I’m Back!

Hello, my fellow bookworms!

It has been almost a year since I have posted on my blog, and I have decided that I need to start posting again. This year, I will be posting reviews of the fabulous books that I read this summer, but I will also be posting a series of short stories on this blog as well. I am extremely excited for this journey, and I can’t wait to have discussions with everyone.

@madisonberko

Top Five Wednesday: Top Five Book Series You Wish Were Longer

Top 5 Wednesday

Hey, readers!

Today is Wednesday, which means that it is time for another Top 5 Wednesday. The topic this week is top five book series you wish had more books. This was an easy topic to write about because there are so many series that should have more books added to them. This topic was created by Gingerreadslainey on YouTube. You can find the topics over on the Goodreads T5W group. Let’s get started.

  1. Harry Potter

Everyone can agree that J.K. Rowling needs to create more books in the Harry Potter universe. These books have been such a big part of my childhood, and now even my life as an adult. I have been reading these books for over 10 years and I will not stop anytime soon. The characters and the fantastical elements are breathtaking and we need more books.

    2. The Grisha Trilogy

The Grisha trilogy consists of Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising. These books are written by Leigh Bardugo. The characters and the world in this book are fantastic. I need more backstories and world building. Each of the books does not go into too much detail about the world of Ravka. Ravka is a fantasy version of Russia, and I would love to get more history and reasoning to why and how the characters have their powers.

   3. The Shatter Me Trilogy 

The Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi are great books. However, like the Grisha trilogy, they lack character and world building I would have liked. We do not get backstories of any of the characters except for Warner. Furthermore, Mafi never explains how the characters got their powers. She does talk about radiation, and how the people with gifts are immune to them, but she doesn’t say that radiation is the cause of their powers. Moreover, if it were radiation why are there not more people like them. Also, the trilogy ends abruptly with a slight cliff hanger. I need to know how it all ends!!!!

   4. The Host Series

The Host by Stephanie Meyer was supposed to have more than one book. However, it has been years and we still haven’t gotten another book. I actually really liked The Host and I would have loved a second book. The concept of the book was incredible and I would have loved to see it explained more.

   5. The Lord of the Rings

Everyone would have loved to have more books that dealt with Middle Earth. I would have loved to see a book that talked about Gandalf and his adventures as a young wizard. I also know that this is incredibly impossible because J.R.R Tolkien has sadly passed away. However, if one of his children wanted to write something in the next year or so that would be incredible!

There you have it! That is my Top 5 Wednesday. What are book series that you wish could continue on? Comment down below!

Read ya later!

Maddie

Five Things Wrap Up: The Shining Girls

IMG_5077

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes is a suspense thriller that follows a time-traveling serial killer. This novel has an interesting plot and a wide variety of characters. The idea of a time-traveling serial killer is unique and original. The story follows Harper Curtis who is a man that is able to step out of his time and Kirby Mazrachi the one girl who got away. Kirby is what Harper likes to call a shining girl, which is a girl who burns with potential. The women he targets range from 1934 until 1992 and include women that were involved in anything from strippers to scientists. Harper simply believes they have a shine in their eyes that he must extinguish. His mode of transportation through time is a decrepit house in the heart of Chicago. Overall it was a good read and I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Here is my Five Things Wrap Up!

  1. The multiple perspectives were distracting

This book has multiple perspectives. It switches from Harper, the girls, Kirby, and Dan a man who works with Kirby at the Chicago Sun. Each chapter heading indicated the narrator and the time period for the chapter, however, with the shining girl chapters it was hard to keep all of them in order. At times, I would get confused about the girl and the time period, especially when specific girls were referred to in time periods separate from their own. Also, the time periods switched drastically from chapter to chapter, it could get hard to follow. I would have preferred the perspectives to just be Harper and Kirby only.

  1. Kirby was a great character

Kirby was the only shining girl to survive with her life and she wants to find the man who attempted to take her life. She is a spunky character who doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She has not let the circumstances in her life destroy her. She has been through a lot of shit, but she survives with her sense of humor and badassness. However, at times she does suffer from stubborn character syndrome. For instance, at times she does really stupid things, such as chase down Harper alone. Kirby is a smart character and does not wait for anyone to fix her problems, and does not complain about her problems. She is a refreshing female character. She represents a strong woman, and this book could be a commentary on how strong women are usually snuffed out by men that don’t think they can be in control and succeed. All of the shining girls were strong women making changes in the world, and Harper extinguished them.

