Holiday Reads #3

Title: My True Love Gave to Memy true love.jpg

Author(s): A bazillion—>

Genre: YA Contemporary

Edition: Hardcover

I LOVED THIS! 

Seriously if you want a holiday book that is warm, fuzzy and festive then look no further. (I mean, you can keep looking, don’t let me stop you but really put this on the list.)

All these stories with the exception of a couple were so appealing to my feels. Rainbow’s story, Midnights, is the first and I couldn’t believe that she made me feel so much in only twenty two pages. I was seriously ready to read an entire novel based off of Noel’s and Mags’s story. Reluctantly I went on to read the next story by Kelly Link called The Lady and the Fox.

And wow–how captivating and unique it was! When I started reading, all I could say was “what?” There were these children under the Christmas tree, a weird family of Honeywells and a strange man staring through the window with a caged fox on his jacket sleeve. I’m not sure when the moment of utter confusion turned into pure enchantment but pretty soon I wasn’t even aware of my fingers turning the pages. Kelly Link’s writing reminds me of a Victorian author’s style. It’s really cool to see a modern writer using such a style and have it work. She has written a weird almost fantasy-like story but a good kind of weird. I really wish that one was a novel as well.

Every story I moved onto was great and I was just marveling at the talent compacted into this one book. AND THE DIVERSITY. All types of people were in here and they weren’t incorporated in a tacky and still kind of stereotypical way but in a thoughtful, not afraid to address race and differences way. I LOVED Gayle Forman’s story. She confronted white and black stereotypes in a cute Christmas story. It wasn’t heavy or anything, it was just real. Gah, I loved it.

I didn’t read Holly Black’s story because her interests do not exactly coincide with mine. Laini Taylor’s story was so out of place. I didn’t feel an ounce of Christmas and it was not that interesting. Those were the only two I had a problem with. Everything else was so full of the holiday spirit! The relationships were so cute! The characters were so authentic and unique! I’m in love with this book and I might just read it every Christmas. I might just look up more stories written by these authors as well. Who knows? Maybe I’ll finally pick up Eleanor and Park.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and continue to enjoy the holiday season!

Peace, love and holly. xx

 

Holiday Reads #2

let it snow.jpgTitle: Let It Snow

Author: Maureen Johnson, John Green, Lauren Myracle

Genre: YA Contemporary

Edition: Paperback

Even if the weather outside was frightful and the fire was so delightful, I would refuse to read this book.

I’m actually surprised by how many people like this book. If it wasn’t for John Green, I would have abandoned it after the first page. He saw it dangling over a pot of boiling oil and decided to be the knight in shining armor. The first story was called The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson. I was immediately annoyed with the writing style. It was very “My name is ___. This is where I live. These are my parents.” I really don’t like books where it seems like the main character is writing an autobiography of their lives. I want it to feel like I am living his/her life. Jubilee was also annoying as a narrator. She was trying too hard to be funny and instead of laughing at her jokes, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. I was more focused on finishing the story than reading it until Jubilee met Stuart. Both his character, who is incredibly kind, and the plot from then on out renewed my interest in the story. Plus, he works at Target! (#StuartfromTarget anybody?) I think my tolerance gradually grew because Jubilee wasn’t as annoying towards the end. Maureen’s story definitely felt Christmassy though which was nice and Stuart’s family was so warm.

John Green’s story called A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle was amazing but you probably expected that. His story was less Christmassy but the characters were significantly better. They were witty, smart (obviously) and realistic. Tobin and Angie were cute. Their interactions were adorable and I found myself actually anticipating the moment when they finally expressed their feelings for each other. I enjoyed reading all 90 pages of this story which seemed to redeem the whole book and gave it promise…then I got to Lauren Myracle’s story.

Reading Lauren Myracle’s story, The Patron Saint of Pigs was like suffering through an hour listening to annoying, bratty, tween girls. Tween girls are her usual audience however so I can’t necessarily fault her for that but still… It held the archetype of a Christmas story where everything is dramatized but it lacked feeling so instead of leaving me with the idea of “Christmas magic”, it just left me unsatisfied. Even though I understood the moral that Myracle was trying to convey, I didn’t feel any sentiment. The main character, Addie, was once again so very annoying and her friends and associates were too superficial and not original enough to form any mark in my memory. The only thing I liked was when all the characters came together. These stories occur during the same time period in the same universe so the characters are all connected in some way and it was nice seeing them all together. My favorite couple was, with no competition, Tobin and Angie.

I was really excited to continue my holiday reading spree after reading Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares but sadly this one was a disappointment. (Except for you, John Green.) If you are looking for a book with cute romances and festivities to put you in the Christmas mood, I wouldn’t really recommend this. Then again, you might find them interesting cause apparently a lot of other people did.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve! xx

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA Fantasy

Edition: Hardcover

No Mourners. No Funerals.

That’s how inhabitants of the Barrel say ‘Good Luck’. It’s a fitting exchange of words that acknowledges the fact that the odds are probably against them but they’ll be damned if they don’t pull through.

Even if the odds are impeccably stacked on the unfavorable  side, Kaz Brekker, bastard of the Barrel and right-hand man of the Dregs, one of the gangs that rule over Ketterdam, will find a way out. Kaz, known as Dirtyhands because there isn’t anything he won’t do for the right price, is like an untouchable force of nature whom no one dare cross for fear of being killed in the most imaginative way possible. He kills without a second thought and shows no pity, empathy and or mercy. He is, in short, a monster (and only seventeen!).

Yet I love him. If a writer can make me love such a monster, he/she is extremely talented (or there’s something seriously wrong with me). Kaz is such a complex, convoluted, perplexing, and charming character. I can’t even begin to explain the depth within this one persona. There are just no words.

Right away, Kaz is enlisted by a mercher to complete an impossible heist that involves infiltrating a most guarded and secure prison, the Ice Court. Of course, Kaz agrees for a persuasive amount of money that would able him to finally achieve the one thing he’s been after all these years. To succeed this task, he assembles a crew of enticingly peculiar people, each with a different skill-set. There’s a sharpshooter, a nimble spy with acrobatic skills, a Grisha (someone with powers), a former-witchhunter, or drüskelle, and a rich-boy turned criminal who has “hidden depths”. Some of these characters are also POC–score for you Bardugo. I’m not going to tell you who they are exactly because it’s much more fun if you figure it out on your own. I will say, however, that all these characters are just as flushed out as Kaz and have compelling stories that led them to their current position as members of the Dregs. You gotta love them, even Matthias, who was hard to swallow at first. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about each of their pasts that were revealed piece by piece throughout the novel. It was like scavenger hunting, reading through and waiting to see if this was the chapter where you’d discover the secret behind so and so. For example, Kaz wears gloves all the time and no one knows why but at one point in the story, I put the puzzle pieces together and had such a rewarding epiphany. Same with Jesper, there were way too many revelations about Jesper in one chapter alone. I finished the chapter like “Who is this guy? Everything I thought about you was a lie!” 

Now maybe many of you have read Leigh’s debut novels, the Grisha trilogy and are familiar with this world that she has created but I haven’t so I went in with a significant lack of knowledge. In the booksphere, people have been saying that one need not read the Grisha trilogy to understand this novel but I still found myself very confused for the first few chapters. Not only were the terms confusing but it was also difficult for me to understand the politics of this world. To this point, I’m still not sure I truly understand the concepts or just became more familiar with them. *shrugs* Either way, Leigh has definitely created an extraordinary world. I commend her also for creating such an elaborate facility such as the Ice Court. I imagine it to be so beautiful.

Each character obviously has their own love interest. Some of them were expected, some were not. And none of the relationships–and relationships to be–are simple. They all have a significantly sized barrier that is both heartbreaking and slightly amusing. By no means does this story revolve around these romances but the inclusion of them certainly adds to the riveting plot.

I honestly could talk about this book all day but this review is becoming a bit lengthy so I’m gonna cut it off here. I believe I have given you sufficient reason to go out to your local bookstore and purchase this book. If you need any more convincing, take a IMG_20151213_111534.jpglook at this—>

BLACK PAGES! IT HAS BLACK PAGES! I mean, have you ever seen something more beautiful? When I got this book, I literally just sat there marveling at the exquisite exterior before I even embarked on the journey of reading it. It is seriously that gorgeous. Looks, an awesome plot, beautiful characters, what more could you need?

I can’t contain my excitement for the sequel. I’m bursting at the seams. If you’ve read this whole post until the end, I commend you for your determination and thank you for your loyalty. If any of you in the booksphere have read Six of Crows and loved it as much as I did, please comment so we can rave about it together. Even if you didn’t like this book so much, comment and tell me why so I can convince you of your inaccuracies.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

See you on the flip side xx

Holiday Reads #1

dash and lilyTitle: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Genre: YA Contemporary

 Edition: Ebook

The only bright side of this dim season was that school was shuttered (presumably so everyone could shop ad nauseam and discover that family like arsenic, works best in small doses … unless you prefer to die).

It’s the holiday season! Yay! It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and I become more excited every day! To get me even more into the Christmas spirit, I decided to read all the holiday books and stories that I could find! (Maybe not all, maybe I’ll save some for next year).

My first pick was Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares because I’ve heard a lot about it and kept seeing it on my Goodreads. Can I just say–it was not a letdown. I loved every minute of it. From the very first page I was hooked. That quote at the top is found on page 2 and after I read it, I became aware of two things: One, I was in love with Dash and two, this was going to be one of my favorite holiday reads and possibly contemporary novels in general.

I wasn’t planning on completing this novel in one day but I literally could not put it down once I began reading. It was just so fast-paced, funny and cute that my finger kept tapping the screen and turning the page until the next thing I saw was “Acknowledgements”.

In this dual-perspective novel, Lily’s brother decided that she needed to find a boyfriend to become less whiny and cease living up to her nickname, Shrilly. So he takes a red moleskin notebook, writes some directions inside and sticks it on a shelf in The Strand for whomever finds it. Dash comes upon it thus beginning the back to back conversation between him and Lily through this red book as they leave it at various drop-off sites. Lily gives Dash some serious dares including a very disturbing one involving Santa. Dash, wonderfully described as a wanna-be hipster, and Lily are hilarious. Dash has a love for words making me like his character even more. I was so thankful that I read this on a Kindle and I could easily look up the definitions of all his lexemes. Your vocabulary will greatly improve after reading this book, I can tell you that. To top it all off, Dash is especially sassy and I’m a sucker for sass. All of the characters are pretty sprightly even though they have their own conflicts to deal with but the general tone of this novel is light, humorous and festive. I loved all the Christmas sprinkled throughout such as Lily’s extremely festive outfits and all the Christmassy sites that she made Dash go to. It definitely put me in a jolly mood.

*Spoilers* When Dash and Lily finally met, it was kind of anticlimactic and a bit over-dramatic. I couldn’t understand why Dash felt so disappointed. Sure she was drunk and that had to be unattractive but he said himself that he knew she wasn’t really like that so why didn’t he just wait until she sobered up? The drama reached a ridiculously comical level when Dash and Lily “officially” met and the dog ran off and crashed into the baby carriage. I just pictured the baby flying into the air and could not stop laughing. Then they got arrested on top of that? Plus Lily became famous overnight and had two new best friends out of nowhere. That whole section of the book just defined fiction.

I did think that the bit about the Pixar movie, Collation, was a creative touch. I actually googled it to see if it was real and was so relieved to find out it wasn’t. For a minute, I thought Pixar had finally reached an all time low. My only qualm is the abrupt ending. “Wake up Dash”? Really? I know the holidays were over at that point but jeez the book didn’t have to be. They could have written at least one chapter.*End Spoilers*

There is no shortage of laughs in the book and it is cute without being too fluffy. Plus all the beautiful Christmas. If you are looking for the perfect holiday read, I would suggest picking up Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. You won’t regret it. By the end, you’ll be wishing there was some moleskin notebook hidden in your nearest bookstore waiting to be found to take you on such an exhilarating adventure.

Happy Holidays! xx

ToA Cover Reveal & Musings!

Rick Riordan dropped the cover of The Trials of Apollo today along with an excerpt from Chapter 3.

trials of apollo.jpg

If you weren’t already aware, this series is going to follow Apollo as he attempts to maneuver the mortal world stripped of his godly status. I imagine his trials will be hilarious at best.

As expected, the cover is beautiful. The blue is perfectly contrasted by the orange glow surrounding Apollo because he’s literally the sun. I love how the “O” in Apollo is a target and Apollo in god form is shooting at it. (He’s a little bit off target but if anyone could make that shot it would be Apollo). Mortal Apollo looks like a brunet though which is weird because Apollo has always been blond and one would assume that he would stay blond as a mortal. It could just appear that way though because the “sun” is overshadowing him. Whatever he looks like, he’ll still have his chipper personality.

Usually Rick releases the first chapter of an upcoming novel so I was briefly confused as to why he chose Chapter 3 this time. Then I saw that Percy was going to make an appearance and realized that Rick once again knows exactly what his fans want. Apollo is one of my favorite Greek gods especially in the universe that Rick has created–with his impromptu haikus and mindless flirting with the hunters of Artemis. I can’t wait to see the reactions of Chiron and the campers at CHB. Percy’s reaction was iconic enough.

Apollo’s situation is intriguing though because since Zeus turned him into a mortal, he doesn’t have any powers at all unlike the demigods. So how is he going to get into CHB in the first place? And even if he has no powers, does he still have skills he specializes in? He could just be an expert archer in human standards and familiar with musical instruments. I doubt his poetry skills will improve though.

Regardless, I’m just glad we haven’t seen the last of Percy Jackson and CHB. Hopefully, this series will answer all of the questions that Blood of Olympus left us with because we all know that ending was less than satisfactory. It’ll be reminiscent to read the familiar first person POV and from such a lovable character.

