Genre: Young Adult

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Nov 13

Girl of Nightmares Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Girl of Nightmares ReviewGirl of Nightmares (Anna, #2) by Kendare Blake
Published by Tor Teen on August 7th 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 332
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Girl of Nightmares is the sequel to the ever-so-popular Anna Dressed in Blood, so be warned there may be SPOILERS for the first book! This review is also very short because books like this are hard to review without giving too much away and ruining the fun of the read for everyone.

Super Short and Sweet Review:

  • Cas is back, and he’s just as moody and kind-of-sort-of angry as in the first book. He’s not as hell-bent (no pun intended) on revenge, but now he’s kind of mooning over the fact that Anna is gone…or is she? At first he thinks he’s going crazy as he starts to see her when he’s out ghost-hunting, but then he becomes convinced she is in some kind of trouble (more trouble than a usual trip to the afterlife would entail) as she always appears to be tortured when she appears. Yikes.
  • Cas’s friends are more real in this book. At least, this time I actually remembered them, whereas when I started this one, I only had a vague recollection of there being other people involved somewhere…maybe that’s my fault, my memory is not the greatest. 😛 His mom is sweet and adorable and reading the scenes with the two of them kind of made my heart hurt. Like, what is it like to be able to be friends with your parents?
  • Partway through, the book moves to England and I LOVED IT. It just made it that much more interesting even if they didn’t get to explore nearly as much as they should have because obviously they were trying to save Anna.
  • Anna herself is only in this book in VERY short segments. I was a little bit disappointed by that but there was really no way to bring her into the story that would make sense.
  • The descriptions succeeded in making me pull my covers up and make sure my doors were locked (not that locked doors would help me if there was a ghost after me…buuuuut you know). I love it when a book succeeds in raising the hairs on the back of my neck! Surely I’m not the only one that literally has that happen…not just a figure of speech here!
  • The ending was…well, it was closure…and that’s about all I can say without spoiling it! My hat is off to Kendare Blake for ENDING THIS DUOLOGY right here. I can imagine it might have been tempting to extend it, with the popularity of Anna Dressed in Blood, but it felt really good to finish not only a book but an entire story.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Girl of Nightmares! Follow me on social media to keep up with more reviews and bookish posts!

   

GoodReads

five-stars

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Nov 08

Hunting Prince Dracula Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Well, I didn’t get nearly as many books read for the Halloween Read-A-Thon as I had hoped! But, I did manage two – and look at me go, getting a review up within a couple of weeks of reading. 😉 Hehe.

Hunting Prince Dracula ReviewHunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #2) by Kerri Maniscalco
on September 19th 2017
Genres: Historical, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 434
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars
two-flames

In this New York Times bestselling sequel to Kerri Maniscalco's haunting #1 debut Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

First of all: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1 IN THIS SERIES – you can read my review of Stalking Jack the Ripper if you don’t want to be spoiled but are intrigued by this post. If you haven’t read SJTR you are SO missing out, please go read right now. KTHXBAI.

Hunting Prince Dracula was the PERFECT book to start off my HalloweenWR. The atmosphere is thick and foreboding and raise-the-hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck creepy. Not for the faint of heart either, are the detailed descriptions of cadavers and dissection. I found them enormously cool and interesting but they might gross out some people. The Victorian trappings are lovely as well – all the fancy dresses and clothes, and rules (which Audrey and Thomas are only too delighted to break), and THIS CASTLE OMG. I want to live in a castle. Or even just near a castle. And a forensics school, IN Dracula’s castle…where do I sign up?? I would need some heat though. That forest in those mountains and in a stone castle…pretty sure my fingers and toes would drop off. That said, I would totally plan an entire vacation (how about a month, shall we?) around visiting Dracula’s castle and the area surrounding.

I mean. Wouldn’t you?

Audrey Rose and Thomas are just as adorable in this book as in the last. I didn’t QUITE understand why they danced around their attraction to each other SO MUCH in the first part of the book…it kind of felt like Audrey had regressed in her Victorian prudishness…but maybe I’m remembering things from the first book wrong. I know they had only kissed like…once, I think? Thomas is just as abrasive and unaware of societal rules as ever, only now he is SO concerned about Aubrey that he makes some well-meaning but nearly unforgivable blunders. The tension is veeeeeeery drawn out through the book but I thought it was cute and sweet.

We also get to meet Daciana, Thomas’s sister in this book, and she is a very exciting addition to the cast. She is spunky and hilarious and completely unafraid of all the Victorian rules – she does what she thinks is right and what will make her and those she loves happy. I hope we get to see more of her but from the ending of this book I think she gets left behind for the next. Boo.

I’m slightly obsessed with castles, ok?

Okay, so the plot. Obviously, SOMEONE is leaving bodies around…someone who seems strangely obsessed with the bloodline of Dracula (the real one, not the Bram Stoker one). Naturally, Audrey Rose and Thomas have to investigate. Because the real authorities, also naturally, are bumbling around doing not much of anything. Things escalate, more people go missing, they discover SO MANY SECRETS in the castle (ahem – secret passages and tunnels – WHEN CAN I LIVE IN A PLACE WITH SECRET TUNNELS?), and no one is who they seem to be or who they are supposed to be. It’s deliciously creepy and just when you thought you knew who you could trust…

I will admit, I didn’t see that ending coming. I had a sneaking suspicious that THAT person had something to do with it, but then once a certain OTHER event occured…you know, it’s really hard to review mystery books, because of the risk of giving something away. But the ending was TOTALLY creepy and TOTALLY worth it.

Do I even need to discuss the setting? *points at pictures above * It was beautiful and I am insanely jealous of anyone who gets to so much as VISIT a place like that, let alone live there. Even in a time without heat. 😛

5/5 stars. I am so put out that we have to wait ANOTHER ENTIRE YEAR for Book 3!

I hope you enjoyed my review of Hunting Prince Dracula! Follow me on social media to keep up with more reviews and bookish posts!

   

GoodReads

five-stars

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Oct 25

Review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review of Heartless by Marissa MeyerHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 8th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 453
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads four-stars

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

I put this book off forEVER. I had a copy pre-ordered, and then I got an exclusive cover edition in an OwlCrate box, and I STILL didn’t read it. Why? Well…this, again, was one that seemed to get a lot of mixed reviews and seeing as Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series is what initially got me into YA and is still one of my all-time favorites…I was terrified that I would be disappointed. Was I? Well…here I am, less than 2 weeks after finishing it, and I’m already writing about it so it must not have been too bad! 😉 Presenting my review of Heartless, by my very-much-loved Marissa Meyer!

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“If I am not to have happiness, let me at least have a purpose.”

Heartless is, as everything I have read by Marissa Meyer, beautifully written. However, compared to the Lunar Chronicles, I felt it did start off very slow. I was at 44% (according to GoodReads) before I felt like there was a big, activating event and the story took off. Not that it was BORING, per se, but just…well, I felt like I was wondering around a very brightly colored and rather strange candyland-type world, petrified of what was going to jump out at me (because I was CONVINCED something horrible was going to happen any minute).

I was extremely curious as to how Cath was going to go from our heroine and a sympathetic character, into the horrid Queen of Hearts. I had huge doubts – was pretty sure I would either not like the character at all if it was going to be believable. I WAS WRONG, OK. Because I thought Cath was really sweet (naive, but sweet), and I felt like she was my little sister and wanted to protect her. Her relationship with Jest was predictable but cute. And then as the story progresses and we see her start to unravel…I thought it was actually believable.

The story actually explains very well how the Queen of Hearts came to be who she was, and it shows her in a COMPLETELY new light. In the end I really felt like she was justified, or at least could understand why she became the kind of queen she did. Overall I thought the story could have been a little darker – I was definitely EXPECTING a little more action and darkness and blood, but in the end it all worked really well together.

OH. Let’s not forget – THE CAKE. OMG THE CAKE. This book made me freaking HUNGRY on an ENTIRELY unacceptable level. I am not even sorry for the caps lock. But seriously…there is so much scrumptious sounding baking in this book. Pumpkin cake. Tarts. Cake. Scones. Did I mention PUMPKIN CAKE?!? I think it should have been mandatory to include SOME kind of recipe. Just saying. 😛

Here’s one from Betty Crocker. You’re welcome.

Highly recommend if you like fairy tales and especially Alice in Wonderland (also cake). Just don’t go in expecting a fast-paced story like the Lunar Chronicles. This is an entirely different story and style!

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GoodReads

 

four-stars

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Oct 12

Review of Roseblood by A.G. Howard

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Review of Roseblood by A.G. HowardRoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Published by Harry N. Abrams on January 10th 2017
Genres: magical realism, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Goodreads five-stars
three-flames

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

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Guard your throats and hide your eyes. He’s not dead, you fools. Legends never die.

Roseblood by A.G. Howard was one of my super anticipated reads this year, mainly because I absolutely loved the sweet romance of the only other A.G. Howard book I’ve read, The Architect of Song. Then, I started seeing all these really crappy reviews and I got scared. I wasn’t expecting the next great classic novel or anything (because that is not what Howard ever seems to have tried for her books to be), but I mean…damn, son! Some of the reviews were super salty! So I put it off for awhile, but when I finally picked it up I read it in less than 24 hours. Haters gonna hate. Don’t let it put you off if you enjoy gothic/paranormal stories. This is one for the shelf. However, if you are expecting realism or originality (by the way…no story is completely original, let’s get that straight) off the charts, this book is not for you.

It’s pretty much this dramatic, but thankfully Rune does not share Christine’s affinity for swooning.

Roseblood is a modern gothic novel. And by gothic I mean “portentously gloomy or horrifying.” Not to insult anyone’s intelligence or anything, but I think a lot of readers were expecting something else and when they got over-the-top-gothic-romance they felt kind of let down. Now to me, that sort of book is like a dark chocolate truffle – I don’t read them that often, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy them! This book was exactly what I was expecting after The Architect of Song.

Characters:

First of all. All her weird abilities/paranormal stuff aside – I LOVE RUNE. SHE KNITS TO KEEP HERSELF CALM AND THE BIGGEST MARK OF HER AFFECTION IS HER MAKING SOMETHING FOR YOU. Ahem. Please excuse all the yelling but the girl is my sister from another mother, I swear. She gets it. She’s a maker, and I love her. Even if she makes some seriously DUMB choices partway through the book. Because of course agreeing to be blindfolded and driven away to a rave is the epitome of smart decision making…oh to be so young and optimistic again. Rune’s problem is unique in the books I have read (not the reasoning behind it that’s eventually revealed, but I’m not giving spoilers). and at times seems a little bit…silly. But I can feel her pain and  the embarrassment it causes her.

Then there is Thorn, who is very attractive and has the saddest back story ever and of course melts our collective heart with his wounded hero-ness. He’s not perfect, which is nice – he’s made some rather crappy choices in life and even though he tries to make amends and be a good person there are all those dark shadows. I like to consider myself immune to wounded heroes, but the truth is…I’m just not.

World-building:

Ahhhh! The setting is the definition of atmospheric. Rune’s boarding school is set in an old theatre, complete with lonely hidden rooms and dingy passages, old gardens and older chapels. I adore it. I want to live in the gardener’s hut. *wink wink* You’ll have to read it to find out about the hut…Oh, did I mention it’s set in Paris, France? So jealous. I want to visit Europe sooooo badly.

Plot:

I never lost my interest, all the way through this story. Considering I read this in the middle of one of the worst reading slumps I’ve had in a couple of years, that’s quite an accomplishment. The plot is a little predictable, as most romances/gothics are, but I didn’t think it was so much so as to make it unenjoyable! Also, while this is more of a sequel, of sorts, to the original Phantom of the Opera, there are enough similarities to leave few surprises for someone familiar with the original. Thankfully though, Rune is not the hapless, vapid Christine. I liked the way it was resolved and I really wish there was going to be a sequel!

5/5 stars, 3/5 flames because phew, Rune and Thorn do get the blood flowing just a little bit! If you need a chocolate-truffle-brain-candy sort of book, I highly recommend Roseblood and another of A.G. Howard’s books, The Architect of Song! Oh, and this book would be a PERFECT atmospheric read for Halloween, especially if you’re participating in the Halloween Read-A-Thon. 😉

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GoodReads

 

five-stars

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Oct 06

Review of Achilles by Greg Boose

Book Reviews 0 ★★½

Review of Achilles by Greg BooseAchilles by Greg Boose
Published by Diversion Publishing on September 26th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads two-half-stars

