Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ending Survey

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
I think the most daunting hour was nearing the around the 20s, because it became increasingly difficult to not just collapse and fall asleep on my desk.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year?
Any volume of Saga or Lumberjanes, because it's a quick read that has a lot of pictures, so it's easier for your brain to process this at the dead of night. 
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season?

Would like some collective tab that announces all of the winners of the prizes, because otherwise all of the way of communications are scattered, and you take to keep on checking multiple blogs/social medias.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

All the Twitter chat questions and involvement of the participants.I love making new friends!5. How many books did you read?
8 total books, with a total number of pages 1687 
6. What were the names of the books you read?

7. Which book did you enjoy most?
I think that my favorite has to be GOODBYE DAYS, because it's a beautiful celebration of life and I adored all of the characters.
8. Which did you enjoy least?HOME (Binti #2), but the only reason why is because I hadn't read the first one therefore I was very confused on what is going on with the worldbuilding and character development.
9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Definitively doing it next time, would love to spearhead some of the future Twitter chats that are going on.

See y'all in September! 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hour 13 Update

Here are the three books that I've finished, currently have scattered thoughts so will update and review later
Have Read:

Currently Reading: 

Opening Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? – On the beautiful East coast in the great garden state of NJ.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? – Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? – I gathered up all of my favorite snacks into a stockpile, so we've got: pretzels, raisins, caramel candies, cheese, and of course my favorite--the grapefruit.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! – Hello y'all, I'm Mars, a queer teenager blogger who devours YA books like nobody's buisness. I've been blogging consistently for about one year, and this is my third round of Deweys.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? – DNF way more and way more quickly. Previously readathons I have made myself slug through books that I hated or weren't really entertaining at all. Also, going to try to do a bunch of pictures for the Instagram challenges.

Well, fellow readathoners, Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Convenient EscapeThe Convenient Escape by Robert Downs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book could have been executed much better, if the author just took the time to develop the one-dimensional characters a little bit more by telling us their backstories and life decisions that lead them to this point. We start off with with Veronica (our MC) running away from a kidnapper in the middle of the woods and abandoning her heels in order for speed, trying to do anything to escape. Coincidentally, she happens to stumble upon Peter, an old acquaintance from high school. From there she uses force on him, for his cooperation and provision of resources (cars, guns, etc.)

The title has it exactly right, everything was too convenient, too coincidental. As a reader, I knew exactly where this story was going since the first chapters (romantically, thrillery, etc.) Instead of playing it on the safe side of storytelling, Downs could have crafted a shocking twist or a legitimate inconvenience that would prevent it from being relatively easy for the characters.

Multiple things in this book I found to be unrealistic. The fact that Veronica was able to actually hold Peter hostage for such a long number of hours at first; I mean he's a soldier who served in Iraq. I'm pretty sure that he's made of tougher stuff than submission, so if he really wanted to leave, he easily could have.

Another thing, is how Anthony's character was portrayed. He literally goes around hiring secretaries and disposing of them for his disgusting sexual desires, and then uses them to go and seduce the people that he wants to kill. He was by far my least favorite character, the worst of the villians in this story, because he manipulated everyone and made it all seem like such a bore. I had a strong urge to skip all of the chapters with his POV, because every word was physically repulsive to me.

The most frustrating thing about this whole story, was that instead of Veronica going straight to the police station and disclosing all of the information that she knew about her bosses as well as describing the abduction that happened to her; she decides to take unnecessary risks and handle this alone in an unsafe environment to her and the public around her. Almost every decision that she made was completely irrational, and I just couldn't understand what was happening.

Lastly, I've read this book before. Not this exact book, but one where it goes like: employee finds some undesirable information about the people that she's working for, decides to take matters into her own incompetent hands, finds a partner/boyfriend who she comes to completely trusts, and goes on a mission to stomp out the bad guys herself. Excuse me, I think that there could be better way of creating a thriller, especially in a world endless with possibilities.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Perfect StrangerThe Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After Miranda's first book, All the Missing Girls which blew me away, I had nothing but high expectations for this book. This book has no connections to the previous, yet still has an underlying theme of the darkness lurking at the edges of reality.

Leah Stevens is a crime investigative journalism, who had a falling out with her company because of libel charges that were put forth. So she decides to escape her past by moving into rural Western Pennsylvania with her mysterious roommate, Emmy. But the truth catches up with you and bubbles up to the surface, as Leah comes to learn again.

Two dead bodies are found in this town, which is a place for people to migrate to begin a new start. Leah decides that she wants to get involved in this case, because she has personally holding at stake, and also get involved with some insider information that leads her down a path or connecting the dots in this stories. I appreciate how the author gives us some snippets and mini-flashbacks, to give us clues. However, I think that it took our MC way too long to figure out this who-dun-it, and I started getting a little bit impatient and frustrated with the time frame.

I've never read a thriller like this before, because there was debate if the "missing girl" actually existed(was she an actual girl or just a figment of imagination), which I honestly felt like a cheap plot device or lazy writing. This was also written in chronological order in first POV, which has the standard format for thrillers that are exciting, yet in comparison to the unique format, this fell a little bit flat.

We are only in Leah's head, who is a likable but unreliable narrator, and has a scattered trains of thoughts and a mess in her life. After a certain point, I rather did not enjoy spending so much time from her perspective; it would have been much better to can an overall take-a-step-back view of the situation at hand. Honestly, at most points I viewed her as an untrustworthy source of information, because of course you can twist the facts like you want them and always view them through your lens.

