Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera (review)

33385229Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Adam Silvera is one of those talented authors that doesn’t need to do much to create a lasting, emotional impact that leaves you feeling hollow and sad yet strangely happy at the same time. His previous two novels, More Happy Than Not and History Is All You Left Me, carried grand emotional themes that were overwhelming yet perfectly contained at the same time, and that aspect is what I specifically looked for in They Both Die At The End, among other elements that Silvera excels at. I think my rating speaks for itself: I didn’t get it. Ha!

This story is essentially set in an alternate world where a company named Death-Cast lets people know when they will die, on the day that they will die. Those who are experiencing their Last Day, called Deckers, are allowed to live to the fullest through several technological services available. Last Friend, an app that connects Deckers who are looking for a friend to spend their last day with, is how Rufus and Mateo come together. It’s a pretty fascinating concept, but hardly fleshed out at the same time. The atmosphere of this world did not feel as concrete or palpable as Silvera’s previous novels, and while it’s primarily a contemporary and not a sci-fi novel, some world-building could have helped enhance the characters, themes, and writing, which definitely needed some enhancing.

I appreciate the crazy amount of diversity between Rufus and Mateo, but they still fell incredibly flat to me, which is something I’m not used to at all, because hello! We are talking about Adam Silvera here, right? Unfortunately, Rufus and Mateo had extensive but ordinarily tragic backstories that failed to conjure any emotion in me other than disinterest. I couldn’t hold any interest in their personalities, and the realization of their feelings for each other was written so abruptly even when I knew it was going to happen all along. I suppose ‘falling in love in one day’ stories are simply not for me (I’ve disliked nearly every romance that took place like that besides a select few), but if any author was going to make them work for me, I would bet on Adam freaking Silvera. *sighs* Life is full of disappointments indeed.

The worst part is the fact that I could have gotten past all the disappointments, or least have finished the book in less time, if it was the tiniest bit engaging. For the most part, the only feeling I felt toward the plot was one of extreme boredom, because my god, it dragged. Dragged me straight to hell with Rufus and Mateo’s monotone adventures and musings and unneeded subplots. The writing concentrated way too much on forcing the emotional impact instead of letting it come naturally, which is something that Silvera doesn’t even need to do! His previous books weren’t so unsubtle in the delivery of their messages, and I don’t know what happened with this one.

On a more positive note (take the word ‘positive’ lightly), I really liked the inclusion of various POVs from several minor characters. These characters are all connected in some way to Rufus and Mateo, but we are also allowed to see how they cope with their Last Days or the lives they are living in this crazy alternate world. All of their backgrounds are different, and it’s interesting to explore how they are involved in this mess. It really extenuated the theme of living a lifetime in a day much more subtly and less cliched than Rufus and Mateo’s story had.

I will admit the ending was definitely very powerful, but the emotional impact (or lack thereof, rather) the rest of the book carried was not enough to impress me. Really upsetting, considering my love for Silvera’s other two contemporaries, but I haven’t lost hope.

Rating: 2.5 stars

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Books, Original Post, YA Fiction

WWW Wednesday #4

WWW Wednesday (2)WWW Wednesday is a weekly event where you share (1) What you’re currently reading, (2) What you recently finished reading, and (3) What you think you’ll read next. Originally hosted Taking On A World Of Words.

What’s up, guys? I’ll admit that I’ve been feeling like I’m in a minor reading slump lately, but with what I’ve got planned, that’s bound to change soon.

What are you currently reading?

8041873Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?

This book is marketed as a horror comedy, and I’m totally okay with that! It’s a little slow-paced as of now, but I’m still excited to see where it goes.

What have you recently finished reading?

33385229

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

I love the concept behind this novel, but compared to the genius of More Happy Than Not and slightly less genius but still really good History Is All You Left Me, it’s pretty damn underwhelming. Look out for my full review coming in Friday!

What will you be reading next?

7171637In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Timesbestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

I’m absolutely TERRIFIED to re-read this notorious book, because I used to love The Infernal Devices trilogy in the 8th grade, but my 12th grade self isn’t so innocent anymore. Pray that I don’t hate it, y’all.

Thanks for viewing, guys! What are you guys currently reading and what do you plan on reading next? Leave me a comment below! 🙂

Books

Geekerella, by Ashley Poston (Review)

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science-fiction series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck and her dad’s old costume, Elle’s determined to win – unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons – before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he has ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake – until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part-romance, part-love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Welcome back to school, work, and college, everyone! My first week back from break was last week, and I am a bit tired, but ready to begin reading for the new year! I recently fell into a bit of a slump and only read Andy Weir’s The Martian before this one, which I will say is a drastic shift from what I’m about to talk about now: Geekerella.

Geekerella is a pretty by-the-books Cinderella retelling, and while it was enjoyable, cute, and somewhat relatable, it doesn’t necessarily need to exist in the tidal wave of Cinderella retellings in the book world. Ultimately, though, it was a fun bit of fluff where the characters were cute and appealed to something we all have: our inner fangirl.

Danielle, or Elle, is a standard YA Cinderella with her dead father, evil stepmother and stepsisters who think that making her do all the household work isn’t a form of abuse. However, don’t roll your eyes yet, folks. Elle is a fangirl, and a big one. This is the aspect of Elle that was inevitably irresistible. Her character is quite a pushover, yes, but her strong feelings for Starfield and the acceptance she craves from the fandom via the Internet is something Continue reading “Geekerella, by Ashley Poston (Review)”

Books, Original Post, YA Fiction

WWW Wednesday #3

WWW Wednesday (2)WWW Wednesday is a weekly event where you share (1) What you’re currently reading, (2) What you recently finished reading, and (3) What you think you’ll read next. Originally hosted Taking On A World Of Words.

Hey guys! I’m back with a new WWW Wednesday and am happy to say that I’m starting the new year well, reading-wise. Let’s get into it!

What are you currently reading?

10757806Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted—to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy—or as difficult—as it seems.

If y’all saw my last Wednesday post I said that I would be reading Red Queen next, but ha! That sure as hell didn’t happen! Instead, I’m re-reading this contemporary after a while and I’m loving it just as much as I did when I read it the first time. I’m noticing so much more this time but it’s making the experience of reading it so much better, because the characters, plot, and themes are that well-written. Couldn’t recommend this book enough.

What have you recently finished reading?

20613470Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

The bestselling series that has captured readers all over the world reaches new heights in this sequel to the New York Times best-selling Crown of Midnight. Packed with heart-pounding action, fierce new characters, and swoon-worthy romance, this third book will enthrall readers from start to finish.

Wow, wow, wow. I’m a bit torn on this one because I didn’t find it as engaging and action-oriented as Crown Of Midnight and couldn’t get into certain POVs/plotlines (Manon, namely), but I like the direction of the fantasy aspect and Celaena’s character development. Yep, I’m actually liking Celaena! There are times where her presence and backstory are overwhelming to the point where it’s unnecessary, but I really liked how all her struggles tied together at the end. I’m excited to see where she goes, as well as her relationship with Rowan.

What will you be reading next?

33385229On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

I wasn’t originally planning on reading this after How To Save A Life, but I was lucky to find it in my school library and there’s no way I’m letting it go to waste. I’m pretty sure I’ll be a weepy mess after finishing this, but I love Adam Silvera’s novels too much.

Thanks for viewing, guys! What are you guys currently reading and what do you plan on reading next? Leave me a comment below! 🙂

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Black Chuck by Regan McDonell (ARC review)

35797221Release date: April 3, 2018

Psycho. Sick. Dangerous. Real Dufresne’s reputation precedes him. When the mangled body of his best friend, Shaun, turns up in a field just east of town, tough-as-hell Real blames himself. But except for the nightmares, all Re remembers is beating the living crap out of Shaun the night of his death.

Shaun’s girlfriend, sixteen-year-old Evie Hawley, keeps her feelings locked up tight. But now she’s pregnant, and the father of her baby is dead. And when Real looks to her to atone for his sins, everything goes sideways. Fast.

The tighter Evie and Real get, the faster things seem to fall apart. And falling in love might just be the card that knocks the whole house down.

Out of all the ARCs I had requested as of late, I desired Black Chuck the most. It’s easy to see the appeal in the dark, mysterious cover and the premise was brimming with a sort of broodiness that I was always attracted to. Unfortunately, while I appreciated the uniqueness of the concept, the amount of diversity involved, and the addicting nature of the story overall, those aspects couldn’t save the rest of the book from being simply average.

The overall plot seemed to progress at a steady pace but certain subplots were left unexplored, and their sudden relevance at points felt forced and abrupt. This goes hand in hand with the characters, who seem to have depth but not enough to fully impact the several subplots they are involved in. Real, Evie, Sunny, Alex, and Shaun are the main characters and I would say they are an intriguing, diverse, and layered group. Each of them have their own backstories but I simply couldn’t muster any interest to care about them. They are have interesting backgrounds but the motives behind their actions are hardly explored and most of their character traits are told rather than shown. However, Real and Evie both were likable enough to drive the story well and I did enjoy reading about Shaun and Evie’s tumultuous relationship, even if the way it was expressed was a tad out of order.

There is an aspect of Native American ancestry incorporated, as Real is part Native American, where Real details how he’s descended from a famous cannibal named Black Chuck. Frankly, this element was grossly underused and seemed to cramp up the style and vibe of the story, because, well, it was so out of place. It played a large part toward the end, but it didn’t serve much purpose other to add to the diversity aspect, in my aspect. However, it was interesting to read about such a concept again, the only other time I had experienced something similar to this was in The Lives Of Desperate Girls, which was also set in Canada and explored Native American reservations.

Black Chuck is an unconventional, moody, and diverse mystery but it promises much more than it can deliver. Give it a try if you’re in the mood for something totally new, but it won’t be as satisfying as you want it to be.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater (review)

30025336Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

Stiefvater never fails to surprise me with her imaginative, atmospheric, fleshed-out novels. All The Crooked Saints is in all aspects, a very strange and unique story that seems to differ from most YA magical realism books in the writing, plotting, and introduction of characters. Stiefvater’s trademark style might run off the rails in the hands of another author, but the many elements of this novel that make it different, actually WORK. Not all the time, but often enough to make it one of the most intriguing stories I’ve ever read.

To start off, Stiefvater does do a few things differently in this novel when she introduces a setting, character, or certain situation. The beginnings of each chapter are usually characterized by a viewpoint of an abstract idea that is later connected to something important in the chapter. It could be a description of an area, an exploration of a theme, or simply a process of how something works. I will admit that this took some time to get used to and it was probably the only element that hindered me from enjoying this book to the maximum. Some of these musings turn into ramblings that take us nowhere, and by then it’s easy to lose interest. I could attribute this to the reason why this book felt so short yet so long, as it took me nearly 5 days to read when it should have been barely 3. However, I could also attribute it to my everlasting homework and duties to reading Pride And Prejudice for AP Lit. Side note: Screw you, AP Lit.

However, the prose in general was excellent, as expected. I’ve always adored Stiefvater’s writing, the way she can concoct a tangible atmosphere by infusing her magic into the most mundane features of a desert is amazing. Atmospheric writing is my favorite thing, and I would consider Stiefvater to be the queen of it. The exploration of themes such as love, fear, family, identity, and much more blend in perfectly with the aesthetic that is consistently kept up, and I love how whole and full every aspect of the story feels. The composition gives us a feeling of looking at this setting and set of characters from a birds-eye view, but everything can still be seen so clearly. Does that make sense? It’s probably one of those things you must experience to understand it.

The fantasy aspect of the novel was classic magical realism with its own twists and turns. The theories behind the miracles, pilgrims, Saints, and the Soria family legacy were all carefully unfolded throughout the course of the novel, and I loved how the tone was simultaneously dark and light while talking of the events that have taken place in Bicho Raro. The story still keeps the natural whimsical, weird, and magical feel that every magical realism novel has while adding its own unique touches.

Unsurprisingly, Stiefvater tackles a large ensemble cast and happens to tell their individual stories in a third person omniscient viewpoint. It’s a grand idea that is difficult to execute, but Stiefvater manages to nail it. Our main three characters, Beatriz, Daniel, and Joaquin are all equally developed but Beatriz definitely stuck out to me the most. I understood and related to her struggle to express herself and break out of the ‘no feelings’ shell that she has been comfortable in for so long. While those three are mainly highlighted, every single character has equal page time and equal characterization. Pete, Tony, Marisita, Jennie and the entire Soria family are all so well-developed and layered, Stiefvater manages to tell each one of their stories with such emotion and purpose.

All The Crooked Saints is a magical, bizarre, warm, dark, atmospheric exploration of the deepest parts of human nature and self. It’s truly one of a kind and I would urge to all to hop on the hype train before it’s too late and read it as soon as you can. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4 stars

Thanks for viewing, fellow readers! Let me know your thoughts below! 🙂

 

Books, New Releases, YA Fiction

Anticipated releases: January 2018

January! 2018! And wow, wow, wow would you take a look at these upcoming releases. It makes me want to dance just looking at the covers through the screen. LET’S GO, y’all.

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29749090Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu – Coming January 2, 2018

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

This is probably my most anticipated DC Icons novel, because I LOVE Batman, and I have not doubt Marie Lu will do him justice. HYPED.

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – Coming January 2, 2018

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Holly Black really loved her faeries, doesn’t she? 🙂 The cover is already giving me everything, I can’t wait to venture back into the fae world. HYPEEE.

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33503607Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined To Meet (anthology) – Coming January 2, 2018

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors. 

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants. 

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

AHHHH. Have I ever said no to a contemporary anthology? Jennifer Armentrout, Julie Murphy, Sara Sephard, need I say more? LET’S GOOOO.

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32941343Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner – Coming January 9, 2018

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…

A space opera, yeeees. I wasn’t so fond of These Broken Stars, but I know Kaufman and Spooner can do some damn good world-building. Definitely hyped for this!

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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – Coming January 30, 2018

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong. 

Books with pretty covers make me nervous… but I’m going to try my hardest to sustain my faith in this one. That synopsis sounds amazing, let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Thanks for reading, guys! What are your most anticipated January releases? 🙂