning to find the rain finished and the lightning and thunder gone. However, I discovered that our tent was saturated, the floor covered with a puddle of water, soaking through our sleeping pads and sleeping bags. Thankfully, my sister’s journals were alright, and my phone had been securely placed in a pocket on the side of the tent. Pretty much everyone else slept through the whole thing, sparing themselves the fear that had kept me petrified and sleep-deprived.

My fear of Bigfoot was not rekindled that night (thank goodness), but now I have an aversion to camping and a fear of thunderstorms when I’m not safe and secure inside my own home. Good luck catching me outside of my house in the great American wilderness. That one night was enough to satiate any cravings I had for solitude and ruggedness. I will remain where I have consistent cell service, running water, and protection from my greatest fears: whether it be a shark, bear, or thunderstorm.

The Wicker King review

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum has been highly recommended everywhere I turn, and I must say it lived up to the hype. Going in, I knew it was classified as a psychological thriller. While it wasn’t incredibly scary, I was sitting on the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next. It did feature several psychological elements, such as hallucinations and codependancy, both of which are pretty scary–especially the ways they were portrayed in this book.

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Our protagonists August and Jack are two best friends. They don’t hang out at school, but afterwards they always reconnect. They take care of each other, both of them victims of neglect. Jack’s parents are always traveling and August’s mother has been emotionally absent ever since her divorce. The story follows them as Jack begins to have these hallucinations that send the two of them on a journey that may lead to more than either bargained for.

The beginning of the book was slow for me. The book is formatted differently with pictures and the pages were stained on the edges, slowly getting darker the further you read. While I really love the creativity that went into it, books like this always tend to slow me down and confuse me as I try to adjust to the strange formatting. I also was confused between the two main characters. I would forget which one was August and which one was Jack. The writing wasn’t easy to read, but once I was far enough in, I really appreciated the author’s wording. I loved how the character relationships were portrayed, especially how the psychological elements were described and hinted at throughout the narrative.

 

I rated it four out of five stars due to the slow beginning. If i did half stars, it would definitely be a four and a half. I loved how the ending turns around and how the author addresses the problems that the characters had and wrote about how to get help in the end of the book. That always gives me a deep respect for a book when the author acknowledges problematic behavior in their characters and reach out to teens who are struggling in similar ways.

Family First: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before review

I don’t usually do this, but I watched the movie before I read the book. Maybe I should do this more often because I now like both the book and the movie instead of hating the movie because it isn’t much like the book.

Lara Jean Covey has fallen in love five times. In order to get over her crushes, she wrote letters addressed to each one and hid them in a hatbox her mother gave her. Then one day something goes wrong and all of the boys she loved before are in possession of their respective letters. Her older sister Margot’s recent ex-boyfriend is one of them. In order to avoid a confrontation with him, Lara Jean pretends to date Peter, an arrangement that may lead to more than either bargained for.

This book was really cute and I loved how awkward Lara Jean was. It’s also endearing how her family is central to everything she does and it’s not a burden. She’s kinda boy crazy, but her family definitely comes first. I also really enjoyed Margot, her older sister, and how she fit into that family dynamic, with the change of her going away to college making things different for them. Even Peter, Lara Jean’s fake boyfriend, was endearing, although I found him to be a bit of a stereotype due to him being a jock but being super sweet and having a tragic past, making him absolutely irresistible. I loved the cultural representation in the book as well. Lara Jean and her sisters are half Korean, and it’s sweet how their father tries his best to encourage them to have that as part of their identity.

There were a lot of differences between the movie and the book, even though they kept the same basic plot. I liked seeing how they differed and I enjoyed how the plot was paced. However, I did not like that this book ended on a cliffhanger. I was expecting it to end where the movie did. The book was a super fast read. I finished it in a matter of hours. It’s structured well with a gripping plot, as far as romantic contemporaries go.

If you want a cute romance that’s easy to read and will leave you with a yearning for the next book, this might be a good choice. The characters are all varied with different personalities and background and the plot is well paced and shows character development.


 

 

Mixed Feelings: my opinion on Nevernight

Nevernight was my first (and hopefully only) DNF this year. I went into it knowing that it wasn’t young adult and therefore had some mature adult content, but I wasn’t expecting a sex scene in the first chapter. Much less such a graphic one. I found myself skipping more than half of it. I don’t know why I persisted, but I think I made the right choice in putting this back on the shelf. So I know sex isn’t a trigger for most people. Usually I can soldier through and skip those scenes in order to enjoy the rest of the book, and that’s what I was planning on doing, but I read some reviews and they said it only gets worse.

However, I DNFed it for more reasons than just that.

I found Mia very hard to connect to. Yes, she’s an assassin, but there’s absolutely nothing lovable about her. Yes, she has a tragic past, but it wasn’t presented in such a way that I actually wanted to care about her. Maybe I would’ve grown to care for her more if I read further (so that’s on me) but I decided that if I wasn’t going to care for her—or any of the characters—in the first eighty pages, it probably wasn’t going to change.

And then the footnotes. I couldn’t stand the footnotes. There were too many of them and they were all filled with worldbuilding information that confused me more than enlightened me. Some of the footnotes would take up a third of the page and extend across the next few pages. Sometimes they were funny and I actually enjoyed a couple of them, but I always groaned and rolled my eyes when I saw another asterisk denoting yet another footnote. Eventually I just started skipping them because I didn’t feel like bothering.

I won’t deny that I see what people like about this book. Jay Kristoff is an excellent writer and this book was no exception. I am the exception. I couldn’t get into it, I’m not comfortable with adult fiction and its content, and I have a long standing dislike for epic fantasy. I hope that if stabby assassin epic fantasy is right up your alley, that you give this book a chance and check it out.

Fanboys and Do-overs: What if it’s Us review

Arthur is visiting New York for the summer. Ben is in summer school, trying to get over his recent breakup. Then the universe pushes them together in the most adorable way. This book starts off with a meet-cute interaction that made my heart melt. I was hooked. Then their search for each other was incredibly sweet and heartwarming as well. I loved the romance between the two characters, the secondary characters, and the way the characters grew and learned from each other.

Book description:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it. Ben thinks the universe needs to mind it’s business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things. But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them? Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated. Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited. But what if they can’t quite nail a first date…or a second first date…or a third? What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work… and Ben doesn’t try hard enough? What if life really isn’t like a broadway show? But what if it is?

Arthur is smart and loves broadway. He knows musicals by heart and obsesses over Barak Obama and Lin Manuel-Miranda. Ben is much more reserved, struggling through summer school and spending his free time writing his fantasy novel and playing the Sims. What they have in common is their sexual orientation and the fact that they were both at the post office at the same time. I loved how they were driven apart and kept missing each other, but what I couldn’t wait for was when they did find each other. What happens then? I’m not going to spoil anything, but I have to say that things aren’t as romantic and perfect as their first meeting. I loved that and that’s what made this book a winner for me. Their interactions are realistic and they have to learn to get to know each other better. They give each other second chances and do-overs are commonplace.

Both Arthur and Ben had a motley crew of friends. Arthur had some college intern friends (one of which is a romantic asexual so A+ for ace rep) and friends back home in georgia. Ben had one best friend who is girl crazy and caffeine obsessed. The characters were many but they were so different that I didn’t get confused between them and I loved the witty banter that was shared between the whole group.Untitled Design

There were messages of giving second chances and learning to learn from your experiences. The ending was not what I expected (I’m trying so hard to not spoil this) but it was perfect in the sense that it showed who they had become because of each other.

“I guess that’s any relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end up with everything.”

I gave this story four out of five stars just because I didn’t enjoy all the talk about sex and some of the character reactions seemed to be a little unnecessary due to the situation. However it is definitely worth a read if you love cute contemporary romance with strong character friendships, positive messages, and fandom references. Even the title is a nod to Dear Evan Hansen, which brought out younger Cath who was obsessed with all those shows. Now I just gotta go listen to Hamilton again.

Night of Magic: Caraval Review

Caraval is gripping, magical, and filled with complex character relationships in a setting where nobody can be trusted.

Goodreads description:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic.

The book begins with Scarlett’s letters to Legend, the master of Caraval. Over the years she continues writing, up until her last letter where she says she will stop because she is about to get married. Instead of the story stopping with the letters, she receives a response which starts the whole adventure. the plot is gripping, taking unexpected twists and turns. Scarlett is confused and isn’t certain who to trust in her search for her sister and the prize.

The magic is also an integral part of the plot. There’s something a little bit creepy about circuses, and when you add magic, it’s almost downright menacing and that was drawn out in this story. The performers were shifty and it was hard to tell if they could be trusted. All the magical items came with a price and I loved seeing what Scarlett was willing to sacrifice in her quest to win the game. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_147c

Finally, all of the characters were interesting and interrelated. Scarlett’s fear of her father is both terrifying and accurately portrayed and I empathized with her situation, often fearing for what would happen to her if he were to know what she was up to. Donatella, Scarlett’s sister, is a foil for Scarlett. Both suffer under the same abusive father, but they take different roads in their quest to escape from him. While Scarlett is cautious and looking for the safest route, Tella is daring and rebellious. Scarlett’s love for her sister seems almost unreal based on how Tella acted towards her, but at the same time it’s almost like she didn’t have a choice. I’m hoping that their relationship is explained more in the remaining books in this series. It’s also incredibly mind-boggling how it is proven that you really cannot trust anyone.

I rated this story four stars. The only thing that I found an issue with was the sisterly relationship. Tella wasn’t a lovable character, and I was hoping for a little more explanation as to why Scarlett would be willing to do so much for her. However, I am definitely looking forward to finishing this series and delving further into the magic of Caraval.

Living Tragedies: The Beginning of Everything Review

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider says that everyone gets a tragedy. This is true for Ezra, the main character of this story. He was a pro tennis player, on his way to a scholarship to some school where he could play for them, hanging out with all the popular kids, and dating the prettiest blonde cheerleader in the school. Then everything changed one fateful night where he was left injured beyond repair, his entire reality shattered by this tragedy that would then shape the rest of his life.

I liked how this book tied in several themes, especially the one of a tragedy beginning someone’s real life.

Sometimes I think that everyone has a tragedy waiting for them, that the people buying milk in their pajamas or picking their noses at stoplights could be only moments away from disaster. That everyone’s life, no matter how unremarkable, has a moment when it will become extraordinary. 

I liked Ezra’s new friends in the book. They were smart, and witty, and incredibly welcoming to this ex-jock who really was just waiting for them to adopt him. He never fit in with the other jocks with his philosophical views. Also, I have to admit that I liked Ezra. Even though he was somewhat of a John Green-esque character, I enjoyed his ramblings about the universe and the witty banter that he had with his friends.

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However, there was so much more that I didn’t like. You know how I mentioned that Ezra seemed like he was dropped out of a John Green novel? Well, most of the characters were. Cassidy is your Margo Roth Spiegelman-style tragic girl. She reminded me of Alaska from Looking for Alaska as well. She was bold and brave, but also tragic and secretive. She disappeared for long times and lied. Despite her secrecy being a major flaw, it made Ezra want her even more, and that frustrated me. he also seemed to really enjoy seeing her bra straps?

Also, I did not like how Ezra’s ex-girlfriend Charlotte was portrayed. Not only was the character a blonde cheerleader, she also acted like–you guessed it–a blond cheerleader. I wished she had gained more development and that she didn’t start off as a cliche in the first place.

Finally, while I did enjoy the ending (because it was very John Green-esque again), I was confused by most of the book. I didn’t like the romance, and I didn’t like how the topic of therapy was addressed. Ezra avoids it like the plague, and despite (I don’t know if this counts as a spoiler or not, so maybe avoid this paragraph) Cassidy having gone to therapy for almost a year, she still couldn’t bear to tell Ezra anything about her tragedy. Maybe I’m underrating just how grief can cause someone to close into themselves, but you would think that if she was going to therapy (she was mentioned as crying too) that she would have learned to be more open about it and stop blaming herself for everything.

Overall, there was a lot that I enjoyed, but still enough problems to make it a story that didn’t seem to be worth my time. However, maybe this story is for you, and as always I appreciate knowing your thoughts!

 

Something to Fear: The Cruel Prince Review

“If I cannot be better than them, I will be so much worse”

Jude was taken from the human world along with her sisters to be raised in Faerie. She knows how to protect herself, from swordplay to wearing rowan berries around her neck to ward against enchantments, but still faces danger and discrimination at every turn. No one provokes her rage more than Prince Cardan. However, with the upcoming coronation, people begin to pick sides and Jude finds herself in the middle of a power struggle and a mystery.

I must say that The Cruel Prince was better than I was expecting it to be. I’m never one to believe the hype when it comes to popular novels, however I think this book excelled in the setting, the story, and the characters.

The story takes place in fairyland, a world separate, but next to, our own. However, it is still much different, from the flora and the fauna to the people that make it their home. While I found some of the descriptions lacking when it came to what “seelie” meant or what a “fir darrig” was, I still think that the setting was vivid and the creatures well written, borrowing from the traditional stories of what the Fae were like.

The plot was fast paced as well, beginning with the story of how Jude came to be in Faerie with her sisters, as well as descriptions as to how she was raised as she navigated the high courts as well as the inner workings of being a spy. The clues for the mystery were well hidden in plain sight, and while I guessed several things (such as how the romance was going to end up), the ending was still surprising, while also making sense.

The Cruel Prince Book Review

Finally, the characters were probably my favorite part of the story. Jude isn’t your typical main character with a strong will, but an even stronger moral compass. She did have a strong will, but many of her decisions were made out of self-preservation or out of the anger that she felt towards Cardan and his friends. While reading I knew that Cardan was “the cruel prince”, but I believe that Jude was just as cruel, if not more cruel. It’s interesting to see how the way she was raised and the way she was treated both contributed to her actions. She could be calm and collected and practiced a lot of self control, but the anger she felt that drove her decisions was written realistically and gave her a raw edge that you don’t find in many young adult protagonists.

I rated this story five stars due to my love for the setting, the intrigue of the plot, and the unique characters. Everything made sense even among all the plot twists and deception. I’m looking forward to finishing this series.