Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publishers for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.

I love dark fantasy stories. And this one? Well, it sounded pretty dark to me. I was very excited to get the chance to read this ARC, especially when it has such a pretty cover. And the best part? This is a standalone so I knew I didn’t have to worry about waiting forever for the next book in the series. So let’s get on with the review:

32824058Summary (Goodreads): Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all?

Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest.

Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early.

Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.

 


Review: Initially, this novel started off quite slow, which worried me because I wanted something with a ton of action. But after a few chapters, the story started to shine and I was hooked.

I actually really liked the plot of this story. The entire premise of a place where people could live a peaceful life in exchange for a sacrifice once every 7 years was very interesting, and the mentality of the people about this was both bizarre and understandable at the same time. I think the author set up the story very well and there was a lot of depth and darkness to the plot; this is in no way a light and happy read. The author took a unique approach in that she did not make the events in the forest the main part of the story; instead, the story could be divided into before entering the forest, and after entering the forest. Most authors would have tried to capitalize on the experience in the forest itself, making it the entire plot of the story. I actually enjoyed this new approach because it added more intrigue to the story. What happened in the forest? How did it change the various characters? What is the big secret?

I did think that the two major reveals in this story weren’t that hard to guess. Well, okay, let me be more fair. I think the first reveal that occurs right after the forest wasn’t really explained well enough to give me that shock factor. When that truth came out, I thought … wait, isn’t that how it was supposed to be? There was a question raised from that secret (sorry for being so cryptic in my explanation but I really don’t want to spoil anything!) that I don’t think was ever properly addressed, so that was a bit of a bummer. Nevertheless, I did like the way things came to a climax and the final conclusion of the story. It was well-rounded and tied up all loose ends.

My one issue with this novel was with the main characters, specifically Mairwen and Arthur. I just couldn’t get my head around their personalities. Arthur has a very abrasive personality, and while the author tried to justify it, I felt it was a bit too abrasive for me to connect with him. I couldn’t really empathize with a character that was constantly attacking people and sneering at those who cared for him. And that brings me to Mairwen’s character. She supposedly cared for Arthur but I never really felt that? Perhaps the author was trying to portray a love-hate relationship that was complex, but it felt quite forced for me, with no real tenderness to it. I also didn’t really get a sense of Mairwen’s personality. All I knew was that she kept getting “called” or drawn to the forest. Apart from that (and her confusing feelings for the other characters), there really didn’t seem much to her. She kept being called weird but I didn’t really see what was so weird about her? It was all a bit strange and I think this aspect of the novel could have been strengthened.

This novel started off slow, but as the darker elements of the story began to unfold, I was drawn into it and could not wait to see how things would end. However, the characters were not developed as well as I would have liked, which affected my ability to fully connect with this story. For those reasons, I’m giving it a 3/5 stars!

3 star

Happy reading ~

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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

As I wait for the sequel to The Cruel Prince to be released, I decided to check out other books by this author. I was really happy to find that the author has written many standalone books, because I’m not sure if I’m up for the commitment of a series right now – I have far too many series to complete as it is! I decided to read this one in audiobook format, because I’ve been doing a lot of commuting and haven’t had a lot of time to crack open a physical book. Here is my review:

20958632Summary (Goodreads): Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

 


Review:

So the premise of this novel was very interesting. I loved the idea of putting a story about the fae in a modern setting. Usually, you only read about characters being transported to the world of the fae or vice versa, so it was refreshing to have this element of magical realism/urban fantasy in the story.

But while the story started off well, it didn’t stay that way. Something about the way the story was presented just didn’t hold my attention. I wasn’t really able to pinpoint if it was the writing style itself or the plot, but it just felt a bit bland compared to the description I was given at the beginning. I was missing that building tension, that darkness that this novel was promising to deliver.

Some of my unhappiness with the story can also be attributed to the portrayal of the characters: it just wasn’t done very well. They just lacked personality and I couldn’t feel a connection to them – or between them. There were quite a few instances of romance in the story but it just felt so unnatural and forced; it was more of an insta-love situation than a gradual buildup of emotion. Even the fact that there was an LGBTQ+ presence couldn’t save it.

Maybe it was the poor characterization. Or maybe it was my expectations for a dark and creepy tale. Either way, this novel let me down. Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t try other books by Holly Black. I clearly LOVED The Cruel Prince. However, this is one of her earlier books and it may just not have been my cup of tea. I’m giving this story a 2/5 stars, but I am definitely not giving up on this author!

2 star

Happy reading ~

A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan

I read this book back in March but I wanted to time my review to be closer to the release date so that it could be more relevant for readers! Thank you to Edelweiss for the review copy in exchange for my honest review.

I love mythology and seeing that this book is inspired by the story of King Midas was one of its biggest selling points. I was excited to see how the author would take the original story and put some life into it!

36575823Summary (Goodreads): King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.
Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?


Review: I wish I could say this book earned high praise from me. But I can’t. This book, with its amazing premise, fell short of my expectations and ended up being just like every other generic teen fantasy novel out there.

Let me start by saying that the writing was very nice. There was consistency in flow and voice, so that it was easy for the reader to stay immersed within the story. I wouldn’t say that the world-building was terribly unique; there was a little bit of name-dropping but other than that, the details of the world were quite sparse. However, I wasn’t too bothered with it.

Unfortunately, the writing is the only positive thing I can say about this book. Everything else was just too cookie-cutter for me to enjoy.

First of all, we are shown our main character who is naive to a fault, and is scared of everything. She is your typical plain heroine who needs someone to save her and make her feel better about, well, everything. I really dislike main characters who are dependent on others and don’t do anything on their own. So this novel automatically got one strike from me.

The next problem I had with this novel was that it was predictable. SO predictable. By the time I finished a quarter of the book, I had already figured out how everything would work. And I was right about almost everything. I pegged the villains perfectly as well as the love interest. I was also able to figure out the direction of the story. I hate that I was able to guess everything right away because I immediately lost interest in the story; there was nothing new to it so I just couldn’t care. I liked the pirate aspect of the novel, which I thought was very unique. But there wasn’t enough of it and it wasn’t developed very well. If I had to describe this novel, I would say that this is more about Kora’s insecurities than about her quest to save her father. Everywhere you turn, you have to brace yourself against Kora’s need for others to help her and her inability to figure anything out for herself. All of the action was mired by this intense focus, and that is such a shame because this novel had so much potential.

I think that this novel is for a very juvenile audience, and for those who love romance and insecure protagonists. I was expecting a story rich in mythology and with plenty of adventure. Instead, I was saddled with Kora and a plot that was too simplistic to hold my attention. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 1.5/5 stars, rounded to 2.

Happy reading ~

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope [BLOG TOUR]

I’m so stoked to be a part of the blog tour organized by St. Martin’s Press and the author!

Song of Blood & Stone_cover image.jpgSummary: Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.
Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

Here is an excerpt from this book:

Jack had found himself in a great many hopeless situations in his life, but this one was the grand champion—a twenty­two­year rec­ord for dire occurrences. He only hoped this wouldn’t be the last occurrence and sent up yet another prayer that he might live to see his twenty­third year. The temperature had dropped precipitously. His spine was as­saulted by the rocky ground on which he lay, but really that was the least of his discomforts. His vision had begun to swim about an hour ago, and so at first he thought the girl looming above him was a mirage. She peered down at his hiding spot behind a cluster of coarse shrubbery, her
head cocked at an angle. Jack went to stand, years of breeding kick­ing in, his muscle memory offended at the idea of not standing in the presence of a lady, but apparently his muscles had forgotten the bullet currently lodged within them. And the girl was Lagrimari— not strictly a lady, but a woman nonetheless—and a beautiful one, he noticed as he squinted into the dying light. Wild, midnight curls floated carelessly around her head, and piercing dark eyes regarded him. Her dress was drab and tattered, but her smooth skin was a
confectioner’s delight. His stomach growled. When was the last time he’d eaten?
Her presence meant he was still on the Lagrimari side of the mountain range bordering the two lands and had yet to cross the other, more powerful barrier keeping him from his home of Elsira: the Mantle. The girl frowned down at him, taking in his bedraggled appear­ance. From his position lying on the ground, he tried his best to smooth his ripped uniform, the green fatigues of the Lagrimari
army. Her confusion was apparent. Jack was obviously Elsiran; aside from his skin tone, the ginger hair and golden honey­colored eyes were a dead giveaway. And yet he wore the uniform of his enemy.
“Please don’t be scared,” he said in Lagrimari. Her brows rose toward her hairline as she scanned his supine and bloodied body. Well, that was rather a ridiculous thing to say. “I only meant that I mean you no harm. I . . .” He struggled with how to explain him­self. There were two possibilities. She could be a nationalist who would turn him in to the squad of soldiers currently combing the mountain for him, perhaps to gain favor with the government, or she could be like so many Lagrimari citizens, beaten down by the war with no real loyalty to their dictator or his thugs. If she was the former, he was already dead, so he took a chance with the truth. “You see, I was undercover, spying from within the Lagrimari army. But now there are men looking for me, they’re not far, but . . .” He paused to take a breath; the effort of speaking was draining. He suspected he had several cracked or broken ribs in addition to the
gunshot wound. His vision swirled again, and the girl turned into two. Two beautiful girls. If these were his last moments before traveling to the World After, then at least he had something pleas­ant to look at. He blinked rapidly and took another strained breath. His mis­sion was not complete; he could not die yet. “Can you help me? Please. I’ve got to get back to Elsira.” She stole an anxious glance skyward before kneeling next to him. Her cool hand moved to his forehead. The simple touch was soothing, and a wave of tension rolled of him. “You must be delirious.” Her voice was rich, deeper than he’d expected. It eased the harsh consonants of the Lagrimari language, for the first time making it sound like something he could imagine being pleasant to listen to. She worked at the remaining buttons of his shirt, pulling the fabric apart to reveal his ruined chest. Her expression was appraising as she viewed the damage, then sat back on her haunches, pensive.
“It probably looks worse than it is,” he said.
“I doubt that.”
Jack’s chuckle sounded deranged to his own ears, so it was no surprise that the girl looked at him askance. He winced—laughing was a bad idea at this point—and struggled for breath again.“The soldiers . . . they’re after me. I have to get back through the Mantle.”
“Shh,” she said, peering closely at him. “Hush all that foolish­ness; you’re not in your right mind. Though I’ll admit, you speak Lagrimari surprisingly well. I’m not sure what happened to you, but you should save your strength.” She closed her eyes, and suddenly his whole body grew warmer, lighter. The odd sensation of Earthsong pulsated through him. He had only experienced it once before, and it hadn’t been quite like this. The touch of her magic stroked him intimately, like a brush of fingers across his skin. The soft vibration cascaded over his entire body, leaving him feeling weightless. He gasped, pulling in a breath, and it was very nearly an easy thing to accomplish. Tears pricked his eyes. “Sovereign bless you.” Her expression was grave as she dug around in her bag. “It’s just a patch. You must have ticked someone of real good. It’d take quite a while to fix you up properly, and the storm’s coming. You need to
find shelter.” She retrieved a jar filled with a sweet­smelling substance and
began spreading it over his wounds. The Earthsong had turned down the volume of his pain, and the cream soothed him even more.
“What is that?”
“Just a balm. Helps with burns, cuts.” Her hand paused for a moment. “Never gunshot wounds, but it’s worth a try.” He laid his head back on the ground, closing his eyes to savor the ability to breathe deeply again. “A quick rest and I’ll be back on my way. Need to keep moving, though. Need to get back.”
“Back through the Mantle?” Her tone vibrated with skepticism. “And away from the Lagrimari soldiers chasing you?”
“Yes.” Her palm met his forehead again. She thought he was delusional. He wished he was. Wished the last few weeks had been nothing but the imaginings of an impaired mind.

Be sure to check out this book – it is out today! If you like fantasy and clashing kingdoms, then this is a novel worth checking out!

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

I was super excited for this novel because it sounded like such an amazingly dark retelling of The Little Mermaid. I’ve always loved this classic tale and I have been hearing raving reviews so I knew I had to give it a go! Here is my review:

34499221Summary (Goodreads): Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?


My Rating:  5 star

Review: I cannot praise this novel enough: this was definitely a book worth reading! Everything in this novel was absolutely perfect and I don’t have a single complaint.

The tale is told in alternating voices, one being Lira’s and the other being Elian’s. They are both wonderfully drawn-up characters with so much complexity that it becomes very easy for the reader to connect with them. I love that they both grow and change as the novel continues and their interactions with each other were spectacular. Clearly, they are going to be each other’s love interest so I knew I was going to get romance. But let me tell you, the romance angle is done so very well here! There are no pesky love triangles, no unnecessary drama. Their feelings develop in such a natural and unique way, and I absolutely loved it. I was rooting for them from the beginning!

The writing was just beautiful. The author had some amazing worldbuilding and there was so much attention to detail! Every kingdom had its unique feature and the author made it all memorable with her beautiful descriptions. As I was reading, I could picture everything in my head and it just came alive.

This really was the Little Mermaid reimagined. It started off dark and stayed that way throughout. I could definitely make out the elements that were similar to the classic tale I love but so much of it was made unique that it felt like I was reading a completely different story. Balancing the classic element with the infusion of new components is a tough feat – but the author nailed it.

Clearly, I loved this novel. It is an amazing story with wonderful worldbuilding and memorable characters. If you like retellings or if you like fantasy or stories with pirates and mermaids and sirens and dark elements, then you have GOT to check this book out! I’m giving it a 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I’m going to start with a confession: when I heard about this book I was nervous that it was going to be just hype and not live up to my expectations. NEVER HAVE I BEEN SO HAPPY TO BE WRONG!

35297394Summary (Goodreads): Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


Review: This is hands-down one of my favourite books I’ve read this month.

At first, I was a little confused as to where the story was going to go. The writing style was very elegant but the events seemed a little too teenager-y for my taste. I was worried I wouldn’t like this book….

AND THEN IT ALL CHANGED.

The ghostliness of the story became the forefront and it was just amazing. I loved the atmosphere of this novel, with its haunting imagery and creepy scenes. It delivered on so many fronts. Every chapter began with a small section about the 3 sisters who were responsible for the curse on the island and these excerpts were so intriguing! The entire reading experience was just fantastic.

Even though I had already predicted the biggest twist in the story, I found myself enjoying the story so much that I didn’t care. I didn’t need for there to be that massive surprise when the quality of the storytelling was just so good!

I also quite liked the interactions between the different characters. I didn’t think I would since I’m not a big fan of romance, but it was done very nicely here, and I was able to really connect with the characters. Needless to say, I was pretty emotional when I got to the ending – but that’s when you know you’ve read something amazing!

I honestly cannot say enough about this book because I just loved every minute of it. If you like romance and ghostly encounters and witches and amazing writing, then check out this book! I’m giving it 5/5 stars!

Happy reading ~

Revolt by Tracy Lawson – The Resistance #4

Thank you to the author for giving me an audiobook copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been solicited.

Finally, we have reached the last installment in this series! I know I don’t read a lot of teen dystopian books, but seriously, this was really good! Here’s what I thought about this novel:

Summary (Goodreads): Fugitive Resistance fighter Tommy Bailey has come out of hiding to help rescue Careen Catecher from the clutches of the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, where she’s been held and interrogated for information about the rebel group. The OCSD is poised to launch the Cerberean Link, a security device that will put all minors under constant surveillance under the guise of protecting them.

Fearful that OCSD director Madalyn Davies’s bid for control won’t stop there, the Resistance puts its own plan in motion to sabotage the Link and oust Madalyn from the directorship. Just when everything seems leveraged in the Resistance’s favor, treachery, lies, and long-held secrets threaten to derail it all.

Will even a life together on the run be impossible for Tommy and Careen? Or will the Resistance’s efforts convince the public to put their fears aside and demand freedom?


Review: What I love about this series is that it is so easy to catch up on events and the plot. The author always creates segues that remind the reader of what happened in the previous books, which really helps make connections stick. It’s not something one sees all the time in a series, but it is definitely appreciated!

I didn’t love this book as much as I did the other books in the series. Mind you, this was still a very good novel. However, it didn’t have as much action as I had hoped and the story was a tad bit predictable.

With that being said, I still really loved the plot. The author gives a really well-rounded picture of the entire scenario. We see how the citizens feel, we see how the politicians think, and we even get to see the divisions within the Resistance itself. It made the story so much more realistic; I could easily envision a situation like this one happening in our world right now and I would feel just as conflicted as some of the characters and people mentioned in the book. That has always been the highlight for me in this series and the author continues to make the story as real as possible in this book.

I also really like the way the characters were developed. It was so easy to connect with them and to understand them. If a character wasn’t as developed in one book, you can be sure that it will happen in one of the other stories. By the end of the series, I felt like I had a good handle on everyone.

Overall, I really liked this entire series. I loved the audiobook experience, and the narrator did a fantastic job! I liked the realistic nature of this dystopian novel and the way the author portrayed realistic interactions between different characters. The plot made sense, and the story ended nicely enough, if a bit predictable. All in all, it gets a solid 4/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I rarely read contemporaries. It’s not that I have anything against them, it’s just that I love reading fantasy, thrillers, and science fiction books so much that I don’t have time for other genres. However, the cover and description for this book intrigued me enough that I wanted to try it. Here is my review:

35297272Summary (Goodreads): For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.


Review: I wasn’t expecting to love this novel as much as I did. But yeah, I loved it! I actually could not pull myself away from this book!

I think that the characters in this book were absolutely brilliant. I loved that our protagonists were so different from others, and yet, were easy for the reader to relate to. Their way of thinking isn’t something that is so out of the ordinary, it’s just the way they express themselves that is so unique. I loved how these two got closer to each other and I liked that the author used text messages as the main platform for their communication; any time an author uses a different medium and structures passages from their books in that format, I love it.

This novel didn’t have a super speedy plot. It was definitely a slow burner but that meant there was plenty of time for the relationship to develop between Penny and Sam. I think that in order for the romance, which is the main focus of the story, to develop properly, it needed to take as much time as it did to be successful. So I really didn’t mind the slower plot. And it honestly didn’t feel that slow to me! I chalk it up to the really great writing and the way that the author allows the readers to connect with the different characters; I was too invested to care about how slow the story was moving!

However, there were certain things about this book that weren’t handled as well. The author creates two characters that have a whole bunch of other issues and traumas in their life. Slowly, we find out what these traumatic incidents/issues are … but they don’t get properly addressed or resolved. They are put in there to explain certain aspects of behaviour, but are easily dismissed or “fixed”. This annoyed me a bit because it’s a very unrealistic portrayal of how people cope and change over time. If this had been properly executed, I would probably have given a higher rating. Better yet, why even include those aspects if they don’t play a central role to the story or won’t be addressed properly? The story wouldn’t have suffered without their inclusion, and I really don’t get why so many authors feel the need to introduce traumatic pasts into their characters’ lives.

Despite this last issue, I still really enjoyed this novel. It exceeded my expectations in a lot of ways and it was an engrossing story. I fell for the characters and their romance, so for those reasons, I’m giving this a 4/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

 

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Since you all know me and my tendencies to read hyped books, you know why I read this book. No need to give any further commentary than that. So let’s just move on to the review:

19547856Summary (Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.


Review: I’m a little scared to write my review. I liked this novel and found it a very fast and good read. But I didn’t love it.

I don’t read many contemporary books, especially not cute ones. This is definitely a cute novel, and it had me smiling quite a lot. Simon is a very sassy character and I love all of the craziness he gets involved in. I absolutely adored the email correspondences because they were so genuine.

But I didn’t like Simon himself. I’m not saying that Simon has to be a perfect character; I love when the authors make their characters flawed. But Simon was a little too obnoxious and mean for me to like at times. I don’t think he was ever a good friend. And that bothered me a lot. The author gives Simon such an amazing support system with his family members and friends. But he is kind of an asshole and he’s also fickle. And every time he did something or said/thought something that wasn’t so nice, it made me distance myself from him. Even once he recognized he was wrong, there wasn’t really any remorse from him, and I think this bothered me more. I mean, if we’re gonna go cutesy, you might as well go all the way and make him a more caring person at the end of it all.

However, I think this novel raises some very important issues regarding sexual orientation. And I think the story handles it very well and presents these ideas to the public in a way that will make everyone understand what it feels like to be something other than heterosexual. Ultimately, this story is upbeat and full of hope and positivity, and I came out of this novel feeling happy. For once, the romance is amazingly realistic and sweet and it made me feel the emotions. To me, these are the things that make this book so great.

I finished this novel with a smile on my face, and with a better understanding about the struggles of the lgbtqia+ community (and everyone can always do with understanding more about this). For those reasons, I’m giving this a 3.5/5 stars, rounded to 4.

Happy reading ~

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

When I heard about this book, I thought it would be really interesting. I’ve been trying to read more books that take place in space because I’ve started really liking space adventures. When I went to borrow this book from the library, I was really confused to find out there were only 60 pages. Then someone told me that this was an excerpt that was released before the book and that the actual story was about 500 pages. I decided to try an audiobook format for this novel because of its length so some of my comments may pertain to the audiobook reading and may differ from those who just read the physical book or ebook. But enough blabbing, here are my thoughts:

31394234Summary (Goodreads): Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.


Review: Alright, well, I’ll be honest here: I did not like this book at all. The authors promised a lot … but I didn’t feel like they delivered. There was just so much that didn’t work with this book!

First of all, THE SUMMARY IS A LIE. Why do I say that? Because it paints a prettier picture of this book than it deserves.

First of all, the story is not at all about a badass group of females. It’s about Androma and her love story. The other girls on the Marauder are barely given a thought. In a story that has tons of different perspectives, only one of the girls is given her time in the spotlight – and her POV literally added nothing to the story. I never got a good sense of the other characters, never witnessed this close connection between them that apparently existed. It was definitely disappointing.

The story is also not that interesting. The entire premise is that Androma and her crew are supposed to rescue someone on behalf of a man who hates Androma and she must work with her enemy/former lover. This whole mission occurs by Chapter 36. The rest of the story is just flashbacks and dithering around as Androma and her lover/enemy work things out.

Did I mention that there are a TON of POVs? Because there are. A TON. And they just make for the most confusing thing in the world. I’m glad that in the audiobook version, they had multiple narrators to try and help keep all of the different perspectives separate but it was still extremely difficult. And again, I had feelings of complete apathy towards all of the characters and POVs. I just didn’t care about any of them.

I also had a problem with Androma’s character. She sucked. She was boring and whiny and not a “bloody baroness” at all. Her persona doesn’t make sense to me at all. She is supposed to relish killing and fighting. And yet, she spends most of her time mourning over the people she kills. She also is supposed to be fierce about her crew … but she obsesses more about her romantic interest. Her character was just not what I was hoping to get.

In the end, this novel just had too many negative factors to it. The plot was boring, the cast of characters had no depth, and the story fell into too many familiar tropes … but the tropes weren’t carried out well enough to justify that. I’m going to have to give this book a 1/5 star rating.

Happy reading ~