Archive for the ‘book reviews’ Category:

GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS by Melissa Bashardoust

I’ve never read a mother/daughter relationship quite like this one–it’s honest, true, and utterly beautiful. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is an incredibly story of discovering your potential, family, and love that I fell in love with.

20522640Novel: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust | Goodreads
Release Date: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Format: ARC
Source: BookExpo 2017

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

So we all know how much I love a good fantasy, especially one that is all about girl power and family and character development. Those are the books that are my EVERYTHING and I adore reading them.

Well, guess what?

THIS BOOK IS ONE OF THOSE.

Basically, Girls Made of Snow and Glass focuses on the relationship between Mina and Lynet and how it changes with Lynet getting control of the South of the kingdom, a piece of land that Mina used to control. Mina, an incredibly complex character who made this book just SHINE, relishes the power that the South provides her, and feels threatened by Lynet.

This idea–power being threatened by another character–is the basis of many fantasy novels, but what makes this book unique is that this power struggle is between a step-mother and teenager daughter. Further complicating the circumstances is the fact that Mina is basically Lynet’s mother, since Lynet’s mother died during childbirth. I loved seeing how as the story goes on Mina and Lynet are forced to understand a different side of one another, something I can relate to. It’s the same kind of transformation you experience when you go to college or move out–exploring what a relationship with your parents as an adult is like. This new, very tenuous relationship, exposes secrets and one another’s true colors, and Mina and Lynet must decide how far they will each go for what they want.

Essentially this book is freaking awesome.

OKAY NOW I NEED TO TALK ABOUT MINA BECAUSE I LOVE HER. She is complex and flawed and makes horrible mistakes and yet you want her to be better. You want her to succeed and to understand that YES YOU CAN BE LOVED MINA DON’T GIVE UP LITTLE SNOWFLAKE. There’s this raw side of her that craves love just like anyone does, and then there’s this side of her that wants to be queen, and the dichotomy between the two is perfectly balanced.

Mina is a badass and I love her, as flawed as she is.

AND LYNET!!!!!!!

Lynet reminds me of this corgi gif:

She gains control of the South and then is like WOAH THERE which goes against what most fantasy heroines do and I LOVED IT.  She doesn’t know if she really wants to be princess or even queen, and she has to figure that out for herself. Lynet spends most of the book trying to figure out who she is–not who she is as her mother or her father’s daughter, but who she is as Lynet, something I think most people can relate to. Lynet’s story is one of self-discovery.

And then there’s the tiny TINY romance (it’s basically non-existent) which I loved. But it wasn’t the romance itself I loved, it was how insignificant of a part it played in the story. It’s not important to the story line at all, really, which is so uncommon in fantasy, especially when it’s female-centered and I just adored that. GIVE ME MORE BOOKS LIKE THIS PLZ.

here is me attacking the other books like this that must exist that i need to find:

SO MY THOUGHTS IN A NUTSHELL:

GO BUY THIS BOOK THE DAY IT COMES OUT IT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND #CONFIRMED


thanks for putting up with the corgi gifs i’m just really in a corgi mood right now

 

DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY by Amanda Foody

 

A carnival-city? Murder mystery? A loyal girl with revenge in her heart? A battle between good and evil, real and fake? A little weird? WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?!

20522640Novel: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody | Goodreads
Release Date: July 25th, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: ARC
Source: Book Expo America 2017

A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

At this point, you guys probably know how much I love fantasy. Like. I love it a lot. It’s become my little escape genre in recent years, overtaking contemporary as my go-to genre. (Besides, historical fiction, though–but historical just isn’t popular enough to sustain me, much to my dismay.)

SO!

Daughter of the Burning City was one of the few fantasy titles I picked up at BEA. (There just wasn’t that much there that piqued my interest, sadly.) I didn’t even know about it going into the day, but walked past the booth and saw the line wrapping around the corner and thought it would be worth my time to check out. And oh BOY was I rewarded!

This book is incredible.

Here’s how I pitched it to Aneeqah (because I pitch everything to Aneeqah in feel-y texts after reading):

  • a strong focus on family
  • super well-built world that doesn’t do that “let me explain everything to you blatantly like you’re stupid” thing
  • CRAZY cool concept i’m still struggling to get my head around
  • kick-butt main character who is super flawed
  • a tiny bit of romance
  • constantly throwing you for loops
  • a murder mystery! magic! intrigue!
  • people in cool clothes

I mean what more do you need in a book?

