Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Far From The Tree

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 9/9/17 to 9/15/17
384 pages

A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Far From the Tree isn't my first book by Robin Benway, who I think is pretty underrated and deserves more hype. Both this and Emmy and Oliver are phenomenal. I highly recommend both of them.

But back to this book. Far From the Tree tells the story of three adopted kids from three different families. There’s Grace, Maya, and Joaquin (nicknamed Joaq). After becoming pregnant and giving up her own child for adoption, Grace realizes that maybe her own birth mother went through a similar experience. This leads her to reach out to her two siblings, in hopes of being able to contact their mother together. Having been an only child her whole life, she’s hesitant about meeting both Maya and Joaquin.

Maya, on the other hand, doesn't want anything to do with her birth mother. She believes that her birth mother just abandoned them without a thought. It doesn’t help that her non-biological parents are going through a rough patch, in which Maya blames herself for causing. She thinks that she has broken up the family by being the adopted daughter, while Lauren is the perfect biological child.

And then lastly, there’s Joaquin, who's just been cycled around different foster families. He's scared of being adopted since he doesn't believe that the foster parents actually like him. He regrets some of his past behavior, even though as a child, he was only trying to shield himself from more emotional pain. Joaq also struggles with his identity of being half-Mexican, as he is constantly reminded of how he knows nothing about “being Mexican”. Yet even after meeting his fully white siblings, he still loves them unconditionally.

Out of the three characters, I liked Grace the most. It’s obvious that she cares a lot about her child, who she nicknames Peach. She spends a lot of time picking the perfect family for Peach, and worries about whether she chose right or not.

(Perhaps I loved this book so much because a baby was mentioned a couple of times. Shh)

Though it’s not apparent in the beginning, over the course of the novel you can tell that having a family to come to really helps all three of them, especially when they each have their own problems to solve. As you can tell from my review, Robin Benway does an amazing job with character development, and I honestly expected nothing less from her. I don't even have anything negative to say about this book. Other than the fact that Goodreads LIED and said this book was only 256 pages (it’s really 384 pages, thanks Shannon for letting me know). Like no wonder it felt longer haha. But seriously, I actually read word for word this time, rather than skimming through like I usually do (my bad).

Overall I really loved this book and I will just read anything by this author.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Rise of the Empress #1
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: October 10th, 2017
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 9/2/17 to 9/7/17
384 pages

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress--and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins--sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was a tough book to review, mainly because I was initially so excited about the synopsis, but the closer it got to the release date, the more I felt like I (for some reason) wasn't going to enjoy the book? And I'm not sure why, but I feel like this biased me a bit, causing me to go in it with lower expectations.

Yet when I started reading, I was in for a surprise since I had no idea that this was about an anti-heroine. I remember when the cover reveal happened, I was like, “how is the cover NOT a beautiful scene of a thousand lanterns, you know, like in Rapunzel?” Clearly I was in the wrong, because that image would have not fit with the story at all. But yes, the main character being classified as an anti-heroine is awesome, but she wasn't really the anti-heroine I had in mind.

The story revolves around Xifeng, who’s completely taken advantage of by her aunt (Guma). Her aunt emphasizes the importance of physical beauty and court manners all for a prophecy that may or may not be true. She tries to turn Xifeng into someone she is not, all for the sole possibility that Xifeng might one day be empress. After a falling out with her aunt, Xifeng runs away and escapes with her boyfriend, Wei.

The both of them end up in the Imperial City, where Xifeng finds a way to join the court. Since ladies-in-waiting cannot have outside relationships, she leaves Wei behind. To me, the motivation behind this made no sense. For one, Xifeng loves (or I supposed loved) Wei, but she immediately abandons him in order to fulfill her aunt’s dream. But then, since when did her aunt’s dream become her own dream? There never was any mention of her desperately wanting power or riches. I suppose it could be that she just simply wanted to be better than everyone else, yet her love for Wei seem stronger (even though Wei was an asshole)?

Xifeng also starts forgiving and appreciating everything her aunt did for her. Maybe to the point of even loving her. Even though I kind of get this, her aunt’s actions were so extreme and almost unforgivable. Even without being present, Xifeng’s aunt still found a way to manipulate her thoughts.

The rest of the book focuses on Xifeng’s slow climb up in rank. She serves and puts up with the emperor’s primary concubine, gets in the Empress’ good graces, befriends the eunuch Kang, the one person who truly likes her as a friend. In order to become empress and fulfill her aunt’s dream (?), she needs the emperor to like her. In other words, Xifeng has to get with this man who potentially might be a lot older than her, since she's only about 17 (18?) years old.

The plot definitely picked up during the second half of the book, only because that's where all the killing starts! Well, all the action is. But anyways, I enjoyed that much more than just seeing how she worked her way up in rank.

In the end, I did warm up to Xifeng, even though I had no idea what her motivation was for all of this. I do want to read the next book, as I’m curious to see how magic will play a role in the series.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: Wild Beauty

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
Source: Macmillan
Date Read: 8/16/17 to 8/22/17
320 pages

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I finished! My thoughts! Well. I didn’t really think of any while I was reading. Which sometimes happens when I’m into a book and its characters. For one, I don’t think I could adequately describe the plot of this book, except flowers, and a strange boy, and a family full of women, who can magically grow the flowers.

Oh, and they can’t leave their home, La Pradera, for fear of being branded witches. And for the fact that their flower magic goes completely out of control.

Before I say anything else, you should read this book if you love elegant writing. I literally can flip to any random page and I’ll find something like this:

“…the ground was whispering, the grass and the flower beds giving up strange things Estrella could not name.”


“Their mothers did not notice the other moments that made color bloom in their daughters’ cheeks.”


“She imagined pressing her lips to Bay’s so lightly the wind would find its way between them.”

As you can see, it’s extremely well-written. And, the writing is really flowery, literally and figuratively.

I also did enjoy reading about the characters, but I didn’t really have many feelings. It didn’t help that it was hard to differentiate between all the characters introduced. Also, the plot didn’t pick up until the second half of the book, so I ended up being quite bored until then. These reasons are partially why I have no words for this review.

Other cool things I liked about this book:

  • It’s beautifully written. I wish I could write like that.
  • All of the daughters have a secret crush on Bay, who’s a girl. And there is no backlash at all whatsoever.
  • The culture. It’s a breath of fresh air compared to what I have been reading recently, in regards to the fantasy genre.
  • SO MUCH FOOD. AND DESCRIPTIONS OF FOOD. Most of it was in Spanish though, so I can’t even repeat it here because I have 0 experience with Spanish and remember nothing.
  • And of course, all the flowers. Can’t forget those. This is magical realism at its finest (unless I'm wrong and I'm getting the genre wrong). 
  • I say I was bored with the first half of the plot, but it did pick up and I like where it went! Also conveys a really deep message that is pretty relevant to current and social issues.

But yes, don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy this a lot. 4 stars in fact! I just don’t have much to say about the characters and the plot unfortunately.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Review: Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 9th, 2017
Source: ALA Midwinter 2017
Date Read: 8/12/17 to 8/15/17
432 pages

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Man, I have such mixed feelings about this book. Really mixed feelings. I’m not even sure I’ll be able to accurately express myself in this review, but I’ll try my best.

Also, there may be spoilers, so read at your own discretion.

A couple of months before the release of Ramona Blue, there was controversy centering around the blurb, which has since been changed. Long story short, some people were upset about the main character, a lesbian who discovers that she likes a boy.

I think those feelings are very valid, especially in a time like now. On the other hand, sexuality can be fluid. I personally view sexuality as fluid, as people can change. Having a label, and expecting to stick to it, puts a ton of pressure on that individual. Especially when you’re trying to avoid the whole “told you you weren’t X”.

Obviously some people love labels, and it works for them. And that’s totally fine, I have nothing against that.

But just a heads up, Ramona Blue leans towards being sexually fluid (at least I would say? More on that later). Which is why the main character’s sexuality is never labeled as being bisexual in the end.

But first, let me get to the parts that I liked about the novel:

  • Swimming. Automatically a win right there.
  • The fact that Ramona and her family are economically diverse, if that’s the right word. They aren’t rich, and even since Hurricane Katrina, they have been barely managing. But they make it worse. A big part of the plot is driven by Ramona’s sister, Hattie, and her pregnancy. (And that deadbeat boyfriend Tyler, who I HATE. Or hated I suppose. Just kidding, I still hate him)
  • Freddie. He is cool. And he also swims. And he does really have a great, adorable relationship with Ramona. Oh, and I also loved his grandparents, Agnes and Bart (step-grandparent?). Mostly Agnes though. They are so supportive towards him AND Ramona’s family.

  • Basically, every character is multi-dimensional and fully developed.

BUT HERE COMES MY MIXED FEELINGS. Not because the representation was portrayed inaccurately, but rather because of how accurate it was. The remarks from Ramona’s family and friends weren’t exactly enjoyable, obviously. It reminded me of another book, Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, which didn’t sit well with me.

 This was why, at times, I ended up skimming parts of the novel. For example, when Ramona’s mom kept putting pressure on Ramona with the “I told you it was just a phase” mindset. I felt sad at this point, because these expectations hold people back, as they don’t want to prove their parents or their peers “right”. Which, I get, happens in real life. It just sucks.

Also, Ramona’s friends (mainly Ruth) were upset that Ramona liked Freddie, a boy. Their thought process was that liking both girls and guys took away from her identity as Ramona, the girl with the blue hair. Even though it…doesn’t. The thing about this was that Ramona never really stood up for herself in front of her friends (Ruth, really), so this thought is never challenged. In the end, they kind of accept Ramona liking Freddie. But kind of? Like more of “this is a one-time thing that will happen, I guess” And it seemed like Ramona also believed it was a one-time thing? At least it seemed that way to me.

I could be reading that wrong though. Lastly, I was slightly surprised that Ramona is never labeled as bisexual, as this book was often marketed as having a bisexual main character. She even admits that she’s still trying to figure it out and doesn’t know what to identify as, which is totally fine, don’t get me wrong! (Which is why I viewed her as being sexually fluid, but obviously other readers can think differently) I think I was just misled as to what I would be reading about. Like, seriously misled. It happens.

All in all, I did like Ramona Blue, even though I was cursing out the book every couple pages or so. It’s a book that will leave you with a lot of feelings, as you can see from this review. And ultimately, this just didn’t end up being the book I thought it was going to be.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: Release

Release by Patrick Ness
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 19th, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 7/23/17 to 7/27/17
288 pages

Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I’m kind of not sure what I want to rate this. After talking with Shannon, I realized that I didn’t like this as much as I thought I did? For one, I'm not even sure what to say about this since I had no strong feelings about Release. But at the same time, I’m grateful that it was a quick read.

Release is a story about Adam trying to find “his release” (and there’s the title!), as he has so much pent up angst and overall frustration over…life in general. Because yeah, his life isn't exactly the best. First off, his family is super religious and has "a hard time" loving him as their gay son. Second, his gross supervisor is threatening to fire him, unless Adam agrees to sleep with him. And lastly, Adam doesn’t know if he truly loves his current boyfriend, Linus. This obviously ends up affecting their relationship, as Adam continuously thinks and reflects back on his ex. And of course, as this is the time where high school is about to come to an end and college is just around the corner, people are leaving his life.

So as simple as this all sounds, it's actually not quite that simple.

The chapters in between Adam’s story are a bit...cryptic? And in no direct relation to Adam’s, really. It reminds me of the author's other book, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, where the alternating chapters tell a new story. In this case, I didn't quite fully understand what was going on. It was telling the story of a murdered girl from the same hometown, yet the two stories didn't really connect. However, the overarching theme was definitely still present, and still tied in with the whole "release" theme going on. Though I say this, I found these chapters a bit unnecessary, and as I said before, confusing.

Other than that, I don't have much else to say. I really enjoyed this, yet I feel like I’ve read this same type of story before? I think I just have such high expectations for anything Patrick Ness writes, and this fell a bit below them.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: The Girl with the Red Balloon

The Girl With The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
Publisher: Albert Whitman Company
Release Date: September 1st, 2017
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 7/12/17 to 7/15/17
256 pages

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

It’s a miracle! I’m writing this review one month early! Wow!

Let me get right to it. Overall, I did like this one. Time travel, WWII-themed (though to my surprise, not actually set during WWII), magical red balloons, all of this just screams me. Though to be completely honest, me and this book did not get off on the right start.

1% into my eARC and already I was seriously judging the simple writing style. Meeting our main character, Ellie, felt a bit lackluster, all tell and no show. I was afraid that this writing style, and therefore this book, wouldn’t work for me at all. Fortunately, that didn’t end up being the case as after 2%, the writing changed and started to appeal to me.

I also must admit that my expectations were set really high, even though I have never read any of the author’s older works before. If you don’t know by now, but I try to read anything and everything related to WWII. Even though this didn’t necessarily take place during that setting, it is still set during the time of the Berlin Wall. This came as a shock, as 1989 wasn’t so long ago, and I had thought the Berlin Wall was brought down earlier.

The Girl with the Red Balloon had a solid plot and solid characters. And time travel of course! I was impressed and surprised with Ellie’s actions, despite the fact that she so badly wanted to go back home. Kai and Mitzi were also wonderful additions to the book, though to be honest I’m not sure whether I cared about the romance between Ellie and Kai.

More could have been developed, especially in regards to world-building. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details of the balloon makers. I’m assuming that there will be more in the sequel, or companion book, as this one is only 256 pages. There were also times where I was confused on who was on who’s side. Though perhaps this was due to my lack of knowledge in history or just the terms used.

Either way, I did enjoy this! Not sure if I will pick up the “sequel”, but I’ll think about it!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Review: The Secret History of Us

The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 1st, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 8/4/17 to 8/6/17
288 pages

When Olivia awakes in a hospital bed following a car accident that almost took her life, she can’t remember the details about how she got there. She figures the fog is just a symptom of being in a week-long coma, but as time goes on, she realizes she’s lost more than just the last several days of her life—she’s lost her memory of the last four years. Gone is any recollection of starting or graduating high school; the prom; or her steady boyfriend Matt. Trying to figure out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

As Liv tries to block out what her family and friends say about who she used to be, the one person she hasn’t heard enough from is Walker, the guy who saved her the night her car was knocked off that bridge into the bay below. Walker is the hardened boy who’s been keeping his distance—and the only person Olivia inexplicably feels herself with. With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t remember living.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I’m not surprised that I didn’t end up liking this much. Not so much hating it but rather not finding myself caring after the first 50 pages. To put it simply, this didn’t have the spark, nor really the plot, to keep me engaged.

The beginning of the novel starts off with Olivia, or Liv, waking up from a coma. She slowly comes to realize that wait, she’s not about to start high school, but has already finished her senior year. Basically, 4 years has already gone by, and she remembers none of it. And she definitely doesn’t remember her boyfriend, Matt.

As you can tell from the blurb, it’s pretty predictable. There’s this other boy, and obviously he comes into the picture later. But other than that, not much really happens besides seeing Liv figure out her life. The whole mystery behind the car accident? Not really that much of a shocker. Such a huge deal was made of the video filming her rescue, but I didn’t really see what made it so important. Probably because I actually need to be in that situation to feel anything, I guess. Also, definitely would have been better as a movie scene, I feel like.

There didn’t really seem to be much of a plot. For one, we don’t actually get much of Walker. The book ends suddenly, and I could have been better with another 100 pages or so (though lucky for me, there wasn’t!) The Secret History of Us is really more about the overall message of letting go of the past, rather than reminiscing on what was lost.

I’m a bit disappointed in this one, as I really liked Things We Know By Heart, but I kind of expected it after seeing a couple of ratings from my friends. Oh well better luck next time! (Thanks to Nick and Shannon for discussing this book with me)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virture

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 5/26/17 to 6/28/17
528 pages

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Woo this book clearly took a long time to get through. And then it's pretty much been a month since I finished it, and here I am, trying to write a review. I haven't written a review in ages it seems like.

Honesty time. When I started Gentleman's Guide, I wasn't quite into it. I wasn't keen on the setting, because for some reason I am not a fan of historical Europe? Or at least France? I mean I keep replaying Assassin's Creed Unity, which takes place during the French Revolution, and I can never seem to finish it. Now I'm having doubts though. Did this book take place in France? Part of it did, I'm pretty sure.

Yet, this clearly grew on me. I came to appreciate the characters, like Monty, his sister Felicity, Percy, and their developments, which really is the best I've read in a while. Maybe this entire year. Though if you do pick up this book, just a warning that the beginning is a bit boring. The pace is a bit slow as we learn that Monty, his sister Felicity, and Percy are all going on tour to France. And I'm like, "great, that's it?" I really judged wrong, guys. Or at least too soon.

But as the novel further progressed, BAM, the plot appeared (thank you Aila for pushing me through via her review). I'm not sure why I didn't expect any adventure, but yes there are pirates, highwaymen, a seemingly impossible quest, ALCHEMY, and all around fun. Looking back from this point, the book was actually very nicely paced. I, as usual, was just being impatient (again).

Overall, very glad I requested this. And read it. I did read This Monstrous Thing last year by the same author, and I can definitely tell that her writing has improved tremendously (or maybe this just interested me more than the story of Frankenstein? Sorry) No, it's definitely the former. The dialogue in Gentleman's Guide is much more fleshed out, and of course, has so much more humor. Yay!

Bottom line. Highly recommend! Even if it does seem a bit daunting.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Make Me Read It Readathon 2017

Hello! After multiple readers asking us about the readathon this year, we are back! Apparently, this is our third year doing this? Who knew? But anyways, Ely @ Tea & Titles and I will again be hosting the Make Me Read It Readathon! Basically, this readathon allows your friends and audience to vote for what you'll be reading. This year, the readathon will be from August 6th to the 13th! So that will give you guys about a month to set up voting and polls and all that!

Here's some more information about the readathon, copied and pasted directly from the past year's because I'm lazy.

What Is This Readathon About?
Look at the books you own, either physical, e-book or ones you've borrowed from the library and pick out a few you really want to read, or feel like you should read. It’s up to you how many you pick, personally I'd pick a few more than you expect to be able to read in a week. Example: if you think you’ll only read two, pick out five books or if you think you can read seven, pick out ten.

Make a list of these books on your blog, or make a video, or a Goodreads shelf or post a picture on Instagram—whatever is easiest for you. Then get friends, other bloggers/booktubers/bookstagrammers etc. to vote on which books you HAVE to read.

When the readathon comes along, you read the books in the order of most votes. For example, if one book gets 10 votes—you read that first, then the one that got 7 and so on. If there's a tie, then it's your preference. The goal is to read as many as possible. 

When Will This All Take Place?

The Make Me Read It Readathon will start at August 6th and end at August 13thYou can start once it hits 12am in your time zone. The readathon itself lasts for a week!

Since this is an interactive readathon, there is about a month to get some kind of initial post/photo/video/etc. where your readers can vote for which book you read! You can either have a poll, or just rely on the comments, have votes count more than once, honestly this is all up to you! If you plan to participate, make sure you have all your books ready for August 6th!

And with that being said, time to set up my own poll!

Which Books Should I Read?

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
survey Maker

Do you wanna sign up for the readathon! This is the place to do it! I would recommend linking up with your post/video/photo about the books you are using for the readathon, so that other readers can hop around and vote!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Bunch of Reviews All In One

So I have actually finished a bunch of books in the past few months or so, but just wasn't in the mood to write individual reviews for them (or on time, for that matter). I'm just going to blame my lack of motivation. And also, some of these books I just really have nothing to say about them? Like they were good, but that's all I have for you. Haha. But anyways here you go.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: May 30th, 2017
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 5/10/17 to 5/11/17
400 pages

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea's biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I really liked this one. Being a fan of Made You Up, I knew this one would be just as good. I thought that the online community of Monstrous Sea accurately reflected back on our own book community, and also other fandoms.

The only problem I had was that I got extremely impatient (in other words, this was my fault). I wanted to see how and when Eliza's secret would be exposed ASAP, so I skipped to the last 100 pages of the book. Basically, I read the first 150 pages, and the last 100 pages. To this day I have yet to read the middle. Whoops.

We also get to see how Eliza deals with her anxiety, especially with the stress of having to update every single week. And as of right now, it's really relatable! And we also meet her love interest, Wallace, which to be fair, I wasn't too big of a fan of. I think this was another reason why I have no interest in going back to read the middle. [Spoiler] Also once he found out Eliza's secret, he really pressured her into finishing the comic even though she didn't want to. He pretty much said to her "Hey I got this book deal to turn your comic into prose, but it's not official until you finish the series. So my life is in your hands, you have to do it asap." Like stop. Granted he realizes he's been an ass in the end, but boy did I want to smack him. [End spoiler]

I still absolutely loved this, however, and I immediately had to bother my friends once I finished the book.

The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie
The Abyss Surrounds Us #2
Publisher: Flux Books
Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 4/17/17 to 5/3/17
281 pages

Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she'd been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it's not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It's being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart. But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers Boa is not the only a monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against the creatures she used to care for and protect? Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I finished this such a long time ago, that I don't remember if I had anything I really needed to say about this. As the sequel to The Abyss Surrounds Us, I thought this was a solid continuation. I continued to love the characters, however I definitely felt that the first book had this sort of air around it that made it special.

