Book Review: Ensnared

I received this advanced readers copy by Netgalley, in exchange for an unbiased review.

I initially picked this book out as the cover is beautifully done, and the concept of a futuristic, sci-fi Beauty and the Beast sounded wonderfully fun.

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Ensnared

By Rita Stradling

Publish Date: Dec. 2017

Format: ebook ARC
Genre: New Adult, Retelling, Romance, Sci-Fi
Ratingmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3.25/Moose

Synopsis

Alainn is the youngest daughter of Connor, a brilliant robot creator with a massive gambling problem. When his newest creation, an AI made to look like Alainn named Rose, isn’t ready for the man who commissioned her, Lorrcan. In order to keep her father out of jail, given his massive gambling debt and fraud, Alainn agree to Rose’s plan to pretend to be the robot until it is ready.

But instead of the life of servitude and living in a tower, Alainn finds her life to be very different than originally imagined.

Characters

Alainn – the “Beauty” of the story

Lorrcan – the “Beast” of the story

Connor and Colby – Alainn’s father and brother

Rose, Rosebud, and Rosette – AIs of the world

Rants, Raves and General Thoughts

Initial thoughts: Great retelling idea (especially given the renewed love for Beauty and the Beast) and thank god it’s not a retelling of Alice in Wonderland because aren’t we all sick of those yet? Plus the cover is GORGEOUS. 

After looking at the reviews on Goodreads: Maybe I made a mistake with this book, oh dear.

I’ll admit, looking at the reviews caused me to look at this book with an unfortunate biased at first. I thought I was going to DNR this book, especially as I was concerned it might take a 50 Shades of Grey fake BDSM turn. Thankfully, it doesn’t. The “Beauty” and “Beast” are loose terms, and thankfully the author doesn’t describe Alainn’s beauty in great depth. In fact….I don’t know if Alainn is given much of a physical description. But it works well.

This is a fairly light read that could do with another edit or two (particularly in the beginning.) The story is a little predictable in some manner — who the bad guy is going to be at least, but as for the reasoning, it was a shock for me. I feel Alainn and Lorrcan’s back story could have more punch — there’s a lot of hinting at bad, but the actual background stories happen fairly late in the book. At one point “Mrs. Miller” is interviewed for Alainn’s character, but I had no connection at to who she was or why it was important.

I loved the monkeys and want a robot cleaning monkey.

The book could use some more world building — why are all the jobs done by robots? How does anyone make money? And this would help build up some of my issues with the book. Also more character building of her father and brother — I didn’t understand the latter’s personality until 75% of the way into the book.

I found the romance believable, and while Lorccan is dealing with some serious anxiety and phobias and can we please get him a damn therapist, he didn’t seem to be a controlling asshole. I mean, he’s fucked up and needs some help asap. But he’s also not the one keeping Alainn/Rose/Jade in the house.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed it, and it’s a light quick read. I hope the final has more world building, allowing for the plot to breathe more. And I’ll keep up with the author and THANK YOU for not being an Alice in Wonderland retelling.

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Book Review: Three Dark Crowns

I have not openly disliked a book as much as I did this one. It has taken me over a month to calm down my ire to be able to write this review. And even then, it’ll probably be brief.

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Three Dark Crowns

Kendare Blake

Published 2016

Format: Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Rating: moose-md 1.5/5 Moose

Synopsis

From Goodreads, because I can’t come up with one that isn’t just me screaming angrily:

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Doesn’t it sound so fascinating? 3rvzj

Characters

Katherine: The weak Poison princess

Arsinoe: The weak Naturalist princess

Mirabella: The strong Elemental princess

Jules: Arsinoe’s best friend (most of Arsinoe’s story is told from her point of view).

Rants, Raves and General Thoughts 

This. Book. Made. Me. So. Angry.

Part of me felt like it was a strategic marketing plan to get people to buy more books of this series, because everyone kept talking about how amazing the last 25% of the book is. And you know what? IT WASN’T WORTH IT. I wish had DNF’d this book when I first had the urge.

This book focused so much on the three princesses getting ready for their big 16th birthday party that would be the start of their battle for the throne, and on boys. What this book did not focus on was:

  • Why did the three princesses have to battle it out for the throne?
  • Why does two of the sisters have to die?
  • Why does the mom die the moment the children are born?
    • Who rules the island while the princess/Queens are children/babies if their parents are gone?
  • Where does the magic come from?
  • Where is the girls’ dad?
  • Why must the princesses be separate? Why do they hate each other?
  • Why can’t they leave the island?
  • What’s their relationship with the main land?

Seriously, so much of this book just didn’t make sense. It was boring and insufferable listening to the princesses whine. None of them were enjoyable, none of them worth rooting for. And SO MANY PEOPLE are anti-Joseph. Why? He never lied, he just thought he felt love until he found love. Did I miss a subplot where he did anything truly terrible?? Why all the hate for Joseph, yet none for the guy who betrayed Katherine?

And what the hell?! Katherine’s “training” was about her learning to flirt and steal suitors…because why? Because it makes it more YA to have her curled up in a guy’s lap kissing on him rather than learning to properly fight and protect herself?

