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Camping Trip Mini Reviews

Hi friends! I’ve recently returned from a big camping trip where I got to read a whole handful of books. So I’m just going to do the tiniest of mini-reviews for each one, and if anybody wants to know more or talk more about any of these books, hit me up in the comments. Without further ado, camping trip mini reviews (all are spoiler-free)!

# of Pages: 439

Time it took me to read: 2 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 63

Rating: 5 out of 5

This book was a Secret Santa gift given by a co-worker who doesn’t read, he just picked it out because he thought it looked cool on Amazon. And I have to say, I was excited to read it regardless because I’d heard great things about it, but my friend really made a great pick! I started out thinking this retelling might be a little cheesy, because the character’s names are “Roma” and “Juliette”, so pretty on-the-nose, and in the setup it’s pretty obvious who the other side characters are supposed to be if you’ve read Romeo and Juliet. But this is not the simple love at first sight then die unnecessarily story. Both Roma and Juliette are well-developed characters with a past history, and the ruthless, bloody gangster backdrop makes for a really interesting read. I’m not super familiar with early 20th-century history, so I’m not sure how much of the 1920’s Shanghei is fiction and how much is history, but either way it was monstrously compelling. I’d say the story is a little slow to start, but ramps up quickly and is impossible to put down after a point. I’m so very excited for the sequel later this year, and would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of YA, classic story retellings, or historical romances.

# of Pages: 511

Time it took me to read: 2 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 73

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’ve only ever done a Throwback review way back in the day where I got to talk about Leigh Bardugo, so I’m stoked to finally be getting that chance again. If you haven’t heard of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, I’m not sure what rock you’ve been hiding under. A few months ago the wildly popular Shadow and Bone series premiered on Netflix, which covers characters from a few different series of Bardugo’s. The events of King of Scars have not been covered in the show (yet), but I’m hopeful for the future. Anyway, King of Scars is a re-read for me, because I read it years ago when it first came out, and the sequel was recently released, and I wanted to read them back-to-back. I could literally spend pages talking about why Leigh Bardugo is no-doubt one of the top authors in YA currently, but I’ll try to keep it to a few sentences. The “Grishaverse” world she has built is incredibly detailed and vivid, with each country based on the cultures of real-world places (Ravka = Russia, Kerch = The Netherlands/Amsterdam specifically). Having a fantasy world based on the real world in some ways really grounds the reader and makes it immersive. For characters, these books are pretty large cast, and she does a great job flipping perspectives while keeping the reader engaged no matter who’s story you’re reading. These books are incredibly fast paced and impossible to put down. I loved it just as much this time around as I did the first time.

# of Pages: 588

Time it took me to read: 2 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 84

Rating: 5 out of 5

Sequel to King of Scars, Rule of Wolves is equally fantastic. I really enjoyed the opportunity I had to read them back to back, I think it added a lot to my understanding of all of the details and plot points of this final installment. Not a whole lot to say here that I didn’t say in the previous review, Leigh Bardugo is a master world-builder and storyteller. Each of her many characters are pretty much equally engaging, and her pacing is always perfect. I think of all of my camping books I finished this one the quickest, because I honestly, truly could not stop reading it. Rule of Wolves did not end as I expected in a lot of ways, but I think all of the storylines that needed to be wrapped up were, but Bardugo always leaves herself room for writing new adventures, and I’m hoping I guessed right and she teased a new story with old favorites coming someday. Anyway, if you haven’t read any Leigh Bardugo, just do yourself a favor and get into the Grishaverse. Here is my official recommendation for the order you should read her three Grishaverse series: Six of Crows duology, Shadow and Bone trilogy, King of Scars duology. This order is not entirely chronological, but as someone who has read all of these books originally in chronological order, I can tell you you’ll have more fun reading it in the order I provided.

# of Pages: 365

Time it took me to read: 3 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 52

Rating: 4 out of 5

This book was a big shift from everything else I was reading on this trip, I really wanted to have a little bit of variety after reading only YA fantasy. The World That We Knew is a historical fiction novel set in Europe during the Holocaust, and like most of Alice Hoffman’s work that I’ve read, has just a touch of magic added to move it along. Lea is a young Jewish girl living in Berlin during the second world war. Her mother will do anything to get her out of the country, so she works with the daughter of a rabbi to construct a golum, a being made of clay that will serve the wishes of its master. Lea’s mother names the golum Ava and sends the two off to Paris, where she hopes they will be safe. The World that We Knew tells the story of men, women, and children across Germany and Paris who fight for the survival of themselves and others. It’s very well researched and provides many facts and figures of the devistation wrought by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Alice Hoffman is a wonderful writer, her historical novels are some of my favorites, but one thing kept me from falling completely in love with this story, and it took me a while to put my finger on it. I think that, personally, I was sort of brought out of the story because it focused on too many different characters, it left me hard-pressed to become particularly attached to any of them. And in certain sections she’d be telling the story of a character fleeing arrest by the Germans, and then it would flow into an objective, real fact about the prison those that were arrested that day were sent to, and how many died. While I appreciated the facts as a history buff, it sort of transported me out of the story and back to reality, which was for me not my favorite decision she made. But overall I’d definitely recommend the book to anyone who enjoys WW2 historical fiction.

