Book Review: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Author: Maggie Hall

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Release date: January 13, 2015

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

synopsis

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD DEARIES. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I never thought that I would enjoy audiobooks and now it’s become an obsession. The Conspiracy of Us is the second audiobook that I’ve listened this month per my library’s collection. I was completely immersed with the rich culture that surrounded Avery – from Boston to Paris and Paris to Istanbul. That was one of my favorite things – that this story’s main setting is in Europe. The language is riddled with beautiful prose and metaphors, giving me a deeper insight to Avery’s newly discovered life and the consequences of that life to an ancient prophecy.

Avery’s life is turned upside down when Stellan, a keeper for the Dauphins I deeply apologize for butchering names as I have to go by ear and not text, one of the 12 families that form the Circle, shows up at her prom. Jack, a keeper for the Saxons, is also there and has been collecting Intel on Avery for nearly a semester. Avery is more comfortable with Jack and trusts in his judgement and it is only after his advice that Avery agrees to go to Paris with Stellan.

As the story progresses, Avery discovers an exquisite, lavish, and powerful world that is hidden from the rest of humanity. The Circle is made up of 12 families who have a hand in governing society, controlling the media, and closing down Prada for private appointments. At first, Avery is skeptical and she thinks that everyone is crazy and part of a conspiracy theory, and I loved that quality of her. She questions everything and isn’t a naive character. She is also willing to risk her life for someone else’s, which shows how deep her loyalty runs. I also liked how she breaks down – it is a raw emotion, especially because everything is too much. She is only seventeen years old, yet practically bears the fate of the world on her shoulders.

Then, there is Jack, who I found to be sweet, protective, and trustworthy for the most part. I liked Jack better than Stellan because we did get more of him throughout the story whereas Stellan was only in the book for about 20%, but I imagine he will be included more in the sequel BECAUSE OF THE ENDING! :O  Jack became Avery’s greatest ally while she was thrust into this other world of secrets and murder (yes, this is a heavy topic throughout the course of the book). Also, did I mention he was British? That is enough to woo me! 😉

I also should mention Luke and how he played a significant role in one of Avery’s closest ally’s. Luke saves Avery by setting her free and that is all I am going to say *hums*

I was so captivated by Julia Wehlan’s narration that I found myself gripping my steering wheel during action-packed scenes and startling revelations. Her voice depicts each character greatly and it was easy for me to follow the dialogue as well as the beautiful writing.

A lot of questions are answered throughout the progression of the novel, like what the ancient prophecy mandates, but there are also many questions left unanswered that I hope will be explored in the sequel!

I highly enjoyed listening to The Conspiracy of Us and l found it fresh and imaginative. I highly recommend listening like I did or reading. Whichever way you chose, you’ll be immersed in a beautiful world with equally vibrant characters.

 addy5star

Book Review: Keeping the Distance (Iloilo #1) by Clarisse David

Keeping the Distance (I Heart Iloilo, #1)Author: Clarisse David

Publisher: Self

Release date: February 6, 2017

Purchase from Amazon

synopsis

No bets. No fake relationships. Just a very real one that has to be kept under wraps.

Seventeen-year-old Melissa wants to dye her hair cotton candy pink and focus on her ukulele instead of Physics. But she can’t. As the daughter of a Catholic school principal, living up to her model student image 24/7 is a must. Something’s about to give under all the pressure. She only hopes it isn’t her.

Getting involved with a troublemaking basketball player is the last possible thing she needs…

Lance is used to getting what he wants. With a pretty face he uses to full advantage and his role as co-captain of the basketball team, the easy way is the only way he’s ever known. Until the day he notices the prim Melissa he’s known forever is actually hot and decides to ask her out. He has no idea he’s about to learn the lesson of a lifetime.

Not getting what he wants might exactly be what he needs…

 SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD DEARIES. YOU HAVE BEEN WARN.
I was instantly captivated by David’s artfully crafted narrative of two teens who are polar opposites, hate one another, yet, find common ground. Crafting a prank war with each other and landing in detention is only the beginning for Melissa and Lance. These two will have you swooning with their witty banter, laughs, and unbelievable heartwarming moments.

The thing I loved most was how authentic her characters are. For instance, Mel loves cola-slurpees! SLURPEES. I wanted one as I read these two star-crossed lovers find their way towards each other.

Mel’s cola-slurpee obsession isn’t the only thing I loved about her. I also loved how beautifully aesthetic she is. She loves girly things like pink shirts with clouds on them and fishtail braids. I would instantly be Mel’s friend and ask her to teach me how to be a radiant and mystical beauty like her. She is fierce and loyal and also conscious of her actions. Near the end, there is this scene where Mel is brave and makes a very public apology and I just *sigh* YOU GO GIRL. YOU GO.

Aside from the romance (which I will get to in a bit!), I also loved her relationships with her best friend and family. Cam, Mel’s best friend, is an avid supporter of Mel’s musical talent like an amazing best friend should! Cam is also a savvy girl with a camera who loves everything photography and video recording. There’s this one instance where Mel’s mom (who is an excellent baker btw) comments on Cam’s skills as she needs a new FB profile picture 😛 Then, there is this other moment where she threatens Lance in a very comical way 😉

The biggest obstacle in Mel’s life is her father. He is the principal of her school and has high expectations that obscure Mel’s own will and desires. He is also over-protective – the kind of father who wants you to call every hour. It is a heartfelt moment when Mel confronts her dad. It made me cry because I am a sucker for well-written father-daughter moments.

Then, there is Lance. I loved how he grew as the story progressed. He went from this shallow guy who dated girls that he didn’t care for to a guy who falls in love with the unlikeliest of people. There’s nothing I love more than character growth and he (along with Melissa) grew exceptionally well and in all the right times. He cares so much and his actions show it.

I wonder if they’ll be featured in the next installment of this series. God. I hope so! *Clarisse if you read this…PLEASE. I NEED SOME MORE MEL AND LANCE*

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Looking for a sweet romance? Then, look no further! Keeping the Distance is right up your ally with mischief pranks, hate-to-love romance, and secretive rendezvous.

 addy5star

Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

Release date: September 29, 2015

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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.

SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I didn’t know what to expect with Six of Crows and was pleasantly impressed, giddy, and quite frankly, blown away. I say “didn’t know what to expect” because I dived in without giving much thought into why this book is “highly recommended and over-hyped” (and for good reason!). To be honest, I thought the first two chapters were quite dry and a little boring. But, oh! The boredom quickly shifts to a captivating world filled with colorful characters. Their differences bring them together to see if they can pull off an impossible heist in order to gain some of their freedom/revenge.

This story is heavily driven by its characters and I loved that so much. The narrative is multi-perspective which was thoroughly developed. Each character has it’s own voice without being blurred or confused for another. To me, that is writing mastery and I applaud Bardugo for it.

I loved each character for their pasts, flaws, and fierceness. No one is who they seem on the surface. Every one has or will overcome their fears and demons. I also really really REALLY loved the diverse cast of characters like Kaz’s disabled body and how it did not affect how much of a badass he is, Inej’s dark skin and her strength and fierceness, Jesper’s attraction to men, and lastly Wylan’s disability. I’m not saying what kind of disability because it’s kind of a spoiler 😛 I loved how their characterization transcends their abilities as people. People are more than how they look and that’s a huge attribute I took away from reading Six of Crows.

The writing itself is powerful, spellbinding, and immersive. I was captivated by the world that Bardugo expanded upon. I only read Shadow and Bone in her Grisha trilogy and that was years ago. I saw this expansion as completely new and riveting, and it actually has made me want to continue reading the Grisha trilogy. The world-building is just…it’s magic. I love how she’s taken folklore and spun it to her own will, creating a whirlwind of adventure.

Lastly, I love love LOVE the romantic relationships within this fantastical world. I just swoon from every single one. There are so many quote worthy lines in this book and it is just:

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It has been weeks since I finished Six of Crows and I cannot stop thinking about it. It was bloody brilliant and I honestly cannot wait until Crooked Kingdom is shipped to me. It needs to get here like NOW. I highly recommend this read if you like fantasy, beautiful world-building, and a mixture of unlikely criminals who can be seen as heroes of their story.

addy5star

 

Book Review: Easy is the Descent by Emily Heng

Author: Emily Heng

Publisher: Self

Release date: January 5, 2017

Purchase from Amazon

synopsis

Kie is no stranger to magic—not since her mother signed her life away to the world of witches and the supernatural, that is. With a contract in place binding her to their world, Kie must now escort the newly deceased souls from earth to the hereafter all while attempting to maintain some sort of normalcy in her own life.

And just when she’s beginning to get the hang of things, the first body shows up.

Witches around the city are turning up dead, and Kie is caught right in the middle of it; causing rising tensions between the two factions of witches—those born with their abilities, and those who have learned to harness them through other means—and unless Kie can prove her innocence, it can only lead to one thing: war.

NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I was instantly hooked by the beautiful cover and intriguing summary, only to be disappointed and unimpressed.

Let me begin by addressing the elements I really enjoyed in this novel like the diverse cast. Our protagonist, Kie is Korean (I believe) while the male protagonist, Grey, describes himself as “Euroasian.” The descriptions aren’t too clear, which I would have loved because I’m always so fascinated with the vast cultures of our world. I also enjoyed the magic system and the difference in old vs. new magic. Old magic comes from the earth, it is something that a person is born to while new magic is made when a deal is struck with another magical being. There are tensions between these two different kinds of magic and the tension rises when witches are being murdered.

This brings me to my third point: this is a crime mystery novel enriched with the element of magic! Kie and Grey are on a mission to solve the murder by attaining information illegally…I liked this so much because Grey proves to be resourceful! By working together, Kie and Grey form an unlikely bond of friendship, trust, and an inkling of romance. I liked this budding romance because they did not get on well at their first meeting.

The story was fast paced, while the chapters were too long. I think the chapters could have easily been split, especially when there are like 3-4 breaks within a chapter. That’s just a personally preference, though.

One of the MAJOR things that I disliked about this novel was the writing, more specifically the grammar. There were an abundance of grammatical mistakes that irked me. Simple mistakes, too. For example:

Shut up.” She said, automatic, rolling her eyes skyward.

Hey, I resent that accusation.” He said, mild.

From the glimpses she caught, nothing seemed to be amiss, but.

Her doubts from the night before still niggled at her in the cold light of day, weighed heavily at her thoughts.

As an English major, and more importantly as a writer myself, these kinds of mistakes are unacceptable. It’s easily fixable, but these were made more than once throughout the novel and it is why I knocked it down a star. I am kind of upset that I paid $3 for this when it wasn’t thoroughly edited.

The other reason for a star loss was the fact that I just wanted MORE. I wanted more magic, I wanted more relationship bonds. A possible romance was denied to me! By expanding on Kie’s magical world, this book could have been so amazing! Like I wanted to know more of the support group and each individual’s magical abilities – or maybe just more description on the magic of those she’s closest to like Petra’s and Taissa’s.

Easy is the Descent was good, but it could have been so much better if it was thoroughly edited and if there was more added magic.

addy3star

Book Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & GelatoAuthor: Jenna Evans Welch

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: May 3, 2015

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

synopsis

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

MINIMAL TO NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Love & Gelato was an abundance of sweetness, adventure, heartbreak, and even more sweetness. From the beginning, I was thrown a huge curve ball filled with heartache and sympathy for Lina. Hadley, Lina’s mother, is diagnosed with terminal cancer – her world is turned upside down when Hadley delves into stories of a man named Howard who lives in Italy. We quickly learn that Howard is Lina’s father and it is Hadley’s last wish for Lina to go to Italy and get to know the man who has been absent from her life for seventeen years. Lina’s life changes in Italy by startling revelations, friendships, and a budding romance.

