28 Dec 2016

Review: The Impostor Queen

PublicationMargaret K. McEldery Books
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
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Elli is destined to be Valtia, a Queen of the Kupari and the only person who can wield both fire and ice in service of her country. But when the previous Valtia dies, the magic does not enter Elli- doesn't seem to go anywhere. In disgrace, she flees for her life to the outlands, and a world she doesn't know. As she finds her footing, she learns more about the magic of her people, and grapples with her true purpose.

Joining a proud history of fantasy novels whose covers feel like they don't quite suit them is The Impostor Queen! (It technically suits the book... but it doesn't quite capture the feel for me?)

This was kind of a twist on the chosen one trope- girl raised to be the most powerful magic-user in history discovers that she's not exactly the chosen one.

Initially, this book felt very similar to a lot of YA fantasy, but rapidly deviates when Elli can't access the magic she was meant to wield. The world changes veers rather quickly away from what I was expecting, especially in terms of the priests have a great deal of power over the country- and the Valtia. It was refreshing to have a book go in a direction that was that different from my expectations. It got pretty dark and a bit creepy and quite interesting.

The storytelling took a little while to find it's footing... things really only pick up once Elli gets to the outlands, and she meets the outcasts living there. Watching her learn more about herself and form relationships with others. While Oskar didn't stun me as a love interest, I definitely didn't hate him either, and he definitely had his admirable qualities... it just took a while for his character to grow on me, I suppose. (Except his name. For some reason I didn't like his name. I just didn't work for me and I was weird and judgmental about it.) It nice to watch Elli grow from a person being groomed to be a leader in name, but without all that much practical power, into someone who could and would take on a real leadership role on the ground.

The magic of the world was interesting too. It did seem to have an awful lot of arbitrary-feeling rules, but once I got used to the system it worked for me. This did very much feel like the first book in a series and, while a lot of light has been shed on the magic since the beginning, I'm really hoping that it will be built on in the next book. While this one didn't end on a huge cliff-hanger, it was definitely a tense ending and I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens next!

15 Dec 2016

Review: The Sun is Also a Star

Publication  Delacorte Press
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Romance
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
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Natasha believes in facts, not fate- she definitely doesn't believe that you can fall in love with someone in 12 hours- especially when those 12 hours are the last ones you have before your family is deported. Daniel meets her when he's on the way to a college interview that his parents want and he doesn't and immediately knows that they're going to be something

This was a bit off the beaten track for me, since contemporaries really aren't my thing. And, okay, at least 20% of the reason I picked it up was because I really like the cover and title.

This was a pretty interesting read! One of my favourite parts was getting to see how the lives of our two main characters touched effected the little stories about those around them, and the coincidences that ended up bringing different people together and pulling them apart.

(My other favourite part was Natasha mentioning how she had to prove to her teacher that favourite was spelled with a "U.")

In a way, this reminded me a lot of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and maybe a bit of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. It's about two people who meet (through a series of random chances) and sort of... learn each other over the course of less than 24 hours, through a series of questions and misadventures. I also remember reading about the study they mentioned in passing a while ago. It's a little less fluffy than either of those books though, with the main characters both struggling with some tougher stuff, especially in Natasha's case. While the relationship did seem a little strange (possibly because of how fast it was), I felt that it kind of found it's footing more toward the end.

I've mentioned how my favourite parts of this book was how intertwined with Natasha and Daniel's lives were with other people's, and seeing the ripple effect that even the smallest actions had. These glimpses into everyone else's lives really gave the story a unique and almost whimsical feel. The word sonder, which means the realisation that the people surrounding you have lives as complex as your own, that comes mind. It was so fascinating to see some of those stories come full circle.

While this book is mostly a contemporary, the degree to which the universe seems to be invested in the meeting and relationships of the two main characters lends it a somewhat surreal and borderline magical quality. It wasn't something I disliked- it was definitely another thing that made this novel stand out, and almost pushed it outside of being a standard realistic fiction novel. It was so neat watching all the coincidences that let them find their way to each other.

Touching on the stories of other people was what made this book stand out for me. While the relationship between the two main characters felt... strange, probably because of how quickly it developed, I still enjoyed seeing them get to know each other. Though I'm not much of a contemporary reader, but I did quite enjoy this one!

11 Dec 2016

17 Twenty-Seventeen Anticipated Reads

I am linking this post to my monthly Anticipated Reads - a monthly meme hosted by Mel at Reviews In A Pinch that will be occurring the first Wednesday of every month that showcases at least three books releasing each month; letting you know what new books are coming out that I'm excited about.

Click the book cover photo to redirect to Goodreads.

Series: Red Queen #3
Publication: February 7th 2017 by HarperTeen

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

Publication: January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Series: To All The Boys I've Loved Before #3
Publication: April 4th 2017 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Publication: April 11th 2017 by HarperCollins

Saying good-bye to Scotland is the hardest thing that Jenna MacDuff has had to do—until she meets Lord Pembroke. Jenna’s small clan has risked their lives traveling the countryside as masons, secretly drumming up support and arms for the exiled King James Stuart to retake the British throne. But their next job brings them into enemy territory: England.

