Tuesday, February 20, 2018

[Review] Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Trigger warning: Rape, miscarriage.

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

Rating: 2 stars
Format: ARC 
Release Date: February 27th 2018

Goodreads Synopsis:
In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can't make a scene at your sister's wedding and break a relative's nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.
Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it's a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl--a subspecies of dragon--who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she's tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

I just felt so many internal frustrations with Tess of the Road because on one hand, Tess's development on her adventure/quest for personal healing was actually really good (if you dig deeply into it the adventure, it's very symbolic with all the obstacles she has to overcome to find herself again), but on the other... There's just so much going on. And it's such a bulky, huge book (500+ pages), that it takes time to accomplish where it wants to go and how it wants to do it!

Monday, February 12, 2018

[Review] Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Rating: 4.5 stars

Version: HC
Released: October 16th 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:
Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.
Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.
When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
Another epic space adventure by Kaufman and Kristoff. The villain wasn't as haunting as AIDAN was in Illuminae, but it was still an awesome ride.

Gemina follows Hanna, Nik, and Nik's cousin Ella as they try to save their home, the jump station Heimdall, from annihilation by BeiTech, all while dealing with an alien force that has found its way on board. It's a lot of sneaking around and spy moves here on in.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Ace of Shades book tag (Irons version)

Hey everyone! As part of Amanda Foody's #Shadowgang, specifically on the #Irons Team, I'm really excited to promote her upcoming book Ace of Shades. This Ace of Shades book tag, Irons version, came from Amber at The Literary Phoenix. Without further ado, here are my answers.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

[Review] The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Series: The Belles #1
Rating: 4.5 stars

Release Date: February 6th 2018
Format: ARC 

Goodreads Synopsis:
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 
With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.


I was already excited to read this book, and then I found out from my Professor for my YA Creative Writing course that it is actually going to be on the required reading list, and the author will most likely visit in May, I HAD TO GET ON THIS BOOK ASAP.

Of course this book is coming out today and that is also why I'm reviewing here today, but still, I'm glad I got on this sooner and not later.

The Belles was a really unique concept and I just can't get over that. We've got a lot of magical worlds, princesses fighting to be the last one standing, Romeo and Juliet-esque loves, that sort of thing, but this really took the cake on a book that took a very widespread and familiar issue in society, did a total 180 degree flip and made a completely unfamiliar yet totally plausible world with it. Dhonielle Clayton does an excellent job of crafting the world of Orleans and executing the story so that not only are we astounded by the glitz and glamour of this world, we can draw back to the real world and find the connections she makes between Orleans and societal problems.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

[Review] Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Rating: 5 stars

Format: HC
Release Date: April 7th 2015

Goodreads Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Monday, January 22, 2018

[Review] Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Series: Dark Gifts #1
Rating: 2 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Published: February 14th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
In modern-day Britain, magic users control everything: wealth, politics, power—and you. If you’re not one of the ultimate one-percenters—the magical elite—you owe them ten years of service. Do those years when you’re old, and you’ll never get through them. Do them young, and you’ll never get over them.
This is the darkly decadent world of Gilded Cage. In its glittering milieu move the all-powerful Jardines and the everyday Hadleys. The families have only one thing in common: Each has three children. But their destinies entwine when one family enters the service of the other. They will all discover whether any magic is more powerful than the human spirit.
Have a quick ten years. . . .

Friday, January 19, 2018

[Review] Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Series: Renegades #1
Rating: 3 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Release Date: November 7th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.
Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

[Review] Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

Rating: 3.5 stars 

Released: January 2nd 2018
Format: ARC Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Serendipity "Pity" Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She's been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great....
In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity's struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

[Review] Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Series: Reign of the Fallen #1
Rating: 3.5 stars (Buddy Read)
Format: ARC Paperback
Release Date: January 23rd 2018

Goodreads Synopsis:
Odessa is one of Karthia's master necromancers, catering to the kingdom's ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it's Odessa's job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised--the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.
A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

Monday, January 15, 2018

[Review] The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
Series: The Balloonmakers #1
Rating: 3 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Released: September 1st 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.
If you give a girl a magic balloon, she will burn down the world. 

The Girl with the Red Balloon was described as one of my favorite genres - time travel! And historical fiction! Together!

Except, when I finished this book, I found myself surprisingly disappointed. I wasn't blown away or anything. There are three POVs - Ellie, Kai, and Benno (Ellie's grandfather), and the only one I found myself drawn to was Benno's. Ellie's and Kai's sounded too similar that it was difficult for me to distinguish between the two.

Ellie was sort of a bland protagonist, and her romance with Kai was too forced, too sudden, too insta-love for me. Their attraction is very... circumstantial.

"Sponge," Kai said and frowned. "It's not a German word. You soak up everything around you, don't you? You're quiet because you're always absorbing everything. Everything's personal to you. Everything is." He paused and turned away from me. "It's very real."
He shrugged and added after a beat, "But I don't know you yet."

A lot of the worldbuilding was lost to me because the reader is just supposed to accept that balloon magic works with a bunch of fancy equations and writings in blood. I mean, I don't need the whole breakdown of it, but I'm not necessarily a reader who will take everything at face value - but this is just what this book is doing! Here is information and this is how it's supposed to be. There are people who make the balloons with 'magic' and people who run the escapees - the runners. That's what I got out of it.

The characters are drawing conclusions the reader may not be following. I am that reader.

"I read the physics about time travel after Ellie came," Mitzi said lightly. "Time's as much of a dimension as space. Like Ashasher says, space-time is like a fabric. But you can only go forward in time."


I will, however, say that this book did evoke some very moving lines in Benno's POV.
The balloon carried me free of Chelmno. Dayenu.The balloon carried me to a Polish resistance camp. Dayenu.They snuck me south across mountains and through the Nazis' backyard. Dayenu.They found me a boat to Palestine. Dayenu.They saved my life with a magic balloon. Dayenu.They saved me. Dayenu.And I never learned the girl with the red balloon's name. Dayenu. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

My Favorite Reads of 2017 + Giveaway (US ONLY)

Hello everyone! I've been on-again, off-again with this blog, and I apologize; school's been pretty hectic, as I'm gearing up to take my MCAT in a few months. However, I am back for the time being, and I actually have reviews scheduled for once. I'm planning on doing a few giveaways this year, as I never seem to remember when my blogoversary is. This is my first giveaway for the year, to kick things off for 2018!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

[Review] Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu 

Series: DC Icons #2
Rating: 3.5 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Published: January 2nd 2018

Goodreads Synopsis:
Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.
The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.
One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals.
Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope.
In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.