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Bri's Books

Hello, there! My name is Brianna, but everyone calls me Bri. I'm a book lover that lives in San Francisco, CA, and I will literally read anything that I can get my hands on. My go-to genres are usually urban or epic fantasy, anything YA, classics, and popular fiction and non-fiction works. I love going to unique bookstores, and the ultimate happiness is sipping on a cup of tea or coffee, curled up on the couch in a blanket and reading a good book.

I tend to write reviews on books that I really enjoyed or books that I didn't. My reviews can sometimes be snarky and sarcastic, emotional, or just filled with love and mushiness. I'm usually just a laid-back, open-minded and friendly person, but I will get excited and fangirl about books like you wouldn't believe! I always try to be respectful of both authors and readers whose opinions are different from mine, and I love having in-depth. thoughtful book discussions. If you are a fellow book lover that is active on the site, please do not hesitate to reach out and say hi! :)

Nerve

Nerve - Jeanne Ryan I've owned this book for a few years now, but I never actually picked it up until I saw the movie trailer with Dave Franco. (I will always watch any movie with Dave Franco in it!) The trailer looked okay, and since books are always better than the movie, this book had to be at least decent, right?

WRONG.

Nerve is about a game called NERVE where players actually complete dares for prizes. The players are followed around on all of their dares by Watchers who pay to watch. The main characters, Ian and Vee, are paired together by NERVE to complete some dares, and they slowly begin to realize that there might be more to the game than meets the eye.

This book was just so full of meh for me. The premise was promising, and I think it could have been great if it was well executed and well-written. But it wasn't. For a game based on dares that are supposed to push the limits of the players, I think that most the dares were just kind of dumb (and the players should have realized very early on that something weird was going on). Really, Vee? You're told to go and try to sell your body for sex and you continue the game? And this is after you almost got beaten up from a previous dare. You learn at the very end when a gun is being pointed in your face that this game is crazy/dangerous? Girl, you're DUMB.

Character development was lacking, and towards the end, I didn't care about any of them. In fact, Vee and some of the other players were straight up annoying. I could've much less cared what happened to them, much less feel bad for them in the situations they were in. The so-called romance felt forced, and I didn't buy into the feelings Ian and Vee apparently had for one another AT ALL. Both Ian and Vee have some history that is hardly delved into. There are enough hints dropped that you are able to figure out what happened, but it isn't fleshed out at all. And that is CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. In Nerve, there was none. When you have a story with literally just plot and action, and the plot is weak, the book is just not good.

Another thing that bothered me was that there was no real conclusion to the story. As if this book were good enough to possibly warrant a squeal or something... please. In the prologue, Vee runs out of her house trying to escape someone/something and WE NEVER FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS. And this is in the very beginning! So many loose ends at the conclusion, and it was so frustrating. When Ian and Vee also 'escape' the game, little to nothing happens even after having been threatened about consequences throughout the course of the story. Then, Ryan tries to leave things suspenseful at the end with Vee's phone going off with a weird ringtone? STOP. Just STOP. This just ends up being another thing thing left without closure.

I might check out the movie now since Nerve might end up being a better movie adaptation. Plus, maybe the writers worked on actually putting some personality into the characters, and I know from the trailer some of the dares are very different. And it has Dave Franco. I won't get my hopes up, but it'll be hard for the movie to be worse than the book. It actually hurts my book heart to think that...
*sing-song voice* Derek and Julie! Derek and Julie! <3

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Untitled - Ilona Andrews THIS SERIES IS SO GOOD.

That is literally the only thing that comes to mind when I think of the Kate Daniels series. IT IS SO GOOD. *fangirl*

Ilona Andrews is a genius. She and Gordon have kept this series going strong, and even with over 9 books in the series, it just keeps getting better and better (when most series would have been dying a slow death *cough*Anita Blake*cough cough*). The romance between Kate and Curran never gets old, and every adventure Kate embarks on is always new and exciting. We are again introduced to new characters that I'm sure I will grow to love over time. (I can't wait to see what becomes of Adora. She seems like she is going to be a very important character in the future!) The next book is going to be the end of the series, and my feelings are already warring between excitment for the conclusion and mourning the end of one of my favorite series. All I know is I CAN'T WAIT to see what happens next!