I’ve been loving all the contemporaries that have fallen into my hands. Love & Gelato is one of them. I loved Lina as a stubborn, cautious, and running enthusiast. Her mother’s death is still raw and I liked how it was portrayed. It isn’t easy to move on and I just…liked that Lina encompassed that grief well without hindering the will to live. In its own way…it is a beautiful thing. I also love how Lina is so cold towards Howard and steadily warms up to him as the story progresses. Her feelings towards her father are aligned to how Hadley “see’s” him.

Now, you may be wondering why I put quotation marks around “see’s.” Well, things aren’t always how they seem and Lina figures that out on her adventures through Italy.

The journal that her mother left Lina spurs her into action to see Italy as Hadley had experienced it when she was younger. It is through the journal that she sees the romance between Hadley and her father unfold. The journal also brings her new friend, Ren, on the adventure! I love love loved the incorporation of the journal in the novel. It was a story within a story and I enjoyed the glimpses of Hadley’s life and how it affected Lina.

Opposite of Lina was Ren, the half-American/half Italian boy she meets and grows fond of. Ren is quirky, sweet, and adorable. He was an unexpected character in both friendship and romance. Speaking of unexpected characters – Howard was too. He didn’t act like a repentant father, but it didn’t make me hate him. In fact, I liked him a lot. He often tried to explain the situation, but Lina pushed him away until she was ready for the truth.

And boy does that truth hit you like a semi-truck.

Lastly, that ending. I cried. Literal tears of just happiness 🙂

All in all, Love & Gelato is a sweet contemporary novel with a bit of heartbreak entwined. It’s a story that heavily relies on voice and if you love Lina, just like I did, you’ll love her adventure in Italy!

addy5star

Book Review: Prom Queen Perfect by Clarisse Davide

Author: Clarisse Davide

Publisher: self-pub

Release date: July 7, 2016

Format: E-book

Purchase from Amazon

synopsis

Being perfect isn’t supposed to be this hard.

Alex dela Cruz has it all. Looks, money, and a killer sense of style.

When the annoyingly gorgeous Adam Cordero calls her selfish, she decides to prove him wrong by transforming Christy Marquez from an invisible misfit into a ruling princess of Asia Pacific Academy. Great hair? Check. Flawless red lipstick? Check. Instant popularity? A slightly too big check.

But now, Alex is on the brink of losing the plastic tiara she’s supposed to get as prom queen, her best friend, and her heart to the unlikeliest of candidates. Too bad she isn’t letting anything—or anyone—get between her and that tiara.

NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Prom Queen Perfect was everything I needed in an incredibly sweet and short (to my utter dismay) story about childhood friends turned high school frenemies/sweethearts. I plunged into this novel blindly; not really knowing or expecting how I’d feel. At the end, I felt a WHOLE LOT FOR ALEX AND ADAM.

Alex dela Cruz is that popular girl in high school that everyone hates but wishes to secretly be. She rules Asia Pacific Academy with an iron fist; no one dares to undermine her superiority. Well, except Adam Cordero. Adam is the only one who tells Alex that she is selfish, which sends her into an obsessive spiral of proving him wrong. Her project? Turn Christy Marquez from invisible to popular.

What I liked most about the plot was the fact that yes, it sounds cliche, but it is executed well with stunning metaphors that are unique to Clarisse Davide. The amount of emotion also blew me away as I felt overwhelmingly giddy for Alex in her bouts of clarity over love.

Even though Prom Queen Perfect is abundantly sweet, there are still some issues that Alex overcomes like the estranged bond between her and her mother, what it means to have a best friend, the act of selflessness vs. selfishness, and of course, how it feels to be in love.

I also loved the diverse cast from a diverse author! That was gold and god, soooooo good. I literally devoured this book in one sitting and all I wanted was MOAR.

 

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At 58% I made a note: Slowly falling in love is one of my favorite things to read.

It is. It really is. The relationship between Alex and Adam was everything my little heart desired. I was grinning like the mad Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. It was that SWEET AND JUST ASDFGHJKL.

I also highly enjoyed the relationship between Christy and Alex. It was an unexpected friendship. It was interesting how their bond grew, broke, and was mended back together as authentically as any friendship in real life.

Prom Queen Perfect is a beautiful, whirlwind of a story about learning to be not-so-perfect and showing the world who the girl behind the facade really is. I truly loved this so much and just want more of Alex, Adam, and Christy in my life.

addy5star

Book Review: I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

Author: Gretchen McNeil

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release date: October 18, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 352

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

synopsis

Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

MINIMAL TO NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I didn’t really know what to expect from I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Within the first three chapters I was inwardly groaning to myself: Ugh…not another cliche high school hierarchy story. After those three chapters and the explanation of what exactly a manic pixie dream girl is…well, I was hooked. 

The main protagonist, Bea “Trixie” Giovanni, is an incredibly smart, sassy, and stubborn biracial filipina on the brink of a unique and creative experiment. Her love for math helps her concoct a formula using applied math to real life. Her reasons for this experiment is to help her best friends Gabe and Spencer deflect bullying and to climb the social ladder in their senior year of high school. Bea’s reasons to use the formula on herself is to win her ex-boyfriend back from the clutches of Toile, the epitome of a manic pixie dream girl. Well, at least it starts out that way.

Bea’s personality greatly shifts throughout the story, which gets kudos from me. It is important for the character to grow and flourish rather than stagnant. No one wants to read about a character who is too set in their ways. I love the moments of clarity for Bea like when she realizes what her intentions have become by using the formula and the matters of her heart.

One of my favorite things (which in truth is becoming a thing I look for in books) is the amount of diversity. You’ve got a non-white strong female lead, a gay supporting character who does not die and is used as a sympathetic tool for main character, endearing portrayal of LGBT romance, and a romantic interest that is not part of the jocktocracy, i.e. not popular or is in a sport.  I loved Bea so much that I could honestly say I’d like to be friends with her. She is the kind of girl that likes to keep to herself, that loves math so much that she lives and breathes it. Her friends accept her for who she is just like she accepts them. There are a handful of times where Spencer tells Bea that she does not need to change for anyone, much less a guy who is fickle. #friendshipgoals

Then, there is Gabe who is just FABULOUS. I really like how McNeil addressed the stereotypical tropes of a gay young man, but also stayed true to Gabe’s true personality and wishes apart from the formula that made him a star. The portrayal of gay romance is also sweet, highlighting that love is never easy no matter what gender is preferred.

Lastly, the last character of this lovely platonic triangle is Spencer. There aren’t enough words for Spencer other than:

Spencer is the kind of guy we all want. The guy who values a girl’s worth and doesn’t demand change just to suit his needs. He is artsy, smart, and stubborn yeah, there are times Bea and Spencer butt heads. He is the voice of reason throughout the story. And boy, I wish Bea would have listened to him sooner. She could have avoided a lot of the mess created by the formula. But hey, if she didn’t make them…well, we wouldn’t have had such a whirlwind of a story!

This book also highlights feminism (the good kind), family relationships/dynamics, and what it means to be yourself. It is an outstanding hoorah! and is sure to fill you with unbelievable happiness and empowerment. I’m pretty sure my face was plastered in a goofy smile 89% of the time while I read.

Check out my Goodreads for a play-by-play reaction of this book!

addy5star

Book Review: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Author: Melissa de la Cruz

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Release date: October 4, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 432 pages

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

synopsis

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION DEARIES.

Something in Between is what I needed after a tough week in the U.S. It tells a compelling and realistic story of an undocumented teen and how her status affects her future, the view of herself, and ultimately the resolve to fight. As a daughter of immigrants, I could relate to Jasmine and her family in a way that is unparalleled to any other character I ever read. My parents had to file and wait for citizenship, a process that isn’t easy just as Jasmine discovered throughout the story.

There are countless of stories that mirror Jasmine’s in real life. For those of us who are natural-born citizens, it is easy to forget that we are privileged – that we have an abundance of opportunities compared to our undocumented counterparts. Life Jasmine’s family – the reason they left the Philippines was to seek a better life full of endless possibilities and opportunity.

The rawness and authenticity of this story pulled at my heart and I cried. I am crying as I write this. I had a bucket full of empathy for Jasmine and her situation. I also really loved how she handled the hurdles that were thrown her way. This is contemporary and it has fluff, but it also heavily conveys the issues of immigration, identity, stereotypes, and the oppression of minority groups in the U.S.

Melissa de la Cruz weaved all these issues in the story seamlessly. She didn’t push her views down my throat, rather, she demonstrated it through Jasmine. Because of her “illegal” status, Jasmine began to question who she was, letting the fear of not having a paper that said she was a citizen contradict her feeling of being American. She also wondered how she would be treated by her race because she did not speak Tagalog (her native Filipino tongue) fluently. Lastly, the oppression of minority groups is seen in the story’s antagonist, Mason Blakely. Jasmine is targeted by his racist remarks.

As the story still lies in the realm of contemporary, there was a budding romance that made my heart melt – that gave me light. Royce Blakely isn’t your typical male protagonist. He is Mexican-American, dyslexic, and unbelievably adorable. He is charming without being arrogant. He is sweet without being obsessive. He is everything that Jasmine doesn’t need, but wants anyway. THAT is love. I love how they aren’t dependent on each other to live. There are also some definitely swoon-worthy moments that you’ll definitely have to see for yourself!

Then, there is an overwhelming amount of support – not just within Jasmine’s family, and they are pretty much a family I’d love to be a part of! but also regarding her peers. I think that’s an important idea to portray. A person should be judged by their character and not by the color of their skin, status, gender, ect.

Lastly, one of my favorite things about Something in Between were the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. They inspired me to never give up and to act. I cannot sit idly, while the world around me is in chaos.

This is one of those reads that you have to read – to gain knowledge and understanding of a facet within immigration. If you’re wondering what happens to Jasmine and her family, well…that’s something I am unwilling to give away 😛 Something in Between will stay with me for a long time and I will always remember how it gave me an insight on immigration and Filipino culture.

My friend Sue @ Hollywood New’s Source wrote a beautifully detailed review of this novel. She further analyzes the topics I listed and gives textual evidence.

As for me, I give this lovely read…

addy5starUntil next time,

Emma

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release date: May 7, 2013

Format: Paperback, 403 pages

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

SYNOPSIS

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION DEARIES.

Books that are 3 star ratings are always hard. They neither wow’d me nor displeased me. Throne of Glass fell somewhere in the middle. The premise of the novel is interesting with an eighteen year old girl as the world’s best assassin. However, the story falls short with a slow incline of action. It was hard to read it because it ineffectively grasped my attention.

The beginning through the majority of the book was slow. Painfully slow. I wanted action. NEEDED it. When you read the synopsis, the story is about an assassin. And well, I wanted to see some of that badass assassin skills! Instead, we get to see her vulnerable as she had been captured and mistreated as a slave. To earn her freedom, she must compete in the king’s game and win to be his personal assassin. It is the the hope of her freedom that leads her to accept his request.

From there the following events are just meh. There is an evil in the castle that must be stopped and Celeana is the only one who can accomplish that feat because…my guess is that she is royalty and has magic in her veins. The training she endures makes her seem…weak. Yes, I get that she was a slave for a year, but she should be stronger within a month. I mean, she IS deemed as the BEST assassin in all of the kingdom.

This isn’t entirely bad as we do get to see the girl. I liked Celeana’s vulnerabilities. Inside she was just an eighteen year old girl. Circumstances made her who she was.

Then, there is the fact that two men – not one, but TWO men fall in love with her. It’s a little unrealistic for me. I liked Chaol and how his romantic interests are portrayed better than Dorian’s. #TeamChaol

Because it was so blaringly obvious, the story didn’t hold any sort of suspense. It didn’t make me want to read the book. Quite the contrary. I could only read a couple of chapters a day. If I tried to read more I got sleepy. Not a good sign. The only good thing I can say is that the short chapters made it extremely easy on me. This book was good in small doses.

I did like the last few chapters of the book, which salvaged the story a little. I liked the action. I loved how I did not know if Celaena would survive and I also liked the mystery on who was behind the dark evil force that threatened the castle.

Even though the first book in these series dragged, I am still curious to see how the second book compares. I’ve heard and read reviews (mindful of spoilers) that the second is MUCH better. All in all, it was a good read. Perhaps someone who likes fantasy more than I will greatly enjoy this book. As for me, I will consider continuing this series as I do want to know what happens to Celaena and her contract with the king.

For those who read the book, what are your thoughts?

Emma

 

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownAuthor: Holly Black

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release date: September 3, 2013

Pages/ Format: 419, Hardcover

Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

SYNOPSIS

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD DEARIES. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Holly Black makes vampires frightening alluring and hot!

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is beautifully frightening and uniquely based on vampire lore that I adore. In Tara’s world, vampires are kept locked inside cities called Coldtowns. Within the walls, vampires and humans co-exist in a glamours (if you love the vampire world) or dangerous (if you don’t wish to be a part of the vampire world) life. Tara never wanted to be a part of the vampire world, but she finds herself constantly being thrust back into it.

Unfortunately, the morning of the massacre isn’t her first time she’s come near vampires or an infected human. I won’t delve into this aspect of the story as it is a spoilers. It does have to do a lot about who Tana is as a person and why she is vigilant to stay human when she believes she may have been infected at the party.

I love LOVE love Tana’s character and development throughout the story. She is strong and does whatever it takes to survive. She makes mistakes – mistakes that could cost her her life, but I love her for it. It makes her a flaw character – a REAL character with fears and uncertainties. She’s sarcastic and a little gullible, which makes her a good person. Especially, when she helps the unlikeliest of creatures – a vampire and her ex-boyfriend who had certainly been infected.

Tana is also resourceful and a quick thinker. She doesn’t have much time to think through a situation when vampires could be lurking at the next corner.

Then, we have Aiden, Tana’s ex-boyfriend, who is a little bit of a pain, but who is also good in his own kind of twisted way. He gives Tana more headaches than her little sister Pearl. Aiden has to fight off his hunger, while Tana has to be wary of him not killing her.

Lastly, we have Gavriel who has secrets not even Tana could ever dream of until they come into realization. Gavriel is an unlikely ally that ends up being one of the only people Tana can trust. He also has his reasons for not killing her which are pretty darn admirable for a vampire.

The characters and story is what really made me love this book. Not only that, but Holly Black, creates a different vampire world where her characters have to either fight for survival or find the glory in becoming part of the world, whether its becoming a vampire or actively being a donor as they dance alongside them through the night. It’s just such a brilliant concept, in my opinion. The idea of vampirism is widely accept in Black’s world, yet, humans are still wary and keep them locked away in cities with air tight safeguards. Once you are inside a Coldown, you can never get out unless you have a marker – and that costs a lot of money or a bounty (turning in a vampire). The life of a vampire is glamorous as live broadcasting occurs within the Coldtowns that make it fun and exciting. I mean, who wouldn’t want to rich and famous?

At the center of all the glam is Tana’s story of survival which pushes the story into a crescendo of action-packed scenes. The story of Midnight and Winter also gives insight to those who wish to be part of the vampire world. The entire story is just amazing! Holly Black makes vampires frightening alluring and hot! There’s action, mystery, and a little bit of romance that will surely keep you on the edge of your seat! Highly recommend for you to read! 🙂

addy5starEmma