ARC Book Review: All the Crooked Saints

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Synopsis:

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

Maggie Stiefvater has been called “a master storyteller” by USA Today and “wildly imaginative” by Entertainment Weekly. Now, with All the Crooked Saints, she gives us the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, a masterful tale of love, fear, darkness, and redemption.

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Review

*I won a free advanced reader’s copy of this book at Brooklyn Book Festival. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel is released today.*

If you’ve been following me for a while you know that although I really enjoyed The Raven Cycle series, I wasn’t all that enthralled with the plot, because it didn’t make any sense to me. Thus, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this new book by Maggie Stiefvater. It didn’t help that the book quickly came under fire for it’s representation of Mexican Americans after it was first announced. Despite all these things, I ended up really enjoying this novel.

The story is told in the third person, with the same kind of magical realism voice that I loved in the The Raven Cycle books, and looks at a Mexican American family, the Sorias, living in Bicho Raro, Colarado in the 1960s. The Sorias have been done throughout generations to be saints that can give people miracles, which help them overcome the darkness inside of them. Although this novel is definitely about the Sorias as a whole and the pilgrims that travel to get their miracles, it’s really about the three young Soria cousins: Beatriz, Daniel, and Joaquin.

Daniel is the current Saint of Bicho Raro and it’s his job to give the pilgrims their miracles, but because this is a Stiefvater book the miracle isn’t something simple. Instead there’s two parts to the miracle. First, Daniel brings out the darkness in the pilgrim, which can manifest into pretty much anything, and then it’s the pilgrim’s job to figure out how to get rid of their darkness. Until they do that, the pilgrims don’t leave Bicho Raro and the Sorias don’t kick them out because they believe a pilgrim might find success later and return the favor. Also, the Sorias don’t engage with the pilgrims because they believe they can “catch” a pilgrim’s darkness.

I really enjoyed all the characters in this story. I liked how they each handled miracles and how it affected their perspective on the world around them. Additionally, I was actually interested in all of their histories. This story gave me The Sun is Also a Star vibes, because it gives the background for almost every character. It was also interesting seeing this divide between the Sorias and the pilgrims, since they all lived in the same place, but at times it felt like they were in two very different worlds. I also enjoyed the little bits of romance in this story as well. They were subtle and cute and I would’ve loved more, but the amount given was sufficent.

Lastly, in terms of the representation of Mexican Americans, since I’m not Mexican I can’t speak for how a Mexican person will feel about it. I thought it was well done, though I’m confused as to why Stiefvater named the town Bicho Raro when that means weirdo in Spanish. Perhaps because this story is a bit weird? Who knows? Besides that though, I thought the characters were well thought out and not stereotypical. Therefore, I highly recommend picking up this book today and giving it a read.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“Always take blame for your own actions but never take blame for someone else’s.”

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ARC Book Review: Invictus

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Synopsis:

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time traveler from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in ancient Rome, Far’s very existence defies the laws of nature. All he’s ever wanted was to explore history for himself, but after failing his entrance exam into the government program, Far will have to settle for a position on the black market-captaining a time-traveling crew to steal valuables from the past.
During a routine heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl named Eliot who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Eliot has secrets-big ones-that will affect Far’s life from beginning to end. Armed with the knowledge that history is not as steady as it seems, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to set things right before the clock runs out.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I won a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from NOVL and  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 26, 2017.*

This book was described as Doctor Who meets Guardians of the Galaxy, but since I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen one episode of Doctor Who that didn’t mean much to me. After reading this novel, I’d say this book is more of Six of Crows but with time travel. In other words, I loved it.

The novel started a little slow, but once Farway got his crew together and they were living on the Invictus, their time travelling ship, things got very exciting very fast. The only thing that threw me off a little bit was that we don’t see the beginnings of the crew’s adventures through time. Instead, the story jumps ahead and when we first see the crew on the Invictus they’ve already been jumping around time for about a year.

However, the time jump (pun intended) worked for me because I liked that Far, Priya, Imogen, and Gram, along with my favorite red panda, Saffron, were already a kind of family by the time the drama really begins. And that drama comes in the form of the mysterious Elliot.

To be honest, I didn’t like Elliot at first. Her non-answers annoyed me and I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why is she being so difficult?” Of course, there’s a reason, which you’ll just have to read and discover. But, in my opinion, I understood where she was coming from and in the end she became one of my favorite characters. Although, to be honest, I loved all the characters in this story.

Far is the cocky, sassy character, who’s soft spot for Priya made him endearing and quite adorable. Priya, my queen medic, was awesome and I wish she could make me some chai tea in real life. I’m sure her’s is better than what I’ve been getting at Starbucks. I absolutely loved Imogen and the fact that she changes her hair color every day. She’s so cute and funny, and we both share a love of gelato. And then we have my favorite nerd, Gram. His obsession with Rubik’s cubes and Tetris was so cute to me, and I liked that because he’s black, his views about travelling through time were different than those of his crew members. I thought that was a pretty great perspective to this story.

Overall, this book was filled with the perfect amount of adventure, romance, diversity, and funny moments, and I just couldn’t put it down. Although the ending to this story was absolutely perfect, I also wouldn’t mind a sequel. I just love these characters so much. Definitely make sure to grab a copy of this book when it comes out.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: I Hate Everyone But You

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Synopsis:

Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
Sincerely,
Ava Helmer
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
Stop crying.
G

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

I Hate Everyone But You, the debut novel by two emerging major talents in YA, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, is a story about new beginnings, love and heartbreak, and ultimately about the power of friendship.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 5, 2017.*

Going into this novel I didn’t really know what it was about. I just love the authors, Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, who started out at BuzzFeed before starting their own YouTube channel, Just Between Us. When I heard they wrote a YA novel together I knew I had to read it and was very excited to receive an eARC copy. I was even more excited when I realized this book is told in emails and texts, my favorite form of story telling (I love dialogue more than plot, fyi!).

I Hate Everyone But You, follows two best friends, Ava and Gen, who are starting their first year of college. While Ava is staying close to home by going to the University of Southern California, Gen is moving to the east coast to attend Emerson. Thus, the emails and texts are how they keep in touch, and I absolutely loved their friendship.

Ava has anxiety and is constantly battling that. Even though she’s still close to home she’s moved far enough where she must find a new therapist that can help her, and that’s sometimes easier said than done. Moreover, because of her anxiety and her personality in general, she struggles to make new friends and live in a world without Gen.

Differently, Gen is diving head first into her new life at Emerson. She’s writing for the school newspaper and aiming for a staff writer position, and her TA, Charlotte, seems eager to be her mentor. Additionally, Gen is exploring her sexuality in a way that surprises Ava.

While it’s clear Ava and Gen love each other, they also fight and have disagreements about a lot of different things. They discuss mental health, gender, sexuality, and more. They also challenge each other. Gen constantly corrects Ava, who struggles to understand that sexuality is fluid, and Gen has to come to terms with the fact that Ava will sometimes say things that Gen really needs to hear, even if she doesn’t like it.

Possibly my favorite thing about this novel is that Ava is clearly Allison and Gen is obviously Gaby, and the fact that the novel didn’t try to hide from that, but instead joked about it. BuzzFeed is mentioned as is their YouTube series, and Gen even calls Ava an “Allison,” at one point. I really liked that the authors weren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves.

Overall, I thought this was a great read and shows a realistic friendship, while also covering very real topics that aren’t talked about enough. Even if you’re not a fan of Allison and Gaby (though you really should be), you should definitely pick up this book.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“Never blame yourself for the physical failings of a man. Their infrastructure is designed for malfunction.”

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ARC Book Review: Genuine Fraud

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Synopsis:

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book at BookCon. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on September 5, 2017.*

The only book I’d ever read by E. Lockhart was How to Be Bad, which she cowrote with two authors. I also didn’t enjoy it. However, I’ve heard mostly good things about We Were Liars so when I had the opportunity to snag an ARC of her newest novel and get it signed, I decided to go for it. Thankfully, I ended up really enjoying Genuine Fraud.