  1. The writing style is at times aggressive

When Beukes is writing from the perspective of Harper, the writing style is aggressive. The word choice and descriptions at times can be a lot to take in. I understand that Harper is a serial killer, and it is justifiable that he uses the language that he does, however, it made me uncomfortable at times. This only happened while Harper was the narrator, so it was not the whole novel. Just beware there is vulgar language.

  1. The plot is somewhat predictable and there were plot holes

The plot is very predictable. We knew that Kirby wanted to find Harper and reveal her attempted murderer. Moreover, we knew that Harper was trying to find the girls to kill. There were no unexpected moments in the novel and lacked any type of nail biting moment. There were also many plot holes. The time-traveling aspect was not explained at all. There were loose ends that were tied at the end of the novel and things were explained. However, there was no explanation of how the house was able to time travel, or why it was only able to go as far as the early 90s. Beukes never explained how the house could travel. It was unsatisfying.

  1. Harper was never explained

Beukes never explained why Harper was a serial killer. She never went into his defining moments throughout his life that led him up to this. Moreover, she never even explained that there could be a possibility that he was born this way. I would have liked to see more development. Furthermore, there was no glorification of Harper, though, which I liked. Too often authors and TV producers focus on a type of glorification of serial killers making them enticing or even incredibly attractive. I have seen so many descriptions of serial killers and sociopaths as “very attractive,” and that is the last thing you should focus on with a serial killer.

Do you like thrillers? Have any suggestions? Leave your comments down below!

Read ya later!

Maddie

Top Five Wednesday: Most Hated Tropes

Top 5 Wednesday

Hey, readers!

Today is Wednesday, which means that it is time for a Top 5 Wednesday! Today’s topic is most hated tropes. A trope is sort of a cliche that is found in a piece of literature. This topic was easy to write about because there are plenty of stories with tropes that I dislike. Here we go!

  1. Love triangles

Love triangles are one of my least favorite tropes of them all. They do not portray healthy, realistic relationships. How many people do you know that are involved in a love triangle? Moreover, the girl that is involved in said love triangle usually acts like being in the triangle is the worst thing in the world. I mean come on… I’m sure anyone would love to have two people fighting to the death for them. Anyway, they are unfair and unrealistic of what love is supposed to mean. Love triangles get me so angry because the one in the middle takes advantage of both parties in love with them.

Books with love triangles: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

   2.  Absentee parents

Absentee parents are a trend in YA literature, which I feel is unrepresentative of real life. Most YA characters are parentless, or they run around and do whatever the hell they want. That is not real life… Like what are you doing? Where are your parents while you are fighting evil and crime and shit. Also, not all families are abusive or broken. Although, it is nice to have families that are unconventional represented in literature, however, it seems to be in all of the YA books at the moment. However, this is a trope that can be done well if the author makes it justifiable. There are a lot of books where this trope is done well, but if it is not… Then get it out of here.

Books with absentee parents: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Which is justifiable), The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

   3. Characters who die to further the development of a main character 

When characters die to further the devolpment of another character, it pisses me off. There are some characters that I grew to love, and they were torn away from me. There are instances where the author does this justifiably, but sometimes it hurts beyond belief. There is no excuse sometimes to create a character just to kill off to further propel a main character’s devlopment. Ahhh! It gets me mad!

Books that kill off characters: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

   4. The “John Green” trope

This is what I like to call the “John Green” trope. This is a trope in which the story is about the boy who finds the “special” and “unique” girl that takes his breath away. This trope is absolutely ridiculous and sums up everyone of his books. I enjoy John Green’s writing, it is spectacular, however, his characters fall short for me. He executes his stories so well, and he isvery talented. However, I can’t read his books because of his characters… they can sometimes be douche canoes.

