Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Beauty That RemainsThe Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t had a book that truly blew me away this much since the beginning of this year, and I haven’t been promoting a 2018 release as hard as this one. It’s impossible to describe the well of deep love that runs through me for this book. We follow three grief stricken teens, which just tore a raw wound into my heart to see them in such deep pain trying to cope with their big loss of the death of a close one.

We have Shay, who runs an indie music blog and was an ex-band manager, and recently lost her twin sister to leukemia. There’s Autumn, an adopted Korean bookworm, who just lost her life-long best friend to a tragic car accident. Then there’s Logan, a gay guy who played bass and was a lead singer, whose ex-boyfriend had an overdose. The one thing that brings these lost souls together is the power of music.

The plot itself is slow moving, there’s not really much that’s happening. It’s more a character based journey through life, which was the perfect thing that I needed at that moment (also the reason that I;m in a huge book hangover.) If you appreciate a raw and authentically real writing style, run don’t walk to the bookstore the day it’s released.

I’ve been saying this for the past couple of years, but we are in sore need of more realistic and diverse teen characters like the ones we have here. Woodfolk has a way with words, is a natural storyteller, because her writing seems to flow effortlessly and she absolutely nailed it with the three different POVs. So much can go wrong with multiple narrator, it’s a risky move to make and rarely well done in my experience, but I can praise Woodfolk for perfection with this, to the moon and back always. (Which is the highest praise from a moonchild like me.)

What I could really appreciate is that there wasn’t a tragic moment/accident that happened on page; this book didn’t focus on the thing itself. It shows the after-math of this life-changing tragedy among those people who are the closest.

My favorite scenes balanced the delicate line of grief-stricken pain and loving nostalgic memories. Some the scenes had nothing to do with that, it was just a bunch of teens going to a concert of their favorite band, or a new romantic relationship blooming, or the support of the closest best friends. I kept on imagining these characters as real people in my city, because I cared and truly deeply connected to every one of them. And that my friends, is the highest praise that I can give for a book. 10,000/10 stars

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

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Girl Made of StarsGirl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

TW: rape, sexual assault

In the author’s note at the end of the book, Blake said something like “I hope this is the book you need. This was the book that I needed to write.” And for me, that’s so true, this book is beautiful piece of art that has insightful commentary on the rape culture in relation to our current political moment. But more than that, it’s the story of first love, teenage friendships, and getting comfterable with your sexuality.

So well done, this book blows open a raw hole, it was so intense that I was a loudly sobbing puddle for most the book, and at points had to take a break because it was hurting my brain in the best way. Be warned that this book will absolutely wreck your soul, and then provide you with that valuable sliver of hope that you’ll cling to after you close the last page.

My favorite characters (more like ICONIC Queens) were Hannah and Mara. They both banded together and truly supported each other as survivors in the best way that both of them needed. The way their interactions played out on page was just a testament to the emotional maturity that these teen girls had.

Also, I was over the moon to see that there was on-page nonbinary/genderqueer rep (MC’s best friend); and our MC herself was bisexual and there is an on page f/f relationship. Even though none of that was the focus, it meant the world to me to see myself represented directly as an enby. I definitely especially shed some tears for this.

Ashley Blake has a knack for writing realistic teens and their interaction. They text, call eachother and I dialogue is something that I could imagine saying to my friends. Nothing about the entangled emotions of humans is black and white, thing are always messy and complicated, which makes any story more compelling. Let this be known that this was an entirely character-based plotline there’s not much action, more deep explorations of society and flawed people.

Unlike many other books that this deal with this heavy topic, this one was unique as in that the alleged rapist is our MC’s twin brother, Oscr and most of the book Mara has to deal with the aftermath and fallout. Not only her, but all their friends and social circles, and really the rest of the school have to “pick sides” on who to believe and who to blame, which was a constant delicate but tough situation everyone had to deal with.

Mara as a character is one of the strongest people I’ve ever read. Yeah, she fell apart and had some big breakdowns when her personal life got too triggering. She’s also the lead editor of the Feminist Magazine, and I found the need to pick it up because the articles sounded so awesome. In the end I was so proud of her choices, and felt like she was one of my best friends. This book does that; makes you feel all the feels. And it’s worth it, you won’t regret picking this one up this May.

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

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Surprise MeSurprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you're familiar with Kinsella book at all, you know exactly what you're getting into. Complicated family/marriage dynamics, what it means to be an adult, "adulting" as we millennials call it. So in that sense, this book wasn't a surprise, but that was fine with me.

We follow the typical suburban family, in the middle of fizzures and racks that are happening in Sylvie and Dan's marriage. They have two twin daughter, and well-to-do life with well paying jobs. But something's off, in their dynamic and it's not what you would expect. I got engrossed in this, the way you do when you're watching a tv show. In fact, this could be describes as a classic "chic-lit" (I hate that term, but you know what I mean). If this is the vibe you like, you would most definitely enjoy this.

My only "minor" issues is that the characters of Sylvie and her dear mommy were so irritating. Sometimes I just wanted to scream in rage and throw the book across the room. It' different from the other Kinsella books, in the sense that it felt more absurd and serious, and whilst there was some laugh-out-loud moments, it was more decidedly mature out of the books that I've read from her, which is a step up in my humble opinion.

But if I imagine myself in a couple months of time, this novel is simply very forgettable.It was like fluffy cotton candy, perfect if you're in that right mood at the time, however it comes in one ear and out the other.

One bizzare thing, a weird type of motivation to why they were trying to surprise eachother, is that a doctor said that they have good health and are going to live over 100 years that they'd be married for 70+ years. This was the driving force throughout the book, and I just found it odd that it was blown out of proportion and made such a big deal.

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

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

FrankieFrankie by Shivaun Plozza
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book up on a whim, because of the beautiful cover, not knowing anything, not having any specific expectations. This book absolutely blew me away, made me laugh out loud, sob a puddle of tears, yell really loudly. In other words, this gorgeous debut novel tore my heart out of my chest, wrecked me completely. Every single page is so raw and packed with haunting emotions that will be left lingering even after you turn the last page.

We follow Frankie who is a character that I loved so fiercely. She is an angry fiery badass that it one of my favorite teens that I’ve ever read about. In other words I can imagine her marching the streets of Melbourne as this kickass passionate feminist. Basically everything that I project onto myself, is what Frankie is but one thousand more amazing. I’m having a hard time her describing because it’s like fireworks and I’ve never wanted someone to be my best friend so hard before.

Frankie has some serious abandonment issues because of her complicated family situation, but when she finds her half-brother Xavier and witnesses a crime being committing, she gets wrapped up into the story of his life. Throughout the whole book, she stops at nothing to try to find Xavier, who mysteriously went missing a couple of days after she first met him.

The fact that the author has mastered the craft of write realistic and imperfect teens makes me appreciate this book hundreds of times more. I’ve heard some people say that she comes off as an unlikeable character, however I thought the fact that she was a flawed human being who’s so real made her all the more interesting dammit.

If you know my reading tastes at all, I’m not usually someone who loves romance and a plot point or side thing in YA novels. However in this one it was very subtle and side-lined because of the laser focus for the search for missing Xavier. If it was overpowering, I would be really disappointed, but here it’s portrayed as a background thing while there is much more urgent goal.

To all my Australian friend, this is set in Melbourne, in her aunt quaint kebab shop a lot of the time. There is a strong sense of setting, the author talk about the park and places where Frankie grew up her whole life. So if you’re familiar with the area you’ll instantly recognize some of the regular sights.

One of my favorite things was the strong female friendships Frankie and her bestie, as well as the complicated relationship with her aunt (who adopted her at a young age). They’re just portrayed as messy,soul-sucking, and life-giving relationships as teenage girls tend to have. At some points I felt myself screaming “Don’t forget about the wonderful women in your life who love you so very much!” in frustration as a reminder that Frankie doesn’t have to do this completely alone. If I learned one thing from this book is that you’ll show up when your loved ones are in trouble with fire inside your bones. If you want to play with fire, go read this book. You’ll get burned and not regret a second of it.

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

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All the Wind in the WorldAll the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry

I was sucked in from the first page, immediately felt myself perk up from my long book slump. On a recent podcast I heard someone say that they want to read the first chapter before bed and ended up staying up the whole night finishing the whole book in one sitting. That's what I'm sure that I would end up doing, if I had a full arc and not just a sampler. Will picking this up as soon as I can, because I’m still thinking about how intriguing it was. Which is honestly the highest praise I can give!

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

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Renegades (Renegades, #1)Renegades by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meyer is best known for her lunar Chronicles series, which I remember to be such a delightful binge read during the holidays. When I heard she has a new sci-fi series/duology coming out? Of course I jumped on the chance to read it!

What I found so irritatingly unnecessary is the developing romance, which was like the -we both have false identities-but we’re actually -enemies to lovers-. It's so annoying that Nova and Adrian can’t just stay enemies as they actually are or platonic friends. This type of romance is over done, and there is no chemistry because I kept on screaming “stop it Adrian!”“stop it Nova!”and frustration. This is an easy/lazy method of writing to create some sort of messiness or tention and it ended up falling flat on its face. Also they had four people on the team and the author paired them up male female and male female,(ugh heteronormativity)

There is one thing that I can give high praise is on the aspects of diversity. Our main character Adrian is described to have brown skin and he was adopted at a young age by his two dads. Our other main character Nova is Italian Filipina briefly mentions about her being biracial There is a character called there if you just character who has a disability and has to use a cane.

I was really hoping that we can have some side characters fleshed out, ones that the readers could really get invested in. Here is the problem, I connected to 0 of them. A big part of the problem was that the narrative was so focused on Nova and Adrian’s backstory and current plot points. There are two POVs, and they were our protagonists, so I feel like that's the reason why. I wanted to feel like the side characters were my best friends, but that just didn't end up happening for me.

The most boring part of this book was the Throne of Glass-esque competition where gifted people audition and compete to become a Renegade. It’s your typical what you could envision because it's been done time and time again in fantasy and sci-fi way. The most yawn worthy part of the book, because this was where I almost DNFed this.

Another thing that irked me to no end was the fact that the biggest super villain’s name was Ace. I’m asexual, and we’re portrayed as cold heartless monsters and the author choosing this name just rubbed me the wrong way.

Since I wasn’t this in physical form I actually didn't realise that it was the 500 pages long. Which wow isn't that way too long for a weak introduction where nothing really happened, was full of superhero villain cliches and over used tropes? No thanks!

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

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Not Your Villain (Sidekick Squad, #2)Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is probably the fifth time that I'm writing a review for this book and I still don't know if I can do this beloved superhero/villain story justice. Let's start with the fact that we have a black trans guy on the front cover, which is an incentive for anyone to pick this one up from the bookstore.

Bells is definitely the most fascinating character, one that encroaches on the morally gray side which is what I love to see. He is just such a dedicated friend and he has such a big heart for those people he loves, and I love that about him. That’s what made this book so delightful, making me grin from ear to ear the whole time.

My favourite scene as a non-binary person was the normalisation of preferred pronouns; the constant use of him/his pronouns for Bells as well as the usage of the they/them. In fact, there was one scene where there was an introduction and everyone went around the room and just simply stated their pronouns. This made my heart so happy to see such in accepting save space for all of the characters.

Emma is the most relatable character in this whole series, because she is definitely ace and most possibly aroace; and that made me cry actual tears. I just want all the happiness from a fierce cinnamon roll whom I can strongly identify with. I have a feeling that the next book is going to be the best one yet, because it contains the queer of that I'm so desperately thirsty for.

Throughout this book Jess and Abby's relationship just grow stronger and more communicative like most long-term relationships tend to. I love how well they could read each other’s body language and how they adorably took care of each other through the ups and downs of their upsidedown life.

Nothing can live up to the first book in the series “Not Your Sidekick”, as that was the stellar five stars and my current favourite of the series; which is the only reason I gave this for starters. Still, this is a worthy sequel of the best,most action packed,epic, and diverse superhero story out there on the market.

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

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Emma in the NightEmma in the Night by Wendy Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When you read a thriller in one sitting, without any breaks, because you're so enraptured and addicted to the plot twists and events, you know that it’s a keeper. As an avid psychological thriller reader, who has read countless other books with similar ideas/premises, this one definitely specifically had that shocking ending came out of left field.

The two Tanner sisters, mysteriously disappear one foggy night about three years ago. Emma was 17 and Cass 15, just young teenagers. After three long years Cass unexpectedly appears at her mothers doorstep alone... Then the story goes from there. What happened to the Tanner girls? Where is Emma and why did they leave?

One thing that I was fascinated by what is the exploration of narcissistic personality disorder that was labeled to their mother from a professional psychologist who had first-hand experience with their own mother. It was apparent that the author had really studied and researched these behavior patterns in family life.

However it's still rubs me the wrong way when mental illness is demonized because the stereotype of the “evil abusive mother” is rarely well done and more often than not damaging. I am hesitant to label this an accurate or good rep in this book and also I can't comment on the rep of the specific personality disorders so I'm kind of torn on how to view this.

It still rubs me the wrong way when mental on this is our demonize because this is the evil abusive mother and while I've always been fascinated by behavioral psychology I am hesitant to label this an accurate or good rap in this book and also I can't comment on the specific personality disorders so I'm kind of

A highlight of this book was that one of the two POV's. Dr. Abby Winters who is investigating, as well as the examining psychologist of the case. It's always the most interesting perspective when it's an objective outsider of the family who isn't directly involved in the messy past. From her perspective I feel like we gained and we learned so much about truly the dynamics and the psychological part.

One thing that made really put me off was the fact that for 99% of the writing there was just telling and not showing. There were no flashbacks, no third perspective objectively told, nothing that could be considered as showing. It was just all composed of stories that Cass told to the police detectives and family members. I know that the author did this in a deliberate way for the plot furthering purpose but the most basic rule of writing and crafting an excellent book is show not tell and this had minimal to no showing. Which is why I felt like I had a sour lemon in my mouth after I finished this book, unfortunately.

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

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The Only Girl in the World: A MemoirThe Only Girl in the World: A Memoir by Maude Julien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

TW: sexual abuse, physical abuse, self harm, emotional abuse, animal cruelty/abuse, suicidal thoughts

In the vein of “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, this memoir explores the traumatic and a vastly different childhood from the “typical” western one. We follow Maude, an only child who grew up in France, completely isolated and cut off from the world for all her childhood. She was raised in a way where her father forced her to do physically train to survive under horrible conditions like being locked in a dark ray cellar for hours, intense physical activities after midnight, and left for days without food, etc.