Jenna’s father repeatedly warns her to trust no one, but when the Duke of Keswick hires the clan to build a garrison on his estate, it seems she cannot hide her capable mind from the duke’s inquisitive son, Lord Alex Pembroke—nor mask her growing attraction to him. But there’s a covert plan behind the building of the garrison, and soon Jenna must struggle not only to keep her newfound friendship with Alex from her father, but also to keep her father’s treason from Alex.

Will Jenna decide to keep her family’s mutinous secrets and assist her clan’s cause, or protect the life of the young noble she’s falling for?

Publication: April 25th 2017 by Balzer + Bray

Being a pretty girl is who Rosie is, but it’s the start of a new school year and she wants to be more. Namely, she’s determined to be better to her best friend, Maddie, who’s just back from a summer program abroad having totally blossomed into her own looks. Rosie isn’t thrilled when Maddie connects with a football player who Rosie was hooking up with—but if it makes her friend happy, she’s prepared to move on. Plus someone even more interesting has moved to town: Alex, who recently garnered public attention after he stopped a classmate from carrying out a shooting rampage at his old high school. Rosie is drawn to Alex in a way she’s never really experienced for a boy before—and she is surprised to discover that, unlike every other guy, he seems to see more to her than her beauty.

Then one night, in the midst of a devastating storm, Rosie suffers an assault that tears apart her life and friendship with Maddie. Forced to face uncomfortable truths about beauty, reputation, and what it really means to be a friend, Rosie realizes that change doesn’t always happen the way you want it to—every disaster has consequences. But with a lot of help and the right people around you, there might also be a way forward.

What are your most awaited books? Is one of them included in my anticipated reads?
Do you have upcoming releases that would like to share? I would love to add them on my growing reading list. Share them below!

15 Nov 2016

Review: Nemesis

Publication Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
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Princess Sepora of Serubel's world runs on spectorium- and, as the last known person who can create the precious substance, she is a highly valuable resource. When her father devises a way to weaponise spectorium and begins to eye neighbouring countries, threatening to plunge her nation into a war, Sepora disappears into the night. Presumed dead, she journeys to Theoria, hoping to live out the rest of her life as a civilian there, where her power will not be turned to destruction. When she is captured on the road by Theorian slavers, she finds herself in the Theorian royal palace, thrown back into the world of politics- this time in the court of her father's enemies.

Getting this out of the way right now: the cover is kind of weird and doesn't suit the novel very well, nor is the title really well suited to the story being told. Okay, now that the judging a book by it's cover is done, onward.

This book was... entertaining, but didn't function terribly well on any greater level of engagement. It's like... Kingdom Politics Lite. I don't entirely understand the means of governance of Theoria... despite the fact that the novel ostensibly focuses on politics of the country, it was mostly superficial glamour the grossly underestimates the complexity of managing a country. So that challenged my suspension of disbelief a bit. (Yes, inadequate governance systems stretch my ability to suspend my disbelief, but dragons don't. The human brain is weird.) Moving on.

I feel like I never quite got a handle on Sepora as a character... or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I didn't really connect with her. A lot of her decisions didn't make much sense to me.... and I found it really hard to believe that some of the things she suggested hadn't, you know, been suggested before...? She's impulsive in the extreme, but it seems to work for her, if only because of narrative convenience. I feel like I understood Tarik at the beginning of the book... but I actually lost any grasp I might have had on his character by the middle of the novel.

Something that was kind of interesting to me was the parallels with and references to Egyptian and Greek mythology. I'm not sure how much of that was intentional, but I assume at least some of it must have been.  Ones I caught:

  • Nemesis is the Greek goddess of revenge. I'm fairly sure they intended the more colloquial meaning of nemesis, though
  • Set(h) is the name of the Egyptian god who cut out Horus's (a.k.a. god-king/pharaoh, falcon-headed deity) eye. (Maybe. Depending on what version of the myth you listen to.) I'm not saying direct parallels, but there are... certain thematic similarities.
  • obviously the pyramids and some of the more basic characteristics of Theoria were inspired by ancient Egypt

The plot was a bit scattered... they often felt like they only happened because it was convenient. Also surely, surely there was a way for Sepora to secretly provide spectorium without telling everyone she was a Forger?

Overall, I feel like the book had a fairly strong concept, but didn't deliver well on a lot of fronts for me. I am curious about how the story ends, however, and will likely be picking up the second half of the duology.

4 Nov 2016

Unparalleled, The Graces

Series: The Graces #1
Publication: September 6th 2016 by Amulet Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: Kindle Edition, 352 pages
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Everyone loves the Graces. Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace are captivating, wealthy, and glamorous. They’ve managed to cast a spell over not just their high school but also their entire town—and they’re rumored to have powerful connections all over the world. If you’re not in love with one of them, you want to be them. Especially River: the loner, new girl at school. She’s different from her peers, who both revere and fear the Grace family. She wants to be a Grace more than anything. But what the Graces don’t know is that River’s presence in town is no accident.

There are lot of definitions a person could give you with truth. But mostly, his answer is not the whole truth, it’s just part of the truth.  That part is his experience to another person or the world not telling the truth to him. The other part is that, the truth on his self.