Room

Room - Emma Donoghue The narrative of this book took a while to get used to, and I never fully embraced it. There were certain moments where it even frustrated me and I had to put the book down for a while. The story itself is emotional and very intense as it was based on real events. It is hard to come to grips with the fact that a woman being held in capativity and raped is a very real thing, and the depravities of humanity definitely come to life. I wish there was more on Ma and Jack's life after they escaped. At the end of the story, I was left with a "Wait, that's it?" feeling. It focuses on Jack, and while he is the narrator, I would have loved to see Ma come more to terms with life back on the outside. The end just wasn't conclusive enough for me.

It seems like most people either loved it or hated the book, but I just had a "meh" feeling about it. There were certain aspects I liked and others I didn't. I'm still not sold on narrations from a child's perspective, as I leave feeling like the story wasn't fully told or lacked the closure I would like. Overall, it was not a bad read but not the great read I expected.

The Problem with Forever

The Problem with Forever - Jennifer L. Armentrout Ugh.

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*Cookie cutter plot. Cookie cutter characters. Cookie cutter romance.*

Contrived. That is the first word that comes to mind when I try to sum up this book.

Shall we start with the plot? It's cardboard. Flimsy cardboard. A story that we've read time and time again. Two teens with a troubled past who meet (again) in school. The girl is shy, emotionally fragile, and in need of constant protection. The boy is brooding, artsy, and mysterious with just a pinch of bad boy tossed in. These two troubled souls slowly fall in love (not without a large amount of angst and sexual tension, of course), and eventually, they grow and heal together. Stop me if you've heard this story before. Sure, the plot is unoriginal, and I might have not minded all that much if it had been at least been well-written. Unoriginal plots become more when the characters are unique and unforgettable or when there is a new twist to an age-old tale. This book had neither.

Now moving on to the characters. One dimensional and boring. This book focuses on Mallory and Rider, and their slow discovery on what it means to actually live. The Velveteen Rabbit is referenced heavily as an analogy throughout the book:

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time.”


But never once did any of the characters feel Real. Stories like this are supposed to be defined by the growth of the characters: a realization of their own inner strength, the process of forgiving themselves, etc. The development of Mallory and Rider just weren't realistic. The timeline was way too quick, and as the Skin Horse said, becoming Real takes a long time. It just wasn't believable. There was a large focus on the relationship between Mallory and Rider with an ungodly (and unnecessary) amount of angst. If there was more of a focus on their healing journey instead of their sexual dealings, I think their story would have come to life more.

Mallory and Rider's romance also didn't work for me. Even though they had a past together, most of their relationship seemed to focus on the lust and sexual attraction they felt for each other, instead of actual feelings. There was also the part of "I love you, but I'm not good enough for you, so we are both going to be miserable without each other." Groan.

Also, Armentrout dropped 'whisper-yelled' in this book, more than once. NO. NO NO NO.

Dear authors who use this terrible "word,"

To whisper is to speak with soft, hushed sounds. To yell is to cry out or speak with a strong, loud, clear sound; shout. (Definitions taken right from the dictionary.) People don't shout quietly or yell softly. If you are whisper-yelling, you are speaking both softly and loudly which means...YOU ARE SPEAKING AT A NORMAL VOLUME. Please don't let this become a descriptive word in books. You can fight this. You're an author, so use your words! Use your large vocabulary and find other ways to describe speaking in a normal tone of voice. Cause this whole 'whisper-yelling' shit is just dumb.

Regards,
A reader sick of seeing this 'word'

The one thing that I liked about the book was how it shone a light on the ugly side of the foster care system. The system is corrupt and children are suffering all the time, and this book really portrayed the corruption that lies. Children being abused, children being killed in the streets, it covered a whole gamut of incidents, and moments were intense. This book should have a trigger warning for those that have faced traumatic events, as this can trigger some unpleasant memories or emotions.

I do not think I will be recommending this book to others. For those looking to read something with a similar storyline (and a better romance), then I would recommend reads such as Easy or The Sea of Tranquility. This is supposed to be a stand-alone novel, but I wouldn't be surprised if a sequel pops up in future. I can definitely see a series trying to be made out of this, but oh, how I hope not.

Once Upon a Dream

Once Upon a Dream - Liz Braswell I rarely DNF a book, but this one... I tried to get into it, but the writing and characters just grated on me. I was not a big fan of the first book, A Whole New World, but I enjoyed it enough to give this book a try (and will ultimately attempt to read anything with Disney ties). The writing left much to be desired, with too many over descriptive moments that served no purpose (and also seemed like a thesaurus randomly spewed over sections of the book) and annoying characters that I just couldn't relate to or sympathize with. Most of the original good guys were bad guys, Maleficient was a 'good' guy, and it just didn't work. Some retellings can be great and have interesting plot twists, but this was not one of them.

The Glittering Court

The Glittering Court - Richelle Mead It seriously hurts to give a Richelle Mead book such a low rating. As a huge fan of the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series, I had high expectations for this book, especially after being disappointed by Soundless. I thought there was no way I could not like another one of her books, but I was wrong.

Ugh, this book. I don't even know where to begin. The story dragged on, there was very little in the way of conflict or plot for most of the story, the romance was underdeveloped, and I had very little emotion invested in the characters. Also, with the premise of a girl shrugging off her riches to discover life, freedom, independence and possibly love in a new world, I was expecting more in the female empowerment department. But there was hardly any of that. Things that were glanced over throughout the story all of a sudden played huge importance at the end, and there were a couple issues that were never fleshed out or just went completely unanswered.

Suffice it to say, I was disappointed with this book. It makes me miss Rose and Sydney and their adventures more than ever. I will never stop reading Mead's works, but I hope her standalone novels improve or she goes back to writing a series like the ones before that we all know and love.

It's Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered

It's Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case and the Lives It Shattered - Don Yaeger, Mike Pressler I decided to pick up this book after watching ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary, Fantastic Lies, which provided a deeper look into the events surrounding the Duke Lacrosse case. As a Duke alumni, I realized that I knew very little about everything that happened and how the Duke administration responded to this issue. It's Not About the Truth is one of the few books out there that can provide even more insight into the case, and I eagerly read it to learn more.

Something to note: this book is a one-sided affair. One of the main contributors to this novel is Mike Pressler, the Duke Lacrosse coach who believed his players were innocent and was judged and condemned as a result. He was threatened, his family was threatened, and their lives were upended from this case. As a result, this book will be an emotional read as they describe those events, and let's just say that it does not have flowerly, praising words for those that perpetuated his and his family's hardship.

The main focus of this book is on Nifong's dealings and the lack of support from the Duke administration and faculty (or in the Group of 88's case, condemnation of the players). Very little is told from the perspective of the players, particularily the three indicted, so I wish there could have more input from them. However, the details provided by Pressler painted a very clear picture of how the players were treated and the injustice done to them by Nifong and members of the Durham police force. It was also upsetting, especially as an alumni, to learn that the Duke administration did nothing to protect their students, and the players had to fight to prove their innocence before garnering any type of support. It is a truly powerful read.

This case is being used even now in multiple law classes, and I'm hoping that we all continue to learn from this incident. Even now, I take everything the media says and/or portrays with a grain of salt. It's so unfortunate that this happened, and it's saddening to think that future victims could be negatively affected by this case and that so many lives were shattered.

Fire Touched

Fire Touched - Patricia Briggs *Review below*

Ahh, yes, another Mercy book. We might have to wait another year, but at least the series is continuing!

