Updates and a Mini Christmas Haul

Hello everyone! I hope you all had some really enjoyable holidays. Maybe some of you are still celebrating those extended family Christmases or you escaped from the snow for the time being. Regardless, I thought I would brag a little about my Christmas and you can brag back in the comments.

Surprisingly, I did not get any new books for Christmas. I did, however, receive a new copy of a complete Edgar Allan Poe collection and Sherlock Holmes collection. The two new books I got were a collection of Steampunk stories and a collection of short murder mysteries. I did get Christmas money so I will definitely be getting myself some new books.

As for non-book items, I did get an Apple watch which I ended up loving more than I thought I would. I also got a new slew of Harry Potter items, including a hand-made pillow (thanks Mom), a Snitch necklace, and a Ravenclaw storage box. I got a Walking Dead dice game and a Lucille mug. I finally got some Stranger Things merch. Bonus: my sister got me a set of beaker shot glasses and a nerdy cocktail book. Forgive me for not posting pictures because that’s just doing too much. I would love to hear about your awesome Christmas hauls or maybe share what present you gave this year that you were most proud of.

I hope you didn’t mind my bragging. I’m looking forward to a new year with many new books to review. I can’t wait to read your reviews as well. Have a wonderful new year!

From the Beginning and into the Unknown: Reviewing Origin by Dan Brown

Hi everyone! I didn’t think I would be posting so soon but I managed to get a hold of a book that I’d wanted to review for a while now. Since I have read (a majority of) Dan Brown’s latest novel Origin, I decided to post an unconventional review. This won’t be my standard format as I decided I want to highlight some of the issues I took with the novel and tell you about how I think certain aspects of the novel could have been different. I have read the other novels in this particular series (I don’t think this series has a name so I’m just going to call it the Robert Langdon series) and I wanted to talk about how this one separates itself from the others. Just a note, I’m not going to debate the ethics or themes of this novel. I am simply going to talk about the elements of the novel itself that worked or didn’t work. Without further ado, here is my list of grievances with Dan Brown’s Origin. 

The Overall Plot: I have always been a fan of treasure hunting stories. That is what got me into Dan Brown’s novels in the first place. With this being the fifth book in a series based on historical scavenger hunts, you would think that Brown would select a different era of history to focus on in a different part of the world. Instead, he gives this weird match-up of hypermodern settings with ancient symbols thrown in. Along with that, the overall plot revolves around a literal face-off between an ultra-conservative bishop with a grudge and a billionaire futurist with the secret that will change religion forever. Brown has taken any subtlety with his “science versus religion” subplot and decided to make it front and center as the main plot. With the book’s title, I assumed that maybe the book would have to do with very early history and that might have been interesting to solve a mystery dating to the time before Christ.

The Characters: Overall, I enjoy the character of Robert Langdon. Where he could have easily been overly manly or annoying, Brown chose to make him more reserved and humble. My problem with his character is that Langdon never seems to change that much throughout the novels. While he is still a stable leading character, he lacks the development that I would like to see. Any of Langdon’s trauma stems from his childhood fears as opposed to anything that happened in the latest novels. It would have been interesting to see how Langdon handles any of his unintentional fame but, instead, he mentions these past events in the same way a person remembers a weekend vacation. The female lead, Ambra Vidal, is a passable female lead but she is kind of an amalgamation of the previous female characters who only sort of made an impact on the novels. It would have been nice to see at least one of the previous female characters brought back in some interesting way. Honestly, even if that female character was a love interest, I would still accept it because I need more female characters in these novels that don’t just hang around for the adventure then split with no explanation. The billionaire futurist, Edmond Kirsch, just comes across as arrogant for the sake of arrogance. The “villain,” Bishop Valdespino, is pretty forgettable as is his main lackey, Admiral Avila. The characters in this novel just seem to represent the furthest extremes with Langdon there to bridge the gap.

The Writing/Dialogue: Brown’s writing is good but it doesn’t exceed above good in this novel. Reading this book felt more like reading a text book with how every other chapter seems to begin with some long paragraph of history and statistics. The history no longer feels as integrated into the novel as it once did. The prose wasn’t nearly as smooth. The dialogue also felt as though Brown was trying to hard to be topical. Characters reference “fake news,” the Frozen movie, Uber, and other modern day topics in ways that just feel cheesy and awkward. The writing struggles to combine fact and prose in a cohesive manner.

Themes: I know I said I wouldn’t knock on the themes of this novel but I do have some thoughts. With the title of the novel being Origin, I was under the impression there would be an overall theme of beginnings that would help round out the plot. Unfortunately, the only beginning that matters in the novel is the beginning of religion or humanity or something really far-reaching like that. Instead of exploring a more narrow “origin,” Brown wants to tackle the complicated question of “where did people come from and how far are we going to go?” While the other novels focuses on slivers of history, this once wants to discuss the history of history. Everyone is going for meta these days and Brown seems to be jumping on the bandwagon. The whole idea of challenging your beliefs is also thrown in the most extreme direction.

Conclusion: All in all, this was not the installment I wanted to see in the Robert Langdon series. It is not that I consider this book “unreadable” but I felt it could have been done differently. You can read this book but I wouldn’t recommend putting this on the top of your TBR list. Those who like Brown are not going to enjoy this novel as they enjoyed the others. If you are looking to read a Dan Brown book in this series, I would recommend The Da Vinci Code or The Lost Symbol. Angels and Demons and Inferno are both good as well but they aren’t my favorites.

Note: The picture I’ve used for the feature image is an actual statue from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain where the novel takes place.

My Favorites of 2017

Hello all! So my finals weeks has ended and I will be home tomorrow. Overall, it felt like a successful week, even though it felt as though Kent State was out to get me with my finals schedule. Regardless, I am feeling incredibly relieved and decided to celebrate some of the ups I experienced in 2017. I won’t just be sharing books but I will also be tell you about my favorite movies, songs, podcasts, and even some of my favorite memories of this year. I hope you enjoy.

Favorite Books: 

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • Artemis by Andy Weir
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  • The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher

Favorite Movies: 

  • Wonder Woman
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Baby Driver
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Logan
  • Beauty and the Beast (2017)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (I technically haven’t seen it yet but I know I’m going to love it)

Favorite TV Shows: 

  • Stranger Things: Season 2
  • Marvel’s The Defenders: Season 1
  • Gotham: Season 4
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 1
  • Crisis on Earth X (Second Crossover between Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. I love all of these shows so I’m just listing the crossover)
  • Supernatural: Season 13
  • Lucifer: Season 3

Favorite Albums/Songs: 

  • “Zombies on Broadway,” Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (album)
  • Human by Rag n’ Bone Man (song)
  • “+” Ed Sheeran (album)
  • “After Laughter,” Paramore (album)
  • “One More Light,” Linkin Park (album)
  • New Rules by Dua Lipa (song)
  • “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” Halsey (album)
  • Wolves by Rise Against (song)
  • “Lust for Life,” Lana Del Rey (album)
  • “Evolve,” Imagine Dragons (album)
  • “Melodrama,” Lorde (album)
  • Darkside by Ty Dolla $ign, Future, Kiiara (song)
  • Drive You Mad by Amy Shark (song)
  • Find Me by Sigma feat. Birdie
  • Hold Me Tight or Don’t by Fall Out Boy (song)
  • World Gone Mad by Bastille (song)

Favorite Podcasts: 

  • Alice Isn’t Dead
  • Small Town Murder
  • The Hilarious World of Depression
  • Lore
  • Steal the Stars

Favorite Classes I Took This Semester: 

  • Colloquium: Roman Decadence
  • Literature for Young Adults
  • British Literature from 1800-1900
  • Cicero

Favorite Moments/Milestones: 

  • Turning 21
  • Getting my Driver’s License
  • Having my First Internship Interview
  • Going to Kent’s Potter Fest
  • Starting this Blog

That’s all I have for 2017. Let’s hope to making even more good memories in 2018.

Be Prepared for a Semi-Hiatus

Hello all! I just wanted to give you a quick heads up. You may not be seeing my reviews that regularly as December rolls on. For starters, I don’t really have anything to review at the moment and I’m anxiously waiting to see what books I might get for Christmas. I might even do a post about my Christmas book haul. The next thing is that I’m about to run a gauntlet of finals because my schedule is crazy this time around. Afterwards, I’m going to need a break.