I was filled with the emotional impact of overwhelming surprise on how Laure Eve exposed the truth of ourselves—on how we crave and crave for the entire truth yet we cannot give it back totally. On most chapters of The Graces, I have a lot of queries to what’s the point of this? What’s the point of that? Then what? There is no clear shot, yet, that my questions would be answered. I also thought that this would be a draggy read because of the rising number of my unanswered questions and I would end up DNF-ing it but it wasn’t, instead, those questions lead me to further to read The Graces.

This may spoil you a bit. You might want to skip it? But it’s good to know this first especially if you’re so into magic. Your expectations on The Graces magic might deadened and you would DNF it. The magic on this book was different but it was one of the reasons I have read it until the end. It’s a bit of a disappointment to those who have been fed up of breathtaking supernatural powers. So if you are interested to read The Graces, don’t expect much on its magic. Expect more on the magic of Laure Eve.

If you are finding the truth in yourself or of the world, The Graces is desirable for you. Just don’t let your anticipations get ahead of you. It’s a light read and it’s easy to adapt on its quality of being one of a kind. Resplendently written, The Graces would grant you coup de grâce.

Source: Publisher via Netgalley - Thank you! · I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

29 Oct 2016

Joyride, Let's Just Call It A Ride

Publication: June 2nd 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Format: ARC, 288 pages
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It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.
Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.
All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

Feelings over some parts of Joyride? Disappointed. I expected it literally to be joyride. Like Perks of Being A Wallflower joyride. (I know that it’s wrong of me to think but I HAVE FALLEN FOR THAT MIDNIGHT PRANKING.) Also, betrayed. I have expected that they would do gratifying pranks but I was like, “That’s it?”.

What Bank’s gave me is a painful yet impressing and revealing read. Painful that racism never stops because it starts to the people who you expected to understand the most, the people who would see everyone as equal. Impressing that Carly found what it is to live life freely. And, revealing that Arden is wise and a worthy guy for a Latina like Carly.

Bonus point: The most enthralling character Bank’s have written was Arden’s uncle. His combining clever conception and facetious expression was delightful.

Joyride has the clarity and freshness of straightaway experience on racism, friendship, betrayal, suicide, and family that would last in your heart for a duration.

Source: Won from Dana - Thank you!· I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

5 Oct 2016

October Anticipated Reads

Anticipated Reads is a monthly meme hosted by Mel at Reviews In A Pinch that will be occurring the first Wednesday of every month that showcases at least three books releasing each month; letting you know what new books are coming out that I'm excited about.

Series: Magonia #2
Publication: October 4th 2016 by HarperCollins

Where is home when you were born in the stars?
       Aza Ray is back on earth. Her boyfriend Jason is overjoyed. Her family is healed. She’s living a normal life, or as normal as it can be if you’ve spent the past year dying, waking up on a sky ship, and discovering that your song can change the world.
        As in, not normal. Part of Aza still yearns for the clouds, no matter how much she loves the people on the ground.
      When Jason’s paranoia over Aza’s safety causes him to make a terrible mistake, Aza finds herself a fugitive in Magonia, tasked with opposing her radical, bloodthirsty, recently-escaped mother, Zal Quel, and her singing partner Dai. She must travel to the edge of the world in search of a legendary weapon, The Flock, in a journey through fire and identity that will transform her forever.
       In this stunning sequel to the critically acclaimed Magonia, one girl must make an impossible choice between two families, two homes—and two versions of herself.

Publication: October 6th 2016 by Penguin

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed 'America's Fattest Teen'. But no one's taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum's death, she's been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby's ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.
         Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he's got swagger, but he's also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can't recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He's the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can't understand what's going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don't get too close to anyone.
         Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world - theirs and yours.

Publication: October 4th 2016 by Feiwel & Friends

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

         Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

         But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

What are your October Anticipated Reads? Are you excited of the same books?

21 Sep 2016

September Anticipated Reads

Anticipated Reads is a monthly meme hosted by Mel at Reviews In A Pinch that will be occurring the first Wednesday of every month (but today is an exception for me because I want to share!) that showcases at least three books releasing each month; letting you know what new books are coming out that I'm excited about.

Series: Worldwalker #3
Publication: September 20th 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Lily Proctor has come a long way from the weak, sickly girl she used to be. She has gained power as a witch and a leader, found her way home, chosen to face battle again, and (after losing her first love and being betrayed by her new love) she has learned more about loss and grief than she ever wanted to know.
Thrust once again into a society different from anything they have ever seen, Lily and her coven are determined to find answers―to find a new path to victory, a way to defeat the monstrous Woven without resorting to nuclear weapons or becoming a tyrannical mass murderer like her alternate self, Lillian. But sometimes winning requires sacrifices . . . and when the only clear path to victory lies at Lillian's side, what price will Lily be willing to pay?

Publication: September 27th 2016 by Balzer + Bray
When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.
The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.
Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.
Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.
Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .

Publication: September 27th 2016 by Harlequin Teen
Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.
When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

What are your September Anticipated Reads? Comment the link of your September Anticipated Reads post and I'll visit it then!

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