To devour what they left behind…:Reviewing The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Hi everybody! I know, I know. It’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to finish this novel, but I’m super excited to share this with you. Lately, I’ve been on a historical mystery kick. I feel the genre is very under appreciated. Despite this book taking me forever to read (not because of length, but because I’m lazy), it was absolutely worth my time. Now let’s talk about The Shadow of the Wind.

Daniel Sempere was just a young boy when his father took him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He immediately found himself drawn to The Shadow of the Wind, written by the enigmatic Julian Carax. Being the son of a bookseller, Daniel uses his father’s connections to find more books by Carax. Soon, he finds out that all of Carax’s books have been destroyed and he may have the only remaining book of Carax. Daniel’s search for the truth reveals the dark and tangled web of Barcelona, full of murder, lies, and forbidden love.

Zafon’s twisted and intricate novel is worth the deep dive that requires to read it. Admittedly, it can be a bit of the struggle to keep up with the plot as so many characters are being introduced at every turn, but it all ties together in the end. There are points in this book that made me audibly gasp. Some people might say I’m spoiling the book by saying it has plot twists, but they are amazing plot twists. It is a mystery, after all. That is part of the genre. This novel is immersive, suspenseful, and thoughtful all at once. The atmosphere of Zafon’s depiction of Barcelona in 1945 is enough to pull the reader into the story. The novel has bits and pieces of many other genres, which is what makes it so interesting to read. I highly recommend The Shadow of the Wind to just anyone at all as it has something to satisfy every reader and will keep you hanging on until the very end.

To Be, Rather than to Seem: Reviewing The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Hi everyone! This review took a while because I’m easily distracted. I had actually read this book a while back, but had since forgotten the details of the novel. In fact, most of the books I review for this blog are books that I have read previously, but I wanted to share them with you all. With that being said, here is my review of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

The circus arrives without warning. It is a magical experience for all those who enter through its gates. They call it Le Cirque des Reves and it appears at random and opens only at night. Little do the guests know of the fierce competition behind the scenes. Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair have been training their whole lives for a mysterious game of magic with only one winner. When the two young illusionists fall in love with each other, it leads to dangerous consequences that leave the circus and its performers in peril.

Morgentern’s novel is an elaborate and magical read. The writing is layered and atmospheric. It is certainly an immersive read as it alternates between perspectives, even sometimes shifting the writing style a little to accommodate the characters in the scene. The story can be a bit vague at times, but it is part of the experience. It does pay off at the end of the novel. I particularly enjoyed how the rich details and symbolism tie into the themes of the story, such as the elaborate clocks or the various circus tents that Morgenstern puts great care into describing. The novel has an overall romantic feel, and I don’t just mean that in the sense of there is a love story. I remembered why I enjoyed this novel in the first place. If you want something with magic, romance, and danger, then I would go ahead and recommend picking up The Night Circus.

Current Favorites: Movie Edition (Part 2)

Hi everyone! I’m getting close to publishing my review of Sleeping Giants but I wanted to do something else in the meanwhile. I mentioned before that I am a huge movie buff and I already posted a list of favorite movies. Most were pretty mainstream but I still felt they were somewhat under appreciated. I decided to do another one in the same vein. So here are some more movies that I love and recommend to you all.

pacific rim

Pacific Rim – directed by Guillermo Del Toro, 2013

I’m a huge fan of science fiction and Guillermo Del Toro so I couldn’t resist adding another of his movies to a list. I already talked about The Shape of Water but I wanted to talk about this particular movie. Pacific Rim delivers on amazing visuals and classic robot vs. monster action. It’s a delight to watch as it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a fun sci-fi romp. It also stars Idris Elba, who I have a massive crush on. It really is just a fun movie to watch. Sadly, I heard the sequel isn’t that great but at least the first one is good.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Directed by the Russo Brothers, 2014

I already mentioned one Marvel movie in my previous list and I didn’t think I would mention another one as most of you are more than aware of the MCU. I, however, cannot fail to mention how much I adored this movie and I will even go so far as to argue that it is one of the best Marvel movies or at least it is one of the best sequels. The action sequences in this movie are so well done and I loved the emotional stakes this movie brought. This movie also introduced two of the best MCU characters: Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson as the Falcon. This movie is just so wonderfully composed. It has a perfect balance between action and emotion. Also the cast is just wonderful. MCU is really great at casting in general. If you haven’t seen this one yet, I cannot stress enough how good this movie is.


