Book Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

gosetawatchmanTitle: Go Set a Watchman
Author: Harper Lee
Genre: Adult Fiction

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most influential books I read in high school. While I was reading it, I was also teaching it to a younger grade level as part of my English project. Now that I am a teacher, I can look back on that experience and realize that it definitely played a factor in where I am today.

When I found out that a novel featuring the same characters was going to be released, I jumped for joy. I’m sure I annoyed my mother will my excitement. I wanted to buy it on its release date, but I hadn’t yet found a job and needed to save as much money as I possibly could. Then, the waiting list at the library was ten miles long. When I finally got my hands on a copy, I felt like Gollum with the Ring.

Premise: 4/5

This novel was originally turned down by publishers. Lee wrote this novel before her iconic novel. Some people, after reading, believe that the publishers had been right all those years ago, but I’m really glad this novel was published. Jean Louise, or “Scout,” has grown up and returns home to visit her father, Atticus. While she’s home, she is brought back into those childhood memories we loved so much from To Kill a Mockingbird. As she is thrust back into her childhood, she sees the people her loved ones have become and questions everything.

Plot Development: 3/5

As I started reading this, I had no idea where it was headed. I’d only heard the hype from when it was released and I knew bits and pieces about the current Atticus, but I still didn’t know what the plot was going to be. Actually, I didn’t figure it out until the book was almost over. So even though it was a found manuscript that was written before To Kill a Mockingbird, it almost read like a fan’s companion story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I understand why a lot of people did not.

There was very little plot, but it was written in such a way that it didn’t matter to me.

Characterization: 4/5

We see a whole new side to almost every character that is recognized from the iconic book. It’s done really well and we see some of the development through flashbacks. I loved seeing the changes in personalities and they made sense. Lee did a fantastic job of taking this original work and then taking it back twenty years to their younger selves to write such a brilliant novel. I love these characters.

Writing Style: 5/5

Even though this seemed to be a book about nothing, it read so easily due to the writing style. Lee added the right amount of humor into the flashbacks; she wrote this so well that I was happy to read about things that I felt didn’t advance the plot.

Readability: 5/5

This goes along with the above category, but this novel read really well. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. It was easy to read, even when learning about something less than desirable about a beloved character.

Total Score: 21/25, avg. 4.2/5

This was a very weird review because a lot of the stuff I talked about would typically make a book less enjoyable for me, but as To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, I’m a little biased. It was a lot of fun to revisit Scout and the gang. While I was there was more substance, I enjoyed this novel very much. 4/5 stars!

4 stars

I read this book for the #sixsquaredchallenge hosted by bookstacksamber! – Goodreads Choice Winners

kacie

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Want to purchase a copy of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.

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Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

roomTitle: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Genre: Adult Fiction, Realistic Fiction

I first heard about Room by Emma Donoghue by watching a friend’s BookTube channel. She mentioned it a few times, but didn’t say much about the book. She didn’t need to say much about this book because it speaks for itself. Because of what she said, I marked this book as to-read on Goodreads in June 2015. I saw that it was available at my local library, but I didn’t pick it up until January 2016, after I started hearing a ton of buzz because of the movie’s Oscar nominations.

I knew I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie. Now, after reading the book, I NEED to see this movie as soon as possible.

Premise: 5/5

I more than love the premise of this novel.

I am a diehard fan of the show “Criminal Minds,” in which the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI hunts down killers and psychopaths. I enjoy crime novels for the same reason I love crime shows:  to hear from the perspective of “the bad guy.”

In Room, we not only hear from the perspective of the victim rather than the police, but we hear from the product of the crime, a five-year old boy born in captivity.

I refused to look up much information about this book before I started reading, and once I cottoned onto the premise of this novel, I was hooked.

Plot Development: 5/5

Room is successful in carrying out its plot and living up to its fresh premise. There is an appropriate amount of time spent on the before and the after. There is also a fair amount of predictability, but it’s done in a way that I didn’t mind. It kept moving at a comfortable pace and I only put it down when I was forced to do so.

Characterization: 4/5

The novel is written from the perspective of Jack, a five-year old boy who has been living in the same eleven-by-eleven foot room he was born in. His voice not only sounds like a five-year old’s, but a young boy with developmental delays. This should absolutely be the case given the boy’s situation and I am impressed with the author’s ability to bring this out in his voice. We were also able to see his mother’s character develop throughout the events in the novel, as much as an overwhelmed little boy can. And as much as I am singing the praises for this author’s portrayal of Jack, I wish I would have seen a more realistic growth in Jack himself. There were some obvious changes in his personality and his demeanor, but they were very sudden and without the inner-thought from Jack I expected.