But in all seriousness, this book just blew me away a bit. And I think its because the writing didn’t jump off the page at me screaming HEY THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING!!!!!! Instead, I was drawn into the story because of how creative and interesting it was, and then I was quickly sucked in because of my attachment to the main character. Foody’s writing strikes a beautiful balance between stunning prose and an intricately woven story that you can’t help but what to keep reading.

And then there are these characters! Sorina is my heart. I relate to her in so many ways, as do I think a lot of people. That feeling of being an outsider, of craving the kind of family you hear and dream about, of wanting a happily-ever-after but not knowing if it will happen–she’s many of the teenagers I know and definitely the teenager I am. I was drawn to her by fierce loyalty to her family and how she battles to understand the difference between good and bad (a theme I adore in fantasy). Gomorrah is the perfect setting for a good vs. bad kind of story, and Foody executes it with precision.

Luca. My little Luca. He has a sliver of my heart with his weird clothes and gossip and unjudgemental approach to life. He is such a wonderful addition to the story and couldn’t imagine the book without his presence. I want to hang out with a Luca some day, please.

Although please don’t let him do his Gomorrah act in front of me. Please.

In conclusion, this book is a MUST BUY for fantasy lovers. A carnival-city? Murder mystery? A loyal girl with revenge in her heart? A battle between good and evil, real and fake? A little weird?

WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?!

 

A CONJURING OF LIGHT made me cry

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Novel: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Major, #3) by V.E. Schwab | Goodreads
Release Date: February 21st, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

Was I ready to read this book? NO.

Did I read it anyways? ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY.

My love for this series I believe is fairly well known (you can read my feels-filled review of books 1 and 2 here) so obviously, I was super excited for book three. I went to Victoria’s signing in New York for A CONJURING OF LIGHT (sadly I missed the talk but got my book signed!) and she was a gem. Super nice and willing to take a picture (or two) with Alexandra, Jessica, and I.

SO. THE BOOK.

I was in love.

am in love.

It’s one long book but I was engaged from start to finish. Action, deceit, surprises, emotion–it was all there. Even some lovvveeeee (yeEK) which made me text Xan excitedly. It was a beautiful conclusion to the series.

One of my favorite things about this book was the way Holland’s character developed. You not only get a POV from Holland, but also really understand him for the first time. You see memories of his childhood, which means you get a better understand of why he ended up the way he did. Instead of being solely a villain, Holland becomes a character you care about and want the best for, which really surprised me. However, this transition is something Victoria Schwab is a pro at. None of her villains are one-sided–none of them are solely villains. They’re always complex people with pasts that make you question how bad they truly are.

Another thing that I adored about A CONJURING OF LIGHT was the overall plot. Schwab introduces a new element to the book that, for me, represented dark magic as a whole. It causes the reader to think about what dark magic truly is and what the line is. And how you treat people who fall under the spell of dark magic. This idea is so applicable to real life–how do we treat people who fall victim to dark practices? People who we are told are evil–are they really evil? How do we separate evil from good? What’s the line?

Lastly, Victoria Schwab just finished out the series so perfectly. It wasn’t a purely happy ending, but it wasn’t heartbreaking either. It left me perfectly content, and at the end I felt like I could leave the series happily. I finished knowing where all the characters were standing, and also what was coming next for them. I could imagine the future for all of them, something I loved and is fairly uncommon for the large part. Usually, you can see the present, but can’t imagine the future for characters.  However, at the end of A CONJURING OF LIGHT I was left emotionally exhausted but happy.

I texted Aneeqah saying, “THAT ENDING WAS SO PERFECT O M  G” which I think encapsulates my feelings well. It was just a plain perfect ending. And the book was perfect too. Utterly perfect.

What do I read now?

How can I possibly move on?

HELP ME FRIENDS I’M EMOTIONALLY DISTRAUGHT AT THE CONCLUSION OF THIS SERIES.

 

An odyssey, a girl, and a greenhouse | KIDS OF APPETITE by David Arnold

20522640Novel: Kids of Appetite by David Arnold | Goodreads
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Press Corps

The bestselling author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss.

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

Somehow, I never got around to reading Mosquitoland, so I promised myself I would read Kids of Appetite. I already knew David Arnold was a fantastic writer, but I didn’t realize what a phenomenal writer he was until I started reading.

There was a moment early on in the book when I stopped reading and thought, “He is one heck of a writer.” (And just for context, I don’t usually do that – stop reading to have thoughts.) The thing that struck me about the writing style was its uniqueness. Not only did each character have a voice characteristic to them, but the book as a whole was beautiful, honest, and utterly raw – all things that arose primarily from the writing itself.

As far as the characters go, I adored them all. Their friendship, their easy banter, how loving and kind they were, how when one person needed help, they all showed up. I loved the little greenhouse where they lived, the journeys they went on to finish Vic’s dad’s list, and how despite their different backgrounds, they all meshed in a beautiful way.

One of my pet peeves in YA is when the parents and family are mysteriously absent, but despite the parents being absent for most of the book, it didn’t bother me. I think this was partly because family was such a strong element of the characters’ growth. For example, despite Vic’s parents not being physically present for the majority of the book, Vic’s relationship with his mother and father was a large part of not only his growth as a character, but also the overall story development. I loved the way Arnold wrapped up the book as well, because it resolved elements of the plot, but left others open to interpretation (my favorite endings do this!)

So, in conclusion, I’m in love with Kids of Appetite. It’s a phenomenal story of growing up, friendship, and being unique,three of the most important things teens need to read about, in my opinion. So, thunderous applause for Kids of Appetite, and I’m already desperately awaiting David Arnold’s next book.

 

High school drama, but in a futuristic NYC | THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR by Katharine McGee

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Novel: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee | Goodreads
Release Date: August 30th, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: ARC
Source: Barnes & Noble (employee perk)

New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall….

I really wanted to like this book. I’d heard fantastic things from Margot at Epic Reads and from Grace over at Words Like Silver (her review here), and since I trust their opinions so much, I thought hey, I’ll like it too.

And although there definitely were elements of this story I enjoyed, the majority of it fell flat for me. Essentially, the book felt like high school drama but set in a tower. This book would’ve probably appealed to younger Willa, but after everything else I’ve read recently, this one just didn’t do it for me.

The main reason I had problems with the book was how it felt like a drama-filled contemporary. The story had five narrators, which I didn’t really have a big issue with, but all of their problems revolved around one of two things: their family or romantic problems. Each one of the characters was in a relationship, and honestly, I didn’t really like any of the people they were with (except Mariel – I loved Mariel). I didn’t really care about any of their relationships either – for me, if the book is going to revolve around a romance, it’s got be a romance I am DEEPLY invested in. But, I think the fact that there were five different relationships happening meant that I simply didn’t care enough about any of them.

The family issues I could get behind, but I wanted their familial problems to play a bigger role in the story than they did. They felt like a bit of an afterthought, honestly, and the reader only got to know a couple of the characters’s families. #missingparentsyndrome was in full swing for a few of the characters.

The other issue I had was that a lot of the drama somehow had to deal with class issues. In the tower, the higher up you are the more money and status you have. Two of the narrators, Watt and Rylin are from downTower, but they both become entwined in upTower drama, and it caused so many problems for them. I continually wanted to bang my head against a wall and tell them to just leave the upTower people behind because NONE OF THEM WERE GOOD ENOUGH TO CARE THIS MUCH ABOUT. The tension between up and downTower characters felt so cliche and just…uninteresting, and when it was combined with a relatively superficial relationship it just didn’t work for me.

Then we have the overall setting of the novel, which is Manhattan in a tower. The technology is incredibly advanced – phones in contacts (essentially), self-driving cars, hovercars, automated checks of someone’s vitals. Parts of the technology I loved, mainly because McGee did a fantastic job of immersing you in the setting without outright explaining each little detail of the technology. However, this isn’t my favorite kind of sci-fi. I prefer space sci-fi far more, so this kind just didn’t really do it for me. (Also, what was weird: the rest of the world didn’t seem to be so technologically advanced…? I wanted more on the whole WORLD not just New York, because, you know, The US isn’t the center of the world.)

So, sadly, I was not a fan of this book. The characters didn’t have a lot of growth over the course of the story, it felt like a high-school reality TV show in a futuristic setting, and there’s going to be an unnecessary sequel. (Seriously though. Not only was the book too long, but there’s going to be another one?! Kind of unnecessary, in my opinion, considering I don’t really care about any of the characters.) Also, there’s going to be a TV show apparently, and I kind of feel like it’s going to be a better show than book, considering how much drama the writers will have to work with.

I’m disappointed this one didn’t work out for me, since I had such high hopes, but let me know if you enjoy it! I’d love to hear your thoughts.