Heathers – Directed by Michael Lehmann, 1988

Now, it’s time to take a sharp left turn from sci-fi/action to dark teen comedy. I have never been a fan of teen movies and that includes the slew of movies that the 1980s produced but Heathers changed my mind. Winona Ryder is probably more relatable in 2018 than she was in 1988. I enjoy the dark, twisted humor in the movie. It definitely bends the classic teen genre in more ways than one. I also enjoy the “girls with guns” trope in this movie. I don’t think it is for everyone but it is still a good movie for anyone with a sick sense of humor. It’s also incredibly quotable. (Note: I know that this isn’t the original poster for the movie but I liked it better. Also the musical adaptation is really great.)


Call Me By Your Name – Directed by Luca Guadagnino, 2017

Let’s get into some romance, shall we? When the Oscar buzz was going around, I heard this movie come up a lot. I was very bored one Friday night and decided to see if I could find it. I was very glad that I was able to watch this sweet and unconventional romance. The movie has a very intimate vibe that fits the beautiful aesthetic of the Mediterranean. Timothee Chalamet deserves recognition for his wonderful performance. The relationship between the two main characters is touching and understanding. I know a lot of people have gripes about the age difference in the relationship but it is in no way portrayed in a creepy Lolita-type way. This is a wonderful story about two men uncovering the truths about themselves through each other. I should note that this is based on a novel that I would love to read one day.

the imitation game

The Imitation Game – Directed by Morten Tyldum, 2014

I still remember seeing this one in theaters because it was the only one available that particular night. The theatre was super busy so my mom, sister, and I decided we might as well see this one because we all love Benedict Cumberbatch. Anyways, I ended up becoming incredibly invested in this movie, which is about mathematical genius Alan Turing and his struggle to crack the German Enigma code in order to help the British forces during WWII. If you don’t know who Alan Turing is, he essentially paved the way for artificial intelligence. Sadly, his life was tormented as was on the autism spectrum and he was a gay man during a time when you could go to jail for that. This movie is more about humanity than it is machines, which makes it so enjoyable to watch. It is dramatic and heart-breaking. Cumberbatch and Knightley both give award worthy performances. I would recommend this movie to the history buffs out there.

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.

Current Favorites: Podcast Edition

Hello All! I had some time this weekend in between studying and reading to share with you all some of my favorite podcasts. I’m a little bit of a podcast junkie so I hope to introduce some podcasts for those who are interested and those who already love podcasts. These aren’t any particular genre or style. These podcasts are simply ones that I love to listen to.

Welcome to Night Vale – This is probably the most well-known current podcast. Set in the mysterious and weird desert town, Welcome to Night Vale is the local radio show hosted by the enigmatic Cecil Baldwin. The story is perfectly bizarre and profound. This podcast also showcases indie artists as part of the “weather report.” It may not make sense right now, but you will be sucked into the abyss once you give this podcast a listen.

welcome to night vale

The Nerdist – Chris Hardwick hosts this interview series where he sits down with celebrities from all over the entertainment industry and they talk about everything. Hardwick manages to make an interview sound more like a fun conversation between friends (who just happen to be A-list celebrities).

the nerdist

Ear Biscuits – If you are a fan of YouTube then you have probably heard of Rhett and Link, the hosts of Good Mythical Morning. In this podcast, they sit down and talk about everything from conspiracies, to being cool, and even vasectomies. It’s a humorous and enjoyable listen for anyone looking for comedy.

ear biscuits

How Did This Get Made? – Did you ever want to know how some of the most terrible movies to grace cinema were made? This podcast is for you. Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas sit down with celebrity guests to review and dissect the bizarre, the humorously bad, and the poorly acted. This podcast is perfect for movie buffs.


