Book Reviews

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses By Sarah J. Maas

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Published: May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1

Source: Local Library

Format: Hardcover

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Romance

Synopsis: Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

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Quick sidenote: I would reccomend watching Marines at mynameismarines review on ACOTAR, it’s very well said and far more eloquent than I could ever be. Link is here.

Review:

This review had vague spoilers, proceed with caution. 

So if you couldn’t tell, I did not like this book. What a surprise. Going into this book, I knew that I wasn’t going to like it, it really isn’t the type of story I’m interested in. But since there is so much hype surrounding this book, I went into it as somewhat of a joke, seeing how long I could last. I finished the entirety of this book and it took forever by the way. I know Sarah J. Maas’ books are not for me but I can still see why so many people like it. But the result is that this has to be one of the worst books I’ve ever read. And I don’t usually say that about books. In the end, I thought this book was so bad and cringe worthy, it’s honestly pretty laughable.

The writing style of a book normally doesn’t bother me, but this one drove me crazy. I have read the first two books in her Throne of Glass series and didn’t have any issues with the writing, but at the time I wasn’t as critical of a reader as I am now. The ellipses was what drove the nail into the coffin. Why are there so many? How does it add to the story? “So much food– such salvation.” “You aren’t what I expected– for a human.” “The drums turned faster– louder.” I could literally turn to any page and point out a useless ellipse on the page. I mean, how does the audio book narrator even narrate this book? Do they just pause at an ellipse? That would sound like the slowest audio book ever. I’m actually tempted to listen to parts of the audio book just to see if it’s true. This book is filled with useless pauses and most of them don’t even make any sense at all.

Besides the ellipses, Sarah J. Maas writes the most conventional, cheesiest and cringe worthy lines ever. Her books are filled with the classic YA tropes, describing every single person’s skin color as tan or pale (no other skin color exists, apparently), having stupidly long descriptions of eyes (he can’t just have green eyes, he must have smoldering green eyes) and apparently every single character has flawless skin and is a Greek god/goddess.

The plot of this book was flimsy and predictable. In fact, nothing substantial happens for over half of the book. Majority of the action and climax all occur at the very end. Not to mention, I found the challenge or riddle given to Feyre to be a cheap cop-out. It was so blatantly obvious and cliche. The Beauty and the Beast elements was just meh and I honestly didn’t care much for it. I don’t have much else to say except that the book is not worth reading for the plot or much of anything for that matter.

Feyre is a huntress and while reading the first half of the book, all I could think is Katniss Everdeen. The only difference is Katniss has far more common sense. A successful huntress should be clever, while Feyre was a bumbling mess. Even with her immediate distrust of Tamlin and Lucian, it didn’t take much to trust them and fall in love. But that is how most YA/NA fantasy work sadly.  Of course, I can’t go without mentioning her sheer stupidity at not listening to what anyone tells her and going straight into danger. She reminds me of stupid white people in horror movies. Besides Feyre, there’s Lucian who at first I thought was an utter asshole, but considering he has the most common sense, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Tamlin is your quintessential, tortured soul–scratch that every character in here has a tragic backstory. (Oh look, I used an ellipse) He’s brooding, territorial and utterly boring. SPOILERS: Not to mention, his abusive tendencies sprouted from the very first book. When ACOTAR first came out, not many people noticed Tamlin’s abuse. The scene where he assaulted Feyre and she immediately forgave him was disgusting. In fact, when Tamlin apologizes, the actual apology isn’t even shown in context. It was just brushed aside. Bottom line is that Tamlin was abusive, controlling and territorial towards Feyre from the very beginning.

Now comes Rhysand (Rhys), the character everyone seems to love but I hate. I kind of understand why, he’s the more charming one and seems to care about Feyre. There were even instances where I though that Rhys did seem like the better one for Feyre. However, forcing Feyre to do sexual dances, forcibly kissing her and making misogynistic comments about having sex with Feyre made me hate him. How exactly is he better than Tamlin? He might have been doing this all for show, but the least he could have done was apologize. Part of Feyre’s trauma and PTSD could come from how Rhysand treated her and that is not the foundation of a healthy relationship. I cannot condone his behavior nor the start of a relationship with Feyre.