With all of that in mind, Miranda still manages to deliver something deliciously mysterious. Her writing has the perfect mix of the past and the present, along with trying to overly-focus on the details that may link one case to another. She's just the author to take you by your hand at the start, and send you on a wild ride (or a wild goose chase) for an unidentifiable person.

The ending was also very disappointing, there was no huge confrontation in which everything got solved and the criminal got caught. Sure, I don't like tidy endings in most thrillers, but in this case I think that the author played it too safe and left it too open ended, ultimately leaving me unsatisfied with the outcome.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"We're all just wandering through the tundra of our existence, assigning value to worthlessness, when all that we love and hate, all we believe in and fight for and kill for and die for is as meaningless as images projected onto plexiglass."

This book was an absolute masterpiece and an absolute mindfuck of a sci-fi world.

"Are you happy with your life?" are the last six words that Jason hears before becoming unconscious and waking up in an unfamiliar, different world. At first, he doesn't even know if he's experiencing a dream/hallucination or which reality is the one that's real. The biggest question that he is trying to answer is: how does he get back to the people that he loves, the family that he left behind.

"I thought I appreciated every moment, but sitting here in the cold I took it all for granted. And how could I not? Until everything topples, we have no idea what we actually have, how precariously and perfectly it all hangs together."

Throughout this novel, we then go through a series of these types of introspective thought about: appreciating the things that we already have, finding our identity, how we perceive what reality is, the choices that we make or that we don't make. Because of our first POV, and the psychologist who appears in a good chunk of the book, this proved to be an interesting psychological study.

"The other (view spoiler) want the thing in the world that is the most precious in the world that is the most precious to me--my family."

This can classified as a love story, between a husband and wife and their son, between what their family means and how it grounds them in whatever life they choose to live through. That's what makes it so emotional, so gripping and soul-searching for both the narrator and so that the reader can relate. In my opinion this was the most important element of the book because it erased the indifferent and made us empathize with the struggles of our MC.

"It's a mystery. But there are clues. Most astrophysicist believe that the force holding stars and galaxies together--the thing that makes our whole universe work--comes from a theoretical substance we can't measure or observe directly. Something they call dark matter. And this dark matter makes up most of the known universe."

The scientific explanations blew my mind and probably went way over my head, but nevertheless could still captivate my attention completely. The way that the author writes it provides so much intricacy, and why this novel is titled is (the title sentence, if you will) captures the meaning and themes even more clearly.

I have to admit at first I had to adjust to Crouch's writing style. It could be described as short and choppy, but I thought that the voice of a screenwriter was shining through the pages. From page one, I just knew that this was meant to be adapted onto the big screen. There are repetitive phrases that are like lists, and lots of short phrases that just get dropped to the next line-in the middle of a thought. In a way though this fits right along with the fast paced tempo that Crouch is aiming for, so I grew to really appreciate . The result of his writing was making this an extremely quick read that was unputdownable, the kind that's so excellent that you can't help but read it in one sitting.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinion are my own.**

View all my reviews

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Everything breaks if you hit it hard enough.”

This novel follows the unique father-daughter relationship between Loo, a quirky teenager who had a rough-n'-tumble relationship, and Hawley, a mysterious man with a hidden past filled with regrets and mistakes. Set in the quaint New England setting of the Atlantic shore, we follow the messy nests of secrets and lies, and the criss-cross railroad tracks that this creates within the various connections in town.

Could be described as grit-lit mystery, in which the father teaches her daughter of survival skills like jumping a jar, shooting at the bullet range, etc. Loo's childhood being pretty unstable and unconventional, her transferring to seven different schools throughout her childhood. Objectively, I could recognize that Loo would have had a traditionally "better" childhood if she had stayed with her grandmother, however the things that she went through with her father was both heartbreaking and bittersweet.

How this book is set up, there is one chapter for the story behind every bullet hole that Hawley has acquired. Other chapters are alternating from Loo's POV, little vignettes of her life from twelve-years old to seventeen years old. I would dare say that this was done very successfully because I felt like we could get to know the characters much more in-depth, through their thoughts on life and their reactions of certain events.

Hawley has a peculiar way of life and tradition, where he hangs memorabilia, a type of shrine place in the bathroom, and always carries several guns wherever he goes and in whatever he packs. There's an element of grief, because Loo's mother drowned when she was just an infant.

Overall, the writing was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to experience this coming-of age story through my new favorite characters': Loo's eyes.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We Stood Upon Stars

"We search mountaintops and valleys, deserts and oceans, hoping sunrises and long views through the canyons will help us discover who we are, or who we still want to be. The language of your hearts reflect that of creation because in both are fingerprints of God."

[Actual rating: 2.5 Stars]

This book explores the journey of life and what fatherhood means, the wonder of looking up at the stars, camping in the West,etc. I think that this book has the potential to be an insightful and introspective piece of travel memoir art, if it's read at the right time to the right audience. However, being a female teenager, nothing in this book interested or applied to me personally, and so that's why I found it hard to get into it.

My favorite passages were those where Thompson describes all of the motorcycle rides with his grandfather and sees canyons, valleys, and tunnels. Those seem to be heartfelt, and his grandfather is a wise old man who brightened some of the dull stories and also gave us insight into the kind of contemplation that was taught to him, and in return pass this on to his two sons.

Generally though, I found myself skimming through most of these short camping stories, because a lot of the moral lessons are repetitive. Things like how he wants to be a better father by exposing his sons into the wild west and all the dangers that come in, how he has these moments with God that change him to be a better person. That's all good and nice, however this type of reflection would have been more suited for a short novella or even longer essay. 

On the other hand, in memoirs I like when all of the other characters are fleshed out and seem realistic, not paper-cut with roles. That's what it seemed to be here; the wife fulfills the life partner and romantic elements that are needed, supporting her husband in all of her endeavors. We don't even get one insightful shred about how their relationship actually functions, we don't really see the individual personalities of his two sons (the only details being that they're eight and ten years old). 

Overall, if you enjoy travel memoirs that talk about landscape and faith, this just might be the book for me. For me, however, it fell incredibly boring and flat as a result of this disconnection.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinion are my own.**

Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 SerendipiTEA Tour Featuring When Planets Fall Author Abby Reed + Giveaway!

I've always wanted to have a chance to host a book tour on my blog, for as long as it's been alive. Right now, not only do I get to do that, but this is also a tour that I in part created. It was an honor and privilege to work with these sixteen debut authors and put together a beautiful and packed tour of their novels. Today I'm extremely excited to be focusing in on WHEN PLANETS FALL by Abby Reed, who I consider a friend.

Here's a little bit about this book:

“In this richly imagined start to a new sci-fi series, Reed brings optimism to the goal of solving entrenched violence in a galaxy far, far away. . . A propulsive, sharply crafted tale about a planetary war.” –Kirkus Reviews
If you enjoy books with disabled characters, sibling relationships, moral greys, body modification, and don't mind a bit of blood . . . in space . . . then you might like WHEN PLANETS FALL!
Breaker's home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker's valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker's leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little 'stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bathe his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family's life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors."

This is book #1 in STARS FALL CIRCLE series.

You can purchase it here:

A little bit about Abby Reed!

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, will be published in May 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.
Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at www.abbyjreed.com.

A little bit about her tea life! 

This photo should sum up my tea life: 

Yeah. Did I mention I like tea?

I like the caffeine. I like that it's water (I live at high-altitude!) I like the flavors. It's like eating a scent, and since scents are strong memory triggers, it's like eating a memory. Every time I drink something rose-based, I'm reminded of the way I felt when I visited the Queen's Rose Garden in England. I feel at peace, surrounded by beauty, even if I haven't left my office.

All about her tea contribution:

My WHEN PLANETS FALL tea is a custom cinnamon vanilla roobios mix. It smells very warm and makes me think of home. With rooibos as a base, there's no caffeine. And, fun fact: rooibos is supposed to be good for headaches!

Cinnamon is a very important scent to Breaker. To him, it's a scent that symbolizes his brother's death, loss, and a never-ending cycle of violence. I knew that had to be a main part of the tea. The vanilla is representative of the pupal fruit that grows on Scarlatti. It's a main part of their diet and has a sweeter taste. I chose rooibos because a) it's red, and the color red is huge in Breaker's world. B) Rooibos is supposed to be inflammatory, which is good for migraines, and Luka, one of the POVs, gets migraines.

What's included in the giveaway prizes?

Delicious Giveaway Link Below!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Serendipitea Tour online!

April 1st–The Regal Critiques: JM Sullivan with THE WANDERLAND CHRONICLES

April 2nd–Ohana Reads: Leah Henderson with ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL

April 3rd–YA and Wine: KM Robinson with GOLDEN

April 4th–The YA Book Traveler: F.M. Boughan with CINDERELLA NECROMANCER

April 5th–YA Wednesdays: Linsey Miller with A MASK OF SHADOWS

April 6th–Bibliobibuli YA: Leslie Hauser with CHASING EVELINE

April 7th–Rattle the Pages: Gwen C. Katz with AMONG THE RED STARS

April 9th–Pirates and Pixie Dust: Amber Duell with FRAGILE CHAOS


April 10th–lollipopsbooks: Abby J. Reed with WHEN PLANETS FALL

April 11th–SimplyAllyTea: Carrie Ann DiRisio with BROODING YA’S HERO GUIDE

April 12–Bookish Fan Girl: Amanda Hanson with SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL

April 13th–For the Sake of Reading: Rosalyn Eves with BLOOD ROSE REBELLION

April 14th–Redd’s Reads: Meg Eden with POST HIGH-SCHOOL REALITY QUEST

April 15th–Tales of the Ravenous Reader: Kristin L. Gray with VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE

April 16th–Little red bookshelf: Chelsea Sedoti with THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT

April 17th–Emily Reads Everything: Shaila Patel with SOULMATED

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

[Rating: 3.5 stars]

A daring sequel to a thrilling first novel, however slightly inferior. Second book syndrome, or perhaps not enough spent with my favorite character may contribute to my indifferent to this continuation.

Plot-wise it's absolutely fascinating and was moving along quite rapidly. Planet Earth is being invaded by more and more of these "alien robots" that are threatening the very international safety. Chaos ensues and the storyline goes from there, involving all of the same characters that were featured in the first book.

There was more of a sense of deathly urgency, which of curse ensured that there was a decrease in solid character development that I was desperate to see. However this (endearing) train wreck didn't keep my on my toes. I think that the author tried, and quite frankly failed at creating that authentic urgency that's needed in this thriller-esque thing. The format stays exactly the same as it was in the first installment (interviews and short diary entries) however because of certain event and the need for more narratives to fully flesh out the character.

Funny, I expected this alternative world to expand, but instead I felt like it was narrowing. We spend a significant among time solving mysteries in the details of under the microscope and examining DNA. Sure, there were some profound passages that explore the idea of space, infinity, etc. just as could have been expected from Neuvel.

(view spoiler)

Lastly the ending: omg! Neuvel really has a knack for writing abstract cliffhangers. Not only did you not expect them, but they are completely out of the world of things that happened; that they change the playing board completely. I'm expecting that this is a set-up for the third installment.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Monday, April 3, 2017

The BarrowfieldsThe Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The more I read these types of books, the more I discover that dysfunctional family sagas are not my cup of tea. Let's face this, "debut" author sometimes tend to overuse this tope to create a barebones plot outline.

I wish that I could say that I've found an exception to the rule, but this one is unfortunately not what I was hoping it was. We follow Henry, a child of two ambitious artists that live in a dark and ghostly mansion at the top of the hill, that's rumored to be haunted because of the previous owners mysterious deaths. It seems that his father is a depressive alcoholic who neglects everything and everyone around him for his sacred "writing" which he considers his whole life. His mother has put up with this behavior for years, and has not ben a comforting mother figure to neither him nor her daughter Threnody. Henry seems to take the mother and father role in her life. The setting is a small rural town in Northern Appalachia, where both the father and son want to escape but ultimately their town calls them back (see the repetitive patterns yet?)

As for the writing, where is the editor or was there any editing work done on this? You could not believe the number of "and"s and repetitive phrases that were repeated in the same sentence/paragraph. Lots of the word choice and sentence structure felt very discombobulated to the point that I felt frustrated with it. I just thought that this needs a lot more work writing-wise. One might say: "But readers like me should maybe move past that since after all he is a debut author, so cut him some slack right?" (I have greater expectations, and also if the writing sucks, it's ruins everything so...)

I was also disappointed in the way that the adoption process was handled. There is a certain character who is in a relationship with our MC and then of course something about her biological parents is revealed and our MC is the fire to ever notice the answer. I just thought that whole section wasn't well thought-out and unrealistic in terms of legal stipulations and then how the information was even discovered.

One of the only things that I genuinely enjoyed where the flashbacks to Henry and Threnody's sibling relationship when they were children. He used to read her books and make up stories and sing to her every night before bed, which I thought was really sweet and showed a caring side in his otherwise unlikeable nature. That point in time was absolutely precious to watch unravel, although I can't say the rest for the same of the book.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Nasty WomenNasty Women by 404 Ink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The world is a dangerous place right now, but not as dangerous as a nasty woman with a pen in her hand and story to tell. These voices telling our truths cannot be shaken and they certainly will not be drowned out any more. Why fear us when you can join us?

This collection of essays blew me away. As a newly christened feminist, I was looking around for some empowering literature that could empower me through the voices of the women fighting against sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, etc. Coming out of this reading experience, I’ve discovered some kick-a*s role models who are champions in the movement. I feel more passion, more spark than I have in what seems a very long time, but is just months since the November election.

Every single one of these essays are on an important topic, and a majority of them were successfully were intersectional. We have imperfect feminists that have mental illnesses, drug addicts, and people who’ve fuc*ed up. We have proud daughters of immigrants, who describe the struggles of their parents giving them a better life.

“I shake in terror for them and with them and I cannot decide what is scarier: that Drumpf is president or that people I know and love enabled him.”

As with any collection, there are weaker ones and ones that you absolutely loved because it related and resonated with you as a women. My favorite one was actually the first one, which is hella political and truly packs a punch from which I am sure that I will reread over and over again.

Firsthand experience, first person POV is essential for making these people who are writing these essays connect to their audience of readers. A successful piece of writing makes the reader feel empathy and want to do something about the injustice that is being spread. So many pieces did that to me, quotes that stuck with me and resonated deep within myself. This book made me confront my own racist behavior and thinking that was harmful and horrible, and so for that I will be forever grateful for that.

This isn’t sugarcoating “comfortable” feminist stories, it’s raw, painful, sorrowful, passionate, personal and more than that. It opens your eyes to example of microaggressions that black women experience, it talks about survivors of sexual assault and rape (trigger warnings). But walking away you feel like you learned something valuable.

****Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews
Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy TaleGeekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale by Ashley Poston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a magical Cinderella retelling, with wicked stepmothers, bratty stepsisters, a pumpkin that serves as transportation, and even losing a plastic slipper. A die hard Starbound fan, her father the creator of ExcelsiCon is going to give everyone that she has to win a cosplay event to get the tickets and transportation to Atlanta, where this is hosted.

“I'm half of my father. Half of my hero. And I am half of my mother. Half soft sighs and half sharp edges. And if they can be Carmindor and Amara--then somewhere in my blood and bones I can be too. I'm the lost princess. I'm the villain of my story, and the hero. Part of my mom and part of my dad. I am a fact of the universe. The Possible and the Impossible. I am not no one. I am my parents' daughter, and then I realize--I realize that in this universe they're alive too. They're alive through me. Fashioning my hands into a pistol, I point it at the ceiling, lifting my chin, raising my eyes against the blinding stage lights, and I ignite the stars.”