I just cannot believe how insanely boring this book was. It would be one thing if it was exposition and political, but it was primarily whining, wandering around as they WAITED FOR THEIR BIRTHDAY PARTY. FOR 75% OF THE BOOK. I WAS PROMISED A BLOODY AND POLITICAL BOOK.

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Final Verdict 

I won’t be reading the next book(s)past its synopsis(es). You cannot convince me that the second book will fill in all the holes and make this book where 320+ was wasted space seem worth it. This book was a representation of the things I actually dislike in YA books, and I’m still so angry.

Book Review: Dear Aubrey, The Crush Dilemma

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Spoiler alert: this book is kind of adorable. And silly fun.

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The Crush Dilemma
(Dear Aubrey
#1, apparently?) 

Susan Hatler

Published 2016

Format: Kindle ebook
GenreYoung Adult, Romance
Ratingmoosemoosemoose 3.5/5 Moose

Synopsis 

Poppy Pinkleton (YUP), the quintessential high school geek/nerd  decides to start an anonymous advice column for her high school paper in order to get extra credit for school [Goodreads says 3 units of college credit but um… I don’t see how that’s going to happen], help her relieve some stress from her inner turmoil and SAY WHAT SHE WANTS, and help her work on psychology, her dream career field.

Suddenly Aubrey, her alter ego, has become one of the most popular girls in school, the one all the “It girls” go to for advice.  But the pressure gets worse as Poppy begins to gain more of a social standing, and potentially even a first boyfriend?

Characters

Poppy (Rose) Pinkleton, the protagonist – A typical geeky girl in high school, whose number one priority is her GPA and getting in to Stanford. She decides to write an advice column because she doesn’t feel she can voice her own opinion or break free of her Geek Girl mold. She has a younger brother (Stephen) and a single mom who is always pushing her to her breaking point.

Beth (Ann), the best friend – The geeky best friend who wants to be part of the It Crowd. Poppy and Beth’s friendship is strained and put through tests throughout the book as Beth becomes friends with the most popular girl in school. (Oh yeah there is Mason, their third best friend, but he and Poppy rarely interact for best friends.)

Daniel, the love interest – New kid in school, basketball superstar. Takes an interest in Poppy (and thankfully never says “you aren’t like the other girls!”) Can he be the only one to see into her soul?

Trisha, the antagonist – Think your typical mean girl from all high school stories.

Rants, Raves and General Thoughts

I’ve been having a little bit of trouble focusing on books — I get into a bit of a slump sometimes. This book was light and adorable enough to help me get out of the slump.

First, I had some real issues with this book. The beginning seems rushed, the characters are almost cliches of their tropes, and the book could have done with another pass of editing. For example, there is a section where Poppy and Daniel are working on their English essays — writing about who the admire (really? at 16? and only 2 pages?) and it’s a huge dilemma because Daniel can’t figure out who he admires. And with Poppy’s help, he does! …..Except we the readers never find out who that person is.

Second, there are next to no descriptions of anybody physically, except that Poppy has D sized breast, and Jake and Daniel are muscular (and Daniel has “unique” green eyes). Maybe the author did this so that anyone can imagine their own friends in the group, but I couldn’t tell you one thing about Beth or Mason, except that Beth owns shiny shoes. Heck, I couldn’t tell you what color Poppy’s hair is, but she does have bangs.

Despite Poppy’s extreme innocence and naivety (I’ve liked him forever surely he isn’t an asshole!), this book was cute. I always wanted to write my own anonymous advice column, and it was fun to live through another character doing it.

Final Verdict

While writing this review, I realized I had more negative feelings about the book than I initially thought. But the truth is, this book left me feeling happy at the end of the book. I am not sure if I will continue the series, but it was definitely the light fluffy book I needed today. If you like YA romance, give this a shot.

Book Review: Unbound

I haven’t been reading Victoria Schwab’s books for a year yet — 9 months from the look of it, but I have already commited to reading all of her books and everything she puts out in the future. And why, may you ask?

Because she seriously just keeps getting better. This was the second sequel book I’ve read of hers, and AGAIN, it’s just as good (or in this case better than) the first book. Which makes me REALLY excited to read Vengeful, the sequel to Vicious.

But this review is about Unbound, the second book in the Archived series. YES, I thought it was just a duology, which led to some disappointment at the ending. Good news — there’s another one coming! And this book didn’t end on a cliffhanger (or well, it was one that was resolved by a wonderful short story later on.)

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The Unbound

Victoria Schwab
Published 2014

Format: paperback
Genre: Young Adult, paranormal
Rating:  moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3.75/5 Moose


Synopsis 

Mackenzie “Mac” Bishop: a sixteen-year-old girl who’s destiny in life is to be a Keeper, responsible for keeping Histories (ghosts) from escaping the Archive (final resting place). Unfortunately for her, one nearly killed her shortly after she moved to Colorado. Now onto of having to move on from her near death experience without anyone to talk to, she also has to start a brand new high private high school.

High school would be hard enough, but Mac is also dealing with nightmares, black outs, and now people are going missing, all of which saw Mac last. She’s convinced the Archive is involved somehow, though she’s not one hundred percent those missing aren’t her fault. With her sanity being threatened, her destiny is being held by a thin thread.

Characters

Mackenzie Bishop — The main character of the series, a junior in high school. She’s also one of the youngest Keepers (someone who can read Histories) to exist, taking over her grandfather’s role when she was twelve. Her family moved to Colorado after her brother passed away in order to get a fresh start. She shys away from human contact and friends. In the second book she is trying to deal with her emotional/mental state after Owen attacked her in book 1.

Wesley Ayers — Wes is the first Keeper Mac has met outside of her grandftather. He’s 17, charming, arrogant, slightly narcissistic, outgoing and “eccentric” (re: wears eyeliner and earings and spiked hair). This book shows how little anyone, especially Mac, knows Wes as she didn’t even realize Wes went to the same high school as her.  Mac and Wes seem convinced that they’ll make Crew together soon.

Roland — One of the head Librarians who has been put in charge of Mac. He’s a calming, patient force in Mac’s life, trusting her to make mistakes even after she didn’t tell him about Owen.

Owen — Owen shows up in nightmare form through out this book, a representation of how mentally unstable Mac is. He shows up any time Mac zones out even slightly, threatening her with a knife and chaos.

Rants, Raves and General Thoughts

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My reaction almost every time Wes showed up

So I was on the fence about Wes the first book, but I feel like I must say, I find Wes wonderful and need one like him now. I don’t particularly care for him as a love interest (I was team Roland until I realized it was creepy okay? It’s the Chucks. Damn Chucks get me every tim.) but given that Crew tends to be code for soulmates, it made sense that he’d shift into more of a love interest. Plus it’s been awhile since I’ve had a crush on a book character  (looking at my reading list of 2016, I think it’s been since my last book by Ms. Schwab?) And this crush definitely colored my love for this book.

As the book went on, I realized I relate to Mackenzie quite a bit — her internal vibe/aura being a thunder storm makes it even more relatable. I’m guessing mine sounds similar, though probably more like a tornado. (And Wes’s being metal music — swooooon.)

The pacing of this book is better than the first. It still jumps to the “past” (sometimes the past was a few days ago, not childhood) way too much for my liking, and I still found it a tad predictable, but it’s not as ridiculously slow. In true book 2 of a YA trilogy fashion, our lead heroine is quite broken after the events of book 1, but at least she’s not curled up in a ball doing nothing.

The ending is rushed quite a bit, again, but I was appeased by the knowledge of a third book. Maybe one where Wes/Mac make Crew?

I’ve always been good at math. It’s straightforward, black-and-white, right and wrong. Equations. Da thought of people as books to be read, but I’ve always thought of them more as formulas—full of variables, but always the sum of their parts. That’s what their noise is, really: all of a person’s components layered messily over one another. Thought and feeling and memory and all of it unorganized, until a person dies. Then it all gets compiled, straightened out into this linear thing, and you see exactly what the various parts add up to. What they equal.

Final Verdict

Before I read The Archived, I was toying with my own idea of what happens to people when they die. That thin idea has gone on the backshelf as this series does a perfectly wonderful job of handling the dead. If you haven’t read a Schwab book, don’t start with this series (Vicious or A Darker Shade of Magic. GO GO GO.) But if you’re already a fan, give this one a read. It’s still good, just not her top series.

Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows

Oh man. I cannot tell you how worried I was for this book. Sequels are always a strange thing that can either take a series and elevate it, completely ruin it, or be completely stagnant. And as slow of a start as A Darker Shade of Magic was, I was super nervous.

But also, really excited for this book.

I am going to try really, really hard not to spoil too much, but I mean, don’t read this review if you haven’t read the book. GO READ THIS BOOK. (And again, THESE COVERS.)

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Unfortunately, I started this review weeks ago, just to have a disagreement with WordPress for about a week. I lost about half of the review, so this’ll be fun to recreate, now that I am four books later….

A Gathering of Shadows

V.E. (Victoria) Schwab
Published: 2015

Format: ebook and Hardback
Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md/ 5 Moose


 

Synopsis

Four months after the end of the last book, everyone’s life is moving forward despite being on a different path. Delilah has found her place as the best thief on a pirate ship, though she has began to get a familiar itch of needing to move on, keeping any relationships more than an arm’s length away. Her captain, Alucard Emery, keeps quiet just as quiet about his past as Lila does, but is willing to teach her magic.

In Red London, the citizens are preparing for the Essen Tasch, or the Element Games, a 4 year event where the top magicians get together and battle it out. Everything on the outside seems quite normal, but Rhy and Kell both know that things aren’t. Rhy is more somber and has thrown himself into booze and planning the best event (thus planning how to be the best king) and Kell is feeling more and more like he’s trapped and an object, rather than a family member.

While things seem rather normal in Red London, Black, White and Grey London are experiencing some very weird abnormalities.

Characters

As these characters are mostly the same from the first book, I decided to pull a quote on each character instead:

Kell and Rhy — “Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.”
“I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

Delilah Bard — Lila on herself, (alluding to her cockiness maybe a little…) “I am Delilah Bard, she thought, as the ropes cut into her skin. I am a thief and a pirate and a traveler. I have set foot in three different worlds, and lived. I have shed the blood of royals and held magic in my hands.”

Alucard Emery — This quote describes Alucard best: “’My father was a vulture. My mother was a magpie. My oldest brother is a crow. My sister, a sparrow. I have never really been a bird.’ Lila resisted the urge to say he might have been a peacock. It didn’t seem the time.”