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*Happy and so excited!*

There are a couple things I would love to see happen in the next book/finally figure out:

1. I would love for Smurf Christy to make another appearance, just so Mercy can throwdown again.
2. Learn more about Mercy's lifespan (PLEASE let her actually be immortal!).
3. More Kyle, Warren, Ben, and Jesse moments.
4. Maybe a little something between Honey and Gary?? *wink wink*
5. Figure out why the Walking Stick is more like a Glue Stick when it comes to Mercy. Why does it like her and follow her around so much?
6. More of Mercy kicking supernatural butt.
7. And of course, more Adam and Mercy moments! And maybe a baby in the future (towards the end of the series)? Ms. Briggs has hinted at it! When asked about a potential Mercy-Adam baby, here is what Ms. Briggs said: "I would like to think that she and Adam have at least one child—but I’m still trying to figure out how that would work for future stories." YAY! I would love to have a mini Adam with Mercy's personality!.

But in any case, I'm just happy the series is continuing. You will always have a fan and willing reader in me, Ms. Briggs!

*9/15/2015 edit*
Man, that cover looks amazing! I love the artist (Daniel Dos Santos) who makes the Mercy covers! He is seriously talented, and his work on the Mercy series has yet to disappoint.

*3/17/2016 review*
The Mercy Thompson series has once again used the force. This was a really strong addition to the series, and it's very refreshing to see things get back on track.

Fire Touched focused mainly on the fae, and there was also an addition of some new, intriguing characters. (Not to mention it was also nice to see Mercy making more friends than enemies!) We are introduced to Aiden, the Fire Touched, a human who had been trapped in the fae world of Underhill for so long, he came out with the power to control fire. Underhill wants Aiden back, and the fae are also on the move to look to re-establish their dominance in the world. Mercy is thrown in the middle of this, and she and the pack must work to stop a war between the fae and humanity.

This book was more political and plot driven than some of the ones before it. The last couple have been very action-heavy with new game players being introduced, so it was quite nice to return to some of the characters and conflicts that had been part of the series initially. Also, the relationship between Adam and Mercy, while still protrayed in a positive, strong light, took a backburner to everything going on the book, and I think that ended up being a good thing. It was nice to see the main conflict/plot point be the core focus of the book, and I think it really helped restrengthen the series.

I'm still very curious about the Walking Stick. It had a large presence in this novel, but there is still so much mystery surrounding it! I'm unsure if things will ever be explained though with the fae artifact, since not even Mercy herself knows why it behaves the way it does or it's overall purpose. Plus, with the Walking Stick having 'died,' there probably won't be any enlightening information in the future novels... unless it comes back to life. O.O

While most of the points I wanted to see didn't happen (hopefully Christy will really be put in her place by Mercy in the next book!), there was still some quality moments between characters, strengthening relationships between characters and the pack, and some great Jesse moments. We can't always have it all, but I am more than happy to take what Briggs has provided. This is such an extraordinary, unique series, and I would recommend it anyone. I always say this for every book, but I can't wait to see what happens next. The Mercy Thompson series will hopefully not be ending any time soon.

Snow Like Ashes

Snow Like Ashes - Sara Raasch Okay, I'm just going to confess and get this out of the way first:

I envisioned the main character as Elsa the whole time. White hair like snow? Check. Blue eyes and pale skin? Check and check. Love of the all things cold? Check. A little snowman companion obsessed with summer? Negative... but the series isn't over!

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Anyway, moving on...

I initially picked this book up a couple months ago, and after reading a chapter or so, I put it down and never touched it for a while. From the get-go, it seemed cliche, and already the main characters were going through an angtsy, sexual tension filled training session. Been there, read that! One of my friends convinced me to pick it back up, and while it is filled with cliches, it was still a good read. However...

WARNING: There is a love triangle

Oh, my old enemy, we meet again. I've worked so hard to avoid you, read reviews of books that looked interesting to ensure that you would not dare show your face. But I was complacent in my search with this book, and here you are, once again plaguing me. Shame on me, but I will not be fooled again. I will continue to fight you throughout this series since I want to see where things go, but I will hate you and wish to smite you the entire time.

The subpar love triangle isn't the only cliche in the book. The main character is a girl who doesn't realize how special she is until she finds out she's a FREAKING ICE QUEEN - cause why not?, all the boys are vying for her attention, and she is looking to overthrown an evil government ruler and free her people. Sounds familiar, right? But with Meira, she is likeable. I did not get frustrated with the decisions she made (and most of her decisions were sound), her character is relatable, and the reader really gets to understand who she is over the course of the story. Her interactions with the other characters are real, and she is definitely one of the better female characters I've come across in YA fantasy novels.

The setting and world-building also had unique elements to keep me reading. I like how the Seasons came to life, with each Season becoming actual cities with people able to weild their elemental magic. Rhythms were also introduced, but there are a lot of questions unanswered there, but I think the Rhythms and their purpose will be fleshed out more in the later books (or at least the plot seems to be heading that way). Autumn and Summer were also breifly mentioned, and I'm hoping we get to learn more about them. I will reserve my judgement until then.

The one thing that did bother me about as much as the cliches was the big plot twist at the end. So many in-your-face clues were dropped over the course of the book that it was almost impossible to NOT know what was going to be revealed. That detracted from the storyline a bit, but overall, it was still a good read. The next book will be the big tell in how the series will develop, and I that it just gets stronger.

Magic Shifts

Magic Shifts - Ilona Andrews Ahhh Kate and Curran, their adventures never get old!

I really enjoyed this book (which I always say after reading an Ilona Andrews work). I think things have been set up rather nicely for the next 2/3 books to end the series. I'm curious to see how Kate and Curran's romance will continue to progress and how things will be kept fresh in their relationship. Can't wait to see how this series will end!!

The Heir

The Heir - Kiera Cass Some authors need to know when to just let a series die. This series should have been dead a long time ago. Eadlyn sounds like a worse character than America, and that's really saying something.

Also, just a pet peeve of mine, can Cass please stop taking normal, rather popular names, changing their spelling a bit, and trying to make them exotic/unique?? Seriously, spelling Kyle as Kile does not make the name any different. Same with Aaron being spelled Ahren. JUST STOP. You're trying too hard.

I suffered through the first three books in this series already, and there is no way I am putting myself through any more torture. For those of you who enjoy reading these books, then enjoy, but just know there are much better stories (and better written books!) out there.

Red Queen

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard Oh man, that ending.... THAT ENDING. I am still reeling from it. There I was, sort of disappointed with the lack of worldbuilding and romance, and BAM, that ending comes along. No longer do I fret over how the Silvers came to be or become slightly bored with unappealing court drama. Every little nitpick I might have had about the book was just picked up, shaken roughly, and then discarded by that plot twist at the end. I was so confident that I knew how things would end, that I knew what would happen before even turning the next page. But I stand corrected. Apparently, I am now Jon Snow. I knew nothing.

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Valar Morghulis

The Ruby Circle

The Ruby Circle - Richelle Mead What a perfect ending to an amazing series! Everything was well wrapped up, but I do not believe that Richelle Mead is done with this world or these characters yet. Can't wait to see what she has for us next!

Suspicion

Suspicion - Alexandra Monir Hmmm, I loved Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, but I have some trepidation about this book. Most new spins on classic tales just ends up becoming a pale relection of the original story. I'll check it out anyway since it could turn out to be a diamond in the rough!

Summer Moon

Summer Moon - Jan DeLima Rating: 3.5 stars

I liked Luc and Rosa's story, but I much preferred Dylan and Sophie's. This book set-up a lot of future plot points, and I feel like those plot diversions detracted from the main romance. The romance was still strong, just not as strong and moving as it could have been. However, I am super excited to see where things lead, and I really can't wait for Cormack and Elen's story. Overall, a solid series so far, one that I'll be sure to follow to see what happens next!