Sunday, February 21, 2016

Review: "Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard


Goodreads Synopsis:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart ...


“Words can lie. See beyond them.”

Like a lot of other people, I have very mixed feelings about this book. Standing alone, Red Queen isn’t a bad book, a pretty good one actually. But see, it doesn’t stand alone. Every new book I read, I automatically compare to every other book I have read because that’s how my mind judges books. And comparatively, this book seemed… unoriginal. Not because the plot wasn’t good but because so many books like this already exists. If you’ve read Pawn by Aimee Carter, Red Queen is basically that but with people with superpowers. Maybe mix a little of The Selection in there. It’s also being compared to Red Rising by Pierce Brown, which I haven’t read, but judging by the blurb it seems very similar to this book.

Red Queen combines a few popular tropes together. A Fantasy land with corrupt monarchs who don’t care about the lower classes. Lower class girl is somehow “special” and finds herself mingling with royalty and of-course falling in love with a guy from the upper class (in this case, the prince). And the inevitable rebellion in which, very conveniently, the girl becomes the face of.   

Mare as a whole seemed bratty and selfish. The type of selfish who doesn’t realize she is selfish nonetheless. Characters like Katniss know they are selfish. Characters like Mare have no idea and then get upset at the world for not liking her.

She’s also rash when it comes to big decisions, which isn’t unlike a lot of YA main characters, but it’s her reactions that bothered me. She takes a huge risk and when all doesn’t go according to her plans, she’s all “*gasp* what have I done?!” (This is not a direct quotation). What in all of HADES did she expect?!

And don’t even get me started on the love triangle/square. I disliked all three guys. None of them are appealing and I felt no connection whatsoever. The only guy I felt a bit of sympathy for was Lucas (the security guard).

However, there are pros to the book. The description of the world was well done. You could clearly see the contrast between the lifestyles of the Reds and the Silvers. And I liked the end scenes. The ending is why I’ll continue this series.

Give it a try, you might enjoy it.


Something that kept bothering me is the fact that Mare is supposed to be this powerful Red who makes electricity but she never had any inclination of it before. She can suddenly feel electricity buzzing wherever she goes but where was that sense when she lived in the Red village? She mentions once that she wasn’t around electricity much but that doesn’t mean she was completely without it. And since she had the ability to create electricity, wouldn’t that mean she could just create some? (I know she did that one time when the lights were off at her house but that was just once in what? Seventeen years?) Shouldn’t she have at least figured out she wasn’t completely normal? Just doesn’t make any sense.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review: “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo



Goodreads Synopsis:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.


OH MY GOSH THIS WAS SO GOOD I CAN’T EVEN! I loved EVERYTHING about this book. The characters. The setting. The plot. The dialogue. The writing. EVERYTHING!

Six of Crows has been getting a lot of hype lately in the book community so I decided to take a risk and buy it (which isn’t something I usually do unless I really like an author). And if you can’t tell already I LOVED IT.

This book takes place in the Grisha world from the Grisha Trilogy also by Leigh Bardugo but you do not have to read the trilogy to read this book. I haven’t read the original series (I started to a while ago but didn’t get far) so I went into this world blind and not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised.

Six of Crows has five different perspectives of five VERY different characters and every one of them was written wonderfully. Usually when you have more than two or three point of views, some of the characters start to seem flat and unnecessary but not here. I fell in love with all the characters in this team of misfits even though some of them are far off from being good people. Bardugo did a great job explaining their background and the events that brought them to Ketterdam.

The romance in this book is more teasing than anything else. It’s not a big part of the plot; it’s there but barely. The writing is great! One of the best I’ve seen in YA fiction. The setting is descriptive but never bores you. It’s action packed without any dull moments. Basically, it’s what they call “a page turner”.



Me, usually when reading books: *frustrating sigh* would you guys please quit kissing and go defeat the giant army out to get you?

Me, during this book: Guys, I don’t care who comes to kill you next, WOULD YOU PLEASE JUST GET TOGETHER. Are you seriously going to make me wait until SEPTEMBER to find out what happens?!

Can I just say that Nina and Matthias are SO CUTE! And Inej and Kaz! And Wylan and Jesper!

Inej had better come back in one piece. And Nina better not go crazy. And Wylan better get his face back. Well… I guess I’ll hibernate until September.

Friday, February 12, 2016

~o~ Disney Princess Tag ~o~

I came across this tag over at The Little Book Nerd’s Life and it looked fun. I love Disney princesses so this is perfect! My favorite, of course, is Mulan. This tag was created by Soudha at Of Stacks and Books. Alright then, onwards!

1. Snow White - Name your favorite classic:

The one and only The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It took me two reads to love this book and I think it fully deserves its place as a classic must-read.

2. Cinderella - A book that kept you reading way past your bedtime:

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. I couldn’t put this book down until I finished it. It was a great ending to the trilogy.

3. Aurora - Name your favorite classic romance:

 Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Lizzy, in my opinion, is the wittiest classical female character and Mr. Darcy is… well, Mr. Darcy. Need there be another explanation?

4. Ariel - Name a book that’s all about making sacrifices and fighting for your dreams:

I think most YA books are about making sacrifices and fighting for your dreams. Because I can’t help myself and not include Harry Potter in something, I’ll go with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. They are all fighting for a greater future for the next generation so their children could live the dreams that they couldn’t

5. Belle – Name a book with a smart and independent female character:

June Iparis from the Legend series by Marie Lu. June is smart, independent, strategic and one of the bravest protagonists I’ve read about.

6. Jasmine – Name a book with a character who challenged the social conventions in his or her world:

Naila in Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed. Naila is a Pakistani-American teenager with strict, traditional parents. When her parents find out she’s been dating someone, they take her back to Pakistan under the ruse of a vacation and forces her into an arranged marriage. Naila is a very strong and willful character who doesn’t let her world’s society define her.

7. Pocahontas – Name a book whose ending was a roller coaster of emotions:

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken: the last book to The Darkest Minds series. You know when you’re reading a really good book and you want it to end to know what happens but at the same time you never want it to end? This book was definitely that.

8. Mulan – Name a book with a kick-ass female character:

Katsa from Graceling by Kristen Cashore. Katsa is good at everything! Bow and Arrows? No problem. Sword fight? She can fight you with her eyes closed. Brawling? You better pray she only knocks you unconscious with no permanent damage.

9. Tiana – Name a book featuring a hardworking, self-made character:

Artemis Fowl from the infamous Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. Artemis made his own reputation as the criminal mastermind that he is at age ten. His reputation wasn’t a very good one but there’s no doubt he worked pretty hard to get there. His extraordinary intelligence doesn’t hurt either.

10. Rapunzel – Name a book that features an artist:

Both main characters, twins Noah and Jude, in I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson are phenomenal artists. They’re prodigies: Noah in painting and Jude in sculpting and designing.

11. Merida – Name a book that features a mother-daughter relationship:

I had to think about this one for so long because YA books so rarely have mothers who are present in the characters’ lives. The award goes to Hazel and her mom from the one and only The Fault In Our Stars by the great John Green. Hazel loves and respects her mom and actually listens to her. And her mom does the same.

12. Anna and Elsa – Name a book that features a great relationship between siblings:

Penryn and Paige from Angelfall by Susan Ee. Penryn would go to the ends of the Earth to protect her little sister. I mean, she infiltrated a den of evil angels of the Apocalypse for the small chance of finding her alive.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: "Passenger" by Alexandra Bracken


Goodreads synopsis:

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever


“The only way out is through.”

My expectation for this book was very high. I mean, I have declared Alex Bracken as my favorite YA author because the Darkest Minds books. So when I started reading this book and didn’t have that gripping feeling of finishing it as soon as I could, I was slightly disappointed. But as I said, my expectations were unnaturally high and that doesn’t in any way mean Passenger was a bad book. It’s a good book. It just isn’t the masterpiece I was expecting it to be. Which, again, isn’t very fair to expect anyway.

It took me a while to get into the book. The first half of the book is mostly world-building and character development, which is great don’t get me wrong, but it’s also dull. I was left confused for the first hundred pages or so and kept wondering what was going on. Now, even though I did have to sludge on through a few chapters because of the heavy description, it’s a known fact that Alex Bracken is a fantastic writer. (Well…known to me at-least). Once I got past the first few chapters, it got A LOT better. I loved reading about the different time periods they traveled to.

Passenger is written in two perspectives: Etta and Nicholas. Etta is a violin prodigy with an eccentric mother who has a very strange ways of showing affection. She has no other family, her mother never talks about Etta’s father. The only other present person in her life beside her mother is her violin instructor: an elderly woman named Alice. Etta is your typical YA female protagonist: smart, stubborn, doesn’t take no for an answer, determined, doesn’t listen to authority figures, prideful and thinks she can do anything alone, etc. But as far as protagonists go, she’s actually pretty cool. She’s confident but isn’t ashamed of accepting help when she needs it.

Nicholas is a black man (or boy, I guess. He’s about 20ish) living in the very racist society of the 1770s. The two perspectives actually sounded like two different people which is a rarity in YA fiction. Nicholas grew up as a slave and his freedom was later bought by a captain of a ship. Coming from a society that judged him openly for his skin color, all Nicholas wanted was complete independence and a ship that he could own.

Their relationship is gradual and doesn’t overpower the plot which is a huge bonus for Bracken. And sadly, Nicholas is one of the only African-American main love interests I’ve encountered in YA so far.

It might seem boring at first, but it does get better. Read it! And if you haven’t already, pick up The Darkest Minds books which are also by Alexandra Bracken.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Review: "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien


Goodreads Summary: They carried malaria tablets, love letters, 28-pound mine detectors, dope, illustrated bibles, each other. And if they made it home alive, they carried unrelenting images of a nightmarish war that history is only beginning to absorb. Since its first publication, The Things They Carried has become an unparalleled Vietnam testament, a classic work of American literature, and a profound study of men at war that illuminates the capacity, and the limits, of the human heart and soul.


They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.

No review that I write will, in any way, justify what this book is. In an interview, Tim O’Brien said that a true war story should capture “your heart and stomach and the back of the throat”. And it did.

I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.

Tim O’Brien is a veteran from the Vietnam war. The Things They Carried reads like a memoir, it even has a character named Tim O’Brien in the book, but it is categorized as fiction because the author has stated that most of the stories in the novel are not true. That said, the stories are so real it’ll take you to Vietnam with this group of drafted soldiers who are fighting in a war they don’t want to be in.

The novel is written in a series of short stories that seem unrelated at first but intertwine as the book continues. Some of the lines O’Brien writes are so incredible that you want to put the book down and just process his words.

It took him twenty years after the war to write this book and it’s clear how much he still thinks about those days. This is an excerpt taken from his interview:

I think young people, in particular, need to understand the complications and the ambiguities of these things, and to hear it from someone who has not only gone to a war, but devoted a lifetime to suffering from it.

This is a horrible review for a wonderful book. Take my word for it if you will and read it.

Here’s a link to the interview I keep bringing up if anyone cares to watch: