This was an impulse request on NetGalley, purely because of the title and cover. OH MAN, you guys, I freaking loved this book so much! It is full of tThis was an impulse request on NetGalley, purely because of the title and cover. OH MAN, you guys, I freaking loved this book so much! It is full of the magic and wonder that I adore in a fantasy story. The world building is rich and deep, the storytelling is smooth and familiar, and the story is fascinating! Each chapter is illustrated in a sort of anime style, which is rare for YA books, but I totally loved it! And it has a charts of all the clans, and a map of Nurak in the back! As soon as I finished this, I went online searching for how to get my hands on the rest of the series, but I suspect that it has yet to be translated to English. Nevertheless, Andrea Atzori now has a HUGE new fan. I will read ANYTHING I can get my hands on from this author!...more
I nabbed this book on NetGalley because, hello, COLORS! This is a pretty great book if you want to know the history of how different color pigments caI nabbed this book on NetGalley because, hello, COLORS! This is a pretty great book if you want to know the history of how different color pigments came about in artwork over the centuries. It goes through all the different colors and discusses their origins, where they were originally used, how they were created, and how they were used in art. It also contains a LOT of pictures so you can place the colors and techniques more visually. I loved the addition of special tidbits about the various colors; factoids beyond just their uses in art. It’s also a wonderful companion to read alongside Color Song, since many of the colors mentioned in that book are explained and visualized here! The e-galley formatting was a bit troublesome for me, since it showed each (extra-wide) two-page spread at a time, but I know it’s going to be a gorgeous hardcover that I’d love to add to my shelves....more
This was a pretty short story (which I read for free on Tor.com), but I loved it. It was a really sweet companion story about Arin that felt like theThis was a pretty short story (which I read for free on Tor.com), but I loved it. It was a really sweet companion story about Arin that felt like the just the right piece to accompany a certain scene in The Winner’s Curse. I have a soft spot for folk tales, and I enjoyed the way this one was told from a mother to her son (not just an outright folk tale on its own). Of course (like everything on Tor.com), the illustration/cover is beautiful and it’s by one of my favorites on there! I would read a handful more of these!...more
I mostly decided to pick this up because it’s a debut and my sister had an audiobook I could borrow. I was thoroughly pleased with how much I enjoyedI mostly decided to pick this up because it’s a debut and my sister had an audiobook I could borrow. I was thoroughly pleased with how much I enjoyed it! The Fire Wish is full of mystery, magic, and curiosity. I haven’t read too many jin stories, so this was a particular treat (and it made me realize that I actually LIKE jin stories!). I loved the dual narrative and the way that the lives of Najwa and Zayele intertwine. The plot was a bit predictable at some points, but that really didn’t hamper my enjoyment of it at all. The audiobook narrator was phenomenal as well, which really enhanced my immersion into the story. After this, I am eager for book 2, and I think I can easily call myself a fan of Amber Lough. So glad I picked this one up!...more
This book was given to me by Kayla and was my inspiration for turning August into a month of synesthesia-themed reading for myself. It was my first exThis book was given to me by Kayla and was my inspiration for turning August into a month of synesthesia-themed reading for myself. It was my first experience reading a book with a MC that has grapheme-color synesthesia, and so I was very excited. Sadly, this book was only so-so for me. I liked the exploration of synesthesia between the MC and the new friend he makes. I loved the grandmother, who seemed to be the only decent adult in the whole book. The plot was overall much too angsty and contrived for me. I felt that the MC’s synesthesia was blown way out of proportion (in terms of it being a disability and/or making him a social pariah), but it could just be that my own experience wasn’t at all like that, so I can’t relate. Sigh!
When I saw this book on NetGalley, the cover instantly caught my attention, and as soon as I realized that the main character has synesthes(3.5 stars)
When I saw this book on NetGalley, the cover instantly caught my attention, and as soon as I realized that the main character has synesthesia, I requested it! I was thrilled when my request was approved, and delighted when I was contacted to be a part of the blog tour! This book was part of my synesthesia reading theme for August, and it was just a pleasure.
It's somewhat common to come across a YA protagonist who's an artist (always scribbling in his/her sketchbook, etc.), but this was a different take on the whole thing, likely because of its historical setting instead of contemporary. Giulia is an artist, but one who is junior and learning under a maestra. She's the lowest one in the hierarchy of painter nuns at her convent, and I found this a refreshing change. I enjoyed the familiarity of her creative passions, ambitions, and obvious skill, coupled with her feelings of inadequacy due to her position, age, and gender.
It's clear that the events in Color Song come after those in Passion Blue, but it truly felt like a companion novel; there was just enough back-story explanation to help me understand the current situation without being too much of an info-dump which would bore readers who were already familiar with Passion Blue. I was able to immediately connect with Giulia and her predicament(s), and easily felt engaged and invested in what happened to her and the choices that she made.
Giulia's synesthesia was a lovely touch that didn't overtake the story, but added a note of beauty in an otherwise rather hopeless situation. To me, it felt very realistic, and I was able to relate to it easily, even though I do not have the same type of synesthesia that Giulia has. It was something about herself that she had to learn to accept and become comfortable with, but it didn't stop her from living her life, and it brought her comfort when she was pretty down.
Color Song was an interesting look into 15th century Italy (and I found myself somewhat comfortable with visualizing the surroundings and the people, thanks to the Assassin's Creed video games!). Life was hard, especially for women, but I enjoyed the rays of hope that shined from a few of the good people who came into Giulia/Girolamo's life. This was a wonderful story that explored themes of introspection, self acceptance, honesty, perseverance, ethics and morality, and personal growth. Yes, Guilia was the focus of this story, but what made it even richer was that many other characters in this book were rich with their own personality and growth....more
I'm a huge Beth Revis fan, so naturally I pre-ordered the heck out of The Body Electric, as soon as I found out about it. There are so many great concI'm a huge Beth Revis fan, so naturally I pre-ordered the heck out of The Body Electric, as soon as I found out about it. There are so many great concepts in this book, and I was eager to explore them all! So, how did it measure up against my high expectations?
In a lot of ways, The Body Electric delivered exactly what I was expecting. The futuristic technologies, like the reverie machines, the digital ID wristcuffs, and the whole freaking AWESOME re-invention of Malta kept me so excited to read more. The book was filled with little Easter eggs; references to Phillip K. Dick and other science fiction authors/stories from the past, as well as references to technologies and things present in Revis's Across the Universe series. It was so much fun to notice these and recognize them for what they were.
The plot was a bit predictable, but it was fast-paced and kept me guessing at the same time, so I never got tired of reading it. I really adored the main character, Ella, and her determination to find out the truth and not just take the easy way out of things. It was interesting to watch her journey of self discovery, full of revelations both personal and monumental.
One thing I always appreciate about Revis's books -- and any good science fiction novel, I think -- is that she fills them with questions. Questions about what could be, questions about what should be. Questions about humanity and morality and the essence of life and death and nature. Where do we draw the line between life and simulation? Is an android alive? I absolutely ate up these aspects of the book, and was pleased to find so much of it present here, especially toward the end.
It's not my favorite Revis book (I think Shades of Earth will long hold that position), but it was still a satisfying read in so many ways. If you love science fiction, this is definitely one you should not overlook!...more
I have to admit that I bought this book without really knowing anything about it, other than it's by Kiersten White, who I was at the bookshop to see.I have to admit that I bought this book without really knowing anything about it, other than it's by Kiersten White, who I was at the bookshop to see. But when I read the short description on the back and saw the words "fate" and "card" -- that was enough to intrigue me. Hearing her talk about the story and the kinds of concepts she wanted to include the book made me keen to start reading it as soon as possible.
Here's what I liked most about Illusions of Fate.
- Jessamin: She's a person of color, a bastard child whose snooty white father refuses to acknowledge her, and she's got a drive to go after what she wants in life. She's studious and wants to learn and seek knowledge purely because she wants to understand how things work, even if she can't physically engage in those things (like magic). - Eleanor: She's sneaky, clever, and resourceful. She makes no bones about who she is or what she does (or that she's always snooping on everyone else's business). She's also charming and humorous and loyal. - Finn: For once, we have a love interest who doesn't force himself on the girl who's caught his eye (even if his shadow has other ideas). He respects her wishes, even though he still finds ways to protect her when he can. He has goals, desires, and secrets of his own, but he also shares information with Jessamin and doesn't try to keep her in the dark. - Sir Bird: There are crows in this book. I adore crows, and this one is just so great. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll stop here, but... *happy sigh*. - Politics: There is a lot going on here with classism, racism, political posturing, potential warfare, and more. I like that these issues were included and explored. I liked that even though the Albens were obviously prejudiced against the "lower class" people, Jessamin and her countrymen held prejudices of their own against the Albens, and were forced to confront them as well. - Magic: It was subtle and clever and had rules. I love it when magic systems have rules and formulas, when they're more complicated than just waving a wand and saying a few words. It reminded me a lot of the magic systems in D&D, which I very much appreciated. - Fate and Choices: I can't resist things like tarot cards (and I'll be talking about that more in an upcoming post), and it was interesting to see the way that Jessamin and Finn were confronted with "fate" and reacted to it. I liked seeing that their choices could go both ways, sometimes bringing them closer to their "fate" but also possibly changing it.
So, is there anything I didn't like? Sort of, I guess? You know, for the first half of the book, I felt like it was not really getting deep enough for me. It's a standalone novel, and it's pretty short to boot, so I was disappointed to realize that this was all I was going to get. The thing is, the world building is so well done that there could be SO much more written about these people and this world. So I guess what I'm saying is that I really liked it, and I just wish there was more....more
This was another online freebie, which was awesome because usually if you want to download it for your Kindle, you have to pay (even if it’s free onliThis was another online freebie, which was awesome because usually if you want to download it for your Kindle, you have to pay (even if it’s free online elsewhere). ANYWAY. It was basically a short story in which Tarver tells Lilac about a military mission he had to go on in the past, and some of the… things… that he went through and learned during the mission. It was interesting, but I didn’t love it. I assume that it holds some allusions to people and/or… things… that will be present in This Shattered World, so I’m curious to see where it all ends up....more
This book had been in my periphery for a while, but when I randomly picked it up off the new releases shelf at my favorite bookstore and saw the gorgeThis book had been in my periphery for a while, but when I randomly picked it up off the new releases shelf at my favorite bookstore and saw the gorgeous map inside, I instantly bought it. Look, it's no surprise that I had no idea what it was about, right? I sampled the first chapter right after buying and was intrigued, but also a bit wary because of the whole reality show concept that I wasn't expecting. I ended up liking it way more than I expected to.
You know when you're reading a book and you just can't stop thinking about it during the times that you're NOT reading it? Just eager to get back into the story and find out what's going to happen next? Have you ever read a book and gotten so immersed in the world that you find yourself operating in your normal life under the conditions posed in the book? I was shocked to find myself thinking -- on several occasions -- that I had to be careful of my actions because of the cameras everywhere. Um, oops; that's only in the book (right?!).
I'm not saying this book was perfect or brilliant or mind-blowing, but I am saying that it was a really fun read for me. Here are a few of the things that I really enjoyed about The Vault of Dreamers:
-Rosie was curious and stubborn, but not annoyingly so. She made some risky decisions, as many YA protagonists do, but they never just made me go, "WTF ARE YOU DOING ROSIE?!" like I have done with some other YA books. She was relatable and believable to me. -The whole reality aspect was much more appealing than I expected it to be. It makes you question everything and think about what you say and do because there is always someone watching.
-The romance was, um... "swoony"? Yes, I can't believe I just said that, but for some reason the romance in this book felt especially visceral to me (and perhaps it had to do with the whole ~everyone's always watching~ aspect, I don't know). I loved it, and I was glad to see the possible love triangle nipped in the bud (as far as I could tell).
-The mystery and the uncertainty. I love a story in which the MC begins to question their own perceptions, and it's delivered in such a way that even the reader becomes uncertain. I know that's kind of a tricky thing to get right, but it was done very well in this book, in my opinion. The fast pace and urgency of so many things really kept me on edge.
-The whole thread of the story surrounding sleep and dreams. I don't want to give anything away so: (view spoiler)[The concept of mining dreams from one person's brains and seeding them into another person's brain is absolutely fascinating (even if it might be rather unlikely to ever be possible). When Rosie starts having strange deja vu experiences and possible hallucinations, and in the end when they start mining her conscious brain -- OMG. It is so familiar to someone with narcolepsy that it was eerie. I was freaking trembling as I read some of those parts. So for that matter, I think it accomplished its goal quite well. (hide spoiler)]
I enjoyed this book, and it's clear that there's going to be a sequel (which I can't wait to read). I'm very curious to see how the story continues from here. Definitely a thumbs up from me!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Due to my sister's trouble enjoying Tiger Lily, I was reluctant to read it, and so resisted a few times when it came up as a possible choice in one ofDue to my sister's trouble enjoying Tiger Lily, I was reluctant to read it, and so resisted a few times when it came up as a possible choice in one of my book clubs. But this time around, we decided to read it, and I'm really glad I gave this book a chance. This book exceeded my expectations and plucked my heartstrings in so many ways.
The story is told from the point of view of a silent observer (Tinker Bell), and I absolutely love this sort of thing. I'm often a silent observer myself, people watching, a curious voyeur -- so naturally, Tink's narration really called to me. This was so artfully done, because I got to experience Tiger Lily's life, being close enough to feel her thoughts (thanks to Tink's fairy-ness), but also far enough away to see other things that were going on.
All of the characters were rich and real and felt so alive. - I've long had a fondness for Tiger Lily, so getting to know about her life as a sort of pariah among her tribe was beautiful and heartbreaking (and I felt that I could relate quite well). - Peter came alive for me in a whole new way, thanks to how Tink viewed him and his interactions with Tiger Lily. I loved that we got to sympathize with him and see him in a different light. - Tinker Bell's personality, fiery and soft all at once, threaded itself throughout her narration in an endearing and honest way. Her own internal struggles with love, loyalty, compassion, and frustration seemed to punctuate the threads of each other life she watched over. - Tik Tok was a personal favorite, not only due to his deep love and protection for Tiger Lily, but because his androgynous/transgender self was so refreshing to see depicted in a YA novel. I loved how broadly he was accepted and respected and that he was free to just be himself. (view spoiler)[The tragic end to his tale, thanks to that asshole Englishman Phillip, really cut deep into my heart. (hide spoiler)]
Anderson's interpretation of these main characters was wonderful, but it didn't stop there. Every person, every group of people (the lost boys, the pirates), and every little throwback to the original fairytale (the crocodile, the clock, etc.) was artfully weaved into a whole new tale. The writing was lovely, and I found myself shivering at the profound beauty of a specific passage or observation.
Clearly, I am a fan of Peter Pan retellings, and apparently I prefer the darker sort. The Child Thief -- and now Tiger Lily -- etched firm places into my heart that I didn't expect. It's no wonder I wasn't much of a fan of the original tale -- it was focusing on the wrong characters!
Sometimes I randomly browse NetGalley and request books purely on a whim, and this is one such example. Though I really liked Divergent when I first rSometimes I randomly browse NetGalley and request books purely on a whim, and this is one such example. Though I really liked Divergent when I first read it, my satisfaction with the series declined with each successive book (not that I ended up hating it or anything -- I rated Allegiant 3 stars). That being said, one of my favorite things to do with books is analyze and speculate. (And no, not like in English class; I like my reading, analysis, and speculation to be interesting and enjoyable.)
I didn't really know what to expect with Divergent Thinking. All I knew was that it was a collection of discussions about the Divergent trilogy from various YA authors, one of whom is Dan Krokos. Once I started reading, I was excited by the analysis and discussions being done in each essay and surprised by how well the whole idea of this book matched up with what I like. I'd unknowingly picked up a book that was right up my alley!
Divergent Thinking, as you've probably gathered by now, is a collection of essays that explore various concepts, themes, ideas, and more within the Divergent trilogy. This was interesting and familiar ground for me, because this could just as easily have been a series of posts on a blog somewhere. (I suppose it's worth mentioning that this book CLEARLY assumes the reader has read the entire Divergent trilogy, because spoilers abound. I will avoid spoilers in this review, though.) These essays varied in quality and interest for me, but that is probably to be expected.
My favorites were the ones that dealt more with psychological and scientific analysis. The book starts off strong with Rosemary Clement-Moore's comparison of the factions to the multitude of personality tests and types we enjoy in our society. Jennifer Lynn Barnes followed that up nicely with her own interesting perspective on the psychology behind the factions. Even though I've never even been to Chicago, I was giddy with excitement as I read through V. Arrow's attempt to map out the Chicago we see in Divergent with the Chicago of today. Blythe Woolston's look at fear and its role in the series was fascinating.
Some of them satisfied my curiosity in a different way, but didn't quite scratch my analytical itch. That's really fine, though; I'd just been primed and spoiled with the analytical ones (my preference) in the beginning. I liked the way Dan Krokos pit the Bureau and the Rebels against each other to see which one is really worse, Julia Karr's comparison of the faction system to other problematic groups in history (like Nazi Germany, for example), and the interesting parallels (and differences) that Janine Spendlove drew between the Dauntless and the US Marine Corps.
The essays I didn't enjoy as much were the ones that seemed to have weaker arguments and less focus. Some of them felt like they were trying too hard or really reaching to expand upon their chosen topic of discussion. The contribution from Maria V. Snyder and her daughter Jenna read more like a mother-daughter conversation than an actual essay (that is, it felt like the kind of thing that only they would be interested in reading, not so much anyone else).
In Conclusion I very much enjoyed this book! I was pleasantly surprised by this collection of essays. I do wonder, though, how many people will end up buying something like this (I have a feeling that compilations and anthologies don't get a lot of sales, but maybe that's my own bias?). Like I said: I would have been just as happy reading these essays on a blog somewhere; in fact, I might have even enjoyed that more, because then I would have been able to engage in discussions about them more easily....more
Confession: mostly, I bought this book because it was written by a local author, whom I see at events regularly and wanted to support. (A quick glanceConfession: mostly, I bought this book because it was written by a local author, whom I see at events regularly and wanted to support. (A quick glance through my reviews page or shelves on Goodreads will indicate that I’m not a big reader of contemporary fiction.)
Surprise: As soon as I started reading the book, I could see why so many people were excited about it. This book hooked me from page one.
The narrative style chosen by Mathieu, I think, was a wonderful choice. As a teenager, it can often feel like so much of life is affected by rumor, gossip, and hearsay information. What more authentic way to learn the truth about Alice than through the eyes and voices of her peers? This effect is amplified because of the small town setting, which means everyone knows everything about everyone else (so they think).
Each character’s voice was distinct and realistic. I really enjoyed how they spoke casually and candidly, and the language felt very true to teenager-speak without turning into stereotype or caricature. Similar to Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, the reader has to piece the whole picture together based on the testimony from various people. All the while, you get to watch Alice turn into a pariah and forge a special friendship with another local “outsider.”
The exploration of social issues, like slut shaming, was welcome and well done. It always comes as a nice surprise to me when a YA book deals with issues like this — especially when it is thoughtfully and carefully done. Perhaps the most important thing about this book is that it opens readers’ eyes to just how damaging something like slut shaming can be. The story makes it clear how pervasive and insidious rumors can be, and how quickly lies can spread throughout a community. This hits hard, because it is authentic and familiar.
The Truth About Alice has so much of what makes me love a contemporary novel: very minor (if any) inclusion of romance, and a focus on mental and emotional issues (generally in regards to social issues, in some way). It’s part mystery, part social commentary, and a great helping of exploring relationships. And probably the thing that sold me hardest on this book? The writing was high quality; it does not read like a debut!
Well, Mara Dyer, here we are again. I’m just going to come out and admit right now that I’m writing this review weeks after I finished the book, and IWell, Mara Dyer, here we are again. I’m just going to come out and admit right now that I’m writing this review weeks after I finished the book, and I seem to have misplaced any notes I may have taken on it, so this is going to be… interesting. A couple of highlights from my Goodreads updates, however, seem to gather the general gist of my experience with this book:
(12%) “I just don’t see what he’s getting out of it” — Mara’s father, about her boyfriend. Wow, what the fuck, asshole.
(60%) Evil sentence, nooooo!
(95%) Wow, evil sentence AGAIN!
Judging from that, there are clearly two things that bothered me about this book:
- It is rife with the evil sentence. This was severely disappointing because aside from this… issue… the book seemed to have improved from its predecessor, writing-wise. And when it happened more than once? Yes, I let out angry shouts in my car. - Throughout the book, it is continually instilled in Mara that she is a problem and other people are more valuable than her. I mean, did you see what her father said up there? And this is far from the only time that Mara hears something like this, whether it be directly to her face or something she overhears in conversation among others. This was a big issue for me. What kind of parents — and therapists (among other people) — tell their daughter/patient that she should be acting for the benefit of others, instead of reminding her of her own inherent value and encouraging her to seek personal improvement and self-fulfillment? REALLY irritated me.
That’s not to say that I hated this book or anything.
As you can see, I rated it a whole half-star higher than the first book in the series! I thought the plot was interesting, even though it was frustrating for a very long time (similar to the first book). The flashbacks were probably my favorite thing in this book, because they added a lot of mystery to Mara’s situation and provided motivation for her to continue her search for answers.
The family relationships, I thought, were very well explored and developed in this book. Not only did we see some changes (and growth) in Mara’s relationships with her parents and brothers, but we also got to learn more about Noah’s family life and his struggles with each of his family members. This was another thing I really appreciated about this book.
Mara’s frustrations were more palpable to me this time, and I still contend that the meshing of paranormal and psychiatric mysteries in this series is a great thing. I felt myself revolving between loving Mara’s relationship with Noah (Michelle Hodkin is very good at the romantic scenes), and being annoyed by their immaturity (making stupid choices and disrespecting one another, etc.).
So. I enjoyed it. I liked it more than the first book, and I will definitely be looking forward to reading the final one in the series later this year. Another perk from the audiobook was an interview between the author and the narrator at the end. I learned about how the idea for this story came about, and it made the whole thing even more intriguing!...more
Here’s what I knew about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer before I started reading it:
1. It has a gorgeous cover and an intriguing title 2. Everyone and theHere’s what I knew about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer before I started reading it:
1. It has a gorgeous cover and an intriguing title 2. Everyone and their mom seemed to love it 3. It’s dark and creeeeeepy (according to all those people in #2)
So, when I started listening to this audiobook very early one morning, on a long drive to the other side of town, I was excited. The dark, foggy morning fit perfectly with the mood of the prologue, in which Mara and her friends are using a ouija board and Things Happen. Shortly after the prologue, however, I realized that my excitement wasn’t going to continue.
I feel like I was duped into reading a contemporary novel.
That’s right. Where was the creepy factor? Almost nonexistent. This book read like a contemporary novel about a teenager with PTSD who moves to a new school and falls in insta-love with a dashing-but-dangerous British boy who just happens to be obsessed with her.
A short list of things that bothered me about this book: - Cliche, upon cliche, upon trope, upon cliche - Insta-love, on both Mara and Noah’s parts - Mara falls in LOVE with Noah, despite how much of an a-hole he is - Pacing and timing was confusing (took WAY too long to get interesting) - Poor/sloppy writing (“I graciously moved away into the crowd.” Um, don’t you mean gracefully?) - Not enough of the mysterious, creepy, interesting stuff - Way too much of the boring, everyday stuff
A short list of the things I actually liked about this book: - Mara’s attitude, though inconsistent, was pleasantly snarky - The fact that Mara’s mother’s side of the family is Indian, and a bit of that was in the book - The sibling relationships were refreshingly realistic and felt familiar - The psychologist mom was also pretty accurate, I think
Maybe I would have liked this book more if I’d read it a couple of years ago when it first came out. But for me, now, it read way too much like a obvious debut to be fully enjoyable. The ending did hook me into reading the next book, though, so we’ll see how that goes....more