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Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 End of the Year Bookish Survey

This is my first time doing the end of the year book survey that Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner is hosting, and I can say that I am pumped to look at all the books I have read in this long year. I know it wasn't much of a reading year for me since I was in Japan for study abroad and graduating from college, but it was an eventful one :)

Anyway, off to the survey!
Number Of Books You Read: 60
Number of Re-Reads: ~3
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy/High Fantasy

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Sin-Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury. It had nothing to do with Sin Eating. I was deeply upset by this.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DNF 2015 Tributes

The title suggests exactly what Eirini and I have done; we compiled all of our DNFs from this year and done a giant review montage right before the end of the year. Please take the time to see what novels did not make the cut. Feel free to let us know in the comments below if you, too, shared similar feelings about the novels, or if we were the black sheep of the bookish community. Have a very happy rest of 2015, everyone.

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
DNF 17%

Seeker seemed like a promising read, and it started off well with action. But then things started to get boring, unexplained, and just downright confusing. And I am not one to enjoy a book that doesn't explain things about the world or confuses me to the point of no return. I felt like I was reading the bare minimum, and given vague explanation in order to draw suspense, but really just left me confused on what in the world happened to these kids before taking their oaths. I felt left in the dark and no one was throwing me a damn match.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Review: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Series: The Girl From Everywhere #1
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Young Adult novel
Pages: 464
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction

   buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
H  eidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.
     Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.
     In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

  The idea for this book is really cool.  Time traveling pirates is far and away the easiest way to get me to pick up a book (or watch a Scooby-Doo movie).  Time travel is always a tricky subject as originality with the infinite possibilities of time is apparently a very difficult.  Heilig's idea and location were both great ideas.  I love when settings are unexpected and still so relevant.  I was so excited for this book and at times, I couldn't put it down.

And at other times...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller

race Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.
When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.
In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

Grace Mae knows madness.

This is highly exaggerated, because Grace Mae knows trauma. Not madness.

A Madness So Discreet was one of my most-anticipated novels of this year because Mindy McGinnis wrote it. If you have been following my blog for a bit, or know me outside of the internet, you would know that I LOVED the Not a Drop to Drink novels and that Mindy McGinnis earned herself a spot on my favorite authors list. So I did my touchdown dance when I saw her newest novel in my mailbox after a long day of work.

Sadly, I was dissatisfied with the novel because of the "story," for lack of a better term. The novel opens up inside an asylum in the Massachusetts Bay area during what seems to be the mid-1800s. Grace Mae lived among the aristocracy, a well-wrought women brought up in a caged society and a brutal home life. Let's just say I found the main plot line predictable, the middle sub-plot (if I should even call it such a thing) left me yawning, and the ending unsatisfying. So here I will provide 5 things that could have made A Madness So Discreet a stronger novel:

1. A more likable main character.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday 86: Love, Lies, and Spies

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey
Release Date: April, 19, 2016
Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

I'm a sucker for black and white covers, keys, and London. Even though we are told they are not that "average" kind of people, I highly doubt that as fact. I'm still going to swoon anyway until I pick it up to read and face my gut feeling. Since I have all the time in the world to read now that I'm finished with college I know I will find myself being highly critical of all the novels I'll be reading, this one included.

But I can still love the cover art.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 352
Genre: Queer, Contemporary

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex... and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.
        What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

  None of the Above was a very informative story about the struggles of Kristin Lattimer after receiving the diagnosis that she is intersex (specifically diagnosed with AIS), meaning that she was born with the XY chromosome and having both male and female reproductive organs. The book tells the journey of Kristin coming to terms not only with her identity, but with the various pitfalls of sex and gender.  None of the Above is written by a doctor who specializes in intersex patients, so while very educational, None of the Above is not the best book ever written.
None of the Above is similar to the wave of young adult books that came out in the 70's: situational, educational, and as dull as dishwater. While not the worst thing I ever read, unless you are looking for a book specifically about intersex characters, I would not bother to pick this up.  I found myself grinding my teeth a few times over the predictability of the plot.  The characters are not particularly deep, and although Kristin has some depth, it only manifests in her finding acceptance in her condition rather than her relationship with her father or friends.  The plot also suffers from being so focused on this one aspect of Kristen's life that rather than weaving the intersex diagnosis in with the rest of her life, Gregorio just dumps a bunch of subplot ideas onto the reader's lap and does nothing with them.  Don't worry too much though, because the romance survived the way a cockroach survives a nuclear blast.  I almost gave up on reading this book a few times because the romance was so boring. Nothing in this book will be surprising other than a couple of times where the writer actually talks about sex, which is fairly rare in the young adult genre. Still, there's nothing steamy so look elsewhere if you are inclined for such things in your literature.

