Monday, July 16, 2018

A Good Week in Books (186)

I had another nice book week. I’m a few discs into the last Harry Potter book on audio (and it’s so good!) I finished a YA magical contemporary (does that make it fantasy?), and I’m almost done with an awesome sci-fi retelling of Jane Eyre. I received 4 books this week for review (Thank you, Frist Second, Feiwel and Friends, Swoon Reads, and Henry Holt).            
The new books:

Wrong in all the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee
When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn
Things Jolie needs to do Before she Bites it by Kerry Winfrey
Spill Zone: The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puviland
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Aru Shah ad the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Summary from Goodreads:
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
I love that Rick Riordan is stepping behind other authors writing about different types of mythology. Before reading this, I had little to no knowledge of Indian mythology, and I’m so glad for this introduction. Indian mythology is fascinating! And I kind of want to go learn more about it now.
That being said, it did read a lot like a Rick Riordan book (filled with quests, mythological creatures, and battles against enemies). However, I didn’t find the over-arcing plot to be quite as compelling as the typical Riordan fare. For some reason, it was really easy to put the book down. Maybe too much ended at the end of a chapter and I needed more cliffhangers to push me forward? Or maybe the transitions weren’t very strong. Or maybe it was just too much plot in one book? It could have maybe been two books to finish this first part? I’m not really sure why it was so easy to put down.
I did love the flawed characters. I loved that this was a girl-centric story. No boys needed to rescue these female warriors to be. And I loved their flaws. Aru kind of reminded me of the hero of Mini’s favorite book: The Golden Compass. She’s a lot like Lyra when it comes to imagination and coming up with stories/lies. Yet, she’s not quite as endearing as Lyra. She starts the story off by doing something stupid for all the wrong reasons, so I guess she kind of had to earn her respect from me. And she did earn it. And Mini was an awesome character too. She’s kind of afraid of everything.
All in all, the characters were great, the mythology was super interesting, the girl power was fierce, and the concept was good. Something was missing in the plot for me and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I wish it was harder to put down. I’ll definitely keep reading these books. The next one already looks promising with the boy across the street. I give this a 7/10.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Summary from Goodreads:
Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
I’ve read so many positive reviews for this book. And I’ve always loved the sound of the plot. I knew I’d get to this book eventually. I actually saw it left behind on a table in a bookstore when I was in Chicago. So, of course I picked it up, totally planning on being a librarian nerd and finding it’s rightful home on the correct shelf….but then I read the beginning, and before I knew it, I was standing in line with it and couple of other books.
I devoured this book. I read it in two sittings (one day). I super related to Eliza. I loved reading a fresh perspective on fandoms (the good and the bad). I’m also in a relationship with someone who has an anxiety disorder, and I couldn’t help connecting Eliza to him, and feeling even more emotionally involved than is typical for me. And then of course there’s the awful thing her parents did. And it was like someone stabbed me in the heart and twisted the knife around for hours. I had all the feels.
I thought this book tackled so many important and under-discussed topics in YA. Number 1 being the internet. There’s a huge disconnect between Eliza’s generation and her parent’s generation and what amounts to an acceptable amount of time on the internet. As becomes abundantly clear right away, Eliza isn’t just messing around and watching cat videos. All her friends are online. But, also, so is her gigantic, profit making business and webcomic that generates millions of views.
I like that there is a line though. Even Eliza’s closest online friends were like, “It’s not normal to forget about Christmas.” She totally forgot about Christmas while working on her webcomic. And that goes into another thing not often talked about: appeasing fans. She has mantras she recites all the time to never read comments. She works so hard to provide high quality material every week and be in the same chats every week because her fans expect it. At the same time, she’s a student, a daughter, a sister, and an artist. One of my biggest loves about her seeking therapy toward the end of the book is that she finally has someone telling her that she needs to do what’s right for her –not her fans.
I was a wreck after her parents did the thing. And then I was more of a wreck when her brothers stood up for her. And then I was even more of a wreck when she fights with Wallace and he doesn’t forgive her as fast as he should. Like, I was sobbing into my pillows for a while…and had to collect myself before my boyfriend came home and would think someone died.
The book was a lot darker than I was expecting it to be. It tackled the tough topics of: depression, anxiety, and even suicide. There’s also a lot of family drama, first love stuff, and plenty of awesome geeky things too. There’s a cosplay Halloween party and lots of little snip bits of Monstrous Sea (the webcomic) layered throughout the novel.
I also loved Eliza. She’s such an amazingly good person, even if she doesn’t see herself that way. I mean she forgives her parents! She forgives them rather quickly, before they even know what they did. She sees where she messes up and apologizes for it. She tries to be there for those around her. I loved her.
I give this a 10/10. I’m already thinking about re-reading it. That’s how you know a book is amazing –when you are already daydreaming about reading it again. I hope this author writes more.