The year is 2221, and humans have colonized an earthlike planet called Thetis in the Silver Foot Galaxy. After a tragic accident kills off dozens of teenage colonists, Thetis's leaders are desperate to repopulate. So the Mayflower 2, a state-of-the-art spaceship, sets off across the universe to bring 177 new recruits to the colony. For Jonah Lincoln, an orphaned teen who's bounced between foster homes and spent time on the streets of Cleveland, the voyage is a chance to reinvent himself, to be strong and independent and brave the way he could never be on Earth. But his dreams go up in smoke when their ship crash-lands, killing half the passengers and leaving the rest stranded--not on Thetis, but on its cruel and unpeopled moon, Achilles. Between its bloodthirsty alien life forms and its distance from their intended location, Achilles is far from an ideal resting place. The situation is already dire, but when all of the adults suddenly disappear, leaving the teenage passengers to fend for themselves, Jonah doubts they'll survive at all, much less reach Thetis. Especially when it appears Achilles isn't as uninhabited as they were led to believe.

I wanted to love this book. It sounded so cool, and like a break from the ton of fantasy/fairy tale type books I’ve been reading. Achilles was a book that, try as hard as I might, I just could not really get into. However, if you’re big on science fiction you might love it! It did remind me of the first season of LOST…which, I, ahem, also discontinued a couple of episodes into Season 2 because I simply couldn’t stand all the craziness and constantly losing people.

Me, pretty much the entire book.

Characters:

I’m very character oriented when I read books. Characters are more important to me than world-building or excitement factor.  In Achilles, the characters feel very flat and many of them feel the same. I got so confused because I could NOT keep many of the supporting cast separate. Not helped by the fact that many of them weren’t even given names (referred to as “the hacker,” etc.) until several chapters after they appeared. Jonah, our MC, I thought was going to be likable but he turns out to have a bad case of navel-gazing and I just…cannot. I feel bad for him but I spent most of my time being annoyed at the way he was written. Also, he’s supposed to be this hard-ass kid that’s suffered abuse and came out still standing, yet his reactions to a lot of the things that happen are not how abuse victims and soldiers (he’s been in a military training facility for some time by the time the book starts) react. It makes the whole thing kind of unbelievable – really jolted me out of my suspension of disbelief, which is necessary for any kind of fantastical fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, fill-in-the-blank). I really didn’t feel anything for the rest of the characters either, and I was a little – ok, a lot – put off by how some of them did unexplained 180-degree flips without any real reason. Very suspicious and never explained, so the conclusion I am left with is that the author just…didn’t notice? Ugh.

Oh, also – CAN WE PLEASE HAVE MALE AND FEMALE INTERACTIONS WHERE THE MALE IS NOT SUDDENLY OVERCOME WITH AN UNAVOIDABLE HARD-ON?? I swear, so many times, when a book is written from the male perspective, he’s so distracted by female characters physicality that he turns into an idiot and it gets really old. I refuse to believe that the male population of the world is run solely by hormones.

World-building:

I think this is where the author spent most of his time! The world of the moon Achilles is harsh and brutal and I actually felt grossed out by some of the descriptions of the creatures inhabiting it (hard to do…I’m an EMT and few things turn my stomach anymore). It seemed like something new was introduced in every chapter. Sometimes it was hard to keep up but it was definitely intriguing.

Feels:

I usually put this section first, but this time I am putting it last because…er. I really didn’t have any. This book failed at making me feel anything but relief it was over. I am not interested in finding out what happens next. It didn’t really end on a cliffhanger, though there are lots of things about Earth’s colonization of Thetis that are not explained and have very dark implications – the main points of the story were wrapped up and that’s all I cared about.

 

Thank you very much to Diversion Books for sending me the ARC! I was delighted to read and review even if it turned out to not be my cup of tea. 

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GoodReads

two-half-stars

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Aug 06

Review of Night Swimming by Steph Bowe

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review of Night Swimming by Steph BoweNight Swimming by Steph Bowe
Published by Text Publishing on April 3rd 2017
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 311
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads three-half-stars
one-flame

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…

I bought this book after reading a review of it over on Paper Fury. Because Cait does amazing reviews, and I’d be wanting to read something from an Australian writer/publisher, and she’s Australian so obviously she would be a good judge of Australian YA books! Perfect. This was, actually, my very first Aussie read (I feel embarrassed admitting that but ehhhh I’m going to try not to feel awkward). So without further ado, my review of Night Swimming!

Feels: Just…awwwww. Lots and lots of awwww moments. Between the besties Kirby and Clancy to the awkward anxiety of a new crush, there was just so many times I got a case of the warm fuzzies. Also, Kirby’s grandfather. My heart hurt for him, and for Kirby and her family. I remember my great-grandmother as dementia set in for her, and it was absolutely heart breaking. It’s difficult sometimes as a teenager or young adult to see our loved ones growing older when we feel like we’re just starting out in life.

Characters: I love Kirby. She is unapologetically (though sometimes embarrassed) nerdy and unfashionable, and I wish I had her self confidence. Her quirky family, complete with unaffectionate mother and absentee father, is endearing even while they exasperate Kirby. Clancy is just hilarious and unpredictable (except to Kirby, who knows him better than he knows himself, it seems) and I loved how he repeatedly scandalized their small town with his antics.

There is a lot of minority representation in this book. That was probably my favorite part, besides the general Australian-ness (is that a word?) of it, which had me chuckling over slang I didn’t quite understand. Kirby is gay, while Clancy and Iris are both minorities. I was a little sad that the book glossed over Iris’s mental health issues, but I guess you can only do so much in a relatively short book.

Plot: So, this is where I felt the story was a bit weak. The plot line just sort of dragged while it skipped around somewhat and left me a little bit confused about what was going on in places (though maybe if I had paid a little more attention to the dates at the top of some of the chapters, that would have helped). There are a couple of side plots that were interesting but then turned out to not be so interesting or they were just finished off so quickly it felt a bit disjointed. Then at the end it felt like the author realized something exciting needed to happen and threw that little disaster in the works to shake everything up. Which it did, but it didn’t have enough time to resolve, in my opinion.

Oh! How could I forget.

You’re welcome.

STANLEY! You should definitely read the book just for Stanley. Because everyone, apparently, needs a pet goat.

Overal, 3.5 stars. 1 flame because there are a couple slightly sexy scenes but nothing over the top or that I felt would be inappropriate for a young teen reader.

three-half-stars

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Jul 12

Review of The Hate U Give

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★★

Review of The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
on February 28th 2017
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 453
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I’ve been trying to write a review of The Hate U Give for weeks and weeks now. It’s difficult to put my thoughts about it into a cohesive form, so I’m just kind of going to put a few things out there. Also, I’m aware that this book is HUGE because of it’s subject matter and representation. I read it BECAUSE of that, because I know that I am in the majority and I want to understand what the minority goes through and feels. I realize a book will never give me a complete understanding, but I do think reading #ownvoices books can help. The entire point of reading is to learn and to travel and experience things in our mind that we can’t or don’t have the opportunity to experience in our place in the world.

THUG is an important book because it so thoroughly places the reader into another person’s shoes. Because it was written by someone who has been there. She didn’t have to do research to see how Starr and her friends and family would talk – she knew, because her family is Starr’s family, her town is Starr’s town. This isn’t someone from the outside looking in and writing about it, this is someone writing what they have seen right in front of them.

Read The Hate U Give to see the world outside your comfort zone. Read it to understand why people have and do react the way they do to words, implications, and events. READ. IT.

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The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen—people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right. Maybe.

The Great 

  • Angie Carter does a fabulous job of giving her characters unique voices. I could hear each character distinctly and it was amazing. I felt like I was following Starr around, eavesdropping.
  • I was completely immersed in the story. When the pivotal point of the story, the shooting, happened, I felt like I’d been sucker-punched. I felt sick. I had to put the book down and go compose myself. At first I tried reminding myself that it was just a book, but of course that didn’t work because OH YEAH STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPENS PRETTY OFTEN and IN OUR WORLD and…yeah.
  • This book helped me understand a lot of things. It helped me see a lot of things for the first time. Every town I’ve ever lived in (except in Korea, heh) had two sides and I never completely understood why it was that way, when segregation was a thing of the past decades ago…supposedly. Starr’s struggle to be more, her struggle with her feelings for Chris, and to bridge what seems to her (and to the reader) to be the two sides of her life, encapsulated everything I’ve ever been confused about or wondered why when it came to those two sides of town.
  • FAMILY. I freaking love Starr’s family. Her parents’ relationship isn’t perfect but it’s there. Her entire family – her blended family, there are step and half brothers and sisters in there too – is there for each other. They pull together. They may picker and fight but in the end they are there and it’s amazing.

The Other Thing:

  • I, personally, was really disturbed by the wrecking of the town and the looting/destroying of property that went on during some parts of the book (mirroring, obviously, a lot of actual events as well). HOWEVER. What really came home to me was that while no, I didn’t agree with the characters doing it, I finally understood to some extent why. I understood that it was a form of expressing how angry and scared Starr and her friends and neighbors were, of the injustice and prejudice that seem to meet them at every turn. Did that make it right? No. Starr even says so later. But I finally had some sense of why things like that happen.

Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.

5 stars.

five-stars

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Jun 18

Review of The Fallen Kingdom

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 6 ★★★★★

When I was approved for a NetGalley copy of this book, I could not have been more excited! This was totally me:

And then I put off reading it for months because I’m terrified of endings. Then when I did read it, all I could do was flail because it was still months from being released. So now…drumroll please! I can finally bring you my review of The Fallen Kingdom, the last book in Elizabeth May’s delightful The Falconer Trilogy (but hopefully far from the last book she publishes).

Review of The Fallen KingdomThe Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer, #3) by Elizabeth May
on June 13, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars
two-flames

The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against each other in a struggle that will decide the fate of the human and fae worlds, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty. To save the world and the people she loves, Aileana must learn to harness her dark new powers even as they are slowly destroying her. Packed with immersive detail, action, romance, and fae lore, and publishing simultaneously in the UK, The Fallen Kingdom brings the Falconer's story to an epic and unforgettable conclusion.

SPOILER ALERT for the first two books of the series! You can read my reviews of those here: The Falconer (Book 1), and The Vanishing Throne (Book 2).

The Fallen Kingdom picks back up exactly where The Vanishing Throne left off – at least in Aileana’s mind. In reality quite a bit has happened and I was super confused for a few chapters. This would be a negative EXCEPT Aileana is just as confused as the hapless reader and so it’s perfect. She slowly pieces together what happened to her and everyone else and while she’s just as much a badass as ever (and still feels the need to remind us of that now and again), she is not as in control as she seemed before, despite having all the unnatural powers of the fae. Aileana is human, and humans imbued with fae powers…well, it’s not working out so well for her.

Kiaran…um. Well. Kiaran is just as dark and broody as ever. His day/night personality was more in evidence here, and it was more disconcerting than ever before. However…he still wasn’t as dark as I was expecting. Good thing…I guess? He’s the Unseelie King, he’s supposed to be evil and dark and twisted…and he was, but we don’t really see that directly. Also when Kam actually gets to him it was a little anticlimactic because he really didn’t seem all that different. The end though…be. still. my. bleeding. heart.

Aithinne as queen of the Seelie fae is just as amazing, hysterical, and badass as ever. I still adore her. I still want her to be my best friend.

She still has the best lines in the book but I unfortunately can’t quote any of them because my ePub file expired and my copy of the book hasn’t arrived yet. Bad book blogger.

I LOVED the way the legend of the Morrigan and her sister was woven into the story. I definitely need to brush up on my Scottish mythology/folklore, because I’m fairly certain I was missing some subtle nuances but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

As you can see, I had a few issues with the story, as characters weren’t quite what I expected or weren’t as developed as I hoped…but Elizabeth May managed to write such an amazing story with characters I was SO committed to, and also to not make it a happily-ever-after fairy tale. It has aspects of it, but…it’s not entirely, and that was part of what made me rate it 5 stars.

I can’t wait to see what Ms. May writes next! She’s definitely on my auto-buy list. Personally, I would love to see a book (or two or three) with Aithinne as the main character. Hint, hint, Ms. May. 😉

Many thanks to Chronicle Books and NetGalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review!

five-stars

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Apr 22

You’re Welcome Universe Review

Book Reviews 3 ★★★★★

You’re Welcome Universe ReviewYou're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
Published by Knopf on March 7th 2017
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars

A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti.
When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.
Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.
Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.

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This book made me happy. Happy in the contented, yeeeeees this was good kind of way. I don’t read that many contemporaries (usually find them trite and boring), so I don’t think I’m easy to please – but this book. I pretty much clutched it to myself and gave it a hug when I finished. Also can I please have this quote on t-shirt:

“I’m not easy. Never have been.”

Julia is a tough cookie. A tough cookie with an artist’s heart and soul. I love her so much, even though I’m not sure she would like me, hehe. She has been hurt so many times in life that she just builds up walls against everyone, which is something I can definitely relate to – though not for the same reasons. I love her independence and how she embraces her Deafness, refusing to allow it to be a liability or anything negative in her life. Not to say she doesn’t struggle and hurt – she does. But she overcomes and she doesn’t wallow in her sadness.

I bury my face in the cushion of my beautiful armchair, my command center, and scream. Over and over, my throat vibrating and crackling with fire. Nobody comes to see what’s wrong. Nobody can hear me.

This was my first experience in the Deaf world. I have some older family members who are deaf, but they are far removed so I really don’t have any contact with anyone Deaf. While this is not an OwnVoices novel, the author appears to have THOROUGHLY done her research, as many people who either are deaf or have close deaf family members have reviewed this book and given it mad props for an accurate portrayal of the Deaf community. SO HAPPY about that! I was very intrigued by the fact that there are “Deaf” people and “deaf” people…I had no idea.

Julia does a lot of growing in this book. And in case anyone doesn’t remember from being a pre-teen or teenager…growing pains are real. Both the physical and mental kind. In this case Julia learns a lot about friendships, and letting people go. It HURTS, people…but she grows through it and it’s a beautiful thing.

Diversity is HUGE in this book, and (to me, a very NOT marginalized person) it seems to be presented as such a normal thing, no one bats an eye (except one teacher at some point in the narrative, but that’s only realistic I suppose).

  • Julia is Indian American, and while it only occurs once in the book itself, she is often the target of racial slurs – many of which don’t even apply to her, but are due to people making ASSUMPTIONS based on her skin color. #RAGE
  • Julia has two moms. I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first book I’ve met with that kind of representation, but I really enjoyed seeing/reading it. It’s so completely normal, and they both play such huge roles in Julia’s life. The narrative spent just enough time explaining the relationship between the 3 of them to help the reader avoid having a constant “but how…?” in the back of the mind while reading.
  • Julia is Deaf, and her moms are both Deaf as well. See above comments.
  • Julia is a graffiti artist – this may not technically qualify under the diversity label, but come on – graffiti artists are DEFINITELY in the minority. I loved that pictures of her art were included in the book – I have troubling picturing things without pictures and finding out that the illustrations were included was one of the main reasons I bought a hard copy instead of an ebook!

I might be burning bridges, but they’re my bridges to burn.

Burn, baby, burn.

I loved pretty much everything about this book. Please go read. I’m super excited to have found another debut author that I absolutely love!

 

five-stars

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Mar 20

Crown of Midnight Review

Book Reviews 4 ★★★★

Crown of Midnight ReviewCrown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
on August 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 418
Goodreads four-stars

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.
It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.
Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.
Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Everyone has read this book already. Everyone, except me. Therefore, I’m departing from my usual format for my Crown of Midnight review. This is a play-by-play of my reactions as I read the book – yes, I kept very detailed notes, down to the page number! I probably could have finished it a lot faster without…but I just couldn’t stop. I also took a lot MORE of these notes in the last half of the book than the first, hehe. It probably goes without saying, but, um…

SPOILER ALERT!!! For ToG, Books 1 & 2

Okay, now I don’t feel guilty. Here we go!

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Beginning: Well, hopefully a few people will have become actual adults this time…(you can see my rather unimpressed review of Throne of Glass here)

6 – Ewwwww…glad to see Celaena hasn’t lost her love of the dramatic, I guess?

15 – “Plans” seem a little overrated.

25 – Why is Chaol still so worried about the king? The king is evil. Chaol is not. I don’t understand this loyalty.

29 – I don’t like this Roland person.

31 – WHY SO MANY CLOTHES AND SHOES?!? I don’t understand.

36 –

Unlike Celaena’s [bookshelf], which housed every title she got her hands on, whether she liked the book or not.

THERE’S my girl.

43 – I want a necklace that glows when danger is near, damn it.

74 – And now I miss MY best friend, damn it. Nehemia is the best.

89 – Chaol, you overprotective ASS…you better watch yourself.

91 – Ugh. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of courtiers/courtesans, male or female (not in this context, anyway). I get that sometimes it’s a lifestyle choice, but in this case it’s pure slavery and…UGH.

92 – I’m a little disturbed that so far the only same sex relationships in this series are portrayed as a taboo thing, something to hide and keep behind closed doors. I get that maybe that’s how Adarlan’s society IS, buuuuut…it seems like it never occurs to anyone, even our heroine, to look at it differently.

111 – Aaaaahhh secret passageways and tunnels!! Or rather, more of them.

138 – Phew. There for a minute I thought we were headed for a love SQUARE. At least now we’re back to love triangle that IS NOT a triangle, according to Dorian. Just keep believing that there, little buddy.

192 – Ok. I love Chaol, as much as he’s flawed and torn by his idea of loyalty. And I feel like my heart is going to be broken by it somewhere along the line…

223 – Now there’s the assassin I’ve been waiting to see!

229 – WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING OMG NO NO NO NO.

230 – THIS IS ALL WRONG. SO WRONG. WHAT EVEN.

241 –

Death was her curse and her gift, and death had been her good friend these long, long years.

246 – I’m so sad I don’t even know if I can keep reading this.

(puts book down for about a day)

267 –

Then Celaena and the King of Adarlan smiled at each other, and it was the most terrifying thing Dorian had ever seen.

Yikes.

291 – I love how everyone gets upset and distraught and…runs to the library for their happy place.

294 – Are you kidding me, Chaol?? You’re STILL having twinges of conscience about this bloody tyrant of a king? Or is it Dorian you’re actually worried about? Because that’s slightly more acceptable even if it doesn’t make you any less stupid.

296 – Ooooh is the battle hungry rebel guard a woman?

297 – LOL JK

300 –

“Then you will always have a place here.”

Oh, god, Dorian. Come on now.

309 – Well, that doesn’t reek of LotR AT ALL.

313 – OH MY GOD CHAOL. Just because she’ll never trust you again doesn’t make her a threat to one of her best friends.

328 – Hold on – does it occur to anyone that she’s going to have to walk/climb/run back up ALL THOSE STAIRS? That’s a lot of freakin’ stairs…

339 – Haha. Ok well, glad someone addressed that problem.

357 –

The world didn’t need an assassin with a coward’s heart. It needed someone like Nehemia.

366 – Archer =

373 – Yes, yes beg ALL the gods that will listen.

374 – NOT FLEETFOOT!!! :'(

378 – Okay, any man that will risk his life to save her dog…

379 – Well I knew SOMETHING was coming I just didn’t expect THAT SOMETHING.

Am I the only one that was just…not expecting that AT ALL??

389 – That’s right, call her a good woman. Probably not the best thing you could have said right there.

393 – WAIT WHAT?!?!? SHE KNEW ALL ALONG?????? WTF?!?

398 – “Her” kind, clever prince? WHA?

405 –

“Knowing the truth, whatever it may be, will not change what you must do tomorrow – where you must go.”

Why have I not seen THIS quote on a t-shirt?

408 –

Never forgive, never forget.

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Yeah, ok. So. That was one big puddle of feelings and some confusion. I have many mixed…thoughts. I felt this one was much better written than the first (thank you, SJM, for sparing us the many repeated descriptions of just.how.beautiful. Celaena is), and it was overall much more interesting. We learned a  lot more about the world, about Celaena’s background (OBviously), as well as Chaol’s, and some new, very interesting characters were introduced (Baba Yellowlegs?? I was so disappointed that she had such a brief part).

I’m so bummed that Nehemia died. And in such a truly SENSELESS way. Actually, bummed doesn’t even begin to describe it. The book itself even states that it was a catalyst, an instigator, that she sacrificed herself in order to goad Celaena into action…WTF?!? That is so wrong and sad on so many levels. I’m extremely disappointed in that aspect. I’ve seen a few different bloggers talk about how in some very popular books, POC are used as plot devices…and I’m guessing that this is one of the chief offenders. No matter how much of an amazing character Nehemia was, the fact is that her death was used as a tool is just beyond sad.

The ending was awesome, though. I love that Celaena is strong enough to say goodbye, even when she knows it is probably goodbye forever, or at least goodbye to the happiness she had. I still love Chaol even if he’s a complete dunderhead, and I have hopes that he will come around. He doesn’t seem to be an ENTIRELY lost cause. And Dorian…I can’t even begin to figure out what’s going on with Dorian. He’s such an utterly nice person, and it kind of makes him boring but I want him to be happy. Oh, and whatever happened to Roland?? Like he was there, and vaguely creepy and unsettling and then he was just…nothing. So confused.

This is such a popular series I’m sure most people who read my blog have read it, so (WITHOUT spoiling the next books, please!), tell me what you think! I’d love to talk about it some more.

four-stars

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