Overall, A Court of Thorns and Roses has a horrible writing style, a flimsy plot, idiotic controlling characters and it was an all around bad reading experience. I did have fun writing this review, so I guess that counts for something. I would say I’m absolutely not interested in reading the next book, but I kind of am? Many people say it’s a huge improvement and the series gets better. But I really just want to read it to analyze Tamlin’s abuse, Feyre’s PTSD and Rhys’ behavior. If you couldn’t tell, I’m somewhat of a masochistic reader. I hope you found some enjoyment out of reading this review. Please don’t come at me for not liking this book, it is simply my opinion. 🙂

Rating: 1.25/5

Book Reviews

Review: The Night Circus By Erin Morgenstern

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Published: September 13th 2011 by Random House Audio

Source: Overdrive Audiobook Library

Format: Audiobook

Audiobook Length: 13:40:10

Genre: Adult, Historical Fantasy, Magical Realism, Romance

Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

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Spoiler Free Review:

The amount of hype this book has is insane. I finally caved and decided to listen to the audiobook of The Night Circus which was very fitting at the time. It was the perfect story to escape and get lost in. Though I didn’t outright love this story, like many others, I still really enjoyed the ride this story took me on.

The audiobook experience was really what made me continue this story. I actually tried to read the physical book, but I couldn’t seem to get into it. Jim Dale’s voice is entrancing, dream like and has a similar vibe as The Raven Cycle audiobooks which are narrated by Will Patton. Erin Morgenstern’s writing style is very atmospheric and flowery and she spends a lot of the time describing the scenery and the lush environment of the circus. It’s definitely not for everyone and if it wasn’t for the audiobook, I probably would give up on this book. In this case, I loved the descriptions because it was easy to imagine the circus and each of the scenes. It was like listening to a movie, playing out in my mind.

On top of the descriptive writing style, the plot is very slow paced. I usually like slower paced stories better, but it was bothering me towards the middle. On top of the pacing, there are huge amounts of time skips and it becomes extremely confusing. There was a point where I had no idea what was going on in terms of the plot. It all connects and makes sense towards the end, but the time skips were so irregular and confusing that it took away from my enjoyment.

The actual duel was completely different than what I was expecting. I waited the entirety of the book for an intense, magical duel, similar to ones in Avatar or Legend of Korra. What I got was pretty disappointing, but it does make sense for a slow burn story. Celia and Marco are the star crossed lovers who must compete with each other in a magical duel. To be honest, I didn’t care much for their story lines. Individually, Celia was devoted and observant, Marco was charming and scholarly. I could feel the chemistry between the two characters, but I didn’t feel it., if that makes any sense. Their love story didn’t entrance me, they were very much the average star crossed lovers. I don’t know if it’s my inability to ship heterosexual relationships easily, or relationships in general. (Probably) That being said, the romance was definitely there, but the story didn’t just revolve around their love story which I appreciated.

The side characters were far more interesting to me. Poppet and Widget were adorable and hilarious with their cute kittens. I had a lot more fun reading about Bailey’s adventures with the twins than Celia and Marco’s chapters. Also, Jim Dale does an amazing Scottish accent. By the end of the book, I realized I would have liked the story a lot more  if it revolved around Tsukiko who was the most interesting character. I would love to read a spinoff about her story.

Overall, The Night Circus was the perfect entrancing story to get me out of the reading slump I was in. I found the best parts to be the audiobook experience and the side characters. This book is not for everyone but if you’re looking for a story to get lost in, if you like The Raven Cycle By Maggie Stiefvater, if you like slow paced stories and magical realism, I would recommend The Night Circus. 