Lore – For fans of creepy history and urban legends, I present to you this particular podcast. The narrator (with a soothing voice, I might add) doesn’t look to spook but to merely explore these dark and gruesome parts of history. This podcast is great for the fall season.


The NoSleep Podcast – In the same vein as Lore, this podcast incorporates various narrators to read submitted scary stories. It is not for the faint of heart but horror fans are sure to love this one to.


Stuff You Missed in History Class – Time to give one for the history buffs. This podcast explores the lesser known figures of history who deserve recognition and lesser known historical events. The hosts do put an emphasis on women who have been disregarded by history, which I feel we can appreciate now. This podcast is informative and will keep you wanting to learn more.


The Writers Panel – I have a feeling a lot of you will be interested in this one. This podcast is a series of panels where writers from across entertainment discuss their craft. They do not limit it to just novelists but they interview screen writers, non-fiction writers, comic writers, and many more. Any writer is sure to be enamored with this podcast.

the writers panel

Stuff You Should Know – Have you ever wondered how the CIA works? Why do people stutter? What about fever dreams? This podcast covers a whole variety of diverse topics as the hosts delve into explaining how everything works. The never-ending topics will keep you saying, “Wow, I didn’t know that!”


Small Town Murder – Dark comedy is not meant for everyone but if you do have a slightly twisted sense of humor, then I recommend this one. Two comedians explore some of the strangest murders to happen in middle of nowhere-type places. The hosts keep a sense of levity while still providing an informative look at some graphic crimes. It sounds a little weird when I explain it but once you listen to it, you will understand what I mean.

small town murder


This is my list for now. I will put out a part two once I listen to a few more podcasts. I hope you listen to these because I would love to discuss these with my followers. Let me know what you think and thank you for reading this.

Book Scandals: They’re more common than you think

I just came across a pretty wild story regarding a YA novel titled Handbook for Mortals. If you google search the book, a pretty legit looking cover pops up and even an Amazon link. Seems normal, right? Well, the problem is that no one had ever heard of this book. It became the number one best seller on the New York Times and displaced Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give. Since this story is so wild, I’m going to leave a link to it here and link some other stories about literary scandals that may involve the content of the novel, the author, plagiarizing, or any number of issues. I feel like this will be fun to read for any of you that might be interested.

Note: I cannot guarantee that these links will provide all of the details but I will make sure the sources are decent and that they contain as many facts as possible.

The Handbook for Mortals: A best selling book that never existed – You YA lit lovers are going to love this story

A Million Little Piecesor the book that fooled Oprah – Making it onto Oprah’s book list would be a big deal for any author. James Frey received this honor for his “memoir” about a twenty three-year-old drug addict and his recovery. Unfortunately, much of the events never even happened.

The YouTube Ghost Writers – For anyone of you who are up to date on internet stars, you know that a wave of autobiographies of these creators hit the shelves and have sold in the millions. Well, some people were so desperate to cash in that they secretly hired ghost writers in order to get in on the market. (Each word in this title is a different link btw)

Poe v Longfellow – This is an old one but a good one that involves two famous of the most famous American authors accusing each other of plagiarism.

The Curse of The Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger’s most famous novel has been tied to many infamous crimes, including the assassination of John Lennon, the murder of Rebecca Schaeffer, and an assassination attempt on former US President, Ronald Reagan.

Decoding The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown is most well known for his thriller novels that take on the mysteries of the Roman Catholic church. His most famous novel, however, tackled these already debatable topics with inaccuracy in most of the story. (I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t like these books as a kid)

Lolita In The Middle – The narrator of this novel is a pedophile and then it goes downhill from there.

