book review: splintered by a.g. howard

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Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: January 1 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads Blurb: 

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence.

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

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book review: holding up the universe by jennifer niven

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Publisher: Penguin Books (UK)
Release date: October 4, 2016
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 400
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads Blurb:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

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book review: when the moon was ours by anna-marie mclemore

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Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release date: October 4, 2016
Genres: YA, Magical Realism, Fantasy

Pages: 288
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads Blurb:

When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

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book review: the star-touched queen

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Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses || In Which I Am Disappointed By My Favorite Author

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Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Release Date: May 5th 2015

Genre: High Fantasy, NA

Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

My Review

Warning: This review contains minor spoilers!

There has been a lot of hype about this book and for the most part it’s pretty on par. ACOTAR is quite amazing and is brimming with gorgeous prose and imagery. But after reading the Throne of Glass series…I was kind-of disappointed.

The book starts off with Feyre hunting in the forest near her home. She promises her mother on her deathbed that she’ll look after her family and in order to feed her ungrateful sisters, Feyre has to hunt for animals that she can skin and sell. But after the drama of Tamlin coming for her because she kills his friend, everything just kind of settles down. For the first half of the book, there was almost no plot. Nothing much happens except that chemistry (slowly..super slowly) develops between Feyre and Tamlin.

By this time I was starting to consider ditching the book for a while. Despite the fact that Feyre is swimming in starlight and experiencing all kinds of weird and wonderful things…nothing is actually happening. There’s not much in the terms of action and I was beginning to grow disinterested in this “plague.” THEN FINALLY shit hit the fan and stuff started happening. The last 30% of the book is therefore super intense and really exciting. The ending is probably the best part of the book because there is so much pain/angst/action that it’s overwhelming after all the inaction of the first 70%.

Once again the author crafts brilliant characters. I love how Feyre was a lot more relatable and human than most heroines. She was not at all perfect and she was actually illiterate but the fact that she did her best to work with what she had impressed me. Tamlin is also one of those really hot male characters and I just couldn’t get enough of him. The romance between Tamlin and Feyre is probably what makes this book NA but there aren’t that many steamy scenes (and you can always skim or skip them altogether if you don’t want to read them).

Lucien was one of my favorite characters because he played the best friend role but (surprisingly) never decided to fall in love with Feyre and propose. He was basically the loyal sidekick who occasionally dished up snarky comments. Rhysand was the character I couldn’t make up my mind about because he seemed to be evil but helped Feyre when it mattered (then again, that help came with a price).

So basically I did enjoy this book (but just not as much as I expected to). BUT I’m definitely going to read the second book!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir || A Book That Felt Cliché

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Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: April 28 2015

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 3.5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My Review

Make no mistake, I was pretty damn excited about this book. But then I started reading it…

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Before you decide that you’ve had enough and leave, let me explain! I was disappointed because I felt like I’d already read so many fantasy books that are quite similar. I mean there are slaves, and soldiers, and a bunch of rebels who are planning some kind-of revolution. You really haven’t read this type of book before? REALLY? It also reminded me a lot of The Winner’s Curse (even though the male character is the slave in that book) because of the romance between Laia and Elias. I was getting such a “been there, done that” vibe but I didn’t ditch it because of all the hype surrounding this book. (But maybe it’s just me feeling like it’s not 100% original? Please tell me it’s not just me…)

To some extent, it does live up to it’s hype. After all it’s beautifully written with great world-building and an unpredictable storyline. The characters are also pretty interesting but not as complex as I had hoped. Their actions aren’t unexpected though because most of the character’s motives are clear from the start (or at-least enough hints are dropped that we can guess them).

For example, Elias is a student at Blackcliff, a Mask academy…and doesn’t want to be a Mask. Laia is a scholar slave who wants to rescue her brother and is forced to join the Scholar Rebels to do so. The book is told from their dual perspectives and somewhere along the way, they end up meeting and their lives and stories become entangled. I think the changes in POV made the story richer but Laia frustrated me because of her incompetency. The worst part was that Laia herself is obsessed with her incompetency and cowardice! And while she was brave and determined to save her brother, I also found her stupidity and naivety very annoying. Elias, on the other hand, was far more interesting and I was very curious to see how his relationship with his mother would play out.

I would have said that the romance was perfect except it wasn’t because of the double love triangles. 

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(Ok so I would never toss my Kindle out the window but..you get the idea!) The love triangles annoyed me a lot because they felt so very unnecessary. I felt like it would have been so much better if there were more platonic relationships in this book.

But when it’s all said and done, I did enjoy this book, and I’m probably going to read the sequel.

Lips Touch: Three Times || 3 Stories That Left Me Yearning For More

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Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Release Date: October 1st 2009

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers’ souls:

Goblin Fruit
In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today’s savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses
A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Hatchling
Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?

My Review

This is not my first Laini Taylor book. In fact, the reason I picked it up is because I love her writing so much and holy cow you guys, I am so glad I read this book! It features three different short-stories, each of them beautiful, otherworldly and terrifying.

Goblin Fruit: This is long and drawn out – so suspenseful it had be on the edge of my seat, terrified for the main character. I honestly couldn’t guess if there would be a happy ending or not until I read the ending. Reading this story gave me this feeling of satisfaction, like sinking my teeth into chocolate cake. The fact that I could relate to Kizzy’s yearning to be beautiful, also made feel more invested in her fate.

Spicy Little Curses: This story is told from different perspectives and takes place in India. The ambassador to Hell has to bargain with a demon in order to save the souls of children. But even the widow (ambassador) can’t save every life and eventually she makes a deal that she might eventually regret. This time, I had a vague idea of what would happen and the twists at the end didn’t really surprise me. But the story was made more interesting because it was told through the eyes of more than one character.

Hatchling: This is the longest story and it’s set in both the modern world and the realm of the Druj (soulless creatures/demons). You might not want to read this at night, if you’re like me and cringe every time there is a description of anything remotely scary. Other than that, I’m not going to reveal any more because I think it’s better to go into this not knowing what to expect.

I know this book might seem outdated (I’m still catching up on new releases!) because it was published six years ago. But if you love fantasy, you must read this. (And then hopefully comment below telling me what you think!)