Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

WWW Wednesday #9

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? Remember how I said I was going to get my reading schedule back on track last Wednesday? Ha, ha, ha. Right now, it’s gone kinda, sorta off the rails but I’ll totally be fine by next week. Pray for me, readers.

What are you currently reading?

35271523The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel in the world. Immense as a mountain, the ancient Tower holds unnumbered ringdoms, warring and peaceful, stacked one on the other like the layers of a cake. It is a world of geniuses and tyrants, of airships and steam engines, of unusual animals and mysterious machines.

Soon after arriving for his honeymoon at the Tower, the mild-mannered headmaster of a small village school, Thomas Senlin, gets separated from his wife, Marya, in the overwhelming swarm of tourists, residents, and miscreants.

Senlin is determined to find Marya, but to do so he’ll have to navigate madhouses, ballrooms, and burlesque theaters. He must survive betrayal, assassination, and the long guns of a flying fortress. But if he hopes to find his wife, he will have to do more than just endure.

This quiet man of letters must become a man of action.

Yes, I’m still reading this! It was put off for a while due to another book interrupting (which I will get to soon enough), but I’m determined to push through this one. I’ll admit that I’m having trouble focusing, the writing is quite dense and the plot seems to lose its way every now and then. Let’s hope I get more invested soon, because I would hate to hate this book.

What have you recently finished reading?

18335634Danger and betrayal, love and loss, secrets and enchantment are woven together in the breathtaking finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling Infernal Devices Trilogy, prequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

THE INFERNAL DEVICES WILL NEVER STOP COMING

A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.

Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.

As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.

THIS BOOK. AHHHHH. This book was a whole mess in the best possible way, and I honestly didn’t expect to feel just as emotional as I did the first time reading this at that bittersweet-as-shit epilogue. I might, just might do a series review that could come later this week, but still debating it. TOO MANY EMOTIONS TO EXPRESS.

What will you be reading next?

6479259After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he’s out there, somewhere.

I’ve been looking for this book EVERYWHERE, and I have finally found it hiding in my school library. Hyped as hell for this one.

 

 

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

 

 

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Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand + Brodi Ashton + Jodi Meadows (review) // 16th century ridiculousness with fantasy elements

22840421Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

On the back of My Lady Jane, an author (I wish I could remember which one) commented that this book was essentially ‘Monty Python and The Holy Grail’ meets ‘The Tudors’, and I don’t think there is a more accurate description of the crazy, comical, fun-filled fluff this book is filled with. After a series of three-star, average to somewhat good novels, My Lady Jane provided a much needed discretion, and it’s no surprise that I ended up devouring it.

This book was not meant to be taken seriously, and I absolutely loved that. I’ve never read a book that subtly poked fun at its source material while creating a bunch of drama that always managed to be serious but lighthearted. The humor and writing was right up my alley, I loved the shameless puns, the satire of the messiness of British history, and the straight-up hilarious but relatable antics of Edward, Jane, and everyone’s favorite horse, Gifford (call him G, though). I’m pretty sure people at school were looking at me weird, because most of the time, I was desperately trying (and failing) to keep from laughing my ass off.

Speaking of Edward, Jane, and G, can I just say how much I adore these characters? Not only are they all hilarious, but their backstories and personalities are also incredibly layered. Even side characters such as Gracie, Bess, Mary, and Dudley strike a perfect balance between seriousness and hilarity. And they are all so entertaining! Edward and Gracie were totally cute yet relatable together (let’s be real, we are ALL Edward in some way or another) and Jane and Gifford were one of the most organic, realistic, and adorable romances I had ever read.

For anyone who already is obsessed with (and is ready to be obsessed with) 16th century British royal messiness, animal puns, two hilarious yet swoon-worthy romances, and an overall laugh-out-loud story, My Lady Jane will do nothing less than impress you and probably make you giggle unceremoniously in public. I highly, highly recommend! As if that wasn’t clear already.

Rating: 4.25 stars

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

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Smell Of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (review) // Alaska + diversity + family, friendship, love

19370304In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.

Four very different lives are about to become entangled.

The Smell Of Other People’s Houses follows a formula that many authors don’t particularly explore. It’s set in an unconventional setting, Alaska, and follows the perspectives of four different teenagers living across the state. Their individual stories coincide in interesting ways, and each character goes through experiences involving the craziness of family, friendship, and love.

I have to say, for a debut author, Hitchcock has an amazing way with words. I adored the writing in this book, there were lyrical and descriptive statements and mostly blunt ones, but both types contained an immeasurable amount of honesty and emotion. It wasn’t unnecessarily heavy, Hitchcock expressed the overwhelming emotions running through most of the characters in a very raw way. This definitely helps when it comes to expressing the numerous themes of love, acceptance, friendship, and family running through this book.

I’ve never read a book set in Alaska, and while I do like the unconventionality of this setting, I wish the atmosphere was a bit more … conveyed. There were several descriptions of the several fishing trips the characters took and progressing seasons definitely contributed, but I never really experienced the 70’s vibe the same way I experienced the 60’s in All The Crooked Saints. I really hate to compare it to Maggie Stiefvater’s work, but the premise of this book really gave me the same vibe.

