The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey — A Review

The Library of Lost ThingsThe Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed The Library of Lost Things. In fact, it’s my first five-star rating in a long while. It had everything that makes great books great. It was funny and pithy, and it was honest.

The Library of Lost Things follows Darcy, an almost-eighteen-year-old literary savant, as she struggles to balance her secret life at home and her public life as a high school student, book store clerk, and girl with her first real crush. Her hoarder mother obviously makes things like fitting in difficult for Darcy, but as the story progresses, Darcy recognizes a couple of painful truths about herself and how hoarding has affected more than just her social life.

Laura Taylor Namey does an excellent job of presenting a remarkable, yet flawed main character. With each chapter, more of Darcy’s personality and character are revealed. Until, by the very end, we’re presented with a wonderfully complex young adult character.

I really enjoyed the interplay between Darcy and her best friend Marisol. I think everyone needs a Marisol in their lives. She was the epitome of what it means to be a best friend. I wish more young women were able to find Marisols for themselves. I also really enjoyed the developing relationship between Darcy and Asher, her crush. It showcased Darcy’s empathetic and understanding nature, qualities we could all use a little more of.

Overall, this was just an excellent young adult (nearly new adult) read. I would call it romance-light. To me, the focus really was on Darcy’s personal growth and development. A coming-of-age story, a story about true friendship, a story about family. Highly recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy.

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The Night I Lost My Father’s Gun by Azmi Abusam — A Review

The Night I lost My Father’s Gun by Azmi Abusam

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236 love--coffee-png-image-52236 love--coffee-png-image-52236

Set in Washington DC, The Night I Lost My Father’s Gun follows Elon, known to his friends as X, through one fateful day. We’re introduced to his high school, his friends, and his family situation.

This one is a bit odd in that the entire book takes place in less than 24 hours. Because of that there isn’t much room for the buildup and release of tension. We literally follow Elon from one task in his day to the next.

Unfortunately I was left wondering when the story was going to begin until nearly 93% of the novel was over. I’m still not sure how I feel about Elon or any of the characters in this book because I don’t feel like I got to know any of them very well. Half the time, I couldn’t understand what they were saying to each other because of the prolific amount of slang in the dialogue and narration of the text.

I wanted to like this one. The setting and cast of characters — urban high school and an ethnically diverse cast — made me sit up and take notice. I don’t see enough books that look or feel like this one. So I was looking forward to it, but there were just too many structural and dialogue problems for me to really enjoy it.

The only other works I can think to compare it to are Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova and Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, and only because they have urban settings with characters of color. There are no supernatural elements in The Night I Lost My Father’s Gun.

While this wasn’t my favorite, those who enjoy young adult novels with urban settings, tons of pop culture references, and atypical story structure might enjoy this.

The Proving by Ken Brosky — A Review


The Proving by Ken Brosky

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

A post-apocalyptic YA series in the same vein as Veronica Roth’s Divergent, but with a science fiction angle.

After an asteroid enters Earth’s orbit, covered in creatures called Specters, life for humans is drastically altered. The specters, sort of like ghosts, sort of like large insects or animals, can kill by simply passing through you. In an effort to combat these creatures, humanity has walled itself off from them with something called Xenoshields, and they’ve divided themselves into Clans and free citizens.

The clans:  Spartans are tough, military people trained to shoot, kill, and wield machinery. Clan Athens is made up of healers, biologists, and the like. Clan Persia is full of tech geeks. Parliament is exactly what it sounds like. These are the government folks. Then there are Historians, those tasked with objectively recording (and memorizing) everything they see.

At ages 13 and 18, the Young Adults and New Adults of Earth, respectively, must go through something called the Proving. Normally, everyone stays behind the Xenoshields in their cities, but during the Proving, the New and Young Adults must go outside the walls.

In this first book, we follow Skye (Spartan), Cleo (Persian), Ben (Athenian), Gabriel (Parliament), and Seamus (Historian) along with Skye, Cleo, Ben, and Gabriel’s younger siblings as they complete the Proving. The characters are three-dimensional, complex, and at times surprising. So, I thought they were really well done. I personally felt myself drawn to Skye. She’s incredibly tough, but you can tell that she’s got one of those soft, gooey, caramel centers. I can’t wait to see how her arc plays out in the next book.