Overall, this is a book for comfort and understanding, not enjoyment.  So I recommend None of the Above for the curious and those questioning their own gender and identity.  It's great to find books that include characters who are intersex, but I'm still holding my breath for the book with a non-binary main character instead of a book about a character who is non-binary.

A+ for effort at least

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (85): Winter

Winter by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Release Date: November 12, 2015
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
        Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
        Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?
I'm sure everyone and their mother has been saying this for a while now, but, and here is my fandom mixing in the heat of the moment, WINTER IS COMING! Praise the lord!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (84): Queen

Queen by Aimee Carter
Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion #3
Release Date: November 24, 2015
        Kitty Doe is a Blackcoat rebel and a former captive with a deadly connection to the most powerful and dangerous man in the country, Prime Minister Daxton Hart. Forced to masquerade as Daxton's niece, Lila Hart, Kitty has helped the Blackcoats take back the prison known as Elsewhere. But Daxton has no intention of ceding his position of privilege—or letting Kitty expose his own masquerade. Not in these United States, where each person's rank means the difference between luxury and poverty, freedom and fear...and ultimately, between life and death.
        To defeat the corrupt government, Kitty must expose Daxton's secret. Securing evidence will put others in jeopardy, including the boy she's loved forever and an ally she barely trusts. For months, Kitty's survival has hinged on playing a part. Now she must discover who she truly wants to be, and whether the new world she and the rebels are striving to create has a place in it for her after all.
Oh gosh, these covers just get better and better! Aimee Carter, please don't fail me now with this final book. Give me bamf Katie who will topple this government and turn everything on its head. I wait patiently for November.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Extra-Extra: Calling all Red Queen Fans, this one's for you!

For all of you hungry for the second book in Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen series titled Glass Sword (that is one sexy title name!), you have a whole hell of a lot more to look forward. More precisely, you have years. Four books, people. Red Queen is signed up for a fourth book in the series, having to make all readers wait until 2018 to get their hands on that final novel. Not only that, there are two e-novella's coming out, and the movie deal has been bought by Universal Pictures where Elizabeth Banks (Effie-freaking-Trinket, people!) is talking about directing the book-to-movie adaptation.

Also, a whole new book deal coming out in 2019. Ex-citing news everyone!!!

If anyone is further interested in reading about the upcoming novels by Aveyard, check out this link from Hollywood Reporter HERE. Also, leave a comment below on how you feel about this four book deal or what you think her new book might possibly be or what you are interested to see come from the brilliant mind of Victoria Aveyard.

Two Graduating Seniors

Hey everyone, Courtney here. Sorry Eirini and I haven't been around for a while. The two of us have been very busy for the past couple of months. Eirini had been working at home and I had been in Japan for study abroad. And actually, those busy times haven't passed us by just yet.

We're graduating seniors. So I'm sure most of you can expect that these hard times are just the beginning. And we feel the weight of all of this on our shoulders. Not just graduating, but also looking for work post-grad.

Don't think we haven't stopped reading or keeping up to date with all things Young Adult and Literary. We have been reading non-stop for our Senior Seminar class. If any of you have read Milan Kundera, I think you know how blown our minds are and who frustrated we are as well. But when free time rolls around, we are sure to grab a book on our to-read list and finally read to just read. Trust me, we need a break. It's only been four weeks into our semester, but we need a break. Big. Time.

So please don't think that we have forgotten the blog. Or you all reading. We could never do that. Just be patient with us, we will be updating throughout the semester with either some reviews or just updates with what is going on with our semester.

Also, feel free to give us some book requests. We are open to hear what your favorites are and would love to try them our and give our opinions! We would love to hear from you all in the comments below :) We will always reply to comments, so don't hesitate to ask us anything or strike up a conversation~

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave #1
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 457
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

fter the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
     Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.
     Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I had heard spectacular things about Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave. so I took to the library, pulled a copy off the shelf, and borrowed it to see what all the hype was about. Contrary to what I had heard, I wasn't head over heels for this novel. And let me tell you why.

Aliens have come to Earth and begun a complete extermination of the human race. Four different waves have come and gone over the course of five months. No electricity. All coastal cities, states, and countries were wiped out by the oceans. A killer virus. And last but not least: the enemy lurking around every corner. Who's human? Who's alien? Cassie doesn't know, but she trust no one until she is left for dead on a highway and fanciful and the handsome Evan Walker nurses her back to health. Meanwhile the government is pulling together an army of children to fight the alien horde. The 5th Wave is underway, and it's nothing like Cassie has ever seen or could even imagine.

