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rashikathebookowl

Rashika, The Book Owl

So my name is Rashika and I am weird. I read a lot (duh) and I watch a lot of TV. I also like to review. Check out my blog (where I co-blog with awesome people).

Could have done a better job dealing with mental health but was still pretty good

Mirage - Tracy Clark

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

My feelings about this book are complicated because while I thoroughly enjoyed it, Mirage walks a thin line between dealing with mental health and being a thriller and the two don’t overlap in a way which allows both things to be explored and established completely.

What the book does do well is teenagers. Teens who have sex, who make bad decisions, who drink and party, have sex, take risks, fall in love, fuck up friendships, everything. Tracy Clark has such a nice balance between all of things where various things define these characters rather than just what they do when they aren’t working. They are more than just what they do, they are defined by their relationships with the people around them, they are defined by their relationship struggles, they just are.

My initial reason for being drawn to this book was that it was a psychological thriller and I love my psychological thrillers. The problem was that the psychological thrillerness aspect of this book came at the cost of having a real discussion about mental illness. I honestly don’t know what words to use to put this better and make my criticism spoiler free but I feel like the book tried to hard to be a psychological thriller that it kind of just dismissed mental health issues when it could have engaged in them and had a discussion and just been all around better for doing that?

Having said that, this book features so many wonderful relationships I could cry. Ryan has a best friend who she is super close with even though he doesn’t really like her boyfriend. She has a boyfriend who in spite of not being liked by this best friend isn’t actually sketchy. He is actually pretty sweet for the most part and a little like Ryan herself. He makes bad decisions but also, he genuinely loves and cares for Ryan and that is obvious. Ryan also has a complicated relationship with her parents because her dad has PTSD but one of the most important things about their relationship is that even though they all hurt each other from time to time, they love one another and it’s okay to not be an obnoxiously happy family all the time.

The plot could have been a little bit more well put together so that the book felt a little bit more like a thriller/mystery but I adored the setting and the uniqueness of it. How many books have you read that are set in a skydiving center?

One thing I can say for certain though is that I did have fun reading the book and it went by really fast. There are some issues and it isn’t perfect but it worth the read if you are looking for something quick to read that will have you invested.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

4

Mostly a winner

Gambled Away: A Historical Romance Anthology - Rose Lerner, Molly O'Keefe, Joanna Bourne, Jeannie Lin, Isabel Cooper

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

All or Nothing by Rose Lerner

This was easily my favorite short story in this anthology and not just because it had a Jewish character and a bi character. There is just something about Rose Lerner’s story-telling style that manages to sweep you off your feet and make you so invested in a story that not even extreme tiredness can stop you from finishing. Her stories are always engaging and rarely ever have dull moments. All or Nothing tells the story of struggling architect Simon Radcliffe-Gould who is starting to feel burned out because he really cannot seem to make a living off of his chosen career. He wins a bet that allows him to ‘have’ Maggie da Silva for the time period in which her best friend (and sexual partner) is gone taking care of business and instead of taking advantage, he basically takes her to his ex flame’s house party so he doesn’t have to deal with him and his advances. Basically, a slow burn kind of romance happens between Maggie and Simon as they learn more about each other and sparks fly. YAY.

The Liar’s Dice by Jeannie Lin

This short story was really fucking great. It wasn’t my favorite but it came really really close. It isn’t as romance oriented, focuses more on the mystery aspect, is set in China (AND NOT IN the UK/US where most HRs seem to be set) and has a wonderful, dark atmosphere. The subtle romance is just enough to get my heart beating and I REALLY REALLY want an entire novel with the two main characters of this short story. I need to know all the things about them. Either way, I know I have a new author to add to my TBR list.

Raising The Stakes by Isabel Cooper

I don’t really know how I felt about Raising the Stakes. I don’t usually mind magic in my HRs but the magical elements in this short don’t really work for me. Sam, the mc, is pretty darn awesome and badass in that she is a con artist but Talathan--who is fae (I think???)--does not work for me at all as a character. I have 0 emotional attachment to him and therefore care nothing about his presence and contribution to the story. I do think that is just a ‘me’ thing though.

Redeemed by Molly O’Keefe

If you like tortured heros and heroines, this short will 100% be for you. The best part about this short story is that just because the characters are ‘tortured’ doesn’t mean they are angsty. O’Keefe does a great job of characterizing them through and outside their torturedness. They have legit reasons to be the way they are given the horrors they have lived through but they also exist outside of those bad things. They can both be charming, sweet, courageous and awesome. The best thing about this short story is that even though is technically a short story, it is well plotted and well thought out. It functions like an entire novel instead of just a short novella that leaves you wanting more. Basically Redeemed is another winner for this anthology.

Gideon and the Den of Thieves by Joanna Bourne

In theory, I like a lot about this short story but really, I struggled with it because it almost seemed too lengthy. This short story is exciting, features a rescue and lots of other fun things but I literally did not connect with the MC and the love interest. They seemed very bland and more like plot devices than actual characters. It makes sense because the plot of this short is great but the characters made it so that I couldn’t actually enjoy this short in the ways I wanted to. That isn’t to see that all the characters sucked but the two that I should have liked, I couldn’t and that made it really hard to enjoy this story.


Overall, with me more than liking ⅗ of the short stories in this anthologies, I can safely say that Gambled Away is a winner. It features diversity of characters and locations and very well worth the read if you love your Historical Romance as much as I do!

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

5 1

Porn for bibliophiles

The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

If you were blown away by Ink and Bone last year, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU. If the slowness of Ink and Bone was a little harder to bear but you loved the concept, this book is DEFINITELY for you. If you are a bibliophile who wants to read a book about badass detective librarians, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU. So basically, read this book.

4 Reasons to read The Invisible Library



1. An ambiguous library. Secrets are kept from the librarians yet we aren’t entirely sure if the library is good or evil. The MC acknowledges that she is probably told a bunch of lies but at her core, she is a bookworm so being at the library is where she feel most comfortable. I like to think that the library is a little fishy but not truly evil but who knows what secrets will come crawling out in the next two books ;)

2. The world building. Holy moly the world building in this book is good. I love alternative universes but I absolutely love the author’s original take on them here. I love how she also incorporates the missions the librarians go on within them. Basically, librarians are interested in books that are particular to a specific alternative. Do you love collecting multiple editions of your fav books? Can you imagine how much fun it would be to collect multiple editions from alternative universes with potential extra content that wasn’t published in your own universe? IT WOULD BE FUCKING AMAZING. Maybe a universe exists where I can get the ending I’ve always wanted from Looking for Alibrandi.

3. The characters. OMG THESE CHARACTERS. SO MUCH LOVE. Can I cuddle them? Irene is pretty badass. She can literally kick ass and is super smart. Kai has some really juicy secrets (and powers) that made me so excited and I know will have many more readers flailing. The secondary characters are also wonderful and add layers of wit and complexity to the novel.

4. The Plot. I have a pretty bad relationship with books that take place over a short period of time but it works perfectly here. The author does time SO well in this book and I really cannot tell it’s been only 2-3 days (and of course, no insta love happens which helps.) There is so much excitement crammed into those days in a way that really isn’t unrealistic (given the ways in which this fictional world functions.) There is an element of mystery, adventure and survival. The plot also just works well because the world building is so good so I don’t have stupid questions and am just busy flipping the pages to know what is GONNA HAPPEN and who done it.


Basically, this book was amazing and will definitely go on my favorites of 2016 list. YOU SHOULD READ IT because it’s bookworm porn and I HAVE THE FLAILS and need someone to flail with.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

10 1

Mystery, Suspense and Complicated Families

Rocks Fall Everyone Dies - Lindsay Ribar

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Isn’t the title of this book just great? It’s even awesomer when the author drops it into some of the conversations in the book. But really, this book is amazing. It seems like it would either be full of dark humor or fluff and while it has both, Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is surprisingly dark and wonderfully mysterious. I had to take several breaks throughout because there was so much tension and so much build-up to a really fucking great climax.

Aspen is a great main character and completely unlikeable when you are first introduced to him, but as we find out more about him and his family, we learn more about why he is this way and what made him this way. And of course, not all hope is lost even though Aspen makes some really bad decisions over the course of the novel.

There are some notable secondary characters present but it is Aspen’s relationship with his family members that is most interesting to me. We already know that this family really isn’t normal but as Aspen finds out more about their ritual, we find that nothing is what it seems and that there are even more hidden depths to this family than we first thought.

Ribar also really spends a lot of time making the Quick family truly unique instead of just magical. They aren’t just a family with a secret and magical powers, they have sob stories, differences amongst each other, and significant others who are scared of these powers. Magic does not always equal rainbows and unicorns but also, their magic is actually really cool and interesting and not at all generic.