I also wanted to take your attention to my previous post regard my idea for Bad Fan Fiction Fridays. I really want to do a regular blog series and I think this would be a hilarious and interactive way to do so. I outlined my ideas so you can check out my previous post for that. I also wanted to give a shout out to mistybookspace for tweeting out my post. To summarize my idea, I want to have you guys send me a variety of bad fan fiction from across the internet and I will do an in-depth review of one every Friday. I really hope that this takes off because it would be so much fun.

Anyways, thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope the holidays are good for you and that you feel confident that 2018 will be fantastic because you are going to succeed.

I want to try something and I need your help!

Hello everyone! So I’m here to pitch you an idea that might be crazy but also fun. In order to execute this idea I need your help. Now, let me give you my elevator pitch.

Pretty much all of us have read fan fiction at one point and maybe some you still read it. We all have to admit, though, that we’ve read some pretty bad fan fiction in the past. I want to review it. Here’s where I need your help. I want you to send me bad fan fiction and, on Fridays, I will post a review/analysis of the fan fiction that you send me. I will obviously only doing one per week but I will keep a stock pile of the other ones I don’t choose. I don’t even care which fandom it’s from. If it’s bad, I will read and review it. In order to give a proper review, I have devised a point system that I will use to score those fan fictions.

  • Bad Grammar/Poor Sentence Structure/Bad Spelling
  • Really Awful or Prolonged Scene Description
  • A Mary Sue Protagonist (or a self-insertion of the author) ‘
  • Bad and/or Convenient Plot Twist
  • Inconsistent Character Personalities
  • Cringey Romance
  • Awkward Dialogue
  • Bizarre Pairing/Ship (By this, I mean the pairing has to be two characters who have never interacted or have no logical reason to be together. My example for this would be, like, Voldemort and Hagrid. The ship just has to be as far from logical as possible and not solely based on your opinion of a ship you may not like)
  • Overall Believability (even if it’s far-fetched, does the plot still follow some kind of logical progression or all come together in the end?)
  • Melodramatic Emotions

I will be accepting fan fictions from any fandom, even if it is one that I am not familiar with. I am not here to shame any author but, you have to admit, sometimes their writing isn’t that good. I would really love to get this going and I would love if my followers were to join me on this. You can leave me a link to a bad fan fiction you find in this post or you can send it to me via email. The email should be on my contact page. If it is not, I will fix that.

Note: I’m looking for unintentionally bad fan fiction. I will not be accepting parodies or spoofs of bad fan fiction.

I hope all of you are as excited for this as I am because I think this could be so much fun. I’m really looking forward to your responses.

The Joy of Christmas Tag

Hi everyone! As I panic about my upcoming finals, I realize that I need to take my mind off of things. I am so excited for Christmas just for the sake of being able to relax. I found this tag on The Giraffe Files so check out her blog. I also hope that you all have happy holidays.

Anticipation: What book release(s) are you most excited about?

I can’t think of any upcoming book releases but I know what books I’m hoping I’ll get for Christmas.

christmas cat

Christmas Songs and Carols: What book(s) or author(s) can you not help but sing your praises to?

JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allan Poe, Andy Weir, John Green

christmas leslie

Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has the best world building?

The Song of Fire and Ice, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, World War Z 

gingerbread house

Christmas Carol: Favorite classic novel or one you want to read?

I do love Pride and Prejudice, Dracula, and The Great Gatsby. I want to read 1984, Frankenstein, and Catch 22. 

christmas carol

Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas?

I really want Bonfire by Kristen Ritter, Origin by Dan Brown, The Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, and  The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

christmas cookies

Candles in the Window: What book gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling?

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling, The Princess Bride by William Goldman


Christmas Tree Decorations: What are some of your favorite book covers?

I have a shirt with the cover of The Great Gatsby on it because I love it so much. My copy of The Song of Achilles also has a really pretty cover.

christmas decorating

Christmas Joy: What are some of your favorite things about Christmas? Or do you have any Christmas memories that stand out to you?

I look forward to Christmas every year because I just love being home and feeling like I can relax for just a little bit. All of my Christmases have been memorable in some way or another.