Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Summary from Goodreads:
Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.


Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.
As I was waiting in line to purchase this book at the Boston Teen Author Festival, I was already reading a library copy. I knew I’d want to own this book, so I could re-read it, and also, I wanted Bardugo’s autograph on this one. A girl next to me in line asked me what I thought of the book. She said she liked the author’s other books, but tended not to like books about characters that already existed in some other canon.
So, in my head, I was thinking I have one chance to seriously sell this book and I gave it my all. I said, “Think about everything you already know about the Wonder Woman character, then add a seriously diverse cast, some LGBT representation, a kick-ass friendship story, and some serious levels of feminism and girl power. The girl in line seemed impressed. I think she’ll give this one a try.
This book was awesome. I don’t always love Bardugo as much as everyone else does. She is a very talented writer though and I always appreciate the level of research and world building she has. I love that this wasn’t the same story as the movie. I love that instead of risking the wrath of her Amazon sisters for a guy who’s plane crashes, Diana risks everything to save a girl. It’s not about helping a man stop further war. It was about saving a friend and preventing war. I know this seems like such a small difference between book and movie, but to me, this difference was everything.
I loved the friendship story. I loved watching Diana learn about the modern world. I loved watching her learn and grow from her friendship with Alia. I loved watching her center her power and strength by channeling her sisters. And I loved every scene where she kicked the butts of unsuspecting men.
This book had great side characters. I loved Alia’s best friend and crush. I loved the brother too. I found so much about him to be fascinating. And I was genuinely surprised by a certain twist with him. The world-building was awesome. I love books that take place both in the real world and in a fantasy one. Bardugo excels at writing mythology and all the Greek mythology here was awesome.
The pacing was super fast too. You go from one frightening scene to another. There’s fierce weather, shipwrecks, bombs at the MET (in NY), gun-fights, sky diving, mythological creatures, scenes with Greek Gods, and so much more. It was paced like a Rick Riordan book. But unlike with Riordan, it was all about girl power. After finishing it, I was like, “why couldn’t Bardugo have written the movie?” Though, I did have fun watching the movie too. Wonder Woman is my favorite comic book character too, so I was expecting really good things from this book. I’m glad my expectations were met and then some.
The YA books this year are killing it. Seriously, coming up with a top 10 list will be so hard at the end of the year. This book had everything: amazing world building, Greek mythology, great characters, feminism, action, romance, suspense, and friendship. I want more. Seriously though, will there be a book 2? I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (239)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on:  Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill (2/20/2018):

Description on Goodreads:
From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Kelly Barnhill comes a stunning collection of stories, teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.

When Mrs. Sorensen’s husband dies, she rekindles a long-dormant love with an unsuitable mate in “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch.” In “Open the Door and the Light Pours Through,” a young man wrestles with grief and his sexuality in an exchange of letters with his faraway beloved. “Dreadful Young Ladies” demonstrates the strength and power—known and unknown—of the imagination.  In “Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake,” a witch is haunted by the deadly repercussions of a spell. “The Insect and the Astronomer” upends expectations about good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, love and longing. The World Fantasy Award–winning novella The Unlicensed Magician introduces the secret magical life of an invisible girl once left for dead—with thematic echoes of Barnhill’s Newbery Medal–winning novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

By an author hailed as “a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), the stories in Dreadful Young Ladies feature bold, reality-bending invention underscored by richly illuminated universal themes of love, death, jealousy, hope, and more.
Why I’m Waiting:
Sometimes it seems like the publisher can’t come up with anything good to sell the book more. And sometimes, as is the case here, the publisher has so many selling points and so much praise that it almost feels like I’m reading a fellow YA blogger telling me that I must read this. Needless to say, after reading that description, I know I must read this book. It sounds awesome. Plus, I love short stories and wish there were more in the YA world. I loved The Girl Who Drank the Moon. And I love dark and magical stories. I have supremely high hopes for this book.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Good Week in Books (171) - Boston Teen Author Festival 2017 edition

I had an awesome book week. I only finished one book this week, but it was an amazing one. I’m getting close to finishing my audio book, but it moves at a kind of slower pace. I received 5 new books for review thanks to Macmillan! And oh man, I’m super excited to read these. I also attended the Boston Teen Author Festival again! That was unbelievably fun.
I brought 4 books with me to get signed. And I purchased 4 new books there, to also have signed…I told myself I was only going to buy 2…I think I did a good job win impulse control, especially considering that the conference had a lot more people in attendance and I don’t think I could have gotten any more signed than I did because of time. I did see some other YA sisters buying books by the box-load. Also, major shout-out to one my coolest besties: Meghan! She brought one book to get signed and then waited almost the whole rest of the allotted signing time in line for Leigh Bardugo –to get two books signed for me. She is the best!
I went to one big panel with all the authors (at least 40 of them). Then I went to 3 different panels through out the day. And the whole thing ended with all of the signings. My panels: “Out of Character” with Leigh Bardugo, Kerri Maniscalco, Ashley Poston, and Jason Reynolds, “Through the Ages” with Mackenzi Lee, Katherine Locke, S.M. Parker, and Mitali Perkins, and “Tropes on You” with Susan Dennard, Elizabeth Eulberg, Sandhya Menon, and Brendan Reichs.
The books:
Pile 1 (The ones I brought to get signed)

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Pile 2 (books purchased at festival and all signed) and Pile 3 (books I received for review this week)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Elire Saenz
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
The Reader by Traci Chee
Wonder Woman Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
+ The Language of Thorns promotional sampler
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
You bring the distant Near by Mitali Perkins
The Night Garden by Polly Horvath
Spinning by Tillie Walden
The 40+ authors in attendance (aka: big panel):

The small “Out of Character” panel:

Some super fun swag (including love letters from book boyfriends -both of mine were from Sarah J Maas books!)

Meghan and me enjoying the day:

How was your week in books?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Swing it, Sunny by Jennifer L Holm and Matthew Holm

Summary from Goodreads:
Summer's over and it's time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she's doing, she always tells him she's fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time.

Not only is the whole middle school thing confusing . . . but life at home is confusing, too. Sunny misses her brother Dale, who's been sent to boarding school. But when Dale comes back, she STILL misses him . . . because he's changed.

Luckily Sunny's got her best friend and a mysterious new neighbor on her side . . . because she is NOT going let all this confusion get her down. Instead, she's going to remain Sunny-side up!
I’m not quite sure why I’m so surprised to have loved this. I loved the first one. But, I guess I had to re-remember why I loved Sunny Side Up. As a Youth Services librarian, I’m so used to seeing these authors on the names of other popular graphic novels like Baby Mouse, and I think I become a little immune to their greatness because I’m surrounded in their popularity. I must have remembered something right though because I checked this book out pretty much as soon as I finished processing it.
I also read it in one sitting (in about an hour!)  And like with the first book in the series, I was sad that it ended. I could have kept reading more and more pages in this character’s point of view. And it’s not like a lot happens plot-wise. It’s mostly just about Sunny living her day to day life, with all the troubles of her brother in the background.
Like with the first book, I connected to this story on a personal level because of a similar experience with my oldest brother. I missed seeing the grandpa around. Though, I’m glad he visits for a while and has a special relationship with Sunny now. (Sunny spent all of book 1 staying with him at his retirement community in Florida). I also missed Sunny’s friend from book 1. Though, I loved seeing that she still reads comics!
It was also fun seeing her with her best friend, and seeing the impact television stories had on her also. It’s hard to imagine kids watching that much tv when there’s only 4 channels. I liked watching Sunny make friends with her new neighbor and I liked watching her handle the holidays with her brother who was just so angry.
I think the best part of this book though was subtle. It’s only in the day to day things that one can really see how something big (like a brother being sent of to military school) can impact everything. It’s always there for Sunny. And it’s always there for her parents. I love the scene where mother and daughter break down together in her room and talk about missing him and not knowing if what they’re doing is right, but needing to do something. It made her mom seem so real and so human. And it shows that parents aren’t perfect and they’re just trying things as best they can, like the rest of us.
Sadly, I do think this is a story that a lot of people can relate to. And sometimes you really just need to read about this happening to someone else to know that you’re not alone. I see this book doing that for a lot of people. It’s also so gorgeous to look at. The artwork is young, bright, and bold and makes the book move at a quick pace. I love the art almost as much as the story. I give this one a 9/10.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (238)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on:  Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (3/13/2018):