Monday, July 9, 2018

A Good Week in Books (185)

I had a nice book week. I finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on audio. I also finished a fun new middle grade fantasy. And I purchased some new books I’ve had my eye on for a while.
The new books:

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegmund-Broka
How was your week in books?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Dreamer by L.E, DeLano

Summary from Goodreads:
You’re still you no matter where you go.

Jessa has learned the hard way that traveling to alternate dimensions isn’t all delicious, glittering desserts and fancy parties: it also means accidentally running into people she thought she'd never see again. Still mourning a devastating loss, Jessa isn’t really prepared for the arrival of a reckless version of someone she once loved who is now bent on revenge. Add an increasingly complicated relationship with her best friend Ben, the reappearance of an old enemy, and the threat of the multiverse collapsing, and Jessa’s got a lot on her plate. She may be destined to help save an infinite multitude of worlds… but in the end, all Jessa really wants to do is save her friends.
I liked book 2 more than book 1. I certainly read it a lot quicker –almost in one sitting. I have to admit though that a plot where the main character has to save the universe is a lot more interesting than a plot where someone is out to get the main character. To be clear, that someone is still out to get Jessa. But, now, she also needs to save everyone.
I also may have thought a certain character who died in book 1 would somehow not be dead in book 2…But, points to the author for actually keeping a loved character down. And having Jessa need to learn how to handle grief on top of saving the worlds.
I love how much darker the story gets too. It’s not about tripping over handbags and wearing corsets any more. It’s about staying ahead of evil and surviving a seriously messed up dystopia version of the world. It’s scary. It went to some awful places in regards to her brother.
I love that both books give a kind of normalcy to autism in a way I don’t really see in YA books yet. Her brother is autistic, and I love Jessa’s very realistic and loving relationship with him. I was so scared for her brother at the end of the book.
This book gave me a little more to think about than the first one did. What if there were thousands of versions of me? What would make us all different, and what would connect us all? I love that Jessa does favors for other Jessa’s who are unlucky enough to live in realities without certain family members. I love that she knows who will be a good friend because she’s friends with them in other worlds. The concept gets a little more complicated and a lot more explained.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. A lot of the clichés I hated about book 1 were gone entirely. The story was more intense. The concept was better explained. And I liked the characters more. I give this one an 9/10.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Traveler by L.E.DeLano

Summary from Goodreads:
Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles—Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it…This Jessa is going to live.
This book has been on my radar for a while. The concept of it just sounded beyond cool. It actually kind of sounds like the stories I made up as a little kid. Yes, I made up stories about traveling to another world via the full-length mirror in my parent’s bedroom. I had to read this. It was one of the paperbacks I took with me to Chicago, but that I don’t think I actually read until I got back.
Despite my initial connection to the concept, it took me a little while to get into the story. It starts off like many a cliché YA novel. The main character is a klutz who almost dies on so many occasions. And I didn’t love Finn. I hate instant love stories and I hate stories where fate pretty much tells you who you have to love. If that happened to me in real life, I’d go with the other guy, just to go against what fate was saying. And I hate when the main character can’t see how clearly someone else is in love with them. I’m so tired of all these YA tropes/clichés.
I almost stopped my reading because of all the clichés. But, I’m super glad I kept reading because the story/concept only gets cooler as it goes. And I guess I kept hoping for more run-ins with the Steampunk pirate, and more other worldly travel. And well, I got both. I’m kind of confused reading reviews for this book on Goodreads because people keep referring this as a time travel story…It’s more about parallel worlds than any kind of history.
The adventure and action in the second half of the book almost overshadow all the things I didn’t like right away. There’s a serious cliffhanger at the end that made me grateful for already having book 2. And I have to admit to going right from book 1 to book 2. I give this one a 7/10.

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Good Week in Books (184)

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks. With holidays, protests, working like mad for Summer Reading season, and getting a terrible cold in the middle of it all, I feel exhausted. I’ve read 4 books. I’m almost done with the 6th Harry Potter on audio; it is such a help having an audio book when your head is pounding and reading normally is difficult. And I’m half way through a new middle grade book. I received two new books for review. Thank you, Hyperion and Freeform Books.
The new pretties:

The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken
#Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil
How was your week in books?