Showing posts with label three stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label three stars. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

[Review] The Isle of the Lost (Descendants #1) - Melissa de la Cruz: Disney Villains and Fan Fiction

In THE ISLE OF THE LOST, the descendants of the most wicked Disney villains make plans to escape the island their families have been banished to.

What intrigued me: I've watched a bit of the movie and found it pretty cute. I had no idea this was the prequel so obviously I had to read it first before tackling the movie again.

Fan Fiction Feel

THE ISLE OF THE LOST proposes a topic that I've been longing to see for a while: A continuation of the classic Disney movies. This is essentially fan fiction, which I don't really mind because de la Cruz absolutely manages to create an exciting world. I struggled a little bit with the writing, which reads more like Middle Grade than actual YA and uses very simplistic, yet colorful language.
THE ISLE OF THE LOST does read a little like fan fiction, too, involving tropes you probably remember from all our 2009 AO3 escapades. Unnaturally colored hair, protagonists describing themselves while looking in a mirror, stuff like that.

The target audience confuses me a little. Like I said, the language is very simple and feels Middle Grade, yet we have 16 year-old protagonists. If you take a look at the awards it earned, it's always shelves in the MG category. To me, it's somewhere in between. THE ISLE OF THE LOST doesn't really feel like YA or MG, maybe like something in between, mainly due to the fairy tale language and feel. It could definitely serve as a nice transitional novel if you're mainly a MG or YA reader and would like to try out something different.

Massive, colorful world

We learn about the world through the eyes of out four protagonists, children of the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Jafar, and Cruella de Vil respectively. Usually I'm not a fan of multiple POVs but de la Cruz uses omniscient perspective and is very subtle about it all so that you hardly notice you're dealing with some many POVs.

Even though there are four protagonists, the spotlight is absolutely on the world that de la Cruz created. I grew very attached to it, longing for more of the vivid explanations and finding out more about how everything works over there. But at the end of the day THE ISLE OF THE LOST has a very simple concept and it absolutely works if you want to read something light and cute. Don't expect too much, don't expect highbrow language and thrilling plot twists, and you'll be good to go. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ISLE OF THE LOST is a really adorable little book that you shouldn't pass up if you like Disney! It does read a little on the younger side and I think it definitely would've benefited from being marketed as Middle Grade and aging the protagonists down a little.



Additional Info

Published: May 5th 2015
Pages: 320
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN:  9781484720974

Synopsis:
"Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that's been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon's eye: the key to true darkness and the villains' only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it...who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent's daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon's eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen's daughter, Evie, doesn't know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she's a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal's little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he's not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon's eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil's son may not be bravest, but he's certainly clever. Carlos's inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon's eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon's eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She'll just need a little help from her "friends." In their quest for the dragon's eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain't so bad."(Source: Goodreads)



Have you seen the Descendants movie?

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

[Review] Uprooted - Naomi Novik: Magic, Fairy Tales, and Evil Trees




In UPROOTED, Agnieszka gets taken by the powerful wizard the Dragon and trained to become a witch. Together they try to protect the surrounding villages from the evil forest that's trying to kill everything near it.

What intrigued me: Recommended!

Incredibly Unique

UPROOTED is arguably the most unique fantasy novel to come out within the last two years. It is advertised as based on a Polish folk tale, and I have to say, I really felt it.

It reminded me a lot of the fairy tales I grew up with, but turned dark. 
The premise is very reminiscent of CRUEL BEAUTY, but don't let that deceive you. UPROOTED is not a story about a captive girl slowly falling in love with her rude captor, but more the story of a girl realizing her power. It's a coming-of-age novel if you will, but with magic.

The characters, mainly the Dragon and Agnieszka, are extremely well-written. I instantly loved the Dragon for his cold, mean, and downright condescending personality and adored Agnieszka for being the clumsy, likeable, and brave girl who'd try her best to annoy him as much as possible.

Too Dense?

The biggest criticism I have is definitely the writing. Novik has a very peculiar, unique writing style, composed of lots of descriptions, metaphors, etc. Very much more telling than showing. It reads slowly, taking long paragraphs for something to happen, and I found myself zoning out so often that it took me a catastrophically long time to read this.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, if you read this in your native language this might not bother you as much, and if you like flowery writing, you might enjoy this even more. I personally don't like this and it made it very hard for me to continue, even though I really, really like the story. It's undoubtedly an incredibly unique novel that's very skillfully written and more art than writing, but certainly not for everyone.

There is no way around saying that UPROOTED definitely would have benefited from being turned into a series. Because it is a stand-alone, set in such a complicated, intricate world with so many rules and peculiarities, it is extremely densely written. This just lowered my enthusiasm for it as I was reading, because it is really hard to concentrate when you're constantly being overwhelmed with background information in form of info dumps and flashbacks.

It really feels like UPROOTED is trying to be three books in one, and the relationships just don't come across as genuine as they could have been because the book is hurrying so much. Novik's writing style really doesn't work in combination with so much dense storytelling, sometimes she rushes from scene to scene, sometimes she needs one page to tell one action. Even though I am an avid advocate for stand-alones, I have to say I wish UPROOTED was the first in a series instead.

Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

UPROOTED is definitely not for everyone. It's exceptionally well-written, unique book, but I suggest you pick this up in your native language and for you to be ready for lots of flowery writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend UPROOTED, but it's just one of those books that are hit or miss.


Additional Info

Published: May 19th 2015
Pages: 438
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780804179034

Synopsis:
"Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read UPROOTED?

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

[Review] Follow Me Back (#1) - A.V. Geiger: Twitter and Pop Stars

In FOLLOW ME BACK, pop star Eric Thorn sets up a fake twitter account and falls in love with one of his fans.

What intrigued me: Mixed format books are always a treat.

Romance-heavy page turner

FOLLOW ME BACK is an absolute page-turner. There is just something about this story that's captivating, especially through the mixed format with police interviews and tweets, it keeps you on your toes at all times. Even when the story gets a little too repetitive for my taste, I couldn't quit simply because I needed to find out how it all gets resolved. 

The thing is, FOLLOW ME BACK needs you to like these characters. A huge chunk of this book is spent watching protagonists Eric and Tessa fall in love through flirty DMs. I think in some way this really takes away from the premise. I would've loved a more thriller-centric story instead of a flat out romance with a side of a looming secret (that's not even that hard to guess early really)

At the end of the day, FOLLOW ME BACK has it going for it that this is every teenage girl's fantasy: the book. Your favorite celebrity is talking to you through a fake account and you'll fall in love. But FOLLOW ME BACK got a dark twist going on that really makes this story one of a kind. 


Fan fiction tropes galore

FOLLOW ME BACK's biggest problem is that the story isn't very strong. It reads like the mixed format has been slapped on (especially the police reports) after the whole thing was written to increase the lack of tension within this narrative. There is one mystery at the center of it that I don't find is explored as cleverly as you'd expect from a social media thriller. It reads like a cheap plot twist to set up the next sequel to this romance. It's a typical fan fiction trope. In general, this reads absolutely like fan fiction, which I assumed it used to be, since the author is well-known on Wattpad for her Maroon 5 fan fiction. 

This isn't a bad thing whatsoever. I like fan fiction every now and then and am familiar and quite a bit fond of these tropes and types of stories. But I think the average reader of traditionally published YA will probably be a little put off by this story. It's really a niche thing but I'd sincerely hope that it takes off. FOLLOW ME BACK is an addicting story of love and obsession that probably everyone can identify a little with. 


Rating:

★★★½☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're a fan fiction reader or have a celebrity crush that's a musician, you'll probably love FOLLOW ME BACK. It's fresh, it's fun, it's different. The mixed media format really makes this one stand out and quite interesting.

[If you have agoraphobia and have reviewed this, please link your review. I'd love to feature it.]


Additional Info

Published: June 6th 2017
Pages: 368
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA / Thriller
ISBN: 9781492645238

Synopsis:
"Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…"(Source: Goodreads)


Do you read fan fiction?

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

[Review] Someone Else's Summer - Rachel Bateman: Bucket Lists and Losing a Family Member

In SOMEONE ELSE'S SUMMER, Anna finds her late sister Storm's bucket list and decides to go on a road trip to check off all the things Storm didn't get to.

What intrigued me: I totally didn't read the blurb and went off the gorgeous cover.

Fantastic Characters

SOMEONE ELSE'S SUMMER is an unexpected gut punch. I immediately grew very attached to the characters, from protagonist Anna to her ex-boyfriend Jovani to her neighbor Cameron - I loved them all! 

This is very much a character-driven story that takes its time to get to the actual premise and get the plot started, so it's always fantastic to connect with the characters. Bateman excels at conveying the emotions of her characters and portraying their grief and sorrow over Storm's passing realistically and beautifully. 

It truly feels like Bateman took her time creating realistic and fleshed-out characters with intricate and sometimes complicated relationships to each other.

Quite unoriginal and following tropes

However, there just isn't that much to this story after all. This is your typical bucket list / road trip story with absolutely no spin to the topic, no originality, and nothing memorable about it aside from the nice characters. Every twist and turn the plot takes is extremely predictable if you've read a handful of novels with similar themes. 

As soon as everything is settled introduction-wise the story just starts to become really dull and boring. Anna and her sidekick Cameron embark on a journey to tick off all the bullet points on the list and that's it. You have to be a fan of those types of novels to enjoy this and specifically enjoy bucket list narratives. Because this personally isn't really my thing, I found the narration and plot to end up feeling very stoic and boring. 

SOMEONE ELSE'S SUMMER really has its peak within the first 80 pages, which are just brilliant, but then simply recedes to boring bucket-list-novel tropes. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

I really enjoyed the first third of SOMEONE ELSE'S SUMMER but quickly grew uninterested when I realized that this is quite unoriginal with little to no variation to other novels that feature bucket list storylines. If you enjoy these types of contemporaries, SOMEONE ELSE'S SUMMER surely is among the better of these books, if you don't and like me enjoy variation, original plot, and surprises, you might want to skip this one.



Additional Info

Published: May 9th 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780762462193

Synopsis:
"Anna's always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm's summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever—which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm's list along with her sisters best friend Cameron—the boy next door—who knew that Storm's dream summer would eventually lead to Anna's own self-discovery?"
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite road trip read?

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

[Review] Be My Girl - Nina Sadowsky: Marriage and Murder


In BE MY GIRL, Ellie and Rob get married and slowly realize that they are both keeping monumental secrets from each other.

What intrigued me: I was in the mood for an adult thriller.

Great Beginning and Dual POV

BE MY GIRL really surprised me and snuck up on me with it's brilliant premise and beginning. Told in two alternating storylines, one set with protagonist Ellie in a hotel room with a corpse, and the other one right after her wedding to Rob, it's surely a unique read. 

You'd think the flip-flopping back and forth through the timeline would get confusing, but it really doesn't. Mainly because it's executed flawlessly and there are lots of secrets to explore in both past and present. BE MY GIRL is an absolute page-turner. For the first fifty pages that is.

Offbeat Pace and Over-the-top Story

As much as BE MY GIRL delighted me in the beginning, it absolutely lost me somewhere around the middle. The writing is quite strange and very slow, focused on telling rather than showing. While I didn't have a problem with the characters and found them quite intriguing and longed to find out more about them - the pacing is terrible. It takes so much time for things to get interesting and once they do, everything happens at once. BE MY GIRL has the most over-the-top storyline involving, murder, kidnapping, terminal illness, serial killers - it's like every action movie and thriller thrown together at once. While that can work for some people, it really didn't for me. I was hoping for a very satisfying and linear mystery instead of a mixture of ... everything. It's really messy to read and definitely lowered my enthusiasm despite the excellent start.


And honestly? This story is just ridiculous. Again, this is highly subjective but that amount of secrets and twists and turns rather made me roll my eyes than actually care about the story. Maybe this will work better for you, but BE MY GIRL was a little too much for me personally.



Rating:

★★★☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

BE MY GIRL is a very over-the-top thriller/action read that combines all tropes you've ever seen in a book. For me this wasn't really fun, but you might feel differently.

Trigger warning: blood, gore, murder, death, terminal illness, abuse, violence


Additional Info

Published: February 17th 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Adult / Thriller
ISBN: 9783328100041

Synopsis:
"Balanced on the razor edge of moral ambiguity, this sexy and seductive debut novel asks: How can you find out that the person you love is a killer...and continue to love him anyway?

On the night of her wedding to Rob, Ellie's perfect world suddenly collapses. Her suave, charming, sophisticated husband is not the man she believed him to be. Could he really be a killer?

Ellie is rapidly swept into a lethal vortex of betrayal, lies, and uncertainty: Who is the man she married, really?
And how far will she go to protect him?

From Manhattan to the Caribbean, Rob and Ellie struggle to escape the grip of Rob's former life - a life his employers are determined to ensnare him in for good.

When faced with a terrible choice -- to become a murderess herself to save the man she loves, or to let him die -- Ellie's decision propels her into a whiplash-paced adventure, filled with cinematic twists and a startling sense of unease."
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite thriller?

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

[Review] Noteworthy - Riley Redgate: A Cappella and Crossdressing

In NOTEWORTHY, Jordan struggles with getting accepted in the musical theatre world because she's an Alto 2, and then applies to the male a cappella octet.

What intrigued me: I just heard bisexual. I'm ready.

Quiet and Melancholic

NOTEWORTHY is that kind of quiet bittersweet story that you have to have a sweet spot for. Looking at the cover I was expecting a loud, joke-y book full of puns and fanfares but this is actually quite the opposite. NOTEWORTHY does have its funny moments but at heart this story is very much a coming-of-age contemporary that doesn't sugarcoat anything about growing up.

A lot of the themes are very melancholic in nature, I especially loved reading about Jordan's past relationship and her feelings for her ex-boyfriend. There is so much heart's blood poured into this story that it figuratively drips with authenticity. NOTEWORTHY is one of those books that you have to put down sometimes because it got too real.

I think it's also worth mentioning that this an #ownvoices book about a Chinese girl written by a Chinese author. In general I was very positively surprised by the amount of non-white characters and especially by the depth and care that went into creating them.

A Love Letter to A Cappella

NOTEWORTHY especially impressed me with its nuanced discussion of gender, sexuality, and disability. I certainly didn't expect to find this in this book, but it's absolutely necessary considering that crossdressing is a huge part of the plot, but not necessarily in a trans or drag context. I'm glad that Redgate included a passage about this because this initially worried me when I heard about the book for the first time. Crossdressing is a tricky thing to write about.

I initially picked this up solely for the bisexual representation and was a little disappointed to see that NOTEWORTHY doesn't really discuss Jordan's sexuality a lot.  This is neither a romance nor a story about Jordan and her growing up, in my opinion it's a love letter to a cappella. NOTEWORTHY is set at college and you definitely don't get a break from that while reading this - this is a specific type of book that you need to be prepared for in order not to be caught off guard. While it is very unique, I think NOTEWORTHY absolutely delivers. This is the book for you if you're a singer, if you like a cappella, if you like stories set at college. NOTEWORTHY definitely stands out positively in the world of books about music.

Note: Despite NOTEWORTHY featuring a scene where the protagonist addresses that she's putting on a performance act as a cis person, and explicitly states that this is different to being trans, trans reviewers have pointed out that NOTEWORTHY neither features non-binary/trans characters, nor addresses the trans aspect enough. I don't feel comfortable speaking about this, but do be aware that this is 100% a book about a cis character crossdressing and does not include any trans characters. Here is a twitter thread that describes the issues a little more.





Rating:

★★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

NOTEWORTHY reads like a love letter to a cappella and is a fairly quiet and calm type of Contemporary. Do be aware that it's a book about a cis character crossdressing and does not feature any trans characters.



Additional Info

Published: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781419723735

Synopsis:
"It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped ... revered ... all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for."
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite Contemporary?

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

[Review] A Million Worlds With You (Firebird #3) - Claudia Gray: Parallel Universes and Evil Twins




In A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU, Marguerite's evil parallel universe self is hell-bent on killing every version of Marguerite in every single universe she can so she can't sabotage the plans of Home Office.

What intrigued me: The conclusion to my favorite series of all time. It hurts.

Chasing through universes

A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU picks off right where the sequel left off. And I gotta say - that premise didn't do it for me. While Firebird is and will always remain my favorite book series, I wish it had been a duology. See, this whole Evil Twin coming to destroy the world storyline does feel a little over the top in my opinion and I just didn't enjoy it as much as the other books and found myself wishing for the story to get wrapped up more quickly. This is absolutely subjective.

The universes Gray shows us this time around are interesting, but not explored nearly as much as they could have! But because the premise is so reliant on the chasing part I was a little sad to see Marguerite spend very few time with the individual Pauls or even just in the universes. Where is the fluff! I feel like sometimes along the complicated plot lines and the excellent world building, the romance fluff got lost. Sure, we had Russia. But that was it? 

Arguably the most interesting parts of  A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU are those when Marguerite returns to previously visited universes. I really loved that in TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU already and I just can't get enough of checking in with the other scientists.  But regardless, A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU feels like a wild goose chase, jumping from universe to universe so fast and filled with barely plausible plot conveniences, I didn't like this nearly as much as the other books in the series.

Still grieving my husband

I have a confession to make: I don't think I ship Paul and Marguerite. I don't think I ever did. The problem is that both the reader and Marguerite get to know Paul on a deep emotional level in the Russia!Verse, where he is the Grand Duchess' protector Lieutenant Markov. And I never got over him. 
See, Lieutenant Markov shows the tender side of Paul, the romantic side - and in "real life" he's this grumpy smart-aleck who's angry all the time. The swooniness and the magic all poofed away with Lieutenant Markov's passing. A moment of silence. Anyway. I'm complaining on a high level here and this might not even ring true for you because you probably really loved Paul. I'm just a sad widow because my book husband was taken from me. 

But I'm so happy that we got another cuddly version of Paul with the sweet Father Paul from the Rome!Verse who has to choose between letting himself love Marguerite or staying celibate. Be still my beating heart! I'll definitely go back to TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU and reread the Rome!Verse parts with him, he's such a gentle flower that must be protected and made up a bit for the chronic lack of calm romantic fluff in this series. 

The Firebird books are excellent and just like the predecessors A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU presents an interestesting journey through the universes. It would've wanted more action and a compelling narrative from this than it actually delivered - it very much feels like an unnecessary sequel with a very disappointing and too convenient ending. However, if you've read one, you gotta read them all. I'm sad to say goodbye.




Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

A few words to mourn the ending of this series: Despite A MILLION WORLDS WITH YOU's lack of my favorite thing about this series, my darling Russia!Verse including my favorite Paul, I loved visiting these different worlds.

I surely wouldn't mind returning to the world of Firebird with a prequel about Conley and Josie's romance from the Home Office!Verse. So if Claudia's up for that, I'll be back.

The rest of the series reviewed
A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU (1) | TEN THOUSAND SKIES ABOVE YOU (2)


Note: A thing that seriously worries and confuses me is that out of ALL the worlds and universes we visit, there isn't a single one where Marguerite/Paul/Theo are lgbt. There is only one universe where one of them is disabled - deaf, actually - though the time spent there is so short that you can barely call this representation. (Well then there's one where a character loses a leg but they don't appear on-screen after that so that doesn't count either.)

While there is an explanation for this lack of marginalizations/diversity in the books ~wishy washy we're meant to be together fate yada yada~, I think it wouldn't have been that hard to even just add -one- universe where they're lgbt. Out of all the decisions they have to make to lead to Marguerite and Paul's epic love 90% of the time, you can't try to tell me that there isn't a single universe where Paul ended up with Theo, or Marguerite decided she liked neither and is a lesbian or is bi and ended up with a girl. [Totally seeing her and Romola. Yes.] What do you guys think?



Additional Info

Published: November 1st 2016
Pages: 419
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Parallel Worlds
ISBN: 9780062279026

Synopsis:
"A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

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

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

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


Have you read any books by Claudia Gray?

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

[Review] Soulmated (Joining of Souls #1) - Shaila Patel: Soulmates and Empaths

In SOULMATED, royal empath Liam is looking for his soulmate and finds them in Indian-American Laxshmi "Lucky" who has to choose between an arrange marriage with someone else or going to medical school.

What intrigued me: I love reading about soulmates.

World Building Issues

Part of why SOULMATED didn't work for me is probably that I had the wrong expectations. I was looking for something à la THE SELECTION, set in a fantasy world. SOULMATED is an Urban Fantasy book that doesn't read any differently than the average Contemporary. 

The fantasy elements aren't nearly as explored as I personally like my Urban Fantasy to be - Liam's empathy isn't explained in detail or even just introduced. You're just thrown into the cold water when it comes to him and that massively impacted how much I enjoyed the story. This is subjective, but I do like my fantasy to be laid out, explained, and properly introduced. Especially the empathy remains hardly explained and I'm still not sure if I understand how it works. In general there is very little mythology and world building behind all this to make it more captivating. It almost reads somewhat Magical Realist minus the world building necessary to qualify as such. 

Fantastic #Ownvoices POV

SOULMATED is told from a dual POV, one being Liam's and the other being Lucky's. This is #ownvoices book, meaning that it's written by an Indian American author - and oh boy, does that show. Lucky's POV is approximately a trillion times better executed and more fun than Liam's. I especially struggled with the way Patel tries to make him seem authentic through extremely aggressively Irish choice of words. It's really extremely heavy and does read very awkwardly. I can't say much for authenticity because I am not Irish - but it doesn't come as naturally and reads ... well, awkwardly. 