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The novel is told in the third person and follows Jule, but the chapters go backwards in time. I don’t want to spoil anything because half the fun of this novel is the mystery, so I won’t go too much into the plot. What I will say is I really enjoyed the twists in this novel and was kind of surprised by a lot of what happened. Additionally, I really liked the main character, Jule. She’s definitely an antihero who sometimes does bad things, but I still liked her anyway.

What I really loved about this story was learning more about Jule and her friendship with Imogen. Since the story works backwards, it was interesting to see how everything came to be at the beginning of the novel. Moreover, I really liked that while the novel answered most of my questions, I was still left with questions by the end of the story. Usually, I don’t like that kind of thing, but I really liked how it added to the mystery and left me still questioning what was true in Jule’s story and what was not.

Overall, I highly recommend buying this book when it’s released, because if you’re like me, you’re going to want to reread it from back to front once you’re done.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“[Jule] believed that the best way to avoid having your heart broken was to pretend you don’t have one.”

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ARC Book Review: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

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Synopsis:

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Purchase From:

AmazonAmazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book at BookCon. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on August 29, 2017.*

If I’m being totally honest, I didn’t really have any interest in this book. If Leigh Bardugo didn’t write it, I probably wouldn’t have read it. I’ve never really been a big fan of Wonder Woman and still haven’t seen the new movie. I don’t know why, I just never got into her story and therefore didn’t really know much about her.

However, I decided to finally give this book a read because I’ve only seen good reviews of it thus far and I love the Six of Crows duology by Bardugo. Though this book started out slow, I ended up really enjoying it and couldn’t put it down.

The novel begins with Diana, who, if you are even less familiar with Wonder Woman than I am, will one day become Wonder Woman. Now, though, she’s the Princess of the Amazons, trying to prove herself to her sisters. Unlike all the other Amazons, Diana was created by her mother, Hippolyta, with the help of the gods. She was never mortal, like the other Amazons, and has never seen war, a man, or the human world in general.

That is until a boat crashes near Diana’s home, Themyscira, with Alia on it. Alia is a mortal human, but she’s also a Warbringer, meaning she’s a descendant of Helen of Troy. Alia’s power will bring an age of war so great that it will even reach Themyscira, a land of peace. That is, unless Alia and Diana can team up to stop it.

Diana learns what she must do to bring the age of Warbringers to an end, but of course it’s not something simple, and it leads Diana and Alia to the mortal lands, which led to a lot of action and adventure, but also some hilarity. Because Dianna has never been anywhere besides Themyscira, there was a lot she didn’t understand about the world, like cellphones or the fact that to “kick someone’s ass” didn’t mean you literally kick them in the ass.

I also liked that Alia is half-black and this novel looks at issues of race and how that shaped who Alia, and her older brother, Jason, were. The novel had a lot of diversity actually, with Alia’s best friend, Nim, being Indian and queer, and Jason’s best friend, Theo, also being a person of color.

Warbringer also had some twists that really surprised me, which I totally loved. I like being caught off guard and this book did that for me. There were also little bits of romance, which were just enough that I liked it, but it didn’t take away from the story at all.

Overall, I definitely recommend giving this book a read when it comes out. Even if you’re not all that familiar with Wonder Woman, like me, you can definitely still enjoy this novel. And if you love Wonder Woman, I think you’ll definitely like this novel.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“It’s the people who never learn the word impossible who make history, because they’re the ones who keep trying.”

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ARC Book Review: Lucky in Love

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Synopsis:

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Scholastic via Edelweiss. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on July 25, 2017.*

Kasie West has become my go to author for YA contemporary romance novels. Her books are always so cute, fun, and quick to read, and Lucky in Love was no exception. This novel is told in the first person point of view of Maddie, a high school senior who’s very focused on school. She’s so focused that she and her best friends, Blair and Elise, have a pact that they’re not allowed to date in high school.

Maddie believes nothing comes easy and you have to work hard for what you want, which is why she’s not interested in entering the lottery at first. However, when her friends bail on her birthday party Maddie decides to spend the rest of her money on a lottery ticket and surprisingly she actually wins.

Suddenly, her life goes from kind of boring to very exciting. Everyone wants to be her friend and every one wants her money. Her friends and family start acting differently and Maddie soon questions who she can and can’t trust. Except for Seth, her cute coworker at the zoo. Seth was grounded when the news of Maddie’s lottery win broke and rather than tell him about it, Maddie likes that there’s someone in her life who presumably doesn’t know about her lottery win, so she keeps it to herself.

My favorite part of this book was definitely Seth. First, I loved that he’s Vietnamese American. As far as I can tell this is the first time the love interest has been a person of color in West’s novels and I thought that was great, especially because Seth opened up to Maddie about what it’s like to be Asian in America. There were multiple points where he and Maddie had open conversations about race and I really liked that a lot because while it wasn’t the main topic of the book, West also didn’t shy away from it.

I also really liked Maddie as a character. Though I was frustrated that she wasn’t handling her new wealth very responsibly I also acknowledged the fact that she was 18 and truthfully she did win $50 million ($30 million once you take out the taxes). It wasn’t like she was actually going to use up all her money but it still stressed me out every time she bought something extravagant, especially because it was so out of character for her. Overall though, I was more upset with her parents for not stepping in when they saw how much she was spending.

That small frustration aside, I really enjoyed this novel. It was a quick read and I loved Seth from the moment he was first introduced. I highly recommend picking up Lucky in Love once it hits stores. It’s definitely worth a read.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“Magic cannot be explained. It can only be experienced.”

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ARC Book Review: Words in Deep Blue

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Synopsis:

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released today.*

After reading a lot of fantasy lately, I was in the mood for a contemporary and Words in Deep Blue was the perfect choice. It’s a short contemporary romance told in the alternating points of views of former best friends Henry and Rachel. Right before Rachel was moving away she wrote Henry a love letter telling him, once and for all, how she felt about him. She put it in the Letter Library in his family’s bookshop, and this honestly sounds the coolest place ever.

In the Letter Library, you can’t take the books out and people write notes in the books or highlight their favorite parts and then put the books back. They also, of course, leave letters inside the books for others to read, which is what Rachel did on that fateful night.

Fast forward to a few years later and Rachel is totally over Henry because not only did he never respond to the letter but he didn’t even acknowledge it’s existence. So now, when Rachel returns to town, after the death of her younger brother, Cal, she’s not exactly excited to see Henry. Similarly, Henry, who feels Rachel just ditched him once she moved away, isn’t all that excited to see her either.

However, once Rachel and Henry start talking again, mainly thanks to their mutual friend, Lola, and the fact that they have to work together, their friendship begins to pick back up right where they left off. As Rachel continues to struggle with her grief over her brother’s death and Henry contemplates the end of his relationship with Amy, who he believes is the love his life, the two begin to lean on each other in a totally adorable, made-me-swoon kind of way.

Besides getting Henry and Rachel’s POVs, the books is also interspersed with letters from the Letter Library. These letters are between various people but mostly their the letters between George, Henry’s little sister, and a mystery guy named Pytheas; Rachel and Henry; and Henry’s parents. I thought these letters were really cute and a nice addition to the book, especially with the added mystery of Pytheas, though I figured it out pretty early on.

There were definitely times throughout the novel where I wanted to shake Rachel and tell her to stop acting so stupid but I gave her a pass because she’s grieving and besides those few moments I really enjoyed the novel. My only other issue, which is super small, was the random letter from the author in the book. I liked the idea behind it (that the book is kind of like a book in the Letter Library and this was her letter to the readers) but it appeared so abruptly in the novel that it totally took me out of the story.

At first I was confused by it and then I realized what it was and then I had to get back into the story after I read it. It just seemed very strange to me, though I did like the letter itself. Maybe if it came at the beginning of the book or at the very end it would’ve been fine but happening in the middle of the story just didn’t feel right.

Overall though, I really did like this book. If you’re looking for a cute and quick contemporary romance, this book is for you.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“People are not only their bodies. And if there is no hope of saving the things we love in their original form, we must save them however we can.”

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