Friday, December 29, 2017

Book Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Title: Defy the Stars
Series: Constellation #1
Written by: Claudia Gray
Published: April 4, 2017 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

I am continually impressed by the science fiction books I read by Claudia Gray. Defy the Stars is just one more example why she is such a master of the genre. It’s a thrilling world with a fascinating world and has great characters.

The thing that impressed me initially about this book was the world. This is seriously such an amazing science fiction world. What the author does so well is make complex science accessible. She has created a world full of space travel, rocket ships, and artificial intelligence without overwhelming you with details and information. Instead it all worked together to create a truly fascinating world. It had this really great Battlestar Galactica feel to it. I really loved The world.

I also really loved the plot of this book. It was completely thrilling. I’m not sure that I would call it a space opera but it definitely had those kind of elements. Throughout the book the characters traveled through space in a mission to save their world. It was full of daring escapes and some pretty epic adventure scenes. Although if I’m being entirely honest, I was kind of hoping for more twists and turns. It definitely built to a thrilling conclusion but I wish there were more surprises. It was a really great plot though.

I also really loved the characters in this book. The book switches perspectives between Abel and Noemi. It was definitely a little jarring at first getting used to each of their voices but it helped that both of them were really great and complex characters. I think probably Abel was a little more interesting than Noemi. Because seriously, Abel was amazing. I always love books about AI and it’s always fun to be in the head in the AI. Plus you have the added bonus of his development throughout the book where he discovered his humanity. It was amazing! All the characters were really likable and interesting. In fact, I even think that the romance won me over in the end. I was incredibly reluctant at first but by the end I was into it. I think because I liked the characters that much that I wanted them to be happy.

I initially started reading this book but it wasn’t until I started listening to the audiobook that I really started loving the book. It had two different narrators and they both really got the characters. It made it easier to get into their heads this way. It also really played up the action. I love books like this in the audio format because everything is all the more thrilling and immersive when you listen to the books. If you are a fan of audiobooks I would definitely recommend this audio.

I really loved this book. It’s a fascinating and engaging read with a cool and complex science fiction world, a thrilling plot, and likable characters.

I give Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I would absolutely recommend this book. Whether you like science fiction or not I think you will really enjoy this book. I know that I did.

Have you read Defy the Stars? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Book Review: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Title: The Language of Thorns
Series: Grishaverse #0.5, 2.5, 2.6
Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Published: September 26, 2017 by Imprint (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

I really enjoy the Grishaverse books from Leigh Bardugo but I have never read any of the short stories (well except the one about the Darkling in the Ruin and Rising special edition), so I was so excited to read this collection of stories. They were fantastic fairy tales retellings with that trademark Leigh Bardugo magic.

The fun thing about these stories is that they are all familiar and unique at the same time. These are stories that are inspired by classic fairy tales but with a Grisha twist. You can see the obvious familiarity in stories that are reminiscent of Hansel and Greta, The Little Mermaid, and The Nutcracker. But they all still feel like they are their own stories. They have surprising twists and are even darker then the Grimm’s Brothers versions. If you like fairy tales I would definitely recommend this one, even if you aren’t a fan of the Grishaverse.

But if you are a fan of the Grishaverse, you will love them even more. It had that Grisha magic to it. Some of the stores you can tell are attempts at maybe explaining the origins of Grisha powers or used to explain why Grisha are either good or bad depending on the culture. And I say culture because there are stories from different countries. It was really cool seeing the different locations and the different stories that the characters would have read or told their children.

Usually when it comes to short story collections there are some stories that are better than others, and while that was definitely the case with The Language of Thorns. I think my favorites were probably The Witch of Duva and When The Water Sang Fire (which has a cameo from a character that will have you so excited because of what it means for the larger series). The great thing about both these stories is that they did not go the way that I thought they would. They had interesting spins on the original stories and were dark and magical. But there were no bad stories in this collection they were all really good.