A perfect description of who Elle is. If you are at all familiar with the popculture and story of Cinderella, you would know that she’s an orphan. Here the author can spin that element of her personality, and shine her dead parents’ character through it. The way that Poston describes stars and the night sky blows my mind. There’s an element of pure wonder, coming from both of your narrators that make the readers feel as if they’re staring at the night sky right then. If you love romance that feature enemies-to-lover, anonymous text messages, and cons, than this is the book for you.

“I know fans are the worst sometimes. The best, but also the worst. And you are a fan. So you’re going to be the worst to yourself. You’re going to judge yourself the harshest.”

I adore seeing fangirls and fanboys active within the fandom be represented in YA novels. All throughout this story, I felt like I could really relate to Elle’s obsessions and her determined fangirl girl that shines through against all odds. Also, I really enjoy taking a deep dive into teenager celebrities lives, and what it’s like for them to be new on the scene of Hollywood. Darien, our Carmindor, is the most beloved character of the show that he’s watched since he was seven.

The author isn’t afraid to explore the dark side of fandom, the fans that go too far and ruthlessly criticize newer reruns that are happening. The author includes diverse characters, like Elle’s best friend is gay and Darien is Indian I believe. Elle is such an adorable geek, such an adorable nerd, and I loved her all the more for it. There’s nothing that she wouldn’t do for her fandom and for the show that got her through her childhood, even through her stepmother’s opposition.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Most Dangerous Place on EarthThe Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We start out in the eighth grade and then skip towards senior year, where there are many alternating POC that are struggling high school students, naive and fresh to the adult world. In my mind, our narrator is Molly, an English high school teacher who observes her students maybe too closely, Calista (Cally) is a hippie teenager who was transformed after a suicide that she and her fellow classmates were complicit in, Nick a kind of "bad boy" who is a wild-child, Emma a fabulous dancer and parties all weekend, and Dave the serious student who strives for to meet his parents expectations.

Starting out with these character types, you might be skeptical, as I have been with these stereotypes card-board cutout descriptions, but I feel like there is a deep emotional connection that can be formed with each of these characters, especially since I am in the teenage group. The deep themes in this book transcends all ages, including topics such as love, heartbreak, sorrow, passion, loss, and more.

Another thing is some deep character study, of flaws and powerful strengths. The author explores teenager all across the spectrum of what's expected of them and the separation or "popular' and "unpopular" and stereotypes of "goody little two shoes" and "bad boys". The author has a talent for writing this type of thing in a slow and subtle way. Don't expect some shocking plot twists or high-stakes games, it was a consistent look at the humanity and various phases that teenagers go through, and how they're trying to fit themselves in the "adult" world.

My only qualms with this is that sometimes it over-dramatizes the situations that can happen in high school. It seems that the author like to take the worst possible instances and blows them up by their characters and teachers reaction. At times, I felt like there was some unrealistic portrayal or how the daily life in high school actually is-hint: for me it was boring and quiet-. Although I know that the relatability depends on your personal high school experience, but I felt like sometimes the author overdid it, or over-reached.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Sunday, March 26, 2017

More of MeMore of Me by Kathryn Evans
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"I have grown in strength inside her. Filled her cells with mine until we must split apart. It's not my choice - that's how it's always been for us."

This was pitched to me as a 16-yo girl who replicates herself every year, therefore has many living selves locked up in her house while trying to live a normal high school life. Instantly, it piqued my interest and I was deeply intrigued; I thought about the possibility of exploration the psychological and mental aspect that this have to had taken with these girls at home.

First of all, I could describe the execution as a poor slug machine. Instead of showing us the depth of this supposed disorder, we get swept up in petty boy drama (with my hated "bad boy" trope which is eww), and best friend fights. Our MC Teva is sch a selfish brat that I couldn't stand for even one second, if I'm completely honest.

Teva's an immature sixteen year old who never things about anyone else's feelings (esp. her multiple sisters) and acts so self-absorbed in this mission to "save" her current self. Seriously, I thought that she needs to grow up and even at some points I was wishing for her to finally be transformed into her "new self"; to finally stop whining, complaining, and self-loathing.

Problem is, most of this confusion, most of this drama could be cleared up with an honest conversation with the family members. This whole dragged-out drawn-out plot was completely unnecessary addition to this plotline, which I could not enjoy.

****Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 25, 2017

EleanorEleanor by Jason Gurley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Most souls wait for a very long time. In the end, the peace they seek is usually within themselves, not within the confines of the world they left.”

A lyrical and ethereal story, telling the tale of what happens to a family who is falling apart because of the death of beloved daughter, Esmeralda. Every thread that's held them together starts pulling after the tragic accident that has Esme thrown against the rear window, glass in her hair, not ever going to open her eyes again. Her twin sister, goes on a journey tinged with magical realism and manipulation of time, to a unknown place called the "rift".

“And it is miserable to think that this is what adulthood is like: two people, cowering behind their grief, lashing out at each other like injured animals.”

Her mother and father have separated because they couldn't handle the pressure after the incident. Their grief is raw, toxic, and the exploration how this can affect and change us as human beings was a fascinating thing to watch progress. How her mother has anger issues and is addicted to alcohol, and yet is still loved by Eleanor despite everything that she has done.

