The Symmetrical Bookworm

I am a person with many interests. But first and foremost I am a reader.

The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan

Ooh, shit got real in this one! So far, I think this is the best book in the Percy Jackson series that I have read.


As always, I will discuss characters first. Percy is likable as always. I'm disappointed there wasn't more of Annabeth. Thalia and Zoe and Bianca were all really excellent characters that I really liked. And Grover is so adorable! Also, we get our first introduction to a few gods, one of whom is Apollo. I read The Hidden Oracle before reading this was, so I already had met Riordan's version of Apollo. And, despite his flaws I love him. I was so happy to see him again! Bottom line? I love the characters of this series.


Also, I really liked the ending. It showed that things were getting serious, a few new mysteries popped up, and that last sentence was kind of perfect. At least in my mind.


Tl;dr version- I can't even talk calmly about this book, I just had so much fun and enjoyed it so much. Now onto the next one!

On a Lee Shore - Elin Gregory

I have so many thoughts about this book, it's kind of hard to know where to start.


The thing about this book is that I expected the wrong things. I expected the romance to be in the forefront of the story, but the romance is more of a subplot. I ended up enjoying it, true, but it was a unsettling surprise when the romance ended up being not the center of the story.


I have mixed feelings about the romance. On the one hand, Kit and Griffin have a genuine chemistry and I really liked seeing the romance progress. And there were a few sexy moments. But (and this is a big thing)...sometimes Griffin was an asshole. He would lose his temper, act rude, a few times he was violent and I didn't like that at all. So love-hate feelings about the romance in this one

I liked most of the characters, but there were so many it was hard to feel a true connection to them. The only one is Kit, really. I do like him quite a lot.
Also, side note: this is a heavily male-dominated story. There's literally only one or two female characters with speaking lines, and they're just minor characters. And since this is both an m/m and historical fiction I guess I should've expected it, but I still didn't like it.


Sometimes the writing just skips over events with a summary sentence instead of actually showing what happened. And that was annoying af.


Despite all my complaints, I did really enjoy this. I was scared towards the end that it would be sad, but never fear, there is an HEA. and it was so sweet. And I do love me some pirates :)


Tl;dr version- The only way I can sum up my feelings on this is love-hate. Loved some parts, hated others, and yet others I only mildly like. I would recommend it, just expect the romance to not be the main story.

The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan

Tl;dr version- lots of action, lots of funny moments, I love the mythology, and a surprising ending. This was very different from the film, but both were good in their own way. Can't wait to read The Titan's Curse!


No full review, because I'm lazy. #sorrynotsorry.

The Steep and Thorny Way - Cat Winters

Before I get to my review of the book, I just want to talk a minute about the history of eugenics in the United States. I have never been taught this in school. I am absolutely outraged and disgusted that not only were eugenics very prominent in the United States, to the point that a lot of historians believe Nazi Germany's eugenics were inspired by it, but we (Americans) completely overlook it and pretend like it never happened when talking about American history. I have been in school for about 11 years and never, not once have I ever learned about American eugenics.


Nothing good ever came out of ignoring history and not teaching the truth. American schools should teach honestly about all of American history- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Now, for my review:

Holy shit, this book was INTENSE.


Thank you, Cat Winters, for writing a story with diverse characters and making it a good story. As much as I celebrate diversity, it's not enough for a book to be diverse. It has to have a solid plot and complex characters. That's exactly what The Steep & Thorny Way has. It is both diverse and genuinely good and I applause Ms. Winters for that.


There's some heavy themes like racism and homophobia, and I appreciate that they were addressed. I'm very sickened at the idea of all the bigotry that existed in the United States long ago. Honestly, some of that bigotry still exists today but it was so much more blatant back then and it sickened and disgusted me that people could be so full of hate. Yet I'm glad that the author shone a light on the bigotry that existed back then instead of ignoring it.


I really like Hannalee, she's strong and resilient and so likable. Also like Joe a lot.

There's a lot of action and it was so exciting and also kinda scary. I didn't know who to trust.


Tl;dr version- A well-written historical fiction with a diverse and likable set of characters, lots of action, and deals with heavy themes. Highly recommend. I only took off a star because I didn't quite love it, but I still liked it immensely.

The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

Wow. I just.... Wow. Hot damn. I was not expecting such a strong emotional attachment to this book.


I can't even form coherent thoughts right now. Just read this book, you won't regret it.

Am I Blue?: Coming Out From the Silence - Marion Dane Bauer, Lois Lowry, Francesca Lia Block, Nancy Garden, James Cross Giblin, Ellen Howard, M. E. Kerr, Jonathan London, Jacqueline Woodson, Bruce Coville, Gregory Maguire, Lesléa Newman, Jane Yolen, Cristina Salat, William Sleator, C.S. Adler, Beck Underwood

This is a solid group of short stories. My favorite story was "Michael's Little Sister" by C.S Adler. I didn't have much of an emotional response to any of the others, but most of the stories were good and I did enjoy them. The only one I actually disliked is "Blood Sister" by Jane Yolen.


I have only a few criticisms. First of all, in the first story ("Am I Blue?" by Bruce Coville) there is an off hand comment by one of the characters that I thought was kind of biphobic. That was mildly irritating, but whatever. Perhaps I misinterpreted it.


Also, this anthology was published in 1994. That's 22 years ago! A lot of things have changed in those years and a few things feel out of date.


Tl;dr version- Good but not great anthology. I would recommend it, especially if you like stories with LGBT characters and themes.

What They Always Tell Us - Martin  Wilson

This was sweet. Really liked it.


As always, I will first discuss the characters. Alex was a sweetie, and I loved him. James, to be perfectly honest, was kind of a dick at first, but he went through a shit ton of character development and I grew to like him. I also really liked Nathen and Alice.


It's amazing that not much happens plot-wise and yet I was never bored. There's no exciting action or adventure, it's just a glimpse into the lives of some high school students trying to live and love. It's ordinary but that's what makes it so relatable.

Ugh, the romance was to die for. I ship it so hard. It's very mild, there's no sexually explicit scenes. It's more kissing and intimate moments, my favorite kind of romantic moments.


I don't really have much to say, except that I quite enjoyed it and I would totally recommend it. For some reason it kind of reminds me of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, so if you liked that then totally check this out.


Tl;dr version- A really sweet story that involves an adorable romance and a realistic glimpse into the lives of high school students.

Semper Fi - Keira Andrews

I enjoyed this, truly. It's a beautiful love story. But it lacks the spark that would make me love it rather than mildly like it.


I really like Cal, he's a good guy. Jim is also very likable and his struggles made my heart ache. He initially struggles with a lot of shame and self-loathing because of his love for Cal, and that was hard for me to watch. It's hard for anyone with a heart to see, I think, but Jim and his internal struggles made me think of someone I know and so it was much more personal for me. So, yeah I liked both main characters.


As for other characters? Sophie was such a little brat at first. Adam was kinda cute, but I've seen cuter kids in books. Mrs. O'Brien was a fantastic lady and I have mad respect for her. For someone living in the 1940s, she's a very open minded person.


The story is told in two parts: flashbacks to the war and in present day. And while I enjoyed the flashbacks at first, at some point they started to interrupt the flow of the story. The pacing in general is just really uneven at parts.


I liked that the ending was happy and I really liked how in the epilogue Sophie found a way to tell Cal that she didn't see anything wrong with their love. However, a few things were unresolved such as Cal's conflict with his parents.


Tl;dr version- In the end, I liked Semper Fi. I didn't love it though and there are so many other great m/m romance books that I would recommend passing up on this one in favor of others.


If you're interested in finding m/m romances to read, here's my list of recommendations: 

Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinan (college-aged characters, contemporary. Music is an important subplot point)

Winter Ball by Amy Lane (adult characters, contemporary. Imo this is a really sweet and heartwarming story)

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen (young adult, sci-fi/dystopia. Bittersweet)

Out of Bounds by A.R Barley (college aged characters, contemporary. Bit melodramatic at times but ultimately a very cute love story). 