From a young age, she was taught to not smile or show any emotion, that the world is a big bad place and people can kidnap her, that she should be taught to survive WWII era conditions. She was never shown any love or affection from her mother or father, because that was for “weak” people and she was a “superior being”. She could only bath in dirty water once a week after her father and mother did, and had to take out the chamber pot for her elderly father. There was a very strict schedule and no time for idleness. You get the picture, how absolutely messed up this family was.

All of her precious animals where abused, her dog chained up all day only let out for a couple hours at night, her horse forced to drink alcohol (incidentally she was also forced to drink alcohol since a very young age so that she could learn how to hold it down.)

While reading personal memoirs like this, I always find it extremely difficult to rate someone's life, so I tend to focus on the writing and coherent flow. In this instance, the writing was extremely straightforward, but the author focused on the same details of every day life, not necessarily on the big picture.

I usually like the memoir to be a bit more self reflective and introspective, which this lacked. Know that you're getting a very specific period of time, and I was waiting for more content in Maude adult life, like the psychological affects of her extremely hard upbringing; and was extremely pleased to know that she had become a therapist herself. She had survived so much brokenness and fear and darkness, that my heart was breaking for this child on every page as well.

One of the most important elements that I look for in memoirs is relatability. To my surprise from, from the initial synopsis I was doubtful, there were several very personal aspects that I strongly understood how it felt like. For example the love that your animals give you when you care about them, the way music makes you feel strong emotions, the way that she was homeschooled and didn't learn the material she was supposed to know , the way books let you escape into a completely different world.

I felt like because the author put these lights in between the cracks of darkness; which is why I could really enjoy and appreciate the story as a whole more. If you love reading cult books, I would put this one in your hands if we were at a bookstore. The abusive manipulative father is a religious fanatic who has created his own religion and is trying to force it down his child brides’ and chosen daughters’ throat. This is truly a touchingly dark memoir that really makes you think and re-examine your own life and that is always a good sign that the author has done their job.

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

You Bring the Distant NearYou Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful and gorgeous book! There's nothing more satisfying than when a story stays with you for a long time, and you carry it in your thoughts. If you know anything about me, I truly love multi-generational complicated stories that highlights relevant themes.

This book is a truly powerful voice that is needed in the YA community. We follow three generations of an Indian-immigrant's, Bengali family, and we get a look into the nuance of culture and what it means to be biracial, and lots of feminism that's highlighted. If I could use one word to describe to this book, it would be important.

Ranee is raising her two daughters, Sonia and Tara in a relatively American-focused culture and is worried that they'll use a part of their Indian culture. Sonia is in a "forbidden" biracial relationship, and a raging intersectional feminist that is trying to remake herself. Tara dreams of becoming a actress in the spotlight.

Ultimately you will be delighted reading about the complicated relationships of sisterhood, parenthood, and the nuances of being a biracial individual. Then we also follow the perspectives of the two daughters of Tara and Sonia. In total, there are five kickas* women's stories that we get to explore, and I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect.

I couldn't stop reading this, because of the character's who were propelling it forward. All of the characters were so interesting and messy and I absolutely adored it. At first, there were a couple of extremely unlikable but the author frames it this way where you understand why the character does what it does.

Diverse, lush, fantastic, a new favorite that I want everyone to push up on their tbr.

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

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The Goblins of Bellwater

The Goblins of BellwaterThe Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Everyone knew you shouldn’t go biting into fruit offered to you by magical creatures in the woods, even if you’d thought until just five minutes ago that such stories were, you know, only stories.”

Ooo, a shiny book about goblins, was basically my first reaction when I saw this book. We follow Kit and his family generational curse, of serving the goblins that live in the tree of Bellwater, Washington with golden treasures. Noone knows that these exist, but sisters Livy and Skye are about to find out and face the real dangers that lurk in the woods.

Skye-A twenty-one year old barista that goes to the woods one night, and comes back with an inability to speak about what happened to her. This renders as a depressed mostly silenced person, which is an extremely troubling for her protective older sister, Livy. Whilst Livy tries to uncover what actually happened on that dark summer night, she gets entangled in a romance with Kit. Then messy things happen, and lots of things have to get fixed for their circle to ever get back to "normal."

We start out quite literally in the middle of the woods, going an the adventure of a lifetime with this dark and atmospheric book. If you like whimsy and haunting stories, this one would interest you. The presence of setting is such a prevalent factor of the author's writing, and I haven't felt so transported in a book for a long time. At the beginning I felt like the author had a magical quality of making me feel the eerie atmosphere that so thickly permeated within all the scenes. Sometimes I felt like I was in a cafe small town, or in a boat on a river, or in the cabin where they lived.

My biggest problem with this book was that at the middle parts of this book, there was too much of an emphasis on romance. I know that in the first sentence of the synopsis it clearly says "contemporary romance", but I was thirsting for more fae stories. I would have rather enjoyed more of the history of Kit's ancestors, learning more about how the fae live, and exploring the magical realm here. Instead, it kind of falls flat for a while because the two romances are the dominant driving forces, and I just wasn't here for it.

Another thing that really irked me, was that Skye, and this so called "curse created depression". It was easily curable, if logical the curse was broken, and the representation was irritating me because I feel like it was done sensitively enough. Throughout the whole book, even after her sisters and Grady found out, Skye's curse was still referred to as "depression" when it shouldn't have been necessarily. I just wish that the author could have included more thoughtful nuance or not have included mental illness here at all.

Whilst I was reading this, it was an extremely enjoyable and engrossing. I just don't think it's going to win any awards, and all readers should be warned of what it really is: mainly a love story. That would have saved myself many expectations that were unmet. I am looking forward to reading anything else that Ringle writes in the future, as some of this was absolutely brilliant storytelling.

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

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The PartyThe Party by Robyn Harding
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you want to read about domestic drama with some extremely unlikeable evil teenagers and rich selfish adults, that's not a thriller in reality, than this is the book for you. We follow Hannah, who's planning to go wild on her Sweet 16 birthday party, but she doesn't want to seem "uncool" next to all of her "cool" friends, so she starts doing things against the rules of the law and her parents. Needless to say, there is a serious injury that will change their lives forever, and make this party one of dark memories and regrets.

The story is told from four POVs, which I thought was necessary because this family doesn't know how to communicate with eachother and they each hold and hide their own secrets. There's Hannah, her parents (Kim and Jeff), and one of the mother's of a daughter that was at the party.

Kim Sanders is a very strict and hands-on mother, who stays at home, and is very involved in her children's lives. She thinks that she has the most well-behaved rule-abiding children in town, even though she fails to recognize that her two teenager's are growing up and growing apart from the way in which she has led them their whole lives. Her eighteen year old marriage with her husband is falling apart, in which she feels like she needs to treat Jeff like a child after last years unspoken "incident". Even Hannah and her brother notice the tension within their loveless relationship.

Hannah is a sophomore, pushing herself up to the ranks of the popular girls, which includes the controlling Lauren Ross, and her childhood best friend Ronni Monroe. As she explores her various relationships, like that with her new boyfriend Noah, she gets stuck in knowing what's right and wrong and actually doing the right or wrong thing in various situations.

