Review: Before I Fall

Title: Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: October 25, 2010
GoodReads

Synopsis:

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—”Cupid Day”—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

I wrote this review for a media class, and I figured I’d post it since a) I already wrote it, and b) the movie just released recently. Let me know if you want more reviews like this in the future. Here it is:

I turned the last page of Before I Fall expecting one more line, a funny quip, or even an epilogue. All I got were the Acknowledgements, and I sat there for a moment stunned. How could it just end like that?

Originally published in 2010, the novel Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is gaining worldwide attention due to the upcoming release of its movie adaption by the same name. The movie stars Vampire Academy actress Zoey Deutch as Samantha Kingston. According to the synopsis, Sam is popular, has the perfect boyfriend, and dies on Friday, February 12, only to wake up the next morning and relive the day of her death six more times.

I decided to take a chance on the book before watching the movie. As they say, the book is always better.

Without spoiling anything, I have to say that Samantha’s character undergoes a huge transformation throughout the story. Although we only see seven days of her life, her character develops exponentially. Sam plays by the rules of her friend group without really questioning why they do the things they do. As the book progresses, we see Sam become herself, living her life authentically and being more accountable for her actions.

Each relived day is spent differently – the first two are slightly similar, then she spends a couple full of angst, and then another day is spent solely with her family. Each day is a testament to how multifaceted our lives are, and how easily we neglect different aspects of them.

Something I often didn’t think about during high school was that my friends were basically my family. I saw them eight to nine hours a day, spoke to them when I was home, and hung out with them during the weekend. My family was on the backburner. This is true in Sam’s story as well. Her friends have become such a large part of her life that her family is neglected as a result.

That being said, there is more to it than that. With friends, there is the potential for judgment and shame for saying or doing the wrong things. There is also a certain amount of scrutiny that you are under when you are popular. Sam reflects on this as she watches her friends bully people, her boyfriend belittle her, and people’s reactions to her being nice. It is fascinating how much is missed when focusing on oneself.

Before I Fall encourages readers to examine their everyday choices. A couple changes here and there lead Sam to learn things about her friends, family, teachers, and classmates that she would never have known otherwise. Her relationships were superficial, and she drifted through life with ease. When push came to shove, however, she began to see people for who they were and began to challenge the status quo.

Before I Fall is a very easy book to lose yourself in – the plot is well developed, the characters are thoroughly fleshed out, and the story feels real, relevant, and heartbreaking. In the end, I gave Before I Fall four and a half stars of five.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.92/5

Review: Kisses on a Paper Airplane

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Title: Kisses on a Paper Airplane
Author: Sarah Vance Tompkins
Publication Date: May 14, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Drama student Hannah Evans isn’t kissing any frogs on her path to find Prince Charming. She’s determined to share the perfect first kiss — with the perfect boy — in the perfect place — or she’s not kissing anyone at all. When Hannah meets a cute ginger-haired boy in first class lounge in the London airport, she knows he’s ‘The One.’

Pop star Theo Callahan is on the road to get as far away as possible from his back-stabbing best friend, and his supermodel girlfriend who broke his heart. Until one shy smile from Hannah has him rethinking all of his travel plans.

Theo is smitten, but he’s worried she’s just a groupie in search of the ultimate selfie. Can Theo learn to trust Hannah in time to share one perfect first kiss, or will Hannah be forced to kiss a frog?

Kisses on a Paper Airplane is a quick, simple read, but I honestly did not enjoy it.

Hannah Evans is travelling home to attend her mother’s wedding. Her step-father-to-be got her a first class ticket from London, and during her time in the first-class lounge, she catches the interest of a good looking pop star AND FAINTS BECAUSE HE’S SO BEAUTIFUL.

There’s instalove and there’s over dramatics. How many people do you know see a good looking person and pass out. Like, I’m sorry, what?

Once conscious, she captures Theo’s heart and they get massages together, they sit with each other on the plane, and then become besties on the verge of an instalove relationship during the like three days of travel and 5 minutes of her mother’s wedding.

On top of the absolutely unbelievable story line, she talks like a fourteen year old. She’s in college/university now, and she keeps talking about “the one” and saying like “is he my frog prince?” “Maybe I have to kiss a bunch of frogs to get my frog prince.” I don’t know if this book was supposed to be a kind of retelling of the Princess and the Frog, but it was so overplayed and the language was trying way too hard to be “relevant” and “cutesy”.

Overall, probably wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, unless you like fluff language and instalove…

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 1/5
Cover: 3.5/5
Overall: 1/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.71/5

eARC obtained via Inkspell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Review: Not Quite So Short Stories

27857855Title: Not Quite So Stories
Author: David S. Atkinson
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Genre: Short Stories Fiction
GoodReads

Synopsis:

The traditional explanation for myth (including such works as the relatively modern Just so Stories by Rudyard Kiping) is an attempt by humans to explain and demystify the world. That’s crap. We may be able to come to terms with small pieces, but existence as a whole is beyond our grasp. Life is absurd, ultimately beyond our comprehension. The best we can do is to proceed on with our lives in the face of that. The stories in this collection proceed from this idea, examining how the different characters manage (and/or fail) to do this.

Not Quite So Stories was one of the oddest books I’ve ever read, in the best possible way.

Let me try to break it down for you – have you ever seen those twitter trends where tweets take a twist in the 140 characters allowed? Well this book is like that except with short stories. Each story was unique, and each story had me absolutely confounded by the end – some due to awe at how deep the short story got, some due to absolute confusion as to why it was even a thing, and some due to annoyance ’cause I really wanted an explanation to why it was a thing (even though the synopsis states clearly that that’s literally the reason why is was written).

I enjoyed about 90% of the stories in this books, the other 10% were okay, but just didn’t appeal to me. Something that was hard to work out for me was taking the work as it was. Often times, I’d flip back pages to figure out if I missed something, when I didn’t, it’s just that the “weird” part of it all wasn’t explained. This both added and detracted from my reading experience.

On one had it was really interesting to read the stories and think, “Hey, that’s really weird and funny” or “I see what you did there, interesting”, while other times I’d be like, “What??”, and then re-read the story from the beginning – leaving it no less confused than when I had read it the first time.

Overall, definitely would recommend. The stories get you thinking about everyday life, as well as get your spirits up. This isn’t a book you have to sit down for a while to read either – each story gives you a dose of happy! My top three stories talk about rolling oranges, toilet paper, and disappearing houses, haha. Check it out – I think there’s something in this book for everyone!

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 4/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 4/5
Cover
: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.48/5

eBook obtained via Roger Charlie in exchange for an honest review.

Book Tour + Review: A Mortal Song

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Welcome to the reveal for Megan Crewe’s new project – A Mortal Song, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

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Title: A Mortal Song
Author: Megan Crewe
Publication date: September 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Sora’s life was full of magic—until she discovered it was all a lie.
Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess. As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.

Buy Link:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Indigo

Review:

Okay, just to get it out of the way – there are characters named Haru and Jun – I actually grow to like Haru, and Jun is just a name mentioned in passing. That’s right, this is a book about Japan where the characters are Japanese (and Japanese spirits) AND they aren’t named Jun. Rare, right?

This story is about Japanese “spirits” called kami, who are trying to save their kind from an evil spirit. In order to do so, Sora and Takeo need to find the true heir to the kami throne to help defeat the evil spirit. On top of this, Sora needs to come to terms with the shocking news that she is in fact human, and what that means in terms of her relationship with Takeo, and her new band of human friends.

I found this to be a fantastic book about adventure, friendship, love, and self-discovery.

Although Sora has to learn how to cope with being a mere human, she doesn’t get too angsty about it – instead she is strong, resourceful, and open to seeing the world from a different point of view, a human point of view. An honestly, even without the powers, she is absolutely kickass throughout the novel.

To be honest, Takeo as a character was meh to me. He was like wallpaper, and I honestly didn’t see what Sora could be attracted to, save for their childhood history. His character could have also been like this because he was kami. Honestly, I loved Haru and Keiji so much more. As humans, they had more personality and more diversity in responses than Takeo, and they stole the show from him. I loved the characters, overall – they all really complimented each other well, both in skill and wit, and that really helped keep the story moving.

This book got a lot of things right – there was no instant love, but a beginning to something; there wasn’t a special snowflake, but an “oh-crap-I’m-not-actually-special-what-do-I-do-now!?” story line; and there was a lot of culture and time put into world building for the book. Granted, I found that the end was very abrupt and cheesy, the story itself is well worth the read.

The overall concept of the book was fascinating to me, as I’ve never heard of kami before. The concept was new to me, but I loved how it was executed and how it was brought back to the human level of understanding. There was a lot of introspection throughout this book, mainly done by Sora, and I found it to be pretty insightful.

Overall, definitely would recommend!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Link:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Indigo

About the Author:

Megan

Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives with her husband, son, and three cats in Toronto, Canada (and does on occasion say “eh”), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and she can’t look at the night sky without speculating about who else might be out there.

Join her newsletter for book news, recommended reads, and exclusive giveaways: http://eepurl.com/btE8mH

Author Links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Giveaway:

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • Japan Media & Treats Prize Pack

ENTER HERE!~

Review: The Raven Boys

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Title: The Raven Boys [The Raven Cycle #1]
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy Romance
Published: September 18, 2012
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Since the final book just came out, I decided to give this series a chance.

A friend was the first person to tell me about this series – how did I miss the absolutely stunning cover? Well, I didn’t really, but I saw Maggie’s name on it an walked away.

No offense to Maggie Stiefvater, but her Shiver/Linger/Forever series bored me to tears. I read all of them, despite becoming greatly disinterested about 25% way through. The series was just too cheesy and repetitive and cliche for my taste.

That being said, I really enjoyed The Raven Boys.

The novel’s synopsis really doesn’t do the book justice. It’s not a dumb book about love, it’s more of a paranormal mystery.

Blue is from a family of psychics, except all she can do is act as an amplifier to her powers. Otherwise, she’s about as useful as a stool (when it comes to paranormal oddness). As such, she finds herself an accessory when it comes to her aunt seeing the dead, or her mom doing a particularly difficult reading. That is, until she’s recording dead spirits into a book, and suddenly sees one for herself.

His name is Gansey, and though she’s never met him, her aunt tells her that if she can see his spirit, then she either kills him, or is his true love.

Cheesy right? Not really.

Because once she meets Gansey, they do not really mesh – instead it’s his friend Adam that courts her.

Now on to Gansey and friends. The Raven boys are the “privileged” – identifiable by the school crest on their sweaters. They’re the sort of people whom you can smell money rolling off of. Except Adam, but we’ll come back to him.

Gansey is the leader, generally chill and level headed, and hell bent on finding Glendower – an ancient king who supposedly possesses enough power to have lay in a sort of stasis since he disappeared hundreds of years ago. Due to this Gansey has an odd interest in ley lines and magic things.

Then there’s Ronan, generally rough around the edges, and in the edges, and everywhere else for that matter. He actually became one of my favourite characters simply because he was such an enigma. Throughout this book, you never really find out much about him, but still find yourself loving his character.

Adam’s next. While he goes to the richy rich school, he’s actually not rich – just smart. And he works damn hard to be. But his life isn’t easy as pie, and he finds himself resenting Gansey for the money he has (and sometimes flaunts). Adam is determined to escape his circumstances on his own, without anyone’s help or charity – i.e., his pride is surprisingly bigger than all the richy rich people.

And lastly, there’s Noah. Oddly my favourite character, despite the fact that he rarely speaks. I love him so much, and I can’t even tell you why ’cause spoilers.

Overall, this book sets up the rest of the series – we learn a lot about what they’re looking for and how they’re going to find it, and about all those who tried to do so before them. While there was a lot of information, I didn’t find it totally overwhelming, likely because it was spread out throughout the entire novel. That being said, there were times where I had to read sections over again ’cause it just didn’t process the first time.

The book also has a lot of background for characters, and I actually felt like much of the storyline was Adam’s, instead of Gansey’s and Blue’s. Although they presented a lot of background information, Adam really stood out in this novel for a great number of reasons. Also helped that both Blue and Gansey thought about him a lot.

Overall, this novel was more of a mystery than a romance – there was actually very little romance in it in general. There’s a lot of intrigue and surprises, and it honestly kept my interest the entire time. Definitely would say to give it a chance, it might surprise you.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.04/5

Blog Tour + Review: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame

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Welcome to The Way to Game the Walk of Shame book tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

GameShameTitle: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame
Author: Jenn P. Nguyen
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Taylor Simmons is screwed.

Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.

Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Review:

The Way to Game the Walk of Shame is Jenn P. Nguyen’s debut novel, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. It’s a wonderful story about Taylor Simmons, the class nerd and “ice queen”, finding herself in a bed that’s not hers. To weasel her way out of the labels that often come with a perceived one-night-stand, she sets up a contract (signatures and all) with Evan, the school’s “play boy”, that would be in play until the dust and gossip settles and everyone believes they’re a real couple. But when all is quiet, the two realize that maybe they’re relationship goes beyond the contract.

I grinned like a dufus so much when reading this book. The two of them are so cute together. Though they’re quite different, they fit very well together, challenging one another to always be better. I think my favourite part about this book is that there are so many unique, romantic, and memorable moments that stand out to me. I want to blurt them all out, but that would ruin the fun. The Valentine’s day scene, and the few times he goes over to her house are probably my favourites. Though I read this book about a month ago, these scene still stay vivid in my head (which, to be honest, is pretty rare).

Something else I appreciated about the book was that they didn’t have to get hot and heavy to show their feelings, it was the little things that made a difference. This is actually a “hands-off” book. Maybe a couple kisses here and there, but the romance was purely in their everyday interactions. They didn’t need to go further to figure out that they had feelings for each other, and I really like that about this book.

While there were some areas of the plot that I questioned (particularly the antagonizing teacher, who seemed to have a little too much sway in the whole university acceptance process), as well as some areas that I personally didn’t like (slut-shaming), especially since that was why this whole story came to be in the first place, this book really won me over. While these parts stuck out to me, they didn’t really stay in my mind long, especially  since the rest of the book was quite the opposite (i.e. memorable and sweet), it kind of overpowered all the stuff that didn’t quite gel with me.

The only downside that I can see right now is that I can’t read any other books by her at the moment, because this is her first! Adorkable, sweet, and wonderfully crafted, I’d definitely recommend this book to all contemporary romance lovers out there. You won’t be disappointed!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.98/5

eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author:JPN
Jenn Nguyen fell in love with books in third grade and spent the rest of her school years reading through lunchtime and giving up recess to organize the school library. She has a degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans and still lives in the city with her husband. Jenn spends her days reading, dreaming up YA romances, and binge watching Korean dramas all in the name of ‘research’. The Way to Game the Walk of Shame is her debut novel.
Author Links:

Giveaway:

Tour-wide giveaway for a print copy of The Way to Game the Walk of Shame. Open to the US only.

ENTER HERE!~

Tour + Review: Infinite Dolls

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Welcome to the Infinite Dolls blog tour, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!~

InfiniteDollsTitle: Infinite Dolls
Author: Emalynne Wilder
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Genre: New Adult Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Born to be the best.

Head of his class.

No strings attached.

The third year of medical school is supposed to be the hardest, but Callum Trovatto has no idea what he’s about to face when Everly Anne Brighton stands between him and a passing grade, shaking up his world with her secrets, and digging into his dark past.

Hopeless.

Trapped by her father’s rules.

Longing for freedom.

Expected to die before her twenty-first birthday at the hands of a rare medical condition, Everly Brighton begins to defy the carefully crafted routine her father enforces to keep her alive, despite the fact that it could kill her.

INFINITE DOLLS is an emotionally charged love story about finding faith, coping with loss and living in the preciousness of Now.

Buy Links:
Amazon | iBooks | Barnes and Noble

Review:

This book will break you.

There, that’s it. Right there. Done.

Okay, not really, but honestly this book went way beyond any of my expectations.

This is a tale of life and learning to take chances, even when all the odds are stacked against you. This book is about perseverance in the face of adversity. This book is about understanding that life isn’t always fair, but it should never prevent you from doing what you aspire to do.

Callum was doing just fine in school until Everly came around. An enigma to everyone, the only one she was civil with was Callum. Through their chats they learned that neither is what they seem – Everly wants to experience the world, but is afraid of what could happen, while Callum wants to help people, but he’s having trouble accepting that he isn’t a superhero. The story was gripping and beautiful and I want to tell you everything that happened, but if you don’t actually read the book, you’ll miss the beauty of it.

The story was raw and real – but not necessarily realistic. Maybe it’s the fact that Everly had to grow too fast, or that Callum is a smart genius child, but they both seemed eon’s ahead of their time. The dialogue was real and raw, but often more poetic and “confessional” than I’ve ever heard, even from adults. Sometimes it was great, other times it kind of detracted from the novel and made you sit back like, “Wait… they’re only like 20, right?” That being said, this type of dialogue left room for a lot of life lessons that really hit home for me, and it really added to the overall feel of the novel.

One thing that really impacted me was Callum’s obsession with the word “just” and its effect on how a statement comes across. It’s amazing how, when you think about it, one word can change how you respond to a statement. “It was just a million dollars” versus “It was a million dollars” – it’s a big difference in how someone comes across, and my use of the word will be something that I’ll keep in mind in my own life.

All in all, this book was a beautifully written novel. The characters were well crafted with unique and surprising personalities. With a captivating story line, from Callum’s POV, through which we follow him through school, his practicum, and his career, and watching him and Everly navigate every obstacle that comes their way, this story will hit you straight through the heart.

I know I’m making this sound cheesy, but honestly this is a breathtaking novel. Definitely would recommend.

Plot: 5/5
Characters
: 5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads: 4.49/5

About the Author:biopic

Emalynne Wilder is the voice of the Broken-Hearted. The Forgotten. The Unheard. Painfully shy in person. Unapologetic on paper. She’s the girl listening to your dirt from the corner of the room as she plots how to turn tragedy into triumph.

Author Links:

Tour-wide Giveaway:

Enter to win a paperback copy of Infinite Dolls and a swag pack! Open internationally!

ENTER HERE!~

Review: Uprooted

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Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
GoodReads

Synopsis:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

This whole entire novel was not about what I had expected it to be about. The synopsis is extremely vague and to be honest only reveals what’s in the first 2-3 chapters. This entire novel was like inhaling a trilogy of books, without the painful year long waiting between parts. There are so many sub-plots within the plot and history within these pages. It’s honestly one of my favourite fantasy novels of this year, and maybe ever.

It is honestly so hard to describe how amazing this book was without spoiling anything. Ahh!

The story set up is absolutely perfect. We start in Agnieszka’s village, move to the Dragon’s tower (note, he is not in fact a scaly creature), then into the Wood, then into the Capital city, back to the tower, back to the Wood. There’s so many changes in setting and characters that the book keeps you entertained throughout. While each setting is sectioned out, so are the character introductions – we meet the main character’s family and friends in her village, then history of the Dragon in his tower, then other characters depending on where the story takes us next. The fact that the setting and characters are presented in such digestible tidbits made the whole book more enjoyable as it was easier to follow where people were going and what was happening in the novel.

I read this novel as an ARC, and I’ve found the response interesting. A lot of people rage on and on about the “kidnapping” not really being a kidnapping, because the MC gets to live in a tower and get nice clothes, etc. However, something that they miss is that it is horrifying. Said tribute is taken away from her home, her friends, her family – torn from her community and culture. She is placed with a less than amiable wizard, and honestly, I don’t know how people see becoming refined as a gift and not a ten year long social redevelopment project. The response to this element of the novel has really made me think about it. Sure, the outcome isn’t bad, but there is a large negative aspect to it that nearly mimics real life in some ways… just food for thought for those who have yet to read it (this is all revealed in the first 20 pages, no spoilers, I promise!).

I think my favourite part of the novel was the antagonist. It wasn’t a specific person, per say, but a thing. A terrifying thing that consumes a person from the outside in – first their body, then their soul. The Wood was likely one of the more interesting antagonists as it’s so evil without any conscious thought. Honestly, the scenes set in it freaked me out haha. Further, the story behind it was extremely interesting and actually moving. This aspect of the novel was built well.

One thing I wish had been better is the Dragon’s personality. There’s so much there to pull at, and I feel like we missed a lot of history in his lack of emotional and overall character exposure. Also, the MC was a little dense at times, but otherwise quite a strong female lead for this novel!

Overall, this was an extremely intricate book, and it truly captured my heart. It’s quite long, and the beginning isn’t as interesting as it could be, but in the end I thought the entire experience was well worth the effort. A beautifully constructed novel that really gets you thinking about suffering, revenge, and friendship.

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.2/5

eARC obtained via Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Breakaway

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Title: Breakaway
Author: Kat Spears
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synopsis:

When Jason Marshall’s younger sister passes away, he knows he can count on his three best friends and soccer teammates—Mario, Jordie, and Chick—to be there for him. With a grief-crippled mother and a father who’s not in the picture, he needs them more than ever. But when Mario starts hanging out with a rough group of friends and Jordie finally lands the girl of his dreams, Jason is left to fend for himself while maintaining a strained relationship with troubled and quiet Chick. Then Jason meets Raine, a girl he thinks is out of his league but who sees him for everything he wants to be, and he finds himself pulled between building a healthy and stable relationship with a girl he might be falling in love with, grieving for his sister, and trying to hold onto the friendships he has always relied on.

This book was a surprise. I’m one of those “judge a book by their cover” type people. I did not expect this book to be as intense or as heartbreaking as it was, based on this cover. Honestly, I kind of wish they would change it a little, simply because I can’t see any of the guys I know, or knew, reading this in public. They probably wouldn’t even pick it up to see what it’s about, let alone purchase it and read it, even though this is a book that needs to be read.

When I first cracked the covers, I didn’t like it. The language at the beginning tried a little too hard to be “gangster” or “slang” filled, and it didn’t work well for me. It gave me the impression that the book would be a mission to read. I didn’t give up though, since I’m stubborn like that, and kept going. As the book went on, you could really see the characters starting to open up and reveal themselves to you.

The main character, Jason, really grows up throughout the novel. He starts out hating everything – the people at school who are “mourning” over his sister, his mother’s withdrawal, this one girl who thinks hooking up is the same as mourning – and it drives his character throughout the first bit of the book. As he slowly gets over his loss, he turns his thoughts to other things – his friends, a girl who’s caught his eye, his mother’s health, his need to distract himself.

While there is romance in this book, there’s also pain and loss, friendship and family, obligation and want. Even though there wasn’t really a climax in this novel, or any revelation that changes the world and the school, and how I look at the world, it was a wonderful read. It was just life, the nitty gritty parts of reality that we often forget about, or wish that we could forget about. It shows us that it’s the little things that change who we are and how we see one another and ourselves. This book is slow to develop, but once it starts the experience is 100% worth it. Honestly, I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I read this novel, but I loved it, and I think that people should give it a shot.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.92/5

eARC obtained via St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Confess

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Title: Confess
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

HOLY MOTHER OF TEARS. That hurt. Like good hurt. For the most part.

The prologue tore my heart to pieces ’cause it was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. However, the book couldn’t make me love it.

The romance, first of all, was too easy. It was too instant, and too much all at once. When I finished, I thought about it and realized that the two only actually knew each other for about a week, max. Sure, it was a week that got split up across a longer timeline, but essentially it was a week. We actually saw more of the antagonist than the protagonist’s love interest and that annoyed me, especially since they were basically declaring their eternal love for each other by the end of the novel. Like please. No.

That being said, I LOVED the concept behind Owen’s studio. It breaks my heart that every single confession in this book is real and was submitted by actual people, who actually experienced these things, or are still experiencing these things. Yes, some of them were beautiful, lovely, and cute, but others were heartbreaking and awful to read, but at the same time, gave the book something real to hold onto. And the art was fantastic. I love Hoover’s need to put a unique spin on all her books – the was spoken word poetry, a deaf artist, journal entries of the past, etc., and now art. This concept was amazing, and I think it was awesome of Hoover to have her fans participate in this.

Auburn was a fine character. She was quite whiny at times, but overall, my feelings towards her a neutral. She didn’t bore me to tears, but at the same time, my heart didn’t fall to pieces when she told her story. Same with Owen. I couldn’t make myself care about his character, especially since much of the novel could have been solved if he had told Auburn the truth, or the police the truth. Either or would have worked really.

That being said, I really hated the antagonists in this novel. They were annoying to read, and I even wanted to punch them a couple of times based on what they said. Even then, however, Auburn never made a huge comeback for me. She was tossed to the ground so often that I wanted to kick those who tortured her, but at the same time, she was so passive about it all that she made me almost not care about the situation, thus dampening the impact of the story on me. She never fought back until the very end, and even then it was only half-way to what I had wanted.

Overall, a fantastic concept, but the overall execution left something to be desired.

Plot: 3.5/5
Characters: 4/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.33/5

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