Books, YA Fiction

October 2017 wrap-up

Hey peeps! October was quite a busy month for me — college application deadlines are approaching and the tension is indeed growing. I only managed to read 4 books, but they definitely helped with the stress even if I didn’t enjoy them all the same.

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256683City Of Bones, by Cassandra Clare (4 stars) – It was great to visit this book again, and I surprisingly seemed to enjoy it just as much as I did when I read it the first time. It’s actually pretty cool to experience a previous favorite through an altered perspective, as my tastes have changed since I’ve read any Cassandra Clare novel. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

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17399160Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch (4 stars) – This was a fast-paced, engaging, fleshed-out fantasy novel that had a totally badass protagonist. While this book and I didn’t get off to a great start, it grew on me quickly enough. I hope the rest of the series remains just as good! You can read my full review here.

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19542841More Happy Than Not, by Adam Silvera (4.5 stars) – This book was so stressful and depressing and outright sad, but so worth the read. It explores a number of very relevant themes and expresses it all in such an emotional but honest way. Couldn’t recommend it enough. You can read my full review here.

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32766747The Library Of Fates, Aditi Khorana (1.75 stars) – This book had a great concept, but all of its potential was wasted on the underwhelming execution. The world-building, plot, and characters were all rather stale, and while I love the Indian mythology and aesthetic running through it, the story was just not for me. You can read my full review here.

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27827203Frostblood, by Elly Blake (3.25 stars) – I hate myself a little bit for even slightly liking this book, because it really doesn’t do anything different from all the other YA fantasies I have read. The characters and plot are pretty recognizable, but the story definitely kept me deeply entertained. Hopefully the sequel branches out on its own more. Look out for my full review coming soon!

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Thanks for viewing, peeps! How did your October go? Let me know in the comments 🙂

-Haven

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Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Library Of Fates, by Aditi Khorana | a beautiful concept, an underwhelming execution

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1.75 stars (I’m aware that this is probably the most ridiculous rating I’ve ever given)

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The palace is soon under siege, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

I had been scarily intent on getting my hands on The Library Of Fates ever since my eyes brushed over the striking cover, and while there are an increasing number of books coming out on Indian folklore, it’s still pretty rare to see one and I wasn’t going to miss The Library Of Fates for the world. But, I suppose I should have turned to The Star-Touched Queen to get my South Asian fill because this book managed to disappoint me in number of ways. A much too convenient progression of events and flat character writing contributed the most to my disappointment, but to see all this potential go to waste is the saddest of all.

The world-building is fairly okay, as I do have a feel for the two main kingdoms the story is set in, the small yet free Shalinger, and the grand but conservative Macedon. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the rest of this world looks like which is why it should be mandatory for every fantasy novel to include a map. I did enjoy the descriptions of the atmosphere, it felt South Indian as hell and I’m South Indian as hell, so it was damn cool to see my culture (in varations) on the page. It kind of made me want to watch one of those Hindi period dramas that have been trending recently, you know, the ones that Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone have been in? I swear those two are all I see these days in Hindi cinema, not that I’m complaining. I probably should have watched the Padmavati trailer a few times before attempting to visualize the beauty and richness of the Indian culture expressed in this book, but I felt it nonetheless.

The story is also ridden with mythological and folk tales naturally, which I appreciated as well. These stories aren’t real of course but the elements they contained felt very familiar, but sadly, the familiarity of the novel’s culture and atmosphere was the only thing keeping me afloat throughout the course of this book. The story and plot itself were highly convenient and calculated to the point in which I had predicted the whole ‘twist’ beforehand. Things came much too easily to Amrita, making the story completely devoid of any tension or excitement. The writing seemed incredibly juvenile, especially when it came to the more intense scenes, in which the prose failed to inject any sort of liveliness. I really like the concept behind the story and what message it is supposed to tell, but it never really came full circle to me because of the utter blandness, and worse, the lack of complexity, behind the plot and characters.