What they Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson (young adult, contemporary. Romance is more of a subplot, but I still highly recommend it)

You're Always in the Last Place You Look - T.N. Gates

I loved this immensely, and at first gave it five stars. But it's far from perfect so four stars.


So, add Gabe to the long list of characters I adore. I loved him so much. He went through so much and went through a ton of character development throughout the story and I'm so proud of him for it. As for Zane, I have a love-hate relationship with him. He's cute, he's funny, he's sweet but he's also vulnerable and has his issues. But towards the end he does some really fucking stupid things and I just wanted to smack him. So..yeah. In the end, I like Zane but at times I wanted to snack some goddamn sense into him. Other characters, let's see...oh okay, Tye and Lily are cool. And Gabe's parents are fucking fantastic. Since Gabe's father is a pastor was worried he'd be some jackass homophobe but he's quite accepting and loving and I appreciate him so much. If every religious leader was like Pastor Simmons, I would not have the issues I do with religion.


I really like the romance. But goddamn it, so many of their problems could have been solved with just some communication. I'm so sick of drama being caused by miscommunication. Zane, just fucking talk to him!


There's. so. many. grammatical. mistakes. The grammar stickler in me is dying! You're vs your is the main one I noticed. Dear author, before you write another book PLEASE learn your fucking grammar or get someone who knows grammar to help you.


Alright, this book was long. 340-ish pages isn't a lot to me, but the romances I've read usually are closer to 200. Here's the thing though: some of it could have been cut down. There's a few subplot/issues that aren't fully resolved and make the book drag on that ultimately could've been scrapped.


Tl;dr version- I really truly did enjoy this. But there's a lot of flaws/issues with it so I don't feel like it deserves five stars, as much as I loved it. I still highly recommend it, though. It's a very sweet romance.

Darkest Hour - Meg Cabot

Ooh, shit got real in this one.
Jack is adorable, Suze is as kickass and likable as ever AND she calls out sexism when she sees it, and there's a lot of action. And Jesse! I don't love him as much as I use to, but I'm so glad that he's alright.
Also, THAT ENDING. I need to know how this will play out.

And Tango Makes Three - Justin Richardson, Henry Cole, Peter Parnell

This was a very cute and heartwarming story about a family of penguins, a family that happened to have two fathers instead of a mother and father. It is based on a true story.
Some may think this book is inappropriate for children, but I firmly disagree. I believe it is important for children to learn early on that families of all different kinds exist and all are beautiful and special. Besides, there's absolutely no sexual content so I don't understand why parents would think this isn't safe for kids to read.
If I ever have kids, I will definitely read this to them. And if you have kids, I suggest you read it to them.
Because love and families in all their forms are beautiful <3

Heather Has Two Mommies - Lesléa Newman, Diana Souza

Cute story with a positive message. I didn't really like the illustrations, but the story makes up for it.


Each family is special. The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.

Randy's Ghost - William  Tate

Enjoyable but for me, it lacked that special something, that spark that would make me love it. I liked it, didn't love it.

The time travel aspect was a bit confusing at times. I liked the characters well enough, but I didn't strongly connect to them. And I did enjoy the romance.


The bottom line is that I liked many aspects of this story- characters, plot, romance. But I didn't love it. Therefore only three stars.


I would recommend checking it out tho, it's free to download on the website:

The Young Elites - Marie Lu

For now, I'm giving The Young Elites four stars. The rating may change but the fact remains that I did enjoy it immensely. It reminds me of Throne of Glass in that aspect, that I enjoyed it despite its flaws, although to be clear Throne of Glass is nothing like this book in any other way.


Adelina is not particularly a likable character. She can be a tad irritating at times. But she is always a fascinating character. I especially like how she's so vengeful and dark and she knows that she's being horrible but she also doesn't care. She doesn't really hit quite that level of darkness until the end, but her descent into darkness is fascinating to watch and I am so excited for that to continue in the sequel. Other characters I liked and/or found very interesting: Enzo, Violetta, Teren, Lucent, Michel, basically all of them, haha.


A small thing, but I really appreciate that there's a few LGBT characters but it's not all there is to their personalities. And it's not a big deal, it's just casually said. I liked that. Raffaele bisexual? I'm kind of uncertain, but for now I think he is.


The writing was really awkward and weird at times. The tense was weird, I just don't really like present tense narration.


Also, that epilogue though! Maeve sounds really cool and I can't wait to see more of this badass warrior princess. Secondly, please let there be some Lucent and Maeve romantic moments in the next book. I need this.


Tl;dr version- On a technical level, this book has a few flaws but I still really enjoyed it so four stars it is.

The Stars Never Rise - Rachel Vincent

Meh. Coulda been worse, coulda been better.


I really don't have enough thoughts for a full review so I'll just jot down a few thoughts I had.


Things I liked: Nina's fine, and I liked her enough but she's not a character I will love and fawn over. I like Finn too. I think the best part about this book was the plot- there's a lot of action and I liked the twist at the end about the demons. Also, I highly appreciate that there's no slut shaming from the main character about Melanie!


Things I disliked: I didn't like Devi, but more importantly I didn't like how she's just a stereotypical bitchy mean girl. A little nuance would be nice. And I thought the "romance" between Finn and Nina happened waaaay too quickly, and it veered into instalove territory.


Overall, I don't think I would recommend this book. But I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading it either. I really don't have many strong feelings about it.

The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan

I'm uncertain about the rating, but for now it's four stars. It was good. Enjoyable. I really liked it. But did I love it? No. I did not. My expectations were so high that of course I'm left feeling slightly disappointed. I DID enjoy it though- don't get me wrong!


Ahahaha, man there were so many funny moments. I liked it. Humor is extremely subjective, it can be hit or miss, but for me it was a total hit.


Apollo's arrogance is both charming and irritating. I like him a lot, but sometimes I wanted to smack him. Also, kudos for a bisexual MC! I really appreciate how Apollo openly talked about his former lovers both female and male, but his bisexuality wasn't a big thing. It was just casually mentioned and no one made a big deal out of it. And I really appreciate that. Meg was annoying as fuck, I didn't like her at all. Basically I mildly liked all of the characters, except for Apollo who I liked a lot and Meg whom I disliked a lot.


Okay, was I supposed to read Riordan's previous books before this? I've only read The Lightning Thief, but I thought I'd be able to read this because it was a separate series. I think tho that the events are connected. I understood for the most part the conflict but I think it would have been clearer if I'd read the other books. (edit: I've since read more books, and things are starting to make more sense). 


This is a small thing that didn't even affect my rating, but at some point Apollo mentions Clytemnestra killing Agamemnon over "one little human sacrifice he made to me" (page 188). And that just pissed me off because NO HE DIDN'T. The sacrifice was for Artemis! Seriously? I haven't even read the actual Iliad and I know that. It's a small detail but anyone who knows Greek mythology should know that shit. Fucking pissed me off.


Another small thing, but this time a good thing. Towards the end of the book Patroclus is mentioned by Apollo. And that just made my day because Patroclus, I can fairly confidently say, is my favorite character in Greek mythology. It just really made me happy that he was remembered, because a lot of times he gets forgotten.


Tl;dr version- I feel slightly disappointed, but overall I really enjoyed The Hidden Oracle! Awesome MC, lots of excitement and action, Greek mythology, and funny as hell to boot. I'm so excited for the sequel.
Before reading:
Of all the books on my to-read list, this might possibly be the most anticipated. It's actually probably a tie between this and The Raven King, but I'll leave my rambling/gushing about the Raven Cycle out of this review space. 


Why am I so excited? Greek mythology. Promises of snarky humor and sarcasm. Bisexual MC. I'M SO EXCITED. I'm not even a huge Rick Riordan fan- I've only read The Kane Chronicles and the Lightning Thief. Yet when this popped up on my radar last year (I think when it was first announced), I just got so excited at all the glorious promises in the blurb.


That's a lot of gushing for a book I haven't even read yet. If you can't tell, my expectations are sky high. If this is anything less than five or four stars, I will cry for days.