Books that feature this trope: All of his books

  5.  Instalove

This is the most aggravating tropes of them all. There is no way you fall in love with someone you just meet. There is no possible way. I understand instalust, but instalove is just unrealstic. If two characters meet, and then instantly profess that they would die for each other, I instantly cringe away. There is nothing healthy about realtionships like this. There is a progression to love. Yes, you may really like someone when you meet them, but you’re not ready to say you love them just yet.

Books that feature instalove: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

What tropes do you hate? Comment down below and discuss! Also, check out my BookTube channel with Quirkymadsreads. Happy reading!

Read ya later!

Maddie

Five Things Wrap Up: Ignite Me

Ignite meIgnite Me by Tahereh Mafi is the last book in the Shatter Me trilogy and was by far the best. This final installment displayed the most character development and completed the series sufficiently. Each of these books got better as I felt Mafi was able to get comfortable with her writing style and voice. I will probably read another novel by her in the future. Moreover, there weren’t any more strikethroughs in this novel, which made it easier to read, and the metaphors were few and far between. I gave this one a 3 out of 5 stars. Here is my Five Things Wrap Up!

  1. “Stupid girl”

Despite Juliette’s fantastic character growth, she still relapsed into “annoying insecure girl” every so often. She would still continue to say things such as: “Why would I ever think anyone could accept me. Stupid girl.” No. Just no. I can’t stand the phrase “stupid girl.” It is seen everywhere on the internet when teenage girls want to whine about how unimportant they feel. I blame books such as this one that give girls the idea that they are stupid, and that it is cool to feel worthless and hate yourself. Hating yourself is so 87′ (haha Heathers reference). Seriously, though, get a grip, girl. You just need to accept yourself, stop always complaining about how you don’t think you’re good enough. Ahhh, I just really hate that phrase. If I met Juliette I would punch her in the face and say “Stupid girl, you should learn how to block some punches.” Moving on…

  1. Adam is a dick

Adam is the worst character in the world. He berates and belittles Juliette. He is mad at Juliette because she finally has confidence and enough courage to be a badass. However, Adam whines that she has “changed.” Sorry Adam, I think you’re the only one who enjoys emo, Juliette. The things he says to her are unforgivable, and honestly he deserves to lose everyone he loves. He is completely prideful and selfish. I loathe his character.

  1. Warner’s character growth

Warner had some great character growth. He turned out to not be such a malicious person in the end and gained some mad respect. I still believe that his character is unredeemable. Furthermore, we should not be glorifying guys with bad attitudes, however, he started to grow on me more in this book. Mafi was definitely trying to make her audience fall in love with Warner, and it worked. I definitely liked him a lot more than Adam in this book.

  1. Juliette should have ended up alone

I will not reveal who she ended up with, however, I will say that she should have ended up alone at the end of the series. Juliette throughout the entire trilogy defined herself by a man. Despite the things she learns about herself in the final book, she still has a lot more character growth to do. I believe that she would have been stronger if she decided to learn how to be herself and grow into the new world rather than do it in a relationship.

  1. This was the best book in the trilogy

This book contained better writing and more character development. The writing style was clearer and more concise, which made this the best book in the trilogy. It had a satisfying ending and did not leave too much unanswered. Kenji was amazing as always, and still holds the spot for my favorite character. We saw him put down his walls and succumb to pressure in this book, which was nice to see. He kept the comedy coming and never failed to make me smile. The action in this book was not what I wanted though for a final book. There was barely any action that led up to the ending. Also, the superpowers in this book were never explained, which was disappointing. I felt Mafi focused too much on the romance and less on what made this book categorized as a “dystopian” trilogy.

What did you think of the trilogy? Comment below with your thoughts!

Read ya later!

Maddie

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Required Reads

Top 5 Wednesday

Hey, readers! This Top 5 Wednesday is your top 5 favorite required reads from school. This was a great top 5 topic because I always loved reading for school, and I have plenty of books to choose from. Let’s get started!Th

  1. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay 

This was a book I read my sophomore year of high school. This was such an influential book and was one of the first books that sparked my interest in historical fiction. With references to racial divisions in South Africa, it followed a young boy Peekay in his journey to becoming the welterweight champion of the world. However, he may find that learning self-preservation and survival in society will be harder than his physical training. I recommend this book to people of all ages and is definitely a classic.

