Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

17927395Title: A Court of Mist and Fury

Author : Sarah J. Maas

Publisher : Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Release date : May 3rd, 2016

Rating : 5/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

⚜ Review :

When has a sequel ever been better than the first book? Seriously, WHEN?!

ACOMAF blew my mind away in a way I never would’ve guessed… Utterly, and completely. This book is GOLD.

The writing is so, so good. Among all the YA novels I’ve read, I can easily say Sarah J. Maas has one of the most impeccable writing styles. She pens down all the right intonations, has great timing in her prose, and successfully conveys everything she wants to, thanks to her way to manipulate the language. The author knows just what to say to convey the importance of something, whether it be a fact or an event. Therefore, the reader immediately understands what she wants them to understand: feelings, thoughts, mental conflicts.

The journeys to other Courts are magical! My biggest wish throughout my reading was to go visit those places, and see them with my own eyes because wow. Instead, I made another post where I show you how I see them. The imagery is really evocative and I think Maas really used her own fantasies to create such dream-like settings. We also encounter all kinds of creatures, and the story never stalls, as adventures or relevant scenes are abundant in this sequel.

For a YA fantasy book writer, Maas isn’t afraid to go deep into her characters, as it is shown in her very realistic portrayal of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you’ve been following my reviews, you would know that I always highlight mental disorders in my readings. It’s a subject to which I’m sensitive, because I’m interested in how the mind works. In my (very amateur-ish) opinion, I believe Maas did a great job at describing PTSD and depression (not in their full spectrum, but at least some symptoms of it), and thus how Feyre felt after her ordeal with Amarantha. I felt really bad for her, I sympathized a lot, and I understand her mistrust and repulsion at certain things. However, I was a bit disappointed: I thought Feyre would have been stronger, maybe? I would’ve thought a girl like her would have taken more to break, but oh well. Once I got far enough in my reading, I got over it and just chose to sympathize with her.

A new thing that completely amazed me, and that I seriously consider adding to my criteria for books, is that Maas literally fixes every issue I could find in the book. As soon as I found a problem, an inconsistency or a doubt, she would patch things up, offer something to fix that problem, explain the why’s and the how’s. Like… WOW. That was seriously awesome. Although it’s not an issue, exactly, I still found that the timeframe is a bit short. If I’m correct, Feyre has been in Prythian for around a year? So I think, with all the events and twists and turns, it does seem a bit nonsensical?… Also, some things were just too convenient. I really thought that Maas pushed it a bit too much on some occasions. But these are not big minuses, as I still adored the book, so… meh!

In ACOMAF, we meet again Feyre, Tamlin, Rhysand & Co. And here there will be a few (kinda) spoilers. Continue reading

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany & Co.

29069989Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author : John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling

Publisher : Arthur A. Levine Books

Release date : July 31st, 2016

Rating : 4/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

⚜ Review :

I’m super duper biased right now, so of course I enjoyed it immensely and gave it a good rating. I mean, HARRY POTTER and the Cursed Child is a sequel and it’s CANON since Rowling co-wrote it. It was a joy to see familiar characters, to dive back in HP’s world, to be welcomed at Hogwarts once again.

Um… but I’ll try bringing more reasoned arguments on the table.

The writing is definitely not Rowling, despite her co-writing it. It lacks the quirkiness and the dry humor that I’m used to. Maybe it’s because it’s all dialogues, or maybe they had to adapt our characters to adulthood. Actually, it’s probably one of those two reasons, but I missed the giddy feeling I had while reading HP. But since it’s theater, I think they put all the quirkiness they could into the characters.

And I do love the characters. My favorite one, unsurprisingly, is Scorpius. Such a sweet and considerate guy, so different from his family’s heritage. He’s supportive and through their mistakes, he doesn’t waver and he’s genuinely caring and determined. When you think about it, he’s also the embodiment of Draco Malfoy’s job as a father. I’m proud, on behalf of Draco, of his son. His friendship with Albus was mesmerizing. And that’s all I can really say about Albus. I was pretty indifferent to him through it all; even when he acted up, I was only waiting for Scorpius to reappear.

The book was cheesy, I admit. But my biggest problem is that they didn’t stay true to the characters that we know and love. Some arcs were believable, and actually realistic. Harry is struggling with his role as a father, and I totally get it. He says things and does stuff that I wish he hadn’t and that I can’t reconcile with the HARRY we know. But he’s an adult now, and life happens, and in 19 years, I guess some things changed. Hermione lost her sass, but she’s still bossy and smart. Ron was… well, I had hoped he would become “cooler”, but he’s… a disappointment to me, unfortunately.

But the story was fun, funny and light, full of twists and magic! It gave me a great lasting impression. I felt as if it was more about the relationships and conflict between characters, than about the actual plotline. And I was totally okay with that, because Harry doesn’t need another story. Harry doesn’t need any addition. Harry doesn’t need a bow on top. But along the way, Harry got a companion. Harry got a friend. A cute and nostalgic one, and I fell in love.

 

ARC Review: Bang by Barry Lyga

31420736Title: Bang

Author : Barry Lyga

Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release date : April 18th, 2017

Rating : 3.8/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one–not even Sebastian himself–can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father’s gun.
Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend–Aneesa–to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past.

It took a gun to get him into this.
Now he needs a gun to get out.

⚜ Review :

I realize I don’t have the same enthusiasm towards this one than most people.

Maybe I watch too many Hollywood movies, but I was expecting more “bang” from Bang, you know what I mean? However, it was a great read, thoughtful-wise (I think I just invented a word, English not being my first language, woopsieeee).

I was very impressed with the subject Lyga tackled, and the message it delivered. We hear too often about gun violence, victims, guilty and how to properly handle such an issue. In the political realm, that’s great, right? It MUST be fixed. But here we have another part of the story: the aftermath. What happens to the family left behind? What happens with the killer? But more shockingly, what if the killer is part of your own family, and you have to live with it? With such a plot, I was immediately attracted to it.

BANG met my storyline, characters and depth expectations. No, honestly, it SURPASSED those expectations. Really, it deserves a standing ovation!

Let me start with the characters: Sebastian is the one who killed his baby sister (nop, not a spoiler). His desire to die is well-structured, he’s very reasonable about it. Although he’s not the most fun and engaging MC I’ve ever read about, his character development was masterfully done. It was believable. It wasn’t white to black in a second. There was no epiphany, there were no life-changing, tearful arguments. And it all contributes to the fact that he’s quite complex, as a character. Lyga managed to capture his state of mind and his shifting thoughts in a well-paced and well-structured way.

But the real joy was Aneesa. Personally, I felt as if the spotlight was on her, as I liked her very much and she was the only sunshine in this rainy novel. Aneesa’s the new girl in the very-white neighborhood. Why is that relevant? Because she’s a Muslim who wears a hijab in a very-white neighborhood. I particularly enjoyed and appreciated the theme of islamophobia, as she often referred to it to talk about her worries of living in America, and the very real discrimination against Muslims. Apart from this awareness, she is so sweet, and funny, and smart and creative. Fiercely proud and supportive till the end, she’s the kind of friend you’d like to have.

What makes Bang truly remarkable, however, isn’t the characters. What made it soar beyond my expectations was the realness and unflinching honesty of the aftermath’s depiction. We see the difficulty of reconciling a terrible mistake Sebastian did as a 4 y/o with who he is now. Not only is he trapped in this ordeal, but he’s also painfully aware of how others see him, his reputation as a sister-killer, and it taints every relationship he has. While I was reading through it, I had to have several times this thought :”Wow…” (in a good way!). I don’t have enough English vocabulary to describe how I felt, or how it is. It was just so… realistic.

I highly recommend this book for… well, everyone. Awareness of this kind of mental and social issues is to be spread like a virus because it’s too easy to blame, to judge, without taking into consideration all the details. But I’d advise not to dive in with expectations of excitement. Often, I found it very dull. But that’s just a matter of opinion.

** I’d like to thank NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with an e-ARC of this novel!

 

Book Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

25494343Title: Lady Midnight

Author : Cassandra Clare

Publisher : Sourcebooks Fire

Release date : March 8th, 2016

Rating : 4.8/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

⚜ Review :

I read this one a while ago now, and I’m so sorry I didn’t post my review earlier! But let me just say that it was “A” TO THE “MAZING”.

While reading Lady Midnight, I constantly forgot to write down my thoughts when they arose (like I usually do when I read). It’s maybe because I felt that, despite the different plot and characters and settings, it was like a perfect continuation of The Mortal Instruments series.

We already know Emma, Julian, the rest of the Blackthorn family, etc. Unlike TMI’s main character, Clary, Emma deserved my love and respect. She is a confident, cool girl; the kind  you’d admire from afar in your high school and wish you were. She’s totally awesome and funny, determined and brave. Bref, the kind of protagonist you’d definitely picture in an action-packed book/movie!! On the downside, she resembles Clary a little bit, in the sense of her recklessness and her annoying I-do-whatever-I-want-and-things-better-go-my-way aspect. Since this is only the first book, I can get over it, mainly because she’s strong and badass!

However, I’d hate to see the Clary-ish side of her take over in the next books. Emma’s kind of action-teen typical, easy to like, but it would be Clare’s mistake to forge, yet again, a golden path for her main character.

Julian, for his part, isn’t the swoon-worthy type, but I admit I had my fangirl moments with him! Basically, all characters are designed to be liked by the readers, and I did like them, even the “bad ones”. They all have redeeming qualities. We meet a new High Warlock, Malcolm, who’s not at all like Magnus, who even seems too incompetent to be a High Warlock. Maybe I missed a part, but are powerful abilities the only requirement to be High Warlock?! His quirkiness was pleasant, though, so as a character, I liked him (hahaha).

Cassandra Clare’s writing style is very good for a Young Adult book, as expected. It flows like water, very easy to read and understand. Point of views alternate, so we get in depth insight into different characters and events. Los Angeles could have been better described, because I feel as if Clare only knows about the sea and the pop culture? It was definitely not in a local, personal way. Clare didn’t do her homework correctly, because I didn’t get the feeling Emma’s lived her whole life in LA, although that’s her backstory.

One of the most important themes of this book is, according to me, family. Whether it’s blood family, or life family, it’s such an important aspect of everything they do, everything they fight for. I could also sense that Clare wanted to breach certain social issues, such as sexual orientation, but it was too vague and stored in the background. It is, however, a start to Clare’s literary awareness.

ARC Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

30095464Title: The Bone Witch

Author : Rin Chupeco

Publisher : Sourcebooks Fire

Release date : March 7th, 2017

Rating : 3.8/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

⚜ Review :

As a lasting impression, the book really wasn’t that bad!

The biggest disappointment would be caused by the lack of “exciting” events, if I may say so. One would say it was too boring. Indeed, when reading the summary, or just solely based on how fantasy YA books usually work, one would expect a profusion of “exciting” events. And The Bone Witch didn’t offer much in that department. There was no sense of real danger, no fear about those ominous “dark forces”.

BUT, luckily for me, I came in without much expectation because… I’d forgotten what the synopsis was. I just opened the ebook and started reading, because I was attracted to the cover *woops*. But it saved me quite a few sighs (disappointment) and burnt up neurons (anger). I’ve got to say, though, that the writing wasn’t exceptional. If the book was any less good, I wouldn’t have survived the entirety of it.

So how did my no-expectation attitude get me to be okay with The Bone Witch? As I didn’t know what to expect, I just gulped down every plot line Chupeco offered. As I read on, I came to understand that it was an intricate tapestry of the asha’s world. I’m the kind of person who loves to learn new things, and in this case, I was learning about a new culture, down to the tiniest details… And I greatly appreciated that. I think Chupeco’s main focus with her first-in-a-trilogy was to set the pieces on the board before making us dive into the next books. Therefore, she teaches us about asha’s mores and traditions, and how their social roles and reputation built their way of living. Asha have a strong resemblance to geisha, in the sense that they are professional entertainers, but in addition to that, they are also trained fighters. So, for an informative book, I think there was enough action.

However, at the beginning, I was confused a few times because there were many new words, so there were a few parts that lost me. Also, Chupeco could have taught us more about the other kingdoms, instead of just mentioning them.

If you think real (too?) hard, you could see a hint of love triangle, but by no means an actual one. I know many people will consider it as such, though, but in my opinion, there was ever only one cute, little crush in the works.

Another aspect I thoroughly enjoyed was the alternating chapters between the past and the present, the still-innocent Tea (Tay-uh, 12-15 years old) and her now bitter, older self (17 years old). It’s very interesting to witness how much she changed because of her new life. We spend more time with the young Tea, who didn’t know anything about her abilities before resurrecting her brother Fox. In her ignorance, she is vulnerable, at a disadvantage and therefore, shy. But despite these circumstances, she tries very hard to learn, she is persistent. And the more she learns, the more she strengthens and asserts herself. I agree she’s a special snowflake, but at least she’s intelligent and capable (most of the time).

Some other characters could have been more developed, some others were purposefully mysterious, but I still believe Chupeco could have done a better job at exploiting her characters. She equally often tried to breach certain social issues, such as discrimination and various ethnicities, but she never lingered much on them, so they all passed under the radar rather easily. The only socially relevant subject she actually succeeded in bringing up was the gender expectations/stereotypes, as in the acceptable social roles of women and men.

 Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are, rather than in what they expect you to be.

**I’d like to thank NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire for providing me with this ebook, in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

28220826Title: When The Moon Was Ours

Author : Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher : Thomas Dunne

Release date : October 4th, 2016

Rating : 5/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

⚜ Review :

When The Moon Was Ours was one of the most enchanting books I’ve ever read. ❤

I didn’t know the term for this genre before, but now I do : magical realism. And it’s possibly one of my favorite genres ever. McLemore’s writing is impeccable, and it contributed to give her novel its own brand of magic. I honestly think her prose is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read. It’s light as a feather, soft as a breeze. The way she describes places makes me want to live in her world; her imagery is evocative and dream-like, tickling our understanding with metaphors and imaginative comparisons.

I’m not sure what else could I say to highlight the sheer beauty of McLemore’s writing, without using the same words : dreamy, soft, beautiful, magical. The author invites our senses to the reading, evoking them when describing a place or introducing characters:

Aracely had hair as gold as late afternoon, her eyes the deep brown of a wet, fertile field. Miel’s hair was dark as a starless autumn, a night made brown by fall leaves, and her eyes matched the gold of low twin moons. 

Because of the genre itself, it was at times confusing distinguishing between reality and metaphor, but it is an easy obstacle to surmount as the story progresses, and you realize that yes, roses do grow out of a girl’s wrist, and love sickness can be thrown out the window.

All these curiosities abound in the town in which live Miel and Sam. Though at first these two characters seem pretty bland, their worth starts unraveling as the reader is guided through their experiences, their feelings and their numerous struggles. The relationship between the two is amazing and as solid as rock. The certainty of their bond is felt even when they are apart, or even when it is strained by the heartbreaking secrets of their past and those of their close ones.

As much as the protagonists are interesting, the secondary characters deserve as much praise. Everyone has a rich backstory and an equally great plot line, which unravels their nuanced personalities and makes room for both sympathy and resentment.

But what makes the story itself unforgettable is the diversity and the respect of cultures. Here we have a Latina girl, and a half Pakistani boy, Spanish legends, a wide spectrum of gender identities, and everything that comes with it. Questions of body, of name, of how to support someone you love, are all well-handled. I can’t say with certainty that it was perfectly dealt with, as I have never been in this situation, but I think it was a close-to-perfect LGBT novel that everyone should read.