I really liked the foundations of each of the characters. Ruth, Dora, Alyce, and Hank all dealt with ordinary and not-so-ordinary family issues and inner conflicts in different ways, and I liked how each of their personalities shines through easily through their narrations. However, it wasn’t enough to make me fully invested in these characters and their entanglements. I suppose the biggest reason for that has nothing to do with the characters themselves, but the fact that the book is simply too short. I love short books (All The Crooked Saints, anyone?) but I feel like The Smell Of Other People’s Houses and its length is a hindrance to the layered foundations created for the characters.

The Smell Of Other People’s House is a very ‘meh’ book in a few aspects but I love that it attempts to do something different in the midst of angsty contemporaries marked by romance. I’d say to read it for the gorgeous writing itself.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Thanks for viewing, guys! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

A List Of Cages by Robin Roe (review) // mental illness rep + big-brother-little-brother relationship

25613472When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

It’s not uncommon to hate myself irrationally at particular moments in life, but disliking (or slightly not liking) a book that everyone around me happened to LOVE is one of the worst feelings ever. I swear I’m trying my best not to be a total drama queen, but I feel like my standards have gone up so high lately. I’m rating nearly every novel I read a variation of the same three stars (3.25, 3.5, 3.75, 3.87454???) and I hate to do the same thing to the beloved A List Of Cages. The novel actually has a great message and important themes, but I simply didn’t find the execution as enrapturing as everyone else did.

There are a multitude of themes in this book: mental illness, child abuse, love, friendship, family, acceptance, etc, etc. I have to say they were all done fairly well, with good intentions. I love how Adam’s ADHD was explored and how it impacted his life, and Julian’s situation was simply so heartbreaking and disturbing and scary. The relationship between the two was also sweet, realistic, and heartwarming. I feel like big-brother-little-brother relationships aren’t as popular in YA lit, at least not as much as sister-sister relationships. It was nice to see something different and very natural, even if I couldn’t relate to it directly.

While I understood the importance of themes and the roles of the characters, the inconsistency of the writing and it’s distinct middle grade feel didn’t make it enjoyable enough. This sounds horrible, but most of the time (to me) the prose felt forced and unnatural, as if the very goal of some of the dialogue was to make you cry. Of course, this is coming from a person who’s pretty damn emotionally detached and kind of cold in general, so anything slightly sentimental tends to put me off, unless I am totally in love and attached to the characters…

… which was not the case with this book. While I liked Adam and Julian, my feelings for them didn’t go as deep as I wanted them to, and neither did my feelings for the numerous side characters. I could handle the younger characters, but the adults in this story were entirely useless and unnecessarily mean. There was not one competent adult in this book, and while I could understand some of the treatment, the extent of rudeness these people demonstrated seemed unrealistic to me.

A List Of Cages is not a bad book by any means and I would urge you to give it a try, if you’re in the mood for a unique contemporary told through unique perspectives. I do appreciate its themes and messages, but it simply isn’t memorable for me, personally.

Rating: 3.25 stars

Thanks for viewing, guys! If you’ve read this book, what did you think of it? Let me know below 🙂

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lisa McBride (review) // burger flipping + supernatural creatures + an utter lack of seriousness

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?

I don’t even remember adding Hold Me Closer, Necromancer to my Goodreads TBR list, but I’m pretty glad I already did it when I felt like picking it up from the library. It promised necromancers, a male MC, and a lot of humor so I was easily tempted to give it a try. However, where this book excels at infusing irreverence into usually uber-serious topics, it struggles through containing it as well as crafting an engaging, well-developed plot and story. I liked the book, but I wanted so much MORE.

To start off, I will say that I quite enjoyed the careless, doesn’t-take-itself-too-seriously vibe of the story. There are a few outlandish things placed here and there that I didn’t see coming, and I enjoyed the banter between certain characters. My only complaint about it was that there wasn’t enough. I wanted the humor to be stronger, the characters to be wittier, and the villains to be cleverer. Every attempt for hilarity seemed to work at first, but got tiring fast because it became so half-hearted later on. I suppose McBride’s humor just isn’t for me, but I actually enjoyed it before it became so lazy.

Sam was cool, there aren’t many fantasies with male protagonists and I really liked Sam’s personality and sense of humor. I loved Brid and Ashley, they added that extra dash of fluff and non-seriousness that kept this book from going stale. Sam has friends: Brooke, Ramon, and Frank. With the exception of Brooke, they were simply okay in their own right but I liked the relationship between Sam and Ramon, even if it was hardly developed. I always enjoy a good #BROTP.

That was the good, now comes the bad. First off, I appreciate the fact that there was some backstory to Douglas, but I nonetheless found him to be a boring villain. Besides a couple descriptions of his eyes and his overall creepy demeanor, he wasn’t either intimidating or even comical, since we are talking about a fantasy-comedy here. Some other characters, such as Brid’s brothers and their werewolf pack were introduced unnecessarily and only added to the growing clutter of characters. I wish the story was focused on a smaller group of characters and built a stronger connection with them, perhaps I would have laughed more.

This would be a good time to say that I clearly don’t know what I want, because sometimes I criticize this book for being too irreverent, and other times I say it isn’t funny enough. I just wish there was more of both and a good balance between them too. I would recommend Hold Me Closer, Necromancer to those in search of something different in all aspects: a male protagonist, a large ensemble of characters, comical supernatural creatures, and lots of fluff with some seriousness in between. Find out if it’s your kind of different!

Rating: 3 stars

Thanks for viewing, peeps! Have you guys read this book? If you have, what did you think of it? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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

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