Writing Style: 5/5

Again, Donoghue was able to successfully write from the point of view of a five-year old with developmental delays. Some readers were bothered by this voice, but I thought it was done extremely well. After I binge-read this novel, I found myself referring to objects in my own room as proper nouns. I was putting Laundry in Dresser and climbing onto Bed.

Readability: 5/5

I truly binge-read this novel. I only put it down when I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. When I woke up the next morning, I picked it back up and read until completion. I was almost upset it was over, but I was satisfied with its ending. While reading, I was wondering how it was going to end and if it would leave me feeling unsatisfied, if its ending would take away from the impact of the rest of the novel. It ended wonderfully.

Total Score: 24/25, avg. 4.8/5

5 stars

This is an obvious 5/5 stars from me. I need to see the movie as soon as I can and since it was a library book, I want to purchase a copy of this novel for my bookshelf. I recommend this book to fans of things that are a little bit twisted…like “Criminal Minds” or books by Gillian Flynn.

I read this book for the #sixsquaredchallenge hosted by bookstacksamber! – Book to Movie Adaptations 

kacie

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Want to purchase a copy of Room by Emma Donoghue for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

shatter meTitle: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopian

Going into this novel, I didn’t know much about it. I only knew what was on the back cover:  Juliette cannot touch anyone without hurting them and possibly even killing them. An organization called “The Reestablishment” wants to use Juliette as a weapon, but not if she can help it.

This is not normally a book that I would pick up. I’m quite tired of the female protagonist, two male characters that may become love interests, end of society trend in books. I know that I’m reading this book late compared to some other books in this genre, but this book came out after The Hunger Games and Divergent. However, from what I’ve heard on BookTube and on multiple book blogs, I figured I’d give this one a chance.

Premise: 4/5

I like the premise of this novel. Juliette cannot touch people or she could kill them? Nobody knows why? Ooh, sign me up! Wait a second…the government has locked her up and now wants to use her as a weapon against her will? Okay! I wonder what’s going to happen! The only thing keeping me from giving this a 5/5 is the fact that it is not a completely original concept. It’s got its own twist, but it’s not entirely original.

Plot Development: 3/5

This is where it fell flat for me, guys. The plot was very predictable. Once the novel started to pick up speed, my predictions were all coming true. The only parts that I wasn’t able to predict the outcome were parts that didn’t make much sense to me. I’m going to try to do this in the most non-spoilery way possible. Let’s just say if you are off the grid, you’re not going to go with the flow when someone you know shows up at the door and says, “Some guy brought me here.” No, I’m sorry. The characters reacted a teeny bit appropriately, but mostly didn’t. Some of it was just completely unbelievable.

Also, insta-love. Yuck.

Characterization: 3/5

The characterization was okay, but it was nothing to sing praises to. The reader is definitely able to see the characters’ feelings and reactions start to change as the novel progresses, but some of the character actions just didn’t make much sense to me.

Writing Style: 3/5

Metaphors everywhere. It almost read like a John Green parody. Some of it is seemingly flowery for the sake of being flowery.

“My eyes break open. 2 shattered windows filling my mouth with glass.”

“He’s a hot bath, a short breath, 5 days of summer pressed into 5 fingers writing stories on my body.”

“I hate the lackadaisical ennui of a sun too preoccupied with itself to notice the infinite hours we spend in its presence.”

“His body presses closer and I realize I’m paying attention to nothing but the dandelions blowing wishes in my lungs.”

I’m sorry. I did more laughing than I should have while reading this book. I also did not like that sometimes, numbers were written out as words and sometimes the numerical symbol was used instead (three/3, five/5).

Readability: 4/5

Once I got past the unnecessary prose, I was sucked into this novel more than I would care to admit. I did enjoy its story for the most part. Even though I had an idea what was going to happen, I wanted to see how they got there and how it affected the characters’ emotions.

Total Score: 17/25, avg. 3.4/5

3 stars

Overall, it was alright. I’m giving this novel three stars. It was just okay. I hear that the rest of the trilogy gets better, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing with this series. The interest is just not there. Maybe if I one day have a hankering for YA Dystopian, I might pick this series back up again. Who knows?

I read this book for the #sixsquaredchallenge hosted by bookstacksamber! – Books to Start a Series

kacie

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Want to purchase a copy of Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi for yourself? Check it out on The Book Depository by clicking HERE.

Read-A-Thon Update: Hour 18 – January Owlcrate Unboxing!

Hello everyone! I’m having a very bookish weekend. I received my very first Owlcrate book box today! I am so excited to open this box and check out the loot.

If you have not yet received your January box and do not want to be spoiled, stop right here!

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I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited for a box to arrive in the mail! I’ve watched about one hundred unboxing videos, but as I was holding this box on my lap, it was like I’d never seen one of these before. I can’t cut into it fast enough.

January’s Owlcrate theme is “Magic” and according to the sneak preview posted by Owlcrate, there will be a Funko Pop figure inside this box! Since the theme is magic, I’m betting it’ll be a character from Harry Potter. Maybe not…it could be any other magical character. Hmm…

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Left: Oh my gosh, I don’t think I am prepared for what’s about to happen. If the card is this beautiful, I can’t even imagine what’s in store!

Right: Ron! Ron! Ron WEASLEY! He’s even got a bit of Spello-tape on his wand! He is going to make a fantastic addition to my bookshelf. I might even battle him with Voldemort. Muahaha!

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Both: Ooh, this is a pretty bookmark. I haven’t yet read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, but it’s in my plans for the very near future as part of the #SIXSQUAREDCHALLENGE. I really like the light side of this bookmark. It is gorgeous. I really like the artwork in general for this bookmark.

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Left: Ooh, this is pretty! What is it? ….Throne of Glass! I really like the color scheme of this print and the choice of quote. This is definitely going to be on my wall. I’m not all that fond of the font, but only because I’ve seen this font (or a very similar one) EVERYWHERE, from blogs to videos to commercials on television to a brand of fruit juice. I still really like this print! The bookmark and this print are both from Evie Bookish.

Right: Chapstick! It’s called Patronus…oh my gosh it’s chocolate. That’s perfect. It does have mint in it, though, which will give me an asthma attack…but my sister will very much enjoy this lip balm. It’s from Geek Fire Labs.

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Last, but certainly not least…

The BookWorlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley – This edition was released by HarperCollins Canada on January 5, 2016.

I know nothing about this novel. I see that it was very recently released, so it will qualify for the #SIXSQUAREDCHALLENGE to read 6 New Releases of 2016. Excellent! I wonder if this was on anyone’s most anticipated releases videos/blogs…I’ll have to check on that.

After reading the synopsis in the dust jacket, I am to understand that this is a historical fiction novel based on the Brontë sisters and their childhood writings, imaginations, and the worlds they created and in which they played. This sounds so interesting! The cover is beautiful and the finish on the dust jacket feels so great to touch. I hope to read this one sooner rather than later.

Overall thoughts: For my first Owlcrate, I am ecstatic! I picked a great time to gift myself a 3-month subscription. I bought this as a birthday present to myself…maybe in three months, my elementary school will hire me for a full time position (mine is until the end of the school year) and I can gift myself more months! I’m loving this service already.


 

Now, for the read-a-thon update portion of this post.

My brother showed up today to help my father move some things out of the attic. I rarely see him so I spent a lot of my time today catching up with him. Then, dad enlisted the two of us to help clean out the attic. Yuck. I’m also responsible for cooking dinner for the family this evening. I might need to make this a late night to catch up on reading.

Hour 18 Stats:

Books finishedShatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Time read: 4:54

Currently readingRoom by Emma Donoghue


kacie

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Read-A-Thon: #24in48

It’s that time again!

Readthon Update

It feels like I was recently posting about the 24 in 48 Read-a-thon and here it is again! Did that really happen last June?!

Am I participating? You bet I am.

With my job as a teacher, it is hard to participate in some read-a-thons or even to get in some reading time daily. As this particular read-a-thon occurs over a weekend, I’d figure I’d give it a shot.

I’m going to be tired on Monday, but that’s okay! The kids are off school! I’ll be there anyway for an in-service, but the timing of this read-a-thon is perfect.

In the #24in48 read-a-thon, there are not specific book challenges such as “read a book with blue on the cover.” Instead, the goal is to spend at least 24 of the 48 hours reading. This is quite the feat and rather intense at times. Because of this, I’ll be picking books based on my mood.

Most of the time. I’m setting a goal for this read-a-thon to read all three books that I have checked out of the library. They’re due back on Tuesday!

  • Room by Emma Donoghue
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

I also hope to finish reading The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, which I’ve been reading since Christmas. If I don’t feel in the mood for any of these, I’ll most likely choose books based on bookstacksamber’s 2016 #SIXSQUAREDCHALLENGE Reading Challenge.

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll be checking in at least daily with my progress.

Is anyone else out there participating in the 24 in 48 Read-A-Thon? Let’s cheer each other on! For more information about the read-a-thon and to participate in sweet giveaways, check out 24in48.com.

See you soon and happy reading!

kacie

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