Monday, February 8, 2016

ARC Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Fine

Title: Assassin's Heart
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Series: Assassin's Heart #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date:  February 2nd 2016
Pages: 400
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
  In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

  Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

  With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

  In the kingdom of Lovero, murder is not looked down upon, as long as it’s done by one of the nine clipper/assassin families. Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is from the first Family and she has a secret - she’s been going out with one of the second Family, Val Da Via. That is, until she wakes up one day after meeting with Val to see her house set aflame and her family murdered. As the only Saldana left now, Lea is set on revenge - killing the Da Vias as they had killed her family.

  I have to be honest. When I first read the synopsis of the book back then, I was really worried that it would be the same with Throne of Glass since the idea that it gave me was just so similar. However, I am really glad that all those were just speculations. Assassin’s Heart has its own story to tell, and it’s a pretty great story at that.

  I definitely liked the world building in this story, and how the action was immediately there after the story began, as I have noticed that fantasy books usually take time to let things set first. However, towards 40% of the book, I felt really bored and I was just skipping narratives and I just wanted to get things over with. Lucky, after a few more chapters, the story picked up again.

  It was interesting how everything unraveled, although it was not what I expected at all. I cannot say more because I’m afraid I might spoil something, but boy was I surprised by the turn of events! I loved how everything wrapped up together though, and I’m really interested about what the second book might be about!

3.5 page-turning stars

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Dress Up That Cover #54 - Reign of Shadows

  Dress Up That Cover is a new feature where I create an outfit based merely on the cover, not the story nor what the characters would wear. Colors of the outfit will all be taken from the cover design, so the books may be ones that I haven't read yet. All sets will be created via Polyvore.
  This week's feature is Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan in honor of its almost release. Yay! As of the time that I'm scheduling this post, I haven't read this book yet, but I have a copy from Edelweiss, so I'm hoping to get to it soon. Hopefully, by the time that this post goes live, I will have a review ready for you guys! :)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Blog Tour: Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk

Title: Arrows
Author: Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Greek Myth
Publisher: Delcorte Press
Publication Date: January 26th 2016
Pages: 256
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Goodreads || Amazon paperback || Barnes & Noble (B&N)
Bookdepository || iTunes || Kobo

A modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV's Teen Mom.

People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.
Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.

A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?

This fast-paced debut novel explores the internal & external conflicts of a girl who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a boy who seemingly doesn't reciprocate her  feelings, touching on the issues of love, sex and responsibility, with a heroine struggling to control her destiny--perfect for fans of Katie McGarry's novels and MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.

  When I first read the synopsis for this novel, I was immediately intrigued. Greek myth is a guilty pleasure of mine, and having reading Cupid books like this on Wattpad, I knew that this book would be for me. Indeed, Melissa wrote a promising novel with an intriguing plot.

  Back when Aaryn was younger, he was sent down to Earth. He was tasked to shoot Karma and Danny, but only managed to shoot Karma, leaving the relationship in shambles. Now the Assembly has found out about this, and Aaryn is once again sent to Earth to fix the mistake he made - by making Danny propose - or be punished. But how can Aaryn do this, when he has fallen for Karma himself?

  In this story, we see the repercussions of an action made by another to Danny and Karma’s relationship. And despite having a daughter together, Danny still isn’t loyal to Karma. I really enjoyed seeing the bonds of friendship and family in this book. Karma’s immediate family was portrayed as helpful, but not perfect, which I really liked. On the other hand, her aunt and cousin were very supportive, which I don’t see in much other novels. The story also showed how much of a good mom Karma is, but how she keeps lying to herself to keep things the way they are.

  Enter Aaryn. Aaryn is this helpful guy who just keeps popping up everywhere. Little does Karma know that he is the one at fault for her shitty relationship. As their friendship started to develop, their relationship becomes more complicated. At some points, I was really annoyed at Aaryn, but now I can’t remember at which exact points. Overall though, he’s a really great guy who just wants what’s best for Karma.

  I really like the flow of the story - I liked the plot and the pacing. It was very interesting and it was entertaining to read. However, the reason why I couldn’t give this one more stars is because first, I felt like the overall tone of the novel is kind of juvenile and amateur-ish. I’m not saying that about the character, the plot or the whole story - just maybe the choice of words. Second, I felt like the ending was kind of rushed. Aaryn was in Mount Olympus one moment and then on Earth the next, and I was just left open-mouthed because it was too fast and I hoped that the explanation would be longer. I also felt that I was left hanging because of the ending.

  Overall, I really liked the flow of the plot in Arrows, I just didn’t just didn’t like the ending and choice of words.

3.5 not-that-satisfied stars.

Buy Links

Friday, February 5, 2016

ARC Review: The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore || Help! IDK What to Think!

Title: The Big Rewind
Author: Libby Cudmore
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Mystery
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 256
My Rating: 3 Stars

Jett Bennett moved to New York to become a music journalist. What she found was a temp gig as a proofreader, but at least she’s fitting in with the artists and musicians in the tragically hip Brooklyn neighborhood she calls home.

But when Jett opens up her mail and finds a mix tape meant for her neighbor, KitKat, a local queen bee renowned for her “enhanced” baked goods and retro videogame collection, everything changes. Jett drops off the cassette and discovers that it’s game over for KitKat: someone bashed her head in with a rolling pin… and left her pot brownies burning in the oven.

KitKat’s boyfriend, Bronco, is M.I.A. Her sister is so desperate that she asks Jett to snoop around. Then there’s that mix tape. Jett didn’t know KitKat well, but she knows music. And a tape full of love songs from someone other than Bronco screams motive—sending Jett and her best friend, Sid, on an epic quest to find KitKat’s killer through record stores, strip joints, vegan bakeries, and basement nightclubs—a journey that resonates with Jett, and her past, in unexpected ways.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

  You know how when you are reading a book or when you finish a book, an opinion and some commentary forms in your mind? Well, this book is kind of an exception. There were so many things that happened in this book, but I just couldn't come to a conclusion of what I want to say about it and what my opinion is about the book and the events inside the book.

  The Big Rewind is about a Jett, who moved to New York to become a journalist. However, she only has a temp job now working as a proofreader. One day, as Jett was taking a misplaced mail to her neighbor's apartment, Jett found that her neighbor had been murdered. Nobody knows who did it, and the only clue that Jett has is the misplaced mail that she got the day she found her neighbor dead. This is a story about friendship, mystery, romance and justice.

  Because of the lack of opinion I have on this book, I decided to just give it 3 stars because that's what's in the middle of the spectrum. I can't say that I hated this book, nor can I say that I loved this book. I don't even know whether I liked it or not. And once I finished the book, I didn't have any emotions or comments. I just kind of went with the flow while reading this one and didn't really think about the story that much. I don't know, I guess I might have been distracted at that time.

  I have already waited a number of days before finally writing this review because I didn't want my review to turn out like this, but I guess I don't have a choice. I just couldn't drag out not writing a review any longer, but I still also couldn't form an opinion in my head so I just settled for this instead. Gah, it sucks not having anything to comment on, which by the way is not the author's fault. Just saying. I just didn't feel this book, that's all.

  Anyway, if you guys have read this book already, please leave a comment down below on what you think about this book. I don't know, maybe I might be able to relate to some of them? Gosh, this feeling is just so weird, so please help me out if you can, thanks!

i-have-no-idea stars

Monday, February 1, 2016

ARC Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2016
Pages: 352
My Rating: 3 Stars

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

"The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?"

  When I first read the synopsis of Symptoms of Being Human, I was immediately intrigued. I mean, it started out with with an amazing line which immediately captured my attention. And, when I finally got to reading the book, it was indeed the first thing I wondered - Is Riley a boy or a girl? It was really interesting for me as well because up until then, I didn't know a thing about being gender fluid because I've never heard of the term before.

  Unfortunately, after the initial fascination with a main character who is gender fluid has passed, I felt more and more disconnected to Riley and the story itself.
It was just lacking that thing that would draw me in, you know? But I just really wanted to know where the story was headed, and so I read on. However, I just really couldn't connect to it. I know that this is an amazing story with an eye-opening message, but I just didn't have the connection to the story that I wanted as a reader.

  Another thing is that while I knew that Riley is gender fluid and the author didn't want to reveal Riley's biological gender, I kept trying to guess it until 70% of the story, at which point I thought that it really didn't matter anymore and I just didn't care anymore. Then I finished the book and got to the author's note, and that's when things just started to click for me. I realized what this story is really about and how the author intended for things to be but at the end of the day I still don't feel connected to the book. Maybe it would have helped if I had encountered someone who is gender fluid before or something. I really don't know.

  Overall, I get the message that the author is trying to put across, and I really appreciated this novel for that message. However, I just wasn't able to connect to the story as much as I wanted to as a reader. I guess I'll be the black sheep here. I'm not saying that I hated this book, because I didn't hate it; I'm just saying that I didn't enjoy it quite as much as others did.

3 no-connection stars

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Lettering and Calligraphy #12 - Lang Leav Poetry

Lettering & Calligraphy is a new feature on the blog where I can share to you guys my other hobby besides reading. This feature will showcase my letter and calligraphy works of quotes from various books. I'm not an expert or even anywhere near , but I just wanted to share my works. :)
"The sad thing is, the moment you start missing someone, you know they're already gone." - Lang Leav poetry
 Another one from the amazing Lang Leav! Ah, the truth in this quote..

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn

Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn Duology #1
Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Publication Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 404
My Rating: 4 Stars

One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad's dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph's reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she'd imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It's an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid's life as retribution for the many lives he's stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

I'd heard so many great things about this book, people going on and on about how perfect it was, so I was very excited to read it. But at the same time, I was afraid that the hype might ruin it for me.

Fortunately, I wasn't let down.

The beginning of the story was very interesting. But I didn't like Shahrzad at first. It was just that, after reading the synopsis, I thought that she'd have a very good plan to made sure that she didn't die the next morning. She didn't have a plan. And it was so infuriating, because if really Khalid was the monster she believed him to be, then she would have died and there would have been nothing to save her.

She got better as the story progressed, though. She wasn't nearly as careless. But I just can't ignore the fact that she volunteered to die without a plan. It's like an unforgivable sin. But yeah, I still do think she's great. She really grew as a character.

All the characters in the book were very well developed actually, and believable. I really connected with them and I most certainly rooted for them.

I liked Khalid and Shahrzad and the chemistry between the two. I loved Jalal, he was such great presence. Not going to say anything about Delphina because I feel that even saying whether I liked or disliked her would be a spoiler. I'm curious about Shekhar because we don't know much about him and I would like to. I also liked Rahim.

I had mixed feeling about Tariq, though.

Sometimes, I liked him but other times, I wanted to strangle him. I liked that he cares about Shahrzad but he needs to give her more credit because other than her not-having-a-plan moment and a bit of impulsiveness in the beginning, she's a smart girl, not the kind of person to be easily tricked or forced into a monster's trap.

I hated that he treated her like a child who wasn't to be trusted with anything, regarding her own life or otherwise. But he was an interesting character and I have to give that to the author.

The writing was also beautiful. The book is set in a very fantasy-type setting but not in any alternate world so it was very important to maintain the balance between the two things. That was done very well by the author. The way she described the places and the words she used had a magical effect on the storyline.

The big reveal, the one I was dreading (I always dread big reveals because, what's if they're not good enough? They have the potential to ruin the book.) was quite good. It didn't really come as a shock since some of it was given in the prologue and there were hints throughout the book. But I don't think it was meant as a plot twist in the first place. It was just a secret and the reveal was about Shahrzad's reaction and her decision, which was fine.

One thing that somewhat disappointed me was another thing that was supposed to have a reason (Khalid going to her that night). There was a reason given for it but I felt that it wasn't enough, or wasn't explained as well it should have been. I would have liked to know a bit more.

But otherwise, the story was really good, the writing was fantastic, it was fast paced and there was never a boring moment.

There was a love triangle but, at the same time, not really. It was just about someone she loved before meeting Khalid. It didn't bother me much. Hopefully, it won't bother me in the next book either because that could potentially taint the allure of that book.

And the ending of this one... OH MY GOD!

Not going to to say if it's a good OMG, bad one, sad one or frustrated one (although, considering this book is first in a series, it can't be that happy).

I will say that I really need the next book (especially after reading an excerpt of it's prologue) and that I highly recommend this one. This is a wonderful read and you will not be disappointed.

4 Give-me-the-second-book! Stars

Friday, January 29, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: Trial by Fire

Title: Trial by Fire
Author: Josephine Angelini
Series: The Worldwalker Trilogy #1
Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 374
My Rating: 4 Stars

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

This book had a great beginning. It sucked me right in and I loved it. I thought it was very awesome and, as I was planning to write in my review, supremely cool.

In fact, upto about halfway through, I couldn't see a single thing that was wrong with it. I mean it missed a bit of a spark, the one that makes you fangirl, but that wasn't exactly a flaw.

It was after that point that I noticed some things that the book lacked. Mainly, emotional depth. All the emotional scenes fell a bit flat for me and, consequesntly, so did the romance. I still love Lily and Rowan and want them to be alive and together, but it's mostly just because I love them both than because of their chemistry.

I know they have chemistry but it just doesn't show because it's not executed well. The most emotional scene for me was Rowan's dad's dead scene and even that wasn't very good.

There were also times when things were a bit too convenient. Lily learnt too fast and because so strong so quick that I had trouble buying it.

The ending saved it though. It was unexpected and very good, even if the scene itself was hurried. I wish there was more of a grand-ness to it and the other big, important parts.

But other than that, I loved the book, especially the use of science in it, and I am very eager to get to the next one (which I can't right now because I'm trying to follow my TBR schedule and because I'm stupid).

This was a very good book and I certainly recommend it. The storyline is great and so are the characters and it is, overall, a great read, despite some flaws.

P.S. Lillian is an evil, self-righteous psychopath. In fact, you'll be surprised by the amount of self-righteous people in this book. Everyone thinks what they're doing is for the greater good. Except Gideon, who's a selfish asshole (a selfish asshole that I actually liked. As a villain, of course), and Carrick, who's just pathetic.

4 Needs-more-emotion Stars

Monday, January 25, 2016

ARC Review: The Mystery of Hollow Places

Title: The Mystery of Hollow Places
Author: Rebecca Podos
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: January 26th 2016
Pages: Kindle, 304 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

  All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It's the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist, she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed by a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as troubled waters.

  When Imogene is seventeen, her father, now a famous author of medical mysteries, strikes out in the middle of the night and doesn't come back. Neither Imogene's stepmother nor the police know where he could've gone, but Imogene is convinced he's looking for her mother. She decides to put to use the skills she's gleaned from a lifetime of her father's books to track down a woman she's never known, in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she's carried with her for her entire life.

  Rebecca Podos' debut is a powerful, affecting story of the pieces of ourselves that remain mysteries even to us - the desperate search through empty spaces for something to hold on to.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

  When Imogene was two years old, her mother took off unexpectedly without telling anyone why or where she was going to. Now Imogene is a teenager, and this time, it's her dad who took off without telling anyone. Imogene knows that she's the only one who can find her father, so she used various detective novels to help her reach her father.

  This book was not what I expected it to be. I expected this book to be centered on mystery, but I didn't feel pulled the mystery at all. However, as I read on, I realized that the mystery is not the main point of the novel. The main point was the journey that the main character took to find meaning and understand her family and herself even more. That is actually my favorite thing about the novel. However, I just couldn't rate this more than 3 stars.

  This book was interesting, yes, and I liked the journey that the main character took but I still feel like there's something missing from the book to make it more meaningful and compelling. I just wasn't that drawn into the story as much as I hoped to be, and I kept putting the book down because I wasn't compelled to read it. The story is interesting in it's own way though, so don't get me wrong. It was not boring; not at all. I just didn't feel the pull.

  While I was reading this novel, I was just like "meh" the whole time. I wasn't able to connect to the main character or any other character for that matter. In the end, I was neither shocked nor did I say, "Aha! I knew it!" I was just reading the book and not feeling anything, but I know that the story is nice.

3 'meh' stars