Decription on Goodreads:
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.
Why I’m Waiting:
I absolutely loved Illuminae. The second book wasn’t quite as good. But, the creative way the story is told continues, and I can’t wait to see how the authors end it all. I know this book will be filled with creative ways to tell the story. And I know it will be action-packed and filled with drama. I can’t wait. Also, how cool is the cover? I’m so happy it stayed consistent with past covers.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Dire King by William Ritter

Summary from Goodreads:
The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.
I’m so sad that there will be no more Jackaby books. This honestly reads like one of those series that could go and on in many books. I’m not saying that just because I enjoy them. There are some great books that just seem to feel like they truly end with book 3. This is just such an interesting story, such an interesting world, and there are still so many unanswered questions and little un-explored niches I’d like to see. I feel like it would make for a wonderful series on Netflix or PBS. Really, people, someone needs to pick this up.
That being said, I feel like this book was my least favorite in the series. The over-arcing mystery of this one was too much about fairies. And while I love a good dark fairy re-telling, I was kind of hoping for something different here. Past novels have always had dark, supernatural creatures and characters, and I’ve come to seriously love how different they are. So, reverting to this fairy rift as the backdrop for it all was kind of disappointing for me because I’ve seen that before.
However, the author was able to connect the dots. The over-arcing fairy rift was able to explain a few of my unanswered questions about things like a certain duck character. I also learned a little more about seers and supernatural creatures in general. I loved all the scenes where Jackaby’s house was being used as a hideout for all the supernatural folk of new Fiddleham. Some of my favorite moments happened there.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I liked the other books better because they were more personal and smaller scale. I liked getting to know each of the side characters. This was almost too big –saving the world kind of big. And while I normally love stories that result in saving the world, here I felt like it almost took away from the personal charm the rest of the series had going for it. That, and it read like the author was almost trying to force the ending on a story that is not quite there yet. It’s not usually good when you can tell how hard an author is working to make something seem final. There’s still so much left open and unexplored.
This book also played at my heartstrings a bit. I had tears in my eyes one moment, and bursts of laughter the next. I really have grown to love these characters. And there also were a few surprises in this one for me. I liked being surprised. And I loved the very end of the book. I almost didn’t read the end of the book though. It ended in the part marked “supplemental material.” And after the sadness of what I assumed was the end (in the last real chapter), I almost couldn’t bring myself to read the supplemental material part. I’m glad I did though because otherwise I would not have gotten the happier ending I was hoping for…Do not skip this section, people! Also, why would the publisher let that happen? I bet there’s a lot of readers who won’t read it and won’t get the real ending….
Any way, all in all, I loved this series. It’s as the blurb says “Sherlock Holmes crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The characters and the setting make these books un-put-down-able. The small town murder mysteries are usually very personable and interesting. I’m kind of wishing this last installment was less large-scale and more like the earlier books. I also wish this wasn’t the end and that the author didn’t try to make this the end so hard. I give this last book an 8/10 (though I’d give the whole series a 9).

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Good Week in Books (170)

I had a nice, little book week. I finished reading a supernatural mystery (and final book to a series). I finished a new middle grade graphic novel. I received 2 new books for review (big thanks to Macmillan!). One of the books though is for a book I already have an ARC for and reviewed. So, I might have to do a giveaway soon. I also purchased 2 books. The first, is a book I got from the library and I know will be one of my all time favorite books now and will need to be re-read many times over. It’s not in the photo with the other books because my boyfriend currently has it with him…and he’s almost done reading! I love when we read the same books. And the other book I purchased because so many people and reviews make it sound amazing and I thought it was time.
The new books:

by Pam Smy
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (this is the new favorite!)
How was your week in books?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty and read by Cassandra Campbell

Summary from Goodreads:
The storms are coming....