When the group first gets together they seem to be a bit of a motley crew. They don’t really mesh well and they have a tendency to argue or boast. But then, all too soon, they are outside of the walls and taking on the Proving. What follows after they pass through the Xenoshield is a hair-raising, action-packed thrill ride. And that ending! Oh my god, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this series and find out what the heck has happened to our group!

Now, just one complaint because overall I enjoyed this very, very much. The story is told from alternating perspectives, and at times, they aren’t handled well. I often found myself confused at who was speaking or from whose perspective the story was being told. That was really frustrating because it caused the action and the fast pace of the story to stutter. If the alternating perspectives had been tightened up a bit more or been made clearer, this probably would have been a five-coffee-cup read for me.

I’m not sure when book two of the Earth-X Triology will be out, but I can’t wait to read it!

Happy reading, lovelies!

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The Gift of the Quoxxel by Richard Titus — A Review


The Gift of the Quoxxel by Richard Titus

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

This one is a bit of an odd ball, but I kinda liked it!

Summary from Goodreads:

King Norr was not content. He longed to know the world beyond his tiny, island kingdom of Nibb. The Nibbians, however, were not a seafaring people and had no desire to travel elsewhere. Why bother, they said. What could be as perfect as Nibb?

Even so, Norr watched foreign ships come and go. They approached, hesitated, then sailed away without ever coming ashore. Why was that?

And that wasn’t the only mystery.

Who was the prankster who had set the palace afloat?

Was there a sea monster skulking the waters along shore?

Who was the little girl who sang but would not speak?

Had the Minister of Science been eaten by migrating drumbkins?

This was not the average Nibbian day. King Norr was unprepared and only hoped to get through it with as few “haddocks” as possible.

Set sail on this armchair adventure of wit and riddle. It’s an imaginative voyage to
the Isle of Nibb whose only flaw is being a little too perfect — or, at least, it was
until today.

So, King Norr is basically a bumbling idiot, but you can’t help but smile at his ridiculousness. He wants so badly to know what else is out there in the world, and why the heck people don’t ever come to the Island of Nibb?!

There are so many moving parts to this little story — Nibb and the Nibbians, pirates sailing the open ocean, a giant sea monster who is perhaps not so monsterish?, and of course, the drumbkins! What are those you ask? Well, you’ll have to read to find out. I’m not spoiling that here.

Gift of the Quoxxel is definitely bizarre. It makes me think: there was someone who fell asleep on the beach of a beautiful island (maybe after one too many piña coladas), and this was the fever dream they had. Can you see those hazy lines they use in TV and film to let you know you’re entering dream world? Squint your eyes… There they are! *ripple ripple*

This book is perfect for summer reading and beach reading (or any-time-of-year reading). It’s cute and quirky, and it’s quick. It’s also great for either children, middle grade readers, young adults, or adults — anyone can enjoy this! Now, I know school may be starting back up for some of you soon, so while you’ve got the time, take a chance on this unexpected delight.

I totally stole this gif off another review on Goodreads, but it’s just so perfect — whimsical and funny!

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Happy reading, lovelies!

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir — A Review

33359446A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.

We pick up A Torch Against the Night where An Ember in the Ashes left off. Laia and Elias are running for their lives, the Commandant is up to her usual evil ways, and Laia’s brother is trapped inside Kauf prison.

Like all traditionally published YA novels, this was well-written and suspenseful, and it had me wanting to turn page after page even when I was exhausted. I really enjoyed the incorporation of the Tribes into the story, the relationship development between Elias and Laia, and the struggle that Helene, now Blood Shrike of the empire, goes through in trying to choose between her friend and her duty to the empire. Honestly, the development of Helene’s character in this book was in large part why this book rated so high with me.

However, there were a couple of story lines that did not feel complete to me, and I found that a bit surprising considering how many hands this went through prior to publication. I think this book may have tried to accomplish way too much in too few pages.

  • The love triangle from book one carries over, but it’s sketchy and thoughtlessly handled.
  • Not nearly enough time is spent explaining the world of the jinns and the Waiting Place, which I assume will play a large role in book three (or at least, I hope it does).
  • That twist at the end felt a little cheesy, but all right I’ll go with it.

Despite these issues, I still enjoyed it very much, and want to know what happens with Elias and Laia in book three.

I picked this book to fulfill the Read Harder Challenge #20, A Book with a Cover You Hate. I know why Tahir wanted to change the cover design, and I respect that reasoning. I just think the execution (specifically the single color and the Throne of Glass knock-off style) was poorly done.

 

Which one do you prefer?