The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

the queen of the tealingTitle: The Queen of the Tearling

Author: Erika Johansen

Genre: Fantasy/Dystopian

Edition: Hardcover

“I want to be a different queen.”

That’s not an actual quote from the book. It was actually said by Mary Queen of Scots on the show Reign on CW and it was all I kept thinking of as I read. Kelsea Raleigh is the heir of the Tearling and the book begins with her having reached the age of nineteen when she is required to take the throne. With a branded scar and a precious jewel, she is a symbol of hope for the Tear people task with the burden of eradicating their sufferings and removing them from under the oppressive hand of the Queen of Mortmesne. Determined not to be the frivolous queen that her mother was, Kelsea begins implementing her plans to improve the state of her kingdom. To understand the Tearling, picture what would happen to the world as it is now if technology failed and everyone who knew anything about science died. First world advantages as we know it would end. Many of you are no doubt familiar with older generations complaining that digitization is ruining society and the lives of our youth. Well this guy, William Tear, decided to create a utopia on the basis of that mentality and well…let’s just say it didn’t turn out as planned. Naturally, the world reverted to the medieval age.

I was pulled into this story from the beginning. As soon as she left her cottage, Kelsea was thrown into conflict and the problems just kept piling on. It’s ridiculously amazing how she handled everything with finesse and didn’t break down hyperventilating like I certainly would have if I was in her position. Living in a cottage for her whole life, she was never engrossed in royalty life. Then she’s taken to the Keep and has everything under control. I actually adore her and how she can easily focus on what’s important. On the page she exudes confidence even though she’s “plain”–something, by the way, she would not let readers forget. Seriously, in every chapter, there was a sentence referring to her plain facial features. Like okay, I get it, she’s not very attractive, there’s really no need to keep reminding me. That was one of the few things that irritated me. That and her irrational affection for The Fetch. It wasn’t even 24 hours and she was talking like she was in love. He must be damn irresistible to make that happen. While we’re on the topic of characters, I have a strong appreciation for the Queen’s Guards, especially Lazarus and I don’t even know why. Something about their personalities appeal to me and during the various complications, I realized that I really don’t want any harm to come to any of them. I do wish, though, that I knew more about the others besides Lazarus but hopefully Kelsea will learn more about them individually throughout the next two books. Same with the Fetch, who definitely has a mysterious past worth exploring.

The Queen of the Tearling revolves mostly around the political aspects of the kingdom and its strained relationship with Mortmesne rather than the interwoven magic. I can’t wrap my head around it but the events in this book seem to set the foundation for many future revelations about magic in the kingdom. So I’m excited.

Last but not least, the wit in this book is amazing. Everyone’s sense of humor was so intellectually satisfying.

If any of you have read this, tell me in the comments so we can talk about it. If you have not read it…read it. If you just want to tell me how your day was, go right ahead.

Later xx

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

Six-of-Crows.jpg
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

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.

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

the heart of betrayal

Title: The Heart of Betrayal

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Genre: YA Fantasy

Edition: E-book

The title of this novel holds true because my heart was indeed betrayed.

This is the second installment of The Remnant Chronicles written by Mary E. Pearson so if you haven’t read the first one, The Kiss of Deception, you shouldn’t be here. Then again, if you couldn’t care less then read on. If you have read the first book in the trilogy then you may continue as well for I will try to keep this review void of spoilers. (Key word: try.)

I have no idea why it’s been so difficult for me to write this review but for some reason, I can’t seem to collect my thoughts on this book. I had such high hopes for the second installment of the remnant chronicles. Such high hopes. The way that The Kiss of Deception ended was so climactic, I was really excited to read about the infamous Venda and see what dragon business the Grendel was referring to. In addition to that, I was anticipating discovering more dimensions to Kaden’s character and with that, an actual love triangle that is worth seeing played out.

Alas, I was disappointed. There are basically only two factors that I can truly appreciate and those are Venda and The Komizar. Venda was rather inventive. They had a lot of strange customs and I liked how their “barbaric” ways were continuously twisted around to be not as cruel or disdainful as Lia (and readers) once thought. The Komizar was also a nice addition to the set of characters we already have. He was calculating, cold, and at times very very creepy which makes for a really good antagonist. There’s definitely a layer to him beyond the harsh exterior that was briefly brought to light and I was hoping it would have been further explained either in this book or the next but the ending left no room for that development.

As for the prophecy or what have you–referring to the one named Jezelia who will defeat the dragon–I was pretty sure the dragon was The Komizar. However, the altercation between him and Lia seemed too quick, too soon and a tad bit unresolved. It certainly didn’t improve the situation in Venda or the relations between kingdoms so I’m not too convinced about my former interpretation. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was hoping for an actual dragon. Especially when Lia was crawling through the catacombs and hearing questionable sounds. There’s still an entire book left though so like…anything can happen.

I was just expecting at least a little bit more clarity about it. Throughout the book, it was revealed here or there that some of the Vendans knew and remembered the Song of Venda hinting at a possible hushed rebellion brewing in the towns but for the most part this whole prophecy was on the sidelines only to present itself when Lia randomly saw Venda everywhere (what’s up with that?) or when she was telling the townspeople stories. By the way, I love how she gradually gained control over the Vendans to the point where literally hundreds of people would wait outside her window and yet The Komizar was completely oblivious. Like…the award for Most Perceptive definitely does not go to you.

The ending was incredibly confusing for me. I don’t know if that’s because I read it too quickly or what but to this day I’m still not sure where Rafe and Lia are or what happened to Rafe’s friends. Hopefully, The Beauty of Darkness clears up a lot of this confusion but until then, I’ll just sit here in my confusion and be confused.

I apologize for this horrible review. I blame it on the book. Just kidding. Mary E. Pearson please don’t see this.

Later, loves xx