Something has happened to Serafina. She has awoken into a darkness she does not understand, scarred from a terrible battle, only to find that life at Biltmore Estate has changed in unimaginable ways. Old friends do unthinkable things and enemies seem all around.

A mysterious threat moves towards Biltmore, a force without a name, bringing with it violent storms and flooding that stands to uproot everything in its path. Serafina must uncover the truth about what has happened to her and find a way to harness her strange new powers before it's too late.

With only days to achieve the impossible, Serafina fights to reclaim herself as the Guardian of Biltmore, friend of Braeden, daughter of her Pa, and heroine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the folk and creatures that call it home.

In the epic third installment of Robert Beatty's #1 bestselling series, Serafina takes her rightful place among literary champions as she battles fiercely to defend all she loves and become everything that she is meant to be.
Now this is how a series is supposed to be end! First off, this series has zero to no hype that I have seen, and it is amazing. Why haven’t more people read this? Amazing characters, unique and dark setting, little bits of magic, fantastical creatures, and wow, I already want to re-read them all.
This book had such an amazing beginning. I’ve never read a middle grade book to open like this. It literally started on the first page with the main character coming to, in a coffin, buried six feet under ground! It was terrifying. I knew she’d have to make it out of there –being the main character and all. But, still. This book was intense. And it only got more intense from there.
I love how there was a strong focus on the different pieces of Serafina: her cat self, her human self, and her soul. I also loved watching Serafina continue to fight past some insanely terrifying obstacles. She out-smarted some crazy dark stuff. And her family and friends stood by her the whole time. The sense of family in these books is also great: they are the people you eat with, who you tell everything to, who you’d risk your life for. Serafina has made her own family and I was just excited to catch up with them, as I was to hear what was going to happen next in the extremely suspenseful plot.
I also loved the closure. The author seriously tied up all the loose ends and tiny questions I may have had from 2 books ago. Stuff is resolved with Rowena, with Serafina’s father, with her cat family, and with Waysa (not sure on spelling because I’ve only done this on audio).  I do kind of wish something could have been alluded to about a certain romantic relationship, but I get that this is middle grade. Still, I had a ship…
All in all though, this was a fabulous ending to a remearkable series. The audio book reader, Cassandra Campbell is nothing short of magical. And I highly recommend this one for audio book fans. I also highly recommend this one to fantasy and magic fans. This was a fun ride. And it was super hard having my mom visit for 2 weeks and have to pause my car listening for so long! I give this a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (237)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on:  Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (2/27/2018):

Description from Goodreads:
Meet Tess, a brave new heroine from beloved epic fantasy author Rachel Hartman.

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.

Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

Returning to the fascinating world she created in the award-winning and New York Times bestselling Seraphina, Rachel Hartman introduces readers to a new character and a new quest, pushing the boundaries of genre once again in this wholly original fantasy.
Why I’m Waiting:
I loved Seraphina. I actually never read the sequel, but I think I will some time soon. I’d need to re-read book 1 first. Any way, I remember it being an amazingly interesting world, with an awesome kick-butt girl main character. This new book sounds to be kind of similar. Plus, dragons! Plus, I love stories where the girl dresses as a boy. And, that cover! I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Summary from Goodreads:
An unlikely teenager starts a feminist revolution at a small-town Texan high school in the new novel from Jennifer Matheiu, author of The Truth About Alice.


Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv's mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!
This seems to be the year of reading books I didn’t know how badly I needed. I needed this book. I needed this book so badly that at times, I had goose bumps and tears in my eyes. I have felt what Viv has felt. I have seen dress codes only apply to women. I have been groped by male classmates (whether as part of a dumb game like Viv’s school was doing, or just because men feel like they can). I have listened to boys say stupid things like, “go back to the kitchen,” “make me a sandwich,” and “why are women even allowed to drive?” and like Viv I never wanted to cause any problems or draw too much attention to myself. Life can be scary when you’re a woman.
Her zine or newsletter (as every other character referred to it) reminded me of all these things I have seen, witnessed, listened to all my life and always hated. And I’m so glad someone wrote a book about this. More girls (myself included) need to know that we can stand up and fight against these problems.
I love that this book also focused so highly on friendship. It didn’t matter what social circle, racial group, or religon these girls belonged to. They all could relate to what Viv was angry about. All girls can relate. And watching all these different girls from various backgrounds come together, stand together, was such a powerful thing. And it was probably the strongest message from this book overall: the power of girls working together is mind blowing and fierce.
We’re finally at a point in time where YA literature is reflecting the current political atmosphere. People want to read books where the little guy wins, where women can start a revolution and succeed, and where small successes can mean the world. Sure, we will always need distraction and YA generates some of my all time favorite distraction. But, lately, I’ve been feeling this mass need of something else: hope. Hope for a future with less sexism, racism, and hatred.
Was this the perfect book? No. I thought Viv’s romance actually could have been taken out of the book. It’s weird when I’m skimming through the romantic stuff so I can get back to the plot, but I was doing that there. I’m not sure the main character needed to avoid telling her mom things for as long as she did either. But, honestly, this book was so powerful, positive, fierce, and hopeful that none of that stuff really bothered me at all. I give this a 10/10. I hope for more books like this.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

Summary from Goodreads:
Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s . . . Elliot. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fitness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise) he finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possible.
This book is everything! Seriously, it is everything I have always wanted and needed in a book. It’s probably my favorite book of the year and will go down as one of my all time favorite books. How do I know this already? Well, I’ve already re-read my favorite moments! I finished it one day, and within hours had to go back and re-read some parts again. It is sadly a library book and I’m dreading the moment I have to return it. However, I’ve decided that I must own a copy and will be purchasing it soon.
One of my biggest pet peeves in fantasy novels is how rough women have it. Seriously, why do so many women get walked over, raped, mistreated, and spit on in fantasy books? If it’s a fantasy story any way, why can’t more women be placed higher in the hierarchy? This is something I’ve asked myself every year, ever time I read a fantasy novel that I love. Yes, there are some powerful ladies in fantasy lately. Thank goodness. But how about some powerful ladies that don’t have to always prove themselves to men?
Thank you, Sarah Rees Brennan for making the elf characters of this book. I absolutely never got tired of Serene commenting on the softness of men. There’s even a moment when she interrupts a war scene to yell for men to come to the rescue of a lost child because she expects men to have the better ability to relate to the poor thing. I never got tired of this commentary and every time it happened, I smiled. I knew I needed a book that did something like this, but I guess I never knew how much I needed it: super freaking badly.
The fantastic feminist aspect of the book is actually only one of the many amazing elements that is this story. We also get a bisexual main character! I love having a main character who loves both men and women. I can’t honestly come up with another YA book that does this. Elliot falls in love with characters not based soley on what they look like (or what gender they are), but on what they believe and how many books they have in their rooms.
Elliot is such a character. He can be pretty snotty, mean, and awful at moments, but generally he is someone who can love all people and creatures. He genuinely is a paficist who believes wars can be avoided through treaties. And he sees the beauty in mermaids, harpies, and even trolls in a society of humans who of course still have prejudice against those who are different. Elliot was also born into such a terrible family. Watching him learn to love and be loved was maybe half the appeal of this remarkable character. He really does have to learn these things.
I also adored Luke. He was so used to being adored at every turn, and then comes Elliot, the meanest of all sarcastic characters, who is always pushing sweet Luke away. Their friendship to me was powerful. I loved watching Elliot learn to love Luke. I thought all the competition and jealousies between the trio made them more real. Nothing was ever truly easy for any of them.
While this is a fantasy that takes place over various wars, treaties, magic school years, and battles, it is mostly a character driven book. It is not a book for people who need heavier plots in their fantasy. It is a book for character lovers and world builders. This world is so magically interesting and believable at the same time. The battles among the different creatures seem like battles that can take place between different groups of humans; they are about land mostly, and honor…
Brennan develops this whole sense of mythology to her world where I was just as interested as Elliot to learn about it. I would read another book in this world if she wrote one.
This is also a book that pokes fun at is own genre. It kind of plays with the concept of what is expected in YA/Middle Grade fantasy and flips it around. It plays with gender, sexuality, and romance. But it also plays with the reader’s expectations of school, friendships, love triangles, popularity, athleticism, etc. It pokes fun of chosen ones and boys who can see the magical divide. It’s a book that both satirizes it’s genre and bends it genre into something new and better.
I can probably go on and on about this book and dissect it way past the point where anyone would keep reading my review. But, I’ll stop. I love this book. I can’t wait for more people to read it. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (236)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on:  The Last Girl on Earth by Alexandra Blogier (1/23/2018):

Description on Goodreads:
Li has a father and a sister who love her. A best friend, Mirabae, to share things with. She goes to school and hangs out at the beach and carefully follows the rules. She has to. Everyone she knows--her family, her teachers, her friends--is an alien. And she is the only human left on Earth.

A secret that could end her life.

The Abdoloreans hijacked the planet sixteen years ago, destroying all human life. Li's human-sympathizer father took her in as a baby and has trained her to pass as one of them. The Abdoloreans appear human. But they don't think with human minds or feel with human hearts. And they have special abilities no human could ever have.

Fit in or die.

When Li meets Ryn, she's swept up in a relationship that could have disastrous consequences. How far will Li go to stay alive? Will she save herself--and in turn, the human race--or will she be the final witness to humanity's destruction?
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds so cool! I love the idea of a YA main character being the last human on Earth. I’ve read sci-fi where there’s only one human on an alien planet. But to have only one human left on this planet? And needing to fit in with the aliens that killed everyone else? This sounds epic.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Summary from Goodreads:
Love lives between the lines.

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
I’m hitting a reading jackpot lately! Seriously, I was in a bit of slump and nothing was appealing to me. And all of a sudden, wham, everything is unbelievable. I received an ARC of this book months ago, with no knowledge of what it was about. I also am only now noticing how cute the cover is. It’s a cover made up of books!
Basically, I just read it because I wanted a fluffy sounding paperback to take with me to the beach. I’m at the end of my much pined for week of vacation (that I always take at the end of the summer to recuperate from Summer Reading and spend time with my mom). I thought this sounded like a nice beach book.
It’s not quite as fluffy as I was hoping for. There is some serious sadness in this book. I shed a few tears at certain moments. It’s one thing to read about a YA main character who has lost a parent, but it’s quite another when she has lost a sibling. I felt so sad for Rachel on various levels. I of course felt bad about her brother. But, also I felt bad that her best friend/crush of many years never responded to her. Unrequited love is the worst.
That being said, it quickly became clear to me why Henry never got back to her. And it was slightly annoying that this thought never occurred to Rachel. I guess this speaks volumes for how kind and good she is. Also, I like that both Rachel and Henry got to be with other people and learn from past mistakes. I also love that there were side love stories too. I found George to be so interesting and l loved her letter-writing relationship.
Mostly, though, what stands out in this books is the books. The bookstore where the characters work, love, and live is magical. I want to go there. I want to fall asleep in the fiction section. I want to go to the book club and talk with all the regulars. I want to have dumplings once a week and talk about what I’m reading. This setting for growing up is a dream. I loved the scenes that took place at clubs and outside, but really, I kept counting my time until I could return to the bookstore.
This is another book for booklovers. It’s filled with fiction, poetry, nonfiction, classics, and more. There’s a place called the letter library, where characters are supposed to write in the margins of books that can never go out. They write letters to each other there too. What a romantic, beautiful concept.
I loved the characters though maybe Rachel was a little too good/na├»ve. I loved the audlts in the background. I also loved the friends who were going through their own dramas as compared to just being their for the main character’s play. Sometimes it’s hard for me to immerse myself in the language of Australian books because things can get said that are so out of context for me that I get taken out of the story and have to think too much. But, this was different. Everything flowed nicely. All in all I give it a 9/10.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Summary from Goodreads:
The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.
I loved this one. I read it in two sittings. One at the beach and one at home before going to bed extremely late.  It’s one of those books where you both hate and love the main character at the same time. You hate her because you quickly suspect her of foul play, most likely murder. But you love her because of how smart, bad-ass, and determined she is.
This book is unique. It’s told backwards. It literally starts at the end of the story, with the main character on the run in Mexico. She’s in disguise at a fancy hotel until she becomes aware of a cop following her. With each chapter, you’re taken back 1 week, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, etc. until you learn why the main character is running from cops in Mexico. I could see some people hating this writing style. But, for me, it worked 100%. It kept me riveted the whole time. I had to know what brought this character to this low point.
This is a short novel, but by no means an easy novel. Besides it moving backwards, it’s also loaded with references. It reads like an homage to The Talented Mr. Ripley. It also is chock-full of Victorian literature references and nods to orphan stories. There’s super hero movie references too. In a way it’s like if The Talented Mr. Ripley was re-written very specifically for me. I love super hero movies and Victorian literature. To me, Jule was a modern day Becky Sharp. I wouldn’t call her Batman or any superhero really, but I saw the similarities to Victorian orphans.
This is a book for book lovers, and definitely for English majors. It’s an English Major’s dream. Can you catch every reference this is filled with? Also, I love that a part of it takes place in Martha’s Vineyard because I live on Cape Cod, and I could picture it so well. I loved the international travel. I loved the complex relationships. I love that nothing is told for the reader straight out. You have to keep reading to see why Jule was connected to Imogen to begin with. You have to read it all the way through to find out why all these things happened.
I loved this book. It is very much not for everyone. And I can see some people struggling with the layout or even some of the intense similarities it has with a book I already mentioned. But, for me, it all fit perfectly. I give it a 9/10.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Love interest by Cale Dietrich

Summary from Goodreads:
There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: the boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: the brooding, dark-souled guy who is dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose the Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be—whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.
I’m kind of terrible because I seriously don’t even remember requesting this from the publisher, but I totally did. And they sent it to me in exchange for an honest review. Also, unlike everyone else who read that summary, I had no idea this was a LGBT friendly book. I thought it would be both spies falling for the girl. I was pleasantly surprised when the two male spies fell for each other.
I guess I was overall pleasantly surprised. I was kind of expecting the stereotypical YA love triangle story, with some fun spy stuff throw in. And what I got instead was something that almost made fun of the typical YA love triangle and poked fun at its own genre, with some fun spy stuff thrown in.
I loved the comment from the main character about thinking its ridiculous that someone would find their soul mate in high school, and then I loved the comment back at him about needing to read a YA novel. So, yeah, this happens in a YA a lot, and I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that both commented on it and made fun of it at the same time. I loved this. I loved that the girl had to choose between two such extremes and I can even understand why the spy organization set that up. I would find it extraordinarily flattering and confidence boosting if a scenario like this presented itself to me.  I also don’t think it’s too unbelievable that it couldn’t be done. I can see organizations wanting to set up love interests for similar purposes.
I also loved that the two guys ended up falling for each other. I’m not spoiling this because apparently other reviewers picked this up from the summary…I was surprised, which doesn’t happen that often. And I have to admit that this aspect kept me interested. I’m not sure I would have been as invested in the story if the main character fell for the girl.
On the other side of things, I felt like there were some plot holes to the story. I found the whole love interest idea to be plausible, but I did not find all things about the spy organization to be quite as believable as the concept was. For instance the chip (that gets taken out?), the amount of love interests in one school, the killer robots, and the speediness and kind of rushed way everything resolved at the end all seemed too much.
I honestly feel like the book would have been so much better with a less happy ending. I feel like a less happy ending would have been more believable for me. I’m not saying one of my favorite characters should have died or anything. I just don’t think absolutely everything should have been resolved. Also, I could have dealt without the killer robots.
All in all though, this was fun and better than expected. I love books that can make fun of themselves. I also super loved the LGBT love triangle. I loved the concept for the story. I just didn’t love the follow-through/ending. I give this a 7.5/10.