Book Review: Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

This month, the @theunreadshelf project’s theme is “Finish That Series.” I’ve taken it to heart. I started the month by finishing up the entirety of my first-ever read-through of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Then on my road trip to Calgary to see my dad and step-mom, I read 5 books, all of them sequels or parts of series. A Thousand Skies Above You, the book I’m reviewing in this post, is the second book in Claudia Gray’s Firebird series.

Here’s the synopsis of the book, pulled from Amazon:

“In this sequel to A Thousand Pieces of You by New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray, Marguerite races through various dimensions to save the boy she loves.

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross through to alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurt the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked, and his consciousness is scattered across multiple dimensions.

The hunt for each splinter of Paul’s soul sends Marguerite racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris, where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each dimension brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with every trial she faces, she begins to question the one constant she’s found between the worlds: their love for each other.”

And here’s the cover, which is just dazzling:

This afternoon’s coffee and book 2.

I read the first book in the Firebird series before I started book blogging. Funnily enough, it was during last summer’s road trip to Calgary! But the cover is just as gorgeous for the first book as the second, so I figured I’d share a photo of that one here too:

Enjoying the window seat in my room in Calgary. I brought a funko on vacation with me as well!

Finally, here’s my review of Ten Thousand Skies Above You!

This book leaves right where A Thousand Pieces of You left off, in the thick of the action. And the excitement never lets up, making this a page-turner from cover to cover.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story itself, as well as getting to know many of my favourite characters from the first book, like Theo, Paul, and Marguerite’s parents. And of course, Marguerite herself. It was so interesting to see how each character was different (or the same) in different aspects of their personalities across universes. Which brings me to my favourite part of the book – its theme.

Thematic Awesomeness

Ten Thousand Skies Above You gets right at what it means to be human, to be who you are, to be you. What is it that makes you who you are? Circumstances? Upbringing? The people who surround you? Marguerite, throughout this story, struggles with this idea as she encounters her friends and family in different dimensions. What is a soul? Are people inherently either good or bad? How can you reconcile differences across dimensions? Are people meant to find each other no matter what? I don’t know the answers, but exploring them through this book was awesome.

Overall, 5/5 stars!

I highly recommend this story of love, loss, determination, and existential exploration.

Happy Reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood is a psychological thriller by author Ruth Ware.

The Girl on the Train kind of put me off psychological thrillers. I hadn’t read one for a really long time, and I was starting to get excited about them again. Since people have recently really been loving Ruth Ware, I figured this book was a good place to start.

Here’s the cover of In a Dark, Dark Wood:

Love this minimal look.

And here is the synopsis of In a Dark, Dark Wood from Amazon:

“What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself.

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.”

Finally, here’s my review of In a Dark, Dark Wood!

I really enjoyed this book.

A little beef with books like this: Number one, they’re sometimes plugged in a way that irks me. For example, Reese Witherspoon plugs this book on the front saying it’s scary.

It is not scary.

Suspenseful? Yes. Page-turner? Yes. Scary? Definitely not.

Maybe to some people that’s just semantics, but to me I was actually more nervous reading the book than I should have been, because I was anticipating it getting scary.

This also happened in a different capacity with The Girl on the Train. It was pegged as “The Next Gone Girl.” Gone Girl gave me nightmares for at least a month and I’m still messed up about it. Comparing that to The Girl on the Train.. I had it figured out about a third of the way through and found it boring. It’s not even worth making a comparison.

So stuff like that really irks me.

Don’t get me wrong, though, this book did a great job of holding back information that I wanted to know and kept me reading until I found it out.

It definitely didn’t disappoint, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting. Not only was it thrilling and mysterious, it also had a lot of character/relationship building/history that I really enjoy reading. It definitely added to the effect.

Other awesome stuff:

The characterization in In a Dark, Dark, Wood was excellent. Early on in the book, I was physically frustrated by it because I hated some of the characters so much. That’s awesome. If you can make me have a physical reaction to a character in a book, that’s good writing.

Overall, 4/5 stars.

If you’re looking for an interesting thriller but you don’t like scary books, this is for you!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus


Where Have I Been + 24in48 Read-a-Thon

So, Paperback Patronus, where have you been?!?!

Good question.

Since I started book blogging, I’ve never been away for this long!

It’s been about three weeks since I last posted, and a lot has happened since then (and a lot of reading)!!

Unsurprisingly, I’m behind on my reviews. So first, I’d like to give you a list of what’s for sure coming up on the blog in the next couple of weeks!

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – Debbie Tung
A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sara J.  Maas
whiskey words & a shovel volumes I-III – R. H. Sin
Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Commonwealth – Ann Patchett
Lily and the Octopus – Steven Rowley
A Darker Shade of Magic – V. E. Schwab
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler – E. L. Konigsburg
In a Dark, Dark Wood – Ruth Ware
Talking as Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham
I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson

Yes, I’ve read that many books since I last posted!! More on that soon!

Now, where have you been?

Short answer: reading!

Long answer: I have been hunkered down in a partly SAD-induced hibernation period (as much as is possible when you have a full-time job). It’s now day 24 in a row here in Vancouver that it has rained. It has been dark, grey, and sad. I have generalized anxiety disorder and am very prone to depression in the winter, commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. The way it manifests itself for me is usually the following: I essentially wake up in the morning, struggle to get out of bed, head to work, do my day, and then head home. I go for my run, get soaked in the rain and come home feeling like a drowned rat (although it does help my mood). Hot shower, snack, and then bam! I’m in my pj’s, back in bed with a coffee and a book.

A typical scene from my slew of rainy runs this past month.
A typical scene from my month of spending my time at home exclusively in my pjs, reading and drinking coffee.

Thanks to SAD…

My reading hibernation has done wonders for my TBR pile. I’m definitely not complaining about that! But I have been much less motivated and enthusiastic than usual about my job, my activities, and life in general. This too shall pass, but I’d like the sun to come out sooner rather than later, thanks!

On a happier note, my next post will be my January Wrap-Up, where I’ll be detailing the twenty-three books I read in last month. That’s right, 23!! Proud reader, right here. 

But I just haven’t been wanting to sit up and write on my laptop about reading. I just want to read!!!

There’s another thing that did wonders for my TBR pile, and that’s what I’m going to tell you about next!

The 24in48 Read-a-Thon

I participated in my first read-a-thon in January, and loved it. So, when I discovered the 24in48 read-a-thon and realized it would  be happening in January, I had to sign up! The premise is that in a period of 48 hours, you try to read for 24 hours, which is no small feat.

They have lots of challenges running through their website, and you can win prizes if you take part. You can also win rewards if you read for 24 hours!

I had a busy weekend planned for the weekend of this read-a-thon, so my goal was simply to read as much as possible, knowing that it was unlikely that I would achieve 24 hours of reading. In the end, I made it to just over 13 hours! Not too shabby. The next one that they’re running will be in July, so I’m hoping to take part in that one and beat my current record of 13 hours.


Soon, in another post, I’ll be talking about The Unread Shelf Project, which is something that has really improved my reading and Bookstagram experience this year!

Stay tuned, and happy reading!

Alongside the post about The Unread Shelf Project, I’ve got tons of blog posts lined up and coming soon!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Review: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder is the first book by author Raquel Jaramillo, under the pen name R. J. Palacio.

I’d heard a lot of great things on Bookstagram about this one, and rave reviews about the movie.

Of course, I’m a READ IT FIRST kind of girl. I hate going to movies based on books if I haven’t read the book, because I feel like seeing the movie first ruins the experience of reading the book.

So, I picked it up.

Here’s the cover of Wonder, which I quite like (and was adamant about getting instead of the new movie one that just came out – more on that in another post):

This is the synopsis of Wonder from Goodreads.

“‘My name is August.
I won’t describe to you what I look like.
Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.’
Ten-year-old August Pullman wants to be ordinary. He does ordinary things. He eats ice-cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside.
But Auggie is far from ordinary. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, he has been home-schooled by his parents his entire life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, Auggie’s parents are sending him to a real school. Can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?
Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches, Wonder is a frank, funny, astonishingly moving debut to be read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.”

Finally, here’s my review of Wonder!

Wonder feels like an honest telling of what goes on at school. I teach grade 8 and 10 at a secondary school, and although a 10-year-old like Auggie would attend elementary school, I think I’ve spent enough time working as a teacher (and more time than I would have liked as a substitute in elementary schools) that I can say that with confidence.

The things that occur in the book are heartbreaking, partly because they are sad and mean and horrible, but also partly because they are real and possible and probable. And that is an important moral truth.

However, I love how hopeful this book is. The tagline for the movie release was #choosekind, and that was clear throughout the story. I especially liked the precepts that Auggie’s English teacher introduced each month. In my opinion, it is the Social-Emotional lessons that are the most important part of a teacher’s job. The things students learn through those types of activities are what make them positive, caring, and contributing adult citizens.

Other Noteworthy Stuff

Not only is Wonder a heart-warming tale of resilience, kindness, and hope, but it is also a harrowing cautionary tale. It demonstrates the kind of hatred and meanness that young people are capable of if they are not taught kindness. It’s an important lesson that needs to be taken seriously, for adults and children alike.

Also, this is the first time I’ve cried reading a book in as long as I can remember. It was wonderfully cathartic. I won’t tell you what made me cry because it would be a spoiler. But any book that can make me cry is certainly worth a read. It really is a wonder.

Finally, I really loved the different perspectives in this story. It starts out from the perspective of August, but switches to other characters in the story that are a part of his life. It definitely adds to the story for it to switch around like that.

Overall, 5/5 stars.

I definitely recommend Wonder! One caveat: I based this rating on the fact that this is a book intended for young(ish) readers.

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus