Monday, March 30, 2015

Early Unraveling of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Title: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Series: N/A
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: YA LGBT Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April 7, 2015

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.
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My Thoughts

A copy was provided through Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for review consideration

This was a lovely, cute, heartwarming and yet serious read. Albertalli managed to include very serious subjects delivered by a fun and insightful cast of characters.

There is talk of gay bashing, bullying, some racism, but also a bigger than life family dynamic (Yay for parents not being dead/distant/uninvolved!), close sibling relationships, great friendships of all kinds, and such a cute romance!

Simon is being blackmailed because he isn't ready to come out, Martin is a hard character to hate even if he is the one doing the blackmailing. Actually I wanted to hate a few characters here, but I just couldn't. They all worm their way into your heart, plop down and that's it. 

See Martin wants access to Abby this apparently gorgeous, smart, cheerleader who is one of Simon's best friends. I wanted to hate Abby, cause everyone just seemed in love with her or something, but she is a great friend to Simon, so I really couldn't.

While all of that is going on Simon is losing the battle of his heart for Blue. He knows Blue is a kid from his Junior class, but that's it and the progression of their romance through emails was heartwarming :)

I'm not saying this was perfect because there were some things I had issues with and I'm usually not a lover of contemporary books, but this was a great addition to the genre.

Another excellent debut for 2015 ;)

It is definitely annoying that straight (and white, for that matter) is the default, and that the only people who have to think about their identity are the ones who don't fit that mold. Straight people really should have to come out, and the more awkward it is, the better. Awkwardness should be a requirement. I guess this is sort of our version of the Homosexual Agenda?

The Homosexual Agenda? I don't know. I think it's more like the Homo Sapiens Agenda. That's really the point, right?


Would I Recommend it?

    Monday, February 2, 2015

    Early Unraveling of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

    Title: Red Queen
    Series: Red Queen Book One
    Author: Victoria Aveyard
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Publication Date: February 10, 2015

    Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn't know she had. Except . . . her blood is Red.

    To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

    From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.
      photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg 


    My Thoughts

    A copy was provided through Edelweiss and HarperTeen for review consideration

    I don't know. I saw that coming, I did, but I just REALLY didn't want it to happen and then all that shit happened and now...Now I'm just really bummed...

    While I really enjoyed this book, there still some things that I would have wanted more from. For being a fantasy it's quite lacking in world building. I don't know if this world is in the same style as Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns, where after modern humanity killed it self off they had to start from 0 again and it's been 1000s of years later.

    This is kind of what I gathered what with the bit of electronics and techies in use and the mention of radiation and stuff, but I honestly have NO CLUE what the hell happened. Also there is a war going on right now with the Lakelanders that's been going on for 100s of years and I don't even know what's the deal behind that. Not really. Some vague explanation was given but not good enough.

    Then there is the idea of the Silvers and Reds. It's a cool idea, reminiscent of X-Men but what happened to bring about the Silvers? Are we supposed to believe it was just evolution doing it's thing? I just don't know enough, and I'd very much like to.

    I liked the characters, I didn't LOVE any of them, but I liked them. I loved Mara's relationship with her family. Adored her brothers, but they didn't get enough page time.

    I can't really talk too much about the romance. It was good? But not really? But actually yes? You just really have to read it and find out.

    All in all, hats off to Victoria Aveyard for a great debut novel. Looking forward to the next one!


    Would I Recommend it?

      Monday, October 6, 2014

      Early Unraveling of Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

      Title: Snow Like Ashes
      Series: Snow Like Ashes Book One
      Author: Sara Raasch
      Genre: YA Fantasy
      Publication Date: October 14, 2014

      A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

      Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

      Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

      So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
        photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg 


      My Thoughts

      A copy was provided through Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for review consideration

      Snow Like Ashes is a hard book to rate. It wasn't bad but it wasn't that good either. It had all the right elements but not enough of them. 

      Characters. We have Meira our MC, all she wants to do is prove herself to Sir and to Winter, to prove that she matters, that she's needed. She is feisty, she fight back, she is smart, but she isn't smart enough, her fighting back sometimes turns into just being bratty and her feistyness turns annoying at times. I didn't like Mather and sure as hell didn't like Sir, the rest of the characters were all too superficial to really say if I liked them or not, they were just there.

      World building. I liked it, but I wouldn't have minded some more from it. It's obvious why the Seasons are called Seasons. They are perpetually in that season, but why are the Rhythms called Rhythms? What makes them them? Primoria didn't always have magic, so how was it before then? We get a convulted history of how magic came to be in Primoria, but It's still a bit superficial. I don't understand how the conduits work exactly, how they are tied to the bloodline and the country instead of just anyone getting the item and using it. Basically why are they special if the process of imbuing the item was the same? And what exactly can you do with it? What are their limitations? This was all very vague.

      Plot. Saw it coming a mile away. This was actually a really bad thing. Usually predicting what's going to happen isn't neccesarily bad, you just lose a bit of that sense of suspense and surprise. The problem with that here was that, not only did I know what was going to happen by the 10% mark, Raasch kept throwing glaring hints throughout the book and I had to keep gritting my teeth and just waiting till it was finally revealed, and it was frustrating as hell. I know what's going to happen, you don't need to keep throwing not-so-subtle hints in my face and then doing absolutely nothing about it! When it finally came I was just glad they had all caught up with the program so we could get to the juicy part. Which we did, but it was short lived and obvious and I just wanted more. 

      Another thing was the motivation behind this whole book. The driving force of Angar destroying Winter. I know why Cordell wants in I just don't get why Angar is so ruthless in his take down of Winter. If it was because of the magic, he should have done the same with Autumn, Spring, and Summer, but he didn't. It was always against Winter. Sure now that Autumn is weak he'll go in for the kill. It's an opportunity, it's not what he is doing to Winter. His answer when Meira asks? Winter is standing in the way of his power...Whatever the hell that means. After reading the whole book and still not even getting an understanding behind the driving force of the plot is just not done. Even if I had the wrong one, but at the time it felt right is more than enough, but not left wondering what's the point of the book.

      Romance. Yes, there is a love triangle. No, it's not a good one. I don't even know why it's needed. I could have done without and saved myself about 20% of the book dealing with this crap. It was annoying. I did however like Theron, so there is that.

      Pacing. It was way off. Starts strong for the first 10% then just drags like hell for another 40% then it picks up again, then drags a bit again for another 10-20% and then we finally get to the good part which only lasted 30%. 

      I could have done without close to half the book basically. Seriously, this could have been condensed a lot and invested instead a lot more in the last part. Would have made for a far more interesting book. If you are wondering how bad it dragged, I was ready to give up at the 43% mark and while it did get better it just wasn't enough.


      Would I Recommend it?


      Other books in the Snow Like Ashes Trilogy:

      Monday, September 29, 2014

      Early Unraveling of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

      Title: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
      Series: N/A
      Author: Sara Farizan
      Genre: YA LGBT Contemporary Romance
      Publication Date: October 7, 2014
      Both personal and universal, this is a compelling story about high school, family and owning up to who you really are. Farizan is just the voice YA needs right now. Trust me, you'll be glad you listened. --Sarah Dessen

      High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual.

      Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia's confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own."
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      My Thoughts

      A copy was provided through NetGalley and Algonquin Books for review consideration

      My first f/f book and it was a pleasantly good one filled with great humor.

      I'm a sucker for a book that makes me laugh, and this one accomplished that multiple times. I could relate so much to all these wonderful characters it was a joy.
      "I don't know, Leila. I kind of feel like running today."
      "Are you kidding me? Why do you want to kill yourself for no reason?"
      "It's not for no reason. Running can be an enjoyable experience." I look at her in bewilderment.
      I loved Leila for the most part. I just didn't like how she was when she was around Saskia, but other than that she was awesome. She was very down to earth, clever, funny, and sweet. She is very thoughtful towards her friends and fiercely protective of them. She can also fake an illness like it's nobody's business. Bear in mind her dad is a doctor.
      So I've been faking sick for three days. I decided on a stomachache as my illness, since it doesn't require a fever. Dad has been inspecting me, but they don't know I've been going to WebMD to make sure my symptoms remain accurate.
      Fake running during PE class? Go to the water fountain and sprinkle water under the arms and face to simulate sweat. Lovely.

      Saskia was one scary as hell character. I didn't like her at all. The shit she came up with was just O.O Who does that?! As Leila so eloquently put it:
      This bitch is crazy.
      Yes, yes she was. Scary as hell. Her involvement and how Leila initially reacted to her was the only thing I didn't like about this book, but I also know that it was necessary for Leila's development, but I still don't have to like it.

      Ultimately, this was about Leila coming to terms with who she is and not having to hide such an important part of who she is anymore. She starts accidentally coming out to those close to her and watching her finally sum up the courage to come out to her mom was hard. Her family is Persian and they are very traditional, but they are also like any other family. They all love Leila and want what's best for her no matter what. I loved how much they supported each other :)

      To the romance! All I'm saying:
      "I kind of can't believe you like me," I say. "I mean, I fart at inappropriate times, I never know what to do with my hair, I'm awkward... I just don't get it."
      "You are also beautiful and kind, and you know me better than anyone else. Plus, everyone farts." Swoon.
      "If you need me to be gushy, I can be. It's just not what I'm used to. But if you need me to reassure you that you're my love nugget, or whatever the hell it is people say these days, I can try."


      Would I Recommend it?

        Wednesday, September 24, 2014

        Unraveling: Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

        Title: Unmade
        Series: The Lynburn Legacy Book Three
        Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
        Genre: YA Paranormal
        Publication Date: September 23, 2014

        Who will be the sacrifice?

        Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

        Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

        This final book in the Lynburn Legacy is a wild, entertaining ride from beginning to shocking end.
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        My Thoughts

        A copy was provided through Edelweiss and HaperCollins in exchange for an honest review

        Disappointed. Pissed. Underwhelmed. What was that ending?!

        What is up with all these horrible end-of-trilogy books this year? It's just one after the other and they all suck, frankly. Sad, so very sad.

        It started out a bit exciting and somewhat funny. Got a few chuckles and little smiles out of me. Then it started getting the rolling eyes and frustrated sighs, and can we PLEASE JUST MOVE ON FROM THE JOKES. Yes, I get that it's a very depressing and horrible time in your lives but the jokes are killing the mood and my enthusiasm.

        After the 30% mark the plot stood at a standstill. We, the readers, along with the characters had to wait till a certain date for them to make their move. Too bad the waiting took 50% of the book and with it it's bad jokes and mood killing.

        We get to DDay and WOW, JUST WOW. Can not believe THAT happened. I cried. Actual tears slid down my eyes. (I can count in one hand how many times a book has made me cry). After THAT happened, I was just numb through the rest of the finale and even if I wasn't it was a shitty finale.

        The Finale? This is what I got from it:

        Kami did some of this:

        Then some of this:

        And then finally some of this:

        And that was it.
        The End.
        Thanks for reading guys!

        P.S: Did I mention I didn't like this?


        Would I Recommend it?


        Monday, September 8, 2014

        Early Unraveling of The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas

        Title: The Perilous Sea
        Series: The Elemental Trilogy Book Two
        Author: Sherry Thomas
        Genre: YA Fantasy
        Publication Date: September 16, 2014

        After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

        Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.
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        My Thoughts

        A copy was provided through Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for review consideration

        Finally got around to reading this ARC. I've been meaning to read it but since I've started getting fed up with most YAs I kept putting it off. Yes, I'm getting fed up with the silly, sometimes vapid and unnecessary angsty shit that goes down, but I digress.

        I'm glad I picked this one up! I adored the first book, and while I didn't love this one quite as much it was still very good. It did suffer slightly from second book syndrome, but it was very passable. The plot overall didn't really progress all that much, that's not to say that nothing happened in the book, because it did. There was still fighting, magical fighting, calling down lightning and all kinds of goodys. In small doses but still there.

        The Perilous Sea centers more on all the small details and puzzle pieces that were missing in the previous book. It answers basically all the questions that were raised in The Burning Sky. Therefore the rest of the book was mostly Titus, Iolanthe and the gang pulling all the isolated pieces of information that they had, following those threads and finally emerging with the complete picture and holy hell I did NOT see that picture at all. This almost never happens. I can usually follow where the plot is going fairly easy, but the revelations kept coming in this one and I just couldn't keep up. I was being bombarded from all sides till I just gave up trying to piece things myself and took it as it came. Which was great actually.

        I was a bit disappointed with Titus for a good portion of the book as well. I adored him in the last one. He is so capable and always on top of things and then, 
        fairly early in the book, he looses himself. He looses that confidence that made him assertive and able to command people and take charge of his actions, and well, it pissed me off! Because the reason behind this hiccup was just so stupid (in my mind anyway) I just couldn't understand why he couldn't just say fuck it and do his own thing. This truth that was revealed to him broke him for a good chunk of the book and I was just so sad/pissed, but he totally made up for it with his little speech at the end :)
        “The Master of the Domain will consider delivering a cubic mile of elephant excrement into the care of Atlantis, but nothing else. And he extends his warmest greetings to the Lord High Commander. Soon may the Lord High Commander depart for the Void, where he is long overdue.”
        With the way things ended here I CAN'T WAIT for next book! :D

        The war against Atlantis had begun at last.

        BRING ITTTT!


        Would I Recommend it?


        Other books in The Elemental Trilogy:

        Wednesday, September 3, 2014

        Early Unraveling of Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

        Title: Illusions of Fate
        Series: N/A
        Author: Kiersten White
        Genre: YA Paranormal, Fantasy
        Publication Date: September 9, 2014

        “I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

        Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.
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        My Thoughts

        A copy was provided through Edelweiss and HarperTeen for review consideration

        "I long for the security of the world I lived in yesterday, but it is lost to me forever."

        This is definitely Kiersten White's best work so far.

        Best way to describe this is as a fluffy fantasy/paranormal. Why fluffy? Cause one of the mayor points in fantasy is world building and we only get the bare minimum of that here. It was enough to get the plot and everything going but it was still lacking some fleshing out.

        As for the rest it was quite good! The characters were lovely. We have Jessamine our mc who is headstrong, but still thoughtful, witty, but not to the point of being bitchy. She was great.

        Really liked Finn as well and the romance between the two was just lovely :)

        He follows my eyes and curses, then slides his hands beneath my legs and back. "What are you doing?"
        "Picking you up so we can run!"
        "Don't be daft, my hand is broken, not my feet!"
        "Right, that was stupid. Stupid."

        But hands down the best character was Sir Bird.

        "One of the familiars is with you!" He raises his cane, eyes blazing with murder toward Sir Bird.
        "Don't you dare!" I hunch my shoulders around Sir Bird, angling him away from Finn.
        "We haven't time for this!"
        "So keep running!"
        "That bird belongs to him."
        "This bird saved my life."
        "I am saving your life!"
        "You were ready to give in! I saved my own life. You are simply keeping me company on this leg of my escape." Sir Bird caws brokenly in support of my statement.

        Between the great dialogue, the witty banter, and Sir Bird, and the plot kept moving right along and it made for a quick fun read.


        Would I Recommend it?

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