Lies, secrets and all that fun stuff obviously makes the plot all the more exciting--to the point where there is no coming back. I mean, I put down the book during some really stressful moments but all I could think about was the book and how much I needed to know what would happen next and how this story would unravel.

And it really does unravel. There is nothing easy or clean about how this book concludes and it becomes clear towards the end that there really isn’t an easy solution to all the problems and perhaps a happy ending might not even be possible (but you’ll have to read to find out more about that ;).) I will say that the ending is fitting for the book and not at all disappointing. I would definitely not mind a sequel though.

Basically, if you love mystery and suspense with a dash of complicated families and magic, this book is for YOU. So go forth and devour.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

6 1

Currently broken because of this book

The Long Game - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

***This review has also been posted on Xpresso Reads

Do you like Scandal? Do you like political thrillers? Do you like mind games? WELL. YOU HAVE COME TO THE RIGHT PLACE. But also, go read book one which is called The Fixerand is amazing.

So, if The Fixer made you swoon and made your heart beat faster and nearly killed you, I have some real bad news for you. It all gets worse in The Long Game. I had my feels shredded, my OTPs stomped on and my heart set on fire. I hope Jennifer Lynn Barnes at least feels a little bad about what she did to me.

Tess is still as amazing as always if a little more nosy than she should be. She thinks she is nothing like her sister but we all know that she enjoys fixing other people’s problems and helping the underdog. The thing about her is that even with her hero-like qualities, she doesn’t quite become a trope. She is more complex and multi-layered than that. There is more to her with her insecurities and her imperfections and her tendency to NOT always be right or do the ‘right’ thing.

But then again, most of the characters in this book are. Barnes takes complex characters who walk the grey line to a whole new level in this book. THE PUNCHES. I am still not over this book. So basically, if you thought you knew what the characters were capable of, think again because they will surprise you and hurt your fee-fees (feels).

I think many of us have wondered whether or not The Long Game would have more romance and the answer to that is complicated. The book has one of the swooniest kisses ever but also so much heartbreak and not enough cuddles. Some ships sail and others don’t and it’s all very complex. Much like the characters. Much like literally everything about this book.

The plot is also really amazing but there is one twist which I have not entirely made up my mind about and is also the reason why this book doesn’t get the entire 5 stars. I love twists but it turns out, I am super picky about them. Oops. And even though it’s been a while since I finished this book, I still haven’t made up my mind yet about that twist. I don’t know if it works for the book and there are certain things it might suggest which I don’t think the author wanted it to.

Overall though, this book is still amazing and this series is amazing and please read/buy it so that I can get a third book. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, DO IT FOR ME. TAKE PITY ON ME. LET ME HAVE THE THIRD BOOK.

Note that I read an advanced copy of this book, courtesy of a friend who took pity on my soul

5

Definitely for a more middle grade audience but also still adorable

Secret Coders - Gene Luen Yang, Mike Holmes

***This review has also been posted on Xpresso Reads

Things to know about Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang

1. It's for a much younger audience. I didn't realize this at first but while I was reading it, it become clear that I was not the intended audience of Secret Coders. This didn't mean that I didn't enjoy the graphic novel, it just meant that it took me longer to get involved in the novel.

2. It isn't just about coding and computer science-y stuff. If that isn't your thing, don't worry. It isn't my thing either but I definitely enjoyed Secret Coders. There is a mystery element that makes itself known towards the end of the novel and that is what tied the knot for me. I want more Secret Coders because I needs to know the answers.

3. The illustrations are AMAZING. They aren't in full color but they are so much fun to look attttt.

4. Themes. Okay, so now I feel like I am writing a book report a la 8th grade but THE BOOK HAS SOME REALLY GOOD THEMES relating to identity, family and such. Also there is one really amazing friendship that made me super happy to read about.

Basically, I don't know how much someone over the age of 12 would enjoy the book but I am definitely not 12 any more and enjoyed it so I'd still say it's worth giving a shot or recommending to a younger kid you know! Also, can I haz book 2? I want more time with these kids.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

3

FUCKING AMAZING

Girl Against the Universe - Paula Stokes

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Girl Against the Universe is a clear indication of how much Paula Stokes has grown as an author since The Art of Laineycame out. I really liked The Art of Lainey and I loved Liars, Incbut Girl Against the Universe was a phenomenal novel and one I am proud to claim as a favorite of 2016. Through this novel, Stokes beautifully explores mental illness and grief. Also this novel is full of a lot of fucking emotions so please be prepared. I haven’t had such a strong emotional reaction to a book in a while. I spent a good chunk dry crying and PAULA STOKES, YOU ARE AMAZING.

I tend to be picky about books that deal with grief because I always feel like there is an element of ‘romance cures all’ but that didn’t happen in Girl Against the Universe . Jordy and Maguire share a therapist and thats how they meet. For the past couple of years, Maguire has avoided people because she thinks she is bad luck. She doesn’t meet Jordy and change overnight. In fact, she makes it clear that she won’t just get better by being friends with him. It’s a process that happens through therapy sessions, help from friends, conversations with parents and she is not magically cured ever.

Healthy depictions of therapy and parental relationships is one of the things that makes this book stand out in general but Maguire really steals the show. Her journey to accept this terrible tragedy that happened to her and her interaction with the people around her is amazing. The way she slowly starts to heal and learns to seek help is SO IMPORTANT. I am probably going to phrase this terribly even though I am trying but I love the ways in which her mental illness is depicted. It is realistic and not at all seen as ‘quirky.’ There are people around Maguire who are genuinely worried about her and pay attention to her behaviour.

When your father and brother die, you don’t just magically heal. Even if it was years ago. The way Maguire deals with her grief is really what makes this book special to me. No one in my immediate family has passed away recently but this year has been full of a lot of death for several of my close friends which is why this book really hit home with me. The way Maguire deals with her grief is heartbreaking and honestly made me want to curl up in a ball and cry (and I mean, I did dry cry.) UGH. I am tearing up thinking about this book.

JORDY AND MAGUIRE ARE THE CUTEST COUPLE EVER. Their romance is slow burn and I LOVE that even though they like each other, they are friends before they are anything else. Especially since Maguire isn’t ready for a significant other at the beginning of the book (she has spent years avoiding people, so she definitely needs friends more than she needs significant others.) Jordy is just so precious and I LOVE that he respects Maguire but also calls her out when she does something inexcusable, hurts him or when she is making bad decisions.

Jordy is also a well developed character outside of his role as a friend/boyfriend. He has his own problems and I love that Stokes takes the time to explore those as well. Maguire may be the main character but Jordy is also important.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

5

A great feel-good book

You Know Me Well - Nina LaCour, David Levithan

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

You Know Me Well is an incredibly well-written feel-good book that doesn’t hold up as well when you start examining some of the finer threads that make up the novel. Never-the-less, it moved me and made me feel lots of mushy gushy things.

One of the finer threads I am referring to is the way time works in this novel. While I occasionally enjoy stories that take place during a short timeline, there are times when it doesn’t work for me and I become painfully aware of the short period of time in which the story is taking place. This was the case with You Know Me Well . The events in the book takes place over a week and given the pacing of this book, everything goes by really fast and it all just seems like a week isn’t enough for such major things to happen.

There is also a perfect quality to the ways in which everything works out. It seems almost fairy-tale and unearthly. Like bad things happen but also, lots of good things, which is completely valid and a thing that happens in real life but there are SO many highs and lows and conflicts and resolutions within the span of 5 days that it seems unreal.

Even though the book seems unreal at times, it is also captivating and sweeps you away on a magical journey about growing up, first love, friendship and all that jazz. You Know Me Well is also one of the few books that in my opinion tackles college in a manner that is actually realistic.

Kate for one has a tendency to hide from her problems and it takes her a while to realize that she isn’t actually ready for college even though she got into one of her top (if not the top) choices. Sometimes, you aren’t ready. Sometimes things happen and you need time to figure out the person you are before you are ready to tackle the challenge of college/university.

Along the way, Kate also makes a new friend who she has a healthier relationship with and also helps her realize the ways in which her past relationships have changed and also the ways in which she might have expectations from these relationships that aren’t necessarily real.

Miles is this friend and the way in which these two engage with one another is AMAZING. It’s one of the best friendships I’ve read in a while and made me all mushy inside.  

Miles is the other main character of the novel and one who had a painful journey with love. He is in love with his best friend and things might not end with the HEA he wants. Miles has to figure out what relationships matter to him and deal with the fact that HEAs don’t always happen in the way in which one might expect.

Basically, both these character are wonderful and adorable and so much fun to read about. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who needs a feel-good book that won’t fail to make you smile.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

6

A little lengthy but also amazing

My Lady Jane - Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Some of you might know that The Princess Bride is one of my favorite novels in the scope of reality and others might not. Well now you do. I’ve had My Lady Jane on my TBR since it was first announced. I saw the 3 wonderful authors who had decided to get together to write it and the fact that it was being pitched as being in the tradition of The Princess Bride and I knew I absolutely needed it. I also had no doubts about it being an amazing novel just because of the wonderful authors involved and was glad to fall in love with the book within the first few pages.

To be perfectly honest though, those 500 pages were intimidating as FUCK. I confess that while I have enjoyed many a big book, I prefer smaller books because I can read those in one go so getting through My Lady Jane(amusing or not) was harder than I thought it would be but also completely worth it.

I giggled SO much when I was reading this book and was sucked in by the brilliant narration.  The characters are well crafted and I loved all the shippy feels in the book. I also loved that this re-telling of history that allowed tragic events to become comedic and magical.

The fantasy element in this book was slightly unexpected for me because it had been a while since I had read the synopsis so I kind of just forgot about it. My Lady Jane goes all out with the alternate history and throws in a bunch of shape shifters to add a little magic to history. I love the way the fantasy element is incorporated though because it could easily just be completely random and useless and while there is definitely an aspect of ‘random’ to the magic, it seems purposeful and only adds to the narration and story-telling. After all, My Lady Jane is written in the vein of The Princess Bride .

This book also screams girl power which made so happy. Amazing female lead aside, there are so many amazing female characters to look up to. We may be in 16th century England but the patriarchy doesn’t win this round. There is a variety of female characters in this novel, some not so great but many who are amazing and great leaders. It made me so happy to see that Jane Grey wasn’t the only kick-ass female in this book and I was glad that her supporting crew consisted of a bunch of other kick-ass women.

There are also swoons to be had in this book. Gideon is wonderfully awkward and adorable. Both Jane and Gideon both have their insecurities about their relationship and do spend a bunch of time being angsty but once they realize the truth about one another’s feelings, they don’t let anything come between them. They also just work well together even when they aren’t entirely sure about one another’s feelings.

The plot is also pretty well paced given that the book is gigantic and I was never bored (only intimidated :P). I love the ways in which the novel isn't just about getting the rightful ruler back on the throne but also about self-discovery and even a coming of age to an extent (16th century, alternate history style). 

Since I clearly enjoyed this book, you might wonder why it didn’t get the 5 stars and I guess that’s because the length made it harder to enjoy and there were moments in the book where I really wish there was a little less angst. Otherwise, this book is hilarious and SO MUCH FUN to read.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

7

Reasons you need this book

A Totally Awkward Love Story - Tom Ellen, Lucy Ivison
1. It is FUCKING HILARIOUS. It's also just got a very different sense of humor found in American YA novels. The straight-forward, British humor made me LOL a lot. Also British humor in general is pretty great. Lots of LOLs to be had. 

2. It is Sex-positive. It isn't just sex-positive in that it has one sex scene. This book is full of teenagers who think a LOT about sex (because TEENAGERS DO THAT) and also have sex often. The book explores teen-sexuality in a very true-to-life manner that isn't full of rainbows and roses but rather lots of awkwardness and self-doubt. 

3. Awkwardness. Just based on personal experience, being a teen is pretty hard. There are so many messages teens get from media and from one another and all they do is make us very aware of ourselves and the ways in which we are different from this 'idealized' image of a teen. While the book doesn't directly address the messages, it weaves them in with the insecurities the main characters have about themselves. 

4. Kids who don't always get into their top college/university. I know this seems really minor but I am so fucking tired of all the teens in YA lit who dream big and somehow always get into their top college/university. That doesn't happen that often in real life. What does happen is that you sometimes see the good in situations that aren't always that great and this book does a lot of that. 

5. Teens who drink. Whaat? Teens drink? What are you going on about? Given that it's the summer after high school, let me tell you, there is a lot of drinking involved and I appreciated the realistic ways in which the authors tackled teen drinking. 

This book will definitely not be for everyone because there is a lot of angst and drama, occasional toxic friendships and perhaps the kinds of situations these teens get into will make some readers uncomfortable. Hell, I was pretty uncomfortable sometimes. BUT, Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison do justice to teen experiences in the novel. Not every teenager will have had the same experiences as the main characters but I am sure everyone will be able to relate to some aspect of these teens' lives and will find something that makes them want to cheer the main characters on. 

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
 

 

8 4

a decent conclusion to the series

Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade) - Jennifer Estep
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

It seems like not that long ago when I was turning the last pages of the last book of Mythos Academy and here we are again, another series finished. More characters to say goodbye to. Sadness. Why yes, I am rambling… just a little bit.

So… even though I enjoyed the conclusion, I also think that the Black Blade series doesn’t hold it’s own against the Mythos Academy series. The last book does diverge itself a little bit more from Mythos Academy and doesn’t employ all the same tropes, but the conclusion also lacks an oomph in terms of the villain characterization.

What I mean by this is that the villain is cartoonishly evil.Victor has several trope-y villain monologues and reads more like a cardboard cutout than an actual character. There is no depth to him and I am still not sure what motivated Victor to want to take over all the families besides wanting all the money and control. Yes that is a thing real villains occasionally do but I also want a villain who I can sort of understand. Who isn’t just there as a deus ex machina.

The lack of characterization of the villain ended up bringing down the plot of the book for me. There seemed to be nothing substantial driving the plot forward. So while exciting things were happening, I really wasn’t as captivated by them since there seemed to be no real reason behind them. Sometimes the villain is just a big bad plot moving device but I have come to expect more from Estep.

The romance also fell short in this instalment. While I like the Devon and Lila as characters, their romance feels a little forced? I kept waiting to fall in love with them as a couple and it never happened. All of Estep’s previous series have had more time to develop the romance and I wonder if that plays a part. With only three books, this is the author's shortest series and I imagine there wasn't as much time to develop swoony slow burn romances which were possible in other series.

All that said, I did really enjoy being with these characters again. Lila is pretty kick ass, let’s be honest. I love how she takes control of situations and thinks everything through. She doesn’t halfass things.

There were also some awesome human-monster relationships in the last book that I loved. The monsters in this series are so adorable and I love the way Estep builds them into her world. We don’t get a lot of reasons about why they are there but their presence is essential to the novel and adds so much to the world this book is set in.

Human-human relationships (besides romance) are also exciting! I love Seleste and Lila’s relationship and Lila and Claudia’s relationship. They are, in a sense, mother figures for Lila since she lost her mother but at the same time, their interactions are less ‘parental’ and more familiar. I like that they don’t replace her mother but rather help to give her some guidance when Lila is in tough spots.

This series finale might not have been everything I wanted but it does conclude the series in a satisfying manner. I am happy for all the characters and hope they will have some snuggle time after all the troubles they have been through over the course of the past three books.

To recommend or not to recommend? I recommend the series because it is good brain candy and pretty darn enjoyable. Also, for those of you who haven’t started the series, it’ll be fun to binge read.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
 
 

 

2

Creeptastic and amazing

Burning - Danielle  Rollins

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

When a book’s tagline is “Orange is the New Black with a twist,” one cannot help but be drawn to the book. When the book also has a creepy cover and a REALLY cool premise, one feels the need to get one’s hands on it as soon as possible.

One in this case is obviously me (and could also be you, IDK how you feel) and I was really excited about this book. The excitement paid off because Burning is a really fucking good book. It is deliciously creepy (pretty sure I’ve used this phrase before to describe a good horror-y book, I CANNOT HELP it okay, I am not that great with words) and it made my heart pitter patter. I’ve also admittedly be in a reviewing slump and Burning just made me feel better about everything. It was the kind of book that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to yell at the world and tell everyone that they needed it in their lives. Burning is the kind of book you really want everyone to know about in case it completely slipped their notice. IF IT SLIPPED YOURS, PLEASE GO ADD IT TO YOUR TBR.

Okay, I think I’ve done enough ‘vague’ fangirling and perhaps it’s time to actually mention what it is that I like about this book.

For starters, I absolutely love the world. The author does such a fantastic job with building dynamics between various groups in the novel. Most of these relationships are horrid, but within all the badness, there is some good. We have some fantastic friendships and an interesting budding romance (which I am not sure was needed, but the love interest was super cute SO YAY.)

Angela is also a great character. She makes mistakes, I did yell at her a bit, but she is so well rounded. It is easy to slip inside of her head and understand how her desperation to get out of the correction facility affects her decision making skills. Her backstory also comes to us in bits and pieces scattered throughout the novel. It makes it easy to sympathize with her and wish Angela could just get the fuck out of there.

The author also does a great job of including diversity in the novel. Given the setting of the novel, I think the diverse aspects are important and really help understand the various dynamics with groups and also help us better understand the power dynamics at play.

The best part about this book is its plot. There are twists but they aren’t surprising. I am not sure they are meant to be surprising either. They work in that they read like pieces of a puzzle coming together. You see the general picture but the little pieces help make the image clearer. As the novel progresses, we get more paranormal elements come out and play and add to the creeptastic atmosphere of the book. All the conspiracies floating around and the growing desperation of all the characters adds to the intensity of the book and everything comes to a conclusion with a big bang.

So the ending... For those of you who absolutely despise cliffhangers, this book has one. I also do not like cliffhangers but I don’t think there is any other way for this book to end. The book ends on a very high note and all I want right now is a sequel. *makes puppy dog eyes*


In conclusion, I highly recommend this book and think that everyone should read it. After all, monsters are more interesting ;)

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

3

Second half of the book was too rushed

Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Rebel of the Sands  was easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year yet I ended up not loving it as much as I had wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the book. The second half just ended up letting me down with the amount of ‘twists’ that came.

The first half of the book built on the tension between the two characters and was full of awesome badassery. The second half got better and then all of a sudden, there were too many revelations that weren’t fully developed.

So. Amani is best described as badass. I LOVE HER. She has some epic shooting skills and can take care of herself. It is so much fun watching her journey across the land, even as she screws up from time to time. Amani isn’t afraid of making mistakes and she is a strong character. If the apocalypse happened, I would want her on my side. Unfortunately, I also think it would have been nice to see her character develop a little bit more.

Jin is SUPER SWOONY. #loveatfirstsight (one of these days I am going to do a review completely in hashtags.) Their romance is nice and slow burn in the first half of the book but in the second half, things progress too quickly. They go from this slow-burn romance to love and it didn’t fit with the pace at which their romance had been developing. It’s not insta love since they were together for over two months but, it is something…

The world building in this book is amazing. The author did such a good job at making the world come to life. I LOVED the descriptions, I loved the setting and I loved the way magic became part of this world. The author clearly knew what she wanted readers to get from her world and did a good job at bringing pieces together.

Things get a little iffy with the plot. I loved the direction the book seemed to be heading in and one of the first big revelations had me jumping off the walls. I was ready for more and excited to see what would follow the revelation and how it would affect Amani. Unfortunately, we got a bunch of other revelations to follow that one and I don’t think it worked. It left no room for real development and made lots of relationships in the books feel rushed.

It also made the second half of the book feel rushed in general. We went from a comfortable pace in the first half to moving very fast in the second half. Basically, there is a divide in the book between the first half and the second half, and I would have enjoyed the second half more if it wasn’t rushed. I like fast paced books, I don’t like fast paces when they leave no room for development and this seemed to be the case here.

Having said that, I DID really enjoy reading the book. It was such an amazing premise and the author followed through (for the most part.) Rebel of the Sands was definitely worth the read and it goes by fast. I cannot wait to see what awaits us in the sequel.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

6

A fan-fucking-tastic re-telling of The Winter's Tale

Exit, Pursued by a Bear - E.K. Johnston

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

This was not my first book by Johnston. I read A Thousand Nights last year and even though I didn’t love it, I fell in love with the author’s writing style so when I heard about this book, I KNEW I WANTED to read it. Little did I know at that time that it was a re-telling of The Winter’s Tale (which I recently read for the first time in my Shakespeare Lit class.) When I found out that that is what the author was going for, my excitement to read the book soared and I really wanted to see how the author would adapt the play into a YA novel.

My verdict is that this book passed with flying colors and everyone needs to read it NOW. I would say that it is more inspired by the play than an actual re-telling but at the same time, the author does an amazing job of incorporating elements from the play and using them to tell her very own story.

So, this book deals with serious issues like rape and pregnancy and in my opinion, the author does these issues justice. Hermione is one of the best female leads I have ever come across. Her strength and her realness endeared her to me. I realize realness is such a vague term but it’s really the only way I can describe her. This book doesn’t present readers with a romanticized version of rape but rather one that is more realistic. The main character is detached from her experience and hates how she is changed by something she cannot even remember. How everyone around her is treating her as if she is fragile and breakable.