     2.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This  book is a definite favorite of a lot of people from high school. I read this book my freshman year of high school and I  instantly fell in love with the story and the meaning behind it. This is another book that dealt with the racial division within society. Taking place in Alabama in 1936, racism boils between the white and black citizens. This story deals with the loss of innocence and the introduction to cruelty and prejudice.

     3.  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This I read in 7th grade and was the first book that got me excited about analyzing pieces of literature. This is the first book that I tore apart and studied closely. I had to write page summaries and annotate the pages of the text. My teacher saw that I had a gift for understanding literature, and sparked my love for analyzing and consuming everything I read. It taught me to be a critical reader.

     4.  Auschwitz and After by Charlotte Delbo

This was one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of literature about the Holocaust that I have ever read. I read this book my freshman year of college, and it has impacted me in ways I never imagined. It was so raw and emotional that it was hard to read at times. The imagery and the writing style was so unique and gave Delbo’s retelling of her experiences a new take on the Holocaust. She was a French woman taken into a camp for her political affiliation, which also was something I never read about. It is to this day one of my favorite books I have ever read. Read it, please.

     5. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt 

Another memoir has made it onto this list. I read this book my junior year of high school and loved it dearly. This is my favorite book of all time, and  it was miraculous. McCourt talks about his childhood and how he lived with nothing in Ireland during the famine. He lived in filth and with his mother who has lost three children. She is a hollow shell of herself, and McCourt and his brother have to grow up too fast. Their father is an alcoholic and treats them terribly. It is a difficult read, but the life lessons and the humor that he brings to his darkest times were incredible. This another must read.

What were your top 5 favorite required reads from school? Comment below!

Read ya later!

Mads

Five Things Wrap Up: Unravel Me

IMG_0974Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi was the sequel to Shatter Me, which was the first book in the Shatter Me trilogy. This book was definitely a step up to the first book of the trilogy in regards to writing style. There were less obscure metaphors and strikethroughs in this novel. However, there was not as much character growth as I wanted in this one, but there are some glimmers of character growth that I hope will resurface in the last book. I gave this one a 3 out of 5 stars. Here is my Five Things Wrap Up.

  1. There is an official love triangle

The love triangle in this book was disappointing to me because there was no reason for there to a be love triangle with these characters. The one character, has no regard for other people, and lacks empathy. Juliette wants to “fix” him and allow him to see that he is a “good person,” however, this character cannot be redeemed in my eyes. This love triangle is extremely unhealthy and is not representative of realistic relationships. Both guys are abusive in their own ways, and Juliette seems to need a man to validate her worth, which I am not a fan of.

  1. The brooding “sensitive guy” trope is annoying

Adam is such an aggravating character. He has no likable characteristics, and constantly whines. He wants to make things right with Juliette, and she does not want to have it. Also, for the entire book he was keeping secrets and allowed them to make him a miserable person. He does not open up no matter how hard Juliette tried to reach out to him. He made the people at Omega Point incredibly uncomfortable by putting on reality television worthy performances with Juliette in the cafeteria.

  1. There are less annoying metaphors

Mafi definitely amped up her writing in this novel. She graduates from her nonsensical metaphors and writes more concisely in this sequel. Her writing is more sophisticated, and it made the reading experience more enjoyable.

  1. Juliette has no character growth

Every time I thought Juliette was finally maturing, she would take two steps back. Her relationship with Adam was destroying her, and she still felt the need to constantly cry over him. She made no effort to work with the people at Omega Point or make friends. She constantly cried about not being able to focus and control her powers, and would throw major tantrums when things did not go her way. She still thought she was a monster and had no growth. However, towards the end of the novel, we see a shimmer of badassery that is hopefully more apparent in the next book.

  1. Kenji is the most positive character

Kenji does not take Juliette’s shit. He pulls her aside and tells her she is not the only person in the world, and she needs to take responsibility. Kenji gained so much respect from me in this scene. I always found myself laughing out loud at everything he said. He is definitely smarter than we thought in the first book, so he is definitely a character I am glad is in this book.

It was not the best book, but it was far better than the first. If the next book is better than the first two I will very happy. Regardless I found this an entertaining read, but it is still just a romance book set in a dystopian setting.

Read ya later!

Mads