OH there was a surprising death in this however! I really didn't expect it, and when it happened, I was like "wow". Also compared to the previous book, you start to sympathize with the pirates on the ship, like Captain Elena.

Also, I think this is a duology? I'm so used to trilogies, that I was honestly surprised with the very clean ending. But hey I approve haha.

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: June 13th, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 5/15/17 to 5/17/17
272 pages

Kansas, 2065 Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before Launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house over a hundred years ago, and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate. While Adri knows she must focus on the mission ahead, she becomes captivated by a life that’s been lost in time…and how it might be inextricably tied to her own.

Oklahoma, 1934 Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine longs for the immortality promised by a professor at a traveling show called The Electric. But as her family’s situation becomes more dire -- and the suffocating dust threatens her sister’s life -- Catherine must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most.

England, 1919 In the recovery following World War One, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America in pursuit of a childhood friend. But even if she makes it that far, will her friend be the person she remembers, and the one who can bring her back to herself?

While their stories spans thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined in ways both heartbreaking and hopeful.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Even though I was expecting more of a story from Adri's perspective, because the future is cool and all, I still enjoyed Midnight at the Electric. More so than I thought I would. The premise of having a story within a story within a story, all tied together, was unique in a kind of way. 

“I think that's what you say when you can't have something you want, isn't it? You say you don't want it in the first place.”

But other than that, I don't really have much else to say about this. The plot itself wasn't very engaging, and honestly, I had really high expectations after reading Tiger Lily. I guess it really doesn't help that I love Peter Pan, but not so much the history of the Dust Bowl. Oh well!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Blog Tour: A Million Junes (Favorite Unsolved Mysteries)

Hi everyone! Welcome to my stop of the blog tour!

Today, I'll be talking about my favorite unsolved mysteries. Why? Well, when I was younger, I would stumble upon documentaries, magazine articles, and articles discussing mysteries around the world that intrigued me. Sure, maybe some of these are due to photoshop, or just humans in general. BUT I CAN BELIEVE, right? Also when researching, some of the ones I stumbled upon are just downright creepy. 

One of the reasons why this idea came to me, is because of the magic surrounding A Million Junes. And how it plays a role in the story. Especially when it comes to the "thin" places, where the division between death and life is fuzzy. So you know, maybe there is magic here within these real life mysteries. WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

1. The Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. I know there is evidence that she may have been found, but I always hated, and at the same time wondered about, her disappearance. WHERE DID SHE GO? And why has it taken so long to find her? If you don't know who she is, she was the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo. She disappeared (crashed?) when she was trying to circumnavigate the globe.

2. The Lost Colony of Roanoke. Remember the times we would talk about the first colony in social studies? And the fact that it just disappeared? WHAT HAPPENED TO IT? Basically what happened is that this first colony was kind of a miserable disaster, in that the land wasn't great for settling, and I think it was all swamp area? But anyways, there's a bunch of theories as to what happened, but I don't think we'll know for sure.

Also a similar thought, whatever happened to the Mayans? I always thought about this in World History class too...hmmm.

3. Crop circles. I used to watch documentaries about this on the History channel, I think (ok maybe just one). And I remember how a couple of farmers were like "it's a hoax, we made them ourselves", and then they would proceed to demonstrate how they used a sort of rake to make them. BUT WHY. I mean, I would like to believe that aliens are out there and are trying to send us a message.

Or I guess you could be like this poor student, trying to avoid studying for finals.

4. The Bermuda Triangle. More than 1000 boats and planes have disappeared in this area. Coincidence? OR MAGIC. There's really no one theory that can explain these crashes or disappearances, but the cool thing is that the boundary of this area continues to expand, thanks to the imagination of authors, in order to cover other incidents.

And that's all I can really think of at the moment, so thanks for stopping by! Are there any mysteries that you came across that you've wondered about? Are they more like places, like the ones above, or about certain people?

A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: May 16th, 2017
Source: Blog Tour
Date Read: 5/4/17 to 5/10/17
350 pages

There are two things everyone in Five Fingers knows about the O'Donnells and the Angerts. One: They've been there the longest, ever since the town was first founded in the Gold Rush days. Two: They hate each other.

