Books, Original Post, YA Fiction

The Infernal Devices trilogy review (re-read) // THE NOSTALGIA

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^THIS GIF. DESCRIBES ME PERFECTLY.

Have y’all ever re-read a series that was really special to you when you were younger and expected to hate it right off the bat? And then you start to not hate it and you’re strangely confused but also really happy because the NOSTALGIA? And even while you’re tastes and interests have changed over the years you still happen to really love it because you’re discovering things you didn’t notice the first time?! All while mentally dying of heartbreak?!

Yeah, it’s been a few days since I finished Clockwork Princess. I’m still recovering, so don’t blame me for rambling like a weirdo.

If you guys didn’t know already, I’ve been re-reading all of Cassie Clare’s books to be prepared for her Dark Artifices trilogy which I am yet to read. So far, I’ve gotten through The Mortal Instruments series up to City Of Fallen Angels and have just finished the prequel trilogy, including Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and Clockwork Princess. I don’t know what possessed me to do a series review, but considering the brief heartbreak I suffered through after reading the epilogue of Clockwork Princess (again) and the fact that I’ve never expressed my thoughts on this trilogy in the first place, I cannot just say nothing has changed since the first time I read it. Which was 4 years ago. Whew.

Taking all of this into account, I have to say I’ve become a stickler in some places and not one in others. The Infernal Devices’ world building is still incredible, I adored the little easter eggs placed here and there, and the interconnection between the Shadow World, Down World, The Clave, and the setting of England was written so effortlessly. The plot involving Tessa’s identity, Mortmain, and his clockwork creatures was so thick and layered, the way the mystery was revealed little by little throughout the trilogy was something of genius, in my opinion. Perhaps, if I wasn’t so attached to this world and its characters I wouldn’t find it so fascinating, but it’s true.

I remember quite liking Tessa before, claiming she was miles better than Clary (in a way though, she is), but at this point, I find Tessa to be as dull as dishwater. Her inner conflict concerning her identity and background was somewhat expressed in Clockwork Angel, but later on, her character just became lazy. In Clockwork Prince, she only seemed to serve as something for Will and Jem to angst over and most of time. I truly do not see the hype in her personality besides those few moments of wit (which everyone seems to surprised to hear), and couldn’t even sense her presence most of the time. I will admit however, some of her moments in Clockwork Princess really got to me, and I only wish who she was as a character was more focused on instead of how much she meant to Jem and Will.

I loved Jem much more the second time around, he wasn’t particularly someone I was invested in initially even if I greatly liked him, but this time he did strike a cord with me. Just as much as Will. Oh, Will. Could you believe I actually thought I was going to despise this precious boy the second time around?! I tried for the whole ass first book and then decided this mindset was simply too much for me, because even if my boy was a little too dramatic, little too angsty, little too up his love interest’s ass sometimes (ha, these are all Herondale trademarks), I still really, really like him. I’m no longer in love with the guy, but I’ll always love him in some way. But seriously, Will’s got enough character development to fill out this whole book by himself.

Continue reading “The Infernal Devices trilogy review (re-read) // THE NOSTALGIA”

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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

Seven Days Of You by Cecilia Vinesse (review)

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2.25 stars

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

The first thought that came to mind when reading the premise of Seven Days Of You was its similarity to Anna And The French Kiss: both take place in a foreign country, explores the dynamics of a group of friends attending an international school, and of course, the main character falls in love with a shit load of drama ensuing. And while each book has its pros and cons, its similarities and differences, I have to say Anna And The French Kiss was infinitely better while Seven Days Of You was infinitely worse. Care to stick around to find out why?

This story is set in Tokyo, Japan — and the author makes it clear the minute we scan our eyes over the page. The book is brimming with descriptions of neon lights, Japanese cuisine, and the hints of culture Sophia sees every day. I could definitely feel the colorfulness pop off the page immediately, but my interest died down quickly because of how hard it tried. The sprinkling of Japanese words here and there and the repetitive descriptions of Tokyo night life showed me nothing about the vibrancy of the setting, it was prime example of telling, not showing. Unfortunately, the pacing and plot didn’t do wonders for me either. The story takes place in the span of 7 days, and while I liked running motif of the countdown to when Sophia leaves for New Jersey on the top of each chapter, the pacing of the characters’ interactions and dynamics felt altogether rushed and unrealistic. It is difficult to tell a story that takes place over a week, but the romance and character development felt too dramatic and simply did not give me a sense of understanding and feeling for whatever Sophia was going through.

I can say with the utmost certainty that the characters were the worst part of this book, which does not bode well for a character-based reader like me. I can deal with an annoying, flawed cast, but these characters were simply created to start drama, angst, and be immature for the sake of being immature. Sophia was incredibly flawed and had inner conflicts, but her narration was one of a 7 year old. Her childishness, selfishness, and overall naivete made it so difficult to take her seriously. She actually reminded me of Isla from Isla And The Happily Ever After but far more annoying because everyone seemed to pine after her anyway, even when she made the stupidest, more illogical decisions.

Damn, if you thought Sophia was irritating, you’ve got a whole storm coming with the side characters. Mika, David, Jamie, and Caroline only exist to angst and start the most unnecessary shit. Mika and David was such assholes, but it isn’t even them, it’s the way their characters are handled in relation to Sophia. The way this supposedly tight-knit group of friends unraveled so swiftly within a week due to their own irrationality was laughable and so, so forced. The relationships between each of the characters were a colossal mess, complicated and dramatic for the sake of entertainment. Nothing felt real or organic, especially the ‘friendship’ between Sophia and Mika and Sophia’s relationship with her crush David.

I like how Vinesse tried to make the romance slow and just as awkward as falling in love for the first time, and while there were a plethora of awkward moments, it was told in a cute and relatable way. Unfortunately, my heart was not in it because it felt, again, too forced and unnatural. To start off, Sophia and Jamie aren’t the most interesting, fleshed out characters, so it was difficult to stay invested in them throughout. Also, Sophia and Jamie’s ‘damaged’ relationship in the beginning already felt very petty and over dramatic, more so when you find out what actually drove them apart. Their romantic progression from there went far too fast for me, within a week Sophia goes from avoiding Jamie at all costs to wanting to kiss him. The aspect of resolving their relationship and re-starting it fell completely flat for me.

If you’re a contemporary fan looking for a mature romance taking place in a unique setting, look elsewhere than Seven Days Of You. It has its mature moments here and there, but they aren’t worth sticking around the drama for. Anna And The French Kiss is much more entertaining in my opinion.

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Black Bird Of The Gallows by Meg Kassel |a rich fantasy unfortunately marred by a trope-y romance

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3 stars

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

The natural response to the premise of Black Bird Of The Gallows would be to roll your eyes and mutter a half-hearted ‘pass’ because you’re too tired of the same paranormal romance plots being reused over and over again. However, looking at the praise this book was garnering so far ignited some hope in me, and while I didn’t hold candlelight vigils praying for this book not to be a Twilight repeat (looking back, I probably should have done that), I did let my expectations get high enough to be excited for this book. Well, fellow readers, I have been conned into a state of cOnFLict (the mix of upper case and lower case letters shows the stress this book has put on me). Once again.

I am conflicted over my feelings for BBOTG, but it’s easy to admit that discerning what I liked and what I did not like was a less painful process with this book. I loved the dark and moody atmosphere of Cadence, Pennsylvania (the setting of this book) and yes, small and somewhat mysterious towns are one of my fantasy weaknesses, and Kassel executed the vibe of them perfectly in this book. The world-building was also very original, I’m not used to harbingers of death the way I am used to vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels, but the mythology and history behind the harbingers and the beekeepers was completely new but well-done. I almost wish there was a sequel (fantasy standalones are quite rare) because the storytelling feels unfinished considering the amount of potential the world-building contains.

But, alas, I would only read that sequel if it was telling the story of a different set of characters. Angie Dovage is actually a very formidable heroine, she’s got a rough history and a complicated character due to it, and she’s also smart and admirably independent. Her best friends, Deno and Lacey, are a tad unnecessary until the very end, when they become considerably more significant and useful. Reece Fernandez is a goddamn bore to me, his chiseled jaw and sculpted abs aren’t as emphasized in this PNR, but regardless of the heavy descriptions and dialogue about his tortured soul, I really couldn’t attach an interesting personality to it.

It was my mistake not reciting a couple of mantras before preparing myself for the romance to hit, because man, was it painful. Practically instalove, and I was really holding out hope for something different because I heard such great things about this book. It’s clear Reece and Angie had an inherent attraction to one another but from the beginning, but the way they acted upon it and how quickly they got together felt wholly unnatural and forced. Their relationship has such a vague foundation, and while there are details later clarifying that foundation, it wasn’t enough to make their current romance believable. It’s upsetting, because the whole book is based on their relationship, and I just can’t put my faith in it.

This is just me, but I’m sure I would have been more content with BBOTG if there was a sequel to be released. With the introduction of certain characters, the intricacy of the world-building, and the amount of questions raised, there’s just too much unfinished work left to end it after one book. What about Rafette’s backstory? Hank’s backstory? What about Angie’s mom? All these questions are answered so quickly and swiftly like??  I think fantasy standalones just make me uncomfortable. They’re so unheard of.

In certain aspects, Black Bird Of The Gallows exceeds many standard PNR novels. The main character is actually competent and the world-building is existent. However, in other aspects, it simply sinks into the elements that make PNR so recognizable yet annoying, such as the ever present high school tropes and the unbelievable romance. I would recommend this to anyone who naturally loved the PNR genre, but don’t expect to find anything particularly special in the romance department.

Books, New Releases, Original Post, YA Fiction

Anticipated releases: December 2017

Guys, can you believe it’s December already???

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It’s been a crazy and stressful year (in nearly every aspect) and I honestly can’t wait for these December contemporaries to close the year out in their lighthearted fashion. Yes, my anticipated releases this month are all indeed contemporary novels (surprise surprise!).

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Three Sides Of A Heart: Stories About Love Triangles – Coming December 19th

You may think you know the love triangle, but you’ve never seen love triangles like these.
These top YA authors tackle the much-debated trope of the love triangle, and the result is sixteen fresh, diverse, and romantic stories you don’t want to miss.
This collection, edited by Natalie C. Parker, contains stories written by Renee Ahdieh, Rae Carson, Brandy Colbert, Katie Cotugno, Lamar Giles, Tessa Gratton, Bethany Hagan, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, EK Johnston, Julie Murphy, Garth Nix, Natalie C. Parker, Veronica Roth, Sabaa Tahir, and Brenna Yovanoff.
A teen girl who offers kissing lessons. Zombies in the Civil War South. The girl next door, the boy who loves her, and the girl who loves them both. Vampires at a boarding school. Three teens fighting monsters in an abandoned video rental store. Literally the last three people on the planet.
What do all these stories have in common?
The love triangle.

Never have I been so happy about love triangles! This sounds like a highly ambitious anthology and if there’s anyone who can turn the love triangle trope upside down, it’s definitely these authors. HYPEEEEImage result for page breaker
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Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West – Coming December 26th

Everyone knows Abby Turner is in love with her best friend, Cooper Wells. Including Cooper Wells. But despite what people tell her, it doesn’t affect their friendship. And she’s practically over it, anyway. What she really can’t get over is when her boss at the local museum tells her that her paintings lack heart. 
Art is Abby’s passion and she hopes her future as well. She is determined to change his mind and earn her way into the upcoming exhibit at the gallery. So along with her family’s help, she compiles “The Heart List,” a series of soulstretching experiences that are sure to make her a deeper person and better artist in six weeks or less. When Cooper decides to complete the list along with her, she realizes this list is expanding her heart in more ways than one. Maybe she needs to start another project.
Love, Life, and the List is about a girl who, in an effort to bring more emotional depth to her art, compiles a list of soul-stretching experiences to complete with her best friend—a boy she also happens to be in love with. 
This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

God, I really need to catch up on Kasie West. It’s amazing how this woman puts out several books in a year when I take months to get a task done. Definitely looking forward to this one!

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33413929The Love Letters Of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle – Coming December 26th

When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful.

When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?

This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.

This sounds like such a sweet and diverse read. I’m glad mental illness is being represented more and more in YA literature and I hope this book doesn’t disappoint!

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Thanks for viewing guys! What are your upcoming December releases? Let me know in the comments 😀

 

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

November mini-reviews

Hey peeps! I’ve decided to ‘mini-review’ a couple of shorter books I’ve read this month. This is probably a good idea because I don’t want to talk on endlessly about books that I don’t have much to say about.

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Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr (2.5 stars)

Gem & Dixie explores the story of two sisters living in a dysfunctional and financially disadvantaged household with their unstable mother. After their dad comes back into their life, the sisters unexpectedly embark on a journey across Seattle that sheds light on their family and their complicated relationship. I found this book to be simply average in all aspects. While it did have its moments, the writing and story felt flat most of the time and it was a chore to drag myself through it because I was disinterested most of the time. Gem and Dixie themselves aren’t incredibly fascinating individually, but I did appreciate how their relationship was written. However, it wasn’t enough to make me enjoy this book fully.

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18075234Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (2.25 stars)

Challenger Deep follows the story of Caden Bosch, a boy suffering from mental illness and how it affects his delusions and what he experiences in the real world. The story is told from two narratives, one being real life and the other being a delusion of Caden, in which he is a part of a ship and crew that are traveling to the deepest part of the Earth, Challenger Deep. I feel sort of guilty for disliking this book, because Neal Shusterman (one of my favorite authors ever) is writing about a very serious and relevant topic. While I commend that aspect, the execution of it was simply not my thing. I normally don’t enjoy books told so abstractly which is why it was difficult to engage myself into the dual narratives. But, Shusterman’s ability to create something so different and though-provoking is always amazing.

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32860355Alex & Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz (3.75 stars)

Alex and Eliza follows the love story of Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler in the midst of the American Revolution. It seems that many have been attracted to this book because of Hamilton, the play but I’ve actually never seen it or listened to the songs (a grave sin, I know). I picked it up on a whim because I wanted a cute romance and I actually ended up liking the romance and many more elements. While the writing was a bit difficult to get into, I loved the atmosphere it evoked. The commentary and humor concerning the war and the social issues of the time was also entertaining. And of course, Alex and Eliza themselves were just lovable and their love story was swoon-worthy. I don’t use that word often but I can’t find a more accurate description than that.

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17623975Just One Day by Gayle Forman (3.75 stars)

Just One Day follows the story of Allyson Healy, as she meets Dutch actor Willem on a post-graduaction European tour before traveling with him to Paris on an impromptu trip. One day of freedom, risk, and getting lost on purpose with Willem changes Allyson’s life, and when she wakes up the next day to find him suddenly gone, she is shattered. The second half of the novel follows Allyson as she goes to college, creates new memories, and tries to find herself while searching for Willem. This book came as a pleasant surprise, and I loved how while it was marketed as a romance, it was actually about Allyson desperately trying to tap into the girl she was on that one day in Paris. It’s about her journey to self-discovery and I thought her character, and the rest of the characters and their relationships with one another, was very well-written.

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

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

This Is What Happy Looks Like, by Jennifer E. Smith (review)

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2 1/2 stars

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

This Is What Happy Looks Like is my fourth Jennifer E. Smith novel and my last attempt to salvage my rocky relationship with her style. I’ve never strongly disliked Smith’s books but most of them have been deemed as ‘meh’ novels, which is much worse to me because I hate being in a limbo, not liking but not hating it either. I looked to This Is What Happy Looks Like to change that, but all it did was add to it. While I definitely liked the writing better this time around, the characters, pacing, and overall plot still fell glaringly flat.

Smith’s writing was always a sore point for me, while I did like her way with words, they didn’t keep me engaged and actually bored me to an extent. But, I was definitely more entertained by the writing in this novel, It felt much more defined and stable, contrary to the directionless and vague prose of The Geography Of You And Me and Hello, Goodbye, And Everything In Between. However, the writing couldn’t save the utter mind-numbing boredom the story gave me. Smith’s novels all have very different concepts but there’s always something missing that ties them together, and I just felt like I wasn’t reading anything new. While I appreciate the fact that the movie-star story line wasn’t campy and cliche, the pacing and plot were so stale and far too quick.

Also, unresolved plot points?? Ellie and her best friend Quinn end up in an ‘argument’ over freaking nothing at the beginning of the book and they don’t talk for most of the book until Quinn suddenly shows up again towards the end? What about Quinn and Devon? Where did that come from? What about Ellie and her dad? Graham and his parents? What about the emails? We were shown 5 of the emails and then … no more. These are important questions, people! There are so many subplots involved but they all either build to nothing or are completely ignored. I feel so unsatisfied by this, because these plot points seemed added in just for the hell of it but they aren’t correctly paced or told about at all.

The characters, save for Graham, couldn’t seem to characterize themselves as anything else than cardboard cutouts. Ellie has everything set up for a typical contemporary female lead: a single parent, some secret concerning her family, a relationship with a best friend that somehow loses its way throughout the story (usually due to ‘trust issues’ or some shit like that). While I liked her enough toward the beginning, I slowly started to lose interest as the story progressed because her characterization didn’t progress along with it. Again, nothing new. Graham, on the other hand, surprised me immensely and is actually my favorite part of the book. He felt human and totally real from page 1, and I love how Smith didn’t try to overemphasize his ‘regular’ side and ‘perfect celebrity’ side.

The romance was another element of the book that completely took me by surprise, and not in a good way. Ellie and Graham’s in-person meet took place early in the book, which ruled out any possibility for the tension building up to a possible relationship. There weren’t nearly enough emails showed to display their previous connection, and when they made the jump to form an in-person romantic relationship, it just felt too fast and unnatural. Plus, when they were together, Graham and Ellie had no chemistry! I didn’t find their romance to be believable at all, Hadley and Oliver from The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight were more believable together, which is saying something because I wasn’t the biggest fan of those two either.

I wish I liked this concept’s execution just as much as the concept itself, and while this pretty much marks the end of my complex relationship with Smith’s writing, I still have some hope remaining. Would recommend if you’re looking for a quick read and are a fan of Smith’s previous novels.