Tuesday, November 15, 2016

[Review] Fate of Flames (Effigies #1) by Sarah Raughley

Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Series: Effigies #1
Rating: 2 stars

Release Date: November 22nd 2016

Goodreads Synopsis: 
Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.
When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.
But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.
Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.
Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.
Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?
I really wanted to like this one. Really.

But how can I like it when I hate the main character?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

[Review] Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Rating: 4.5 stars 
Version: ARC Paperback
Release Date: November 22nd 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.
Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

"Immortality has turned us all into cartoons." - Scythe Curie

So I've had friends telling me how great Neal Shusterman was, how different his books were compared to other YA they've read... and when I got an ARC of his upcoming book, Scythe, I went into it with pretty high expectations.

Those expectations have been met. Scythe takes the controversial topic of death and brings it to life (hey, irony!). It even takes the dystopian genre and takes it to a different spectrum. I've tried to stay away from dystopians for fear of redundant and overused tropes and plots akin to The Hunger Games, but Scythe was compelling without any love triangles and drama to mar its story.

Monday, October 31, 2016

New York Comic Con 2016 Photo Recap

Wonderland Novels went to New York Comic Con 2016 earlier this month, and we had a great time! Instead of a traditional post, we decided to do a photo recap. After all, a picture says a thousand words, right?

Our last stop of NYCC 2016... the Canon booth! Featuring me standing thee awkwardly & Raisa using her phone as a wand!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

[Review] The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras

The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 3.5 stars

Release Date: November 1st 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
AP Exams – check
SAT test – check
College Application – check
Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for– check
Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan—and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes toa screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.
Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Viv realizes she can finally be whoever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it’s okay to be less than perfect, because it’s our imperfections that make us who we are.

I entered into this book dubious - the synopsis opens up with AP Exams, and my friends and I were BlogBound Con and immediately knew that we are already past that part of our lives. It seems silly to us how much importance was placed on these tests, so I did not expect to be able to relate to the premise of the story and the main character. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (23) - RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

Waiting on Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard 
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: January 10th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.
A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both the Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

[Review] Blood for Blood (Wolf by Wolf #2) by Ryan Graudin

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #2
Rating: 5 stars
Version: ARC Paperback
Release Date: November 1st 2016

If there's a gif that sums up how this book made me feel in the end...

I wanted to cry. I just couldn't. I felt so incomplete. This is what duologies do to me - make you want a third book so you can be with the characters once more.

It takes place promptly where Wolf by Wolf left off, after Yael realizes that Hitler isn't exactly Hitler, and she's on her way to make a quick escape... Luckily (or unluckily) for her, she's got someone tailing her. 

Blood for Blood had a different vibe from Wolf by Wolf; with no race involved, and more of a focus on our trio of Yael, Felix, and Luka, I felt like I was able to understand their motivations and characters more. Ryan Graudin did occasional interludes called Three Portraits to flashback to their pasts. This made me connect to Felix and Luka a lot more - while Luka definitely was a charmer, he wasn't a rebel without a cause. And Felix had his reasons for being an arse.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

[Review] Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 3 stars

Release Date: November 1st 2016

Goodreads Synopsis: 
A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for. 
Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.
When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.
As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

[Review] Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 3.5 stars
Release Date: October 4th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.
Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.
Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

Fear the Drowning Deep is like a gender-swapped darker Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen did have its dark moments, after all.

Bridey lives on the Isle of Man, which is an island near England. She fears the sea after the death of her grandfather and yearns to be free of her small town and travel. During the summer, she starts her work as an apprentice of the rumored town witch, Morag. She also ends up rescuing a boy from the waves, whom she names Fynn. Fynn has no recollection of his life before he was rescued, but he also holds dark secrets. The two of them work together to solve the mysterious disappearances of the town's girls.

Isle of Man lore was fascinating to read about, as it's not something you see very often. To be honest, I didn't even know where the Isle of Man was until I wiki-ed it. The Manx language is quite unique too.

Fossegrims, serpents, and glashtyns are terrifying, yet astounding creatures. I wish that Marsh delved more into them, because their origin was a tad bit confusing. Spoiler: Fynn is a glashtyn (basically a monster sea horse), but he has the ability to turn into a human.

The romance with Fynn, I compare it to the Little Mermaid, so expect to experience some weird insta-love I didn't really comprehend that went from strangers to "I love you" within 100 pages. But it was nice that the love triangle I expected resolved itself fairly calmly, without much conflict.

Bridey herself was a cool heroine. Glad it was her doing the killing of monsters and not Fynn, because you get lines like:

"Well, I killed the fossegrim during Mally's wedding feast with a carving knife. I'm ready to slay bigger monsters, like King Arthur's knights did in the old stories. You can call me Sir Gawain."
"Not Lady Guinevere?"
I wrinkled my nose and frowned. "She never got to do anything important." 

The pacing was odd - I wasn't sure if days or weeks were passing by, but it was summer. That I knew. The beginning was really boring to me, and until the disappearances and the mystery-solving started happening, I was wondering when something will happen, and where the story was going.

Fear the Drowning Deep definitely did hit its mark though with keeping me interested in the latter of the novel. It is more interesting than the Disney Little Mermaid, but it still retains that romance you might be wary of. Regardless, I found it to be a full of tension-ridden moments, which will keep you reading on.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

[Review] 100 Days by Nicole McInnes

100 Days by Nicole McInnes
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 4 stars

Release Date: August 23rd 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
Agnes doesn't know it, but she only has one hundred days left to live. When she was just a baby, she was diagnosed with Progeria, a rare disease that causes her body to age at roughly ten times the normal rate. Now nearly sixteen years old, Agnes has already exceeded her life expectancy.
Moira has been Agnes’s best friend and protector since they were in elementary school. Due to her disorder, Agnes is still physically small, but Moira is big. Too big for her own liking. So big that people call her names. With her goth makeup and all-black clothes, Moira acts like she doesn’t care. But she does.
Boone was friends with both girls in the past, but that was a long time ago—before he did the thing that turned Agnes and Moira against him, before his dad died, before his mom got too sad to leave the house.
An unexpected event brings Agnes and Moira back together with Boone, but when romantic feelings start to develop, the trio’s friendship is put to the test. 

When you think of progeria, or Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome in technical terms, perhaps you've heard of Adalia Rose. She was definitely who I thought of when I found out one of the main characters in this book has progeria.

Those with progeria have a lower life expectancy than most people. Yet Agnes manages the impossible and is currently 15-going-on-16. Despite all obstacles, she tries her hardest to live life normally, even though most people treat her like a pity-party. Her best friend, Moira, sees her as more than that, and tries to shield her from harm. As they go through sophomore year, they run into an old friend, Boone, and the trio work together to face the many hardships of teenage life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

[Review] We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash

We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash
Series: Strange Truth #1
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 1 star
Release Date: October 4th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
Twin Peaks meets Pretty Little Liars in acclaimed author Maggie Thrash’s new Strange Truth series.
It’s better to know the truth. At least sometimes.
Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River.
Just like that, she’s gone.
Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.

So I went from reading The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis to this. Both books dealt with rape (this one less so, but still) and had really dark themes, but this one really took the cake for being really shitty with POC characters.

I just was really put off by the fact that the two really creepy perverts were Asian. The English girl who was from Nigeria was a rapist and creepily hypnotized everyone into fulfilling her sick fantasies. It was literally a story of - everyone who is good is white, and everyone who is a POC is a villain. Why would that be okay?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

[Review] Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Untitled #1
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 4 stars 

Release Date: September 13th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth, instead of participating in teas and socials that are suited for a girl of her age, spends her time in far darker quarters, with a scalpel in hand and a dead body on the table. However as of late the dead she's been examining in her Uncle's laboratory have come back with gruesome wounds - throats slit and organs stolen. It's up to her and her Uncle's apprentice Thomas Cresswell to save the women of East End London from the killer known as Jack the Ripper.

