BR: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Book Review

I finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane on the last day of 2017. My brain has been struggling to contain the excitement of having read my first Gaiman novel. Seriously. In some ways, The Ocean in the End of the Lane will always be special to me, because of its content. Uh, let me dive into this review, though, because I can gush all day.


An unnamed middle aged man returns to his family home, and recalls the adventure of a summer he spent with childhood friend, Lettie Hempstock.

theme–childhood and imagination

My favorite aspect of this story has to be the magical realism feel to it. Throughout the novel, it is unclear if the story is literal or figurative. This blurring of reality with imagination is very much rooted in childhood (from what I experienced).

But, also, the charming factor in this story has to be the way the characters behave. Sure, we go on a supernatural kind of surreal adventure with monsters and a worm that turns into an awful creature. However, the children (unnamed main character and Lettie) behave like children. They talk like children, and they cry, throw tantrums, and argue with their sister (well, this is mainly our dude character, but hey).

Gaiman creates such a rosy view of life at first, but then, it is warped and scary in parts (nothing disturbing, but it will linger for a bit).

Speaking of which…

darkness in the so-called “pure”

The story begins with a quote about children remembering or knowing things that adults assume they wouldn’t. It’s about the way we undermine children and their maturity. Truly, our unnamed hero and Lettie see some really dark stuff, stuff we wouldn’t expect children to comprehend, and they fight valiantly.

As I have said earlier, I am in awe of this teetering balance Gaiman strikes between child characters, surreal story lines, and darkness. I am intrigued by Ursula Montakin, her connection to our main character’s family, and what that really means in regards to children’s understanding of infidelity, gender roles, and family dynamics in relation to all of these things.

There is a scene in particular that stunned me: the bath scene with our main character’s father. In some ways, it highlighted the idea of embarrassment and shame contrasting with social expectations from parents. Like, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see parents negatively when they can’t “control” their children. But Ursula signifies the pressure on parents to be authority figures, even if it means they get to act aggressive.

 friendship and family

Most importantly, this is a story about found-family vs. blood family. I think our main character would have loved to see Lettie and her strangely beautiful ocean at the end of the lane. Her family, equally invested in child-like wonder and superstition, lead a safe home to the main hero. It is a home he goes back to, over and over, with and without Lettie.

It is such a telling sign that Lettie’s legacy, consciously or not, drives the main character to return for refuge throughout his life. If this isn’t what the best friendships are about, I don’t know what is.


Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

Illuminae Book Review

I have been hearing quite a bit about Illuminae and its subsequent books. Hesitant, I picked up the two books out already (Illuminae and Gemina). It took me ages to actually pick it up because the series is hyped beyond measure. Here are my thoughts on the book.


Set in space, the story begins with the destruction of a planet. On that planet, there is a couple breaking up. Ezra and Kady are fighting and they have to awkwardly get in a car together to avoid death.

And the story takes off from there.


I did not expect to love Ezra and Kady that much. In fact, I was unsure about them for a long time. But, even McNulty made an impression on me, and I cannot get over this group of bad-ass sassy peeps.

Kady, a hacker and a general computer whiz, is sarcastic. She tends to have little connection with rules and regulations. When confronted with authority, she tends to be cynical and eve hostile.

Not Ezra. He is more likely to be compliant, makes friends on the ship he’s on, and even opens up about romance/relationships with McNulty.


The format of this book is creative and rather fitting of the story. I do like the emails and the AIDAN freak out sessions most. I do have to say that some of the pages were hard to impact me emotionally. Like, I am not sure if I am supposed to care for AIDAN or not. Same with all the scenes between Kady and AIDAN, or the fights between space ships. I was rather confused for a little. It definitely takes some getting used to.


I liked all the bleeped sections in the novel. It just added a sense of depth to the characters and the setting they’re in. The usage of the word “chum” was kind of excessive. I don’t know if it’s Australian for “dude” but, dang it, you don’t have to use it so much.

Astro Princess made me smile real big. I loved this story, even if I was somewhat slow while reading it (that format…it takes some getting used to).

Rating: 4 stars

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

BR: Turtles All The Way Down



I was surprised when John Green announced his newest novel, Turtles All the Way Down. It felt very sudden and miraculous, almost. Believe me, I try not to be a sap about things often. But, this book was immediately a favorite, before I had even read it. I’ll come out and admit it:I am a John Green fan. Here are some of my thoughts on the book.


Best friends Aza and Daisy gather up clues on the missing billionaire in their town. His sons Noah and Davis try to come to terms with his disappearance. Some talk of a tuatara lizard, which is a word that my computer doesn’t even know it existed.

mental illness

I don’t mean to exaggerate here, I am genuinely expressing my admiration for this book’s honesty and raw featuring of mental illness. From my own experience, I think Aza has the depersonalization that I deal with daily. I admit that mine is a bit more exaggerated than hers, but it was still moving to see her sessions with Dr. Singh.

When she deals in metaphors because her pain is so intense, I was nodding along. Part of me wanted to snap-shot the whole book.

The invasive thoughts, intrusive and powerful, were terrifying. My own experience is not so much focused on bacteria. Instead, my brain is invested in what I cannot control: people’s perceptions and my value as a human.

Besides, the way this anxiety shakes up the foundations of relationships, be it friendship or romantic ones, even parent-child relationships. Heck, I’d say even Aza’s relationship with Dr. Singh is rocky because of it.

John Green gets this weird reputation of glamorizing illness. Listen. This is in no way fun or romantic. If anything, it is destructive and dwindles any bit of connection Aza has with anyone. Even Daisy, who has been her best friend for years,  communicates her frustrations .

the mystery

While I wasn’t too much of a fan of the Holmes last name here, I did like the mystery presented in the story. Davis and Noah were crucial to humanizing Pickett.  I think John Green always deals with people in a sensitive and cautious manner. It is hard not to be emphatic toward characters in his stories.

I felt so much compassion for Davis and Noah. Maybe it’s because I don’t have much of a paternal connection myself. Davis and his blog was also incredibly moving and powerful as a study of human psyche and emotion. He deals with so much loss and frustration. People assuming that wealth equates to entitlement was heartbreaking, because Davis asks for such simple things. He wishes for them, not really asks for them.

privilege and wealth

I think the novel certainly presents some good insight for readers to consider. Daisy, Aza, and Davis all posit that there is more to wealth than material things. Let me tell you, I hate it when people assume that John Green writes “philosopher” teens. Listen, teens are people. They vary. For me, if I had read this book as a teen, it would have blown my mind away because it articulated things that preoccupied me all along.


Daisy reminded me of my failed friendships. I just got out of an old friendship from college days, and I was flinching a little whenever Daisy and Aza had conflicts. In a way, Daisy is still a refreshing response to mental illness. I’d rather have someone tell me what to work on. I was mostly isolated with every friendship I had, because people did not know how to work around my weirdness.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have a friendship that lasts as long as Daisy and Aza’s relationship. My illness manifests differently, and dynamics vary from person to person.


Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

BR: Monsters of Verity Duology


I finished reading the Monsters of Verity duology over the past two weeks. My mind is blown, and my heart has felt such a range of feelings. In short: I want to share some thoughts on this story. Let’s go.


The story begins with the Seam. It is a line separating two little towns. One of them has monsters. The other has humans. Humans wear medals to get their safety under the reign of some jerk named Callum Harker.

Two characters are at the center of this tension-filled city: August Flynn and Kate Harker.  They have no contact.

Until August goes over to her school as a transfer student.



Kate is Callum Harker’s daughter. He is the leader of their town, the protector of humans. And yet, Kate has a dark backstory and metal nails. She has been kicked out of schools for the past couple of years. [See backstory].

August Flynn is a monster. Born out of violence, he is trying to be human. He attempts to fit in with human beings, and he is apologetic for his monstrous nature.

When the two characters bump into each other, chaos ensues.

Also: No, this is luckily mostly a non-romantic story.


What I love about this story, like many of Schwab’s novels, is that deals with morality, and consequences to choices. It zeroes in on nature vs. nurture, humanity, and the nature of monsters.

In addition, it is an exploration of compassion, survival, friendship, and vengeance.

This duology is just perfection. I enjoyed it to the moon and back, and that’s not even an exaggeration.


I’d give these two novels a 4-4.5 star rating. My qualm is with pacing in the second book, particularly early into the story. It takes a while for things to happen, and so it kind of slowed down my reading for a little bit.

But, when things start moving, you better clear your calendar. This story will take over your world.

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

BR: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis


I could have sworn there’s a review up on my blog for Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. Apparently, I was so passionate about the book, that I had dreamed of writing a review already. In case you’re curious: I loved it. But, you probably want to hear more (as you should!).


Set in an apocalyptic time, the novel is a study of survival and morality. As the water from a stream becomes less reliable, people come to the only lake (pond?) available in the area, which is conveniently located in Lynn and her mother’s yard. I could say more, but I don’t want to spoil the joyous surprise of this book.


The tone of this story is urgent, snappy, and sometimes a bit episodic. I think of this book a lot, because Lynn and her mother have choppy scenes to establish their relationship. In fact, I was immediately thrown into an intense scene upon starting the novel.

But, then things change. The tone stops stressing the vicious nature of Lynn’s world. In a stunning turn, Lynn is confronted with serious questions that relate to humanity, morality, and family. That’s when the story took on a more profound meaning for me.


What was the most refreshing exploration in this novel was that of survival vs. caring for others. To what extent would you balance your own well-being with being over cautious? It is a thin and blurry line. Lynn and her mother are focused on keeping the pond to themselves, so much that it backfires and shadows their humanity.

But, at the same time, this is not an overly sentimental story in any way. People shoot each other, and there’s illness, death, and tragedy. There are broken families and literal thirst for water.


Initially, I was intimidated by this book because I thought it’d be rather violent. And, in some ways, it was. But, it was not graphic for the most part, so I was not triggered. I will say this, however, the cruelty of every character involved in the book is just so fitting of the setting. Except Stebbs. No one touch Stebbs and Lucy, got it?

The environment itself is violent. Lynn has to do gross things often, just to survive.


I think what resonates here, too, is fear and how it drives people to do some really cruel things. On the one hand, I understand that scarcity can push someone to desperation, but the way fear manifests in this story was quite haunting. Lynn comes from a rather curious union between two figures. She shares a lot of traits with them.

Towards the middle-to-end of the story, McGinnis starts to explore how this world came to be, and she portrays fear and paranoia in a tangible way.


Ultimately, it’s the development of Lynn’s character that drives the plot. I know at first, I was very worried that this novel was going to be rather episodic with no overarching plot.

It wasn’t.

Instead, it was a powerful exploration of instinct and survival, community and individual notions, and parent-child relationships as well. It’s about love, loss, and those who use power to abuse women in one way or another.

Ugh. I love this book so much. I cannot wait to read my next McGinnis book.


Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

BR: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera



Hello! If you follow me on Goodreads, you may have noticed that I finished reading More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. I loved the story, but I was overwhelmed with feelings. Here are some of my thoughts.


The story is about a young man called Aaron, who lives in a Bronx neighborhood. At first glance, it seems like he has everything he wants. He has a lovely girlfriend and friends. One problem: he is grieving a loss. And, from there, the story unfolds when he meets a new boy in the neighborhood.

Oh, and before I end this section, let me just say this: it’s probably not what you think. It certainly wasn’t for me when I was reading this book.


While I would recommend this book to anyone, I would say that you have to be in a good place (emotionally and mentally) to approach it. It’s not triggering, really, but it is heavy. 

Throughout the story, there is an exploration of loss and grief. I found that Silvera handled these topics with sensitivity. Furthermore, there is a discussion on relationships and sexuality, as well as memory and choice. Agency, when it comes to who we are as people, certainly bubbles sometimes to the surface of this novel. But, for the first half, it is an undercurrent, subtly there yet hard to fully pinpoint.

Friendship and toxic masculinity are also portrayed in this book, in a rather powerful way. Also, this phrase, which is one that I dislike with a passion, “No homo.”


The Bronx is practically a character in this book. I haven’t felt this sense of setting personified since Gatsby. While in Gatsby’s story, it had a distant feel to it. However, here, the Bronx feels like I’d been there. Not only that, but I’d also lived there. It reminded me of Egypt, a bit, with the relationships between the boys, and the very toxic masculine code embedded into their interactions.

Also: the games they play? Wow. I was so into them. Manhunt, in particular, hit a nerve for me.

Aside from that, I have to say Me-Crazy was terrifying, and yet so real. I knew of people like him in our neighborhood in Egypt. No one ever questioned young men similar to him. I’m not sure if this was a point of pride for this person or if it never even registered into their awareness.

Genevieve and Thomas were complicated, and I liked that we didn’t get to see their points of view all that much. The journey is not theirs. It’s Aaron’s.

The complicated relationship between Aaron and his family was also a highlight of this novel. As someone who had attempted suicide before, I was sucker-punched by the devastation that Aaron and his family deal with in the aftermath of this loss.

Eric was a bucket of ice. That’s the only way I can explain his presence in this story.

And, I guess, the most allusive character of all is the Leteo organization and the procedure itself.


I loved every single heartbreak I got from this book. And, boy am I glad to have my own copy of this author’s books, because he has quickly become a favorite of mine. If you have read this book, please share your thoughts in comments!


Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

Book Review: Thoughts and Feels on The Final Kingdom

Guess who finally finished The Final Kingdom by Elizabeth May? This book is the conclusion to the Falconer trilogy. Listen, I have many thoughts and feels to share. No spoilers. Let’s go


A war is brewing and the Seelie and Unseelie peeps have to face each other. An unlikely alliance pushes main characters to new stressful times. Also: Aileana has to come to terms with her rage. There’s a new villain, kind of like the boss level of villainy, and there is a search for a certain book that can help give Aileana a chance to get some closure.

Unexpected Love

If you’d ever told me that I’d like Sorcha, I would have laughed at you. Sorcha, the fae who killed Aileana’s mother, does not sound sympathetic at all in the first two books of this trilogy. Elizabeth May does such a a wonderful job in complicating the good/evil dichotomy. In fact, the series got me thinking a lot about choice, agency, and good/evil.

A very complicated relationship between Sorcha and her brother Lonarch, whose name is hard to remember, adds dimension to this installment of the trilogy. The same sibling tangled relationship is also present with Aithinne and Kiaran. Like, really complicated.

Cruelty and War

The most consistent examination throughout this trilogy is that of cruelty and war. Aileana fights with viciousness and often cruelty plays a role in her attitude toward fae. For the most part, as the story progresses, this cruelty worsens. The author reflects this harshness in Kiaran as well. He’s ruthless. Like, really ruthless.

Ultimately, the characters make difficult choices and sacrifices in light of their rather grim position.

And, I think of how Aileana is eventually faced with a choice. Does she continue to be cruel? Or does she start to show mercy, even to the people she once judged and hated?

Only one way for you to find out what happens: READ THIS!


So, let me just say this once: I don’t really normally like romance that much. And, like, there’s vague mentions of sexy times in this book. To be quite honest, I don’t understand why these scenes were hinted at. No judgment to those who like sexy scenes, I just think there was enough going on. I really didn’t need to read about dark!Kiaran and how he is fighting, poor boy, and how Aileana brings out the humanity in him or whatever.

No, bro. Let him be dark. Let him grapple with the way he was born.  Let’s not slip into Twilight-esque (Breaking Dawn style) love scenes. Urgh.

I do like the ending, to be fair.

Full Circle

I also like the theme of parents and the life they present to their children. It really was a moving read, and the themes that May included enriched the experience of seeing Aileana and her friends go through loss, love, and hope once more.

Five stars!

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

Book Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

I’m sure  you have been seeing Mackenzie Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue around the internet. For a while there, I was hesitant to read it. But, as soon as I started reading it, I realized that this is one of the coolest books I had read in a long time.

Let’s begin.

Revisiting historical contexts

Essentially, the story is about a trio (two siblings, and their friend who is a person of color) in the 1800s. Monty and his sister Felicity along with Percy are on a grand tour. Basically, it’s a last hurrah before moving to “adulthood.”

The really cool part of the story is the combination of the setting in contrast with the perspectives offered in the story. Monty is an able bodied bisexual man who is wealthy. Throughout the story, Felicity and Percy seem to slap him with the reality of their existence within the society he once assumed was tough on him.

I just love how Mackenzie Lee addresses privilege and perspective. Part of me is kind of afraid that this book will be dismissed as fluff. It is not that at all (to me, anyway).

Because, yes, the story is fun and loose in terms of its following of a grand plot, but the point is the way it is highlighting differences between Monty’s experience and that of Felicity and Percy.

subverting social expectations

I don’t want to spoil the book (I won’t), but all I can say is that the trio definitely subverts the expectations of their time. For once, Felicity is interested in things frowned upon for women. She is certainly more in charge of her two companions than one would assume.

Percy, a person of color with a health condition very close to something I experience, is faced with a destiny secluded from everyone else. He is also addressed in such awful ways. I was afraid for him, definitely. I think you would, too.

Through it all, these three people go on an adventure that no one really expects for them to have. I mean, the tour was scheduled in such an air-tight way. There was a mentor figure with them, and there was a route planned.

But, no. they drift. And, I know this may frustrate some people. But, what drove me most was how relevant this story set in the 1800s even now in 2017.

morality and growth

Obviously, the story is frank in its addresses of sexuality (Monty is bisexual in a time of strong queer-phobia). In many ways, the story is about an arc of growth for the three main characters. It is about deciding on conforming or not. And, if not, figuring out how they’ll exist as people.

What I truly love is that what the society presents as “morally sound” is strongly critiqued and questioned. There is a lot of exploration of familial physical abuse, and, to a lesser extent, emotional abuse. It certainly colors the way Monty behaves, as well as acts as incentive for him to think he is “ruined.” Certainly, it is a notion that echoes with me as someone who experienced abuse from within family.

and i guess

I suppose, if we were to go on a superficial note here, the book is just funny, and witty. It has charming characters who are worth the investment of your time and energy. I have not met someone quite like Felicity. Some people say that she’s like Hermione, but I think she’s a bit more of a pioneer.

Read this book. It’s definitely up there on my list of favorites. So good.


Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

Book Review: The Falconer

I have practically devoured The Falconer by Elizabeth May. Here’s a book review, let’s quit stalling. If you want a brief note on the book: It was awesome.


It’s a pretty straight-forward plot: girl’s mother killed by fairy. Girl goes after fairies and kills lots of them.

There’s more to it, obviously. Aileana is training to face off with the idiot who killed her mom. Um, she does that by killing many fairies and by punching her teacher (Kiaran). It’s great. So much punching.

There’s also a twist: the story is set in the 1800’s. Aileana is bound by the restrictions of her time. She needs chaperones, and has to entertain people at home. Social gatherings are a thing. No pressure, Aileana.

Oh, and steampunk!


Aileana is such a fantastically dark character. Traumatized by the loss of her mother, she is driven to the point of aching to kill. She’s not in denial about it, either. Aware of her desire to murder fairies, this eighteen year old is isolated often.

Still, the characters around her are incredible, too. Derrick, my little pixie dude, is pure sweetness and sass. He’s just adorable, okay? I have a lot of feelings about him. My hope is that he makes it through this trilogy.

Kiaran (whose name is very hard for me to spell) is dark and brooding. He does have a tragic back-story and so on. Part of me is unsure of this dude. I like Gavin a lot more.

Ah, Gavin, her best friend’s brother, is sympathetic when it comes to the whole fairy-murdering-hobby thing. In fact, he has a connection to all of this. And, his friendship with Aileana makes me so happy. They’re perfect.

And, finally Catherine (and her grumpy mom) are frequently in the story to provide context and grounding to this very supernatural tale. I’d wish for us all to have friends like Catherine. People like her are bright lights in this world, and should be guarded.


Look, I don’t know how the shipping thing will work out in this novel. I understand that Kiaran is meant to be the “attractive” dark side type dude.

Gavin though!

I’m literally gesturing at the book right now.

Um. Things are kind of serious in this book, and there’s an apocalypse, so I mean, worrying about ships is kind not the point.

Let’s just hope they all make it through this next book. Thankfully, I have my copy ready to go!


Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

BR: Lumberjanes

I have heard the names of the Lumberjanes creators around the Internet for years. But, I am not really familiar with graphic novels, so I hesitated to read it. Guess who read the first volume from the library? That’s right. ME! And, man oh man, do I have things to say.


So, the story is about a group of girls in a camp for badassery. It’s a bunch of very different people. Some are tall, short, blonde, red hair, brunette. Their personalities are different as well.

It took me a while to honestly figure out who the heck is who. I’m still not entirely sure I got all their names down, to be quite honest.

Anyway, so they’re at the camp, and they go on adventures in the forest because there are monsters and such.


The whole time I was read this graphic novel, all I could think of is how much the characters reminded me (in spirit) of the Powerpuff Girls. Like a lot. They were all just great people to read about. One of them used a scrunchie to hit a monster in the face.

That’s brilliant, dear reader.

think I was shipping Mal and Molly. But, there was no time to really fully ship much. It was mostly all about the adventure and the absurdity of their bravery.

Like, maybe I’m too much of a Slytherin to fully comprehend why anyone would put themselves in danger just…to get badges?


I like the art style of this graphic novel. It kind of reminds me of these drawings I used to work on in therapy. My style is way messier and less cute. But, it was lovely to be exposed to such a sweet art style that went with the tone of the story.

Noelle Stevenson apparently didn’t draw this? Or, like, she’s not the main person drawing the stuff. I don’t know why this is a bad thing. Haven’t read Nimona yet, but, the humor is there and the style is cute. I say go for it, if you are interested.

Okay, but really…

Ultimately, I feel like the story is charming. Some of it is amusing. I give it three stars. Liked it, but not too crazy about it. Bonus points for diversity, though. That’s for sure.

Your Turn:

Have you read Lumberjanes? What did you think of it? Do you have any favorite characters or ships? Share them in the comments. I’d love to hear more of your perspectives on this story!

Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers: