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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Book Review: Warcross

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Synopsis:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I am a big fan of Marie Lu so it broke my heart that I missed the opportunity to get an ARC of her newest novel, Warcross, at BookCon. However, the wait was totally worth it and now I’m kind of glad I didn’t get to read it early because I NEED THE SEQUEL YESTERDAY!

Okay, so this is going to be a brief, vague review because I don’t want to spoil anything or give anything away. Here’s what you need to know, besides the fact that you absolutely must read this book immediately. The protagonist is Emika and the story is told solely from her point of view and this is the first story Lu has done in this style and I absolutely loved it.

At the start of the novel, Emika is struggling. She’s broker than broke and unfortunately her one shot at getting the money she needed to pay her rent slips right through her fingers. Because of this, she ends up attempting to do a very risky hack during the opening ceremony of the international Warcross championships. Warcross is this crazy virtual game that pretty much every one in the world plays using these glasses with what’s called Neurolink. Essentially, the glasses let you escape the real world and enter the world of Warcross.

Emika’s hack goes awry, however, and she ends up revealing herself to the world. But instead of getting arrested (again), Warcross creator Hideo decides to hire her to try to find Zero, a hacker that’s threatening the game. Next thing she knows she’s on one of the international teams competing in the Warcross games while on the hunt for Zero, who she soon realizes is more dangerous than she first thought.

Filled with action, romance, and twists that kept me up late reading because I COULDN’T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN, Warcross is one of my favorite books by Lu (The Midnight Star is still my all-time fave). I can’t wait to see what happens next in this incredible world she’s created and there’s so much more I want to know about these characters. If you haven’t picked up Warcross yet, I highly recommend you pick it up ASAP and then come back here so we can discuss that ending.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it immediately!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact.”

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Book Review: When It’s Real

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Synopsis:

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There’s nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star’s got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he’s settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley’s image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She’ll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there’s no telling what your heart will do…

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I haven’t read The Royals series by Erin Watt, but I’d seen When It’s Real floating around Instagram for a while so when I was browsing the Strand, I impulsively decided to buy a copy, book buying ban be damned. Thankfully, it was totally worth the buy because I absolutely could not put it down and when I finished it I reread it again. Yeah, it’s that good.

The story is told in the alternating POVs of Oakley and Vaughn, beginning with Oakley. As is unfortunately the case with a lot child stars, Oakley has now become known more for his outrageous parties and the revolving door of women entering his bedroom than his music. It’s been a few years since he released his last album and his manager informs him that the only way he’ll be able to work with the best producer in the biz is to change his image.

What better way to do that than to date an average nice girl? Enter Vaughn. Her elder sister just happens to work at the management company that reps Oakley and when Oakley’s manager sees a pic of Vaughn, he believes she’s the perfect girl for the job. There’s only one problem, she has a boyfriend. And also, she doesn’t want to do it.

But Vaughn is then made a offer she can’t, in good conscience, refuse. Thus begins her fake relationship with Oakley. Typically, it takes a lot for be to behind a fake relationship story. There has to be a good enough reason for it, and in this case I thought there was.

What I loved about this fake relationship story was although I figured Vaughn and Oakley would end up together this didn’t feel like an insta-love story to me. You actually get to see Oakley and Vaughn slowly realize there’s more to each other than the other realized. Additionally, I liked that this wasn’t really a love triangle kind of story either. I won’t spoil it, but I’d be surprised if you find yourself rooting for Vaughn’s boyfriend.

Overall, I really enjoyed everything about this story. Vaughn was super relatable and I loved her family. Oakley was totally swoonworthy and the steamy scenes were perfect. Also, the plot was really well done and I loved how this story ended because it did surprise me a little bit. So if you haven’t read this book yet I highly recommend picking it up.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“The good ones put your character to the flame and burn away all the rest of the shit until you come out a better you. She’s one of the good ones.”

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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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Novella Review: Clipped Wings Novellas

Earlier this month I got sucked into the Clipped Wings series by Helena Hunting. After I finished the second book in the duology, I wanted more and thankfully Hunting provided that in the form of numerous novellas. Because there are a lot of them and they’re all pretty short, I’m going to do one round up review of all them. So settle in for a trip into this world of tattoos and romance.

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Cupcakes and Ink

In this novella, we meet the duology’s main characters, Hayden and Tenley, prior to the start of Clipped Wings. Told in both of their POVs, this novella simply shows where their infatuation with each other began. Personally, I could’ve done without reading this one. It didn’t really add anything to the story for me. That’s not to say it was bad; I just didn’t see the purpose of this story.

Stars: 2/5

Between the Cracks

This novella is told in the POV of Chris, one of Hayden’s friends and coworkers. Similar to Hayden, Chris has a troubled past. However, now that he’s been able to capture the eye of Sarah, the woman he’s been infatuated with for a while now, he’s trying to make his relationship with her work.

Between the Cracks take place right after (spoiler!) Tenley leaves Hayden at the end of Clipped Wings. Hayden decides to try to bring her back, but ends up in some trouble, which is where Chris steps in. After their journey, Chris returns home to Sarah and there’s a little smut to make this story worthwhile.

Stars: 4/5

Cracks in the Armor

At first this short story really bugged me because it ends with no answers. Told in Chris and Sarah’s POV, this novella takes place after the end of Inked Armor, and Chris and Sarah’s relationship is still rocky… and it’s not fixed by the end of the novella. Hence, my problem with this novella. However, it turns out there’s a reason for that.

These two actually got their own book (Fractures in Ink), which I now own and plan on reading ASAP. Besides the annoying end, I really liked this story, hence why I bought the book. I need more of these characters in my life!

Stars: 3/5

Get Inked

I wasn’t sure I’d like this novella because it’s a crossover with Hunting’s other series, Pucked. However, I actually ended up really enjoying. Even though I was unfamiliar with a lot of the characters because I haven’t read the other series, Hunting was still able to quickly pull me into their stories without making me feel like I was playing catch up. Because this novella involves a lot of characters there are also a lot of different POVs, and at points I sometimes felt the characters were too similar.

However, Hunting played into that a little, especially by having her two female leads (Tenley and Lily) joke about how their boyfriends (Hayden and Randy) were so similar, mainly in appearance. Besides that, this novel had a decent amount of smut, which is always fun, and I was intrigued enough by the Pucked characters to consider giving the series a read.

Lastly, it’s worth noting this novella also takes place after Inked Armor.

Stars: 5/5

Borrow or Buy: Overall, I would buy all these mainly because most of them were free or 99 cents, and I think they’re all worth at least that much.

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:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

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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Book Review: Poison Study (Reread)

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Synopsis:

Murder, mayhem and magic…

Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman’s noose.

But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia’s food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander’s food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.

Purchase From:

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Review

I first read Poison Study back when I was in high school (over six years ago), and I absolutely loved it. When I read it the first time, the series was only a trilogy and I immediately read all the books and the read the spinoff Glass trilogy, which was also amazing. Then the author, Maria V. Snyder, decided to bless us with three more books in the series.

However, since I hadn’t read the first three books in years I knew I would have to reread them before I dived into the new books, but I put it off for a while because WHO HAS TIME TO REREAD?! Thankfully, audiobooks exist and I was finally able to listen to Poison Study, and it turns out that I still really enjoy the book.

The main character, Yelena, is still just as amazing and kick ass as I remember, and her love interest, Valek, is just as swoonworthy (though I was trying to figure just how old he is since Yelena is 18 at best). I liked how their relationship was a little bit of a slow burn, but totally worth the wait. I also forgot about a lot of characters that I loved like the magician, Iris.

All in all, I’m so excited to be rereading this series and getting to see how Yelena and Valek’s story continues in the new books. The only issue I had was on the audiobook, music plays at the start of each chapter, which I thought was annoying. It was totally unnecessary and while I’d like to listen to the next book, Magic Study, I don’t know if I can deal with that music again. We’ll see what happens.

If you haven’t given this series a read yet, I definitely recommend it. It’s a great fantasy series filled with intrigue, mystery, plot twists, and a bit of romance. You’ll love it!

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“But you’ve slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart.”

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