The other great thing about this book was how gorgeous it was. Each story had these amazing images. The more you read, the more the image unfolded. And then at the end of each story there was a gorgeous two page illustration that summed up the story. It is honestly one of the most beautiful books that I have read. It added something even more special to this book.

The Language of Thorns was a fantastic short story collection that fans of Leigh Bardugo and the Grishaverse definitely need in their lives. It’s beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated. But even if you don’t know the series you will enjoy this book. It’s got amazing fairy tale retellings.

I give The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. Seriously, this book is gorgeous and every Grishaverse collection needs a copy. But even if you haven't read the original series this is a great way to start to ease into the world and tone of the series. If you like fairy tales or YA fantasy I definitely recommend picking this one up.

Have you read The Language of Thorns? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday - Most Anticipated Books for the First Half of 2018

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1.) Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
January 2, 2018 by Wednesday Books
It seems like 2018 will be a year of books about Vikings. And I gotta say, I am here for that. A few years ago I mentioned how I wanted books about Vikings in a TTT post and I am happy that authors obliged.

2.) Unearthed by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
January 9, 2018 by Disney-Hyperion
These two are back together and writing books and I am beyond ecstatic about it. I love the way they write together. Plus this book is pitched as being Lara Croft in space which like, who wouldn’t want to read that.

3.) Blood of a Thousand Stars by Rhoda Belleza - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
February 20, 2018 by Razorbill
Empress of a Thousand Skies was one of my favorite reads of 2017 so I am absolutely excited about its sequel. I can’t wait to find out what is in store for the characters. I’m hoping for another twisty read.

4.) Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
February 27, 2018 by Balzar + Bray
I am not a big contemporary fan. I don’t read too many and it is hard to impress me when I do read them. Geekerella impressed me. I’m really excited for this author to write a science fiction book though.

5.) Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
March 13, 2018 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
This is probably probably one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I love this series so much and I can’t wait for the conclusion in the series. I have plans to listen to the audiobook while reading it because it’s seriously the most immersive experience.

6.) The Radical Element by Jessica Spotswood et al. - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
March 13, 2018 by Candlewick Pres
I really liked A Tyranny of Petticoats. I don’t read a ton of short story collections but I did read that one and it was fantastic. I’d be excited for more regardless but this one has new authors including some that are favorites of mine.

7.) Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter  - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
March 22, 2018 by Scholastic
I really Love Ally Carter, although I haven’t finished the Gallagher Girls series. Anyway, she’s great at writing thrillers and I am super excited for another one from her. Plus this one just sounds like something I would read even if I didn’t like the author.

8.) Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Grafton - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
March 27, 2018 by Tor
 I am such a fan of Shakespeare retelling. They are always such exciting reads. I’m also a total sucker for fantasy reads with tons of political intrigue. This book is those two things combined so you know it’s on the top of my list.

9.) Circe by Madeline Miller - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
April 10, 2018 by Lee Bourdeaux Books
I loved The Song for Achilles. I’m a fan of Greek mythology and retellings so that book was totally up my alley. I’m excited for more by this author especially because it’s kind of in the same vein.

10.) Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
April 24, 2018 by Balzar + Bray
Speaking of companion novels and getting back into these characters. I loved Simon Vs and The Upside of Unrequited. Becky writing another book, one about Leah has to be a super exciting read.

11.) Puddin by Julie Murphy - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
May 8, 2018 by Balzar +Bray
I also very much enjoy Julie Murphy’s books. Every one I read I really liked, especially Dumplin. When I heard she was writing a companion novel I was super excited to read it and get back into these characters.

12.) Furyborn by Claire Legrand - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
May 22, 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire
I have not read a ton of Claire Legrand’s books but the ones I have read, I’ve loved. Not to mention that it’s a YA fantasy that has political intrigue and a magical system that feels very reminiscent of Avatar: The Last Airbender which I am always game for. 

13.) Save the Date by Morgan Matson - Add to Goodreads / Preorder
June 5, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Remember how I said I don’t read a lot of contemporaries? Morgan Matson is one of the few exceptions. She’s the author who made me realize I don’t hate the genre.

There you have it, all the books I am anticipating in 2018 that are not debuts. What books made your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Audiobook Review: Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

Title: Hiddensee: The Once and Future Nutcracker
Written by: Gregory Maguire
Published: October 31, 2017 by William Morrow (HarperCollins)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: From the author of the beloved #1 New York Times bestseller Wicked, the magical story of a toymaker, a nutcracker, and a legend remade . . .

Gregory Maguire returns with an inventive novel inspired by a timeless holiday legend, intertwining the story of the famous Nutcracker with the life of the mysterious toy maker named Drosselmeier who carves him.

Hiddensee: An island of white sandy beaches, salt marshes, steep cliffs, and pine forests north of Berlin in the Baltic Sea, an island that is an enchanting bohemian retreat and home to a large artists' colony—a wellspring of inspiration for the Romantic imagination . . .

Having brought his legions of devoted readers to Oz in Wicked and to Wonderland in After Alice, Maguire now takes us to the realms of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann—the enchanted Black Forest of Bavaria and the salons of Munich. Hiddensee imagines the backstory of the Nutcracker, revealing how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how he guided an ailing girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a Christmas Eve. At the heart of Hoffmann's mysterious tale hovers Godfather Drosselmeier—the ominous, canny, one-eyed toy maker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky's fairy tale ballet—who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism ties to Hellenic mystery-cults—a fascination with death and the afterlife—and ponders a profound question: How can a person who is abused by life, shortchanged and challenged, nevertheless access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless? Ultimately, Hiddensee offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress on a dark winter evening, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized, has something precious to share.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

I’m a big fan of Gregory Maguire and I was so excited to hear that he was coming out with a new retelling about the Nutcracker. I saved it to read this time of year because I wanted to read something seasonal and I'm glad that I did because this was an entertaining and interesting Christmas read.

Maguire is great at setting the atmosphere in a story and that’s exactly what he was able to achieve here. The interesting thing about this book is that I’m not sure if it reads like historical fiction or fantasy. It was a little bit of both and a little bit of neither. But it was a great world. It pulled you in and drew you into the world. It was also the perfect setting for this kind of story. It had magic and wonder but was still grounded in reality and I really appreciate me that.

In addition, Maguire’s writing it as fantastic as usually. It had a great lyrical quality to it that gives it just as much a sense of wonder as anything else in this book. I listened to the audiobook on my drive home for the holidays and it translated perfectly to the audio format. Although it was so peaceful that at one point into lulled me into a state that you definitely don’t want to be in while you are driving. But it was still really fantastic a tone and audio.

As fast as the plot goes, it was an interesting retelling. It was kind of a retelling and kind of a Nutcracker origin story. I typically prefer a plot driven book and this book was definitely more character driven. It focused on the story of Drosselmeyer and how he became a toymaker and godfather to Clara. It wasn’t uninteresting but it wasn’t super engaging either. If you are a big fan of the Nutcracker you might appreciate it and pick up on more of the elements of the original story but I am not super familiar with it. Plus it had a travel element to it. Throughout the book you adventure throughout Germany with Drosselmeyer. It was fun to see but I’m just not that much of a fan of travel stories. To me that just isn’t enough for a plot, I wanted more. I think that is basically how I felt about the plot in general, it was good but I wanted more.

Being that this is a more character driven story, the characters have to be likeable, and here they were. The main character here of course is Drosselmeyer, or Dirk. I really liked Dirk. You saw him grow up from a child to an old man. He is incredibly sympathetic as he spent most of his time trying to find where he belonged and a family. I did enjoy him and being along for the ride. And along the way there were plenty of good secondary characters. Felix was one of the most interesting and I feel like Maguire did a great job in making you connect with them.

In general I think this is a good Christmas book. It has beautiful writing and am atmosphere that will draw you in and make you feel in the holiday spirit with likable characters. It’s not my favorite kind of read but it was really good.

I give Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you are a fan of the Nutcracker, or character driven Christmas reads then check this out. But if you are looking for a fantastic and action packed retelling this is probably not it.

Have you read Hiddensee? What did you think? Leave me comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, December 22, 2017

ARC Review: You Don't Know My Name by Kristin Orlando

Title: You Don't Know My Name
Series: Black Angel Chronicles
Written by: Kristen Orlando
Published: January 10, 2017 by Swoon Reads (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Fighter. Faker. Student. Spy.

Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan. Now Reagan must decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she’s always wanted? And does she even have a choice?

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

I really should have written this review immediately after finishing the book because now I am in that dreaded situation where I do not remember much of what happened. I do remember however that I was excited to read this book and that unfortunately it did not live up to my expectations.

One of my biggest frustrations with this book was with the plot development and pacing. It’s marketed as a spy novel, which had me very excited because I love a good spy story. Unfortunately with this book, that aspect of the story didn’t even happen until the last third of the book. I mean I was very much into that part when it finally kicked in but I seriously could have done without the entire first half. And honestly by the time I got to the second half, which was the half I enjoyed, I ended up just skimming because I just wasn’t engaged at that point. I get that books have to have some exposition and establish the relationships but I just felt like this book took all of that too far.

Speaking of relationships, the first half was nothing but a romance. And it wasn’t even a good romance. It was supposed to be a friends to more sort of thing but I just didn’t buy it. I mean I am a cold-hearted romancephobe so it does take a lot to impress when it comes to romances. Maybe if you are into those kinds of reads you will be perfectly happy with the direction of this book. I however found to be a little cliche and instead of adding to the story it took me out of things completely.

As far as the characters go I thought they were fine but not completely memorable. Reagan and her family were interesting. I like the idea of elite government agents raising their daughter to take in the family business. And I respected Reagan for the dilemma she faced in deciding if it was what was best for her. But I just didn’t feel much connection between the family. It makes sense. I mean her parents weren’t around much for her, but still. When serious moments hit they didn’t have the same weight because I wasn’t as connected to the characters. Honestly, the one I liked the most was probably Sam. I wanted to learn more about her. What’s her story? Give me that book.

Unfortunately this book was kind of a disappointment for me. It did have a good spy story but it took entirely to long to get to the good stuff and at that point I wasn’t as engaged as I would have liked to be.

I give You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando 7.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Bypass. I would recommend this book to fans of YA romances if you are interested in books about spies. But if you are looking for a twisty spy thriller you are going to have to look elsewhere.

Have you read You Don't Know My Name? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Blood of a Thousand Stars by Rhode Belleza

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Blood of a Thousand Stars
Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies #2
Author: Rhoda Belleza
Published: February 20, 2018 by Razorbill (Penguin Group)

Synopsis: Empress

With a revolution brewing, Rhee is faced with a choice: make a deal with her enemy, Nero, or denounce him and risk losing her crown.


Framed assassin Alyosha has one goal in mind: kill Nero. But to get his revenge, Aly may have to travel back to the very place he thought he’d left forever—home.


Kara knows that a single piece of technology located on the uninhabitable planet Wraeta may be the key to remembering—and erasing—the princess she once was.


Villainous media star Nero is out for blood, and he’ll go to any means necessary to control the galaxy.

Vicious politics and high-stakes action culminate in an epic showdown that will determine the fate of the universe.

Why I'm Waiting:

I really loved Empress of a Thousand Skies. Basically any book that is science fiction with political intrigue is going to be completely up my alley. And I was not at all disappointed by Empress of a Thousand Skies. It was an amazing debut with a thrilling plot and an interesting world. So of course the fact that I enjoyed that book so much means that I am so excited for its sequel. I got super attached to Rhee and Aly in the first book and I need to know what happens to them next.

I am definitely going to get myself a copy of this book. The question is do I want the audiobook or a physical copy. I listened to the audio of Empress of a Thousand Skies and I loved it so much because Rebecca Soler is amazing. To be honest I will probably get the audio because I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Blood of a Thousand Skies along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've Read That I Hope to Get as Gifts

A weekly meme by The Broke and the Bookish

I think often there is this tendency when it comes to gifts to desperately want new and exciting things. And I know my family doesn't like getting me books that I have already read, but like I want books that I loved but I don't have copies of. So in case my family gets a peak at this, these are the books I want you to buy for me that I have already read.

1.) La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman - Buy It
I seriously loved this book. I listened to the audiobook and I am so glad that I did because it was amazing. But the finished copies are gorgeous. They have this beautiful woodcut illustration. And I just want this beautiful book on my shelf next to my His Dark Materials books.

2.) Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhode Belleza - Buy It
Another book where I listened to the audiobook. It's one of my favorite debuts of the year and I would really love to own a copy. Plus I think it would look amazing on my shelf because I like the cover a lot. Plus I'm trying to decide if I want to buy the sequel or get the audio

3.) The Empress by S.J. Kincaid - Buy It
I actually ordered a copy of this book but after I moved I forgot to change my address so they sent the book to my old address. And I didn't want to order another copy. So I hope whoever moved into my apartment likes it along with two Ipsy bags.

4.) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - Buy It
I mean, I already own a copy of this book but I am OBSESSED with the paperback. It has the most beautiful illustration by Kevin Wada and I cannot with how amazing Baz looks. I mean Simon too but mostly Baz. I want it!

5.) The Diviners and Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray - Buy It
I really love the redesigned covers for this series. They're super dark and look much more like the historical horror that it is. I am not the kind of person who needs my covers to match but I kind of want them to match Before the Devil Breaks You because I love the redesigns.

6.) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh  - Buy It
I actually have an ARC from this book but I want a finished copy to match my copy of The Rose and the Dagger. And frankly I would even take the original paperback which has that badass image of Shazi looking all amazing.

7.) The Skylighter by Becky Wallace- Buy It
Another book that I have an ARC for that I want a finish copy for because it would match the series. Plus honestly, I really like this series and I want a copy of The Skylighter on my favorites shelf.

8.) Paper and Fire and Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine - Buy It
I have a physical ARC for the second book in the series which usually is enough for me, but I think the design of these so much that I want a finished copy. Plus I only have an e-ARC of the third book and I want that pretty cover as well.

9.) Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman - Buy It
I have an e-ARC for this book but I love the cover so much and I want a finished copy. I have a physical ARC of Vengeance Road and a copy of that would be great as well but like I NEED this one because it's so pretty.

10.) Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - Buy It
I have a physical ARC of this book as well but some of the graphics are not complete. It would be great to have the copy with all the deaths because I know a few of the people listed. Plus I want the drawings that Marie Lu did!

11.) Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo - Buy It
I have a physical ARC of this one as well but it is Leigh Bardugo and Wonder Woman. I want a finished copy so I can add it to my self and support Leigh at the same time.

12.) A Darker Shade of Magic: Collectors Edition by Victoria Schwab - Buy It
I am not usually one of those people who need special editions and multiple copies of different books. But I love this series and I want the collectors edition because it has that gorgeous design by Crini under the jacket!

There you have it. All the books I have read which I don't have copies of but am hoping to get copies of this Christmas. What books made your list. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give
Written by: Angie Thomas
Published: February 28, 2017 by Balzar +  Bray (HarperCollins)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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

Okay, yeah, I get it. This book was amazing. It’s really nice when a super hyped book actually lives up to that hype. This is a book that I had heard great things about and I loved. I was honestly nervous because I don’t usually like serious contemporaries but this was really well balanced and really impactful.

Angie Thomas does a great job in pulling you in right away by connecting you to the main character Starr. I seriously loved Starr. It’s easy to like her though. She’s snarky, intelligent, and compassionate. You feel her struggle as she is torn between two worlds, neither of which does she feel like she fully fits into. It was really nice seeing Starr figure out her place in these worlds, and the world in general throughout the book. Her development throughout the book was subtle but enough for it to make an impact. Seeing her speak out for what she believed in and the people and places she cares about made her all the more likable by the end of the book.

But she was not the only interesting and likable character. I think the heart of this story is in the family. A lot of times we see YA novels where the parents are not around and if they are they are a negative influence. This book could have done that (and to be fair it kind of did but just not with Starr) but it didn’t. Starr’s parents were around and they were so involved. You could tell they loved her and wanted what was best for her and her brothers (who were also amazing, I seriously loved Seven). But they were also just fantastic on their own. I really liked her father Big Mav. He was such a freaking dad. But like in the best possible way. He was corny but still so funny and tough but seriously loving. Her family was just great. And their relationship was great. It added a great layer of humor and heart to the book.

But Starr’s family wasn’t the only great characters. From her friends at school, to the people around Garden Heights, to the local activist all the characters were complex and engaging. I listened to the audiobook and Bahni Turpin really did an amazing job. I already loved her and her narration but I think I love her even more now. The characters cake Alice in this book. There was a massive cast and she made them all feel unique and interesting. Plus she really got the tone and emotion that came with this book. It could have fallen really flat but not in Bahni’s expert hands (mouth?). It’s no wonder this book was voted best audiobook of the year by Audible. That is well deserved.

But I also want to take some time to talk about the plot of this book. It’s an extremely serious and topical event. With everything going on in the world a book like this needs to exist. It addresses a lot of really serious issues and it does it in a way that makes you think. I don’t like when books beat you over the head with their message and this book definitely didn’t do that. It had its point, it addressed that point but it didn’t come off and preachy and didn’t take it too far. I think even if you don’t like serious issue books you will still like this one. And if you do like them you most certainly enjoy this. But I think the reason the book didn’t get too extreme with it’s message is that it balanced it all out with humor and heart. Those are the kinds of contemporaries I enjoy and that’s what I loved about this book. It made you laugh, it made you cry, and it made you think. Isn’t that all you can ask for in a book? I think so.

I seriously flew through this book. I couldn’t stop listening to the audio. I really loved it. I wish I hadn’t waited to read it but I am glad I did read it. I get why it is such a favorite with a lot of people. It was really amazing.

I give The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you are like me and you have been waiting to read this book for some reason, stop waiting. This book is worth all the hype and accolades it has been getting. It's a fantastic, impactful, and important read. Definitely buy it.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What did you think? Give me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ARC Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Title: Genuine Fraud
Written by: E. Lockhary
Published: September 5, 2017 by Delacorte Press (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

This is one of the most unique books I have read in awhile. I enjoyed We Were Lies and I was interested in reading more of E. Lockhart’s books. And I am so glad I did because this was a super interesting read with unlikeable characters, plenty of surprises, and a plot that kept me on my toes.

The thing to keep in mind about Genuine Fraud is that it is definitely a thriller. I wouldn’t really call it a mystery because there wasn’t anything to solve but it was full of twists and turns and plenty of thrills.It had all the trappings of my favorite kind of a thrillers too. It had me guessing from beginning to end and even when I thought I knew what was going on it had me doubting myself and the characters. I love when books are like that. I love being surprised and confused and this book definitely did that.

I think the biggest thing that kept me confused though was the structure of this book. It’s not your typical narrative style. No, you read the book backwards. You start at the climax, the last chapter, and then work your way to how it all began. You would think this would mean that there weren’t any surprises, but there were. Sure, you could piece together the big picture stuff but there was still a lot of drama and surprises. I have never read a book like that before. It took a little while to get used to but when I did, I was so into it. It added to the drama of the book and made it all the more interesting.

The other really interesting thing about this book was the characters. These are some truly unlikeable characters. I am one of those readers who likes when the characters are terrible people, and that’s a good thing because that is exactly what had happened in this book. These characters were seriously awful. They were self-centered and awful. But they were also really complex. Jule was a character that I had empathy for even when she did the most terrible things. I mean don’t get me wrong, she was absolutely awful and out control but interesting. She was also an unreliable narrator. So much of my confusion and doubt came from not knowing or trusting Jule. If you are like me and you like unlikeable characters then you will love the characters in Genuine Fraud.

The thing I really appreciated about this book is that it’s uniquely written and weird but it’s also a quick read. It’s a book you could read in a day if you read fast and/or have the time to devote to it. It’s only about 260 pages and the font is pretty big. But it’s also such an engaging read that you will want to find out what is going to happen, or well had happened. I really couldn’t put it down. I flew through this book. It was really interesting.

I really enjoyed Genuine Fraud. It wasn’t a perfect book but it was incredibly engaging. It was a thriller that kept me confused, a uniquely written book, and unlikeable characters.

I give Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I think this is probably one of those books that either you love it or hate it kind of book. I in particular loved it. It's a unique book but it was good. If you like YA thrillers or want something completely different then check this book out.

Have you read Genuine Fraud? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

It seems a bit early to do the best books of the year, especially because my theme this month is reading the books that I have not yet read but want to before the end of the year. But I think I can give a pretty good list of books based on what I have already read. Here's we go...

1.) The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - My Review
I really liked Mackenzi's  debut so I was really excited for her next book. And this book was seriously phenomenal. It had amazing characters, an exciting plot, and actually surprised me with how complex it was.

2.) Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Lantham - My Review
This book was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I love a good historical mystery and this book was just that. I mean it was one of the first books I read this year and I liked it so much that it is this high on my list.

3.) Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - My Review
Probably I liked this book so much because I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by my absolute favorite narrator, Steve West. But it was also my first Laini Taylor book and it was really amazing.

4.) Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Broadhurst - My Review
This was without a doubt my favorite debut of the year. I really loved it. It was a fantastic modern fantasy and really creative retelling all at the same time. It was beautifully written and I loved it.

5.) La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman - My Review
I mean how could the His Dark Materials prequel not make my favorites of the year list. But seriously, this book was amazing. I didn't expect to fall that in love with a book without Lyra but it was that good.

6.) Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh - My Review
I really liked The Wrath and the Dawn but I think Flame in the Mist may have been even better. It was a great fantasy Renee Ahdieh know how to develop a world and her beautiful lyrical writing and plenty of surprises made this amazing.

7.) Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - My Review
When I read Simon Vs. it was one of my favorite books of the year so it should come as no surprise that Upside made my favorite as well. I related so much to Molly and Becky's trademark humor and way of balancing that with the more serious made this fantastic.

8.) Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza - My Review
I was blown away by this book. It usually science fiction books that do that for me. This one was definitely had a great world full of political intrigue and a thrilling plot that had plenty of surprises. Plus the audiobook was amazing because Rebecca Soler

9.) The Dire King by William Ritter - My Review
No surprise here as well. Jackaby books always make my favorites of the year. I love this series so much. And the final book in the serious was everything I wanted. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it surprised me, it enthralled me, it was amazing.

10.) Jane Unlimited by Kristen Cashore - My Review
Another book that totally surprised me in the best possible way. I have wanted to read Kristen Cashore for awhile now, I've heard amazing things, and yet this as my first. I ;liked it so much that it makes me wish I had read her fantasies years ago.

11.) Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco - My Review
Stalking Jack the Ripper was one of my favorite books of last year and its sequel was just as fantastic. I loved getting more of Audrey Rose and Thomas. I ship them so much and I can't wait for book three.

12.) The Empress by S.J. Kincaid - My Review
And another sequel of a book that I loved. The Diabolic was one of my favorite books of 2015 and this book was just as fantastic. I loved catching up with Nemesis and this book had even more surprises and twists than the first book.

There you have it. All of my favorite books of 2017. I'll do a full on year in review so there will definitely be more favorites coming up in the next two weeks. But until then, here they are. What books made you list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!