Typically, by this point if I think the plot is crappy and the writing is crappy, I can rely on the characters to pull me through the novel with mild interest, and books like these are mostly rated 3 stars if I’m in a good mood, maybe even a 3.25 (there’s a big difference between the two for me, don’t judge). Obviously, the characters did not come through. Amrita is blander than … the blandest thing you could think of. First off, I could not find any reason to root for her because her personality was incredibly lacking in complexity. I despise characters that are inherently good-natured and two-dimensional in such a way. Another aspect that has probably contributed to this was the fact that everything came so easily for her. Her whole journey is so calculated and unsurprising, I never got to experience Amrita actually growing and facing her challenges, and the times where she is mildly challenged, the writing never came through to show (show, not tell) the emotion behind her changing character.

Thala actually seems to be a more complex character, but due to faults in the crafting of her backstory and general lack of insight into it, she was lost on me as well. The side characters, namely Amrita’s love interests, Arjun and Varun, were even less complex, which obviously made the romance aspect incredibly dull. Perhaps my biggest disappointment involving the characters is the total lack of dynamic and energy between Thala and Amrita. While I did like how they ended up forging a deep friendship, I definitely wanted more entertainment from them both. It didn’t have to be comedic, they didn’t have to make out (but god knows I was secretly wishing for this), they just had to create a unique energy between them both that kept me excited and entertained.

For those who enjoy younger-sounding fantasies and are looking for some South Asian-based stories, this will be a perfect fit for you. Sadly, The Library Of Fates wasn’t for me but I am happy that Indian mythology is gaining more attention in the YA world.

-Haven

Books

Violet Grenade, by Victoria Scott

Two stars. And I’m stretching it, believe me.

Her name is Domino Ray.

But the voice inside her head has a different name.

When the mysterious Ms. Karina finds Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position at her girls’ home in secluded West Texas. With no alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the woman’s approval…and falling for Cain, the mysterious boy living in the basement.

But the home has horrible secrets. So do the girls living there. So does Cain.

Escaping is harder than Domino expects, though, because Ms. Karina doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, she doesn’t know about the danger living inside Domino’s mind.

She doesn’t know about Wilson.

I rarely go for impulse reading these days – I’m more of a “look up every review on Goodreads” kind of person when it comes to deciding what I want to read. However, I decided to temporarily abandon this principle with Violet Grenade because I thought it sounded cool and belonged to a genre I don’t normally read – suspense.

Red flags went up from the start, as soon as I saw how angsty this book was going to become. Domino, the main character, is your standard heavy-backstory-laden tragic character – one with mysterious scars on her arms, “blood on her hands,” secrets, and homelessness. She’s squatting in a house with Dizzy, an equally homeless Iranian kid. When a run-in with the police gets Dizzy arrested, Domino decided to take a mysterious woman’s offer to take a “job” at her “House for Burgeoning Entertainers” so she can pay off his bail. Sounds super sketchy, right? But if you’re hoping for more depth from Dizzy, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed – he’s essentially an intriguing character who’s unfortunately a throwaway since he’s simply used to move the plot along.

(Maybe I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones lately, but a house for entertainers sounds very much like a brothel to me. Maybe because this is a YA novel, the “entertainment” was weirdly super PG-rated, which just seemed bizarre to me, but whatever. I’m getting off on a tangent. 😉 )

One of my major annoyances with this book was the presence of numerous bitchy mean girls. The girls at this house are technically competing against each other for earnings, but that doesn’t mean that every single one of them had to be nasty little pieces of scum. With the exception of her friend Poppet, every other girl at this house hated Domino just for existing, and went out of their way to make her life miserable. (Some even snuck under her bed before she went to sleep to give her minor cuts. I mean, what?)

Problem number two was that the love interest, Cain, was about as interesting as a brick. The romance was forced and degraded Domino from the supposedly strong girl she was supposed to be. Even his backstory was so cliche I had to put the book down when I found out.

Problem number three (yeah, this list is going on longer than I expected) was the predictability of nearly everything. You know something is amiss with the madam just from the blurb. You know both Domino and Cain had classic angsty backstories. As you read on, the specifics also become really straightforward to figure out, and there was really nothing that surprised me.

My final, biggest issue with this book was the portrayal of mental illness. Domino has an alternate personality, named Wilson, that wants to wreak havoc and was born as a result of past trauma. Wilson in of itself was a pretty interesting character, but it is always abundantly clear that he’s a manifestation of Domino’s mental illness. I can’t claim to be an expert mental illness, but I thought that using Wilson simply as a plot device and companion for Domino oversimplified the complex issue at root (and the fact that she has a mental illness isn’t explicitly acknowledged once). Domino’s ultimate healing and overcoming of Wilson’s destructive power (What? It’s not a spoiler if it’s really freaking obvious that it’s going to happen) happened too easily, with little outside help, and was mostly caused by the power of love. I know that I shouldn’t ask for a realistic portrayal of mental illness from a suspense novel that’s not even about mental illness, but I couldn’t stand this level of simplicity the entire issue was afforded.

As many issues as there were, I did manage to finish this book in a short period of time, which means that something went right, since I have nothing against DNF-ing books I dislike. I can’t point out one specific thing that I liked, per se, but there was a certain entertainment value that encouraged me to keep reading in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. I guess that counts for something?

After writing this review, I’m wondering if this book deserves one start instead of two. I don’t recommend this book to anyone except readers who haven’t had much experience with YA to whom the cliches won’t seem as cliche. Maybe I’ve just seen too many of these tropes in my life, but Violet Grenade was not for me.

-Liz

Books, Tag, YA Fiction

Sunshine Blogger Award

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This is like a 100 years late, but thank you to Danielle @LifeOfALiteraryNerd for nominating Musings And Books for this award. Y’all should definitely check out the content on her amazing blog. Let’s jump right in. 🙂

The Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog
  2. Answer the 11 questions penned by the nominator
  3. Create your own set of 11 questions and nominate 11 other bloggers to answer them
  4. List the rules and display the award logo

Haven:

What is the last book you added to your TBR?

The last book I added to my TBR was The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly, which is a bit random because it’s not a recent release or anything (it was published 2 years ago). I don’t usually add books immediately after I stumble upon them to my TBR unless they really, really interest me, and this one seemed totally up my alley.

If you could get an ARC of any book that comes out later this year what would it be?

Definitely All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater, which comes out in October. I’ve seen so many people bitching talking about the ‘cultural appropriation’, without even have read it and it pisses me off. How Stiefvater will handle the representation definitely has me more curious than usual, but I would read anything she writes anyway.

What is your favorite place to read?

Hmm, there isn’t a specific place I like to read because I do most of my reading in a semi-uncomfortable desk in school, haha. I’m fine with reading anywhere, but reading on my bed when I’m completely stress-free is my favorite. I’d love to get a special chair reserved for reading someday, though.

What author do you want to read more of?

So many! I definitely want to check out more Morgan Matson, Sarah Dessen, and Kasie West, who are all trademark names in YA contemporary. I’ve only grazed the surface of Maggie Stiefvater and Marie Lu’s novels too, so I’d love to read more of them.

What author can you not get into?

Hmm, I don’t know. I have to say that I’m simply not interested on hopping on the Sarah J. Maas hype train. I wasn’t that keen on Throne Of Glass, and while I’ve heard the series gets better, I can’t muster the curiosity to actually check them out. Maybe I should read A Court Of Thorns And Roses first?

What book do you think everyone needs to read?

All The Rage, by Courtney Summers, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. I couldn’t pick just one! All three of these books are so important in different ways, and especially with the way the world is now, I think everyone needs to read these novels.

If you could turn any book into a movie/tv show what would it be?

Six Of CrowsUnwindA Darker Shade Of Magic! I would turn every book I read into a movie, but the worlds of these books are so vast and intriguing, they would make absolutely amazing movies/tv shows if they were done right.

What is your book dream vacation spot?

I absolutely love Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, so I’d vacation there for sure. Maybe take a tour around Ravka, visit the Wandering Isle. Crack a cold one with the Dregs in Ketterdam. 😉

What is your favorite genre to read?

My favorite genre to read is probably contemporary, right now. I used to be a huge science-fiction and fantasy fan, and while I still am, I’m leaning toward all types of contemporaries nowadays.

What is the last song you listened to? (Bonus if you can relate it to a book)

I think it was ‘Palm Trees’ by Goldlink. Wish I could relate it to a certain book, but I do love that song. 🙂

Who are your top 5 characters (books, TV, movies, anything)?

AHHHH this is so difficult, it’ll take me forever to think of them so here are just a few off the top of my head! I love Shawn and Gus from Psych (faves!!), Zuko and Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender (we need a Rush Hour type buddy cop movie from these two), and Kaz Brekker and Inej Ghafa from Six Of Crows (I love everyone but these two are special). I would list Will Herondale too, but I haven’t read The Infernal Devices in a while so it would be invalid. He’s still my ultimate book boyfriend though, we’re just on a break right now. 😉

Aliza:

What is the last book you added to your TBR?

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Surprisingly, I haven’t read this modern classic yet, and I really want to, although I’m not sure I’m ready for the crying that’s supposedly associated with this book.

If you could get an ARC of any book that comes out later this year what would it be?

Obsidio, the third book of The Illuminae Files. Although the book technically comes out next March, it was initially slated to be released this year, so it’s not technically outside the rules of the question? Anyway, I love Illuminae’s unconventional narrative style, and am excited for the conclusion of the series.

What is your favorite place to read?

Probably a quiet library, although there aren’t any in the area where I live, so my favorite place is more of a fantasy for now. 😦

What author do you want to read more of?

Cristin Terrill – I devoured both her standalone novels, and although those are the only two she’s written, I hear she has some good stuff in the works. But seriously. Read All Our Yesterdays. 

What author can you not get into?

Nicola Yoon – She wrote Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star, and I despised the first one and couldn’t read the latter, despite the incredible hype she’s been getting. I guess her style of overly cheesy romances is just not for me, although I appreciate the diversity in her books.

What book do you think everyone needs to read?

There are so many, but Unwind, In the Woods, and Vicious. These are all so thought-provoking and awesome, I highly recommend them all.

If you could turn any book into a movie/tv show what would it be?

I don’t think it’s possible to watch something based off a cherished book and not hate it simply because the main character has honey brown hair instead of golden brown hair. But, and only if it was executed perfectly, This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab or Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis.

What is your book dream vacation spot?

Definitely the different Londons of the Shades of Magic series (which has some of the best world-building I’ve ever read), particularly Kell’s Red London.

What is your favorite genre to read?

I read fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary, and have little preference for one over the other. Just depends on my mood I guess, although contemporary is my go-to genre when I’m in a book slump.

What is the last song you listened to? (Bonus if you can relate it to a book)

“The Willow Tree March,” by The Paper Kites. I like the instrumental bits in this song, but the only book I can relate it to is Grendel by John Gardner, which we had to read for school (I actually had to analyze the song lyrics of this song for a project, if you can believe it). I’m not at all a fan of the book, but some of the lines in the song really do relate to the themes of Grendel.

Who are your top 5 characters (books, TV, movies, anything)?

I’m going to resist the urge to make all of them Avatar: The Last Airbender characters, so I’ll pick just Zuko. Other than that, Kaz from Six of Crows, Penryn from Angelfall, Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices, Mariko from Flame in the Mist, and Alucard from the last two books of the Shades of Magic series (I guess that makes six but you can take it up with me if you have a problem with it 😉)

Questions:

What’s your biggest book disappointment?

What book surprised you the most?

What do you turn to for getting out of a reading slump?

Which YA book character would you love to be best friends with?

Which book character do you identify most with?

What is your favorite fictional universe (from anything) ?

Favorite book-to-movie/tv show adaptation? Least favorite?

What are some YA cliches/tropes that you’re okay with if they’re done right?

Are you a fan of graphic novels/comic books? If you are, what are your favorites?

What book has effected you the most emotionally?

Which fantasy superpower from any YA book would you like to steal?

We nominate:

Reading Through The Night

Books And Sword

Jamishelves

Reading With Rendz

All Around Me Are Familiar Pages

DuskAngelReads

romweasley

Yours A-fiction-ately 

Book Princess Reviews

Book Pandemonium

Booksinked

Thanks for reading, guys! Leave a comment below with your thoughts 🙂

– Haven and Aliza

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

More Happy Than Not, by Adam Silvera | the most twisted emotional experience

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4.5 stars 

Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut confronts race, class, and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx. 

The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto – miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough. 

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s newfound happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he’s can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

Adam Silvera’s novels should come with warning labels on the covers, saying “only proceed further if you are ready to suffer constant bouts of sadness and depression throughout the book and after finishing it.” The only other Silvera novel I’ve read was History Is All You Left Me and I thought it was one of the most distressing books I’ve ever read, but More Happy Than Not seemed to be more than happy to top the list. This book took me through such an intense experience, it started off so unassuming (though I did know it was going to get worse) and then just turned into this twisted, distressing, emotional mind-fuck. But you know what? Even if it was incredibly sad and painful to read, More Happy Than Not is easily one of the best YA books ever written due to a number of reasons.

First off, the writing was absolutely gorgeous. And by gorgeous, I mean totally raw, honest, and heartbreaking without being too dramatic or cliche. There is actually a remarkable difference between the prose seen in this book and History Is All You Left Me, the latter was filled with extensive descriptions of settings and emotions, making every event taking place so much more intense. This was one of the few aspects of the book that hindered my reading experience, but the prose in More Happy Than Not largely differs from this, and I loved it. It’s so truthful and real, and Silvera shows life’s ugliness so effortlessly without adding extra commentary to spice up the drama. The violence, cursing, and pain was so heartbreaking to read but so well-written at the same time. I also loved the atmosphere Silvera created, the story is set in the Bronx and all the little things that extenuate its mood match perfectly with the characters and their relationships toward one another.

I’ve only read two Silvera books so far, but those new to his work should know that it will only get worse and worse for the characters as the story goes on. You think things are going well, and BAM. Violence. Tragedy. Heartbreak. These characters can never catch a fucking break, and its absolute ass for the reader because they’re all written so damn well. Aaron, Thomas, Genevieve, and all the other characters in the book are so relatable, honest, funny, and just real. I loved their relationships with each other and the numerous nerdy references they made throughout the novel. But, what I like most about Silvera’s characters is how they’re not afraid to get vulnerable. Aaron goes through most of this book feeling broken, frustrated, and helpless, and while I can’t relate to any of the horror he’s faced, his emotion bursts off the page and is so visceral, that I can clearly feel the hurt coursing through my heart. Thomas and Genevieve are equally flawed, well-developed characters, nothing about them or even the minor characters seem one-dimensional. All of the shades of their personality are shown in such realistic ways.

The amount of themes embedded in this book are crazy and expressed so subtly. Aaron not only struggles with accepting himself and his sexuality, but also has to deal with mental health issues stemming from his father’s death, his not-so-luxurious living and financial situation, and his scarred friends and neighborhood. Silvera tackles so many problems with such clarity and honesty, that it’s difficult to avoid the pain while watching these events unfold but also easy to connect and understand it. While the craziness takes some time to settle in, once it hits you, it is absolutely brutal. I can’t say much without spoiling, but the progression of the plot and story are so well-done that every piece of emotion sent your way is so deep-rooted.

More Happy Than Not is not an easy book to read by any means, but it is still absolutely necessary to read. There are few novels out there that can tell an emotional, raw story with such truthfulness and poignancy. But this is one of those rare books out there that will resonate with you and I urge you all to give it a try. You won’t forget it.

-Haven

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch | a fast-paced fantasy adventure with a kickass protagonist

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4 stars

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

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

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

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

I had quite lukewarm feelings toward Snow Like Ashes, which I did not expect at all considering the amount of praise for this book seen on Goodreads. The ratings for Snow Like Ashes seemed to be so calm and non-polarized, and while my experience with it didn’t start off so great, my feelings greatly improved throughout the course of the story. There is a sense of calm and collectedness instilled in the progression, but it still makes a striking impact.

Unfortunately, fantasy worlds do tend to follow a formula, there isn’t a multitude of ideas that can be utilized to create something totally different, but I appreciate the fact that Snow Like Ashes maintained a more unique atmosphere even if its plot was a tad repetitive. This world is split up into 8 kingdoms, 4 season and 4 rhythm kingdoms. They each have their own histories with each other, and the book does take some time to outline that. The writing was a tad difficult to swallow because of all the info-dumps in the beginning, which I could have done without, thank you very much. Interestingly, while there is so much seriousness and darkness in the basic story, I got a very relaxed, calm and collected vibe from the ease in progression. Nothing felt rushed or directionless, some plot points took some time to sink in and other maintained their unpredictability throughout. It might seem a little blase and too quiet for some, but I thought its atmosphere only added to the overall impact.

Meira is so badass, dear lord. For once, a fantasy heroine is more focused on the revival of her kingdom, the politics surrounding it, and how she can contribute in a major way toward Winter’s comeback instead of just sticking to being a pawn that wears pretty dresses and eat fancy food all day. I might be calling out a few specific heroines on this one, but I miss the times where female fantasy characters didn’t sit their asses down on plush couches, wear long, glittery ballgowns, and dignify us with extensive passages on their makeup and hair and dressing when getting ready for a royal ball. It seems as though all these fantasy novels take place in palaces and castles, and all the political engagement we get from the main character is how her involvement in the inevitable love triangle is a problem. While Meira does experience the #royallyfe for a bit after getting into a political alliance with the Rhythm season Cordell, her strength and loyalty toward her kingdom, her relentless fight to discover her role in Winter’s revival, and her determination to stay true to herself throughout make her not only a badass female character but a relatable one. She was this book’s biggest asset and biggest victory, I loved her narration and can only hope she doesn’t turn into a wuss in the sequel.

I will never understand why Raasch decided to add in a damn love triangle, but I have to commend her for not putting that much emphasis on it. I think we have entered a new era of YA fantasy in which the political sides of each world is finally payed attention, but it doesn’t mean the romances stay in their lanes and not take over the plot. Theron and Mather are both interesting and layered characters (even if they get on my nerves a whole lot), but it’s clear their involvement with Meira isn’t supposed to be entirely developed in this book, which is why the triangle itself has a minimized page time. Meira, being the badass that she is, doesn’t really give a fuck about her ‘feelings’ for the boys, and by this, I mean she has the good sense to not describe their bodies in full detail and not angst about both of them constantly. She’s the ultimate gift, honestly.

Snow Like Ashes doesn’t do much different from other YA fantasies, but if you want an engaging, fast-paced, adventurous read, with an actually competent leading lady, this book is definitely for you. I’d recommend it to everyone, honestly.

-Haven

Books, New Releases, YA Fiction

Anticipated Releases: October 2017

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October is upon us, folks! Hopefully I’ll get a few chances to check out the new releases I’ve been behind on, as well as explore these unique yet familiar October releases 🙂

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25528808That Inevitable Victorian Thing, by E.K Johnston – Coming October 3rd, 2017

 Set in a near-future world where the British Empire was preserved, not by the cost of blood and theft but by effort of repatriation and promises kept, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world.

Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she’ll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire’s greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.

I’ve already fallen in love with this world and the story sounds so different and unique! I can tell already this book will transcend genres, and I’m incredibly excited to see what it holds.

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Wild Beauty, by Anna-Marie McLemore – Coming October 3rd, 2017

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Mystical, magical, lush vibes, plus that cover! *heart eyes*

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15837671Turtles All The Way Down, by John Green – Coming October 10th, 2017

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

John Green and I have complicated relationship: Regardless of some written moments, I always have this underlying irritation regarding his rehashed characters, rehashed plot, and rehashed philosophical pretentiousness. However, I will still give his novels a chance, because there is a chance I might end up liking them, like Will Grayson, Will Grayson, a novel I didn’t expect to like at all.

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All The Crooked Saints, by Maggie Stiefvater – Coming October 10th, 2017

Here 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.

Maggie Stiefvater has been called “a master storyteller” by USA Today and “wildly imaginative” by Entertainment Weekly. Now, with All the Crooked Saints, she gives us the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, a masterful tale of love, fear, darkness, and redemption.

I’ve been hearing so much about this book on Goodreads, and unfortunately, most of chatter is social justice warriors doing their usual shit. I have no problem with SJWs, but it would be nice if a white author could write about POC characters without any backlash before their book is even released. Most of these people haven’t even read the book yet and are already giving it one star ratings. It annoys the crap out of me. But anyway, enough of this rant, I’m hella hyped for this! I’m definitely ready to visit Stiefvater’s distinct style again, even if we both have had our ups and downs with each other.

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29622131A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

I’m desperately hoping this book doesn’t turn out to be another cliche fantasy. However, the reviews seem to be saying otherwise so I’m expecting good things from this one!

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Thanks for reading, peeps 🙂 What are your highly anticipated September releases? Let me know in the comments!