When the party starts in the early evening, the girl seems to be having "clean" fun, gossiping about their classmates, eating pizza, watching their favorite movies, playing some fun games. At least, that's Hannah's parents think they're doing, until Hannah comes upstairs with blood on her hands, crying and screaming at her parents to do something, to help them. It becomes a question of "what actually happened that night?" which is the repeating question that we (as readers) are trying to piece together.

The plot was entertaining, I breezed through this book in one sitting, however the substance was a trainwreck, and the ending was ultimately a letdown, from all the action and buildup that was going on. Sure, there was a clear resolution, just not the type of climax that I was expecting to happen, which is what sorely dissappointed me.

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

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Fitness JunkieFitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book explores and focuses on the societal obsession of weight. It's a satirical take about all the diets/fads that you can imagine. In a day and age, where the never=ending comparisons and weight loss is a part of the wedding dress industry, this book takes a funny, and yet satirical look at all the various things that we eat and do. Let me jut say that I want to have this cover on my bookshelves, because the reason that I choose to pick it up, was because my hair looks like this literally every day,so I already found something that caught me.

We follow Janey Sweet, an entrepreneur and CEO of a wedding dress company, who at a brunch with her best friend/co-worker Beau, when she gets this ultimatum. Lose 30 pounds, or lose your job. At this point in the book, Janey experiences heartbreak and betrayal like never before. Recently divorced with her husband, she feels like she's lost everyone from her life as it was.

Not only is this a story of fitness and weight, but of a lifelong friendship between Janey and Beau. Janey views Beau as her soul mate (in a completely non-romantic way), or like a brother, and the author gives flashbacks to provide insight into the development into this type of lifelong friendship. That makes the betrayal all the more painful, but the reader comes to recognize and clearly see how toxic Beau's actions were to the health of Janey, and why ultimately the decision that she made was the right one for her.

Than we follow the journey to Janey's weight loss, and some crazy, insane things go down. It was a laugh out loud type of story, if you have that sense of humor and can follow along with the Manhattan rich lifestyle that allows for these types of exercise classes and diet programs to be a reality for Janey. I loved the strong female friendships (sisterhoods if you can) that were portrayed on-page and were the comedic relief that I was looking for. Just as a side note, there is a romance in this story, but it's very secondary or put on the back-burner which seemed to fit the story better.

These two authors hit the nail on the head and make our main character so relatable, and go a little bit deeper with issues like fat-shaming in society, clothing companies not having plus sizes,etc. Sometimes it wasn't at its best when it was shallow and overdone (plot-wise) but there was consistent entertainment value throughout. It never failed to capture my attention in the way that beach read, and I hate to say it "chick lit" only does. If you're out and about this summer, looking for an immersive, yet light and fluffy summer read, this is one of those that you can go and pick up.

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

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Monday, August 21, 2017

The Art of HidingThe Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

This book was fantastic, even better than Prowse's previous novel that I read, "The Idea of You". We follow Nina McCormick, a rich housewife, whose world gets turned upsidedown when she gets a calls that her husband is dead, and that catastrophe amplifies even more when she learns that they're bankrupt and losing everything (including their luxurious home). As a [now] single mother of two boys, a ten yo and 16 yo, she has to come through the pains and understandings of parenting these children to be the best men they can be.

All the while Nina is questioning who her husband actually was, and examining their marriage in a different light because of the things that were revealed after his death. There's also a delightful sisterhood between her and the older sister Tiggy, which was messy but ultimately protective and supportive.

One thing that I was so glad of, was that there was no love interest; Nina was just her own independent women, and she didn't need a man to provide/guide her children. I went into this book, perhaps expecting a romance of sorts, given the history of Prowse's previous books, however, the way that the story progressed, focusing on the mother-son and sister relationships was the better way to handle the plot of this.

Nina as a character is so relatable and I truly connected to her, which is what makes a book shine. However, at the same time I was so frustrated with how blind and naive she could be to her relationship to her late husband Finn. He was a controlling, money-lusting man, who wanted to mold Nina into this perfect little housewife that was oblivious to the pressure of the dangers facing their family.

In all, this is a beautiful story of loss, motherhood, and the value of family. It could be described as a family drama, a from riches to rags type of book. You would do yourself a favor picking this up, once you do, you won't stop reading until the last page.

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

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This thriller is honestly one that I feel took half of my breath away. We follow Quincy, one of the remaining "final girls" which is a term dubbed by the media to describe survivors of these massacres. She is deeply affected by the news of Lisa, the first final girl who supposedly committed suicide, which makes her rethink about the many dark choices a human can make and what leads to that.

One day after the news of Lisa's suicide, a women comes to Quincy's door, claiming to be Samantha Boyd, the last other surviving final girl. From there we follow a twisty path as Quincy tries to recover the memory of Pine Cottage and figure out what really happened that life-changing night.

The flashbacks to the worst moments of Quincy's life were just fascinating puzzle pieces into putting the big picture together. hey provide backstory and foreshadowing, which is incredibly difficult to do in such a short format, however Sager managed this balancing act masterfully. I would also say that if you're fan of slasher movies, this is one for you to read.

All the characters were deeply unlikable mysterious character with a closet of skeletons. They were complicated twisty characters, and I thought that the author did an excellent job of developing them to be portrayed in a certain untrustworthy way. One things that irritated me was the author using the trope of dissociative amnesia that made Quincy have an black spot of memory, because this book could have been so much more to the point if she'd known the history.

I think my problem is that I might have stepped into this book with too high expectations, and I felt like the twist was something that I could have easily seen coming (even though I personally didn't pick up on the foreshadowing). The first two thirds of the book were so slow, the pacing was off whilst Quincy baked cupcakes for her blog and exercised. The last third of the book really picked up with the pace; it could be described as a whirlwind of an ending, with the big reveal happening and things getting rapidly wrapped up.

The thing was, that the ending make no sense, and it feels like the only reason that the author wrote it this way was for shock affect. I was just unsatisfied with it, because it didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the story or even be in-character for the character. Overall, while this was a purely fun and addictive read, the hype let me down a bit, causing me to write this mixed-feelings review.

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

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Hollow GirlThe Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

TW: Rape, harrassement, physical and sexual assault, murder, blood, graphic violence, gore

This book follows a Romani's girl, who is the apprentice of the village's powerful witch and healer, Drina. After having some harrowing experiences of harassment by the chief's son Silas, whilst being en route to the marketplace to sell her potions. At the stall next to her, she meets a golden-haired boy who is an outsider to her culture,

When on perilous night, as foretold by an intense vision from Drina, Silas and his group of croonies assaults Bethan and leaves Martyn for dead, the plot turns into a revenge story whilst trying to save the person that she cares about. I would describe this as a dark and gritty horror, so if this is not your type of book, know that going into it. For me, I read for those delicious witchy parts where I felt like I could be rubbing my hands with glee and truly enjoying the story.

Our main character, Bethan was extremely compelling and I really liked how the author explored and played the good vs evil forces within her, how she was portrayed as almost a sort of morally ambiguous character. I felt like I could feel for her, feel with her. This was probably due to the descriptive writing that Monahan was able to pull off, It's extremely atmospheric, and it paints the creepy nighttime vibe onto every page where that was necessary,

I thought that this handled the topic of rape and Romani heritage very well(as it was ownvoices and treated with sensitivity and nuance). Rape was treated like a mortal sin throughout the book, and every one of the participants got severe consequences for their actions. Bethan was never blamed by anyone other than the rapists themselves, and any notion of victim-blaming was shut down firmly by her grandmother. Also in the author's forward, there was a warning that there would be a rape scene, off-camera and not graphic, however it just made me think about how every book should have trigger warnings t the beginning. That's just the way that it should be done.

My one complaint was that the pacing of this book seemed off. There was so much anticipation that was built up to the climax scene, but the first one hundred or so pages has explanations and info=dumps within conversations that Bethan was having. For me, at least, this would have been a five star read, as it was much enjoyable as it could be with the content that it presented.

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

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Children of Blood and Bone (Children of OrÏsha #1)Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I've never been more desperate after a sampler to sell my soul to get an ARC of this extremely promising book. So we start out in a world where magic was banished years ago, resulting in the death of Zélie's mother, who was a maji. Under the current rule of the kingdom, all of the remaining generations of maji are oppressed and also distinguished by the color of their skin and the whiteness of their hair.

So far, we got introduced to three POVs, which I thought that all of them were necessary and a part to make this story connect the dots. There's Zélie, one of the maji's daughter who is training how to fight with staffs and swords and has plans to overthrow the patriachy, and is such a bada*s at doing that.

The writing is descriptive and rich in details (but not too overboard), and seems to strike the perfect balance so I'm simply astounded by the craft and promise that this debut author is displaying.

Will I continue reading this book once it comes out? Absolutely yes, because I have a feeling that this might become one of my favs in the very near future, and I'm so grateful to have gotten a sneak peek thanks to NetGalley the publisher in exchange for my honest review of the first six chapters.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Follow Me Back (Follow Me Back, #1)Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I went into this book not knowing anything, and what I got out of it was a dark disturbing example of catcalling and bad rep of mental illness. We follow Tessa, an agoraphobic who had an extremely traumatic experience and it consistently going to therapy to try to get help. She has an obsessions with Eric Thorn, a celebrity singer, who seems very unhappy with where his life is at.

This story is told in multi-media format like police transcripts, direct messages, and tweets, which made it a bit easier to consume for me at least. From page one, we know something very bad happens, and we spend the rest of the book trying to connect the puzzle pieces on what happened.

What I didn't want this to be, is what it did end up being: a YA contemporary romance, but with a sinister twist. I actually wasn't a fan of the romance at all, the power unbalance and behavior from the love interest made me feel really uncomfortable. So I didn't feel like I could get behind that part of the book, which quite frankly made up the majority of the book, therefore that was lots of yawning and skimming involved.

As others have pointed out, whilst reading this I felt like the writing was mainly fan-fiction and I learnt it was previous published on Wattpad, and generally I wish it would just go through more rounds of edits. One of my main characters, Eric was a self-absorbed narcissistic dick and because I absolutely hated his character and couldn't connect with him or his choices, it really did put me off from the story itself. Meaning if the characters are extremely unlikable and illogical, and there is no redemption or reliability, it's one thing that just ruins it for me.

Onto the mental health bad rep, well we know that the main character has had severe agoraphobia for the past year of the her life. We're aware that she hasn't left her room/house for that time, and than when it becomes convenient to the plot development, she leaves with ease and says that she's "over it." Which makes so sense because that means the author didn't do enough research into how recovery works and how many baby steps people take to get to a certain point in their journey.

Not all of it is horrible, because one thing that it does have going for itself is the addictive quality. For the first one to two hundred pages, it was one of those unputdownable books. Until of course we hit the roadblock of the romance getting too much into the way and the book having bad rep and getting messy. I am not a fan of the ending, at first I didn't really know what to think of it, but I can now definitively say that I'm not a fan of it.

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

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

IdaIda by Alison Evans
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I picked this book up, for me, it was pitched as a character traveling through parallel dimensions and getting lost within the timeline of her life. Ida, is a half-Vietnamese bisexual main character, who has since childhood possessed this magical ability of supposed "time traveling". Once doppelgangers start appearing everyone she travels and following her, the story gets a creepy twist that intensifies as the story continues.

Also, we have our love interest who is genderqueer and uses they/them pronouns that are consistently respected throughout the book was an amazing thing that I rarely see done. But when I do I can appreciate it, and also to note that this isn't an issues book, it's just about two queer character happily in love when a touch of turbulence disrupts Ida's life as she knows it. Also, Frank a close cousin of Ida is transgender and so These things combine is a part of why this book is brilliant.

Onto the writing, its a bit jarring, jumpy, and confusing in the sense that most of the time I actually didn't understand what was going on for most of the plot. If you enjoy that type of writing, go for it, but personally it wasn't my cup of tea necessarily. Because of the underdeveloped worldbuilding, I kind of felt like we didn't get to have a strong sense of the setting, therefore the sci-fi element of the story wasn't as prominent as I would have liked it to be.

I just wish that Damaris and Abratros weren't seeming so unnecessary to the story, in the sense that we don't understand why they do what they do, what general power they actually work for, and who they exactly are. Whilst they were quite intriguing characters, I wish that there would either be much more character development or that they would be erased from the story at all. No in between, like there was a weird flux here.

When I saw the author's note explained that this was supposed to be a screen-play, I kind of started to understand the abrupt and random scene changes. It would be better suited for a movie, to watch and develop on the screen than in the format it was in, in my opinion.

I would describe the plot as a meandering stroll through a calm field, the intense action doesn't kick in until the very abrupt end and that felt a little bit abrupt, it felt like you got jerked uphill and left there. But overall, I do think that this is an excellent shorter/lighter NA SFF book that features so much diversity and is an underrated gem that y'all should pick up!

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

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As You WishAs You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I approached this book with trepidation, having read Sedoti’s debut novel and really disliked it. However, I decided to give this author another chance and in a very small sense I’m glad that I got to experience this intriguing premise play out to the end.We start with a small day setting, in the deserts of Nevada that has one big secret that noone from the outside world can know.

You see Madison has this magical realism thing, where on every child’s 18th birthday, they get to make a wish in this cave and it comes true. There are rules and regulations of course, and our main character Eldon doesn’t know what’s he’s going to wish for so he goes around interviewing the townspeople in Madison.

Speaking of that, my favorite parts of the entire book were when we got vinyetes into the historical wishbook, which chronicles the mistakes and failures and heartaches that came from these foolish teenagers making an impulsive wish. Not all of the stories were like that of course, however the majority of them featured truly showed the darker side of Madison’s magic.

Eldon, our main character is an extremely unlikeable a*shole, who is selfish and could be compared to an ostrich sticking their head in the sand. I didn’t connect to him, didn’t feel any sympathy towards the consequences of his impulsive actions that he had to face. The further and further that I kept on reading, the more I realized that this jerk wasn’t going to change. I’m not a big fan of no character development throughout a 400 page book in which the character does nothing but whine about how he can’t make up his mind.

Also the plot moved along slower than a snail and nothing happened for the majority of the book, until the end where it disappointed me big time. There was lots of hypocrisy, and the book was trying to play God over this town which is just another one of the things that really bothered me. (view spoiler)

Not only that, but there is a character in this book who has wished away his gayness, but after that he has no romantic/sexual feelings towards anyone. The author portrays him as so SAD and PITIFUL and LONELY, and that is extremely ace-aro phobic, talking from experiences. We don’t need allo authors to portray the only aroace character in this book as a broken human being who has no life because he doesn’t feel any romantic/sexual attraction. A big no-no from me.

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

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Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly WomanToo Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Which is precisely why I wanted to write this book: these unruly women are so magnetic but that magnetism is countered, at every point, by ideologies that train both men and women to distance themselves from those behaviors in our own lives. Put differently, it’s one thing to admire such abrasiveness and disrespect for the status quo in someone else; it’s quite another to take that risk in one’s own life.

This book is an important feminist manifesto that takes a look at "unruly" women in pop culture who are too (fill in the blank). We explore the various roles of icons like Serena Williams, Caitlyn Jenner, Hillary Clinton and others in these ten inspiring chapter. Not only is the author woke, and trying to write this book in an intersectional and inclusive way, I feel like I got so much education and information from this. This is a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a "newer" feminist.

The author writes so intelligently and profoundly on the various topics covered, from being fat, slutty, loud, strong, unruly, nasty,etc. I could see her writing struck a balance between passionate and factual, activist and intellectual.

Given, I can never give a nonfiction book the full 5 stars, because it took me more than two week to complete, which can be frustrating when you read an average of a book a day. But on the other hand, I like the quality content sink into my brain a bit.

Peterson does acknowledge that there are many women that she doesn’t mention, and that people of color are rare on these types of lists is also it’s own form of oppression, which is something differently itself. In this excerpt she says:

“There are hundreds of women in the public sphere who don’t exercise such careful modulation--women who are relegated to nice corners of pop culture because they’ve been figured as too big, queer, loud, smart, sexual, or otherwise abject for mainstream audiences.

“It’s tempting to think of unruly women as radicals transgressing and usurping societal norms--and while they do make rebellion and disobedience imaginable or palatable, their actions can also serve to fortify dominant norms.”

I particularly enjoyed the passages where she talks about internalized "normal" feminine behaviors and how these females step out, put themselves out there, and won't shut up about why they do what they do. If you feel like me, like you lost a lot of faith and hope during the 2016 election cycle, this is one of those that you need to read. It will make you believe in the power of nasty, unruly women again.

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

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Friday, August 11, 2017

The Girl with the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers, #1)The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“If the story was happy, you’d care less about that tiny little bit of freedom . . . We wouldn’t like the daylight if it wasn’t for the night. We wouldn’t notice the stars if not for the endless dark of night. All the story, like you said? That’s the important part. The sad parts are all about surviving. We are a people that survives. We endure. We will endure this too.”

At first glance, this book seemed to be exactly in the middle of my wheelhouse. WWII historical fiction with a touch of magical realism that was such an intriguing premise. We follow , a time-traveler who has heard stories from her grandfather about this red balloon and the girl who saved him her whole life. When she goes on a school trip with her class to Eastern Berlin, she gets transported into the dangerous world of 1988 East Berlin.

And the story takes off from there, where it goes into a bunch of boring times when Ellie is stuck at home and feels like a prisoner, falls in love and has a romantic fling that's completely unnecessary, makes the most bada*s feminist friend that she could ever want, and make things explode with her impulsive anger. This is a brief summary of the events that was going on, none of them are spoilery, just vague enough to keep someone interested or unimpressed.

There is a diverse cast of characters, a Jewish MC, a Romani MC, and one of the side characters is queer. I really appreciate that the author was able to so seamlessly incorporate the identities of these characters into the story. It's hard to get multiple POVs chapters done, and it rarely impresses me and that's the same case for here. In some ways I felt like Benno's perspective was kind of the most boring one, and would have been better explained otherwise (in the form of a bedtime story or storytime) instead of making it a consistent chapters throughout.

Also the character of Ellie herself, felt like the stereotypical high school girl who takes selfies, is well of, and can't imagine a world without all of this technology at her fingertips. Problem is, and this might be a me problem, is that I felt no emotional connection to this character. I think that the reason for that was that she wasn't compelling or "brave" or "marvelous" like Kai often praised her to be. She was just an average person who I didn't care about what happened to her; which makes me feel almost guilty when people call this book a tearjerker but for me it just didn't click.

Honestly another thing that ticked me off was how little actual history/setting we were getting. I wanted politics, revolution, resistance and none of this appeared in the content on page. The atmosphere of this book didn't portray an intense dark picture of fear, death, the authorities, etc that were definitively present during that time period. Maybe this is a fault of the writing itself, but I just thought that we should have gotten more details on the actual passage of the people holding the balloons, more details about the magic system, more details about who gets selected and how,etc.

Lastly that ending, man, it gets a thumbs down from me.

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

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Monday, August 7, 2017

There's Someone Inside Your HouseThere's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

TW for hazing, blood, mentions of drugs/suicide

I was looking for a fast-paced thriller that would keep me on my toes, and this didn't fulfill that itch of mine. I was dissatisfied with lots of the things that were going on with the climax and the way that the characters were introduced. The premise is basically your classic teen serial killer in a small town who’s running around in the town on the loose and is terrifying everyone who lives there.

The way that the killer was revealed was extremely anticlimactic, which was a really big disappointment to me because I had high hopes whence the plot was building up bit by bit. At the point where it feel flat, it stopped feeling entertaining to me and instead started to get repetitive. One murder after the other, the next one getting more gruesome as they come, and nothing was really happening on the law enforcement side it seemed (which was one unrealistic aspect of this whole thriller.)

Also, could we please talk about how most of this book is focused on the romance, the making out and sex scenes, instead of being that nail biting thriller that I was expecting. I understand that Perkins has previous experiences that solely focus on contemporary romance, but this isn’t the place to make that this main thing. It just rubbed me the wrong way, because it felt like the plot of the murders was put on the back burner while our MC was having drama and trying to figure out her relationship problems. It got boring really quick, really fast, and not only that but it took away from the actual “slasher scary” part itself.

All of the victims that were in this weren’t introduced early enough for us to give time to care about them. How this was written was we would learn of the existence of this person, and on the next page they would be slashed and dead. I would have loved for the author to rather develop their personalities and interests, etc. before she pulled them away because that just felt like lazy work.

Another thing that I absolutely had zero interest in was Makani’s secret. The whole book there is some foreshadowing and lead up to this big mysterious event, but even once the story spilled out I just thought that it wasn’t worth the on-page time of constantly talking about it. In all, it didn’t even make a centimeter of difference on the page or in my viewing of her as a character. One pro that we could be talking about is that our main character is half-Native Hawaiian and half African-American, which is something that I could always appreciate.

There are 0 scary moments where I actually felt scared, even though I tried reading this whole thing in the dark. I honestly don’t even know why the publisher would market it as “horror” because that seems like it’s setting the book up for a failure of false expectations.

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

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Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1)Nyxia by Scott Reintgen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Actual rating: 2.5 stars

The premise of this book sounded so amazing, a group of ten teenagers being hand-picked to on the first crew to the planet Eden. Only 8 get their ticket to Eden. Emmett is one of the ones who's chosen to go on Genesis 11, and chaos and competition ensues. On the spaceship where they are training, they make friends and enemies, bad blood is mixed, and family bonds are created. I was absolutely intrigued and sold by that description, yet this book disappointed me so much in many ways. One thing that I could really appreciate and I feel like we don't get enough of in YA lit, is that our main character is an African American boy who comes from the suburbs of Detroit.

First of all, as a fan of sci-fi, I was expected the setting of the world to be really descriptive in how everything works specifically in the spaceship because for example they've managed to maintain gravity and do all of these crazy experiments. However, the places seemed to narrow, like they're out in the middle of space, yet there are no big/new words to describe everything that is going on. Babel had many secrets, and throughout the novel you always get the sense that something lurk is lurking underneath. However, again I would have liked there to be way more description of the setting itself, or the little details of how they actually survived every day.

Also the plot points are very repetitive that I was tempted to start yawning is the daily routine that Emmett went through repeatedly. He wakes up, has a hard training session, checks the scoreboard to see if he’s in first place or not, eat the food, and on and on and on.

My favorite character was the charismatic leader, Kaya who seemed to hold the group together. I also thought that the group dynamics were extremely realistic, there were friends, enemies, and family that they had to navigate with socially. I just wish that the side characters would have been more developed and wasn’t there only to serve and benefit our main character’s growth.

One of the things that was done well was that the character has many flaws and weaknesses, and that the character doesn’t magically get be better at his physical strength in one moment of training. When authors fall into that trap that is extremely annoying, but I sometimes felt like this book went the other way, like it had too much personal development/growth all focused and condensed on him.

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

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Starfish--ARC Review!

StarfishStarfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

TW: emotional abuse, childhood sexual abuse, anxiety/panic attacks

There aren't words to describe how much this book meant to me and how much I absolutely loved it. If anything, this book is the best contemporary book that I've ever read, and it deserves all the stars and all the love in the world. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

We follow Kiko, an artist who is all about drawing and painting. To her, it's not only simply a hobby, but a part of her soul goes with every piece that she creates. Her biggest ambition is to get into the prestigious art school, Prism because it will left her escape from her abusive home life into the world of art. She runs into her childhood best friend who moved to California at a party, and once they reconnect she decides to take an important trip to California and meets inspiring talented people who guide her along the way.

There is so much intricate family dynamic that I could go into, and is discussed at length and in detail in the book. I think to fully understand this (because I can't explain it that well). It's just best to read the story and understand who Starfish is and how they work.

This books isn't afraid to tackle things such as anxiety, biracial identities, what it means to truly embrace yourself and all that you are. I love how at the end of every single chapter there is an image that Kiko paints to express herself after what happened in the day, or what she's feeling.

Also the writing is so lush and beautiful; even a five word description could be so vivid and go so deeper. I think some authors sometimes have problems with capturing the voice of a teenage girl, but Bowman does is perfectly and masterfully. While reading this book, every couple of pages I kept of thinking: "this is how I would sound/think/feel."

“I don’t have to be white to be beautiful, just like I don’t have to be Asian to be beautiful. Because beauty doesn’t come in one mold.”

Also, Kiko struggles with insecurity and low self-esteem because her single mom, who believes that the "all american beauty" blue-eyed blonde haired is the definition of beautiful (aka how Starfish looks like). She constantly puts Kiko down as being "different,exotic, and even calls her ugly." Kiko comes to her own realization, that beauty isn't one thing like she's been told to believe, and it's a beautiful thing to see her accepting herself and coming into her own beauty.

‘Beauty isn’t a single thing. Beauty is dreaming – it’s different for everyone, and there are so many versions of it that you mostly have no control over how you see it.’

There was a subplot of romance, but be warned, the book wasn't about the romance; and Kiko didn't get better because of any boy. She got better because of herself and the effort she put into trying to understand and change her perceptions about things. Jamie and Kiko have a very healthy relationship, although she does love him very much, she realizes that she's been dependent on him, or using him as a social crutch so she steps away/hits pause on that relationship for a few weeks. He's not some perfect idealized guy, but he tries to understand and help her with her anxiety at times, and she feels safe in his world. I thought that the romance was adorable, yet healthy in the way that I rarely see it in YA, and so that was very appreciated.

I felt so personally attached/connected to Kiko on a deeper level, like we were almost kindred spirits. I'm not half as artistic as she is, or look like her, but I feel like she's gone through some universal experiences and coming-of-age struggles that I can really relate to. This book is life-changing for me in the sense that it forced to see the world in a different perspective and live my pain along with Kiko's figuring things out, and the outcome was truly magical.

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

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Rules Do Not ApplyThe Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There is no doubt in my mind that Ariel Levy is an excellent writer, I just found too many of these essays disconnected and unfocused. While I could appreciate the way she told some specific stories from her lifetime, there wasn't anything else that I could appreciate.

Everything else is DRIPPING with entitlement and privilege. As a 30 something year old rich white women who is living in NYC, she lives the type of life where she actually believes that she can control everything. There is lots of self-pity and bad decision making filled throughout this book, and I couldn't believe some of the things that I was reading:

"We [Ms. Levy and her female friends] lived in a world where we had control of so much. If we didn't want to carry groceries up the steps, we ordered them online and waited in our sweatpants on the fourth floor for a man from Asia or Latin America to come panting up, encumbered with our cat litter and organic bananas. [...] Anything seemed possible if you had ingenuity, money, and tenacity." (page 10)

One specific thing that bothered me in this passage was when she said "waited...for a man from Asia or Latin America to come to pant up." Gee, Levy thanks for pointing out one thing about all food delivery people that are "apparently" one of those ethnicities-(this also implies that they're all service jobs people) There is such white privilege showing here, that at some parts I actually couldn't stand it.

"I wanted what she [my mother] had wanted, what we all want: everything. We want a mate who feels like family and a lover who is exotic, surprising. We want to be youthful adventurers and middle-aged mothers. We want intimacy and autonomy, safety and stimulation, reassurance and novelty, coziness and thrills." (page 90)

If you didn't know, I'm asexual and aromantic and there is very blatant aro/acemisia in the text there I was just straight out cringing at.I've never wanted a mate/lover, I've never wanted to be middle-aged mother, so making this sweeping generalization is simply inaccurate at the least, and infuriating at the most. Why does Levy assume that this is everyone's universal desires at the expense of erasure for other people who don't want these things?

She also has a very misguided definition of feminism, that isn't inter-sectional at the very least but that she twists to serve her own points and purposes. At some point I literally had to book this book away for my mental health because it was bothering and hurting me that much.

In my opinion, the strongest chapters were those where she vividly describes her miscarriage in grotesque detail. They way that she knows how to write grief in such a blunt and honest way is truly astounding. However, lots of the other content, whether Levy realizes or not, she painted herself in a very bad light because of the things that she says or tries but fails to explain.

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

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mask of Shadows- ARC Review

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The whole premise of this book was that there was a competition of assassins and the last one standing is to become one of the four Queen's assassins that went out and did her biding/dirty work to protect the Kingdom. Haven't we seen this exact storyline before? That's what was bothering me throughout the book but I quite couldn't put my finger on. I've seen this exact trope dozens of times in thinly-veiled YA fantasy novels, and at some point in time they stop becoming interesting to consume.

Not only that, but this was one of the most predictable plot-lines that I had read in a very long time. Meaning that you knew what the outcome was going to be even before you finished Chapter one, or from a mile away. It's not that I've even read some spoilers about what would happen, it's just a cliche that you know is coming, and I wish that the author could have thrown us for some sort of surprise curveball, instead of the plot being so straightforward.

Do you know what else I really expected from this novel? I wanted the political intrigue and worldbuilding to be much more developed. I'm writing this review roughly four hours after finishing this book and I couldn't tell you the name of the main kingdom in which Sal resides. I couldn't tell you the players on the political chessboard. I couldn't tell you much about the world at all, and coming up with these type of major blanks is not supposed to happen in a well-developed fantasy setting.

Further, you know when a character just gets in easy, or learns all of the world's talents in a week? That's how it felt like the author was writing the development of Sal, after they got accepted in the audition, they suddenly had all sorts of fighting skills and physical strengths developed in an instance, which is so utterly ridiculous and unrealistic that I cringed during displays of Sal's talent that weren't practiced enough.

The only side character who I cared about, as the other seemed like stereotypes of assassins, was Maud, who was the servant in Sal's quarters. Maud is very determined get paid so that she could save her triplet siblings from being scattered and sold by the orphanage. In my opinion she is the shining, yet quiet heroine in this novel.

Another thing is that I wasn't on board with the romance at all. Whenever there is a teacher-is-lover-with-student, I feel all icky because a boundary is crossed and in every situation it makes me not want the two characters to end up together at all.

I don't want to discount that this book could mean a lot to someone objectively, because I identify as a non-binary person and this was the first genderfluid characters that I have ever seen represented on page. Even though I don't have the same experiences as Sal did, I still feel like there was adequate emphasis on explaining their pronoun preferences and who they were interacting with. Also as a note there was a bisexual/pansexual love interest, which made me appreciate the various sexuality that was represented in here.

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

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The Epic Crush of Genie Lo-ARC Review

The Epic Crush of Genie LoThe Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Going into this book, I had the highest of expectations because all of my fellow bloggers have given it the five stars. Because of the hype, I was fully ready for this to be one of my favorites of the year, but disappointingly there were just some things that didn't work for me. In the end though, I felt that choosing the 4 star rating was the right choice, because although it wasn't my cup of tea, it is such an important piece of literature that should get in as many readers hands as possible.

We start out with Genie Lo, a high school student who is trying her hardest to get into an ivy-league school. Then her stalker/romantic interest Quentin comes to her asking for help with slaying demons from supernatural realms. She than embarks on this whole journey of trying to protect the people that she loves, her hometown, and herself. What's the most fascinating thing about this is that's it's based on Chinese mythology, something that I knew nothing about so I felt like I was in for a treat.

One of the things that bothered me is how long it took to explain the rules of the otherworld, because for most of the beginning parts we didn't get a chance to dive in deeper into the world of reincarnation, heaven, hell, etc. I tried to forced myself to care about any of the characters, but there wasn't any connection that I could grasp because of one trope that I absolutely hate being played out in any book.

The stalker one turning into the love interest makes me feel so uncomfortable. Especially in this book, because of their strange set-up/forced partnership there were lots of beginning scenes of Quentin hardcore stalking Genie and it made my skin crawl and so I started to skim those section.

On another note, I am so amazed how well Yee can capture the voice of a teenage girl, and not make it sound awkward or stilted. One of the highlights of this book was seeing how both Genie and Yee was in writing such an apologetically fierce hella angry female warrior. We need more of that, and this is the perfect example of how it should look like.

However, all of this rambling above is just my subjective preferences, right? I truly see the value of exploring the diaspora and what it means to be a Chinese-America by an ownvoices author. I would still recommend you picking this up to read, going in with a clean slate, because in every aspect of representation it is so brilliantly done. I'm sure that there are many Chinese people out there who would like to see themselves in book, and this is an excellent choice to pick up.

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

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Girl in Snow-ARC Review

Girl in SnowGirl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Let me tell you something about my reading taste, I thirst after thrillers, but when one is a flop I spare no mercy on my many criticisms. With this book, I don't even know where to start telling you much of a flop it was in my eyes. The story starts out with Lucinda Hayes, a beloved and popular high schooler being murdered at the local school playground.

From the premise that the summary described, it sounds like it has the potential to be a whodunit, especially since there is a POV from the local police officer thrown in there. In reality, this story is about three individuals, the boy who stalked her, the police officer that had personal ties, and the girl who wanted a perfect life. It was the most boring life stories, as dull as the dishwater in your sink. Seriously, if you want to write character driven stories (which are my favorite usually) you should take some time into putting some personality and distinction between every person so that there's actually some substance.

There was an overuse of sex in this book, and so throughout it I couldn't stop cringing and skimming throughout those passages. During the actual reading time of this book, I had 0 inclination to go and pick it up, usually the experience of not being able to put down a quality thriller, this was definitively a red light.

Another thing that got on my nerves was how juvenile and not well done the writing was. I do understand that this author is a debut novelist, however her writing not at all what I had expected from a thriller, and I think that has to do that it seems she can't pull off writing from a young adult's perspective. For most of the book, there was much oversimplification because I felt like the author didn't understand and couldn't get into the headspace of the main teenagers in this story, which just detracted from the general intent of the story.

If there was more focus on the murder investigation, if we had known the dead girl better, if I was invested in the three main characters lives, this would have been a much better story. As it stands, I would say that this book was one of my least favorites that I have read this year, and I would not recommend it to anyone because of the way that it lacked character development, an exciting plot-line, and the bad writing found within it.

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

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The Idea of You--ARC Review

The Idea of YouThe Idea of You by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

TW: miscarriages

This book so beautifully sums up motherhood, the pains, losses, and joys that come along with it. Lucy Carpenter, newly remarried to her wonderfully loving husband, Jonah, and feels like her biological clock is running out at thirty nine. She has a fabulous career that anyone couldn't help but be envious of. However, all she wants most desperately is to become pregnant and carry to term a baby, so that she could complete her family.

When Camille, the rebellious teenager, who's the daughter from Jonah's first marriage, comes to live with them, Lucy feels like her world is starting to tilt out of orbit. There are so many new things that she has to deal with, all of the teenage drama and woes, and also the fact that Camille being the only and favored daughter starts creating a wedge between her and Jonah.

From there the story takes it to a roller-coaster of ups and downs that made you cry your eyes out or laugh until your stomach hurt so much that you can't breathe. Probably the most emotionally touchy thing was when the letters were revealed at the end of the story, it made me actually ugly cry. All in all it's a beautiful and poignantly written of a women's journey to motherhood. While I have no personal experience in that area, I just couldn't tear my eyes away from all of the hormones that were going on (ha!)

One of the fascinating contrasts that I noticed was the extremely slow budding relationship between Lucy and Camille compared to the whirlwind of a romance between her and Jonah. Fast forward to the ending though, I thought that it tied loose ends and wrapped up perfectly, which is always an added bonus.

The only problem is, I can't quite decide if this book was my cup of tea. It was great while I was reading it, but after I felt the acute disappointment that this just isn't my type of story afterall. I think that's an important realization that I needed to make personally, but I still would hope that this book gets into the hands of someone who needs it.

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

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