BOOK REVIEW: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Title: The Atlas Six

Author: Olivie Blake

Audiobook Length: 15 hours and 59 minutes

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, LGBT, Science Fiction

Read Start Date: November 30, 2022

Read Finish Date: December 9, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…

– Libby Rhodes and Nicolás Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
– Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
– Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
– Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
– Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.

When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.

My Review: The synopsis on Goodreads sounded so good that I thought I’d really like this book, but it just fell flat for me. Basically, there is a secret society of “Medians” (those who can cast magic). The ones chosen for the society are the best of the Medians and have special skill sets. While the society has all this knowledge, the book never goes into that really. WHAT kind of knowledge do they have? Like specifically?

With respect to the audiobook version, it is not great. Tristan is supposed to be South African, but the guy narrating for him is British. And the woman narrating for Parisa just makes her sound like this breathy seductress…which maybe the character is, but it got annoying really fast. Plus, since each character has their own narrator, each character sounded different when told from the perspective of the other character. So for example, Parisa sounded breathy in her chapters, but didn’t when having a role in another character’s chapter.

It is my understanding that this book used to be a self-published book before it was picked up by a traditional publisher. I would have thought that the various issues with the book would have been corrected by the publisher’s editors, but I guess not.

Knowing how hard it is to write a book, I try never to give bad reviews. But I couldn’t help it in this case. I read this book because it was on the list of “popular” books at the library, so it wasn’t a recommendation or anything like that.

I gave it only two stars because honestly, I grew a little bored. The book is supposedly taking place over a time span of 1 year, but the time passing by is really disjointed. Not all characters were given the same airtime — e.g. the focus was on certain characters of the “Atlas Six”, and others seemed only to be ancillary characters. The book was basically all character backstory with a sprinkling of magic thrown in. I was always looking for action, for spell casting etc., but there was nothing like that really.

As nothing…literally almost nothing…happens in this book, it’s all character driven; however, I wasn’t invested in the characters. I didn’t care which of them was the one to be eliminated in the end and which 5 were to progress to the next step in the secret society.

In reading other reviews, I am not the only one who picked up on these issues. Serendipity’s blog states as follows regarding the plot: “Yes, the book really didn’t have a plot. Barely anything interesting actually happened, it was mainly the characters playing mind games with each other and being full of themselves. For some reason I was holding out for an amazing plot twist that would save the whole book and give everything that happened some meaning. Then the plot twist came and it was far from amazing- it was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. I don’t want to go into spoilers, but I felt extremely cheated as instead of giving the book meaning, the ending made the book even more meaningless than it already was.”

On the other hand, Past Midnight gave the book 4 stars, so the review (which can be found here) was more positive. Down the Rabbit Hole also gave the book 4 stars (the review is here.) All in all, I think that you either love the book or hate it. I have seen both type of reviews, and the book has only 3.75 rating on Goodreads, so this seems to support a mixed reception.

I will not be reading the second book, but you should make your own decision!

BOOK REVIEW: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

248596Title: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Author: Ray Bradbury

Book Length (Audiobook): 9 hours 8 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Classics, Science Fiction

Read Start Date: September 28, 2019

Read Finish Date: October 10, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

This is the second book in the Green Town series.

My Past Reviews:

See my review of Dandelion Wine here.

My Review: I had a really hard time getting into this book. I’m not sure whether it was the monotone voice of the audiobook narrator, or the slowness of the book itself, or maybe even the lengthy prose to describe simple things that seems to be a Bradbury special (or maybe even the combination of the three), but I found myself constantly drifting off onto other thoughts. I had to rewind the audiobook at least five times — often times I would find that I had drifted over for more than 15 minutes (sometime even a whole car ride). Maybe it would have been better to read it as a book or ebook.

I had originally wanted to give this book a 3, but once I started writing this review, I realized I had to give it a 2. Although I eventually got into the story (after reading approximately half the book), I was less than ambivalent about it. I think that this had in large part to do with the format of the book I was reading. The story definitely seemed interesting. An evil and sinister carnival rolls into small town America just in time for Halloween? What’s not to like at first blush?

Notwithstanding the intriguing plot, if I was a reader prone to giving up on books, then I would have given up on this one for sure. It is just too dense for audiobook reading, and my library did not have it available in any other format.

I think that the story had potential to be great (if I was just able to pay attention), so I won’t not recommend it — but I do not recommend the audiobook version.

If you’d like to get more of a balanced opinion, I did read some other blog reviews about the book (below) which had a more positive outtake.

The Door Without a Key

Shannon Fox

For the Love of Science.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

19501Title: Eat, Pray, Love

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Book Length (Audiobook): 15 hours 8 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Travel

Read Start Date: September 9, 2017

Read Finish Date: September 17, 2017

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: A celebrated writer’s irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of her pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and what she really wanted out of life.

Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.

To recover from all this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world—all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year. Her aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Rome, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, and with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise cowboy from Texas, she embarked on four uninterrupted months of spiritual exploration. In Bali, she studied the art of balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. She became the pupil of an elderly medicine man and also fell in love the best way—unexpectedly.

An intensely articulate and moving memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment and stop trying to live in imitation of society’s ideals. It is certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.

My Review: Despite the good sounding synopsis above, this book was simply terrible. People rave about this book like it’s the best thing since sliced bread….well not this girl. This book was soooo painful to get through. How did this book receive such good reviews? How is this a movie? This book is a slap in the face to women everywhere. Is this book what people think of women?? I surely hope not.

Basically, this book is about Gilbert’s staged (and pre-paid!) introspective journey to Italy, India and Indonesia. This essentially was just one big marketing ploy. Her editor was like, Hey, Elizabeth, you know what would be a great idea for a book, and would make you a lot of money and increase your “brand”? Why don’t we give you an advance, and pay you to travel around the world, and then you can write about your experiences?

Gilbert’s introspective journey ended up just sounding trite and super whiney. Gilbert, a wealthy writer decides to take a year “off” to travel to Italy (because she likes how the language sounded — really, I’m not kidding — that’s what she said), India ( to go to an ashram) and Indonesia (because a medicine man told her that she will (WTF? Self-fulfilling prophecy much?)) Anyway, even though this book was supposed to be inspiring or something, instead this whole book is about her whining about how hard her divorce was (even though she refuses to say why her divorce was so hard) and that at 34 she must go find herself. I mean, she got a paid year of traveling — boo hoo! Your life is so hard Gilbert. A lot of women have hard lives, but you don’t see us crying about it while enjoying Italy, India, and Indonesia. Try feeling grateful for once in your pampered life.

Throughout the book, Gilbert honestly sounds like a selfish spoiled brat who has major personal issues that she clearly did not solve during the book, even though she’d like to pretend she did. Ugh.

I did not like this book and never saw the movie.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Death Cure by James Dashner

7864437.jpgTitle: The Death Cure

Author: James Dashner

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 55 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Read Start Date: August 25, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 30, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: It’s the end of the line. WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test. Will anyone survive What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say. The truth will be terrifying. Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all. The time for lies is over.

Past Reviews:

You can find my review of the first book, The Maze Runner, here.

You can find my review of the second book, The Scorch Trials, here.

The Death Cure is the third and final book of the series.

My Review: This book was terrible. I mean, really. For so many reasons. The synopsis of this book makes it sound like some thrilling adventure — in reality it was so boring. For example, the main characters seriously spent pages looking for a hotel, finding a hotel, and then going to sleep in a hotel. Snore. And, how is there such a thing as a hotel in the first place? The whole Earth has been more or less wiped out by a virus, but don’t worry guys, the Hilton is still operating!

The characters also went into a Cafe. Again, seriously? Where do they get coffee from? It sure doesn’t grow in Denver (where the Cafe was). This did not make any sense. Also, the characters spend time looking for a taxi — need I say more?

Lastly, this book was utterly pointless. So Thomas survived the trials, good for him. And for what, oh yeah, I forget the variables and the patterns to build a “blueprint” for a cure. Ugh. Not how vaccines are developed. Besides this, nothing happens in this book. Basically, the characters just going around in Denver and the author describes how the virus is affecting people. Okay, that’s interesting I guess, but not for the FINAL book of a TRILOGY! This book is supposed to wrap things up, not introduce new concepts. It really seemed like the author had no concept on where to go with this book and so just did more world building — but again, not appropriate for a final book.

I was super disappointed in this book and it really made me question why I even wasted my time reading the whole series.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Rotters by Daniel Kraus

8572163Title: Rotters

Author: Daniel Kraus

Book Length (Audiobook): 16 hours 18 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Young Adult

Read Start Date: June 17, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 2, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It’s true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey’s life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.

Everything changes when Joey’s mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey’s father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey’s life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating.

My Review: I had never heard of this book before, and I only started to read it because it was available as an audiobook from my library. From the subject matter, I wasn’t expecting it to be another young adult book (I seem to have read a lot lately), but after about 2 hours in, my first impressions are overall positive.

Essentially, Joey Crouch (nicknamed, of course, by the other kids as “crotch”) goes to live with his dad, the “garbage man” in a rural town of Iowa. Joey starts to be bullied because of his name, and his dad’s profession. At this point in the book, I really feel bad for him — but I am also a bit confused as to why he doesn’t seem to have any emotions about the tragic death of his mother. Her death doesn’t really seem to play into the story at all, except to give the reason / excuse for why Joey had to start living with his dad.

I am about 1/3 of the way through now, and my second impression is a little worse than the first. I am not sure why the author chose to have EVERYONE against the protagonist. He has conflict with his peers, his teachers, his father — there is not one good relationship. And yet, the author does not reflect this in the personality of Joey. Wouldn’t he be angry? Sad? Depressed? Overall, I am getting a lack of emotions from this book; like the characters are simply existing in the world, but not feeling anything. Even when the father takes him grave robbing for the first time, yes he gets physically sick, but there is still no emotion there. It’s only an action, and rather an inexplicable one, as the sickness comes on the morning after.

If I was supposed to feel sorry for Joey, I just didn’t. All of the emotions in this book were said, but not felt — if that makes any sense at all. It’s like, I can say I feel sad, but if I don’t act sad, who will believe me?

I wanted to like this book, I really did — but I just didn’t. It had glowing reviews on Goodreads, so I don’t know what I seem to be missing. The writing seemed to be decent enough, so maybe I will give Daniel Kraus another chance in the future.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: I’ve Never Met a Dead Person I Didn’t Like by Sherri Dillard

42789300Title: I’ve Never Met a Dead Person I Didn’t Like

Author: Sherri Dillard

Book Length: 200 pages

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Religion, Spirituality

Read Start Date: April 9, 2019

Read Finish Date: April 28, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The extraordinary travels of a young, alone and broke psychic. The heart-warming and adventurous true story of a young woman on her own at age seventeen, broke and surrounded by talkative spirits that don’t want to go away. Living in-between the physical world and the spirit realm, yet feeling a stranger in both, Sherrie Dillard criss-crossed the country by bus, train and hitchhiking in a search for answers. Along the way she was led to help the poor and homeless on skid row, install water systems in Mayan Indian villages, live alone in a tent in the mountains and make art with juvenile offenders. It was in these diverse environments that she came face to face with saints, angels and dark spirits and learned to trust her psychic ability. From her early secret encounters with spirits who guided and ultimately saved her life, Sherrie Dillard finally accepted that what made her different and odd, was also her greatest gift. I’ve Never Met A Dead Person I Didn’t Like, is a powerful story for anyone who listens to – or doubts their own intuition and the presence of their loved ones on the other side. Even in our darkest hour, in the depths of loneliness and overwhelming challenges, divine guidance and miracles are always present.

My Review: The Goodreads plot description actually makes the book sound much better than it is. I had high expectations and was disappointed. I received this book from a publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I think that I received the book because I had written a good review of Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest. My review of that book is here.

I did not know that this book was a religious book, otherwise I never would have read it. I was totally open to believe that the author saw ghosts, until that is, she said that she sees the spirit of “Mary”, angels and saints. I was immediately turned off and became a disbeliever in her “psychic” ability. I also found her Mayan spirit “Tetchuwatchu” to also be unbelievable. I googled the name and literally nothing came up. Is it even possible that google doesn’t know something? The author claims that the name means “teach you watch you”, but I mean come on. Are we really supposed to believe that the ancient Mayans had names that sound like the English meaning of their Mayan name? “Techtu” in Mayan means “teach you” in English? Highly doubtful.

Do I believe that the author has stronger intuition and instincts than most people? Sure, it’s possible. Who doesn’t get bad feelings sometimes when danger is present. I could even believe that the author believes she sees these spirits, but it just didn’t seem realistic to me.

I am going to have to give this book 2.5 stars. I am really on the fence as to whether to give it 2 or 3 stars. In the end I really just struggled to finish this book. I definitely would have given her book 3 stars had it not been for the religious aspect. Overall the book was, for my taste, too spiritual and not paranormal enough. However, if I were open to religion or spiritual topics, then maybe I would have liked this book better. That is to say, please don’t totally discount this book based solely upon this review.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Daughter’s of Salem by Thomas Gilbert

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Title: The Daughter’s of Salem

Author: Thomas Gilbert

Book Length: 106 pages

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel

LinkGoodreads

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Colonial Massachusetts, early 1690’s. When a young girl in a Puritan town rejects a farmer boy’s gift and instead slips out into the forest to dance with a young man from the Abenaki tribe, it sets off a chain of events resulting in one of the worst cases of mass hysteria in U.S. history, as neighbor turns against neighbor and friends accuse friends of the most terrible things. A fictional re-imagining of the Salem Witch Trials, in which gender politics, religion, xenophobia, innocent games of fortune-telling, and one man’s sinful indiscretion are all factors that lead to the deadly witch hunt.

My review has major spoilers, so read on with caution.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: The Daughter’s of Salem by Thomas Gilbert”