Rating: 3.25/5

Book Reviews

Review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Published: March 7th 2017 by Clarion Books

Source: Local Library

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 452

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Family Dynamics

Synopsis: The first day of senior year:

Everything is about to change. Until this moment, Sal has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican-American family. But now his own history unexpectedly haunts him, and life-altering events force him and his best friend, Samantha, to confront issues of faith, loss, and grief.

Suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and discovering that he no longer knows who he really is—but if Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

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Spoiler Free Review: 

If you’ve read Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets the Universe, you may know how beautiful Benjamin Alire Sáenz stories are. This story is no exception. I don’t consider myself as someone who cries over books. I can fangirl and my heart can fell heavy and feels like it’s being torn out, but I don’t ever cry. I can only think of two other books that have made me cry, Black Beauty and The Honest Truth By Dan Gemeinhart. I think that if a book can have that much emotion out of me, it is definitely a good one.

Sáenz’s writing is very similar to some free verse poetry I’ve read. It’s very simplistic but has the same nostalgic, out of this world tone to it. It’s a little difficult to explain, but his writing is one of my favorite types of styles I’ve read from. Here is a line from the book:

“Life had its seasons, and the season of letting go would always come, but there was something very beautiful in that, in the letting go. Leaves were always graceful as they floated away from the tree.”

So like Ari & Dante, there isn’t an actual substantial plot to this story. Really it’s Salvador going through the trials and tribulations of life, along with his friends and family. The story is also very slow paced and there are chapters where nothing important happens. Normally, this would bother me but when it comes to Sáenz, I love his slow burning, character driven stories. There was also quite a bit of character deaths in this book, more than I expected. One of the most significant elements is the grief and moving past a loved ones death.

As always, the character truly made the story great. Sal was a mixture of both Ari and Dante. He had some of the anger that Ari had and a lot of the sweetness Dante has. His behavior was very naive and childlike, but it was actually more endearing than annoying. I mean the dude refused to say the f and b word. Which is relatable since I feel the same way. I didn’t like Sam at first because she talked down to Sal and it seemed like she was manipulating him. Her character development was done really well so she did make up for her earlier behavior. Fito was a total complete Adam Parrish from The Raven Cycle. His backstory and personality was so similar to Adam’s that I immediately loved him. I wonder if Benjamin Alire Sáenz read The Raven Cycle.

Hands down, my favorite character was Sal’s dad, Vicente. Out of all the parental figures I’ve read about in books, he is by far my favorite. This is not an understatement, trust me. Vicente truly teaches Sal what it’s like to be a man. There isn’t any stereotypes on how hunting will “make you become a man.” It’s shown through compassion and kindness for your lived ones. He values Sal’s opinion and actually holds meaningful conversations with him. He isn’t just a father figure to Sal but to Sam and Fito as well. He’s really a too pure for this world kind of guy and I can see why so many people were all over him. He truly is an amazing father and character.

My one issue with this book was the sexism and gender stereotypes that seemed to be pokes between the characters. There was a joke on how Sam didn’t throw like a girl as well as others. There were also some homophobic statements and stereotypes on gay people. Those were added for character development and showing Sal’s own ignorance. However, the sexism still rubbed me the wrong way and I really wish it wasn’t included.

Overall, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life is another beautiful story written by an amazing author. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Rating: 4/5

Book Reviews

Review: The You I’ve Never Known By Ellen Hopkins

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Published: January 24th 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books


Source: Local Library


Format: Hardcover


Page Count: 608


Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+


Synopsis: For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.


Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations.

 

Spoiler Free Review:

I thought it was about time I read some Ellen Hopkins since my sister really enjoyed her books, The You I’ve Never Known sounded the most interesting to me since it included LGBTQ+ aspect to it. I actually took out a part of the synopsis, due to it spoiling a huge part of the novel. If you do plan on reading this book and don’t want to be spoiled, I would recommend skipping over the synopsis.