For you, A thousand times over: Reviewing The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I’ve mentioned this book before in tags and gushed about it. Thanks to a book sale at one of my local libraries, I was able to acquire a copy of the novel. I wish I had just bought when I had to read it for a class but now I have it. Now, I will tell you in detail about The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

Amir and Hassan were just two boys running wild in Kabul, Afghanistan. Despite the fact that Amir comes from an upper class and Hassan is servant, the two form a deep bond that seems to withstand everything. Everything changes, however, when the Soviets occupy Afghanistan and Amir flees the country with his father, never to see Hassan again. While living in America as an adult, Amir receives news that a family friend is ill. Now, he must return and face his past and come to terms with what fates that he and Hassan have been dealt.

Hosseini’s poignant novel follows the span of Amir’s life as he reflects on his whirlwind of a life in Kabul, Afghanistan. With moving themes about family, loyalty, childhood, religion and acceptance, The Kite Runner is a moving story that deals with these in a graceful manner. The subject matter does get intense and violent at times but it does not deter from the overall touching message of the novel. The first person narrative feels as though Amir is sitting their, telling you the story directly as he sorts out his past. The Kite Runner is a profound novel that takes the reader on an emotional journey from a childhood in Afghanistan to an adulthood of acceptance.

Laughter was light, and Light was Laughter: Reviewing The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Sorry, I haven’t posted anything in a while but I wanted to take some time to catch up on my reading before I reviewed another book. I bought Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch last year and this is the first opportunity I have had to actually read the whole thing. It is a longer book but it is still worth it. Since reading The Secret History, I have been looking forward to reading more of Tartt’s novels. Now, I will review The Goldfinch for you.

When Theo Decker was thirteen years old, he survives an explosion in an art museum that unfortunately takes his beloved mother from him. He finds himself uprooted with only a small painting he recovered from the wreckage and the last words of a dying old man that lead him to his new mentor. In his adult life, Theo spends his life with antiques and is captivated by the same painting that eventually leads him to a dangerous circle.

Tartt’s ability to blend the modern world with the beauty of Dutch art makes this novel an elegant but relatable read. Her descriptions and characterizations are poetic. The characters feel as though they could walk off the page. Tartt doesn’t hold back in her exploration of human emotions as she connects Theo’s story with the stories of the Dutch artists. You don’t have to be an art expert to enjoy this book. The Goldfinch is a tragedy, romance, and mystery all wrapped up in the clean bow of Tartt’s eloquence and honesty.


The Words Find a Way: Reviewing The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

When I was in eighth grade, I went on a class trip to Washington DC. One of the locations we visited was the Holocaust Museum. For those who have not been there, it is a touching and gut-wrenching experience. It was fairly quiet in there, save for television screens showing bits of documentaries. You couldn’t help but walk slowly, wanting to absorb every ounce of information there was to offer. From the room of portraits that was three stories high to the pile of shoes in the floor, I had a hard time wrapping my head around what happened between 1938 and 1945. For a new kind of story about such a devastating historical event, I will now tell you about The Book Thief. 

It all starts with the death of Liesel Meminger’s younger brother. After he is buried, she finds a book titled The Grave Digger’s Handbook. Despite the fact she cannot read, Liesel becomes fascinated with books and begins to steal from the Nazi book-burnings. Soon, Liesel is sent to a foster home where her foster father helps to teach her to read, her foster mother rules with an iron fist, and a Jewish boxer named Max hides in the basement. She befriends a boy named Rudy who dreams of being as fast as Jesse Owens. Told through the eyes of Death, who is fascinated with Liesel, her life changes forever during the Second World War.

The first thing I love about this novel is the fact it is told through the perspective of Death. The entity is honest, a touch humorous, and profound. Liesel is a great female lead, exhibiting bravery that one might not expect from such a young girl. The characters  all exhibit such strong personalities that shine against the dark backdrop. In a way, they are all outcasts who bond with each other throughout the outbreak of Nazism. Though this novel is certainly heart-breaking and dark, it also offers a message of hope and love that will bring any reader to tears. Zusak artfully crafts a unique historical fiction that deserves more attention.

Note: There is a movie adaptation, if you are interested. I personally have not seen it.