Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ink and BoneInk and Bone by Lisa Unger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a rollercoaster ride that crashed for me. There was just simply too many subplots and viewpoints during the ending that my tired brain couldn't keep up with, so I honestly had no idea what was going on, and some of the "before-the-climax" scene were very unnecessary. I didn't know what's going on, no matter how much Jones explained what happened, and I wish that the author could have made this clearer.

So let's go to the beginning; in the prologue I already noticed that there was a full page of colon's and semicolons and run on sentences, one sentence for the whole page. Then I flip to the next chapter and it's written in italics. At that point my eyes started hurting, and I'm glad that this format didn't last throughout the book.

I can't deny it, Unger really has a solid writing style and knows what she's doing. Maybe this book just wasn't for me, as I'm quite the newbie to the thriller genre (which incidentally I'm always very picky about.) The beginning for very slow, there was no immediate hook for me, although the concept was very intriguing in my opinion. I was curious, but not enough to be compelled to pick it up at will. This book took me two days to finish which is unusual for someone who likes to read books in one sitting.

Some aspects of the relationship were unrealistic, and there was a cliche pattern between some of the marriages that were central to the plot. I did see some realistic elements as well, but the ending caught me off guard and being way too neat and tied into a bow. I just really think that it's impossible to change yourself in that short period of time. (view spoiler)

The part that I absolutely did love reading about was the tattoo connection between Finley and Rainer, because that's just really interesting to me. I really appreciated that Finley wasn't your average female YA character. No, she was a psychic with pink stripes of hair and most of her skin covered in awesome tattoos who rode a motorcycle. She also grieved by displaying anger and was a very independent human being which I highly appreciated how unique her situation is-living with her grandma, trying to figure out her gift, seeing confusing/annoying visions, etc...

I do recognize that I'm in the minority here, but I know that I'll be looking somewhere else to fill that thriller hole in my reading life.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Invisible Life of Ivan IsaenkoThe Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

But ultimately, it is a simply the story of a single human life, within which so much can be held.

A perfectly accurate summary of what to expect in this book. And I loved exploring that importance and in-and-outs of Ivan's singular life.

This story surprised me, because it opened my eyes to some of the mentalities of mutilated people who have to navigate their small world in their every-day. Ivan Isaenko has lived in Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children for all of his seventeen years of his life, and the unique writing style lets the readers get into his head and see how he occupies his hours. It shows the dark reality of medical ethics in the Soviet Union, and the power of love to change your solitary live.

A heart-jerker for sure, I found myself wiping my cheeks of happy and sad tears. It really moves your heart towards empathy and rooting for Ivan, because of the very personal and vulnerable way that he tries to convey points of his life to you. This is exactly what I've been looking, a narrative that is culturally diverse and moves me; I am currently studying the Russian language so the footnotes were helpful for accuracy which was appreciated by a bilingual person.

All the side characters were developed so beautifully throughout the countdown and count-up sections. I especially loved how human Polina was and everything that went on between them really seemed like a "light in the darkness" of their life. Nurse Natalya was a mother figure who could really read Ivan well and basically dedicated herself to taking care of him, and I was so glad to see this positive influence going on in his life. All the feels though.

**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this for review.**

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A House for Happy MothersA House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an emotional compelling story that just made me keep on flipping the pages to see how it played out in the end.

The book is trying to portray the surrogacy industry that is rising in India, and contrary to the title of the book, there are no "happy mothers" that live in this place; because it describes all of the shabby conditions that they were living in and how blackmailed and monitored they were. Not only do you deeply feel for both main protagonists, but this book also evoked an emotional response from it. I felt empathy towards both sides of the table, and I could honestly appreciate how Malladi connected their lives.

Throughout the whole story, at least from my perspective I was appalled to see the demonstrated a women's unwilling exploitation of "renting" their body, which was something that I was completely unaware of going into it.

One half of the story follows Priya, a half-Indian Californian that has everything that she wants, except a child. She's what her husband, Madhu, calls "baby crazy" because she will do almost anything to get a baby as an addition to her family. Asha has a brilliant high IQ son, but she can't afford to send him to a boarding school with the high education that she wants. I absolutely hated how her husband Pratap used her and manipulated her, it literally disgusted me and I think that's why I can't give this a full 5*.

My favorite character who deserved 100% of my empathy is Priya, because although I couldn't understand what place she is in life, I was cheering for her as an individual. I really appreciate how diverse Indian culture the author put into; I can tell that it's well-researched. I would highly recommend for anyone to pick this book up, it's a short-read and the ending will leave you satisfied.

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange to a honest review.*

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tag, You're DeadTag, You're Dead by J.C. Lane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book stressed me out; exactly like psychological thriller should.

If you like doing puzzles, than this is the perfect putting-together-pieces type of book. The narration is in 3rd person, and you actually get all 6 characters' POV, which the "intertwined" feeling that I personally really get a kick out of.

Throughout the book, I continuously kept on reading the title as "Tag, You're IN." Honestly, I don't want to go too deep into the synopsis details of that book, I just think that the /accurate/ title give enough of the premise. I went in requesting in blind, and went in reading the same way. But in a way, I was in the same mental state as the characters at the beginning, they knew nothing about the bizarre situation that they are in.

Unexpectedly wonderful, for a reason that I can't exactly pinpoint; I caught myself laughing a couple of times. This book is dark, and I personally tend to stay away from dark novels, but you can remain assured that you are allowed to laugh at the absurdity of it, if you're in the mood.

This is a highly under-rated book that I will personally be blowing my trumpet about to all of my friends. It deserves my vote of honest appreciation to the debut author and plot-driven that Lane has absolutely mastered.

The only reason why I gave it 4 stars is because there were two love tropes that I just CAN'T stand. For example: the best-friend-turns-to-lover play and the i-hate-you-to-now-i-love-you thing. Man, that really gets on my nerves when I see it in virtually every YA book that I encountered and this was sadly no exception.

Overall, this book really sucked me into the story completel. Distractions and time constraints aside, I felt completely engrossed in the plot-driven story and invested in half of the characters lives and futures.

*I've been sent an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review/opinion.*

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire #1)Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh wow, the quality of this book was unexpected but it blew me out of the water while reading. Michael Sullivan has proven that he is well-crafted writer who can manage writing the best intense fighting scenes that I have literally ever read in a long time. They took my breath away, and made me feel like I was standing right there in harm's way. I will definitely be rereading the climax scene of this book just to once again immerse myself in the world that he has built, just because it's out-of-this-world amazing.

This book was harder than I thought to be judged by the star system. For the first 30%, I felt like it deserved maybe a 2*, and I was ready to DNF it. Oh boy, am I so glad that I didn't or I would have missed this jewel. But then, once I decided to give it the dedicated time that it deserved, it absolutely captured my attention with the world-building which was densely created and the character relationships which just seemed so right. They are a group of misfits, outlaws, passionate individuals who have a common goal(s) that were shown throughout the book. And every time someone new was added onto their close "squad" my heart just leapt with the appreciation of the common thread that Sullivan skillfully weaves because each of these endearing characters.

“Success,” he continued, “is achieved most consistently through cruelty and deception. Determination of the spirit certainly helps, but faith in Ferrol is a currency as valuable as a pair of shoes two sizes too small.”

The most refreshing thing, was that this book took a twist that I didn't AND did see coming. It showed lessons like humanity and pride can get in the way of your better judgement and the way that you treat people. It showed us how some character craved power while others craved security, and for those reasons I would consider this book to have slight morality themes and issues that were underlying in it, of course with the way that Sullivan wrote it were very subtle though.

After reflecting, I realized that the reason that I related with this book so much was because it actively displayed the meaning of my one my all-time favorite quotes:

"Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about recreating yourself"

“Mystics were about as common as two-headed unicorns. The few who existed lived apart from the world of men, remaining untainted by influence and corruption. Having a wolf as her best friend demonstrated the sort of wisdom he appreciated.”

Suri really did seem like a two-headed unicorn, in the most enchanting way possible. She was probably the reason that I liked this book as much as I did, because once you get you know Suri, she becomes your favorite character who I cared for deeply and rooted for her on every step of the journey. She made the story colorful, she and Minna really just brightened Seph's life infinitely and it was absolutely heart-warming and also bone-chilling to see that. All the feels man.

All in all, if you push through the first bit, (which didn't personally hook me), this book is just a phenomenal start to this 6 book series. This is the first book that I've read by Sullivan-who has proved to be competent- and been introduced into the world of Elan, and this seemed like an excellent starting point.

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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Monday, July 11, 2016

The Underground RailroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars

If I'm honest, I kind of feel guilty writing this review, because the truth of it is: I don't understand the hype that is surrounding this from readers and the buzz from the publishing industry. FYI, this is my first book by this author so perhaps I didn't have a feel for what I could truly expect, though I think that it's fun trying out new authors, dipping your feet in and out there. I liked this novel, but I didn't love it; maybe because of the greatly high expectations that have been placed upon me or that I've read books that deal with slavery in a more individual-personal situation- way. (Kindred anyone?)

At the beginning, I feel like it was resolved too quickly at about 40% in-therefore making the slow start discouraging-, but then when it started to pick up the pace it felt too predictable. I like me a suspenseful edge-of-my-seat type of book especially with these subjects lines, but I guess that I was led wrong and this wasn't what the author intended it to be. It lacked emotion to me, or maybe I just lacked emotion whilst reading it; because usually if a book can make me cry means that it moved something within me. This book just didn't make me cry, didn't make me feel scared, even when I knew that it was supposed to. I was supposed to empathize with the MC, and a small part of me did but I don't feel like that was enough to give a 4 stars.

And if I would have to pinpoint the exact reason, I think that's because I never felt like I actually knew Cora all that well. Sure, the author did a good job or writing her backstory and pastlife, but then when she /traveled/ a lot of the book seemed so monotonous and almost like a log of daily tasks at the various places she was. I mean, if I was looking down upon this location, I don't think that Cora would stand out, that I would recognize her or notice her to be a different individual. But maybe that's just me misinterpreting what this book is supposed to be about.

Cora really seemed like a paper-cutout, or a stereotypical slave women to me, other than that similarity with her mother nothing really rang as unique to me. I'm sure that with some more editing, the author can develop this cut-out of a narrator, which is the reason that I might be inclined to frown upon this book. I would beg to disagree that this is a character-driven novel, I believe that I was thirsty enough to call it a plot-driven novel.

I originally picked it up because I have resolved to push myself to read some more diverse picks this year. And it surely did that for me, check mark off my list of reading resolutions. The author's writing was mediocre, I kept on coming back and trying hard to see why everyone loved this author or the way that he writes. I don't honestly know if there was a veil placed on my eyes, because I feel alone in the crowd of the public reviewer who gave is like 3 stars after reading it.

*Thank you to DoubleDay Books and NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book in exchange of my honest opinion/review.*

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Last OneThe Last One by Alexandra Oliva
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise behind this book really intrigued me, because I'm personally a fan of so called "reality" tv shows, and survival and post-apocalyptic? Reading the synopsis I was grabbed by the idea behind it, my imagination started to go... to different place...but it didn't get any better than that. "So what" was what I thought by the end.

At the beginning it was a struggle to get into the book, because I feel like the introducing was over-done. There are 12 total contestants I believe, but none of them are actually even given set names, but instead have pseudonyms like the Cheerleader Boy and Carpenter Chick and Waitress. The problem is that the main character Zoo, uses their real names in her narrative, in 1st person, so there are two names to every face depending on which lens we are looking through throughout.

Even throughout the book, this mish-mash of stereotypical "labels" got really mixed up in my brain, but maybe that's just a poor memory thing. Frankly for starters, we had one paragraph snippets about each of these people and their individual lives, but the author does an overdose on adjectives right from the start. In my opinion, this was just unnecessary information, because the reader is supposed to get to know the characters naturally as the story progresses. I would have preferred if the editor just cut those parts out, and let our brains decide their personalities.

I think that the root of my dislike that I felt emotional detachment towards the characters. I honestly didn't care at all what would happen to them in the competition or after. They just never clicked in my brain; and I found myself too disconnected, like a viewer watching them from my tv at home. Which would be OK, if that's all that I wanted from this book, but I actually wanted to feel like I'm alongside them participating in their activities. Disappointingly at the end of the book when I sat back and reflected I felt like saying: "so what?"

There was a major lull about 3/4 into the book, and it was boring me to tears. I honestly had to actually force my hands to pick my Kindle up and pledge to not get distracted by other things. I was just so frustrated at Zoo/Mae so I wanted to shout to her to just "wake up and look around you!". By that time, I legitimately hated her ignorance at the present state, and her refusal to believe a truth that was right in front of her. I'll stop there because /spoiler/ but honestly it annoyed the hell out of me seeing that she was literally and mentally blind to the shit going on around her.

Please note, this book is told in reverse order. So there are flashbacks of what happened the first couple of challenges and days/weeks, and then there are the "present" time where Zoo is a wandering survivor, and let's just leave it at that. It all felt a little too disjointed to me, because even though I understood the reason why this had to be done (mystery)- I just felt like there was really only one goal: not quitting the game & also coming out of it alive.

Also can I just rant about how horribly confusing the ending was, not to mention unrealistically lucky? My head is still reeling from those events because of this foreshadowed twist that I didn't necessarily want to happen in the plot. Hopefully, one day I'll put the puzzle pieces together if I reread that last bit; but the author should have done their job the first time.

*Disclaimer: I received this title from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
**Spoiler Alert**
What's he's really saying is, I can't kill an innocent man. I'm not even sure if I can kill the guilty one, though I mean to try.

This book wasn't labelled like what I though it "should be." What I expected it to be, judging by some of my friend's reviews on here and the synopsis. It was a struggle to go through this book and not want to hurl it against the wall. The main character takes a Firebird to go to some alternative universes to find her supposed father's killer aka Paul. Of course, she can't do that alone because she doesn't have experience in the scientific field, so Theo is forced to go along with her, even though he warned her, begged her not to. That premise really caught my eye, because I thought that this might be a sci-fi murder mystery. Oh how wrong I was. This is a love story was supposed to be a sci-fi; and I wasn't expected it here. It was so unnecessary, especially the love triangle between Theo and Paul.

In fact when I read that quote ^ on page 27, I knew that at least for me the story was over before it barely started. It was going to be one of those YA tropes where the "good girl" just will not even try to do what she intended, instead dances around the goal at hand and gets distracted with other prospects. That's exactly the track that the story went, and frankly I was so disappointed in the book and in myself that I just didn't DNF it.

Soon, she is swept into an epic love affair as dangerous as it is irresistible.

And here's just a reason to prove my ignorance of /not/ reading the back flap. If I would have read that one sentence, it would have broke the choice of buying it. After a while of reading YA romances, you get to being really picky in your choices. My current motto in my reading life currently is: "Life is too short to read bad book."

Marguerite (which btw that name annoyed me) is a daughter of who brilliant scientists, but she is the only one with the use of her artistic brain. Except that as a character she isn't unique, she isn't different. In fact, throughout the book and the emotional pendulum that Marguerite was on, bugged me. She went back and forth and back and forth. I wanted to shout at her stupid, immature, reckless self to decide on one thing, one goal, one person and just go with it. (But no, the plotline has to get more complicated and her with the love triangle-square?) She really had no motto, her thing was to "go with the flow" and have other people like Theo and her other family pick up the mess that she made.

In short, I would not recommend this book to anyone, especially to sci-fi lover, because this book is easy to see through. If you don't like the first one, definitively don't try to jump to the next one, I know that I won't because I just simply didn't care. I understand that it may be a cover buy for a lot of people-the cover was probably the best thing about this whole entire book-, but I would suggest that you do your research before you get it, and /not/ make a mistake like I did, if indeed it's not for you.

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Title: The Afterlife Of Alyx & Israel (Dark Angel #6)
Author: Hanna Peach
Cover Designer: Romac Designs
Genre: YA Fantasy 

Once upon a lifetime, Alyx & Israel lost each other...

In their new mortal lives, Alyx & Israel don't remember anything about their past. And they have never crossed paths. Until some old friends decide to secretly nudge destiny along, their efforts almost destroying everything…

Now Alyx’s life lies in the balance, trapped in a coma deep within a DreamScape maze city. The only one who can help her escape is Israel, a man she doesn't remember. They need to find a mysterious Mapmaker and solve his riddle. But is this Mapmaker hiding something?

Although this book is set years after the Dark Angel saga, it can be read as a standalone.

Afterlife can be read as a standalone
BUT you can grab the Dark Angel's series now!
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Hanna Peach

Hanna is the bestselling author of the Bound romantic suspense series and the Dark Angel fantasy series. Although she writes in more than one genre she can’t write a book without weaving together a complicated plot and filling it with twists. She writes what she believes: good people can do bad things, ordinary people can do great things, and choose love above everything.

Eternally restless, Hanna has lived in Indonesia, Australia, Germany, Scotland, England, Croatia and Ireland – everything she owns fits into one suitcase. She’s planning her next move with her gorgeous (and understanding) partner right now.

If not writing, she can be found wandering a dusty market in Marrakesh or trekking a mountain in Peru, often using her travels as settings in her novels.
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Wow! This book went beyond my imagination and I wanted to shout to the world that everyone should read this after I finished this.

 This book deserves to be read in one sitting, especially since it's that short and page-turning. It follows many lives that are all intertwined and connected in some way through (everlasting) bonds. There are deep themes like fate, fury, love, loss, and lust. The sexual tension and easy bantering between the two main characters is phenomenal; but I think that there was a lack in the worldbuilding sense. At the end, the author left me with a lot of questions concerning the settings, and throughout the book it really jumped around kind of from place to place, and I was left there sitting and scratching my head trying to track where the characters were.

 Before you read this book, I think that it's say to note that this can be read as a stand-alone, you don't have to read any of the previous books in this series, although I will definitely be doing so because of Hanna Peach's talent. I got the privilege of reading this before the publication date as an ARC from the author, in exchange for an honest review.