Nearly all of Hopkins’ books are written in verse and this one was no different. Parts of the book were written in prose or journal format, but it was mostly in verse. I always enjoyed stories in verse anyway and it flowed really well together. But I also found the story to be very slow which was disappointing since I expected it to go pretty fast, due to the format. As for the plot, I felt like it didn’t really start until more than half way through. A lot of the story felt like filler and unnecessary drama. I also thought that the ending was very unfulfilling, there was no closure to a huge aspect of the plot and it ended up just disappearing. 


As my sister had warned, I really didn’t like any of the characters. Ariel was your average teenager and I really couldn’t stand her homophobia and biphobia, but obviously it was how she had grown up and apart of her development. In general, Ariel was kind of irritating and a stupid teenager. Then again, I really shouldn’t have expected anything different. I really liked her friend Monica, but I did feel like she was heavily stereotyped, having being Mexican. However, I myself am not Mexican so that depends on what people who are actually Mexican think. It is true that some stereotypes are true. Besides Monica, I really enjoyed Maya’s character, though I wish there was more from her perspective.


Overall, The You I’ve Never Known was an enjoyable read, I had some issues with the plot but it was entertaining as a whole. 

Rating: 3/5

Book Reviews

Review: The Book Thief By Markus Zusak

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Published: September 18th 2007 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 2005)

 
Source: School Book

 
Genre: Historical Fiction, World War II, Classic

 
Synopsis: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
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Spoiler Free Review:
Reading The Book Thief can be deemed as difficult to start, mostly on account of the raves and tears that so many have expressed. I was pretty apprehensive going into this book, the ending had been spoiled for me, but I decided to give it a try anyway. The Book Thief surprised me, inspired me, and opened my eyes to a part of a history that isn’t discussed nearly enough and is just as important. You will be introduced to a thought provoking and impactful story that will leave you reflecting for days on end.

The most interesting aspect of this book, I would have to say is the writing style. The narrator is Death. Some would think of it as a spirit, but Death truly felt like a human, almost. It was surprisingly witty and it was interesting to read from a perspective who saw everything.

The setting takes place on Himmel Street in Germany. Initially, I thought that since it was a World War II novel, there would be a focus on the Holocaust. The Jewish who were killed and tortured was a significant and terrible time in history. But what isn’t discussed is the Germans who lived in the midst of World War II. They were regular civilians, but were oppressed as well. This book focuses on the German civilians who weren’t Jewish, but were in poverty and them trying to survive as well.

The main character is Liesel Meminger who is adopted by Rosa and Hans Hubermann. I really loved her character and her personality. Despite her being very naive, she was mature for her age and very headstrong. The relationships she formed with each of the characters were very exceptional. Rosa seemed like a grumpy and mean woman, but behind the curse words and glares, she has a big heart. The relationship Liesel had with Hans was incredibly sweet and powerful. Hans became my favorite character, his kindness and compassion outshined every other character. As for the other characters, I think it is for the reader to discover by themselves.

The ending of this book was what I most terrified of. I knew what was coming and I didn’t want it to end. Despite the tragic ending, I found to be bittersweet. There was just enough hope to balance out the sadness.
All in all, I would highly recommend giving it a try. It may sound boring to you at first, but it’s a classic that can possible change your perspective on life. 

Rating: 5/5

Book Reviews

Review: The 5th Wave By Rick Yancey

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Published: May 7th 2013 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Series: The 5th Wave Trilogy #1

Source: Local Library

Synopsis: After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. 

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SPOILER WARNING:

Dear Mr. Rick Yancey,

I am a huge fan of The Monstrumologist and The Curse of the Wendigo in your Monstrumologist series. Well, I would say it is still unclear if Will Henry wrote and really exists. I did like The Isle of Blood but I felt like it was too long. The Final Descent really disappointed me. But, I’m not here to talk about The Monstrumologist series. I’m here to discuss my thoughts on your famous The 5th Wave which the movie trailer had leaked. I was tempted to watch the movie trailer first but made myself read the book  so I could imagine the characters in my head rather than see the trailer ruin it for me. I loved your writing style in The Monstrumologist series and I wondered if this would be just as good.  

The 5th Wave was very accurate and realistic on how the humans would react if the world was taken over by aliens. However, I did find the the”waves” confusing in the beginning but it cleared up towards the middle. Cassie, in ways was your typical female heroine, determined to find her little brother. I’m glad it was a little brother instead of the cliche, tough, bad-ass older sister who is determined to protect her sweet and innocent little sister. I found Sammy or Sams adorable. Though I do think Bear is not a good name for a teddy bear. Then again, my own teddy bear was called Beary so I guess that’s pretty hypocritical. 

When I first met Evan I was irritated at him. “Cassie for Cassiopeia was doomed, a breathing corpse. Run or stay, there was no hope. He was wasting time.” You think? If he wanted to kill her so badly shoot her already! He’s not human anyway. But, Evan Walker is a much more complicated character. Unfortunately, I could not like him. In some ways, he reminded me of Edward from Twilight, since he was a creeper. He read her diary, stalked her, and watched her while she slept. Creepy, indeed. Fortunately, Cassie was equally freaked out and angry as I was when she learned of this. This brings to the main problem I had with this book which is usually why I enjoy books less. 

I’m sorry to say that I found the romance irritable.What did Evan Walker see in this girl that he shot in the leg? He saw defiance, selflessness, beauty both inside and out, strength and determination. He nursed her back to health, yet at the same time lied to her. It was only a few weeks until he kissed her and said he wa sin love with her. I was confused. They had barely interacted in the beginning and Cassie didn’t know him well. It was so frustrating to read. How exactly did they fall in love? There was no chemistry at all and it was insta-love. 

I did enjoy Ben Parish’s story. His was much more interesting and you really were able to see what was going on in Camp Haven and how the aliens controlled the humans. I found their nicknames amusing especially Dumbo,Teacup, and Zombie. Ringer was my favorite character. She was so kick butt and reminded me of Lilah from the Rot and Ruin Series By Jonathan Maberry. I really wish she became squad leader rather than Ben. She taught  Ben a lot about leadership and was very clever. I really wish the story had switched POVS  with Ben and Ringer. To me that sounds like a much more intriguing story. The friendship with Ben and Ringer was my favorite relationship in the story. She was a mentor to Ben as well as a friend. 

The writing style in this book was also different than The Monstrumologist. This does make sense since the narrators are a bunch of teenagers and it is science fiction. To conclude, I would say this was part enjoyable and half irritating to read. I can see why many enjoyed this book. Sadly, I cannot get myself to like it fully. There were aspects of the book I liked but frankly I do not wish to continue with this series. This is not a horrible and it was very well written but I’m overall disappointed. I hope you understand Mr. Yancey. I do like most of your books but this just wasn’t one my favorites. If you ever read this review, Thank You for taking the time to read my rant. I truly appreciate it. 

Yours truly, 

Saowbia 

Rating: 2.5/5

Book Reviews

Review: Piecing Me Together By Renée Watson

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Published: February 14th 2017 by Bloomsbury


Source: E-ARC from Netgalley


Format: E-ARC, Kindle


Page Count: 272


Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary


Synopsis: A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.


Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

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Spoiler Free Review: 

As always, I am very late to reviewing books but as the cliche saying goes, better late than never? Piecing Me Together focuses on race, white privilege and womanhood. It’s an important story, especially towards teenagers who aren’t aware of the daily struggles of an African American teenager. But also for people who can relate to Jade’s life and understand where she’s coming from. 


The book isn’t written in verse, but the short chapters and poetic verses almost felt like it was a story written in verse. Art in all forms is significant throughout the story which really spoke to me. Jade is an artist and loves to draw and create collages. The art was symbolic of her life and Jade growing into herself. White privilege, racial profiling and police brutality are all topics brought up in this story. You really get to see how scary it is for black teenagers to be living in fear of being oppressed or arrested for no reason. 


So one thing I’ve noticed in some YA books is after an event, the main character kind of just gives up on their education. I was really glad to see Jade still trying to strive for success. Her mother pushing her to try and pursue a great education was very reminiscent to my own parents and I’m sure to many others. I also liked the relationship between Jade and her mentor. Her mentor didn’t fix Jade and was not perfect at all. There was some miscommunication in the beginning, but the friendship was genuine and encouraging. 


Overall, I really enjoyed this story, I especially loved the poem at the end which was on police brutality. The story really did pack a punch especially towards the end and i would highly recommend reading it.

Rating: 3.75/5

Book Reviews

Review: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet By H.P. Wood

Published: June 7th 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark


Source: Won in a Giveaway


Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

SynopsisA hypnotic debut in turn-of-the-century Coney Island, where an abandoned girl collides with a disgruntled menage of circus freaks.


Kitty Hayward and her mother are ready to experience the spectacles of Coney Island’s newest attraction, the Dreamland amusement park. But when Kitty’s mother vanishes from their hotel, she finds herself penniless, alone, and far from her native England. The last people she expects to help are the cast of characters at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities. From con men to strongmen, from flea wranglers to lion tamers, Kitty’s new friends quickly adopt her and vow to help find the missing Mrs. Hayward. But even these unusual inhabitants may not be a match for the insidious sickness that begins to spread through Coney Island…or the panic that turns Dreamland into a nightmare.

With shades of Water For Elephants and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet sweeps readers into a mesmerizing world where nothing is as it seems, and where “normal” is the exception to the rule.”

Spoiler Free Review: 

First off, I’d like to thank Joce from squibblesreads for hosting this giveaway and choosing  me as one of the winners. Congratulations on 3k!


I’m going to be honest and say I had no clue what this book was about. Besides the fact that it was an adult circus themed book, I went in blind. I came out in love with this wonderful story, entranced by the writing and the attachment I developed with each and every one of these characters. As time passes by, I continue to appreciate and adore what an amazing debut this book was. 


The story was very well written and ended up being a little haunting. It’s hard to describe but it reminded me of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. There was an eccentric and whimsical feel to it. I loved that the setting took place in New York City as well as Coney Island, I’ve never thought about how Coney Island was back in the early 1900s and it was interesting to learn about all of the circuses and entertainment back then.  


The plot was very original and unlike anything I had ever read about. It definitely went into a darker and deeper place that I didn’t see coming. It’s amazing to think that this book is historical fiction and that H.P. Wood managed to weave facts with fiction. She also brings up important topics such as race and sexuality. Initially, I thought nearly all the character would be white since it is, after all the early 1900s. Instead, there’s several characters that are of different ethnicities and backgrounds. New York City was extremely diverse right from the very beginning and it was awesome to see representations of it in this book. 


The characters was what truly shined for me in this book. They were all so distinct and unique. I grew to love all of them, their individual personalities and experiences. The relationships that they developed with one another and as a group was incredibly sweet. It was very easy to grow attached to them. I would have to say Zeph is my favorite out of all of them, though it was hard to choose. I would love to see more from these characters and their adventures.


Overall, this is a very underrated book. Honestly, this story needs to be put out there. Trust me, reading this book will be a wonderful experience. From the writing and unique plot and wonderfully eccentric characters, this is the perfect package of a story. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Reviews

Review: Highly Illogical Behavior By John Corey Whaley

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Published: May 10th 2016 by Dial Books


Source: Local Library


Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness


Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.


Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there? 

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.

Spoiler Free Review: 

After reading a few YA mental illness books, I noticed a common factor of romance taking over the plot and an inaccurate depiction of the mental illness. Obviously, I’m not referring to every young adult mental illness book out there, but there are quite a few, in my opinion. However, Highly Illogical Behavior is not on that list. It is on the list of books that depicts an accurate and relatable of agoraphobia, anxiety, and panic attacks. There is also a wonderful family dynamic, humor, and best of all, a beautiful friendship.

When it comes to writing styles, it’s a bit difficult to describe. The book is told through dual perspectives, switching from Solomon to Lisa. Unlike a few books I’ve read, you could easily distinguish the differences in their voices. As for the actual plot, it is pretty slow moving, but it reads very quickly. The whole  book takes place over the course of several months, so there was a lot of progression with each of the characters.

Before reading this book, I had no clue on what “agoraphobia” meant. Honestly, I initially  saw a phobia as an antic and nothing too serious, but it can become a real and serious mental illness. There isn’t just agoraphobia discussed, but anxiety as well. I really love how authors are coming out with books that deal with topics or illnesses aren’t discussed. I also found to be very relatable. Like Solomon, I am a nerd. But not only that, the anxiety the Sol faces hits close to home and even though he’s not real, it feels like he is and it’s nice to be able to resonate with him. I absolutely loved his character and he is my pure, sweet little cinnamon roll. No questions asked. (Well, Aang is still first.)

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the family dynamic in Sol’s family. I adored all of them, particularly the grandma. Not only did they give Sol endless support and love, but were all endearing and hilarious. Our next main character is ambitious Lisa Praytor. Personally, I saw her as a definite Hermione Granger. She works her butt off, gets straight A’s and is very hardworking. I will say she is not my favorite character, there were a few decisions she made that I could not agree with. Lisa did have a bit of character development, but I liked her more towards the end.

Then we have Clark, Lisa’s boyfriend and another precious cinnamon roll. I loved how even if Lisa had a boyfriend, the very little romance felt real and the book focuses more on the theme of friendship, which rarely happens in a YA contemporary. Frankly, I saw Lisa and Clark to have more of a friendship than a relationship. Either way, Clark is freaking adorable. The bond he has with Sol gave me all the warm and happy feels. It’s nice to see a sweet and respectful character like Clark. 

I did find the ending to be a bit rushed and things went by a little quickly. I also hated the bits of jealousy and teenage drama. Why can’t people have faith in their relationships? Though their teenagers, which kind of explains it. 

All in all, I loved this book. There are contemporaries that you really wish were more well done and then there are ones that end up becoming a beautiful story. This is that story.  

Rating: 4.25/5

Book Reviews

Review: The Thief By Megan Whalen Turner

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Published: October 31st 1996 by Greenwillow Books


Series: The Queen’s Thief #1


Source: Local Library


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure


Synopsis: The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities. 


What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.
 

 
 

Spoiler Free Review:

I’ve had this book on my radar for a while since I heard of it from PeruseProject on Booktube. It seemed like a fun fantasy filled story about a sarcastic thief. Which is exactly what it was along with so much more adventure.


The writing is quite simplistic and forthright. There wasn’t any flowery, over the top descriptions or figurative language. I’ve been reading quite a few books with lyrical writing, so to read a book with simple prose was refreshing. The narrator is Gen and it’s told in first person so you really do get an insight into his snarky remarks. 😉


The world seemed to be your standard fantasy setting. Several kingdoms, kings and queens, marriage alliances, you get the idea. I did find it pretty cool that the landscapes were inspired by Greece as well as some Greece’s history. The pacing did vary, however. It did get very slow and boring, but it eventually sped up towards the end.


As for the plot, it seemed simple enough, a thief is taken out of prison to help find a hidden treasure. However, there was a pretty unexpected plot twist. I’m glad I didn’t peek at the ending (like I always do). The twist took me by surprise but I’m pretty satisfied with the outcome of events. 


As for the characters, there’s the main character, Gen. He’s in every way snarky and hilarious. He also complains a ton and I can see why the magus hated him in the beginning. Gen reminds me of a Flynn Rider type. There weren’t many side characters, I really liked Sophos and Pol and even came to like the magus.


Overall, this was a very enjoyable adventure story. If you liked The False Prince By Jennifer A. Nielsen, I would recommend giving The Thief a shot or vice versa. I’m genuinely interested in what will happen next so hopefully I’ll get around to the sequel. 

Rating: 3/5