If you have any theories about Rick’s exciting new series and wanna talk about them, leave a comment for me! I’d love to read them.

Adieu xx

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinderTitle: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fairytale Retelling

Edition: Paperback

Our dear Cinderella trades in the glass slipper for a shiny new cyborg foot. 

Who doesn’t love fairytales? People without souls, that’s who. And if you love fairytales, you should be interested in Cinder, primarily because it is a fairytale retelling. It’s the first installment in a quartet of fairytale retellings called The Lunar Chronicles.

As you can probably tell from the cover, there is a sci-fi twist where Linh Cinder is a cyborg, meaning she is part-android and part-human. Following the sci-fi pattern, rather than dusting floors, Cinder is a mechanic and has to tend to all her step-mother’s technological needs. The backstory is more or less the same but with one outstanding difference because somewhere in her past, Cinder went from being completely human to having metal body parts. Her two step-sisters, Peony and Pearl, are both human but they are not both vicious to Cinder. Peony is actually pretty nice and they get along great. Whereas Cinderella has mice to keep her company, Cinder has an android named Iko who is a bundle of joy. There is way more personality in her than a lot people I know and she doesn’t even have a heart. The prince is Prince Kai, soon to be Emperor. He’s alright.

What I liked about this book was that it was based off of the first version (or the first to be written down) which originated in China. Cinder lives in the Eastern Commenwealth, which seems to be futuristic China. It’s authentic while also providing a new perspective because we’ve all come to know the Westernized story of Cinderella. A lot of the times when people envision or create a futuristic world, everyone is the same. It’s like they all made the final conformation to literally become one collective humankind. Marissa Meyer, however, created a futuristic world and maintained all the cultural aspects. Doing so made for a very diverse, quality world that was lovely to read. Also, in this time period, the black plague is prevalent with its first sign as a spot or rash on the person’s skin and in a few days, they are dead. That aspect generated a lot of fear and suspense.

On top of that, while all the people of earth are suffering from this plague, there are people up in space acting as yet another silent threat. Lunars, who, by their name you can probably infer, live on the moon, Luna. They’re great antagonists that contributed to the success of this book. Because of the consistent possibility that they will attack, throughout the novel readers are on the edge of their seats wondering, at each moment, whether the Lunars are about to do something big. If you’re not already convinced of their awesome-ness, note that they also have powers.

Cinderella is the foundation for the plot of Cinder but it certainly is not the whole plot. Cinder takes on a completely unique angle with a lot more dimension that the simple girl meets prince, girl marries prince, they live happily ever after. The relationship between Cinder and Kai is not the main focus. There are other rather intriguing characters and plot lines that sustain the story when Kai isn’t in the picture. The beginning was a little slow but when I finally got into the story, I had to read until the end. Cinder is also very sarcastic which made me like her more than I probably would have had she not been.

If you like sarcastic main characters, intriguing sci-fi worlds with a hint of mystery and questionable characters, then Cinder will be a great fit. Just read past the first couple of pages and then you will become compelled to finish it.

Top Ten Books I’m Thankful For

It’s definitely Wednesday right now…Oh well.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week is a Thanksgiving Freebie. I decided to share the books that I am most thankful for either because they significantly impacted my reading experience or because they offered something special.

  1. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

hatchet.jpeg

…for being my first favorite book and giving me an adventurous reading experience. Brian is the person you want when you are stranded on an island.

2. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

uglies.jpeg

…for getting me into dystopian fiction.

3. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

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…for making me really excited about reading. I believe that Percy Jackson fostered my passion for reading and was the reason that I became so enamored with novels.

4. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

catcher in the rye.jpg

…for portraying an unconventional character that I could actually relate to in a lot of ways.

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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…for showing me another perspective of World War 2 that I never see in any of the other WW2 books that I have read. Also, for being brilliant in every sense of the word.

6. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

AEITA.jpeg

…for having a POC main character and for creating a world kind of like Ancient Rome which I love.

7. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

obsidian

…for Daemon Black. For giving me unrealistic expectations for love. For Katy Swartz who is the most relatable character ever for me. And for being the perfect mix of romance and action.

8. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

shatter me series

…for such beautiful writing and character development. And for Warner.

9. The Iliad/The Odyssey by Homer

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…for providing me with a glimpse of those ancient Greeks whom I love so much. Such literature is a way for me to understand the kind of stories that they liked and told as well as what kind of lives they led. To me, they are primary sources just as valuable as archaeological remains.

10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

the great gatsby

…for being absolutely lovely and leaving me “simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life”.