Thanks for hanging in there everybody, I’ll be back with more regularly scheduled reviews and summaries soon. Hope everyone has a great August ❤


Coming 2021…A Fresh Take

Hello friends!

Thanks to anyone who still follows this blog. I make a goal every year to be more consistent about posting, and I’m hoping 2021 will be the year I can actually stick to it.

I’ve decided that book review blogs are pretty common, and I had a thought of something that I’ve never seen before but that I’ve always wished was available.

Instead of book reviews, book summaries.

Have you ever read a book, and then a year later the sequel comes out, and you find yourself reading the first few pages not remembering anything that happened in the last book? Or even having to go back and re-read the first book so you can get everything possible from the second one?

As much as I love re-reading books, I only get to 50-55 books a year, and I don’t have time to re-read the first book to every sequel that comes out.

I’m going to be writing a short, one paragraph review of the book, then write a summary of the book as a whole, which will include important plot points and a character list, along with a brief review of how the books end. Then when it’s time for the sequel, all I’ve got to do to refresh my memory is read the summary. Then I’m all ready for the next adventure.

For standalone novels or final books in a series, I’ll likely just post a review that is mostly spoilers.

This is something that might not be of use or interest to anyone but me, but I’m going to try them out.

Look out for Sarah’s Summaries, starting January 2021.


Elusion by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam

elusion book

# of Pages: 378

Time it took me to read: 5 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 54 pgs

Rating: 4 out of 5


Life should be great for Regan Welch. The product that is the life’s work of her father is about to hit the nationwide market. Elusion is an immersive virtual world that allows the user to Escape for up to an hour in a variety of different settings. You can be anything you want in Elusion, and the best part is, you can’t get hurt, and you can’t die. Regan’s very best friend, Patrick, is the programming genius behind much of the product, and his mother is the CEO of the company that manufactures it. Everything would be perfect, if her father were still around. Six months before the national release of Elusion, Regan’s father died in a freak accident, and now Patrick has risen to be the face of Elusion.


There are those out there who seek to stop Elusion from releasing around the country, and Regan will do whatever it takes to defend her father’s legacy. Until she meets Josh, an old friend of Patrick’s who has his own stakes in the fate of Elusion. Together they discover that Elusion might be dangerous. Very dangerous, and Regan must decide fast who she can trust to help her find the truth.


I’ve read a couple of books recently that made me wonder if I’m losing my touch. I’ve typically been pretty good about choosing books that I really like based on the blurb and the cover, but I read a lot of duds this summer. I sort of thought that Elusion was going to be another one of those duds, but I was pleasantly surprised.


This story takes place in a highly polluted, near future version of our world. Which is a pretty unique experience, I haven’t read a near-future dystopia in a long time, if really ever. All of the technology in this story is super advanced, but based in technology that readers can connect to from our modern day.


Regan starts out as a pretty naive, but loyal and likable character. As evidence begins to stack up against Elusion and it’s creators, Regan is slow to accept the fact that those she loves most might be at fault, but she has a strong moral compass that makes her determined to find the truth, no matter what.


This is something that I’ve been noticing more since I read The Black Witch, characters that start out specifically as products of their environment, but then grow out of it. I’m liking the idea more and more, because it seems realistic to me. Regan seems like a realistic character to me. No more “badass” than the average teenage girl. And while I do love reading books about powerful YA badasses, sometimes it’s nice to feel a strong relatability to a character.


The plot was pretty engaging, but I was never racing to get through it, which is what keeps the rating at a 4 rather than something higher. This is definitely the book that I’ve liked the most in the last month, so that’s something. I’m super in it for the sequel.


So, to recap: a lovely, three dimensional, relatable protagonist, a relatively engaging, but not totally off-the-charts plot, and a nice, near future dystopia world. All excellent qualities in YA.


The only downside isn’t really a downside, I guess. I just know that YA can be so much more than this, if you know what I mean. This book doesn’t transcend genres. Don’t get me wrong, I still firmly believe that all novels are written for everyone: there is no such thing as being too old for a genre, etc. But this book isn’t really anything more than what it claims to be: a book written for young adults to be enjoyed primarily by young adults. Like this isn’t a book that I’ll probably be recommending to any of my more discerning reader friends, because they aren’t into YA anymore because they’re “adult adults” rather than “young adults”. Books like Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, and The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins, those are YA, sure, but those are books that can reach beyond readers ages 14 to 19. Elusion, while I liked it alot and would definitely recommend it to lovers of YA, and dystopia in particular, isn’t something I’d recommend to a general audience.


Sorry, the end of this review turned a bit ranty. To end this post, I’m going to try make a goal for myself to mix up my reading a little bit, because I think I’ve recently gotten a little stuck in the genre, and I’m going to try and read some things that are a little out of my comfort zone. You might not see it come up on this blog right away, but hopefully you’ll see some changes in the content of the reviews that I write…you know, eventually.


If you liked Elusion, try: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

  Matched by Ally Condie

  Wither by Lauren DeStefano

  Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder