Snacking on mini-reviews: Iron Gold & Batman!

Today is a very monumental day.

Why, you ask? Well, you see… I actually have reviews written!! And I’m posting them (near) the month the book was read!! I haven’t written reviews in foreverrrrr and I’ve been super excited for this post so I can screech about books to you guys again! Because I haven’t done that in a while. *hides* I also have a full-length review coming on Love, Hate & Other Filters sometime! omg I know WHO AM I

The first one to start with, is, of course: IRON GOLD because I loved it so much I want to cry okay bye.

I buddy-read the with my dear friend Kat @ Life and Other Disasters, and it was the best! We read at a pretty similar pace, and we exchanged thoughts pretty consistently despite the time difference which was great! ❤

My review will be completely SPOILER-FREE for this book and not very many spoilers for the previous books? (But I recommend skipping to the conclusion part if you haven’t read this series!)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Goldis the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

  • The action! Was! Non-stop!
  • Seriously, there was so much happening, even my short attention span had to pay attention okay
  • SEVRO IS MY CHILD and I don’t care if he’s 30-something now. MY CHILD FOREVER.
  • LYRIA IS MY NEWFOUND CHILD. AND LIAM. My family from Lagalos deserve the world ❤
  • Seriously why is everyone treated so badly tho, I just want to shield my babies k?
  • Real life issues tackled like prejudice against groups of people because of what other people from that group has done, discrimination against less privileged classes of people
  • I FELT MANY THINGS. Heartbreak! Sadness! Terror! Disgust! Anger (so much anger) All the good things!!
  • Victra is still my bae (but she low-key needs to chill 😂)
  • Mustang has to make so many hard decisions and :(((
  • Darrow, too! (Though major side-eye to his stupid decisions)
  • Volga is so precious and pure ❤
  • I LOVE Cassius okay 
  • I want me a fox named Sophocles
  • The technology talk probably flew over my head half the time, but it was still SO COOL
  • THAT CLIFFHANGER

Wow this review is utterly unhelpful and just me fawning over the characters.

No one is surprised.

  • I’m not going to say in term of plot or anything, but CHARACTERS because ahhhh LYSANDER.
  • He killed me. One of the most fickle characters ever, a child in a man’s body who, truth be told, should’ve died 10 years ago. His POV was one of the most frustrating out of all of them, and, not gonna lie, it made me less interested in reading his chapters
  • Like, his self-righteousness and superiority complex is honestly so frustrating? His tendency to also do the exact OPPOSITE of what he should do also drove me insane
  • Especially after that ONE THING THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED BUT THAT STILL KILLS ME
  • Also Ephraim, dude. Just ’cause bad things happened, it doesn’t give you the right to do bad things to other people or have other people become the casualty of your stupidity. Fix your mistakes, PUH LEASE.
  • Even with this, though, like can I just 👏 Pierce Brown for creating such nuanced characters??
  • UM THAT CLIFFHANGER KILLED ME OKAY

The first half of this series is AMAZING, and this book definitely lived up to the expectations set from the past books, even though there were certain characters *cough* Lysander *cough* I didn’t like as much! There’s also tons of action, political tension and characters doing stupid things… all the fun stuff!

If you want to read a more in-depth review, I recommend checking out Kat’s review which was super insightful! 🙂

But basically: go read this.

(But also you could wait for the other books to be released because if you’re a gold fish like me it’s going to be painful to remember events. Thankfully the fifth book is being released later this year though!!)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

  • SUCH A SHORT BOOK. Wow. Bless. I finished this in like, a day and didn’t have to sacrifice my soul for once! What magic.
  • MARIE LU.(Her writing couldn’t save this book though. Unfortunately.)
  • Action-y parts were fun to read! because the rest of the book was boring
  • ……
  • Bruce’s friends! I forget their names though.

I’M SORRY, THAT’S ALL I HAVE..

  • So short, BUT SO LONG. Like it’s a short book overall, but the majority of the book was Bruce drooling over intrigued by Madeleine and it just felt SO DARN LONG. And boring. Ughghghghgh.
  • But also it was a bit ~too~ short???? Where is the development? Where is the anything? I don’t know, there wasn’t enough time, man.
  • I’m so contradictory darnit.
  • Speaking of which, BRUCE. My boy. As sweet you are with your naivety and all, WHY are you so dumb. Just why.
  • Like:

Everyone: Madeleine is manipulative and will use you and lie to you. STAY AWAY.
Bruce: But what if she’s telling the truth tho?????
Me: -__-

  • I wasn’t.. that surprised by the ending??? The end part was probably the most interesting part to read and I did like reading it, but the predictability, man. It might just be me, though. I think I’ve read too much of the same kind of twists. Not a bad thing!! Others could totally be shocked, it was still well-written and not a flaw of the book!! (Just my flaw??)
  • Madeleine fell flat. She had the potential to be super awesome, and maybe under different circumstances I would have loved her, but through Bruce’s POV? NOPE. She’s under the guise of being ~super complex and special~ (NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE) and I was basically indifferent to her and the interactions between her and Bruce. Oops.
  • I want to simultaneously slap Bruce TO WAKE HIM UP and also pat him on the head and give him a hug? Poor kid’s too naive but also too dedicated to being ~good~. He should go chill and eat ice cream. So should Madeleine.
  • Character development?? Where art thou? I CAN’T SEE YOU. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • There was plot! But it got lost as swiftly as Bruce got lost in Madeleine’s swoony and calculating dark eyeballs.
  • What the heck did this review become

I’m so salty omg forgive me.

I liked…. a few things? Mostly that it was short and the author is Marie Lu. But, you know. That counts.

But truthfully I don’t think you’re missing out on very much if you don’t read this? But that’s my very small, inconsequential opinion because you could still enjoy this very much! DON’T LET ME STOP YOU.

But personally I’m super disappointed I didn’t love it more, especially since Wonder Woman was one of my favourite reads. (GO READ IT GO READ IT.) I’d recommend reading Marie Lu’s other books, Warcross or The Young Elites or Legend, instead, those ones were more ones I enjoyed!

HI DID YOU READ THE RED RISING SERIES YET CAUSE YOU SHOULD.Will you shout about Sevro and Darrow and Victra and everything with me???

Have you read Batman? I’M SORRY FOR MY SALTINESS. 😂 Did you enjoy it, or did you find yourself disappointed like me? (Join me in my saltiness, I’m scared to be alone.)

Do you like these kinds of mini-reviews? It’s been so long since I’ve done a review, I low-key don’t know how to write one anymore???

LET’S CHAT BOOKS! What are you currently reading?? Also how was your January/ how is your February going? I had a ton of Valentine’s Day posts planned for this month and I’ve gotten to posting 0% of them oops, but I hope you guys have been doing well since I last spoke to you!

Advertisements

Reasons why The Hate You Give deserves zero hate and all the love (!!!)

Just a preface: I cannot express enough HOW AMAZING this book is. 

Hello everyone and I hope you guys are enjoying your weekend!! (I AM SO GRATEFUL YOU HAVE NO IDEA.)  I’m trying to be a bit more consistent with my schedule, going for around 2-3 posts for week, so here I am with a little* review (I’ve been reading so little books lately that I’m actually not behind for my reviews this month??) on the book I just finished last night, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas!

I have, like, a ton of pressure right now because this book has been SO HYPED for so long in the book community, and it deserves that hype so much I am really worried I won’t be able to do it justice haha. But I’ll try????

*HAHAHA understatement in case you didn’t notice… (Oops?)


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre(s): Contemporary (Young-Adult)
Series Status: NA – Stand Alone
Page Count: 464
Source & Format: Owned, hardcover, ebook

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.

Add to Goodreads Icon

A story that is heartbreaking, hopeful and utterly REAL.

Most of you probably already know this, but THUG is inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which is SO IMPORTANT and I loved how Angie Thomas nailed this. It was never once preachy, but very firm in its message and altogether so perfectly pieced together you can’t help but feel the profound impact of what is not only happening in this book, but what is very much the reality for a lot of people. This book deals with SO MANY heavy (but so so crucial) topics like racism, white privilege and corrupt justice systems that allow police officers to get away with shooting an innocent man just because the officer is white and the victim is black. (UGHHHHHHH. *cries*)

A book like this, isn’t meant to be comforting, cute and happy. It’s meant to be real, and maybe that means you may be uncomfortable, but mostly you will be 100% overwhelmed with heartbreak and emotions. Yet, it is not meant to be a sob story. Not fully, anyway. Most of all, you find hope. Grief, anger and all those emotions are there too, but HOPE. One of the biggest things I felt after all of it, and it was just SO PRECIOUS.

DIVERSITY & FAMILY: YESSSSS!!

If you’re looking for a diverse read (obviously you are because diversity is the best thing ever and we need more of it always), THIS BOOK IS IT. It’s #ownvoices (*squeal*) and although I’m not black, I know many people who’ve praised and adored the rep in this book because of how spot-on it was. Seeing others being able to relate to Starr, in different areas, just goes on to show how important this book is, and it’s most definitely not exclusive to black people. It makes me so happy to see this promotion of diversity and marginalized voices because ahhhhhhhh it’s just so important and this book is definitely one of the best out there.

We’re moving into characters territory soon: THE FAMILY HERE IS SO AMAZING I CAN’T. I really really really want to see more of positive family relationships in books and this one was so, so, so perfect. I’m getting repetitive, I know. But seriously:

  • Starr and her mother’s relationship was SO GREAT, despite misunderstandings they both know they love eachother and her mother would do anything for her and just I’m falling in love with this book all over again
  • Starr’s dad was the most flawed dad I’ve seen in a long time and yet (or because of it) he was one of the best fathers I’ve seen, despite his flaws. He cares so much about Starr, but is so insecure at the same time because he missed a lot of her childhood when he was in jail. But he’d do just about anything to keep his family safe… AGH the feels. ❤
  • Starr’s older brother Seven was such a sweetheart and so brotherly !! I actually loved him so much, his love for his younger siblings (Starr’s half siblings) was so touching and heartbreaking.
  • Younger sibling Sekani was a little devious munchkin who never failed to make me smile ?! I’ve had to deal with my own likes of him in the form of my younger sister and it just was so great to read.

Other notes:

  • Starr has one of the bestest relationships ever with her parents and basically considers them her OTP and it is the most adorable thing ever because her parents are just that awesome
  • Despite everything that goes on, there is still fabulous banter and humour that has me smiling despite the tougher topics it deals with. That night in the living room debating over who’s going to win for basketball games which involve Starr’s mom teasingly depriving Starr of ice cream (I KNOW. So savage.) give me lifeee!
  • Uncle Carlos is absolutely amazing and no one can ever say otherwise haha. His love for Starr and her family is unreal and just so beautiful. (!!!)

Where all the characters shine on their own

This review is getting SO LONG, I’m sorry!! Almost done, I promise. But this review would be horribly incomplete if I did not mention how spectacular the characters are. Starr felt so real to me, her hopes, her grief, her struggles (facing against silence, injustice, and even just fitting in her two worlds), and never once did I stop rooting for her. What she’s been through was so heartbreaking to read, and I could feel each and everyone one of her emotions–side praise for awesome writing that makes you feel alllll the things. ❤

But even apart from Starr, although this is definitely first and foremost her story, never once did I feel the secondary characters weren’t just as important. Khalil, for one thing, was made so real in my head despite only showing up for a little bit of pages at the start before his untimely death. His memory lived on, and through that I got to know his character more and more and my heart just BREAKS. And Starr also happens to have female friends???! GASP. It’s something that should me so common I don’t blink yet it’s not? She has an Asian friend, Jess who is the absolute best. ❤ DeVante is a precious little child, as is CHRIS. I feel like he wasn’t developed as much, yet at the same time he totally was?? I loved the exploration of a healthy interracial relationship (Chris is white.) He was so supportive of Starr (when he rapped the theme song of Fresh Prince for Starr my heart melted) and although he was a tad naive in certain aspects of Starr’s life, she corrected him and he did his best. Can someone get me a Chris?


Okay, so…

basically if this book is not already on your immediate TBR, I don’t know what else to tell you.

This book has: amazing familial relationships (!!!!!) and friendships, [proper] diversity rep from an #ownvoices author, characters that feel so real that you’re basically BFFs, HOPE despite the darkness and heartbreak, and spreading awareness about the injustice of our society. Not your sweet, cute contemporaries, but one that is infinitely worth reading no matter what your preference is in books! Such an important read that will stay with me forever, a must-read for everyone. ❤

I hope you guys all enjoyed that review, I really am sorry for the length haha I just wanted to share every thought I had! Have you read this book? Do you plan to? (The only answer is yes at this point honestly. :P) Let me know in the comments!

Parallel universes, family bonds and saving worlds | A Million Worlds With You

A million words would not be enough to express how much I want to visit the millions of worlds in these books. 

Hahaha I’m so good with words, guys. Probably best in all the worlds. 😉 Right?

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Hi everyone! I hope you guys are enjoying your Saturday! (I know I am, my god, this week has been so long.)

Okay, it’s been SO long since a review, partially because I haven’t read many books over March, and partially because I just haven’t gotten around to writing any for the books I *did* read haha. It’s April now though, and I’m trying to get out of the slump I’d been in for March, and so far it’s going well! I FINALLY READ A BOOK GUYS. *cue celebration* (Hence I am now dying trying to figure out what one book out of the 145678 books I should read next. Even though I already have a tentative list of books I need to read asap?? #nologic)

*NO SPOILERS for this book! I wouldn’t say there were many major spoilers for the other two books, either to be honest, but skim if you’re really worried about that haha*


A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Publication Date: November 6th 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre(s): Sci-fi, Young-Adult
Series Status: Firebird #3
Page Count: 419
Source & Format: Owned, hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.

Add to Goodreads Icon

Dimensional travelling and all the wanderlust (!!!)

Four words: Travelling. Through. Parallel. Universes. IS THAT NOT AWESOME?? (An enthusiastic yes is the right and only answer by the way.) An infinite amount of parallel universes where even one alternate choice/outcome leads to a whole different future. Above the characters or the plot, the concept of this series is what drew me in first and foremost, and definitely what I loved the most.Would it be greedy of me to say I wish the worlds had been developped even more though?? LET ME TRAVEL TO ALL THE PLACES please, thanks. Bye, Marguerite, it’s my turn now.  In the previous books, I loved exploring this concept, and the third book was no exception, I just loved the idea and world Claudia Gray created. I feel like the scientific aspect of it was explored more as well, which was great! (but maybe that’s just me holding on to anything that could make this parallel universe come true.) Now I just need people like Marguerite’s parents to create a Firebird for me?? NOW HIRING, people!!

“Every single world we’ve visited isn’t just random—it’s the result of countless choices, all of them combining to create a new reality.”

Basically: this world is fabulous. 

Snackable-themes of family and dark sides.

(Snackable is totally a word, hush children and auto correct.) Pause on the squealing-about-parallel-world-travelling things! My memory is terrible and so I don’t remember in detail what I loved about the previous books*, but in this one, I certainly appreciated the focus on familial bonds, among other things. Marguerite’s parents’ love for their children had so much depth, I feel, explored in the different worlds we visit, shown through different lives, different aspects of the characters. I really loved how this book explored family; how they were practically always present (could it be we have a normal family???!), and the way it showed how much family can impact your character and your choices.

*No, of course I am not too lazy at the moment to open my review on the previous books…

As for the DARK SIDES. *cue music* It’s not as sinister as it sounds, I promise. I think what was really interesting to read in this book was the exploration of a person’s true character. I’m going to say straight up; I didn’t like Marguerite that much. But, what this book did a great job of is making us think about–made Marguerite think about–is the potential anyone has to be, well, evil, or a bad person. Through these alternate worlds, we meet different versions of the same character; multiple Marguerites, multiple parents, Pauls, and so on. Apart from making for a thrilling story, the main Marguerite (and Paul, Theo, etc) is really forced in this one to confront that despite how different she may be from those Marguerites, they are still a part of her. And I think it was really important for Marguerite to see that.

Okay, deep thoughts almost over! Can I mention Paul though??! I don’t particularly care about him and Marguerite as a ship anymore, though I used to, I’m much more interested in Paul as an individual character! Poor Paul. He, too, was forced to confront the reality of his different versions. But for him, unlike Meg, acceptance came a lot harder, and a lot differently. Paul was a whole lot more broken emotionally, causing him to question everything that he used to believe in and it was heartbreaking–but also very necessary to see that.

“But just because something’s been damaged doesn’t mean it’s ruined.”

DEEP THOUGHTS OVER GUYS. But, next, what I was not a fan of…

Where is Theo? (Also, byeeee love triangle)

We have Marguerite (sadly), Paul (poor broken soul), and sure, we had Theo… but I totally would’ve loved more page time with him. Theo is such a precious cinnamon roll!! In previous books there was also Theo and Paul’s bromance that I loved, but this book was lacking that as well, which is SO SAD. Plus side, there is less of a love triangle in this one! Down side, I am disgruntled that Theo is still pining for Marguerite… (I won’t consider that a spoiler because it’s very very obvious who Marguerite ends up with since the first book.) He deserves so much better, and honestly is overlooked so much. #moretheoplease

“Because I want you to be happy. With or without me, whatever it takes.” Theo sighs. “That’s the difference between wanting someone and loving them.”

Special Snowflake syndrome

I think this aspect has been from the very start of the series, but I definitely think I was more aware and less accepting of it this book haha. Maybe my slump has made me too critical? A year since reading the second book has made me less emotionally invested? We may never know. But Marguerite was SUCH a special snowflake, and I think that definitely had a part in me not liking Marguerite as much. Her attitude, the way everyone makes her seem so much better than she really is? Got on my nerves, won’t lie. BUT. What really took the cake was how little repercussions she faced from her decisions. There were things she did in previous books that were not right at all, and I really wished there were more consequences rather than it being glorified. Ugh.

“But this role doesn’t need an adventurer as much as it needs someone who can… look at each world with fresh eyes. Who can perceive things deeply. Not an adventurer—an artist. You were the one we needed all along.”

Lackluster ending…

It was perfectly acceptable, to be sure, and I was definitely invested till the very end, but, at the end, I think I still wanted more than what I got. After all the tension, the excitement, it just seemed all too quick and just… lackluster. I was warned of this in advance though… So there’s that? It made the disappointment less hard to take, I think, and allowed me to still appreciate the other aspects of the finale. It was still perfectly fine though! I know a lot of people who loved it, and if you like definite endings as well, this one is perfect. Open endings can be torturous for me sometimes haha, so I did love how everything was tied up. My heart went through so much though, the book overall was definitely a thrilling read. But, the ending still left me wanting more. The classic case of “it’s me, not you?” perhaps…

Overall… (3.5 stars)

Things I loved:

  • The world (PARALLEL UNIVERSES YES PLEASE)
  • Parents and characters being evil beans
  • Paul being a broken little ball
  • THAT COVER IS SO BEAUTIFUL I COULD CRY. (Seriously, the whole series is so beautiful all I want to do is sit and look at them all day)

Things that could’ve been better:

  • Marguerite. Marguerite. Over and over, MARGUERITE. Even if she was more bearable in this one.
  • More Theo time?!
  • The ending

Verdict: An enjoyable read! I really did like it, problems aside. It was a solid finale, despite leaving me wanting more in terms of the ending and some of the characters. If you like sci-fi, action and romance, I definitely recommend picking this series up! And if you’ve already started the series, I think, unless you *really* hate Marguerite, reading this finale has the potential to be a good one for you.


GOSH THIS REVIEW. I literally worked on this for so long, I know it’s lengthy, sorry about that! But what do you think? Have you read this series, do you plan on it…? (Anyone else want to go on a world-travelling journey with me??) Let me know in the comments! Hope you have a lovely day! ❤

Friendships, Family, Food & Diversity | The Inexplicable Logic of My Life REVIEW

Hello and happy slightly-belated book birthday to this novel! I hope you’re all doing well. ❤ I wanted to have this review up yesterday when it was released, but unfortunately, life got in the way.

But anyway! It’s been a long time since I read something like this book. It was a really nice read. I finished it pretty quickly, as well, considering the fact that it had a very slow paced plot. But, despite the plot, what I loved most was the characters and how it focused on them. That was what made this book so wonderful to read. Although, the general consensus around this book according to other bloggers is that Aristotle and Dante was better–I can’t vouch for this, personally, as I have never read it, but if you have read Aristotle and Dante and loved it, your best bet is probably to go into this one with lowered expectations. Let’s just get into the full review, shall we?

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC thanks to Netgalley for review purposes! ❤ All opinions are my own. Oh, and all quotes mentioned are retrieved from the ARC, and may be changed in the final copy. Just a sidenote! 

the-inexplicable-logic-of-my-lifeThe Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A–Stand Alone
Page Count: 464
Source & Format: Netgalley eARC

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover, the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.

Add to Goodreads Icon

There were actually multiple mentions of food and TACOS in this book as well… Aka I am very hungry right now.

Features an AMAZING fictional father

“He said, ‘Every time I look into your blue eyes. Every time I hear you laugh. Every day, when I hear your voice, I thank God for you. Yeah, Salvador, I believe in God.'”  

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Sal’s father, Vicente Silva, is one of the best fictional fathers I have ever seen. He was an amazing father who had such a deep bond with not only his son, but everyone around him, and that was so beautiful. He was there for Sal the whole time, for Sal’s best friend Sam, for their new friend Fito. He was there for each and every single one of them, offering them comfort and discipline. And love, my god, so much love. My heart hurts from how much I loved his love for everyone. He shows strength, in who he is, who he believes, what he does, in everything he does but still had fears and uncertainty just like every person. His and Sal’s and his and Sam’s moments were truly amazing, along with pretty much everyone else he met. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say he truly is a notable father–and a notable person–that deserves all the recognition it can get. Because fathers like these, in novels? A rare gem. 

“I happen to be gay. I don’t think that makes me a faggot. I’m also a Mexican American. I don’t think that makes me a taco bender. I don’t think that makes a beaner. I don’t think that makes me a spic. And I don’t think that makes me an illegal.” 

CAN SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN AN AWARD PLEASE?

No romance, but lots of love.

Apologies to all romance lovers out there! No romance in this one, but that was one of its strong points. I’ve already mentioned before having more books with little to no romance and well, here’s this one! I think it’s really great what the author did here; not all teens find their soulmates in high school (ahem. Example: me), and focusing on aspects like love for family and friends, made this book refreshing and incredibly heartwarming. There was no shortage in love though; what this book lacked in romance, it more than made up for it with its focus on the love between Vicente and Sal, Sal and Mima, Sal and Sam’s platonic and wonderful friendship, Sal & Sam and Maggie, the dog, Sal, Sam and Fito, Sal and his uncle, and the list goes on and on. The family dynamics in Sal’s family was so beautiful, and I can not express how much I adored them. Family is SO important, and I loved the emphasis on that in this book. 

Speaking of non-romantic relationships; the friends in this book are actually #goals. Individually, my feelings on them vary, but Sal, Sam, and later Fito have such an adorable and supportive friendship that I adored. Sam and Sal’s friendship particularly stuck out to me; in them, I saw elements and phrases that I could either relate to with my own friends or just that I loved reading. And! They. Only. Stay. Friends!! NO I’M NOT JOKING. Yes, I’ve come to answer your prayers. Jk, but I’m a strong advocate for more female-male friendships, and this book featured one of the best ones I’ve read in a long time. Sam and Sal were so supportive of each other, so close and loving it made my heart hurt. Each of them had their own demons to battle, but they each had each other (among other people, of course) to push them to do so.

Sometimes family and friends are one of the best and biggest forms of love, and I loved how this book focused on those aspects of life. 

Other tasty aspects…

  • THE FOOD. This is the only one that actually makes sense in relation to the above statement. There were much tacos and tortillas and enchiladas and…. now I’m hungry. Help.
  • I didn’t get to mention my love for Fito!! Because I did love him. SO MUCH. He was so precious and did not deserve 90% of the things that happened to him. Probably one of my top favorite characters in this one, despite the fact that he isn’t exactly a main character until about halfway or something through the book.
  • Oh, I also should probably mention Sal, the main character! I did like him as well, he was SO sweet, and I loved the love he had for his family and Sam, and Fito. His relationship with his Mima was very nice as well, along with him and his father. ❤ Though, I did get exasperated with his anger-related issues at several points, it was okay.
  • Beautiful writing! It was simple but lyrical and it was lovely to read. I wouldn’t say I flew through the book because of it, but it did seem to make things seem less long, I think. Or maybe that was just me. Though, I will say, it’s kind of repetitive and the sentences can be pretty choppy. I don’t think this bothered me that much, but I know it can be a pet peeve for others aha.
  • I adored the diversity!! The book is filled with POC and queer characters, which I loved! Sal is white, but his adoptive father is Mexican, and Sal basically identifies as a Mexican and that was so precious.
I’m trying to make the headers a bit more related to my blog title!! I TRIED, OKAY. 😛
  •  Okay, so I mentioned I loved Sal and Sam’s friendship?? And I did, it was amazing. But Sam herself… eh, not as much. Sam’s development is great, however, I felt like her character the majority of the time tried too hard to not be like ‘other girls’. And that was annoying, because she ended up being a character who had no female friendships, instead calling them bitches, etc. *sad face* It was quite frustrating, really, because I really did want to enjoy her character more (she kind of shows up the entire novel, so like…)–and she had so much potential but… *sigh*
  • Things were too… similar for all three of the teens. Specifically in the mom department, which seemed all too… I don’t know. Unrealistic? Unlikely? I mean, I suppose it is possible but it seemed all too convenient and more of a plot device to have the characters have something in common that I could not 100% buy. #Justamethingprobabaly
  • Another thing that makes me quite.. conflicted, is the stereotypical and offensive statements in the novel. Things like “For a gay guy, my dad was pretty straight.” or “One thing about Sam was that she didn’t throw like a girl*.” and several other phrases. I just found them so unnecessary? Perhaps it was to show the naivety of the main character or something, I don’t know, but whatever the case may be, you could take those out and it would change nothing of the story, characters, theme, whatever. Nothing. It was just so unnecessary. 
    *Why is this still a thing?? Albeit in a fictional novel, but like still?
  • NO PLOT. And I know, it’s a character-driven novel, which is great, but like, 400+ pages is a lot to go through with a slow-paced plot. I do think you should be prepared for that, or else you’re going to be quite bored and disappointed with the plot. I mean, you might still be bored with the plot, but still, it’s not terrible, just it might be easier if you’re prepared with that info, haha.

Overall…

An enjoyable read! I really did like it, problems aside. Though from what I’ve seen, this is a lot of a hit-or-miss situation, most reviews I’ve seen have either given this book 4 stars, or 2. So. A lot of people have also expressed how this book does not live up to Aristotle and Dante, so if you have read that book, just a heads up! For me, personally, I have not yet read Ari and Dante, and I think that helped a bit if only to have more reasonable expectations aha. As a recap: I loved the focus on non-romantic love such as friends and family, the diversity, the FOOD of course, and especially Sal’s father. It truly was wonderful to read about that. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sam’s, and there were phrases that were totally unnecessary, but overall, I do think it’s worth a read if you enjoy family dynamics, and character-driven novels. 


Wow, that was a long review! I tried out a slightly different format for my review today and I think it caused me to revert back to my rambling review days…

But tell me! What do you think of this novel? Have you read Ari and Dante yet? Did you like it? If you haven’t read it, tell me so I don’t feel so alone haha. 😛 What are your thoughts on problematic phrases in books? Any other books you know of with strong family dynamics and/or friendship and diversity? Do you plan on reading this book? Let me know in the comments, don’t let my frantic 2AM typing go in vain aha. Hope you have a lovely day! ❤

How to capture readers’ hearts A Darker Shades of Magic style

A Conjuring of Light is OUT!! Ahhhhh so many people have already started reading it, and I am DYING to read it, guys. UGH. I’m currently in the middle of my re-read of the the second book, A Gathering of Shadows, which is the only reason I haven’t picked up ACOL yet. #bookwormstruggles And I absolutely LOVE IT but I am so ready for the third book. I can’t wait to read it so I can do a joint review (… more like fangirling post, probably…) of books 2 and 3!

THAT ASIDE. I wanted to do something V.E. Schwab/Shades of Magic series related, which is why we’re here, as you can tell from the title of the post. I recently finished re-reading the first book of the series (and I loved it so much akskjfjkgnjchskkkansr) which is what this post is based on, essentially. Reading A Darker Shade of Magic was absolutely amazing, I loved it even more than I already did if that’s even possible. Pretty much none of my feelings changed except I loved Lila a lot more than I did the first time haha.

But I digress! I’m terrible at staying on track, oh my god. I suppose you can call this a review of sorts–although I already wrote one the first time I read this–but simply put: A Darker Shades of Magic is a lovely, torturous device of a book designed to crush and capture your hearts. I’m warning you. But also pushing you to read it immediately if you haven’t already because what bookworm doesn’t want their heart crushed? Psh, brb as I try to repair my fragile heart…

So alas, finally, let’s get into how to capture readers’ hearts A Darker Shade of Magic style! And don’t worry, this is fully SPOILER-FREE. You’re welcome, to the belated readers who have not read this yet. 😉

how-to-capture-readers-hearts-adsom-style

1. Create multiple worlds with vivid descriptions and magic.

It is an absolute given, if a book has multiple worlds and magic that you have captured at least one poor bookworm heart. (Mine, obviously.) Not to mention having vivid descriptions that make me feel as if I’m IN the book without having any threat of dying and other mild inconveniences?? SOLD. Who wouldn’t love that, honestly.

ADSOM reference: MULTIPLE LONDONS. Is that genius or what? Okay, so Grey London (‘Dull London’), White London (‘Creepy London’) and Black London (‘Dead London’) are not exactly tourist destinations* but Red London is to die for (!!) and nonetheless, they’re all the sign of amazing world-building.

adsom-londons-map

Even at night, the river shone red. As Kell stepped from the bank of one London onto the bank of another, the black slick of the Thames was replaced by the warm, steady glow of the Isle. It glittered like a jewel, lit from within, a ribbon of constant light unraveling through Red London. A source. A vein of power.

LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTION.

*I mean, if I could just stop by them all as some kind of invisible side character for a while and be able to escape at a moment’s notice, I would totally do it just because they sound so EPIC, albeit very very dangerous.

2. A subtle, but swoon-worthy ship, YES.

Slow-burn romances are one of my absolute FAVOURITES. The feeling you get, reading a book and that warm feeling you get when you know two characters like eachother but they’re dancing around their feelings and also the banter and the sweet moments that slowly develop the relationship… so many emotions ahhhh.

ADSOM reference: Not even a spoiler because everyone can see this from a mile away: Kell and Lila are such an OTP. Their banter is adorable and the fact that they both have each other’s backs and are constantly saving each other is just so awesome and they just work so well together and agh no words. Such a perfect ship. What’s even better is that it doesn’t overshadow the main story at all, and instead is the perfect addition to the rest of the story.

“He would see her again. He knew he would. Magic bent the world. Pulled it into shape. There were fixed points. Most of the time they were places. But sometimes, rarely, they were people. For someone who never stood still, Lila felt like a pin in Kell’s world. One he was sure to snag on.”

SHIP. My heart is SO attached to this.

3. Have the characters stab all the things?!

Disclaimer: I am not crazy or sadistic when I say this! LOL. It will: a) Create awesome action scenes, b) show off your character’s fighting skills, c) be lots of fun to read (aka very very stressful because your character will most likely get hurt) and d) create much tension and suspense.

ADSOM reference: Now I can’t give away too much because #spoilers but let me just say, there was A LOT OF STABBING. And magicking with the aim to kill. So. I mentioned this in my first review, but A Darker Shade of Magic is not for the squeamish people! But if you enjoy fantasy and don’t mind stabbing and fight scenes, you know how EPIC a story can be with the right battle scenes. Omg. This book had so much stabbing and fighting and aghhhhh it totally made my heart race but it was SO GOOD.

Pretty accurate depiction of my own heart tbh when I'm reading...
Pretty accurate depiction of my own heart tbh when I’m reading…

4. Much sass and banter!

This may seem small in the grand scheme of things, but trust me when I say that sass and banter can be one of the BEST things ever. Besides, it can also: a) develop character (sassy pirates and princes, yes please) b) create a deep fondness in the reader for the characters because banter = fun amidst pain and c) make Analee very very happy.

ADSOM reference: There are so many little quips from the characters that I loved and made the reading experience so much fun! I lived for the quips and lines from Rhy, Kell and Lila omg. So perfect.

“Delilah Bard,” she said. “We’ve met before. And you looked worse.”
Rhy laughed silently. “I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”
“I apologize for shooting you in the leg,” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”
Rhy broke into his perfect smile. “I like this one,” he said to Kell. “Can I borrow her?”
“You can try,” said Lila, raising a brow. “But you’ll be a prince without his fingers.”

GO LILA!

5. Have an epic bromance.

Bromances are very very important. *nods* They can make you either a) fall in love with the characters in said bromance or b) make you love said characters even more. In both situations, a beautifully written bromance = powerful emotions rivaled only by chocolate (of course) and perhaps a romantic ship. 😉

ADSOM reference: Kell and Rhy are one of the most amazing bromances everrrrrrr!! There is just something so beautiful and so adorable and so heartwarming about brotherly ties, and theirs was no exception.

Rhy sighed (…) [before he finally said] “There is nothing I would not give you.”
Kell’s chest ached. “I know.”
“You are my brother. My closest friend.”
“I know.”
“Then put an end to this foolishness, before I do.”
Kell managed a small, tired smile. “Careful, Rhy,” he said. “You’re beginning to sound like a king.”
Rhy’s mouth quirked. “One day I will be. And I need you there beside me.”
Kell smiled back. “Believe me. There’s no place I’d rather be.” It was the truth.

MY HEART. Captured and crushed by these two. ❤


So! That’s all I have for this post aha. Let me finish this off by saying: y’all should go read the Shades of Magic series IMMEDIATELY if you haven’t already. (#nopressure psh) And let me brb, need to go piece back my heart in preparation for ACOL to break it again. Ahem.
No, but really, I hope you enjoyed this post! ❤ A Darker Shade of Magic is an amazing book, and the series only gets better from there. If you’ve read this book; what do you think on my tips on how to capture a reader’s heart ADSOM style? Have you read the rest of the series? (No spoilers for ACOL please!) If you haven’t read the series, do you plan on it? (The right answer is yes, btw.) (Jk.) Let me know your thoughts!
Happy Friday!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Amazing characters, a hate-to-love romance, and war // Why I love The Winner’s Curse series by Marie Rutkoski

Hello everyone! 🙂 Disappeared for a few days from the blog, aha. So I had other plans for posts, but I haven’t done a book review in SUCH a long time! I have such a tremendous pile of them now I guess I’m scared to approach them. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it is a HUGE pile! Not TBR-huge (nothing’s going to beat that, probably) but huge when I think about my books-read vs books reviewed ration and when I see everyone else’s reviewing queue consisting of, like, max, 7-10 books. ANYWAY. Moving on! The point: I’m doing a review! On a series, in fact. I read the third book in this trilogy pretty recently, but the other two books were read quite a while ago and I thought it might be easier to just do a series review. I won’t be getting too much into the specifics of each book, though, so no spoilers! Let’s get into it!

Winner's Curse Series Review

Check out the books on Goodreads: The Winner’s Curse | The Winner’s Crime | The Winner’s Kiss

What I Loved

  • KESTREL KESTREL KESTREL omg. She is one of my absolute favourite book characters–with such good reason. She’s such a strong character, and not in the traditional fighting and battling department (as we see nowadays). No, the thing I loved about her was the fact that she relied on only her brains. She was not thoroughly trained in the art of sword-fighting and etc (in fact she was not good at all) but that did not mean she was not able to protect herself, nor was she a weaker person for it. Her strength was found in her brains, and in her resilience and determination. She did not give up, did not stop fighting, and her sass thoughhhhh. All around love her, honestly.
  • Can I get an IRL Arin, please??!!
  • Seriously, though. He’s so awesome, albeit the fact that he made terrible decisions sometimes. But don’t they all?? I may absolutely adore Kestrel but Arin is no less of an important character. His love towards his people, and what he does to save them is so sweet and his love towards Kestrel!! That brings me to my next point which is:
  • THE ROMANCE. Agh. So so cute. And amazing. And sweet. And heartbreaking. Did I praise it enough yet? Basically, it was one of the best things ever. The hate-to-love trope appears in this one, and it was so well done! You can see, through each of the characters’ thoughts, how they slowly go from hatred to genuinely care and concern for each other, and the uncertainty behind what those feelings entail (primarily in the first book). My heart suffered so so much because of this, with us being left with a will-they-won’t-they situation throughout the series.
  • The feelssssssss. Ahhhh there were so many. My heart was just a puddle, basically. It melted. (Rip)
  • The excitement! There was so much at stake here and I loved the thrill of reading all that happened. There wasn’t a single book in the series that didn’t have me sitting in anticipation of what happened next. The endings of the first two books always left me on such a cliffhanger, though!!
  • Oh but I LOVED THE ENDING SO SO MUCH. It was so so perfect.
  • But to finish the characters: Can I just say how much I adored Roshar??? We meet him first in the second book, I believe, but it’s really in the third book where I fell in love with his character. His and Arin’s relationship is just such an amazing bromance and ahhhhhh I love it.
  • But also the world is so fabulous! I loved how Marie Rutkoski made us really part of the world, and the politics, the description, the set up of everything made it a really great experience.
  • Her writing is also so great and I would totally read anything else she puts out. (Speaking of, when will she do it I NEED MORE)
  • But the amount of heartbreak it took to get there oh my lord.
  • Basically this series: Betrayal! Intrigue! Strategy! On how to kill people and make the life of the emperor miserable! All the good stuff. What are you waiting for?

What I Disliked (very very briefly because the list is minimal)

  • The pacing did feel off for me in certain books. I can’t pinpoint what it was exactly, but although the books were very concise and everything and the pacing were generally very fast and fit well, there was just something… off, sometimes. But honestly not a big deal at all.
  • That is literally it.
  • There may have been more things but they’re so insignificant I can’t remember them…

Final thoughts

Basically this trilogy is one of the best of ever and you MUST read it if you haven’t already! Go. Do it. The world is amazing, the writing is so good, you will (most probably) love the characters, and the story is just so interesting. And, also, just in case you were curious for the individual ratings:

AKA I LOVED THIS SERIES. ❤ ❤


So that’s it for this (kind of short) series review! Have you read this series? Are you a fan of the hate-to-love trope or no? Let me know your thoughts! 🙂

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Mini Reviews Galore: YA Contemporary Edition!

Oh my gosh I MISSED YOU GUYS!! It’s been so long since I’ve posted. 😦 But I’m back for now, this time with something new on the blog, yay! So. You all know by now how terrible I am with keeping up with my reviews. Like, it’s not even possible to deny it at this point though I did try!  As an effort to share my thoughts on the books I’ve been reading lately, however, I’ve decided to march into unfamiliar territory (for me, at least) and, instead of writing individual, lengthy reviews of my recent reads, I shall write up several mini-reviews, all in one post! Yes, I know I’m a genius. And yes, I do realize this isn’t my idea and I am one in thousands of people who have done this but shhhhh let me have my moment. Anyway, I thought this would be a much better and faster way to get down my thoughts on my most recent reads while they’re still relatively clear in my mind instead of adding them to the rest of my never-ending review pile. 😉 Coincidentally, these books all have something in common; they’re all contemporary.. so that plays out nicely.

#Mini Reviews

Alright, let’s start with the first novel!


It's a Wonderful DeathIt’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J Schmitt

Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre(s): Fantasy, Contemporary-ish, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 320
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.

RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.

Add to Goodreads Icon

You know those times where you just stumble upon a random book, attracted by the cover and/or synopsis, and then you’re just…totally blown away by how much you enjoy the book afterwards? Yeah, well, that’s the situation with It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt. Prior to reading it, really, the only thing I knew about this book is that I vaguely recall seeing it before, and that it was published in 2015. Now, after reading it, I’m almost speechless as to how to accurately describe this book. Note I say ‘almost’. (Erm, as a general rule of thumb and fact about me: I tend to have too much to say for that to ever happen…Just sayin.)

It's a wonderful death book review

“My life may have been short in time, but it was long in moments that mattered and in love. In the end, isn’t that what life is all about?”

Pros

  • Omg, RJ… <3. Really, that’s all I can say. Jk, I have so much to say–Let’s just put it this way: She’s not a good, innocent and nice character. She’s snarky, and flawed–oh, SO FLAWED, and also, very selfish and did I mention not nice? Oh, but she’s witty and I loved her so much. RJ was so evidently flawed, so perfectly imperfect, that I couldn’t help but root for her.
  • Oh, and talk about good character development! RJ learned and developed so much throughout the novel, and I loved that–though at the same time I found it kind of hard to believe she could change that quickly. But oh well. It all turned out good in the end. She was such a great protagonist!
  • RJ’s not the only character who shines: the secondary characters, though perhaps not as fleshed out as RJ, still added SO MUCH to the story and made it so entertaining. I loved so many of the characters, even the antagonist (though I simultaneously hated the antagonist as well).
  • Truthfully, this book makes me wish for its world to exist in real life. It was just such a fun concept! The whole Grim Reaper thing, Death Himself, Saint Peter.. they all mostly had distinct personalities and were so interesting. The afterlife concept was so refreshing and so much fun. Needless to say, I loved the world!
  • THE ENDING TO THIS THOUGH. Gawsh. I literally died. Well, not literally, but still. I think at one point this book had me emotional enough to be near the state of shedding a tear..? Although maybe that was because of the fact that I couldn’t find my stash of chocolate and was immensely grieving.
  • But I digress. The ending to this, though emotionally frustrating, was oddly and ragingly perfect! It stayed so true to the book’s theme and morals-and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
  • Would you believe me if I said that this book has NO ROMANCE? (The correct answer is yes, btw. I AM ALL-KNOWING. Also I read the book. So.) Being one of the people who has come across little to no books without romance in them, this was quite the discovery for me. I was actually always kind of expecting there to be one, as I read the book? But there wasn’t, and let me tell you, it didn’t affect the book. If there was a romance, actually I think it would’ve detracted from the story, to be honest!
  • I kind of adore this cover? It just looks so aesthetically pleasing. YES THIS IS A VALID REASON shh.

Cons

  • Despite the fact that I really loved the characters in this book, I can’t help but feel some were too cardboard cutout. Apart from RJ and maybe a few other characters, not many of the secondary characters got as much development, which was kind of disappointing.
  • As much as I loved RJ, I felt at times her too, was a bit cardboard. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because there are so many characters that are similar to her? I don’t know. But I guess I’m just saying she wasn’t exactly an original character? (But I still liked her, so I’m kind of conflicted. But whatever.)
  • The story overall isn’t that fast paced and at times it seemed kind of predictable? This didn’t directly affect my entertainment because I was really into the story, but it’s something I noticed.

Overall…

It’s a Wonderful Death turned out to be a wonderful surprise! The humor and wit in this novel and the overall messages and theme stuck with me long after the pages stopped flipping, and I simply enjoyed reading it so much. A story of doing the right thing, second chances, and the meaning of a worthwhile life, I definitely recommend this book for those looking for a fresh world and a snarky protagonist. This book merged elements of contemporary and fantasy so well, and was filled with so much heart–you should definitely pick it up! I know I’m glad that I did.


A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovernA Step Toward Falling

Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 368
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cammie McGovern follows up her breakout young adult debut,Say What You Will, with this powerful and unforgettable novel about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Nevin, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

Add to Goodreads Icon

I’ve never read anything by Cammie McGovern, though I’ve heard tons of great things about this and her other novel, Say What You Will. So when I saw this at the library the other day, I thought, why not? And although it was 100% flawless (not many books are, tbh, but the good ones are close :P) this book was still a good read–though I do wish it was more memorable!

download (1)

“Expectations are sad and complicated things.”

Ah, so true. Sadly I think I had a bit too high expectations for this one?

Pros

  • This story definitely had a good theme going on for it, and I loved the messages it gave! I also appreciated the little nod of diversity, as it included several characters with autism–we actually also get the perspective from one of them (Belinda). Although I wasn’t the biggest of Belinda for most of the story, admittedly, I did sympathize with her and liked her a lot more by the end.
  • Like I mentioned, we have several autistic characters, and characters with disabilities including Belinda, but I also liked the support in this book for the LGBT community. Speaking of which, I also really liked Emily’s friend, Richard! He was openly (or not openly, I’m not exactly sure tbh) gay and his friendship with Emily was nice to read.
  • Despite the number of pages in this book (360-ish), this book was a very quick read! I’m not exactly sure what to credit that to, but I guess it was a mix of the characters and the writing? Both made the novel very easy and interesting to read!
  • Like I briefly mentioned (or I might’ve not, I dunno), Cammie McGovern’s writing was really easy to get into! Even without the headings at the start of the chapter stating who the narrator was (either Emily or Belinda), it transitioned very smoothly and I was able to distinguish between the two. That’s not always easy to accomplish with dual narrators!

Cons

  • The main character, Emily was kind of bland and is easy to forget? Although I didn’t have any specific problem with her (in fact, as I mentioned, I did appreciate how some aspects of her character was kind of realisitic and well-written), it was the fact that she didn’t really make me compelled to follow her story.. she was just, okay.
  • Although the story overall was sweet and had its heart in the right place, I must admit I feel like it could’ve been better executed? Perhaps in a more memorable and powerful manner. I don’t know. I can’t seem to come up with many things that I remember strongly about this book despite having read it not-too long ago? I mean, my memory can be really bad, but it’s not that bad, you know? I just can’t come up with much. That’s probably not a good thing…
  • It’s so hard to review this, actually, because despite enjoying it when I read the book, I feel like there’s not much to say about it afterwards? Now, I feel more indifferent, I think, than I was before…? So I guess that counts as a negative thing. Honestly, I have no idea. Don’t listen to me I make no sense, ever.

Overall…

Enjoyable, but not mind-blowing. I think perhaps my expectations may have been set a bit too high? Possibly? Although I did enjoy reading the book and it hardly took much time to get through, the unfortunate fact that it isn’t as memorable afterwards definitely makes my rating go lower in terms of the critical aspect of things. This book did have some good diversity as well as shared a great theme about how important it is to speak up and help others, so I definitely won’t be putting this off as a valueless read. I definitely think, though, that this might stick out more to other readers? Maybe it was just me who felt like my while-reading and after-reading feelings changed drastically. Final verdict: recommend to readers who enjoy contemporary!


What We Left BehindWhat We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 416
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselvescomes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love may not be enough to conquer all.

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they’re sure they’ll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, theirs is bound to stay rock-solid.

The reality of being apart, though, is very different than they expected. Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, meets a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, but Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen won’t understand Toni’s new world, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni’s life. As distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

Add to Goodreads Icon

#DiverseBook, right here! Gosh, this book. Drove me crazy part of the time, but I ended up liking it. What We Left Behind is an LGBTQ+ novel, and guys, that part was great! There were many positive things to this book, however I have to say the characterization and the diversity represented has got to be my favorite part of the novel. But there is much more to be said, so… let’s get onto the full list!

What We Left Behind book review

Pros

  • So much sexual and racial diversity! We have Gretchen, decidedly into girls, and Toni, who at the start of the novel identifies as genderqueer and is into girls as well (though she spends most of the novel switching and trying to figure out her true sexual orientation). Oh, not to mention the secondary characters! What I loved about them was that they were all so realistic. When Toni and Gretchen make new friends at their respective universities, we have (if I’m not mistaken), an African-American, a Korean, and different ethnicities as well as sexualities all represented–without making it a big deal. Phew. Okay. That was a lot of rambling. Case in point: Robin Talley mastered the diversity in this novel! Moving on.
  • I loved Gretchen! I liked Toni by the end, and I did sympathize with her quite a bit, but I found Gretchen to be easier to root for as well as more likeable. I spent half the time so frustrated at Toni, which made it kind of hard to go through her POV–but I didn’t have much trouble with Gretchen. I felt so bad for her, and also admired her for being such a positive person overall.
  • Yay for friendship! Both Toni and Gretchen make several friends, and I loved seeing these relationships. Seeing such amazing friendships was just so positive and made the characters stronger and the overall story stronger too. It was also great to see how realistically the friendships were portrayed as well–they had fights and it wasn’t always easy, but at the end of the day, they all had eachother’s backs and I just felt like that was such a great message to send.
  • Another amazing thing was the many messages and positive themes touched on during the novel. Through the characters’ journeys, we see the different perspectives on how being trans/genderqueer/any-other-sexual-orientation can affect your life and the lives of the people around you. How important it is to figure out who you are without hurting others. Through Toni and Gretchen, we see how difficult it is for some people to truly figure out who they are, and the pressure and difficulties that distance can cause for a relationship. All this and more was explored and I loved What You Left Behind for that so much!

Cons

  • Like I mentioned, I liked Toni, but I wasn’t always her biggest fan. It was actually kind of hard to get through her POV at times because I was just so frustrated with her? I can’t exactly say whether it’s a “me, not you” issue or the other way around–I mean, I sympathized with her, but at the same time I didn’t? So that was difficult. But I did appreciate her character and sympathized with her struggles. I know it must not have been easy, but I just felt she could’ve gone at everything a bit differently?
  • The plot… well, I found it difficult to exactly pinpoint the storyline most of the time. I mean, it’s not that it was boring–the characters keep it interesting–but the plot wasn’t very directed towards anything. It felt kind of freelance, kind of like the story was finding its direction as it went along. Nothing wrong with that, except it was kind of hard to get into it at times and be swept into the story. At times.
  • I feel like I’m missing something.. but I can’t figure out what it is? Oh well.

Overall…

What We Left Behind is a thought-provoking and wonderfully sexually diverse novel that will make readers reflect on what is truly is like to discover who we are and coping with the many difficulties that comes with both long-distance relationships as well as being who you are. Through the many characters and Toni and Gretchen, we see all this and more, making What You Left Behind a perfect read for those looking for a slower-paced, character-driven contemporary about sexuality and discovering who you are. A good read, for sure! Definitely recommend for people who are into contemporary. ❤


Tell Me Three ThingsTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Publication Date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 336
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Add to Goodreads Icon

This book has LITERALLY been getting SO MUCH pre-release buzz. No joke. At first I thought it was only me who kept seeing this book at every turn on the blogosphere, but nope, this book actually has been getting a lot of hype. So naturally, I was curious! And I decided to pick it up. Aaaaaannndd… I adored it. Probably wasn’t a surprise to anyone? But seriously, this book is actually REALLY good. And of course I shall tell you why!

Tell Me Three Things book review

“You know what I heart? Nutella. And pajama pants. And an awesomesauce book. Not necessarily in that order, but together.”

(ERM YESSS! One of the many reasons I adored Jessie…not even sorry. She is fabulous.)

Pros

Okay, well I guess it would only make sense to start off with three things! Har har I’m so funny. Not.

1) I freaking love this book. But I think I already told you that. So I shall tell you why–IT WAS FABULOUS. In basically every way. The characters, the plot, the writing. I fell in love with it all!

  • For one, Jessie was SO AMAZING. Honestly. I loved her as a protagonist so much! It was so easy to relate to her personality, she had a great sense of humour and she came off as so real, to me. She wasn’t a cardboard cutout, wasn’t one-dimensional. She had flaws, she occasionally made some huge mistakes, and she wasn’t perfect. Which is why, naturally, she was perfect!
  • Although this book placed a lot of effort in building characters and relationships and everything, the plot was quite hooking, despite being perhaps completely ordinary at first glance. I really loved the whole concept of internet friendship, and all the things that went down, Jessie and her stepbrother bonding (and clashing), the stepmother, Jessie and her father, everything.
  • Eeeee, the writing!! Nothing that unusual, written in a conversational tone that was both witty and simple at the same time. I especially loved how the writing reflected Jessie’s character–just like it should be. Not to mention I gobbled up the bits and pieces of Jessie and SN’s email/IM conversations. I lived for those, honestly.

2) I could not, for the sake of anything, put down this book. Thank god it was a Friday night when I started this book, because otherwise I would’ve been screwed the next day! XD But seriously. This book was so addicting. I can’t even exactly explain why? It just was.

3) This ain’t no fluffy contemporary. Trust me, I love those, but this was so unique, so real and deep and insightful. And to find a book like this one, with so many other amazing things, was just… ❤

Cons

  • Okay, so this isn’t directly a negative thing, just maybe something to keep in mind.. The storyline is kind of predictable? I was able to guess the ending waaaaayyyy before it happened, however it was still entertaining to see it all play out! What was frustrating is that it took SUCH a long time for Jessie to figure it out… sigh. What to do though, I still love her!
  • Erm. Nothing else tbh.
  • OH! Wait, there’s one thing; despite the fact that all the characters in this are extremely well-developed, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how.. (I forget her name…) was so.. one-dimensional. She was just the mean girl. Period. And that’s fine, but… still. Deja vu, from, like, literally every book and movie in existence. So.

Overall…

Tell Me Three Things is an absolute must-read for any contemporary reader, and even for readers who don’t dabble often in contemporary! It’s just such a cute and sweet story while still being meaningful and a really heart-felt story. Jessie’s character will no doubt make you smile, despite the frustration you may also feel at her occasional naievty. She is definitely one of my favourite protagonists from contemporary novels, I think. I also really loved the whole concept of this book! It’s a super quick read and I definitely recommend. GO READ IT, Y’ALL.


OneOne by Sarah Crossan

Publication Date: September 15th 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 400
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.

But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.

How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?

Add to Goodreads Icon

When I first heard of this book, back in 2015, I immediately put it to my TBR once I heard of what it’s about–conjoined twins. Not only had I never read a book dealing with this topic, it seemed so intriguing and so emotional. And it was. So emotional and so incredible. Not only was the topic dealt with finesse (the author did her research and I am so so happy for that), this book resonated with me SO MUCH and the writing was absolutely beautiful. It was written in verses, some kind of poetic thing? I know nothing about poetry (NOTHING, I tell you) but this was so amazing. But anyway, I’m rambling. Here is a list of all my thoughts, pretty much.

download

Here
We Are.

And we are living.

Isn’t that amazing?

How we manage
to be
at all.

(Literally how the book starts off, and how it’s basically formatted for the whole book. Surprised? Well, let me tell you: it works!)

Pros

  • The WRITING, omg. Let’s just get this cleared up: I am the absolute worst, or one of the worst, when it comes to writing or deciphering poetry. I mean, I dabbled in some, for school and stuff, but that’s it. So when I was flipping through the book and saw the formatting of the words, and only verses, I was a bit wary as to whether I’d like it. And gosh. I need not have worried! IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL and it worked. So much. It was perfect, actually. I flew through it!
  • Tippi and Graceeeeee!! I sympathized so much. It was so difficult for them? Having to deal on a daily basis the fact that they were different from everyone else, and the problems them being conjoined twins caused, etc etc. I loved both their characters quite a bit, and really enjoyed reading from Grace’s POV (though I wouldn’t have minded Tippi’s). They were both so different yet worked so well together and aghhhh the sibling love. ❤
  • I loved reading about Grace and Tippi’s family as well– they all went through so much, and despite the times where I might’ve not liked a certain character (the dad, if you were curious), it all made so much sense in the end and I loved seeing the family dynamics, no matter how imperfect they were. (Both parents got laid off work, I believe, the dad was an alcoholic, Tippi and Grace’s younger sister Dragon had to work extra for cash and was anorexic, etc etc.)
  • THE ENDING. Agh. My hearttttttt. It made me so sad yet at the same time I just felt like it captured perfectly how precious life can be, and how it can be so unfair and so cruel yet.. the opposite of that too. Omg. I’m still not over the ending…despite how perfect it may have been for the story!

Cons

  • The plot may have been mildly predictable?? Like, I wasn’t able to predict things exactly, but I had the general idea of how the story would go before it happened (and I was right). So. This wasn’t necessarily a REALLY bad thing, but… (*that awkward moment where you don’t want to admit that a book you really loved had a flaw*)
  • Despite the fact that the romance was oh-so-fabulous and all the more adorable, I.. dunno, just wasn’t as into it as I’d thought? I mean, while reading it was fine, but now, reflecting back on it, it was more… meh. *shrugs* But whatever. It wasn’t the whole point of the story?

Overall…

You really really really really really really should read this book, if only to talk to me later about what you think of it!! Because that is important–I loved this book, and I would love even more to see what others think of it. ‘Cause seriously, this book has so much going for it, and overall felt very unique in terms of concept and writing. I also don’t doubt that this will put a lot of readers in quite the emotional state by the end! Ahhh my heart is still attempting to heal. Just kidding but not really. So basically: you must read this! 


*breathes* Glad that’s over! Jk, I had lots of fun rambling my thoughts on these books. But wow, that’s a lot of words! So much I bet you guys didn’t read half of them, hmm? Don’t worry, I don’t blame you. I spewed nonsense 95% of the time in this post. Except for the 5% where I actually give you info on what these books are actually like–which is basically, amazing! Seriously, I know I probably rendered the whole use of 4 stars and 4.5 stars meaningless by how much I used them today, but hey. What can I say? I really loved these books. (Read: which means you must read them too so we can flail over how amazing they are. Ahem.) But now, let me know your thoughts! Which of these books have you read? Which piques your interests the most? TELL ME so I can squeal at you all some more about how much you HAVE to read these books. Let us discuss!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul | ARC Book Review

This book drove me crazy. (Get it? Drove me crazy? Okay I’ll stop.) But seriously. I had many conflicting emotions on this one, to be honest, but at the end of the day I went home happy and satisfied! So. That’s good. I won’t be raging and setting things on fire anytime soon, at least. And there were, in fact, many good things about this novel! A book focusing on themes of family, relationships, trust and the effects life can have on us, this debut is definitely one I don’t regret picking up. But let’s go into more detail, shall we?

My Kind of CrazyMy Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

3 Stars

Publication Date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand-Alone
Page Count: 336 (in paperback)
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Critical Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

Add to Goodreads Icon

I’m gonna take the more fitting and more convenient route for this review and give you guys a list of things that I liked, and the things that drove me crazy.. or the things I disliked. (Come on, you knew I couldn’t pass that up!) You’re welcome. Thank you Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the review copy!

My Kind of Crazy book review

What I Liked

  • Can I just say I kind of love Hank? I felt so bad for him and his situation at home, the fact that he has to cope with his usually drunk father who makes it clear he doesn’t care about him. His portrayal was just so heartfelt to me and it was so easy to sympathize and root for him–even when he doesn’t make the best of choices. Hey, it’s only a matter of being human, right? I couldn’t really fault him for that.
  • The theme of broken families was clearly running for this book! And as unfortunate as it was for the characters having to deal with such bad home lives, I really appreciated the insight this offered. Both Hank and Peyton had to deal with not-the-best home lives, and throughout the story we saw as to how much this affected their daily lives and their characters–which I really loved.
  • YES for humour! This book, whatever else it may be, was fun to read. Despite the tones of seriousness and the parts of deep messages, this book had several bouts of humour and its overall style was very conversational and relaxed, which I liked. The dialogue was relatively witty, and the characters too, made it lots of fun.
  • My Kind of Crazy turned out to be a refreshing contemporary with familiar elements, which I liked well enough! It wasn’t something I’d be able to say I read before, but there were definitely parts to it which I recognize from other books. I still really liked the execution of the story as well as the messages it promoted!

What I Disliked

  • I had lots of ups and downs moments with Peyton. And seeing how she’s one of the main characters, well, the down moments didn’t exactly help with the enjoyment factor. One of the things that bothered me was her attitude and personality. While I found her character intriguing enough, I was put off by the various times she just didn’t seem like a 17/18 year-old. She just seemed so much younger and although I’m usually pretty good with dealing with that kind of thing, it was just so bothersome in this novel. :/ Though, at least in the end I was still able to care about her, even a little.
  • As much as I loved Hank for his realistic characteristics and everything, I must admit it kind of drove me nuts when he was being so blind to the things that were so obvious. Now, this is totally subjective and really no one is at fault here, but having characters constantly be blind to the things that are so blatantly evident gets tiring after a while. Sorry, Hank, that wasn’t the best. I still like you, though. XD
  • Despite the easy to read and enjoyable writing featured in this book, I found the pacing of the story to be.. kind of off? It was very hard to follow sometimes, in my opinion. Sometimes it felt really fast, other times really slow… it just threw me off, I guess.

Overall…

My Kind of Crazy was in no way a bad read! It was easy to get through, and was an enjoyable experience. I really did enjoy the messages and themes it represented, as well as most of the characters–especially Hank. I was really able to get behind him as a protagonist and rooted for him; he was so relatable and I found him to be very realisitc. So yay! On the other hand, I wasn’t the biggest fan of his love interest, Peyton, all the time. In the end, she was fine, but I didn’t exactly love her, which made the enjoyment factor go down a bit for me. Despite that, I strongly believe My Kind of Crazy is a great fit for people looking for humorous contemporaries with great messages and heartfelt characters. It’s a fun read and I definitely recommend if you’re a fan of contemporaries! My Kind of Crazy released 6 days ago, on April 5th, 2016. Go pick it up if you’re interested! 🙂


Alright, so that’s it for this review! It’s been such a long time since I wrote one, lol. Hopefully it will be followed by more! I’m currently still recovering from the amazing novel, The Sky is Everywhere which I started and finished today. Hopefully I’ll be able to make out some coherent thoughts on it! But anyway. Tell me your thoughts on this book! Would you like to read it? What humorous contemporaries have you read? Feel free to leave any and all thoughts below!

Hope you’re all enjoying your Monday! ❤

Until the Next Meal, Analee

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab | Book Review

Hi everyone! Does anyone happen to have some chocolate on hand? Because we must celebrate!! Why, you ask? THIS BOOK, is why. (!!!!!!!!!—yes, let us put ALL the exclamation points) This book is so amazingly amazing and I’m asking myself why I waited so long to read it??! So many people have been screeching in my ear to read this, and I’m so thankful I finally did!! If I had missed out on this book… I don’t even want to think about that because it would be too terrible.

Alright, for further rambling fangirling nonsense detail, read on!

A Darker Shade of MagicA Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

5 Stars

Publication Date: February 24th 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre(s): Fantasy, Adult
Series Status: Shades of Magic #1
Page Count: 398
Source & Format: Owned, ebook + Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

Add to Goodreads Icon

Erm, I might have to warn you here; I probably will not make any sense whatsoever—but then again, what else is new, right?? I don’t even know how to form proper words right now, ahem. So I’m going to be a list-but-not-really-type review–and hope it makes sense. Here we go!

A Darker Shade of Magic book review

Reasons why you should read ADSOM

  • So much blood. And stabbing! And many near-deaths, might I add. (Notice how this is the first thing I mention, aha I’m totally not crazy or psychotic, psh.) Though, I must say. It. Was. AWESOME. I mean, tension! Conflict! Danger! So much was going on, and then in the midst of it, of course you had to have some blood and, of course, stabbing (omg so much stabbing). I don’t think the descriptions were too graphic, though, so if you’re easily squeamish about these things, you should probably be fine.. then again, I read all of this so quickly I probably didn’t bat and eye so I guess I’m not the best consultant for that. But still. You should be fine. Point is: there was no holding back on the pain in this book! If that’s something you don’t mind, well, this is perfect.
  • The world is made of ALTERNATE LONDONS. That is Analee-approved right there. If you didn’t know already, I’m kind of mildly obsessed with London?? Or England in general, but LONDON. ❤ And so a book where we have alternate Londons is.. simply perfect? (Though tbh it could’ve been ANY country that isn’t in North America and I would’ve been fine–erm, I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of different countries so.)
  • Which brings me to how the world-building was so perfectly perfect. Or maybe that’s just me blinded by how amazing this book was, but really, apart from the few parts where I was kind of lost as to how it all worked (which was mostly my fault for being slow at grasping things, I think), the world in this book was so intricate and so finely done. Eep, my praise is endless. It was just so easy to fall into this world V.E. Schwab created, and I loved it.
  • KELL. My love. Not to mention HIS COAT, omg it’s so fabulous. XD I want one! Ah, yes, right, we were talking about Kell. Right. Kell is just as fabulous, of course! Such a great mix of the tragic, gloomy hero-yet-not, as well as very flawed, but so lovable. Oh, and his comebacks were just on point? Three cheers for sass, guys! It was so easy for me to love his character, eep.
  • Lila will most probably become one of your favourite characters? Maybe. I mean, I can’t say this was the case for me exactly (I did like her, don’t get me wrong, but it took me some time to warm up to her? More on that below.) but she had so many of the characteristics I (and most other people) love, so yay! (Erm, I doubt I’ve ever came across a thief with aspirations of being a pirate, sooo.)
  • Rhy: Charming. dashing and sassy, all in one! I loved Rhy, really. I only wish he appeared more in the story! I loved his and Kell’s brotherly relationship and his character. ❤
  • Holland was just such a well-written character! He did such terrible things and I hated him, but at the same time I found myself sympathizing with him? Ah, the conflict. Morally ambiguous characters are the best aha.
  • SO MUCH SASS. From Kell and Lila, but also from other characters too—and it was amazing. 😀 I had so much fun reading the banter and all the snarky comebacks tossed back and forth!
  • The magical coat (with lots of sides and pockets) is soo perfect. It was literally making me jealous. I want ittttttt (yes, I know I already said that before). And yes, that’s a valid reason as to why you should read this book. Because of a magical coat, yep. Why are you questioning this?
  • The writing was SO PERFECT. Concise and specific yet detailed—and not info-dumpy whatsoever (or if it was, it sure didn’t feel like it).  The descriptions, the world, everything seemed to come alive due to the fantastic writing, so I LOVE IT. Definitely making me want to pick up more of Victoria Schwab’s novels! ❤

The itty-bitty-little things you might want to be aware of

  • It takes a while to really get the story in motion. I don’t blame it, and truthfully it didn’t bother me that much because I hardly noticed, but depending on the type of reader you are, you might get impatient with the pace of the story! I assure you, it’s totally worth it to keep going with the novel, because it progresses really quickly once you get into the story.
  • Lila, although a good character, wasn’t someone I loved right away. I wasn’t the biggest fan of her at first? I mean, she’s totally a character I tend to enjoy (sass? check. stubborn? check. rebel?–well, thief, actually–check.) but it actually took me some time to actually like her? At best I tolerated her during the first few parts. The thing is, I can’t even pinpoint what made me feel this way? Argh. But like I mentioned above, I warmed up to her well enough by the end of the book. So that’s good!
  • Rhy doesn’t get as much spotlight as I wished. 😦 I loved his character and he did appear many times, but it didn’t feel like that much? Or at least not as much as I would’ve liked. I dunno. Maybe that’s just me. I just wouldn’t have minded seeing more of him, haha.

Overall…

This book is completely worth your time and commitment, I tell you. The hype around this one most definitely did not disappoint (for me, at least) and I’m 98% sure that most people would agree with me when I say this book is amazing. Great writing, great world, lots of stabbing, amazing characters and lots of sass–what more could you ask for, am I right? So better go gobble this up soon if you haven’t already! 😉


Umm, I think that’s it?? Basically, I loved this book. It was just so good. (Again, we must get chocolate to celebrate this amazing novel!) It had so many amazing components to it that I loved, and I definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a fantasy novel with great world-building and amazing writing (and everything else, really)!

I’m kind of sad I didn’t read this sooner, but I’m kind of glad because now I have the chance to go straight away to A Gathering of Shadows! I would’ve started it already, but I wanted to write up my review of the first book before I read it, so now that I’ve done that, I will most definitely be continuing with AGOS. So excited!

Alright, now tell me what YOU think! Have you read this book? What did you love? What did you dislike? Am I the only one who liked the stabbing? XD And I sure hope I’m not the only one who took time warming up to Lila, aha. Oh, and would anyone like to give me a magical multi-sided coat? Seriously, someone needs to make this happen. I’d totally buy one. If you haven’t read this book yet, let me know what you think! Do you plan on reading it? What are you looking forward to the most? Is there other London-obsessed people out there? (If so, you should definitely read this book. Just sayin’.) Leave your thoughts below, I’d love to chat! ❤
Until the Next Meal, Analee

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy | ARC Book Review

Okay, so.. basically my immediate thought is that this cover deserves 5 STARS?! Just look at it. I wouldn’t mind having this on my shelf, you know. Just sayin’.

But lucky for me—and you, if you’re as swayed by the cover as I am—this book doesn’t just look pretty! Despite the difficulties I had at first to get into it, this book absolutely blew me away with its realistic, and complex characters, through various mediums of writing included, and its simple but truly entertaining storyline. Here’s what this book is all about:

You Were HereYou Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Publication Date: March 1st 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand-Alone
Page Count: 267
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Critical Rating: 4 stars (Really Good)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner from multiple points of view – combined with stunning illustrations.

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and… Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

“You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us-and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together.”-Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines

“The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them—and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters’ stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!” —Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

Add to Goodreads Icon

Ahhh, so much to say here! I’ll be writing out this review in list form, between the things I loved and the things that I didn’t love so much. No spoilers, as usual, but if you’d rather just have the more vague and simple version of how I felt on this book, the ‘overall’ part would be good for you. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the review copy!

You Were Here book review

Things I Loved

  • Omg so many amazing 3-dimensional characters. I LOVED THEM. Gah. At first it took me a while to warm up to them?? (You know me, I can be an incredibly paranoid-of-disappointment and unemotional chocolate bar at times. I know, I know, I’m working on it.) But anyway, I loved them all by the end of it—some more than others. We get all their POVs in this book (though two out of five of them aren’t exactly in the most conventional way). Because I’m a very helpful minion, here’s a little rundown of what I loved of each of the main(ish) characters.
    • Jaycee: The protagonist of the novel, Jaycee was a blunt, reckless, flawed and oh-so-imperfectly perfect character! There were so many times where I went shaking my head and crying out in exasperation at her thoughts and actions, yet I found myself really emotionally drawn to her throughout the story.
    • Natalie: Jaycee’s former best friend, Natalie wasn’t that much of a big deal to me at first. She just seemed like a super bossy and uptight teen that I didn’t care that much about. But as I read more of the story, she developed so much more and she proved to be a strong and well-written character.
    • Jake: Like Natalie, I didn’t think much of him at first. He seemed kind of like the comic relief, and nothing else? But he too, went through so much development! As I continued to read the story, I saw more of who he truly was, layers that I was able to keep peeling away, which was AWESOME.
    • Bishop: The thing with Bishop, is that while we get his POV, it’s different because it’s not exactly his thoughts we see, as text. Bishop is a fan of graffiti, and throughout the book we get several of the things he graffiti-ed. The idea as a whole was great, but I didn’t get as much of a grasp on his character.
    • Mik(ivikious): Okay, so first of all: I LOVE THE NAME. (It’s a nickname, off his last name.) And I really did enjoy his character, so yay! His perspective was drawn out as comic strips (which was fabulous), though his character was revealed more through the plot and the other characters.
  • The multiple POVs in this book were so absolutely delightful to read. As I mentioned, we get the perspectives of all the above characters, though Bishop and Mik’s POVs were not like the others. Jaycee’s perspective was the only one in first person; Natalie’s and Jake’s were in third person. I absolutely loved how it all played out! Everything transitioned so perfectly and the multiple POVs weren’t confusing and instead helped give insight on the many characters of this book.
  • This book had so many amazing themes. Like, seriously. From grief to friendships to change and familial relationships, You Were Here handled it all seamlessly and it was so great to read about such lovely themes. I especially liked:
    • Jaycee and Natalie’s friendship. At the start of the book, they’ve drifted apart to the point where they hardly speak, but through the events of the novel, their bond and the way they interact as they become a part of eachother’s lives was so great to read about.
    • And so many other great themes! Sorry I’m lazy.
  • The descriptions. Many (if not all) of the places the characters visited in this book are actually real places, I’ve found, and it was so cool to have such a clear picture of said place as I read the book. And yes, afterwards I did search up some of the places. Ahhh my wanderlust kicked in there! Though seriously, it was super cool.
  • Ummmm I feel like I’m missing something, ugh. I dunno. But these were definitely the high points!

Things That Disappointed Me

  • At times I felt as if the whole theme of the book kind of distracted by the romance? Yet the romance wasn’t the focus either. And it was still a good experience? But maybe it could’ve better if the romance part wasn’t the total focus. Maybe? Possibly? Soooo. Confusion ensues here.
  • Despite all the awesome-sauce feelings I had while reading this book, I find myself unable to get a clear, memorable picture of it in my head, despite having read it only a few months ago? I dunno. Maybe it’s a ME problem, and not the book, but.. I feel like I should be able to remember it more fondly and more clearly than I do right now?? Interpret that as you wish, lol, I know that made no sense.

Overall…

Entertainment-wise, this book is absolutely fabulous! Although it took me a while to warm up to it and finish it, as I went further into the novel I was hooked and it was only due to lack of time that I didn’t finish it sooner. And from a critical aspect, not so shabby either! Great characters, engaging writing, and a good plot that kept me interested throughout the story. I’m glad I continued on with this book despite my first impressions! This book is way more than just a pretty cover, I assure you. You Were Here releases tomorrow, March 1st! Be sure to keep your eye out for it if you haven’t already. 🙂


Aaaaand, I think that’s a wrap! Tell me your thoughts; what do you think of this book? What are some of your favourite books you’ve encountered with great characters? YA books with illustrations? Are you a fan of multiple POV books? Do you plan on reading this book?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! ❤ Happy reading! I hope your Monday isn’t too terrible. LOL.

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | Book Review

Guess what book I FINALLY read?? Yep, Anna and the French Kiss! I kind of put down the book I was reading the other day, and was just like, okay, yep, Valentine’s Day is coming and so I’m just going to read it. I wasn’t planning on reading much of it, just start it, but… I kind of ended up finishing it within a day?? Whoops! And I know I’m behind on several other reviews of previous books I’ve read but since Valentine’s Day was yesterday I thought it’s only fitting to do a review on a book whose cover and synopsis literally screams romance. 😉

Anna & the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Publication Date: July 16th 2013
Publisher: Speak
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Page Count: 372
Source & Format: Owned, Paperback
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

Add to Goodreads Icon

So basically, the gist of my thoughts for the majority of this book comprised of me going ‘Ohmygodthisbookissoadorable!!!’ after which I kind of die of cuteness overload. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though; there were some parts where I was incredibly put off by the characters, but entertainment-wise, this was really good! Let me go into more detail, though, because I think that might be helpful. Right…On to it!

Anna and the French Kiss book review 2

Things I loved

  • Omg Étienne…I finally see what everyone has been squealing about. He’s so adorable!! Where can I find a guy like this?? Cute accent, check. Sweet and thoughtful, check. Funny, check. Seriously, it’s these bookish characters which makes a girl like me mourn for the fact that in real life I have no chance of finding a guy like this… XD
  • Also did I mention Étienne??
  • Oh, and pro-friendship, anybody? I loved the friendship thing between Meredith, Rashmi, Josh, Étienne and, Anna. Loved it! It was so positive and showed the ups and downs and obstacles that a friend group has to deal with, you know?
  • Ehhh, what else… oh! Anna was delightfully perfect for this book. I mean, yes, to be honest, I was SO DONE with her near 80% through the book, because kshfklsdhnfo, ugh no spoilers, but seriously. I just was turned off by the fact that she refused to LISTEN before making judgements (among other things). Gah, I already had to deal with that in another book I read previously, and.. just no. Also there was the fact that so much heart-ache could’ve been prevented if she had only been more perceptive! Ughh that was annoying, but I don’t begrudge her too much, because I do realize that without it all, the story would’ve been concluded much faster. XD And in the end, I appreciated how Perkins kept Anna’s character consistent; she was a high school girl, with flaws and occasional lack of judgement—what else to say? She was a very well-written character, in my opinion.
  • Aaaaaand, no insta-love! I’ll admit, I was on the fence for quite some time, unable to decide if it was a case of insta-love or not, but, I have deduced that it’s more of a case of attracted-at-first-sight instead of love at first sight, if you know what I mean. Anna and Étienne started off as friends, and it simply progressed from there, I guess. There was development to their romance and friendship, you know? So YAY.
  • I got to visit PARIS!!! Okay, not literally (duh) but oh how I wish it was! It would’ve been so amazing… but as it is, reading Anna and the French Kiss was  lovely in the sense that I got to visit and tour Paris along with Anna as  she visited many landmarks and touristic spots. The writing was fabulous for this aspect. Plus, it was with Étienne too, so…. Another positive, haha.
  • Also, the cover looks so pretty on my shelves! Eep! I wish I had it in hardcover though. Oh well. And yes, this is a pro. Because #bookwormreasoning

Things I DIDN’T love

  • Despite what I mentioned of Anna being well-written, she still managed to get on my nerves. I mentioned why a little up in the pros; her decisions and attitude could really be a turn-off. It didn’t get so bad, that I had to, say, throw the book and stomp around angrily, but it was bothersome all the same.
  • Useless characters?? Okay, ‘useless’ might be too strong of a word, but… I wasn’t the biggest fan of Dave—or Toph, for that matter. At times it just felt like they were there to add more drama and ansgt… and perhaps maybe that’s why they were there, but.. meh. I didn’t care about them that much, especially Dave.
  • The storyline kind of dragged on a bit more than was needed. I suppose this isn’t such a big deal, really, but to some it might definitely be a bigger issue. It’s just that with all the drama surrounding Anna and Étienne as they go back and forth between figuring out the lines between friendship and love interests and whatnot, the plot was (deliberately?) extended. You choose if that’s a good thing or not!

Overall…

I’m so glad I decided to pick this up! It was the perfect read for Valentine’s Day, and what’s more, it was totally adorable! If you’ve been procrastinating reading this book for whatever reason, I definitely recommend you give this a shot, unless you’re completely against contemporary romance. Though I will warn you all; although I personally enjoyed Anna, she’s not going to be everyone’s favourite! But chances are you’ll fall for Étienne, so I guess it’s even. But that’s besides the point. 😉 Anna and the French Kiss was an incredibly entertaining read and I can’t wait to read the next books! Although from what I understand the other two are companion novels… not quite sure how that’ll turn out, but fingers crossed!


Sooo I think that’s enough talking for now. Let us discuss! Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Have any of you actually ever visited Paris? (If you have, I would be insanely jealous omg.) Did anyone else fall in love with Etienne as I did?! Can you tolerate and enjoy a book even if you dislike the characters? Whatever thoughts you have, feel free to leave ’em below!

Hope you’re enjoying your Monday! Also, happy Family Day for those of you who live in a Canadian province! 😉

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard | Book Review

Red QueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

4 stars - Entertainment Rating

Publication Date: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young-Adult
Series Status: Red Queen #1
Page Count: 383
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart …

Add to Goodreads Icon

Hype, hype, and MORE hype, galore!! If you guys haven’t heard of this book yet, you must’ve been living under a rock, for this book has been EVERYWHERE since it’s release. No joke. So naturally, my interest was piqued! I had meant to read this when it was released, but somehow never got around to it until September last year. Oops! Better late than never, right? The sequel to this is being released this February, so I figured I should probably do my review on the first book before I read it. 😉 So without further ado, my review on Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard!

Red Queen book review

Okay, so, I’m going to be trying out a kind of mixed reviewing style for this one: a list and my rambles, all in one! If you’re looking for the lowdown, and most general form of the things I liked/disliked, just reading the list below should suit you. I have a lot of thoughts on this—both positive and negative, so just bear with me! Feel free to skip to the overall part if you want—I won’t mind, LOL. Even I can admit this review is really long! XD

Red Queen Review Pros and Cons List

Plot

Two words; déja vue. Because yes, I won’t lie, there are indeed several elements in this book which have been seen and used before in other books. If you’ve read The Hunger Games or The Selection, when reading this book, you could probably notice the similarities. I’ve also seen comparisons to Red Rising, but as I have not read that yet, I can’t really judge.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Did the familiar tropes used in this book bother ME, personally? Well, I still enjoyed the book, but I must admit that I had been hoping RQ would manage to stand out on its own, be unique under the mesh of common tropes. From that perspective, my expectations weren’t completely fulfilled.

Having said that, I did still thoroughly enjoy the world of Red Queen. Although perhaps not fully unique in terms of themes and messages (a battle between social standings of rich and poor, tension, threat of rebellion, etc.) Red Queen had a premise/concept that I loved; the idea of Reds and Silvers. I do wish there was more backstory included about them, but for now, I’m hoping some unanswered questions will be answered in the next book.

As for the world-building, it isn’t in-your-face obvious, I’ll give you that. It does go at more of slower pace, and through various descriptions and events, you get the gist of it. I really enjoyed it! In addition to that, the plot as a whole was great to read. Plot twists, suspense, intrigue. Even though the pacing can be slow at times (especially the beginning), it really built up the to final moments of the story.

Anyone can betray anyone.

Speaking of plot twists and final moments, I must mention this: The final plot twist was mind-blowing—even though now looking back I can see the signs. It’s funny, because while reading, there was this part where I was thinking “What if the bad guy ends up being [name of bad guy which I will not write for sake of no spoilers]?” And I dismissed it–probably ’cause I didn’t want to believe it. But then I got to the end and I was kind of in a state of shock! Like noooooooo…!

Okay, NOW I’m definitely rambling. You get what I’m saying here though, right? Moving on to…

Characters

I’m a Red girl in a sea of Silvers and I can’t afford to feel sorry for anyone, least of all the son of a snake.

In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever smile again.

The characters are definitely one of the hit or miss parts of Red Queen. You either like the characters, or you don’t. I, for one, have to say that I liked them well enough, for the most part. 

Let’s start with the good, shall we? I know several readers complained about Mare, but I must say that I found her to be a pretty good character. She has the typical characteristics of most female protagonists these days; strong, reckless and sassy, yes, but she still managed to be a bit realistic and someone I could root for. She made some terrible decisions at times, and her emotions were all over the place in several spots, but at the end of the day, she was a good character.

BUT. She didn’t really go through any major development by the end of the novel… so don’t go in expecting some major changes! I also wasn’t a huge fan of her flitting and bipolar-like feelings over the love interests in this book. One minute she’s trying to convince herself the guy is good, the other minute she’s 100% sure he’s evil. Make up your mind!! It’s what caused me the most trouble, trying to figure out what MY opinion was. Lol.

Apart from her, there’s of course, the two princes; Cal and Maven. I have to say I wasn’t the biggest fan of Cal for a pretty long time throughout the story… although I’m not sure whether that’s because of his character, Mare’s feelings or just MY feelings on Maven clouding my opinion. 😉 I don’t know, I respect him and he was fine and everything, but he just didn’t sit right with me for a good chunk of the story.

Maven, on the other hand, I found to be so interesting! I suppose I liked him more than Cal for a lot of the story, but that’s not just it. His character just seems so layered and complex! I could empathize with him, yet I could… gah, it’s hard to express how I feel without giving away spoilers. XD Let’s just leave it at the fact that he’s layered and a very intriguing character!

A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.

Also, an important fact you might want to note before entering the realm of this book; There IS a love triangle—though it’s more of a love rectangle or a everyone-loves-Mare thing. To be honest it’s not that aspect of it that bothered me the most; it’s more the fact that Mare’s feelings were so inconsistent sometimes, it just didn’t feel like there was enough depth to all the relationships. But maybe that’s just me. One good thing though, is that the romance didn’t FULLY dominate the plot. Yes, it did take up a good part of it, but it’s not the extent of what this book’s all about! (To me, anyway. I know some people feel differently.)

Writing Style

The sparks are gone, replaced by fierce, ugly tears that track down my face. Thunder rumbles somewhere far off and the air is warm. But the humid temperature is gone. The heat has broken and summer will soon be over. Time is passing. My life is moving on, no matter how much I want it to stay the same.

Despite being simple and straight-forward, Victoria Aveyard’s writing managed to really hook me in. I loved how vivid and descriptive the style was, without being too over-the-top. Sometimes simplicity beats flowery prose, you know? The narration, everything, was suited to the mood of the story and was super easy to read.

However, there is a little thing that perhaps won’t bother everyone, but did occasionally get on my nerves. At times, there was a bit too much repetition. I understand now that it’s to emphasize and foreshadow, in a way, of what was to come, but it still was a tad bothersome. I don’t know. Personal preference, I guess.

Overall

Red Queen, although not without flaws, is still an entertaining novel. Depending on your taste, if you like fantasy and/or dystopian novels, this one is a good pick for you! Here’s a little recap of what you should know and how I felt about this book:

  • This book won’t be the most original one out there. Readers of The Hunger Games, The Selection and/or (supposedly) Red Rising might enjoy this book for the similarities—or might dislike this book because of the similarities. It kind of depends on your personal taste!
  • The plot is relatively entertaining (though it is unnecessarily dragged out at times). Despite having similar elements to other storylines, the plot in Red Queen is quite intriguing and suspenseful to read! The world of Red and Silver was interesting and a cool concept to read about—though don’t expect the best backstory for it.
  • Characters like Mare, Cal and/or Maven are subjected to personal preference, but I liked them okay. Mare is a strong, albeit reckless and naive at times, female character who I was able to root for despite the reasons why I might’ve been tempted not to.
  • The writing style is simple but engaging and descriptive. I had no problem with the writing in this book! It was easy to read and suited the story. There was a bit too much repetition of words and expressions sometimes, but I credit that problem more to my own self and the plot.

Funny, how all that rambling that I did before the overall part was summed up so easily here! LOL.

So, the real question here that I’m sure you’re all wondering: Should you read it? From a critical view, I’ll admit this isn’t the best book, but from an entertainment perspective, it definitely isn’t the worst book out there–it’s quite good, actually! If you’ve taken into account all the above info, and think it’s a good fit for you, I don’t see why you shouldn’t read Red Queen! If you go in with lowered expectations, you should be fine. (Or so I hope!) I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on Glass Sword, the sequel, if only to see what will happen next! ❤


Now, it’s time to talk! What did you think of Red Queen? What parts did you like/dislike the most? Also; how do you feel about having themes and tropes from other books being included in another book? Are you planning on continuing the series, or are you quitting? Do you want to read this book? Let me know whatever thoughts you may have below!

Thank you for reading (even if you didn’t read the whole thing :P) and Happy Monday!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan | Book Review

The Sword of SummerThe Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

4 stars

Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: Disney – Hyperion Books
Genre(s): Fantasy, Humor, Young-Adult
Series Status: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1
Page Count: 491
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

Add to Goodreads Icon

Hello bookworms! In an attempt to stay on top of my reviews for this year (not going so good right now, but oh well) I’m here today with a review on the first book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan, which I completed not too long ago. 🙂

Rick Riordan has been one of my favourite authors since I was very young. I read his whole Percy Jackson series as well as his Heroes of Olympus series AND the Kane Chronicles, and have been eagerly anticipating whichever book he publishes next. For 2015, The Sword of Summer became the book I anticipated, and I finally got around to reading it.

In a sentence, the best way to describe The Sword of Summer is to say it’s filled with humour, action and mythology; a great start to a brand new Riordan series. Truthfully I’m finding it kind of hard to think of a way to describe this book in my usual reviewing fashion, so I’ll make it easier on myself and you guys by giving you guys 4 reasons why you should read this book! (And a few things to keep in mind before/while you do.)

The Sword of Summer Book Review

1. It’s funny.

Okay, not like, thigh-slapping funny, but it’s funny. It’s just simply FUN to read. And fun is good. In classic Riordan style, there were sarcastic comments and sassy comebacks; what more could I ask for? I found myself smiling and chuckling at several points throughout the story, and it was great in between the bouts of action and everything. Magnus’ character was definitely one of story’s biggest providers of humor, which was great as he’s our protagonist. 😉 His snark and commentary, although not exactly refreshing, was familiar and fun to read!

OH, AND. I can’t forget to mention the chapter titles—definitely one of my favorite parts!! From things like Let’s play frisbee with bladed weapons to A Lovely Homicidal Sunset Cruise, the chapter titles always brought a smile. They are fabulous. Read the book and you will understand..!

2. Adventure and lots of near-death galore…

YOU MUST DIE. Just kidding, I love you. But that’s kind of how things went in The Sword of Summer (the ‘you must die part, that is)…only half joking, haha. Because again, in classic Riordan style, there was lots of adventure (OF COURSE.) and many, many, MANY near-death experiences. (And some may or may not have been a near-death, without the ‘near’, if you know what I mean.) So, basically it was almost non-stop action, and was terribly addicting. I finished this within a day of starting it! #sorrynotsorry

3. Yay for fun characters and diversity!

Magnus was fabulous. Of course, with a name like Magnus, how could he not be? 😛 Though I have to say Magnus’s voice DID remind me of Percy’s. A lot. I probably wouldn’t be able to discern the two if they both were to talk. :/ BUT when it comes down to it, they’re both pretty different—and it was a small factor because it didn’t really bother me AS much overall.

Samirah (the female MC) was great too, though she reminded me of Annabeth. AGH, I KNOW, it sucks, but I can’t help but compare, especially when their characters are so similar. Hot-headed? Check. Generally more smarter than Percy Magnus? Check. But despite these similarities, I enjoyed her character anyway.

A few things I appreciated about her : 1) she’s Muslim (though not sure yet how she could be Muslim and still serve Norse gods..) 2) she’s in love with the guy she’s arranged to marry: There’s this idea that all arranged marriages are terrible and everything, so three cheers for Rick in taking a step to change that—’cause it’s not always the case and 3) Snark! Samirah wasn’t a fan of Magnus from the start, and it was lots of fun seeing her be snarky towards him (and most other people too). *ALSO: NO ROMANCE between her and Magnus. Quite rare to see a platonic boy-girl relationship these days, so yay!

Apart from Magnus and Samirah, I had the pleasure of the company of Blitz and Hearth! They’re both absolutely hilarious, and I loved them! Hearth also happens to be deaf–another cheer for diversity! Although I have to admit the fact that he is able to read lips perfectly is kind of doubtful, he still was a great addition to the cast of the novel.

4. Yum, mythology..!

As with the Percy Jackson series, The Sword of Summer put a fun spin on ancient mythology, this time going with Norse instead of Greek. Quirky, modernized Norse gods meant more humor while still giving us a Norse Ed. course.. so yay! I do realize that there’s no way for me to be sure whether the information in the book is 100% accurate, but at least I know more than just the names of Thor, Odin and Loki. (Is it just me who never knew a god named Frey even existed?!)

Things to keep in mind:

  • The plot isn’t anything especially new. If you’ve read a lot of Rick Riordan’s books, you know that they generally follow similar plot lines; characters go on a quest, they kill monsters, almost die, and fulfill quests. Generally. This is how it goes. And basically it’s how it went for this one..? Truthfully this didn’t bother me much at all, but it’s something to keep in mind, is all.
  • There ARE similarities between it and Percy Jackson (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing). Although it can bother me when another series by the same author copies things from their other series (like Reawakened by Colleen Houck), in this situation it wasn’t that bad since there was so many other things that I enjoyed. It depends on the person, though. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! 😛
  • This book is marketed as YA, but I’m warning you: this book will probably seem more juvenile. This didn’t particularly bother me personally, but I did notice it and I know several readers complained about this, so I’m going to mention it here. Do try to remember that a lot of, or at least some of Magnus Chase’s readers will be readers who are coming from the Percy Jackson series, which means this book should be suitable for younger readers as well as more older readers. No matter what is the case, this book will probably be enjoyable either way! 😉
  • It’s REALLY LONG. This is the one thing that actually did kind of bother me, or, crossed my mind more than just 10 seconds. Some parts of the book just seemed unnecessary? That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy those parts; I did, but it just could’ve been shortened, that’s all.

Have you devoured this book yet?? If you have, tell me!! 🙂 I’m always looking to fangirl with someone, LOL. (If you want, you can even check out this book trailer of it too!) If you haven’t read this book yet, do you plan to? Let me know your expectations, your hopes! What are you looking forward to the most? Or on a bigger scale; how do you feel about books similar to other books? Does it taint your enjoyment of a novel? Let me know whatever thoughts you may have below!

Happy Monday, everyone! ❤

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray | Book Review

Ten Thousand Skies Above YouTen Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

4 stars

Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre(s): Sci-fi, Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: Firebird #2
Page Count: 424
Source & Format: Owned, Paperback

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her 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 world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

Add to Goodreads Icon

Hello bookworms! It’s been such a long time since I posted any reviews here on my blog—I guess I just can’t keep up in writing reviews when I have a huge snowball of them! But that’s not the point here. Today I’m here to share my thoughts on Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray! Apart from the fact that the cover for this is absolutely gorgeous (!!!), I had been really looking forward to reading this one ever since I finished A Thousand Pieces of You last year.

So, I finally read it—and I have to say, I really enjoyed this one! I’d go so far as to say that I liked it even more than the first one. There’s a lot that I really enjoyed in this one, but there were also a few little things where I was a bit more frowny. I’ve decided to deviate from my usual reviewing style to make my thoughts more clear. 😉 (I’d love to know what you think!) SO LET’S DO THIS. For all of you who haven’t read the first book, don’t worry ’cause this review is completely spoiler-free!

Ten Thousand Skies Above You Design
Design credit goes to Freepik; edits were done by me.

Why there was lots of devouring and happiness

  • DIMENSION TRAVELLING! It was one of my favourite parts of the first book, and I think I loved it even more in this one. Not only is simply THE IDEA of it so cool, it made for such an entertaining story and was executed very well.
  • It made me THINK. And I know some of you may be groaning right now, but I praise Claudia Gray for including interesting themes and bringing forth conflicting questions throughout the story. Things like the more negative side to dimensional travels and the ethical issues it brings forth are an added plus for the story’s value and complexity. Three-cheers for thought-provoking books!
  • This book had such an amazing bromance going on. Seriously. I loved Theo and Paul’s brotherly relationship so much! The love Theo had for Paul, and Paul for Theo, was so sweet. We really need more bromances around like this!
  • I didn’t want to put it down. (Then again, I almost never want to put any book down, but shhhh.) Seriously though, it was addictive. Hardly a boring moment—as far as I remember, at least. And seeing how I read this not-too-long-ago, I’m pretty sure I remember correctly. LOL.
  • Two words; Plot. Twists. They were everywhere! (Or maybe it just felt like they were everywhere, but SHHHH.) In some cases plot twists can become annoying and predictable, but this was not one of those cases.
  • This book is not as much romance-focused as the previous book. There is still plenty of romance, but unlike the first book where a lot of it was focused on only the romance, now there is additional focus on other things too, which was appreciated! (Although, you have been warned; there is a love triangle.)
  • THE COVER. I’d read any book with that cover. Just kidding! Mostly. Kind of. #Judgeabookbyitscover But seriously though, the cover is beautiful—and the story inside was just as good!

Where Frowns and Raised Eyebrows Emerged

  • I was lost for quite some time when starting the book, especially when it talked about events that happened in the previous book—although that’s more of my fault. I definitely recommend skimming or re-reading A Thousand Pieces of You and jog your memory of what happened in it, (if you don’t remember much of it) before reading the sequel!
  • While Marguerite’s character could’ve been worse, she still wasn’t such a great one—but that’s just my opinion. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy the book any less because of it, but certain times, I just couldn’t take her seriously and would have to fight the urge to roll my eyes. Other times, she was just so repetitive, that it became quite bothersome. Thankfully I still ended up enjoying the book despite these parts!
  • Maybe it’s because of the main character’s lack of advanced scientific understanding (she’s more of an artsy person), but it felt like a lot of things surrounding the scientific aspect of the novel were left unanswered. Or things that weren’t explained that well or didn’t make sense. I don’t know. I just hope these are all cleared up in the last book!

Overall…

An entertaining novel! I was hooked from start to finish (even if I was lost for some parts) and there were lots of aspects to it that I enjoyed. I really loved reading about Theo and Paul’s bromance, as well as the dimension travelling aspect. (IT’S MAGIC. But not.) Would I recommend it? For people who are uncertain about continuing the series, well, it depends on what exactly was your problem with the first book, but generally, I’d say the second one was better than the first, so… it’s up to you now. For all of you who haven’t read it yet, I recommend you to do so! Unless you’re REALLY against romance in sci-fi or something, this series is a pretty good one.


SO. Now it’s your turn to talk! (Because this can’t just be a one-sided conversation!) Tell me, what are your thoughts on this book and/or series? And tell me which book cover do you like better, in this series?! Because #important. ALSO. Let me know what your thoughts are on not-so-likeable characters! Do you condemn the book if they annoy you? LET US TALK. 🙂

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn | ARC Book Review

Forget TomorrowForget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn

4 stars

Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Genre(s): Sci-fi, Dystopia, Young-Adult
Series Status: Forget Tomorrow Series #1
Page Count: 400
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a hellish prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all—Callie, herself.

Add to Goodreads Icon

 

Hey everyone! In case you didn’t catch it from the title, today I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on Forget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn! (Thank you Netgalley and Entangled Teen for sending me this e-ARC for review! Please note: All quotes mentioned in this review are from the uncorrected proof and may be changed in the final copy—which was released 2 days ago, by the way.)

In a nutshell; a dystopian and sci-fi novel set in a futuristic world, Forget Tomorrow shares refreshing ideas with characters I found to be engaging and relatively realistic. If you’re looking for a unique YA dystopian novel, or a well-written novel from a debut author, I recommend giving Forget Tomorrow a shot!

Plot

In Forget Tomorrow, we are introduced to a world where the future of every citizen is dependent on their future memory that they receive when they’re 17. In most cases citizens are fortunate to see themselves in the career they’re interested in, etc. But then there are the cases where the future memory shows them committing a crime, and as a result, they are locked up. For me, personally, I really liked this concept, as not only was it a pretty unique idea in itself, the plot allowed for several intriguing issues to be addressed and Dunn made it so that the story line was gripping and generally memorable. I’m going to mention here though that I’ve read from several other reviewers that this book was very similar to Minority Report, and that if you have watched MR, Forget Tomorrow might not have as much of an impact on you. Having said that, for me, the plot of this novel was definitely one of the things I liked a lot.

As a side note, Dunn also wastes no time in introducing readers to the characters and her world, and that was refreshing. I mean, the first few pages are pretty normal, but it doesn’t take long for the story to really get going, and you all probably know by now that I often enjoy books that don’t take too long with intros. (Not that I dislike any books that do.)  Right about 30 pages in I was already hooked and put in a heart-thumping scene which kick-started emotional investment in the story. And the cliffhanger at the end! I definitely can’t wait to read the sequel to this book.

Characters

Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the character right away, I must praise Dunn’s creation of Callie. I didn’t have much hope for her at first, but as I read more of the novel, I saw how much more there is to Callie—and I loved it. She had flaws, she made mistakes, and most of all, her love for her sister is beautiful and strong.

If you’ve been around in the book blogging community for a while—or if you’re a reader at all—you probably have noticed the lack of parental bonds and familial affection in YA novels. Either it’s dead parents, kidnapped parents, absentee parent, whatever parent, the case remains the same; hardly ever any parents. It’s become actually quite rare to have parents that actually care and are aware of things going on. (But that’s a discussion for another day.) What really stood out to me in Forget Tomorrow was the emphasis and focus on a sibling bond. Parental bonds are rare, but to me sibling bonds are even rarer, and I absolutely adored how Dunn incorporated Callie’s love for Jessa as a focus point in the story. (Of course, there were other familial bonds included as well, which only made the story better.)

You are the candle that shines when all power is extinguished. The proof that love exists when life is snuffed out.
When all my layers are stripped away, when everything I know is turned inside out, all I have left is  this.

My love for you.

It’s the only thing they can’t touch.

-Callie, about Jessa

The thing is, the strength of love is often addressed in YA novels, but it’s so rare that we’re talking about the strength of a sibling love, a sisterly bond. Being an older sister myself, I’d do anything for my younger sister, and I’m so happy to finally see a representation of that in a YA novel. Callie’s love for her sister was so strong, I admired, empathized and rooted for Callie by the end of the novel, no matter what other issues I had with her character.

Another thing I found to be really well-done in Callie’s character was her personality, and her development. Callie had flaws—which is what made her a better character. She can be selfish, she’s fearful (of heights, swimming, etc.) but this made her all the more real and I was able to relate to her. Her selfish moments did sometimes get a bit cumbersome, but they were something I only registered, not exactly something I disliked. I definitely appreciated how Callie wasn’t ignorant of when she was being selfish; it was usually quite the contrary of that, actually.

Selfish, a voice inside me roars. Self-centered, inconsiderate, pathetic. The amount of my selfishness makes me dizzy with disgust, but I can’t help myself. Even as I loathe myself for trying, the words pour out of me, searching, reaching, grasping for another solution.

How honest and relatable, is it not?

So, moving on to Logan, Callie’s love interest. Although he’s a perfectly fine character and usually would be the split image of someone I’d love, I’m not completely sold on his and Callie’s romance—or his character at all. Really, there’s not anything glaringly wrong with Logan; it’s just my opinion that he felt a bit dull. Or something. A terrible way to describe it, I know. Bottom line; I didn’t enjoy him as much as Callie, though he was still okay. (LOL I’m feeling kind of guilty for this very short and unclear paragraph on Logan when I look back at all my thoughts on Callie…I hope I’m making at least a little bit of sense!) Unfortunately my thoughts on the other characters were similar to that of Logan’s—though that isn’t to say I’m not interested in learning more about them!

Writing Style

And last but not least, I want to mention how much I enjoyed simply reading the words in this novel. With its vivid imagery and simplistic-yet-not style, Pintip Dunn took me by surprise with the writing in Forget Tomorrow. Everything I read popped into my brain immediately, and it was a fun experience to simply read the writing because it was all so well-written. Dunn did a great job in first person narrative, getting Callie’s voice across through the words clearly and effectively, as well as thoroughly showing Callie’s internal struggle, which did loads to get me even closer to Callie’s character.

Overall…

If you’re looking for a more different kind of dystopian novel than the average ones out there, Forget Tomorrow should go up on your list! A book of many themes and messages—including sibling bonds, making your own destiny and finding who you really are—Forget Tomorrow will definitely leave a strong impression. An important thing that stuck out to me was the familial bonds in this, which aren’t shown enough in most books. The fact that it was represented in this novel made everything so much the better. The intriguing world Dunn has created is gripping and intriguing, both something I recognize and something completely new (though for some it may not be the case). Dunn’s writing is wonderfully suited for the story, creating vivid images and hooking the reader. A solid 4 stars read! Definitely going to be keeping my eyes out for the sequel next year.

A little wrap-up of everything I’ve said:

  • The futuristic world was hooking and intriguing
  • The cliffhanger at the end of the book has me eager to read the sequel
  • Callie’s love for her sister was beautifully portrayed; this sisterly bond is one of the main reasons I liked this book so much
  • Callie herself was a great character, with flaws (that she’s aware of)
  • I was a bit iffy about Logan (and a lot of the other characters who aren’t explained as much), though he’s not a bad character
  • The writing was incredibly beautiful and took me by surprise (in the good way) coming from a debut author.

So, the time has come for the verdict: Do I recommend you gobble this up? Definitely, if you’re looking for a good YA dystopian/sci-fi novel to read—or if any of the above points interests you!


Let us forget tomorrow and talk about this book today! (Don’t even know if that made any sense—truth be told I’m only focusing on the [admittedly pretty bad] pun. LOL.) Point being; I’d love to know what you think of this book! Does it intrigue you? What books have you read that includes familial bonds? (‘Cause I’m in desperate need of having more books with family. I’m serious, guys.) Let me know whatever thoughts you may have down below! ❤

Hugs! 

Until the Next Meal, Analee