I'm conflicted on my rating as I write this review - it's honestly either a 3.5 or a 4.

On one hand, the writing is great. The author clearly did her research when it came to forensic science and the terminology used. As someone who took a Forensic Science course in high school, I was interested in this book from the start. For me to read about its early beginnings in the 19th century made me think of the show Penny Dreadful. Complete with all the bloody bits.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

[Review] The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Series: The Girl From Everywhere #1
Rating: 3.5 star
Version: ARC Paperback
Release Date: February 16th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.
As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.
But the end to it all looms closer every day.
Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.
For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.
She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.
Or she could disappear.

This is the second time travel book I've read this year involving ships. The first is Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I'd say I liked The Girl from Everywhere better, but it still has it's flaws. Time to discuss what I like and dislike in this review.

Nix travels through different time periods on her father's ship. For 16 years, Slate has been searching far and wide for a map that can lead him back to his beloved wife (and Nix's mother) Lin, in 1868. Maps have either not worked or been faked. However, going back to 1868 may mark the end of Nix's existence, as her mom died when she gave birth to her, so Nix must work against time to save herself. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

[Review] The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 5 stars

Release Date: September 20th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

Honestly - everyone should read this book. Guy, girl, whoever. It's extremely important. The Female of the Species conveys a strong message, and channels all the anger over being treated like shit by men into the character that is Alex Craft. I wouldn't call her my role model, but she's our inner fighter whenever we feel weak or defenseless. 

This book has dark themes and has a roundabout way of getting to the point, kind of like Wink Poppy Midnight. It even has multiple POVs. One is from Alex, sister to Anna, who was raped and murdered a few years prior. We also have Peekay (aka Preacher's kid), who volunteers at the animal shelter with Alex and becomes her friend, as well as Jack, who wants to know Alex better after finding her sister's body all those years ago. Alex's POV is the introspective one, full of her thoughts and inner demons as she struggles to find normalcy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

To Watch or To Read: Howl's Moving Castle

Book/Movie: Howl's Moving Castle
Author of Book: Diana Wynne Jones
Director of Film: Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli

Welcome to my first feature, To Watch or To Read?

I'll be comparing one book and its movie counterpart - discussing key differences and similarities as well as explaining which one I liked better. And... if you should watch or you should read. However, there are spoilers ahead! Be warned.

This will be my first time doing a book vs. movie feature for the blog, and because I love Studio Ghibli movies, my first book/movie I will be comparing is Howl's Moving Castle.

Fun fact - I never really watched Howl's Moving Castle in its entirety until now. I saw bits and pieces, but being able to watch it with knowledge of the book helped me love it even more. Studio Ghibli films will always hold a special place in my heart.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

[Review] Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Golden Son by Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising #2
Rating: 5 stars

Version: Paperback
Release Date: January 6th 2015

Goodreads Synopsis:
Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

Can I just say that the saving grace of this book is Sevro? Honestly, I can write a whole post on Sevro, but for the sake of time and space, I will just review this book.

This book was amazing, don't get me wrong. But every moment this Goblin showed up I was like -
Sevro is so precious I swear

Sunday, August 21, 2016

#ARCAugust Week 3 Update

As I didn't do a Week 2 update, here are all the ARCs I've read since my first update. 

My next few reads are... 

I'm at 6/12 - halfway towards my goal! Hopefully I can get to more ARCs this week. 

How has everyone's #ARCAugust been going? 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Top 5 Previously Released 2016 Books That I Want To Read

2016 is full of great books, and I don't think I have the time to read them all. Lately I've been focusing on finishing fall 2016 ARCs for #arcAugust, leaving all my other books in the dust. If only there were more hours in the day... anyway! Here are some earlier 2016 releases that I hopefully will get to (one day).

My Lady Jane has been getting a ton of positive reviews for being funny as hell (despite being historically inaccurate). I haven't picked up historical fiction in awhile, but once I catch up to #arcAugust, I'm reading this lively book next.