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

I….look. I’ll admit straight up, I have very few complaints about this book. Like atom sized minor complaints:

  • Cliff hangar — WHY
  • Occasionally I wanted to kick Lila (but I totally think that’s the point)
  • It would jump to a new POV too soon! TOO SOON!

I mean, this book has a bit of everything in it. I just…first of all, Victoria:

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It has a female character who has her own story, and doesn’t give a shit about her romantic interest in relation to everything else (so she might be a sociopath, she still has a heart!) She’s a pirate and is working on her magic, while realizing she might be in love, but who cares?! She lives in a new world that’s completely worth exploring!

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The way Kell’s confinement is described and portrayed, you can’t help but feel for him. I found myself just yelling at him to escape and runaway — live you’re own life! but his ties to Rhy are (obviously) just too strong. And ugh RHY. I am so glad there was more of him in this book. I don’t necessarily have a favorite character in this series (HOW CAN YOU, THEY ARE ALL FOUR WONDERFUL!?) but I was glad to get out of Lila and Kell’s world a little bit, and into Rhy’s mind especially. A character that, in the first novel could be considered a spoiled brat prince, is instead a complicated and fun character.

The love stories in this book are just lovely. They’re fluid and ever changing — who is really in love with whom? When you think you might know, it changes. And leads to some great, excellent, force your friend to read the book because of the snogging scenes.

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But this isn’t a love story (though if you want to know — I argue that everything is essentially a love story.) No, this is a book about power and magic, about embracing it and understanding the delicate balance of it. Lila is starting to come into her powers with the help of Alucard, and she is able to control two elements. But she ignores the balance needed to control the elements, and at some point she’s going to have to pay in order to balance it again. In a larger manner, all the other Londons — Black, White and Grey — are all in their own battles for power. Really, if I say much more it’ll be spoilers, but Red London is not as safe as it thinks it is. White London has a new king, to say the least. There is PLENTY of battles and action and MAGIC. I mean, Lila had the right idea. Who would want to live in a world without MAGIC?

And the CLIFFHANGER.

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Final Verdict

As I said before, I was worried about this book. Sequels are incredibly hit or miss in the literary world, and unfortunately, they often lean on the “miss” side. THIS BOOK IS A HIT. It relies on the first book enough to continue it but doesn’t retell the first book, it continues the story without really any cliché tropes, with the exception of a cliffhanger ending (DAMMIT) and has an excellent balance of character building and action.

I am restraining myself from picking this book up and reading it again. I haven’t had the urge to do that since I read a Harry Potter book in high school.

It’s good.

It’s great!

And you should be reading it.

Book Review: Fangirl

To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one. – Rainbow Rowell

I am just going to start this review off by saying: if you didn’t like this book, you aren’t going to like my review. I loved this book, and any fault I find in it is so minor. I started this book immediately after finishing Carry On, as I figured it would be a quick read (as all Rainbow Rowell books are) and because our systems were down at work. And because I felt like I was missing the point of Carry On, which I enjoyed, but didn’t love as much as everyone else seemed to be. But man. Let me say this about Rainbow Rowell: she makes some damn relatable characters.

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Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell
Published: 2013

Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Ratingmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md/5 Moose


 

Synopsis

Cather is a college freshman, living a few hours away from home. She has an identical twin sister, Wren, at the same school, but they aren’t roommates. They also have quite polar opposite personalities. Cather is introverted and loves to read and write, while her sister (who, to be fair does love to read and write) prefers to party and have the true college experience.

And Cather is a huge Simon Snow fan. In fact, she’s one of the most famous Simon Snow fan fiction writers. Her sister grew up loving the fandom as well, but seems to have grown out of the fandom.

Cather has to adjust to life without her sister being around constantly, and while living with a surely roommate, Reagan and her constantly around boyfriend Levi. She’s also dealing with being an English major and trying to decide if she has a unique voice, worrying about her eccentric dad, and a potentially cute writer in her writing class.

Characters

Cather – The main protagonist of the book. She’s a quiet, introverted, worrywart who prefers to live in a fictional world rather than the real world. She’s a word loving, glasses wearing, self proclaimed nerd. She avoids awkward situations (i.e. eating protein bars constantly as she doesn’t know where the food hall is and the thought of asking is so anxiety causing.) Her father raised her and Wren by himself mostly, as her mom took off shortly after 9/11.

Wren – Cather’s twin. She’s excited to live the college experience – date guys, go partying, have a separate roommate. She’s majoring in market, just like her dad. She used to co-write fan fiction with Cather, but has left the fandom pretty much behind.

Reagan – Reagan is Cather’s new roommate. She’s an older student – 21? – and has to live in the doors due to her scholarship. She has two jobs and smokes, and legit doesn’t give a care what anyone thinks. While she normally ignores Cather at first, they eventually and begrudgingly become friends.

Levi – Levi is Reagan’s super nice, always smiling, friendly with everyone boyfriend. Even from the moment he meets Cather he seems to ooze kindness and charisma. He spends a good portion of his time in Reagan and Cather’s room.

Nick – Cather meets Nick in her upper level writing class. He’s a cute guy and a decent writer, and Cather and Nick begin a bi-weekly writing/library date after they successfully write an assigned story together.

Simon / Baz – The stars of the Simon Snow series, and the loves of Cather’s life. They star in slasher fan fiction that Cather writes, which is almost as famous as the series itself.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

OKAY. I am going to get my minor complaints out of the way first, before I forget them while I gush over this book. A big part of Cather’s journey is her panicking about whether or not she has a unique voice as a writer, and finding it much easier to live in a world she knows and love. The resolution of this conflict is weak, in comparison to the rest of the book. It’s resolved, sure, and I think the conflict lies back with me and my constant tear between work and relationships.

And to be completely fair to this book, it’s so not a book just about a boy/girl relationship. It’s also about familial relations, the sometimes terrifying thought of having to make friends outside of the first twelve grades, and internal relationships.

Seriously, I, just like I am sure a few of my other girl friends, related way too much to Cather. I am still not a big partier, I hated my roommates at first (and unfortunately, never became good friends with any of my dorm mates). There are parts of me that wish I could do college over again, knowing what I know now. Don’t get me wrong – I made friends, I joined a tennis team my sophomore year, and I got through college (I almost wrote unscathed or just fine, but seriously — my college years were LEGIT rough – not me just being dramatic!)

It’s just… everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter—and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.

Oh yeah — and I am a nerd. Or was a nerd, if what Cath says is true (See the quote at the beginning of this.) My fandom was Harry Potter, and through it I made so many friends that I still have today, I got back into writing, I found that it’s okay to be obsessive about fandoms, and even had some new fandoms added.

What I didn’t have was a Levi. Dear lord, where do I find one of him? An outgoing, kind, genuinely nice guy who loves hanging out one-on-one as much as a big party. And I didn’t have a Reagan. (What’s weird is I did at one point live with 3 roommates, and one of them had a boyfriend that essentially lived with us too.) I think this sums up Reagan pretty much:

“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”

Oh man. Rowell, you write so well. There is a make out scene in this book, Cather’s first time making out with a guy, and it made me miss the innocence of young love and dating and just making out with a guy you really, really like. It’s so cute and sweet. And the interwoven Simon Snow quotes – both from the “book series” and the fan fiction? Love it.

Final Verdict

Dear Rainbow Rowell,

I am a fan. I am sorry I didn’t start reading your books years ago, and you are officially on my watch list. Your books add such a level of realism that make me yearn for redos and potential what ifs. What I’ve come to learn that I love the most about your books is that they could be considered romantic chick lit books, that’s usually the last thing I focus on. Levi and Cather might be the first couple I’ve loved in your books (though I did enjoy Simon and Baz of course.) I still need to read Eleanor & Park, which I will by the end of the year.

Thank you for reminding me that it’s cool to be a nerd, it’s cool to enjoy and love fan fiction, and that having a balance between the real world and fantasy world is perfectly fine (And oh god guys, there is real Simon/Baz FF. I love it.)

Book Review: Carry On

I bought this book from Books of Wonder when I came to NYC to look for an apartment last October. I knew nothing of the book, nothing of Fangirl… I didn’t even read my first Rainbow Rowell book until months later. But everyone was excited about this book, and I wasn’t going to pass up a signed copy.

I held off reading it until I had a better reference on Rainbow Rowell. I had read 2 of her books by the time I started this book, and I decided to read this book before Fangirl, as my friend kept talking about how much she loved it. 522 pages later, I’m a Simon+Baz ‘shipper.

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Carry On

by Rainbow Rowell
Published October 2015

Format: Hardback (Signed copy – whaaaaat)
Genre: Fantasy, YA, “Fanfiction”
Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 4.5/5 Moose


 

Synopsis

Simon Snow: chosen one. A 17-year-old boy destined to heal the magical community. Too bad he sucks at magic in a general sense. He can’t handle a wand, and he’s a bit like a boiling pot when his emotions get too much. And his roommate Baz (who Simon is convinced is evil and a vampire) won’t let him forget it.

Carry On is the final book in Simon Snow’s series, culminating in the final showdown against the Insidious Humdrum. As the boo says itself, it’s a ghost story, love story, mystery and melodrama. With lots and lots of monsters.

Characters

Simon SnowHarry Potter The Chosen One. He’s the first Normal, non-magical lieage person to have magic. He’s starting his last year at Watford, a magical school in the UK. He is a bit of a doof but good heart-ed and brave. He is blonde and thin, as he’s lived in and out of foster care his entire life. He is burdened with the idea that he is the chosen one, as he considers himself average at best.

Basilton “Baz” PitchDraco Malfoy Baz is Simon’s roommate. He is missing at the beginning of the book, which causes Simon to obsess about where he is. He’s from one of the oldest and most prestigious families in the magic community – his mother was the former headmaster of Watford. It is suspected (by Simon) that Baz is a vampire. Simon and Baz have been mortal enemies since their first year.

Penelope “Penny” BunceHermione Granger Penny is another member of a prestigious family in the magical community. She is Simon’s first (and essentially only) friend. She is brilliant (Second best in the class after Baz), and stands by Simon constantly.

Agatha WellbyloveGinny Weasley or Cho Chang Agatha is Simon’s girlfriend, just short of his finace honestly. She is a conflicted character, torn between her support for Simon and her desire for a normal life.

The MageDumbledore The headmaster who took over after Baz’s mother’s death. He is grumpy and dresses like Robin Hood.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

Before I start, I am just going to say that I absolutely love fan fiction. Harry Potter, Arrow, and Divergent FF are currently on my ereader, and I also love crossovers. Hell, my Camp NaNoWriMo story was 20K words of fanfiction.

But I was a bit apprehensive about this book. I started it in December, but the first chapter turned me off a little bit. It has always bothered me that Fifty Shades of Grey is profiting as it is a Twilight fan fiction that just has names changes. So reading a novel that was, in my mind, essentially a Harry Potter fan fiction…I felt slightly hypocritical. Because really, the book read like a fan fiction of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

And the book, that theoretically read like it was number 7 or 8 in a series, had way too much explanation in it. I half appreciated it as I knew nothing about the series (duh), but it didn’t ring as realistic.

Reasons I was wrong:
1. I hadn’t read Fangirl yet. (though I have at the time of writing this.) Carry On is Cather’s fan fiction of the Simon Snow series, so it is another layer separate from Harry Potter.
2. About 100 pages into the book, I stopped thinking of Simon as Harry, Penny as Hermione, etc. I think this is because Baz finally enters the picture, and the story changes.

I really enjoyed the twist that Rowell puts on the magic world and the school. The students are required to learn how to do their clothes. Spells are based in common / popular phrases, rather than Latin. And (I’m probably in the minority on this) I think Agatha might be my favorite character. She’s suffocating from what’s expected of her, silently – she is a mage that doesn’t feel that having magic is a benefit. She doesn’t want to be Simon’s prize, and while she cares for Simon, she doesn’t care enough to lay down her life. She was the character in the book that I feel like most background characters feel like: this idiot!boy is going to get me killed, and all I want to do is graduate and get away.

I love that you get a sense that The Mage isn’t purely a good, fatherly figure. I wasn’t sure how much we were supposed to love and trust him (or see him as Dumbledore), so when he first shows up in the book, I thought the villain was wearing his face. He’s probably a complicated character in the series. I think I would have liked to see more of him, though we do get a good bit of his character in this book.

And the bromance. I almost didn’t write about the romance! Simon and Baz are adorable. I like reading the start of their relationship from both view points. It made me want a mortal enemy that might secretly be in love with me.

Final Verdict

carryon

When I finished this book, I originally gave it 4 moose. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t as girly over it as everyone else I had read seemed to be. I immediately read Fangirl after, and reading that added an extra .5 moose to my review. But seriously – I love Fangirl more. I’ll review it tonight or this weekend of course!

If you love Harry Potter and its fan fiction, read this book. If you like urban fantasy books with a cute love story between the monsters and vampires, read this book.

Book Review: Broken

This is my third book by Susanne Valenti — the third in the Cage of Lies series. I read the first book for an ARC review, the second book I bought off Amazon, and the third book was provided by the author as an ARC for an honest review. If you haven’t read the first two books, there are major spoils for them in my review. And to be fair, why would you be looking at this review if you hadn’t read the first two books?!

Overall my review is quite favorable. I haven’t read Valenti’s short story Cut Glass, but I will at some point. Crystal has potential to be one of my favorite characters.

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Broken

by Susanne Valenti
January 31, 2016

Format: ebook, ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3/5 Moose


 

Synopsis

Following the death of her boyfriend, Coal, Maya has one goal in mind: revenge. In her warped reality, only one person understands her, Coal’s sister Alicia. Together they plot to head to the City and get their revenge on the Wardens and Gregory. These plans are derailed when Jayden stumbles across a radio broadcast and overhear plans of the Wardens attacking the town. The chance for revenge might be closer than Maya thinks.

Characters

 

Most of the characters are recurrent from the previous books. There are a few new red shirts in the form of townies, plus some new wardens.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

Kudos on giving Blaine a love interest. I enjoyed his story line all the way through. If the book had more of his point of view, or Alicia’s I would have enjoyed it a good bit more I think.

I am rather bummed with how Laurie is portrayed in this book. She was my favorite character in the first two books, but in this book, she is a bratty teenager who is pissed that her boyfriend (the guy in charge, trying to keep everyone alive) can’t say he loves her. And every time he tries to talk to her about it, she blows him off. I hope this goes away soon, because again — Laurie was my favorite character.

There are potentially too many protagonists in this series. Who is the big bad? There are the mutant animals and plants, there are the Creepers and their creepy (haha) leader, the City and Wardens, and the other potentially murderous scavenger groups. I honestly forgot all about the Creepers and their potentially regular human leader — and they were the protagonist I enjoyed about the series.

Maya rubs me the wrong way. I get being one tracked minded. I get wanting revenge. I don’t get why she blatantly is ignoring orders, especially from people who have a better grasp on reality and planning. And she’s a little too…much in this book. She saves the day a little bit too often for my taste, while Alicia — someone who grew up learning to fight and training — ends up injured and out for most of the book. Also, she’s almost completely forgotten to care that her parents are in jail and have been for YEARS. Want revenge? Then want revenge for that too.

I am on the fence about the whole love triangle (square?) in this book. I get needing to feel human and intimacy, but I haven’t cared for Taylor in any book. I think Maya is taking advantage of his feelings, but I think Taylor is taking advantage of her vulnerability. Part of me feels it’s too soon for a rebound anything, but then again, is it?

There is a twist at the end of the book (which I kind of figured and guessed what would happen). Part of me is glad it happened, or Maya was going to get really insufferable. I think my biggest issue with Maya is that she is so okay with dying, and I mean, I get it. Your (perceived at 16 years old) soulmate has died. But there is more to live for, and your whole life shouldn’t center on a guy. It’s a very teenage ideal, but yeah.

On the whole, the book is pretty well written. It could have used one more pass by an editor or with someone slightly removed from the story — there are a few missed periods, a few weird page breaks, and repetitive phrasing (i.e. “I woke up without screaming for the first time in a long time” or “the food tasted better than it had in a long time / I hadn’t been this hungry that food tasted this good in a long time.”) Paraphrasing, of course — my tablet is currently dead. But seriously, the book is well written, especially compared to some other YA books I’ve read and instantly stopped.

I do also like that at one point, Hunter essentially tells Maya this is all her fault. In reality, this is 85% true. I think Gregory would have eventually sold out the town even if Taylor, Maya, and Laurie hadn’t run away. But there are many deaths that Maya should feel guilty for, and she doesn’t seem to feel it.

Final Verdict

GIVE LAURIE MORE DEPTH PLEASE!

Now that I have that out of my system.

I am in the minority on how I feel on this book, based on the reviews that are rolling in on Goodreads. I am so glad that Susanne has such a great following! While I do think this book could have been revised a bit more, the series on the whole is good. I’m curious to see what’s going to happen next.

Book Review: The Infinite Sea

As I get ready to see The 5th Wave in theater, I might as well prepare by writing up a review for the second book – The Infinite Sea. Rick Yancey did not disappoint in his second book – and thank god I am only a few months away from the third book. (And the last?) This review is going to have spoilers for The 5th Wave, so if you haven’t read that book yet….geez I thought I was late. I’m going to try not to spoil this book too much….oh boy.

Also, as I have mentioned previously, I have a habit of writing and highlighting my books. I am trying to get used to it with ebooks, as I’ve transitioned to almost solely reading ebooks. So, I’ll have more notes and quotes in the future. But for this book, here’s the quote that meant the most to me:

“It isn’t about the dead,” [Vosch] snaps impatiently. “It never was.”

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The Infinite Sea

by Rick Yancey
September 2014

Format: ebook
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult
Rating:moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 4.5/5 Moose


 

Synopsis

 

This book picks up near the ending of the first book. The group has survived the first four waves, the fifth wave is in place, and winter is in full force. While hiding in a disgusting, freezing hotel, Cassie, Ben and Ringer are doing what they can to keep their group together and safe while trying to grasp why the Others are attacking in waves rather than one swift motion. Told again from multiple points of view, this book is an intelligent, darker sequel to The 5th Wave.

Characters

Cassie Sullivan – Cassie is mourning the loss of Evan while trying to find her place in a militaristic group. She is constantly at odds with Ben and Ringer on trying to grasp what the Others are, if Evan was lying, and how they are to proceed going forward.

Sammy Sullivan – (I don’t remember any of the book being from Sammy’s point of view.) Sammy is going through a difficult time, especially for a post-apocalyptic world.He is torn between loving his sister and hating her, especially for the death of their father, and is clinging to Zombie.

Ben Parish/Zombie – Ben’s struggling with his recent injuries, most of which came from Ringer in order to sneak back into the camp. He’s weak and feverish, but doing what he can to keep charge. Both Ringer and Cassie ponder why exactly he’s called Zombie a few times.

Ringer/Marika – We finally learn Ringer’s name, and get the story from her point of view. She compartmentalizes and strategizes constantly. She always seems just shy of understanding the Others and grasping what they are doing and why. At the beginning of the book, she is out in the woods trying to find a new, warmer shelter for their group.

Evan Walker – Is Evan alive? The group accepts that he has died in the blast. But did he?

Teacup/Allison – There isn’t much on Teacup, but I love that she’s around. She’s another realistic possibility in a post apocalyptic world, where a child is going to try everything to be tough and brave, but really she’s clinging to Ringer for sanity and safety.

Dumbo and Poundcake – I know, I should separate them. But if I do, I am going to spoil the book more than any review should, and without spoilers, there isn’t much to say. But they both make it out of Book 1, and both are important to the story. This book explores why Poundcake no longer speaks, which is so heartbreaking. I hate that prior to that, I probably couldn’t tell you which character didn’t speak.

Razor – A camp refugee that becomes an integral part of Ringer’s plans. He thinks Ringer has gone Dorthy, believing he is still fighting for the good guys.

Vosch – The leader of the Others, runs the camp pretending to be human.

Rants, Raves and General Thoughts

The reviews of this book are a bit polar. Readers either loved it or hated it, and the major complaint of the book is how there is not a lot of action, it’s a filler book, and it dragged.

I will admit that I didn’t read this book as quickly as The 5th Wave, but I still really enjoyed it. I keep comparing this book to The Road in my head, a fantastic post-apocalyptic book by Cormac McCarthy – and anyone who thinks this book is slow should never read The Road. (My correlation is strictly on a type of post-apocalyptic story, not writing quality.) There has to be a point where the story arch slows down; there has to be a point where everyone can catch their breath! And yet, there is still a good bit of action in this book while learning so much more about the Others.

Have they really not said what they call themselves? In two books? That’s….odd.

The other major complaint about this book is that it’s disorganized and jumps around too much. I get the jumping around comments, but I don’t see it as disorganized. I feel that the author uses the jumps to his advantage, to the point where I completely thought I had the ending figured out, only to be surprised that I was wrong.

This book is darker and had notably more language. It’s a bit jarring to realize characters that are 5 and 7 years old are dropping f-bombs as much as they are shooting guns. And yet, there is a part of them that is desperately clinging to their innocence.

The question of this book is simple: Why torment a species that you can wipe out immediately, especially they claim to have been around for millions of years? Why wait for the species to become 7 billion?

Really, the way the Others are going after humanity is horrific. You thought you understood the 5th wave from the last book, but it gets so much worse in this book. How children are used… it’s dark.

I shifted my love to Ringer in this book. I think I relate more to Cassie – constantly panicky and pissed any time someone would challenge what I say, but I love Ringer’s cool exterior. Cassie has a hard time remembering that everyone has lost someone, everyone has horrific backstories, and that she isn’t really the last human on Earth. But really, can you blame her for her train of thought when she was alone or just with Evan for so long?

Ringer’s calculating nature makes her just as pivotal to humanity’s final moments, just as much as Cassie. And I can’t wait to see what happens next between the two of them. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t get along, as Cassie’s first impressions of Ringer are how attractive she is and seems to dislike her on that principle alone.

Final Verdict

First of all, I convinced my brother to read this book, and that is consider quite a success. He texted me this morning that he loves it. So, score one me!

I get why people might not like this book, but I loved it. I feel that the characters are well balanced and different enough to make the bonding moments (as rare as they are) and the conflicts quite realistic. If books and story lines like this didn’t exist, people would complain that there is no depth to the story. So, I recommend it, but if you don’t like a little bit of down time, you might not enjoy it so much.

Book Review: Teen Frankenstein

I am so excited that I am getting this review in just under the wire. This book is officially released tomorrow. The ARC was provided kindly by NetGalley (back in October…for Halloween…)

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Teen Frankenstein

by Chandler Baker
January 2016

Format: ebook, arc
Genre: horror, gothic, young adult, classic retellings
Rating: moose-mdmoose-mdmoose-mdmoose-md 3.75/5 Moose

Synopsis

Victoria “Tor” Frankenstein became obsessed with curing death after her father is killed by lightning during one of his experiments. Unfortunately, she and her best friend Owen keep failing at bringing back rats. One dark and rainy night, Tor accidentally hits a boy with her car, killing him pretty quickly. Rushing him back to the lab and increasing the voltage, she is able to bring the boy back to life, now named “Adam” as he suffers memory loss.

Adam is a nearly perfect human specimen, minus the memory loss and the occasional angry temper. Shortly after he starts at her high school, kids go missing and turn up violently murdered. And in a small town, a new kid and serial killer arriving at the time doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence.

Characters

Victoria “Tor” Frankenstein – A junior, who excels in the science field. She’s a bit of a nerd and genius, causing her to think she’s better than everyone around her. After her father died and her mom spiraled out of control, she began researching bringing back people from the dead.

Owen Bloch – Owen is Victoria’s best friend, who is a bit of a tinkerer. He’ll take apart and put back together anything. Victoria frequently thinks he just doesn’t get her, and he unwillingly helps her out after she kills a boy.

Adam Smith – Not much is known about Adam’s past in the beginning. But after he is bright back from the dead, he is a naïve, overgrown toddler. He joins the high school while Victoria tests his ability to blend into normal culture, eventually joining the football team and dating one of the prettiest girls in the school. He has a terrible temper and occasionally disappears. He needs to be recharged every so often as well.

Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts

I’ll admit, I put this book off as long as possible. I read the first 2-3 chapters and set it down. I don’t know what it is about Frankenstein, but I’m a bit of a purist I guess. In fact, I regretted accepting this ARC shortly after doing so.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that after 10%-15% of the book, I was actually enjoying it. I’m not sure if I just was so against reading it at first that I didn’t realize the MC was female, but it took her killing a guy before I finally realized it. At first, I thought that was a really bad sign, but actually, kudos to the author. Victoria comes off as a sociopathic teenager, just how you would expect Sherlock Holmes to be as a teenager. She “doesn’t react like a normal teenage girl,” as a she frequently realizes, but what’s even more so is she doesn’t like a normal person, period. She’s out to protect the main goal: her science experiment Adam.

The book was dark without being overly gruesome, a decent horror mix. I blame the bumpy beginning on my own issues, and rereading it would probably show it to be much better than I remember it.

The issues I had with the book aren’t anything major. The amount of times “My Adam” is started driving me nuts, or consider making a drinking game. I get it, I do, but cut it in half and it’d probably still have the same affect. The twists — Adam’s past, who the Hunter is — could have been done a bit better. They’re both a bit rushed for my taste.

Also, I really loved her dog’s name — Einstein.

Final Verdict

I’m super apprehensive about this being a series rather than a standalone, but I’ll definitely check out book 2 when it comes out. I’m assuming it’s about someone else? I can’t imagine Tor finding another body so soon, or having a different story.

As for this book, give it a shot. If you like Frankenstein retellings, totally worth a quick read.