Lucky on the other hand is so much more interesting, her POVs flow seamlessly, the little nods to Indian culture, her complicated relationship with her mother who just wants her to become a doctor - ahhh. It's so good. I loved her and I loved following her storyline. In my opinion SOULMATED would have massively benefited from being told from a single POV and invested a little more in that world building. 

Together, Lucky and Liam are just adorable. I think that Patel definitely gets away with instant love in this case because this is literally the premise of SOULMATED and it does work pretty well! If you're generally a romance reader, SOULMATED is a treat for you.


Rating:

★★★½

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

SOULMATED is probably a must-read for you if you're Indian American, love romance, or are just looking for an Indian heroine. Because it's quite sparse on the world building and the dual POV couldn't convince me, it didn't impress me, but that doesn't mean that you won't like it.



Additional Info

Published: January 24th 2017
Pages: 300
Publisher: Month9Books
Genre: YA / Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9781944816643

Synopsis:
"Two souls. One Fate. 

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family's standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother's ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage. 

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart. 

Liam's father isn't convinced Laxshmi is "The One" and Laxshmi's mother won't even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one's own fate too great a price for the soulmated? "
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite read with an Indian heroine?

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

[Review] One Moment - Kristina McBride: Memory Loss, Death, and Secrets

In ONE MOMENT, Maggie's boyfriend Joey dies in an accident and she has memory loss after it happens.

What intrigued me: I was in the mood for a nice thriller.

Unique concept

ONE MOMENT is a very unique contemporary with thriller elements. The premise is simple, yet the writing and the voice really make this stand out. It's very fast-paced even though very little happens and you keep rereading about the accident and flashbacks with Joey and Maggie as you uncover the story. Everything centers around Joey's death and the secrets everyone may or may not be keeping.

Especially the voice really is the strong suit of ONE MOMENT. As you read you will suffer with Maggie and her memory loss is pictured realistically and easy to understand for the reader. It absolutely does not feel like a gimmick but like a well-researched addition to the story that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Difficult structure and flat characters

Because the story is so heavily focused on the characters' internal dialogue and flashbacks, it's a hard read. I did like the concept but ultimately I think that ONE MOMENT would have benefited from more action, more side plots, possibly even from making Maggie a side character and telling the story from another character's perspective. Like this, ONE MOMENT really feels a little messy and unstructured which really did impact my reading experience negatively.

In general I had the most problems with the characters. The are six friends that the story centers and I just kept confusing their names. Too many people are running around in every single scene and it's just terribly difficult to keep up. In addition to that, the side characters have no personalities, especially Maggie's female friends Shannon and Tana absolutely just seem like decoration. 

I feel like ONE MOMENT has a lot of potential to be an even more excellent story if the narrative was a little more cleaned up and polished and the characters had been worked on a little more.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ONE MOMENT really is a unique book with an interesting premise. You have to be in the mood for it though, while I did like it overall, I was hoping to get a little more into it and really get sucked into the pages. If you like reading about characters with memory loss and enjoy thriller elements, this will surely be a great read for you.



Additional Info

Published: January 3rd 2017
Pages: 288
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: YA / Thriller
ISBN: 9781510714557

Synopsis:
"This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can't she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?

As Maggie's memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?"(Source: Goodreads)



Do you like books about memory loss?

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

[Review] Timekeeper (#1) - Tara Sim: Steampunk and Time-Controlling Clocks | #ReadIndie

In TIMEKEEPER, time is controlled by clock towers in an alternate Victorian Era. When the clock towers start getting bombed, mechanic Danny grows curious.

What intrigued me: I heard about a bisexual character in this and immediately needed to get my hands on a copy.

Incredibly Original

TIMEKEEPER impressed me instantly with the rich world building. The second you open this book, you're sucked into the story, a Victorian-Era-inspired Steampunk world controlled by clocks. It sounds strange but works so well and is so delightfully refreshing and new. I've never read anything like this before.

As a Steampunk skeptic I was hesitant about picking this up, but Sim managed to convert me fully. TIMEKEEPER is absolutely not only a novel for fans of the genre, but also for people who'd like to try something different.