Like every novel I have read, when a character is alone, companionship is not far off. No matter how strongly or how frequent the words trust no one come along. Trust is human, and trust is what Cassie falls for after being saved by this handsome stranger. And handsome is another attribute that is thrust upon in many main male characters. And The 5th Wave left me rolling my eyes by how gorgeous Evan Walker was, how instantly attracted Cassie was to this boy. The trope of gorgeous boy saves unattractive girl protagonist and vice versa is taxing to read over and over again, and doesn't do this book justice. The story could have done without the romantic sub-plot if Cassie and Evan, in my honest opinion. Another factor that dulled my appeal for this book was the predictability of it all. I could foresee the little twists and turns that were going to happen, and that dulled a little of what The 5th Wave had to offer.

Other than those bumps in the road, The 5th Wave does have a delightfully captivating narrator or two, and Cassie is a strong, independent character who is goal oriented. She really is one tough cookie surviving four alien purges in five months time. She about make the entire book, and her and Evan's relationship did eventually grow on me. Especially since it got her to shut up about Ben Parish. And Even's character is one of the most complex and intricate that I have read in a long time, and I honestly wished he had more of a point-of-view than one little chapter. The pace is quick at the beginning and end, though the middle did have some quagmire-ish parts about it in my opinion. A lot of the characters, mostly the army base centered ones--Ringer, Poundcake, Teacup, Dumbo, and even Zombie most of the time--I didn't really find much to connect with, nothing really brought much joy in reading about them. It's hard to read a book when most of the characters are essentially there to move you from one page to the next rather than establish a connection with. I guess that is where sequels come in...

Final Summation: The 5th Wave is a compelling read for those who are looking for a sci-fi apocolyptic adventure with some romance thrown in. Especially readers who want a War of the Worlds mixed with A Children's Story type of novel. With an engaging narration and a compelling story, the novel is great for some light reading about a world in which cohabitation with extraterrestrial life does not go so well for the human species. A science fiction work that makes you think about "well what if this actually happened...?" I recommend this book to anyone who likes a gritty novel, some aliens in the mix, and kissing every now and again. Also, fans of NOT A DROP TO DRINK I think would enjoy this book.

Three targets slayed for Cassie's journal

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 448
Genre: Mental Health, Romance, Mystery
   buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
R eality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

I was really nervous about this book.  I had high hopes that I expected to be ruined (which I guess are not high hopes at that point, but I digress).  While it is important to have characters with mental illness in book, it's far more important to have characters with mental illness portrayed correctly. 

I’m happy to say, this book really rose to the occasion and created not only interesting characters, but a wonderful look into the mind of someone struggling with mental illness.  

Depicting the life of the sassy and strong Alex, who has been fighting her schizophrenia for most of her life.  The book goes through the trials she must face when the line between reality and her delusions begins to blur in Alex’s new high school.  The book shows wonderful portrayals of strong characters with a variety of struggles including abusive parents, autism, bullying, and sexual abuse.  Made You Up shows the importance of having a strong support group and also empowers anyone who is battling mental illness on their own. So, character-wise, this book hit the nail of the head.  The romance was satisfying and depicts a healthy relationship between two people. While the romance isn’t overpowering, it’s definitely very strong and used to move the plot along. So, if you are into love, pick this book up.  There is also focus into family relations which is heartbreaking and utterly beautiful. This is a both about Alex's interactions with the world, and the relationships really are what make the book.

The plot can get a little confusing because readers are experiencing and the same delusions as Alex.  It adds to the experience, but because the reader doesn’t know what’s real and what isn’t, it’s hard to keep up with fast-paced scenes.  Also, this book is pretty heavy at times, so not a beach time read. However, the book contains love, fear, a dangerous conspiracy and just some straight up fun, so if you’ve got sometime this summer I highly recommend picking up Made You Up.

Five Targets! And each one rightly earned!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 336
Genre: Romance

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…
What's better than cosplay and romance?

  This book prevented me from getting sleep. How, you ask? I read the whole thing in one night, and I regret nothing.  This book's writing is straight up fun and pretty cute. On top of some nice writing, with ComicCon ranking in thousands of dollars a year, a book like this is important because it portrays a part of the Young Adult demographic that is usually mocked or shoved into the nerdy best friend character. While this book most plays off the clashing romance of Ana and Zak, it really explores the dynamics of a convention and the feeling of friendship and belonging that can be found there.  So, that aspect of the story is good.

 The characters are...okay.  While both Ana and Zak have some depth they are both horrible people at times, especially Ana. I understand that some of this is to move the plot along and keep the both interesting, but come on, readers want human character that can be liked.  It never reached the point where the characters were detestable, but I didn't fall in love with either Zak or Ana.  Together, they make a nice romance, but otherwise, they're alright.

  Final call, this is book is good, it's fun, but beyond it's depiction of convention dynamics, not particularly remarkable. This book is by no means forgettable and it's still straight up fun for any romance reader.  I recommend this book if you like a nice romance in a different kind of setting and are a fan of ComicCon.
Three targets that you will always remember!