Nov 23, 2017

Review | Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows

Title: Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: March 28, 2017 by Harlequin Teen
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis:  A proud geek girl, Emma loves her quiet life on the outskirts, playing video games and staying off the radar. When her nightmare of a new stepsister moves into the bedroom next door, her world is turned upside down. Quinn is a queen bee with a nasty streak who destroys anyone who gets in her way. Teachers, football players, her fellow cheerleaders—no one is safe.

Emma wants nothing more than to get this girl out of her life, but when Quinn dies suddenly, Emma realizes there was more to her stepsister than anyone ever realized.

Thoughts: This was a book I enjoyed mostly all the way through and then felt a little meh at the end. From the title and the synopsis, it's easy to guess how its going to end. I just felt like the conclusion was weak and that sort of changed how I felt about the book towards the end.

Emma and Quinn get off on the wrong foot and their rocky relationship disrupts their family life. Emma is willing to get along with Quinn, but she's a real mean girl if I ever saw one. I was intrigued with their family dynamic, the easy pacing of the story, and thought Emma was a likable character (and Quinn a very easy to hate character).

We never really understand why Quinn is so mean, other than she's spoiled and not used to having her life being disrupted the way it was when her parents separated and moved on with their partners. It's easy to hate her, but that's about it, and the story lacked a little from that. I thorughly enjoyed the first half book of the book, as we learn about the characters and see their story form, but again the conclusion felt weaker than the rest.

I originally gave this book a four out of five stars, but at this point in time I think I have to drop the rating down to three stars. I can't deny that I enjoyed it and wanted to keep reading it, but I loved it less than I originally expected and felt unsatisfied with the ending.

Nov 22, 2017

Review | The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Title: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: November 1, 2016 by Delacorte Press
Format: ARC
Source: Books for Trade
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true? 

Thoughts: I still haven't gotten around to reading Yoon's first book, but decided to pick up The Sun is Also a Star because I got an ARC copy for trade, it fit under a readathon I was participating in (I think) and it was getting a lot of praise. The Sun is Also A Star was such a lovely book, about falling in love in one day (yes, I know it's unrealistic) where the guy is the hopeless romantic and the girl isn't exactly keen on falling in love.

Natasha and Daniel accidentally meet in a music store, and after a bit of hesitation (on Natasha's side) spend the day together. The first problem isn't that Natasha doesn't believe in love, it's that she's going to be deported that day and is trying to find a way not to be. Daniel becomes to determined to help her, and also, to make her fall in love with him.

There's not much I can say about this one, other than what a sweet story it is, with fun adventures, a mostly unlikely plot, but with characters that you can't help but adore. It was exactly what I was looking for in a summer contemporary and probably why I loved it so much.

Nov 21, 2017

Review | Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, #1
Genre: YA - Dystopia
Publication:  June 7, 2016 by Washington Square Press
Format: Paperback
Source: Traveling Book
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. 

Thoughts: I'd been looking forward to starting this series for years, not only because of all the hype but because they're retellings of some of my favorite fairy tales (the Disney versions of course.) When I picked up Cinder, I expected to fly through it. As a matter of fact, I owned a copy but also signed up for a traveling book, and got to write down notes and stuff inside. Unfortunately, once the initial excitement wore off that I was finally reading this series, I found it difficult to pick it up and read it quickly.

Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella, but with many changes. For one thing, the story is set in China, the prince is obviously Chinese, and not only that but Cinder is a cyborg. Not only are her evil stepmother and sister still evil, she also has to deal with being a type of slave to society itself, not only to her family. She works as a mechanic, has a sidekick borg named Eko and one day, meets the prince who happens to fall in love with her at some point.

The similarities between this story and Disney's Cinderella are few and maybe that's what sort of threw me off. There's also a plague killing off people every day and Cinder has to figure out a way to save the day. The story is fun, action-packed, and very original. But it lacked for me. I felt that maybe if it hadn't been sold as a retelling, I would've enjoyed it a lot more. Instead I was expecting the similarities between the fairy tale and this book, and when they were few and far in between, I felt a little disappointed.

I can't deny that this was a great start to a imaginative series, and it leaves readers expecting more, but as for me, I don't see myself continuing it. I did like it, but I didn't love it. There was one character I really liked (the sidekick) but other than that, I didn't really care for anyone else. I liked how unique the story was, but wasn't able to really get into the story as a whole and it took me several weeks to get through this. All in all, I see how this is so hyped up, but it's just not for me.

Nov 18, 2017

Short Story Saturday | Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

This feature was created by Lauren from 365 Days of Reading

Title: Gwendy's Button Box by Richard Chizmar and Stephen King
Anthology: N/A - Novella
Rating: ★★★★

One Line Summary: Gwendy meets a strange man in a black hat who knows too much about her life and gives her a small, but powerful button box.

Thoughts: A little under 200 pages, I was able to finish this in one sitting. Gwendy's Button Box is a collaboration between Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, and it follows our protagonist Gwendy after she meets the man in a black hat, who gives her a button box. The short novella spans over a few years, and we get to see how the box affects Gwendy's life.

I can't deny that the story was entertaining, if not mysterious and a little creepy, too. But when it was over, I felt like I didn't get it. Like I missed the underlying message that was supposed to come across and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Its possible that I felt the conclusion lacked a bit, but I think I only think I feel that way because I've recently read that Chizmar finished off the story, not King.

Honestly, I don't know what to think of it. It made me feel something, and I was able to start and finish it in a short time so I was intrigued. I didn't think it was the best story out there, but still something about it has kept it in my mind since I finished it.

Nov 17, 2017

Review | The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe

Title: The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe
Series: N/A
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication: June 7, 2016 by Washington Square Press
Format: Paperback
Source: Once Upon A Book Club
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.

Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of the Gilded Age, an era when old money traditions collided with modern ideas, Tanabe has written an unputdownable and emotionally compelling story of hope, sacrifice, and betrayal—and a gripping account of how one woman dared to risk everything for the chance at a better life.

Thoughts: I had no idea what this book was about when I signed up for the monthly subscription box of Once Upon a Book Club but I was so excited about the idea. Once Upon a Book Club sends out one book with a few items wrapped up. While reading the book, the reader opens the gifts to the designated page number and has a more interactive reading experience. Even when I decided to finally read this, I didn't read up on the synopsis until later, but was pleasantly surprised with what the book was about.

This book follows Anita Hemmings, a black woman who has passed as white to attend Vassar College. While she deals with a lot of inner conflict about what she's doing and what this means to her family and race, she also has to deal with the fear of being discovered. Instead of being as careful as she should be though, Anita engages in a romantic relationship with young man, and befriends Lottie, an extremely popular and energetic girl who falls for Anita's brother.

Anita is a simple, smart, and likable character and I understood why she did things a certain why. She had to deal with emotional turmoil of her decision, but regardless of how things turned out for her, I don't think she regretted her decisions to pass as a white woman when she felt there was no other option. The story is quite simple and quiet, or so it felt. Not much really happens, but I felt worry the whole time, that Anita's secret would be discovered, so that kept me intrigued with the story.

The ending was predictable, and it is also based off true historical events, so it can easily be looked up. I knew it would turn out that way, but also hoped it didn't. I didn't know of Anita Hemmings before I read this, but I am glad this was the selection for the month and that I finally got myself to read it. It was an informative and interesting read and I recommend it to others who enjoy similar books.

Unboxing Vlog:

Nov 16, 2017

Series Review | The 100 #1, #2, #3 by Kass Morgan

Title: The 100 by Kass Morgan
Series: The 100, #1
Genre: YA - Science Fiction/Dystopia
Publication: September 3, 2013 by Little, Brown and Company
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents -- considered expendable by society -- are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves -- but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.

Thoughts: This was a fast-paced wild ride of a book and I really liked it. I listened to this audiobook for no particular reason, but found myself completely immersed in all the characters and their stories. The book is told from several points of view (four I think?) and each one was fascinating and unique and captivating.

From the synopsis we know that 100 delinquents are sent on a ship back to Earth in order to recolonize the planet. The story explodes from the beginning with action and we are thrown into a whirlwind of events that the characters must survive through. Not only that, but we are also told past events in order to understand their pasts a little better, and find out how their lives interweave.

There was no particular character that I liked best, although some of the actions of a few were sometimes frustrating (*cough* Glass *cough*) but it's expected and I guess makes sense because of their situation.

I was really pulled into the story and was fascinated by all that was happening. Of course, there's a bit of a dramatic ending which made me want to read the next book immediately.

Possible Spoilers Ahead

Nov 15, 2017

Review | History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Title: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: January 17, 2017 by Soho Teen
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: When 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.

Thoughts: History is All You Left Me was one of those books I'd been looking forward to because I was expecting it to make me feel. I expected to really feel something for this one but was a little disappointed in the lack of connection I felt with the main character, Griffin, despite the pain he was going through from losing his best friend/ex-boyfriend in a drowning accident. Because I have experienced something similar, I really expected to cry my eyes out but didn't. I found myself detached with the story as a whole, and was really reading it because I was buddy reading it, but also because all the hype surrounding it kept assuring me I would love it.

The friendships in the book were the redeeming quality, and because the story was told in both past and present view points, I looked forward to seeing the friendship between Theo and Griffin formed, as well as their third best friend, Wade. We don't see as much of Wade until the end, and I was really able to appreciate his character because of everything he went through as well. I wish his importance would've been brought to light from the beginning, but instead was saved to cause a dramatic/revealing secret at the end, and I suppose that was fine.

I can't say I was completely disappointed in this one, but I was expecting a little more. It can be a quick read, that most people have enjoyed. I had the pleasure of meeting the author, and hearing him talk about the book and writing process, so that was enjoyable in itself. I wish this would've been more for me, but I think I will give Silvera another shot in the future, and see how I feel about his writing at a later date.