Lack of Urgency

The world building is the biggest strength but also the biggest weakness of TIMEKEEPER. A good chunk of the novel is spent feeding background information and letting protagonist Danny walk around to get a good look at everything that it has to offer. This leads to the premise quite quickly growing a little bit wonky. 
The idea with the clock towers getting attacked isn't necessarily the focus of it all and it did bother me because I felt like the story was deriving from its intended path a lot, in order to give the characters more screen time or to info dump. It just feels like urgency of the story just isn't addressed enough and that there isn't any real danger, else the characters would probably proceed more quickly or in the least with more caution.

The lack of urgency is probably due to the story's other plot line, mechanic Danny following in love with a physical manifestation of a clock tower he's repairing. It sounds strange and reads a little strange, too, it reminded me a little of those people who fall in love with inanimate objects. The concept is interesting, but I just didn't grow fond of it at all. Which is probably also due to the quite flat love interest whose only attribute is that he is incredibly lovely and adorable.



Rating:

★★★½

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TIMEKEEPER is a cute little story for steampunk-enthusiasts and those who like their romance fluffy and superficial. It stuns with fantastically diverse characters in leading roles (PTSD, bisexual, gay, POC) and a very innovative world.

What's #ReadIndie?



Additional Info

Published: November 1st 2016
Pages: 368
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: YA / Historical
ISBN: 9781510706187

Synopsis:
"Two o’clock was missing. 

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever."(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like steampunk?

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

[Review] Other Systems (#1) - Elizabeth Guizzetti: Aliens and Human Colonies | #ReadIndie





In OTHER SYSTEMS, future humans are coming back to Earth because their colonies can't survive without human DNA much longer.

What intrigued me: I love everything related to aliens!

What's happening?

The initial idea is absolutely brilliant, I was very excited about reading this. However, OTHER SYSTEMS really, really lacks in execution. 
The story is told from the POV of Abby, a girl that is taken to Kipos, the future human colony's home planet, and Cole, a space traveler. I especially struggled with Cole's POV because just didn't understand what was going on. 

There are so many specific terms in this that are hardly explained, it took me too long to even understand what the different kinds of humans are and what happened to Earth. I can safely say that I spent the first 150 pages being absolutely confused and not really knowing what was happening. You'll definitely need to be invested and/or don't mind about not really understanding all details to finish this. I feel like there are different stories in this, three books tried to be told in a single volume. Resulting from this, OTHER SYSTEMS seems very chaotic and difficult to read.

Fascinating idea, but too very complicated

Even though it is difficult to read, the idea is just too fascinating to toss OTHER SYSTEMS aside and give up. I absolutely love novels about humans going to space, even more so when everything has already taken place and the humans are going back! The world building truly is impeccable and there is a lot to explore. I would have liked this a lot more, had I been given the opportunity to actually have those elements all explained instead of just getting bombarded with information.

Generally, OTHER SYSTEMS really would have benefited from being told from one person's POV. Abby's chapters are significantly easier to read and it does feel like you're actually reading a YA novel. With Cole's POV thrown in, the book just gains a strange dynamic, again, it's just multiple stories fused into one. 


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

OTHER SYSTEMS displays a magnificently built, fascinating world, but simply makes the mistake to leave out explanations. It portrays an interesting possible human future that is truly fun to explore.



What's #ReadIndie?



Additional Info

Published: 10th April 2013
Pages: 532
Publisher: 48Fourteen
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Space & Other Planets
ISBN: 9781937546144

Synopsis:
"Without an influx of human DNA, the utopian colony on Kipos has eleven generations before it reaches failure. Earth is over ninety light years away. Time is short. 

On the over-crowded Earth, many see opportunity in Kipos's need. After medical, intelligence, and physiological testing, Abby and her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid, are offered transportation. Along with 750,000 other strong immigrants, they leave the safety of their family with the expectation of good jobs and the opportunity for higher education. 
While the Earthlings travel to the new planet in stasis, the Kiposi, terrified the savages will taint their paradise, pass a series of indenture and adoption laws in order to assimilate them. When Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin cannot be found. Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. Indentured to breed, she is drugged and systematically coerced. 

To survive, Abby learns the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her analytical mind. In order to escape her captors, she joins a planetary survey team where she will discover yet another way of life.(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite book about aliens?

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Monday, November 21, 2016

[Review] Trollhunters (#1) - Daniel Kraus & Guillermo del Toro: Trolls and Abduction

In TROLLHUNTERS, children are disappearing and supposedly abducted by trolls.

