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

Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas || a powerful story on the social/political issues of today

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Hate U Give is such a hyped, highly-sought after commodity and I’ve actually avoided many reviews and the book itself for a long while, just because I was afraid to be let down. My expectations went sky high for this one, and because of all the tragic events taking place in the black community, I even feared disliking it. However, The Hate U Give indeed lives up to the hype with a very significant message behind it, and I was overall impressed with how Thomas weaved an uplifting and inspiring story with more darker, powerful themes.

The atmosphere and prose: This book takes place across two major settings: Starr’s neighborhood, Garden Heights, and her fancy private school Williamson. I loved the way Thomas peeled back the layers on each of these settings, redefining the stereotypes and adding character and originality to both. Starr lives in a poverty-stricken environment filled with gangs and violence, but goes to a wealthier private school out of town which contains a majority of white students. I loved the way Thomas added a sense of familiarity and relatability to Starr’s hometown through building stores, parks, houses, and even the gangs involved. It was quite interesting to see the distinction between each area and how it affects Starr and her family psychologically, and this worked out so well due to the well-defined individual environments. The prose was surprisingly very informal, which I really liked to an extent. I felt as though the dialogue and overall commentary was brought to life easily, in all the happy, angry, and frustrated moments. There are times where I wish the writing wasn’t as casual, and a little more poignant in its commentary of the issues plaguing Starr, her family, and everyone affected by Khalil’s death. There was a surplus of dialogue throughout the novel, and I often felt as though there wasn’t enough commentary to match it.

The perfectly defined characters: Other than the great way this book delivers its message, the characters were my favorite part of this novel. Starr is incredibly relatable and realistic. Her vulnerability, anger, and sadness in such a situation is so well-expressed and it’s heartbreaking to imagine that so many other people her age have been similarly affected by such terrible acts. Her struggle to come to terms with what happened and how she plays a part in the grand scheme of things, as well as her courage and fierceness, are wonderfully realistic and uplifting. Amazingly, the side characters involved were equally three-dimensional. I adored Starr’s sincere and heartwarming immediate and extended family, from her tell-it-like-it-is Nana to her mischievous younger brother, Sekani.  I specifically admired Starr’s father, his history and personality was incredibly layered and well-defined, and the emotions and actions her presented spoke volumes. Even the minor characters like Mr. Lewis and Iesha were so full of life.

A multitude of emotion and range of messages: This book is based on the Black Lives Matter and it exemplifies all that it is perfectly. It has a special way of taking you inside this girl’s head and witness what is going on in the world right now, firsthand and up close. We experience Khalil’s murder right away, and many of the events taking place afterward are equally shocking, upsetting, and so real. There are even instances where Starr notices that the news of Khalil’s death has spread on Twitter and the internet in general, and how people are protesting everywhere, demanding justice. What’s amazing, is the fact that all the other social issues depicted in the novel are all equally well-developed. This book explores interracial couples, familial and cultural dynamics, and even the psychology and history behind all the violence and gang banging in Starr’s neighborhood. Thomas has exposed a range of topics with utter poise, but never shies away from honesty and rawness.

The only things I have to complain about would be the casual prose and the length of the novel. While the book certainly wasn’t boring, it seemed to drag a bit every now and then and I couldn’t pinpoint the direction. Other than that, the hype is very, very real. I would urge everyone to read this book right away, not only because it’s the ‘it’ book of right now, but because it expresses a range of social/political issues in an emotive, realistic, and inspiring way like no other.

-Haven

Books, New Releases, Original Post, YA Fiction

New Releases in YA for February 2017

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Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a great book-filled January. I was incredibly busy this month (AP Psych takes all the energy out of me -__-), so I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted. But, I’m definitely hyped for these February releases. Let’s get into it!

1. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones – Coming February 7th, 2017

24763621Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.
All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Wintersong sounds extremely rich and dynamic, I’m expecting great world-building to match with that beautiful cover!

2. Starfall, by Melissa Landers – Coming February 7th, 2017

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When Princess Cassia Rose fled her home world of Eturia to escape an arranged marriage, she had no idea her sudden departure would spark a war. Now after two years hiding as a ship hand, she is finally returning to her beloved home, but not in the way she imagined. Shackled by bounty hunters, she is violently dragged back to account for her crimes. Her only solace is that the Banshee crew managed to evade capture, including Kane Arric, her best friend…with occasional benefits.

Meanwhile, Kane and the rest of the crew of the Banshee plan a desperate rescue mission. But when they arrive on Eturia, Cassia isn’t exactly in need of heroics—she’s claimed her birthright as Eturia’s queen, but has inherited a war-torn planet simmering with rebellion. Cassia must make alliances, and Kane, the bastard son of a merchant, isn’t a choice that will earn her any friends. Kane knows he will never find someone to replace Cassia—and is certain she returns his feelings—but how can he throw away his own promising future waiting on a queen?

When the outer realm is threatened by the dangerous Zhang mafia, Cassia, Kane and the rest of the Banshee crew uncover a horrifying conspiracy that endangers the entire universe. In the face of unspeakable evil, Cassia must confront her own family’s complicated legacy on Eturia and decide once and for all who her real family is.

I’ve read the first book of this series, Starflight, a while ago and I really enjoyed it. This book will be told in Cassia’s perspective, who actually used to a supporting character in the first book. I think this is a great idea, as I’ve been dying to know more about her character, and I’m equally dying to know where Landers is going to take this exciting space opera!

3. We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour – Coming February 24th, 2017

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“You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.”

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

This definitely sounds like an emotional read with a mysterious air to it. While some of these books leave me a tad depressed and hollowed-out, a well-written book is a well-written book, and I appreciate those types of characteristics. I’m most certainly hyped.

 

 

4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Coming February 28th, 2017

32075671Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

I love the idea behind this novel — with the recent events taking place in the black community, I think it’s amazing and important that The Hate U Give wants to deliver a story based on something so relevant today. I’m really looking forward this novel.

 

 

 

 

Gardenia, by Kelsey Sutton – Coming February 24th, 2017

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Seventeen-year-old Ivy Erickson has one month, twenty-seven days, four hours, fifty-nine minutes, and two seconds to live.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been able to see countdown clocks over everyone’s heads indicating how long before they will die. She can’t do anything about anyone else’s, nor can she do anything about her own, which will hit the zero hour before she even graduates high school.

A life cut short is tragic, but Ivy does her best to make the most of it. She struggles emotionally with her deep love for on-again, off-again boyfriend Myers Patripski. She struggles financially, working outside of school to help her mom and her sister. And she struggles to cope with the murder of her best friend, another life she couldn’t save. Vanessa Donovan was killed in the woods, and everyone in town believes Ivy had something to do with it.

Then more girls start disappearing. Ivy tries to put her own life in order as she pieces together the truth of who ended Vanessa’s. To save lives and for her own sanity.

The clock is always ticking. And Ivy’s only hope is to expose the truth before it runs out completely.

I’ve actually recently finished this book through an ARC, and I definitely think it’s worth a read. While the mystery/ thriller aspect isn’t as fleshed out as I wanted it to be, it carries a huge emotional capacity with its writing and characters. A more detailed review is coming soon.

That’s it, guys! I hope you all have a great rest of the month! 🙂

-Haven