Books, Original Post, YA Fiction

May 2017 Wrap-Up – Haven

Hey guys! This is my first wrap-up post and I’ve actually been meaning to do this since April, but due to testing it was pushed back. Anyway, I read 9 books this month, which is pretty amazing considering all the projects I’ve had to do (why do teachers insist on overloading us with work when the school year is coming to an end?).

Books I’ve read this month

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History Is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera (3.75-4 stars): I quite liked this very emotional and honest LGBTQ contemporary. There have been so many positive comments on Silvera’s More Happy Than Not, making him out to be a very hyped author. I was not disappointed with History Is All You Left Me, if you are looking for a diverse and raw read on love and loss, this is the one for you. You can find my full review here.

The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater (4 stars): This was a great sequel, and while it take a bit of time for me to truly get into it, it did not disappoint at all. I loved the introduction of new themes and characters, and the writing was totally upgraded. This series is already becoming one of my favorites and hopefully the next two live up to expectations I have. You can find my full review here.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (4 stars): I remember being extremely excited yet anxious when picking up this book, but it definitely lived up to the hype. This book reaches out to a range of messages on courage and hope, while detailing some necessary truths of the society we live in. Everyone should read it. My review can be found here.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, by Morgan Matson (2.25 stars): Unfortunately, I wasn’t huge fan of this much-loved contemporary. While I appreciated the attempt to combine deeper themes and a lighthearted road trip, I couldn’t find the balance between the two and the execution was simply not for me. I’m disappointed in my disappointment, but I’m still looking forward to reading Matson’s other contemporaries. You can find my in-depth review right here.

A Gathering Of Shadows, by V.E Schwab (5 stars): This was easily the best book I’ve read this month and probably one of the best I’ve read this year so far. After re-experiencing the glory of A Darker Shade Of Magic, I started this one and had the time of my freaking life. I adore these characters, this plot, this writing, everything. While it can be classified as a ‘filler’ book, I loved it nonetheless. I’m going to start A Conjuring Of Light soon and am totally not ready for the emotional destruction I’m about to face.

All The Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven (1 star): I strongly disliked this book, and most of my dislike stemmed from plain disinterest in the pretentious themes that are forever running through YA contemporary. The book’s view and depiction of mental illness was also quite off-putting, and while this aspect is praised and put down among readers, it simply made me uncomfortable for a number of reasons. Not for me guys, nope. You can find my in-depth review here.

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (3.5 stars): So, I decided to re-visit this classic this month. Interestingly, I had never read Winter, so catching up on the rest of the series was necessary. Cinder didn’t really capture me the same way it did in the past, but it definitely brought up a wave of nostalgia. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series though.

Shadow And Bone, by Leigh Bardugo (3.5 stars): I read this book way back in 2014 when the hype was just picking up, and remember being very ‘meh’ on it. I decided to give it another try this month and found myself enjoying much more this time around. Yes, it’s an older book so many of the events that took place are reminiscent of the tropes found in YA fantasy today, but I don’t regret picking it up again.

Radio Silence, by Alice Oseman (5 stars): This book totally took me by surprise and is actually one of the easiest 5-star reads ever. The messages it means to convey are told so subtly and earnestly, and the whole book simply exudes charm through its characters, themes, and writing. Look out for my review coming soon. 🙂

May was an incredibly scattered month, but interestingly, I’ve read the most books this month in the year so far. Hopefully the summer helps me prioritize so I can read and blog a whole lot more than I am doing now. Thanks for reading, guys!

-Haven

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Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

History Is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera || an emotional rollercoaster ride of love and finding oneself

25014114When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Just wanted to let y’all know that my AP exams are finally over, and I can freely get back to blogging now. While I’ve been away from M&B, I have indeed been reading, even if it’s slower than usual. Finding time to read during exam weeks may or may not be a good thing, but that’s beside the point. I’m back and I couldn’t have chosen a more difficult book to review. *sighs*

History Is All You Left Me is one of the most heartbreaking, intense, and dramatic books I’ve ever read. I can’t say it was a book perfectly fit for me, I struggled slightly with the writing throughout the novel. But, it is still an incredibly real and emotional read that not many can pull off. Adam Silvera is very, very talented. Speaking of Silvera, I’ve actually seen him in real life when I went to a book convention back in March with a friend, and he was openly speaking about his struggle with OCD in the mental health panel, which clearly connects to History Is All You Left Me. He seemed like a really nice guy, and I wish I had read this book back then, or at least his debut novel. Anyway, a little story time for you guys, since I rarely talk about my personal life lmao.

Let’s go into detail.

The beautiful writing that has me in a bind of sorts: The writing has me in a terrible bind. I struggled at first, because while Silvera conveys emotion effortlessly there is also a large paragraph following the major point which is overridden with details and repetition. There are a few gems of writing in these, but it’s unnecessary most of the time and quite boring. It actually reminded me of my own writing, which tends to dissect every little characteristic of a character or setting and repeat those dissections in different manners (which will probably happen soon in this review if it isn’t happening right now). But, the writing is gorgeous, really. It’s very consistent in its portrayals of heartbreak and confusion and sadness and every other feeling that is explored within the pages of this book. I found myself falling for Theo, dwelling in the aftermath of his death, and dealing with all the pain that came with it along with Griffin in this book, and it’s amazing how the effortlessness of the writing pulls you in so easily. There are anecdotes and musings and statements scattered all over this book that rip you apart with its honesty and rawness, and I do wish Silvera just stuck to keeping these throughout and not expanding on every little thing. Thankfully, while this aspect has me conflicted, it’s not too conflicted to make a large impact on the emotional capacity of the book.

Flawed, relatable, and heartbreaking character arcs: The book mainly follows four boys: Griffin, Theo, Jackson, and Wade. The all have different amounts of page time (obviously), but they have to be the most well-defined characters in the novel. The books is told from two time periods: one in the present during the aftermath of Theo’s death and the other detailing Griffin’s life when Theo was alive. I really like this aspect and it wasn’t confusing at all. It actually revealed much more about the characters in the story and had a huge influence on the amount of emotion explored in the book. The details of the complex relationships are slowly revealed over time and this makes the book that much more impactful. Surprisingly, while these boys all have their own flaws, drama, and frustration spilled over the pages, I loved all of them. I loved reading about Griffin’s recovery process and his painful path to finding out the truths about the people he loves. I could understand Jackson and Wade’s pain with coming to terms about themselves and the things they have experienced. Theo was only there half the time in the flashback period, but I could totally feel his essence and his personality without it being blown out of proportion or sensationalized in the present. These boys have gone through something most of us haven’t and will never want to go through, but I could so feel their grief and confusion over something so tragic they had never would have predicted.

The complicated yet honest relationships: There are so many relationships in this book, oh my god. It doesn’t seem that way initially, but as the details are revealed over time, it just blows you mind on how interconnected these boys are. Fortunately, while this relationship drama does create more entertainment and makes the story more engaging, it’s not solely characterized as ‘drama’ and actually has a purpose and reasoning behind it. Griffin and Theo’s love and friendship was so heartwarming and real, and Griffin and Jackson’s reluctant yet necessary meetings were so genuine and honest. Even Griffin and Wade were complicated in the best ways, and while I did think some of the events that took place were a little extra, I enjoyed it nonetheless.

History Is All You Left Me is one of those books that takes you a while to get into, but once you get into it, you are sucked into a universe that is melancholy and raw yet strangely enlightening. It’s not a book everyone will like, but if anyone’s looking for a powerful and honest LGBTQ story, look no further.

-Haven

Books, New Releases, Original Post, YA Fiction

New Releases in YA for January 2017

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First of all, Happy New Year to everyone! Nothing makes me happier than to leave behind 2016 (a quite crappy year, if I do say so myself) and venture into another year of new, fresh, books. I hope you all have a wonderful year ahead. I think readers will be very satisfied with these upcoming January releases, it seems like many popular authors are coming out with new concepts, which gets me very excited!

1. RoseBlood, by A.G. Howard – Coming January 10, 2017

28818314In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

From the stunning cover to the Phantom-Of-The-Opera inspired story, what’s there not to be excited about? Judging by the premise, RoseBlood sounds absolutely riveting, and that beautiful, gothic cover just makes it even better.

2. Carve The Mark, by Veronica Roth – Coming January 17, 2017

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On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Divergent series (specifically the second and third books), this premise seems promising. I am sure Roth will deliver on the action and intrigue, and this new fantasy-esque world sounds interesting. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

3. History Is All You Left Me, by Adam Silvera – Coming January 17, 2017

25014114When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

I’m love how this book features a gay character, and the premise sounds beautifully honest and raw. The reviews on Goodreads also seem to be good, so I am highly anticipating this.

 

 

4. Caraval, by Stephanie Garber – Coming January 31, 2017

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Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval—Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

I’ve heard this story is marketed as the YA version of The Night Circus, and while I haven’t read that one, this mystical premise makes me wish I had read it sooner. Caraval sounds like a perfect combination of magic and mystery, I’m ready for a grand adventure.

5. By Your Side, by Kasie West – Coming January 31, 2017

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An irresistible story from Kasie West that explores the timeless question What do you do when you fall for the person you least expect?

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Kasie West always delivers with the cute, quirky romances (The Distance Between Us is one of my favorite books ever), so I’m definitely anticipating this one,

Well, that’s it folks. I wish you a good year ahead and I hope you enjoy these new releases!

-Haven