What intrigued me: I love del Toro's movies and was hoping for some creepy vibes.

Middle Grade Horror - Not YA

I think I went into this with the wrong expectations. TROLLHUNTERS is a story intended for a Middle Grade audience even though it seems to be marketed as YA. The writing reminds me a lot of the FEAR STREET books maybe with a side of Stranger Things and definitely comes across as Middle Grade horror. Protagonist Jim doesn't quite read like a fifteen-year-old, I feel like everything about TROLLHUNTERS just screams Middle Grade and it's quite irritating that it poses to be something else.

Del Toro and Kraus absolutely manage to capture this unique feeling of uneasiness that I enjoy a lot when reading books in this genre. However, even though the feeling is spot on, the world builing fantastic, it just wasn't my thing. I wasn't looking to read Middle Grade horror, but if you're specifically looking for that this will be an excellent and fun read. 

Great world building

The highlight of TROLLHUNTERS is a combination of the brilliant black and grey illustrations and the fantastic world building. I absolutely believed Del Toro and Kraus that this is something that could've happened - TROLLHUNTERS threads a fine line between horror and what I would probably most accurately describe as paranormal magical realism (totally just invented this). The trolls are such a fantastically eerie element of the story that absolutely feels organic and terrifying. TROLLHUNTERS makes for a terrifying bedtime story for badass kids. 

The world of TROLLHUNTERS is fantastic, spell-binding, and the trolls are nothing short from terrifying and unsettling. For a younger audience this definitely is a must-read if you enjoy stories on the spookier, creepier side. I wish TROLLHUNTERS had been published when I was in the Middle Grade reading age!


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TROLLHUNTERS is the book I wish I would've come across when I was eleven or twelve. The perfect horror read for Middle Grade readers, but because this isn't what I was looking for or expected, it didn't really impresss me.



Additional Info

Published: October 31st 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Heyne Fliegt
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 978-3-453-27049-7

Synopsis:
"In San Bernardino, California, children are going missing. 

The townspeople don't believe the rumours of trolls, but fifteen-year-old Jim Jnr knows that they're a very real threat. At night, is anyone safe? 

TROLLHUNTERS is a funny, gruesome and undeniably del Toro-esque adventure perfect for teen readers and fans of Pan's Labyrinth."
(Source: Goodreads)



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Thursday, October 27, 2016

[Review] The Sun Is Also A Star - Nicola Yoon: Diversity and Deportation

In THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, science geek Natasha and poet Daniel fall in love right before Natasha is supposed to get deported back to Jamaica.

What intrigued me: I was curious about Yoon's books, after the success of EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING.

Unique narrative style

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is an incredibly unique novel. From the beautifully emotional writing to the narrative style; the story is told from multiple POVs of random strangers the protagonists meet in the story. The chapters are all very short, five pages at most, and anything that isn't told from Natasha's or Daniel's POV reads more like a footnote than a continuation of the story. 

This may sound strange, but Yoon absolutely is able to pull this off seamlessly without interrupting the narrative flow. Through all those POVs we are presented with an eclectic view of Natasha's and Daniel's world that is truly entertaining to read about. It's especially noteworthy how effortlessly diverse her cast is and how pleasant and organic it feels to read about these two non-white teens falling in love.

However, aside from the fantastic world and the undoubtedly incredibly multi-faceted characters, there isn't really much to THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR. We have the side plots involving Natasha's deportation and Daniel's worries concerning his future career path, but that's it. It truly reads like you're following these characters around, like the story is making itself up as it goes along.

Eccentric and Romance-Heavy

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR doesn't try to trick you into thinking that it's more than just a romance at any point. The story itself dabbles along but never quite deviates from the course; if there even is any to begin with. The lack of structure is evident very early on and irritated me, because I was expecting the side plots to grow more important and the romance to be more of a side plot.

Personally, I do like my contemporaries less on the romance-heavy side and more on the plot-driven side which is ultimately why I had a hard time concentrating and truly making peace with the lack of story. THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is a very eccentric and unique novel that will ultimately be hit or miss for you.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is incredibly unique, incredibly well-written, and if you love romance, absolutely a novel that I'd recommend to you.



Additional Info

Published: November 1st 2016
Pages: 344
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA / Romance
ISBN: 9780553496680

Synopsis:
"Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
 "(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read one of Nicola Yoon's books?

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