Gone Rogue (Wires & Nerve: Vol. 2) by Marissa Meyer

34930815I admit: I never had a real appreciation for Iko until reading the Wires and Nerve books. In the main Lunar Chronicles books, she is just Cinder’s friend, but I love in these books that she is given some time in the spotlight. We literally get to see Iko and the other characters in their relationships, as well as friendships. These graphic novels are more than another story in the Chronicles; they are a testament to this crew. Talk about “Squad Goals”!

In Gone Rogue, we see the crew in a post-Levana world. Cinder is on her way to introducing democracy and trying her best to get the people of her kingdom back on track. However, there is big trouble brewing with the wolf soldiers on Earth. They want their humanity back, believing that the crown is hiding the cure. They will do whatever it takes to get it. Meanwhile, Iko struggles personally in a big way, questioning her own creation. With the help of her friends, can Iko accept herself and defeat the monsters? Read the book to find out!

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Illustration by Julie Crowell

Wires and Nerve: Vol. 2 has an immense amount of character growth in several of the characters, but most of all, Iko. Moral of my story: if you haven’t read these, READ THEM! I gave Vol. 2 only 3 stars, but Vol. 1 4 stars because I found more humor and pure enjoyment in #1. Volume 2 had its humor spots, its sweet spots, and its suspense…but I just prefer the first one.

Book soundtrack: “Shooting Stars” by Bag Raiders

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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

35121240From the first time I saw the cover for The Hazel Wood, I was desperate to read it. I remember seeing it plastered everywhere at ALA in Chicago last summer and I was SO bummed that I wasn’t able to get an ARC. This book just screamed my name with all of those little cover details in silver and gold and its promise of dark fairy tales and mystery! I never got my ARC and I had to wait all the way until release day to read it. AHH!! Once I did read it though….well….its one crazy ride, let me say that!

In The Hazel Wood, we read about seventeen year-old Alice and her mother Ella, who have lived their lives on the run trying to escape the bad luck that seems to follow them. Alice’s grandmother, Althea, is a famous author who wrote a collection of dark fairy tales called Tales from the Hinterland. When Alice and her mother receive word that Althea has died, they believe they can stop running from life. Ella marries a rich New Yorker and Alice settles into school. One day their lives are turned upside-down again when Ella is kidnapped by two people claiming to be from the Hinterland. Alice’s only thought is, of course, to save her mother and to do so, she enlists the help of a rich friend (guy–duh) from school, named Ellory Finch. The adventures in the Hinterland and the Hazel Wood thus ensue.

The first half of the book has a relatively straightforward, young adult, urban, contemporary feel to it. We meet the characters, we see Ella and Alice’s relationship and background, we feel the curiosity about Althea’s book, we definitely get a feel for Alice’s hot temper and icy attitude (in my opinion–not good character qualities and she wears on my nerves). I was never bored because there is always curiosity being fed and then eventually it just smacks you in the face.

So about a third through the book everything breaks loose when Ella is kidnapped. Worlds collide and now we really meet Ellory Finch. Now, its a good thing the guy who has a crush on Alice happens to have parents who don’t care about him AND a credit card without a limit. They run around the city of New York and search and run away and search, etc.

61cfb50fac2c90725043dd5378250617Maybe halfway/two-thirds through, we make it to the Hinterlands. I’m not going to lie. I feel like I just need to read this whole part over again because so much happened and I didn’t fully latch onto the logic of the where and the what and the big picture. Honestly it was just rather a blur of confusion. There were some good concepts and some neat ideas and I absolutely loved the darkness and creepiness of it!! HOWEVER, it made my head spin and I felt like I was the one lost in the Hazel Wood. Maybe that was the point?!

To sum this up, I liked the writing and the concept…I think I just need to read it again and smooth out some of the details in my mind. My mind was lost in the dark forest but I was really enjoying the scenery!

Book soundtrack: Freak on a Leash by Korn

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A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

a_semi-definitive_list_of_worst_nightmares_krystal_sutherland_fall_2017_ya_booksWow, you guys. I am amazingly shocked by how much I enjoyed this book. This is an example of don’t-judge-the-book-by-its-cover. Its not really an ugly cover, per se, but it isn’t glittery and mind-blowing for sure. I would never be drawn to it in a million years. However, after reading it, I absolutely recommend it. This book had so much humor and so much heart, I want anyone reading my reviews to go and read this book next.

janko-ferlic-391257-unsplashSo what is it about, you may now be asking? Esther Solar and her “semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.” Esther and her family have been under a curse to suffer from one great fear in their lifetime ever since her grandfather met Death in the war. Now this family is quirky. The father, for instance is agoraphobic and will not leave their basement. Esther’s brother, Eugene, is afraid of the dark and turns on candles and lamps and strings of lights when the sun goes down.

The curse hasn’t hit Esther yet, and when she has a hapless reunion with a former crush, he discovers her list and challenges her to face her fears. Together they tick off the nightmares, and of course, the surprises along the way.

This book definitely has trigger warnings of suicide, depression and anxiety, which I didn’t really know going in. In the afterward of the book, the author does a really nice follow-up about mental health and mentions a piece of Adam Silvera’s that is a “must read” for every person no matter where you are in life. Forgive me, for I don’t have the book in front of me so I can’t pull up the exact title at the moment.

claudia-nuta-362408-unsplashAside from this, as I mentioned before, the book is overall a very sweet, funny, and touching story. I didn’t realize there would be so much depth in a book with such a simple cover. I think it should also be mentioned that this book…while I wouldn’t label it as fantasy, one could view it as magical realism in some ways. That’s what I would call it anyway.

Book Soundtrack: “Wolves Without Teeth” by Of Monsters and Men

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Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson

18490681There is no way to state my opinion of Kiss of Deception other than to just come out and put it bluntly: I expected far more from this book. The synopsis on Goodreads makes it sound like there will be action and intrigue and peril. I suppose there is, but the pacing of the book is so incredibly slow that its astounding anything gets done at all!

Currently there are three books in The Remnant Chronicles series, with the fourth set to release….sometime, I’m not sure when and I couldn’t find the information on GR. From those whom I have talked to about the series, the characters and relationships are enough to keep you reading, though the pace never really picks up. Fortunately I do really enjoy Mary E. Pearson’s writing, her characters, and the world building. I am curious to see the choices that the characters make now that the first book left off in the middle of a tense situation.

kiss-240x300The final comment I feel that I need to make was my confusion about the book’s fantasy genre tag. I noticed it on Goodreads and then just because of the slow pacing, for most of the book, I had no idea why the book was tagged Fantasy since there was no magic or fantastical beasts or system really in the book. Yes, the lands were made up but really that was all. What the heck was going on!? Who did I even contact to get this fixed?!!? Well, finally a change in the wind (metaphorically speaking) came along and answered my question so now all is settled. It was just strange to me.

So overall, Kiss of Deception does not hit anywhere near one of my favorite books, YA or otherwise. However, I did think it was okay and I am interested to see how things progress with the guys and the kingdoms. I think I’ll head to book 2, but not in a rush.

Book Soundtrack: “Dust and Bones” James and the Wild Spirit

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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm for me is hard to rate. On the one hand, I am loving this GrishaVerse trilogy overall so far. I think that the world building is good, the characters are well-built, and the overall story line is really great.

35529904I still am not all that impressed with Alina as a main character and heroine. To me she is just okay. She doesn’t do anything that really annoys me–she’s not a whiner or a weakling, but she isn’t particularly brave or outgoing or really trying to go anywhere either. She’s just….there. And, of course, all of the boys like her. So then there’s the boys. In book one, I thought Mal was also pretty useless. The first half of this book, he was still pretty useless. Finally, though, he started to show some personality and some life so maybe Mal can actually be a contender! We meet Nikolai in this book and he completely steals the show. Nikolai I love. I mean, how can one not love this guy?! And then, of course, there’s the Darkling. *swoon* He isn’t in this book as much but he’s still as dark and alluring as always.

Aside from the characters, I felt like the plot moved way slow in this installment as well. We saw some action in the beginning, and then really nothing for a long time. The gang sat in waiting (or did some travelling) for the majority of the book with a couple little rifts in the middle, or maybe a couple little discoveries along the way, and one big skirmish at the end….and then the book is over. Maybe that’s how most books are but I expected so much more out of this one!!

So that is my take on book 2 of the Shadow and Bone trilogy from the GrishaVerse. Of course, by the end of the book, I’m left SO ready to go into book 3 but if I go straight into it, I will have a book hangover so bad! So I’m going to wait at least another week until I start the third book. But I will be back for more. Stay tuned!

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Book Soundtrack: “Undefeatable” by Young Rising Sons

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

13578987This book has been on my TBR since it first released I’m pretty sure. I remember seeing the description and thinking “Wow, that sounds really neat!” I remember buying it as a Kindle daily deal at some point quite a while ago and just never got around to reading it until now. There has been so much hype lately around Leigh Bardugo, I just couldn’t put it off anymore and I’m glad for that because I really enjoyed the book.

So just in case you are one of the people left in the world who still has not read Shadow and Bone, the book is centered around our orphaned heroine Alina. She is a map maker in the king’s First Army along with her best friend, Mal, who is a soldier in the army as well. The author does a pretty good job with the world building, as the world is meant to more-or-less parallel/alternate Russia. However, in the middle of it all is The Fold, a dark epicenter filled with winged beasts called the Volcra, that will show mercy on no one. When the Army travels through The Fold, Alina must save Mal’s life and unknowingly calls upon a light within herself that turns out to be a rare Grisha power. The Darkling, and many others, take notice of this gift and whisk Alina away to the Little Palace. Here she settles into what should be a life of comfort, but in stead is hard training and (spoiler) meetings with the Darkling, who is filled with secrets.

36315977That’s about all I can say plot-wise without going into bigger spoilers. Regarding my character impressions thus far, I will say that I am not 100% impressed with Alina but I am not disappointed. Orphan-to-Princess/Powers isn’t my favorite trope so that might be part of it. I definitely don’t dislike her though, I’ll say that. She’s just not my Katniss (my favorite heroine ever). Mal–the best friend–is pretty ok as well. Thus far he is pretty stubborn and he was a little “I didn’t notice you before but I see you now” and to me he loses points for that. The winner of the book, however, is the Darkling. I love dark characters with secrets. I’m sorry, guys. Other examples: Jean Claude in the Anita Blake books. The Darkling has the good one-liners, the moves….oh man, I’m sorry, but if we’re making him the villain, he’s my favorite villain because….yeah. Just, yeah. Its all up in the air as to what direction the series is going to go at this point and I am definitely reading on!

Book Soundtrack: “Over” by Portishead

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Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman

I LOVED this book. I know that not everyone who reads it will love it in the way that I did, mainly because this book hit my two main teenage/college hobbies: camping and singing. Not only that but Ingrid’s journey and trials were told through her experiences in these activities, making her connections with the outdoors and with her life in music even stronger. If you’re thinking about reading this book, let me give you a little bit of a synopsis:

257521542Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined is told from Ingrid’s point of view, but through two different timelines: one as she is growing up with her opera star-gone wrong mother, and one in the present on a month long wilderness survival-turned disaster trek she wasn’t quite expecting. Growing up, Ingrid and her mother lived a wonderful life, with Margot-Sophia Lalange performing in the spotlight of the great opera houses until she does exactly what she knows not to do–she over sings and does not take care of her voice thus resulting in vocal nodes and the end of her career. Ingrid’s mother becomes bitter regarding music and theater, and the glamorous life ends. Ingrid struggles to fit in at school and she grows up taking care of her mother. Eventually, a role in the school play and (of course) a boy will change many things for both Ingrid and her mother.

5-star ratings are very difficult to earn from me, but I’m feeling generous today and I will round up a 4.6 rating on this one to a 5 for a few reasons. First of all, the wilderness survival camp is one for at-risk teens and while Ingrid didn’t feel that she wasn’t “at-risk” so she didn’t need to be there, she still toughened up and took it like a champ. I think that a lot of her thought processes were exactly like mine would have been (I won’t really give more information than that because it’s part of the humor and charm [lol…sass?] of Ingrid). Second, the way that passion for music and performing on stage is described. How you get up on stage and more or less don’t always know if you did well or not. Or Margo-Sophia’s phrases like “You did well last night but today you must be better. Always better.” In some ways she often comes across as self-centered but her career and that state of mind was her entire life. It was her state of mind for years. It was hard to see her discourage Ingrid from pursuing music but she was completely horrified for her. The one thing I did NOT like was how Ingrid treated Isaac after the show and the incident with the other girl. I didn’t think that blaming him so strongly was fair at all and I hated that. I thought that was the big chink in the book for me. And the end, of course, is a cryfest and my biggest weakness in books. It could have been more played up but I think it was just the right amount considering the characters so I say it was very well done. Overall, wonderful book. It is one that I highly recommend.

–I was given a copy of this book by Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review–

Book soundtrack: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

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First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy

20795198_995366038329_2075362817_oThis book has me left with mixed emotions! No, scratch that. This book has left me an emotional wreck! Let me first say that I am a big fan of thrillers and there aren’t too many in the YA genre so when one releases, I am ON IT! I dove into First We Were IV with a fiery fury. Pranks, secrets, a murder mystery…all the yes!!

Here comes the actual synopsis: Izzy (often called “Icky” by the popular kids in school), Viv, Graham, and Harry are best friends. They only have each other and are often pushed around by their peers, some rivalries even stemming back as far as elementary school. NO MORE, they decide. So this, coupled with the fact that the four best friends will soon be parting ways for college, leads them to form the Order of IV, a “secret society” of the four friends created for pranks, fun, and forever memories. All they wanted was to be included in parties and to keep in touch. Of course that’s not how it ends. Of course it escalates….and I’ll let you read all of that for yourself.

So in my opinion, the beginning is interesting, and the ending rocked me to my core. The middle 300 pages were filled with 95% eye-rolling drama and 5% interesting plot. For me, the murder mystery with Jane Doe was so disconnected from the central characters….I just didn’t understand why Izzy cared so much to begin with. Maybe if the incident occurred a week ago, or if it was her cousin she was seeking justice for, or if she really had PTSD. I’m not trying to be cold or like I don’t care about missing persons cases but really, there was no real reason why Izzy cared. I don’t get it! Harry had a reason to want to pursue crimes against his father, yet they didn’t pursue those. I get that. But Izzy was selfish. This was hugely unsettling (and mildly boring and even confusing) to me.

While I didn’t like this, it was also an ironic point in the book. Live in the moment. Just be with your friends and loved ones. When friends are so loved and so close like this group is, there shouldn’t be competition of who loves who more; of who was friends first, or of which memories are better or stronger. Just make the most of everything. Bullies and adults will do what they will but you have each other and that is the strongest thing and that is better than anything than they will ever know (haven’t you seen Harry Potter? lol – just kidding). So that’s what I felt was a theme, who knows if that was an actual intent of the author.

MAJOR SPOILER IN WHITE – WARNING – DON’T HIGHLIGHT UNLESS YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK – FINAL NOTE: HOW DID THEY GET AWAY WITH ALL OF THAT? NO WAY! WHAT?! 

Soundtrack: “Your Song” by Elton John

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“All Things New” by Lauren Miller

Title: All Things New

Author: Lauren Miller

Publication Date: August 1, 2017

Publisher: Three Saints Press

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Lesson learned: Never judge a freebie book based on its “freebie” status! So not only did I receive a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, it was also a ‘download now’ free copy, meaning that I didn’t have to be approved or anything in order to read it. I usually equate these books–in my mind–to the freebies of the ARC world. That aside, I thought that this book was a really good read and I very much enjoyed it.

Jessa has suffered from an anxiety disorder since her father left her mother when she was just twelve years old. Now, at 17, she is barely getting through school living with her mom in L.A. and clinging to her prepster boyfriend. Until one night at a party changes everything. A near-fatal car accident leaves Jessa’s face scar-ridden, and her brain nearly as damaged, she decides to leave everything behind to live with her dad in Colorado. Here she meets new people, reconciles with her father, and learns about the true measure of healing both inside and out.

On to the nitty-gritty opinionated part of my review. First off, I was surprised at the intelligence level of this book. Now, I am no doctor, psychologist, or philosopher and I have no idea what an actual practicing physician or thinker would say about the topics in this book, but for someone at my level of knowledge, it was awesome! I mean, we got deep about Dorian Gray and van Gough! We were talking about heart surgery and brain surgery and the reflections of the soul! Plus, that ending though!! Secondly, I did feel that the book had a bit of a rough start and sometimes it is difficult and not for everyone to read books from the POV of a main character who has a panic disorder. But guess what? Having a panic disorder is rough. This book deals with a tough issue. In all honesty, this book deals with a LOT of tough issues. Jessa isn’t the only person who goes through trials. She has her panic disorder and gets in a car accident, but then she meets Marshall who has a heart defect, and Hannah who isn’t perfect, and she is basically in a community of not perfect people and this is basically her new life. So the final point I will make: a lot of the reviews I have read talk about how much people like Marshall. Yes, I really like Marshall as well. But who really comes through as an amazing character is Super Dad. My favorite moment is when Dad is encouraging Jessa to drive to school again because she can’t live in fear forever; can’t let the fear control her life and he says:

“Because there’s something I want for you even more than safety. I want you to be free. Free from the panic and worry, free from all that terrible self-doubt I see in your eyes and blame myself for. But you have to want it too, Jessa. You have to decide not to let fear win.”

So yeah. I loved this book. I tend to like books where characters have to find their light. I love strong, powerful moments of tenderness and strength. They all still have their scars but they have found some consolation or some way through them and I think that this book did a good job of doing that. I recommend.

Listening to: “Numb” by Max Jury

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

28458598Let me start out by saying that I really enjoyed “When Dimple Met Rishi.” I tend to enjoy contemporary YA fiction much better in audiobook format, and this book was no exception. The alternate points of view were great and the chosen narrators especially helped to depict the diversity.

The book begins with the ambitious Dimple Shah graduating from high school and getting ready to go to college for computer science. She values hard work and intelligence and has no plans to marry like her traditional parents want her to (“that’s what college is for after all,” they think!). When she convinces them to let her attend Insomnia Con, she is shocked by how easy it is, but it is a chance to meet her idol! On campus under….surprising circumstances….she meets Rishi Patel. Rishi is a bit of a romantic and was raised more traditionally, yet humbly. Surprisingly, the two are paired together for the contest. Push comes to shove, circumstances happen, you’ll have to read the book to find out the details, and that’s the gist.

First, characters. I admire a young woman who is career-driven and intelligent. Dimple wears her glasses all the time, despises make-up (though I don’t know think its completely the make-up as much as rebelling against her mother and dating in general), and is entitled to her opinion and her own choices. (almost to a fault) Rishi is the eldest son of the CEO of a large company, but he completely breaks the mold of the phrase “snobby rich kid.” He does, however, fall in line with his family’s traditional Indian values and he is planning to(expected to) follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue engineering and enter into an arranged marriage. In his heart, however, Rishi is an artist. He loves drawing comics and he is a romantic. Also, he is quick, witty, and loyal. (almost to a fault)

There weren’t very many secondary characters, but the ones that were around were pretty good. Celia–Dimple’s roommate–brought the little bit of ‘feminine’ and guidance that Dimple needed every once in a while, and vice versa. They were there for each other to get each other through lots of obstacles and awkward moments. Ashish, Rishi’s brother, brought in another tangle of a relationship and a fresh voice of guidance and opinion. He turned out to be more mature than I expected him to be. Then there were other contestants and Jenny Lindt herself, who seemed to be all the L.A. “hip.”

I have several thoughts on this book, especially after having read and heard a lot of the buzz surrounding Dimple & Rishi. First off, I think that we adults who read YA need to remember that Dimple and Rishi are teenagers and this book is written for teens. WE are the adults here. I didn’t have any feelings about this really until the last 30 or 40 pages, as I mentioned, from what I have read and heard people saying, I think we can give the kids a little bit of a break. There are a few gushy , cheesy parts where they are cuddling and the dialogue is just downright roll-your-eyes “really?!” but come on, we’ve all been there. Its that honeymoon stage in a young relationship! Another note re: the relationship. I loved that the two of them brought out the good in each other. Really, I thought they worked well together. HOWEVER. Dimple says “I don’t want to marry” and “I don’t want to get married” and “No, I won’t be getting married” and then 2 minutes later they are mutually saying “I love you!” and it is a completely serious relationship! So I know what I said…young love and all that…cut them slack, you never really know when you’re young. But I’m just saying. Chill out on the extremes, please. Just a bit. kthanks.

A quick quip about Insomnia Con: was the Talent Show really relevant? Was it really necessary? No? I didn’t think so. Maybe its a cute thing to put in a YA book for couples to do together but man, it does not seem to fit realistically with app building. Sorry, Sandhya Menon.

All right, those are my thoughts on “When Dimple Met Rishi.” Overall, I am super impressed at how well this book has done for a debut! Congratulations and best of luck on your future endeavors, Ms. Menon!

Listening to: “No Man’s Land” – Wonder Woman Soundtrack

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