June O'Donnell--a.k.a. Junior, a.k.a. Jack, a.k.a. Jonathan O'Donnell IV, a.k.a. the first female O'Donnell first-born--has always been haunted--in more ways than one--by her family's complicated legacy. When June's father and best friend, Jack III, died suddenly seven years ago, she made up her mind to skip college and live the life of adventure that her dad always wanted for himself. Now seventeen and heading into her last year of high school, June is itching to leave her ghosts behind in Five Fingers and travel the world. It's not that she's not happy--she is, mostly--grief has left her with an emptiness that she believes only real life experience can fill.

But then what kind of O'Donnell would June be if an Angert didn't swoop in at a crucial moment and ruin everything? Enter Saul Angert, the eldest son of Eli Angert, a.k.a. June's father's mortal enemy, back in town from a writing career in the city to care for his ailing father. Somehow June's path just keeps getting tangled up with Saul's, no matter how creatively she tries to avoid it, until the unthinkable happens: She finds herself intrigued by this gruff, taciturn, yet strangely tender boy whom she was born to loathe.

But when June and Saul accidentally stumble into a bit of the forest magic, they are allowed a glimpse into the past at the fateful, horrible moment that started all the trouble between their families. Now, everything is different. The only problem is, June doesn't know if this new discovery means she should hate the Angerts even more, or if it's finally time for her--and all of the O'Donnells before her--to let go.
Emily Henry is the author of The Love That Split the World. She is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of A Million Junes by Emily Henry (ARV: $16.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on May 15, 2017 and 12:00 AM on June 2, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 7, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.


Week One:
May 15 – The Paige-Turner – Review & Mood Board
May 16 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – Author Q&A
May 17 – The Innocent Smiley – Favorite Unsolved Mysteries
May 18 – Arctic Books – Review
May 19 – Twirling Pages – Review

Week Two:
May 22 – ButterMyBooks – Book Look
May 23 – Ex Libris – Review 
May 24 – The Children’s Book Review – Guest Post
May 25 – The Young Folks – Review 
May 26 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Guest Post

Week Three:
May 29 – Mundie Moms – Review
May 30 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Q&A
May 31 – Fiction Fare – Podcast Author Q&A
June 1 – YA Bibliophile – Guest Post
June 2 – Forever Young Adult – A Million Junes Cocktail

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review: Waking Gods

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
The Themis Files #2
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Source: Netgalley
Date Read: 4/5/17 to 4/14/17
325 pages

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I read this awhile back, but I actually received this from Netgalley as a "Wish for it", and I wasn't expecting it at all. So I had to fit this in my reading schedule, because I HAD TO. I didn't absolutely adore the first book, Sleeping Giants (my review here), but I did at least enjoy it! I pretty much enjoy anything that is extra-terrestrial.

If you haven't read Sleeping Giants, I'll try to be non-spoiler-y in my review. Well, I will mark anything as spoilers so you're good!

Well, to start off, I definitely enjoyed this second installation of the series! So if you are thinking of starting this series, I can say that it does get better! Basically, in the first book, we're introduced to this huge robot thing (think Iron Giant), and the different body parts have been scattered around the world. The characters in the books (or at least one of the main characters), believe that this robot was left behind by a superior alien race, left to us as humans in order to defend ourselves. Because why leave such a powerful machine in our hands otherwise? 

That theory is quickly destroyed in this sequel.

Overall, I enjoyed this a ton. I think much more than the first book. Though again, my complaints kind of remained the same across the series. The first is that I have little to no memory of the characters. The format is similar to books such as Illuminae, in that the story is told in logs, interviews, and phone calls. But because of this, there are multiple times where we as the reader need to be brought up to speed as to what happened. I felt that this second book did a better job with this by showing us the important scenes through live action webcam videos or phone calls, which wasn't greatly executed in the first book. So I applaud that.

Other than that, I'm a bit stressed because [spoiler] EVERYONE IS DEAD and HOW EXACTLY CAN WE GO ON? I think mainly since the main mysterious dude that brought everyone together is DEAD, I don't know how the series will go on? [end spoiler] I guess I will have to trust that the author knows what they're doing.

Either way, I will definitely be keeping up with this series. I'm very excited to see how this concludes, though I don't really have any hope that there will be a very happy ending. I can HOPE.