Binged It: The Shatter Me Trilogy

I love series, but I hate waiting for the next book in a series to be released. That’s why I love discovering series that are already finished so I can just binge read the whole series from beginning to end. With that concept in mind I decided to do a new series of blog posts called “Binged It” in which I tell you all about a series of books I’ve recently binged and why I loved or hated it. So here we go.

Number of books: 3 (4 including the novellas bind-up; there will be three more books in the series)

Overall rating: 4/5 stars

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

First of all, the Shatter Me trilogy isn’t actually a trilogy anymore, it’s a series. There will be three more books released, beginning with Restore Me which is coming out on March 6. But I still wanted to binge these books since they’ve been sitting on my shelves for over a year and I wanted to see what the hype was all about.

Thankfully, the hype was well deserved. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it follows Juliette Ferrars who’s been locked up because her touch can literally kill people. However, she’s freed by Warner, who wants to turn her ability into a weapon to help the Establishment, the new government that’s taken over the world. In this dystopian world, the environment has been decimated and the Establishment was supposed to help the world recover and rebuild, but of course that wasn’t what happened at all. Instead, most people are still poor and struggling to survive, while the Establishment does more harm than good.

So, you have Juliette, the heroine, Warner, the villain, and then there’s Adam, a guy from Juliette’s past, who’s obviously the love interest. Except, is anything ever really that simple? No, of course not. This trilogy was filled with twists and even though I was prepared for one because of spoilers, I was still shocked by a few others.

What I loved most about this book was how the author Tahereh Mafi, effectively used the crossing out of some sentences and words in the text for the plot. Juliette keeps a journal in which she wrote down her thoughts while she was locked away and in it she often crossed out her thoughts just like they were crossed out in the books, and I found that so interesting. I’m also really interested to see how that works in an audiobook, because for me I did read everything that was crossed out. It was just a really interesting writing style and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also loved the characters. Juliette did annoy me at some points, but overall I really liked her. I don’t want to spoil anything by going into my feelings about the other characters, but I will say that I really liked Kenji, a character who becomes Juliette’s good friend. He was a great source of comic relief and I just want him to find his own happiness in these next three books. Also, the romance was great in this book. It gave me all the feels, and there was a good amount of angst and steamy scenes, but not so much that I was irritated.

Honestly, this trilogy really surprised me. I haven’t read a dystopian novel in a long time and I wasn’t sure I would enjoy these but I really loved them. I’m excited to see what the next three books have in store.

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ARC Book Review: Love, Hate, & Other Filters

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Synopsis:

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Purchase From:

Amazon, 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 Jan. 16, 2018.*

Love, Hate, and Other Filters provided a perspective that is unfortunately not seen often in YA literature. The novel follows Maya Aziz, an American-born teen who comes from an Indian and Muslim family. From the very start of the novel Maya struggles to find her footing in her two worlds, especially as she prepares to graduate high school and head to college.

Maya hopes to go to New York University (NYU) to follow her dreams to be a filmmaker, but her parents would prefer she stay close to home and attend a school in the midwest (where her family currently resides). Similarly, her parents would also like her to one day marry an Indian man, not someone like Phil, the white guy Maya is currently crushing on.

I thought Samira Ahmed did a great job of presenting Maya’s inner conflict as she tried to determine what was best for her while also struggling to do what her parents wanted her to do. However, because of the synopsis, which also noted that there would be terrorist attack that would greatly affect Maya’s life, I felt the first half of the novel went a little slow.

I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop (the terrorist attack), and was left wondering why the story was taking so long to get to, what I thought, would be the main conflict of the story. Then once the attack did happen the story went quite quickly and a lot began happening all at once. The back half of the novel ended up being much more fast paced than first half, however I was a bit shocked by how the novel ended, particularly the actions of Maya’s parents.

Up to the end, I found the way Maya’s parents acted and what they wanted for Maya was understandable, albeit stifling for Maya. Even after the terrorist attack, I understood why they did certain things, particularly out of fear. What I didn’t understand was their vehement feelings towards Maya’s decision about college at the very end. To me, it felt way out of character for the parents, who, throughout the novel, I found to be set in their ways but not outrageous. It just seemed like the book took a crazy turn at the end and then once this occurred the parents aren’t seen again, though the mom is mentioned once.

That plot point aside, I did enjoy Maya as a character. I thought she definitely made some mistakes that I couldn’t fully understand, but overall she was pretty level headed. I also really enjoyed her romance with Phil and her friendship with Violet. I actually would’ve loved to have seen more of Violet, because she was hilarious. I also loved Maya’s aunt, Hina. She was so supportive and felt more like an older sister to Maya than an aunt to me.

Lastly, Ahmed did a great job handling the terrorist attack in the story. I was surprised by how it played out, and I liked the third person point of views that were interwoven between chapters, giving insight into the impending attack and then more insight after it happened. That was an interesting part of this book that I didn’t expect and really liked.

Overall, I didn’t love this book as much as I wanted to, but I think it’s a pretty good read and it’s a perspective that I was definitely interested in learning more about and I feel like I did learn from it. So for that alone I do recommend checking it out when it’s released.

Borrow or Buy: While I enjoyed this book I don’t think I’d reread it so it’d have to be a borrow for me.

Stars:

3 stars

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ARC Book Review: The Cruel Prince

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Synopsis:

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from The Novl. 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 Jan. 2, 2018.*

I’ve never read a Holly Black novel before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this novel. All I knew was there would be faeries, who are super in right now, and that Black is considered a queen in the YA fantasy world. That was enough for me to be interested.

The prologue of this story sucked me in immediately, as it made it clear very quickly that this would not be a book that sugarcoated the world of the fey. Instead, this story jumped right in with the bloodshed and I was totally here for it. But then the story slowed down a bit. Jude, the narrator and protagonist of the story, is a human who grew up in the world of Faerie and all she wants is to be accepted among them. To do so, she hopes to participate in a tournament so she can become a knight. Differently, her twin sister, Taryn, hopes to marry into a Fey family. Their elder sister, Vivi, would rather have nothing to do with the fey, even though she’s actually half-fey.

As much as I loved the family and school dynamics that played out in the beginning of the novel, after the bloodshed in the prologue, I was a little blood thirsty. I wanted to jump right back into the action and get to the good stuff. However, although there was a little wait to get there when Black went there she really went there. The second half of the novel was filled with so many twists and betrayals that I realized, like Jude, I made the mistake of forgetting that we were still in the world of Faerie, and while the fey can’t technically lie that doesn’t stop them from being ruthless.

This book totally blew my mind, especially in the last 150 pages, and once it got to the good stuff, I couldn’t put it down. I was on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what Jude would do next, in order to protect herself and her family, and I was not disappointed. What I loved most about this book, was how even though Jude and Taryn are human, you can see how they learned how to play the games of the Fey, and how they got quite good at it.

The ending of this book left me shook and I absolutely must know what happens next. Definitely pick up The Cruel Prince once it’s released; you won’t regret it.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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Book Review: The Light We Lost

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Synopsis:

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I wanted to love this book. I really did. I thought the premise was great and I’m a sucker for a tragic love story. But unlike Will and Lou in Me Before You, I found Lucy and Gabe to be totally unlikable characters.

The novel is told in the point of view of Lucy, who’s telling the story to Gabe. The story is of their love, beginning with how they met on September 11, 2001 and all the events that followed. I think anyone who was alive on that day, especially if they lived in New York City, remembers where they were on 9/11. It’s just something you can’t forget. So in this way, I could see why Lucy and Gabe felt such a strong connection to each other. On a day that was filled with such darkness, they were able to find light with each other. It’s truly a romantic idea.

However, I don’t think their intense connection excused their actions. I tried desperately to feel sympathetic, or rather, empathetic, towards the two of them but I just couldn’t support their decisions, beginning with the way Gabe informed Lucy he was leaving New York to be a photojournalist in the Middle East. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was the worst possible time for him to tell her that, but he was too selfish to care. Similarly, Lucy was too irrational to think through her decisions later on, whenever it came to Gabe.

There were definitely some nice moments in this book that I enjoyed and the writing itself was definitely beautiful, but overall, I was disappointed with this novel. If you’ve read The Light We Lost, let me know your thoughts on it below!

Borrow or Buy: Borrow!

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“He said not only would he not break you, that he’d help put you back together.”

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Book Review: So B. It

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Synopsis

She doesn’t know when her birthday is or who her father is. In fact, everything about Heidi and her mentally disabled mother’s past is a mystery. When a strange word in her mother’s vocabulary begins to haunt her, Heidi sets out on a cross-country journey in search of the secrets of her past.

Far away from home, pieces of her puzzling history come together. But it isn’t until she learns to accept not knowing that Heidi truly arrives.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

Full disclosure, I’m currently studying at The New School and Sarah Weeks, the author of this book, is my professor. That being said, I really enjoyed this book.

Prior to taking Sarah’s class, I was aware of this book but I don’t think I ever read it, or if I did, I don’t remember it. The story follows Heidi, who lives with her mother, So B. It, and their neighbor, Bernie. Heidi’s mother is mentally disabled and can only say a few words, but one day she says a new word, “Soof,” and Heidi can’t get it out of her head.

Soon after, she finds an old photo of her mother, who’s pregnant with Heidi at the time, and a bunch of others at a Christmas party. Heidi notices the name of the place where the party is taking place and decides she most go there to finally get some answers about where she and her mother came from. If you’re wondering how a young girl could make such an incredible journey, it’s all because of her luck.

Heidi is just lucky. No one knows why, that’s just how it is. Using her “power” she’s able to get money from slot machines to pay for her necessities and just happens to know the right people to follow onto the bus so she doesn’t look suspicious. Through her journey Heidi learns more than she ever bargained for and afterwards, her life is never the same.

What I loved about this book was Heidi’s little family with her mom and Bernie. While her mother suffers from an unnamed illness, Bernie suffers from agoraphobia, which means she can’t leave the house. This is another reason why Heidi has to be so independent; there are a lot of things she just has to do on her own. But I loved how even though this isn’t a “traditional family” you could still see all the love in it. While this story definitely broke my heart in some ways, I still laughed and my heart felt full while reading. That being said, I’m very happy Sarah’s writing a sequel because I want to know what happens next for Heidi.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, but I’m not sure I would read it again. This is a story I think every one should read, but for the sake of my emotions, I don’t think I could read it twice.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“You can’t miss what you don’t remember ever having.”

ARC Book Review: Mary Rose

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Synopsis:

Mary Rose Moreland and Simon Blake are the perfect couple: successful young professionals in Philadelphia, attractive, madly in love, and ready to start a life together. When they travel to England for Simon to ask her parents’ permission to marry Mary Rose, he learns an unsettling secret: Mary Rose disappeared when she was a little girl while the family was vacationing on a remote Scottish island. She reappeared mysteriously thirty-three days later in the exact same spot without a scratch on her and no memory of what had happened.

After Simon hears about this disturbing episode in Mary Rose’s childhood, he becomes obsessed with finding out what happened. He proceeds to launch his own investigation and arranges during their honeymoon for them to visit the island where she disappeared. But as Mary Rose’s behavior gets stranger after their engagement, the need for Simon to unlock the truth about her past grows even more urgent. What he uncovers is beyond his most terrifying fears.

Mary Rose is author Geoffrey Girard’s chilling and modern take on a classic ghost story originally written by J. M. Barrie. And for years, master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock attempted to adapt Mary Rose into a film but was never successful. With this novel, Girard taps into the nightmarish fears that inspired both Barrie and Hitchcock, while also bringing the story to the present day with his own unique voice.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Adaptive Books. 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 out today, exclusively at Barnes & Noble.*

Mary Rose isn’t the kind of book I typically read. It was weird and strange and mysterious, and I was so intrigued I just had to keep reading until the end. Mary Rose is a mystery wrapped up in the shell of woman. She’s beautiful, but there’s clearly something off about her. Her boyfriend, Simon, however, doesn’t mind that at all. In fact, it seems to make him more infatuated with her.

When Simon and Mary Rose take a trip to her childhood home in England, Simon learns that Mary Rose disappeared for 33 days when she was child, on an island in Scotland. There was no explanation for her disappearance or how she suddenly reappeared, seemingly fine. For some reason, Mary’s parents were content with not knowing, and though they took her to psychologists over the years, eventually they just resigned themselves to the fact that they’d never really know.

Still, Mary Rose clearly had issues. Even though she couldn’t remember what happened to her on that island, she had nightmares and drew very strange drawings all the time. What I loved about this novel is that this story toes the line of realism and fantasy. I wasn’t sure if Mary Rose was taken to some magical land for the 33 days or if a regular human person had taken her. I also wasn’t sure if the island was this really scary place or if it just became that because of all the stories people told about it.

As I kept reading, just like Simon, I needed to know what happened to Mary Rose. Why was she the way she was? Was she even a real person or something else entirely? And was there a reason why Simon, and seemingly all the men around her, were attracted to Mary Rose, or was that just a coincidence? All these questions are what made the book fun for me, because I was intrigued by the mystery and I felt thoroughly satisfied by the answers given at the end.

My biggest frustration with the novel was definitely the characters. While I could understand why Simon was interested in learning what happened to Mary Rose, I honestly couldn’t understand why he stuck by her side for so long or didn’t get her help. Maybe love is just blind, but the things Mary did would make me run for the hills or at least offer up an ultimatum, that she either needed to see a doctor or the relationship was over.

I also just couldn’t sympathize with Mary Rose, but I’m not sure I was supposed to. The novel is told in close third person, switching between Simon and Mary. Mary was definitely going through a hard time, but the way she handled a lot of things bothered me. Really, I just wanted this woman to see a therapist throughout the entirety of the novel and it bothered me that the only explanation for why she didn’t was because she went before and that didn’t work out for strange reasons. Still, I understand this was also a plot device so I can forgive the author for this, but it did bother me.

Overall, I recommend this novel if you’re into mysteries and a fan of Alfred Hitchcock. There’s a short essay in the back that explains the history of Mary Rose, which I found very interesting since I took an Alfred Hitchcock class in college, and I could definitely see why this story would’ve interested him. It was also interesting to see how this story started as a play and then the screenplay written for Hitchcock to now this book. I liked the changes Geoffrey Girard made and I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed this novel if it was told in the original way.

Therefore, read the book if you like mysteries and questions about the supernatural. If you’re not into that kind of thing, I’d say skip this one. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it is enjoyable.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. I probably won’t read it again, but it’s perfect for Halloween.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“Better to know the blow that was coming at you than let it catch you unawares.”

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.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Book Depository

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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