One of my favorite things about this book is the way the author writes the relationships. Hermione’s relationships with the people around her are amazing! There is obviously not anything easy about her experience, especially given the rumours going on about her and the way she is casted as an outcast because she is the ‘raped and pregnant’ girl. She has a great set of friends though and her relationship with her therapist and her parents makes me happy. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it when there are positive relationships in books and not everything is hopeless and depressing. I especially love it when therapy isn’t shown as being the worst thing in the world because therapy is actually important for a lot of people.

The reason why this book did not get all 5 stars though was because some things were disjointed including the ending of the book. I think that if the book were a little longer, it would have given the author even more room to explore Hermione’s character and show her growth over the course of the book.

That said, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is an important book and one I would encourage everyone to add to their to-read shelves. It’s not worth missing out on and if you are a bit of a Shakespeare geek or have read The Winter’s Tale, there will be LOTS of interesting happenings and satisfying moments that you might have wished happened in the play.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

7

pretty mediocre, tbh

Reign of Shadows - Sophie Jordan

So, are you here to read a ramble-y review about all my feelings about Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan? Well, you are gonna be disappointed because today I have decided to attempt doing a review in GIFS. After all, they do say a picture is worth a thousand words...

Overall reaction to the book

How I feel about the characters

LUNA: sometimes naive, sometimes kickass, also occasional bad decision maker. Overall:

FOWLER: Just an angry young man who is mad at the world for all the wrongs it has done him. Overall:

How I feel about the romance

In theory, I shipped the characters but in practice I just needed them to slow down and get to know each other instead of Fowler being passive agressive and then suddenly falling in love?? (IDK if the L word is used)

How I feel about the world building

 I found it interesting but thought there needed to be a lot more of it. Overall:

How I feel about the plot

 I love me a survival story and I enjoyed the plot, but also wanted more substance. Overall:

The Ending

 

I do have mixed feelings about the book since there are some things I liked and others I felt mediocre about. The book didn't manage to blow me away but it was good brain candy, so if you're looking for an easy, fun book to flip through, Reign of Shadows might just be for you. Just be warned, the ending is BRUTAL.

7

Lots of mindfuckery and a disappointing reveal

Wink Poppy Midnight - April Genevieve Tucholke

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

I don’t even know how to react to this book. It takes you on a twisty, surreal journey and leaves your brain scrambled. So what actually happened? That is a good question. DON’T ASK ME. I might be lying and you would never know. Oops.

Likes

Creepiness: While this book may sound like a mystery/contemporary, it is also deliciously creepy. There is so much that readers are in the dark about but it’s done in a way that isn’t frustrating. It’s exciting, engaging and FITTING with the characters and the vibe the book has going.

Unreliable narrators: I love me some unreliable narrators and this book definitely delivered on that end. I had a hard time deciding who I wanted to trust because even though there was one character that was horrible, the other two had hidden depths to them that made me wary of them. Basically, don’t trust anybody when reading this book. ALL THE CHARACTERS ARE GOING TO FUCK WITH YOUR MIND.

MIND FUCKERY: The caps lock is necessary when talking about the mind fuckery in the book. This ties back into my previous point about unreliable narrators. It’s hard to keep up with all the twists happening in the book because it get’s so twisty. My brain felt like a pretzel after I had finished the book.

Writing Style: I thought the division of the different point of views in this book worked very well. The characters did sound similar sometimes but I thought it was intentional because it helped confuse me even more about what the characters were doing/thinking/plotting.

My shippy feels: Of course I had shippy feels. I AM TRASH (this does not mean you are trash if you have shippy feels. I’ve just taken to referring myself as trash because I think the word trash describes me perfectly). Mind you, not all the relationships in this book were healthy and weren't meant to be.

Dislikes

My only dislike is that I wasn’t satisfied with the big revelation. I felt like there were things that didn’t add up. I love my twists but if I cannot trace back to places where I should have seen it coming or trace the story-line, the reveal won't work for me. And this reveal unfortunately didn't. The reveal also somewhat spoiled my reading experience because I went from being on a 'book high' to being annoyed.

But if you like psychological thrillers, or books that turn your mind into a pretzel, Wink Poppy Midnight is for you.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

10