As I came near the ending, I realized that not many non-contemporary books tackle social issues with such sensitivity. Therefore, I thank McLemore for her awareness and generosity. How lucky we are to have such a talented author take the time to address those subjects!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this book, and to Anna-Marie for writing it.

Book Review: The Lovely Reckless by Karmi Garcia

27414434Title: The Lovely Reckless

Author : Kami Garcia

Publisher : Imprint

Release date : October 4th, 2016

Rating : 2.8/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

⚜ Review :

I should’ve known I was going to be disappointed by this book; I thoroughly disliked Garcia’s Caster Chronicles. BUT, I chose to read it because the author is well-loved and I thought that I just missed the reason why, so I wanted to give her another chance. *sigh* I’ll have to resign myself to the fact that Garcia and I are not compatible.

I’ll start with the good points for this one.

Let’s be honest here: I was totally into it for the street racing. They said Romeo & Juliet/Fast and Furious? HELL YEAH. I learnt quite a few things about this dangerous sport (?) and, although there was not nearly enough of it throughout the story, I enjoyed everything related to it, whether it be the mechanics and the techniques or the races themselves.

I don’t know if Garcia was influenced by the subject of car racing, but I found that the plot was fast paced, almost never having a dull moment. I’m not saying there was action at every turn, but there was always something interesting happening (like a fight or an engaging conversation). Plus, I definitely wanted to know the conclusion of that story, which made it all the more captivating.

Personally, what contributed to the ever-entertaining storyline were the totally awesome, multi-dimensional secondary characters. Sure, they check off the list of “dark past victims” (maybe too much?), but they aren’t the broody, morose type. None of them *yay*! My favorite one is definitely CRUZ. Such a badass, I’m totally in love/want to be best friends/trusted accomplice with her. She knows her worth and is confident, without being arrogant, and so honest and true. WHAT, A, BADASS.

Finally, the most important point is that Karmi Garcia tried and somewhat succeeded in portraying a mental disorder called the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). You may have heard of it when referring to war veterans; it’s the disorder that keeps them up at night, unable to sleep because of nightmares, that keeps their fingers shaking and their minds wandering. While Frankie doesn’t experience PTSD that exact same way, she does have those mood swings, heightened emotions and isolating habits.

UNFORTUNATELY, I think that’s all I appreciated about Frankie. I understand her situation is miserable; she suffers of PTSD after watching her boyfriend being beat to death (and not doing anything). But after some time, the negativity got boring and old. Let’s remember that this is a book, here? Spending hours and days on a girl who’s constantly negative got on my nerves. And what really triggered me, caused me to hate her, is the way she treats people, especially her dad. He’s not the perfect dad, and his job forces him to be absent often, but he’s trying, he genuinely wants to help her being safe and looks out for her. But she doesn’t see that, she talks to him in an insolent way, with so much venom. I swear I would’ve slapped her a few times if I were in there. She seems to be the spoiled little brat who throws tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants… reinforced by the fact that she actually IS rich, as Garcia often reminds us. Actually, she’s just the rich girl rebelling.

I’m ending my ranting on this last complaint: INSTA-LOVE. How many times have they talked before they fell head over heels for each other? Um, 4 10-minute conversations? That’s hardly convincing. I can understand insta-lust, but you can’t actually make me believe that Frankie got a total of 40 mins to fall in love with someone. And what’s more, her boyfriend’s got beaten to death 3 months ago. Only 3 months, people, and then Frankie moves somewhere else, meets Marco, and claims to be in love with him. You know what’s worse? Garcia actually used the cheap trick of mentioning that Frankie “didn’t even really love her dead boyfriend anyway, so it’s totally okay for her to love this new guy now, while in mourning for her ex”. This justification of falling for Marco so quickly bothered me so much, I just couldn’t find it in me to ship them. And even their romance was so over-the-top clichés. Nop, not for me.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend this book. The main character and the main romance left to be desired, the only redeeming qualities being the background plotlines and characters. I’m sorry to say this, but Kami Garcia will now have a permanent spot in my blacklist.

Thank you to NetGalley!

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

22909234Title: The 52nd

Author : Dela

Publisher :Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Release date : October 27th, 2014

Rating : 3/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

⚜ Review :

Everything about my first impression of this novel attracted me: the synopsis (magic and a strange land? Yes!), the author’s name (a foreign name attached to a foreign culture? YES!) and the cover (the design and the costume? YASSS!!).

But then,… what happened?

It was just, so okay…

I can’t even pinpoint exactly what dropped the book at 3/5. But I could try, though.

I didn’t particularly care for Alex. She started off as a spoiled brat, ignoring her family’s love for her and just acting selfishly, but she got decent by the end of the book. Definitely not love-worthy, but she was okay.

The romance was also completely MEH. There was a love triangle, and Alex was indecisive about who she loved most, and though her bisexuality came as a great surprise, it just felt forced. I couldn’t find chemistry anywhere, nor with Nova, whom she had a lot of banters with, nor with Rishi, who was useless and irrelevant to the plot.

However, I liked the diversity and the culture we encountered. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter were of great interest to me also. I loved how Cordova attempted to bring us to another mythical world. Los Lagos is understandably compared to Wonderland; twists and turns will surprise readers, everything is up for questioning. Unfortunately, I never quite felt the sense of danger and urgency that I was supposed to feel. Alex literally has to save her parents in this strange and hostile world, but… I almost forgot it sometimes, maybe because of the pace the book took, or Nova’s and Alex’s behavior.

The whole concept of the novel was amazing, but it lacked a big something, a Wow Factor, a spark. It wasn’t exotic enough, otherworldly enough, intense enough. It lacked charm and wonder. It’s like wanting to dye your hair a bold red, but it turns out a faded dark pink.

Don’t get me wrong; I read it till the end, I was entertained, but always as a second entertainment, you know? If I had nothing else to do, I’d read it. Sorry for the unpopular opinion.

Thank you to NetGalley!

Book Review: The 52nd by Dela

23255448Title: The 52nd

Author : Dela

Publisher :Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Release date : October 27th, 2014

Rating : 2/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Not one of the sacrifices chosen over the long history had survived–until now.

On the tip of the Yucatan peninsula, the immortal Castillo family gathers in Tulum. Weary and haunted, they receive the names of fifty-two human sacrifices chosen once every fifty-two years for the Underworld, a tradition thought to have disappeared with the fall of the Aztec and Mayan empires.

Driving home one night, college freshman Zara Moss swerves to avoid hitting a ghastly figure in the road. Lucas Castillo witnesses the car crash, but when it comes time to supervise her abduction from the wreckage, he intervenes. Something is different about Zara: Lucas has been having dreams of her arrival for five hundred years.

As Lucas and Zara come together to put an end to the bloody sacrifices, they discover that the ancient tradition isn’t so easily broken. The gods are angry, and they have until the Winter Solstice to drag Zara to the Underworld.

⚜ Review :

It just didn’t click.

During a time last year, I saw The 52nd a lot in my Instagram feed. And, just as expected, it heightened my enthusiasm toward it, I wanted to read, it couldn’t get in my hands fast enough. So when NetGalley kindly provided me with its e-book, I dove into it…and was fairly disappointed.

First of all, Zara, the main character, was horrible. Wait, maybe I’m being too harsh on her? She’s actually just the typical YA female protagonist. Okay no, I’m not being too harsh on her. No author would like their protagonist to be typical. It shows a lack of creativeness, a laziness on their part to think further. Zara is the “boys like me but I don’t know it” kind of girl. She’s the “I’m too cool to think about trivial things” kind of girl. But, really? Haha boy, I wouldn’t give a cent to date her, if I were interested. I mean, guys, look here: she’s so immature and thoughtless that you wouldn’t believe that she was in college. She doesn’t have the kind of behaviour that you would expect out of a college student, and believe me because I’m a college student myself, surrounded by other college students. And even college has its own flaws, because the author made it seem like high school.

Zara is also incredibly dependent. I mean, I could get it at a certain level: I still live with my parents, therefore I depend on them. But SHE is dependent on Lucas, THE LOVE INTEREST. She almost literally allowed all her actions to be dictated by Lucas. I know, I know, he knows about the danger, he’s lived for a long time and has experience, but she didn’t even question anything. What??? Can you think for yourself for just a second?? Ugh, I guess not.

However, I did like the inclusion of families in this story. Lucas’ and Zara’s families were involved, and that was a breath of fresh air, because you don’t usually see much of a family in YA works. Their plots usually mention families once, and then they’re stored in the background, or the protagonist deliberately shoves them aside because they “don’t understand” or “it would be dangerous for them”. So The 52nd was realistic in that aspect.

Speaking of which, romance was to be expected. But I think Dela could have skipped on her kind of romance. It was a teen angsty, love/hate, irritable relationship, which made me want to close my phone and go watch a movie instead. I didn’t ship them, couldn’t find it in me to be empathetic. So all in all, I really don’t think characters and their interpersonal relationships are Dela’s forte.

What I did like, though, was the cultural richness of the novel. I was so interested in the cultural rituals of the Aztecs that I had to do more research on it. It was really nice to encounter diversity and magical cultural elements in an era when it’s crucial to have representation. I really loved reading the scenes in Mexico; Dela really transported me to another place. However, there were some parts when the author just dumped information on us. It wasn’t well conveyed, it felt artificial. Maybe it was just bad editing, I don’t know.

The story wasn’t fantasy enough, despite the cultural addition. When I read the summary, I thought fantasy would take a great place in the plot, but mostly it revolved around Zara going to school and thinking about Lucas. Even the danger didn’t seem that dangerous. Again, The 52nd felt like a cheap, lazy try at writing good YA fantasy.

I will say this, though: Dela has so much potential as an author. I really hope she’ll start embracing her unique ideas and develop new ones.

Thank you to NetGalley!

 

Book Review: The Memory Book by Lara Avery

25988934.jpgTitle: The Memory Book

Author : Lara Avery

Publisher : Poppy / Hachette Book Group

Release date : July 5th, 2016

Rating : 4.5/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.

⚜ Review :

THE MEMORY BOOK HIT ME STRAIGHT TO THE HEART!

Avery constructed the book in the form of a journal. Each entry is an event in the life of Sammie “Sam” McCoy, in which she relates what she thinks, what she does, who she meets, etc. In her own words, it’s quite a “feelingsy” novel. The way she introduces herself and her thoughts to us make it feel personal, even to the readers. It’s not just personal for her, we also feel involved in her life. I really like how she thinks, as I can see myself in the way her mind works.

This person has that smell like they have just been outside, you know what I mean? It’s a combination of sweat and humid air and grass and dirt, and when you’ve been inside air-conditioning all day, you can tell from just one whiff they’ve been outside doing something. (p. 19)

After years of people not understanding what I was talking about, this one sentence got me hooked on the book. I suddenly felt very protective of Sam, as she is the only one who gets what I meant. Although she makes some mistakes in her geek culture reference (p. 83), I’m willing to forgive her because she actually makes an effort to include Lord of the Rings! Hihihi! She’s such a down-to-earth person, heart-warming, determined, smart and ambitious. She deserves all the respect in the world, for fighting through such a disease and still being optimistic.

Optimism does not have to be blind. (p. 171)

Apart from Sam, I really liked the other characters as well. From her mom, to Coop, to Stuart. Although they aren’t exactly complex, I really liked their presence in Sam’s life. Since her disease made her existence that much more difficult, complex characters would have brought too much weight to the story, and it wouldn’t have been such a good one if it was too heavy.

All in all, it was a lovely and heart-warming read, that I would recommend for people who are looking for an emotional, but strong character.