“This is how the darkness is. It knows nothing else. It fills crevices, pushing into the finest, narrowest corners, ascribing no meaning to the events that it carries, but birthing and then swallowing them again as they expire.”

I found that there are lots of parallels to Eleanor's namesake, her grandmother Eleanor, who supposedly went for a swim on a wet foggy day and never came back. There's always a little bit of darkness lurking at the edges of every page, or every life situation that these ladies encounter with. I would say that this book mainly highlights the mother-daughter relationships that are messy and ugly but so real. I can only applaud Gurley for showing these twisty paths to one's earth, because that's so hard to do in an intricate nuanced way like was done here.

“Time is a river, and it flows in a circle."

If you like things with manipulating time or changing the timeline of events, this is definitively the book for you to explore. There is tons of contemplation about what time is, how we many times wish desperately change it. Eleanor, her father and mother have to face that is a span of time, they've lost so many things. I especially feel sympathetic to her father, who although he's far from perfect, at some time has lost his whole entire family and doesn't know how to navigate this element called "time."

The ending left me with more questions than answers, and so in my opinion that was one of the only unsatisfactory part of the book. Without going into any spoilers, I was very confused in what way this "thing" would work and if would give the intended "happy ending" that was desired with doing this act. I just wish it could have been more closed-off, instead of the author leaving it so open ended.

****Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sing, Unburied, SingSing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a powerful voice in literary fiction and painfully raw story of a 13-year black boy, Jojo, who is shouldering the supernatural and adult world simultaneously, in other words has too much food on his plate. The writing is exquisitely crafted, like every word of every story is ready to pack an emotional punch.

Sometimes, the world don't give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes, it withholds.

After his Leonie (his mother) becomes absent too often because she's out snorting pills, Jojo becomes a surrogate parent for his three year old sister, Kayla. His father is stuck in the Mississippi prison, also an absent figure from their lives. He learns about the discrimination of the black people in his family and ghosts that are around him, but he learns profound lessons that impact his worldview and how he perceives other people portrayal of him.

Living at their grandparent's farm in the deep South on the Gulf of Mississippi, Jojo learns a lot about how to be a black man, and hears stories of Pop's unfortunate stay in Parchman, the Mississippi Prison that haunt both of them in different ways. Ward is absolutely at the top of her writing game, this writing was the most lyrical piece of work that I've read in a long time; this may remain as on the top of my favorite list this year. This story is dark, so trigger warnings for abuse and violence.

She explores deep and complicated issues like abuse, race, incarceration, drug use, privilege and poverty, with the lens of balancing multiples POVs that are essentially interconnected to a car trip to get Jojo's father, Michael when he was released from prison. A lot of painfully sad things happen to Jojo and his sister Kayla, and so the author was able to create an opening for the empathy and sympathy that I deeply felt for these characters. The ability that Ward has to get to the very soul, the core of every core is so enlightening and excellent that closing this book felt like losing their essence.

I didn't understand time either, when I was young. How could I know that after I died, Parchman would pull me from the sky? How could I imagine Parchman would pull me to it and refuse to let go? And how could I conceive that Parchman was past, present and future all at once? That the history and sentiment that carved the place out of the wilderness would show me that time is a vast ocean and that everything is happening at once?

Interweaved throughout this story are the hidden stories of ghosts and the injustices in their past life. In that way, there is a prevalent is magical realism. There is lots of contemplation about the idea of home, what that means to each individual, and 'does the truth set you free?' We all know that life is messy; that why I'm a fan of untidy ending and this wraps up one perfect breath of a novel.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews
Spaceman of BohemiaSpaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

[Actual rating: 3.75]

Time was not a line, but an awareness. I was no longer a body, but a series of pieces whistling as they bonded. I felt every cell within me. I could count them, name them, kill them, and resurrect them. Within the core, I was a tower made of fossil fragments. I could be disassembled and reassembled.

Fundamentally, this book seems like a journey of self-reflection and what solitude means for looking inside herself. Jakub Procházka is the first Czech astronaut, and travels to the dangerous place of Venus to collect sample for his scientists colleagues. There he spends lots of time in contemplation over the cracks in his marriage with his wife Lenka who he left behind for his own dreams and ambitions. How could he be so far, both literally and figuratively, from the closeness and devotion that they used to share?

While there, he meets poisonous alien spider,Hanuš, who may or may not be real. Because of his solitude they become fast friends and bond over conversational topics. While this is going on, Jakub notices that his wife is becoming more distant, and one day she completely disappears from a phone appointment. Shocked, Jakub steels himself into depression and falls into really poor self-care routines.

After some wacko experiences that he has literally floating in the universe and ends up in Russian spaceship of all thing. He was a child of the Velvet Revolution, orphaned and raised in the countryside by his parents. Always trying to run away and escape his past, always trying to be a better man than his father was, yet something pulling him back into the orbit of the past.

But one has to ask: why do the big things at such a high cost? I chose the quiet life. I like the idea of being recognized by my field and no one else. This way I have a purpose, one I believe in, but I'm not burdened by the constant idea of putting on a public image, a view of myself the masses can accept.

This inner struggle is characterized as the push and pull between having a public life with adoration from the crowds, or from deciding to retire to a quiet life that's under the radar. It's a common thread that goes throughout the entirety of the novel.

The only thing is, in my personal taste, I've noticed that me and space novels don't mesh well together. There's a lot psychological and character study, that isn't necessary exciting to the plot but instead drags it along. I've never been in a romantic relationship, so I tend to stay away from those entangled marriage studies, because I find they melodramatic and overly boring. Existential crisis and second chance are mixed into this pie, so there's a lot of living inside Jakub's messy brain, which is what makes this journey beautifully real.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

HimselfHimself by Jess Kidd

[Rating: 4.25]

A crime novel that reads like a spooky fairytale... with one of the most unforgettable characters that I've read in a long time. A village with many dark secrets... lurking just around the corner make for luscious storytelling.

Going into this book, I got extremely startled by the intensity and graphic violence of the prologue, where we witness a scene of death that is a leading force in this "investigation." After that cold splash of water woke me up, I was again surprised by our MC, Mahoney's "magical" ability in the supernatural world. Every chapter, long or short, kept on adding layers to the mystery that aired in this quaint village in Ireland (aka Mulderrig)

This book was darkly atmospheric, with the unknown woods as the main setting where things went down. It has a very whimsical and charming feeling in some parts, yet there is always a dark corner of the world lurking beneath the surface. Kidd really knows how to reel you into this Grimms-like fairytale but that doesn't make it seem completely unreal, more like a bonkers dream that you have when you're asleep.

By all means my favorite character was the "grandmotherly" figure in this story, or the guiding hand shall I say, Mrs.Cauley. She was a comical relief that was sorely needed, and lived in a room with books literally stocked with piles of books from the floor to the ceiling, so that it was hard to get to her bed. She's fierce and determined investigator that absolutely won't give up until the truth is revealed.

My only complaint was that the "bad villainous" characters seemed like a stereotypical mold/character type that didn't strike me as well-developed enough. The "good" people were well-developed, in a way that felt like they could be my neighbor. Other than that, this debut is a dazzling original with refreshing lyrical, poetic, and touching prose that will stay with me for a long time.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with arc in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Monday, March 13, 2017

Queens of GeekQueens of Geek by Jen Wilde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is everything that I could have wanted from a geeky book which featured LGBT+ rep., racial diversity, and incorporated pop-culture aspects (like SupaCon-which is similar to ComicCon). I laughed out loud dozens or times, bawled my eyes out at other times, but overall it was a spectacular reading experience where my eyeballs stayed connected to the book and I couldn't put it down or notice my surrounding until I finished my one-sitting runthrough.

In this story we follow the mega-million YouTuber, Charlie, our Chinese bisexual MC who gets invited to attend this convention to showcase her new movie that came out. Along the way she has an opportunity to bring her two best friends, also complete geeks at heart who are coming all the way from Australia and the biggest fangirls at my heart.

Although yes, I did find one relationship in this book a bit insta-lovey, I also feel like I could brush past that to get to the awkward adorable romantic drama that went on every page in this story. It's a lighter fluffy romance, which makes you want to make puppy eyes and swoon at every page. Not to downgrade the enormous value here; there were some heavy conversations with communications boundaries set up that were necessary to the development of the romantic subplot.

The intersectional feminism in this book was absolutely on pointe in my opinion. There was girls supporting girls, strong female friendships, girls who stand up for eachother in the acting industry, and an f/f romance. Sexism, racism, homophobia were directly addressed in the text which happens so rarely that when it does, it really jumps out at you. Most of the characters in this book were a diverse cast of... girls, my favorite thing to be a focal point in YA contemporary romance.

Also, there was a character with anxiety and autism-spectrum represented on page! And there was a bisexual MC who discussed biphobia and other issues with the public's perception of her sexuality on page! Which is all it takes to have me stand up and say "I'm sold!"

**Thanks to NetGalley the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

View all my reviews

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Journey Across the Hidden IslandsJourney Across the Hidden Islands by Sarah Beth Durst

A magnificent portrayal of a realistic coming-of-age story, made me have faith in humanity at some point in this story.

We follow a set of twins,Princess Ji-Lin and the royal heir Seika who must go on a perilous "Emperor's Journey" to talk to a dragon who protects their residence, Hidden Islands, via a barrier with the outside world and effectively protecting them from the outside world. Until now, when then face unprecedented threats and the sisters must make a final decision that will change the history of their beloved islands.

I don't read many middle-grade novels, they're not usually in my wheelhouse but I really felt like I could connect to these characters and could grasp the simplistic fantasy world of the Hidden Islands. There were delightful pet companions, a flying lion in this case that warmed the story with his humor and dedication to the bond between him and Ji-Lin.

As always there are frustrations when children that are extremely inexperienced and unprepared make stupid choices, but I actually feel like these princesses were humble enough to accept their shameful decisions and learn from their mistakes. Still, they journeyed way too young (out of necessity) and you could visibly see how sorely unprepared they were, but at least they could realize this and not hide from it with pride.

I could also admire their vast determination to "make things right" and keep their villagers as safe and happy as possible. For two twelve years olds, I almost found it unbelievably how wise these children were, although of course this could stem from their wise teachers and guiding companions that are with them along the way.

One thing that I really loved is that the author avoided including a romantic interest with the boy companion that they picked up on their journey. At first it seemed like these romantic interests may evolve, but then when I saw the author kept the storyline romance-free I truly appreciated this as non-romance book from young tweenagers.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

View all my reviews
The TravelersThe Travelers by Chris Pavone

DNF @ page 112
I was really excited to get into this book actually, and tried two unsuccessful attempts to get into the story. Ultimately I found the concept very boring, because I was waiting for the "spy work" to begin, and I feel like I'm waiting too long for the action to happen. Also, I was pretty confused in which direction this book was going to, because I feel like with the way that the author was writing it, I couldn't find a way to pinpoint it exactly. I guess I'm just not one of those readers to *suspend disbelief* so easily as I wish I could have to fully enjoy this book, or like I was told I was exposed to.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Done Dirt CheapDone Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

[actual rating: 4.5]
Truly, the pulse of this story is the growing friendship between two strong women, Tourmaline and Virginia. This is what made me want to keep on coming to this surprisingly debut novel with lyrical and atmospheric storytelling.

I haven't read many books that feature motorcycle clubs (because of the stereotypes), but because the main two protagonists are around my age I could relate on some deeper level to their life. Don't let these vibes fool you, the writing in this book just blew it out of the water. In my opinion, the best thing was how much Lemon made me want to savor each word, each sentence. Honestly, their delicate bonding intrigued me and made me even more interesting to see how they backstories and their differences affect them.

At the beginning of this book, we meet two mostly naive girls, but miraculously by the end of this book the author has made them grow up in front of our eyes. They fall in love for the first time, manipulatively defeat the "bad wolf", and band together, because two is better than one standing against them, right?

My only minor problem, why I didn't give this a full five stars is because I felt like the ending was tied up in a bow too quickly. Like I understand that we are looking for a resolution, but the majority of this book was pretty messy, and the ending seeming so neat it threw me off track.

There's not much that I can say except drop everything and go read this swanky book! You won't regret going on this wild ride.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange of my honest review.**

View all my reviews

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Fall of Lisa BellowThe Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was an extremely memorable thriller that took me by surprise, because it's something that was unlike anything that I’ve read before. The thing that I enjoyed most is the psychological study of human beings and the interaction and nuances in relationships between parent and child and how that in turn affects the worldview of all of the characters. Character study, if I can call it that is one of the most fascinating things that can be explored in any novels, and so I really appreciated what the author did here.

We follow Meredith, a young child who has experienced a traumatic kidnapping incident, where she was left behind. This changes the core of her being, and messes with her head as well as her mother's and those around here. This book deals with the aftermath and survival guilt after Lisa Bellow's disappearance, as well as with flashbacks from earlier times describing what Lisa was really like.

I've read a couple of stories like this, where something happens to a someones that the MC hated, and then after something big happens they suddenly become obsessed with everything about them. When in reality, they maybe took five minutes to talk to them in their whole lifetime, so it sometimes seems pointless to be so concerned about the outcome of their fate. This book was by far the best example that I could recommend to people about this concept.

I really felt like I could relate to thirteen-year old Meredith, even though I’ve never attended public middle school, and even though I’ve never had to face a struggle like this. The author just makes you want to empathize and connect with both the main characters .

If I'm honest, although I adore multiple POVs books, they are rarely done right. I was so glad that each of the character's were so distinct and unique, so that I could easily differentiate between our family cast. The transition was seamless, because from the tone I immediately knew that a shift had occurred.

My only bump in the road was at the beginning of Book 2, because I personally extremely confused at what was doing on. At first I thought that this dual plot thing was unique before I figured it out at the very end. Even though there was no clear resolution at the ending, I still felt satisfied. I can understand how this might bother some people, that there is no clear "yes" or "no" answer. In fact I didn't even realize that fact under I looked back on this unputdownable book.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own

View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Charmed by Chocolate (Love at the Chocolate Shop #6)Charmed by Chocolate by Steena Holmes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

[actual rating 2.75]

If you want a fluffy romance, this may be right up your alley. It just wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

We follow Leah, a tv figure on "Charmed" (similar to Bachelor), who is just getting over an overblown scandal. She returns back to Marietta for a break, and there gets reunited with her childhood best friend and her fierce grandmother. Obviously from the cover you can see that this book does have to do with baking and chocolates, which play a big role in the setting.

Personally though, I found a lot of things in this story extremely frustrating and annoying. For example, the MC best friend literally have ruined her life several times over; and I just wanted to shake the whole group and be like, stop treating Leah like sh*t and expecting something in return. Listen, I truly appreciate all type of female friendships, but not only was this one unhealthy, emotional manipulate/abusive, but Leah never addressed this issue. At some points it just seemed like she was a puppy to her friend, escalating between guilt and favors and I just couldn't deal with it. My favorite character was defectively Leah's Gram, who was fierce and stood up to Leah trying to show her reason and truth in the midst of a foggy to her situation.

Also a key thing in these types of romances that often gets played the wrong way, and in an endless cycle that I'm not always willing to get through is lack of communication. I swear this whole book could have been resolved in one chapter if the characters simply had a face-to-face conversation where they explained what had happened and what they were feeling. But that would be pointless, wouldn't it have been? Because that means that the author wouldn't have the chance to drag out the whole plot and tangle it with the trope of miscommunication.

One trope that I absolutely adored and will always love was childhood best friends turned to lovers. One trope that I absolutely hate is the concept of "soul mates" and everybody in the community loves it. A mix of salt and sugar was interspersed within this text, which made me want to continue. Also the fact that this is a fairly short read also made the book bearable enough to finish.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing with an e-arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews