The Grace Year

⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

the grace year book by kim liggett
Picture from Goodreads

Author: Kim Liggett

Published: October 8, 2019

ISBN: 1250145449

Pages: 416

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

My Mini Review:

This book was a mixture of a female version of Lord of the Flies meets The Hunger Games. It delves into what happens when teenage girls are left to their own devices to survive by whatever means necessary. I found Tierny to be a strong female character who did her best to stay alive even when all odds were stacked against her. The plot was action packed and it kept me engaged and invested throughout. The premise of the story, despite the similarities to the other stories mentioned above, was very unique. I also admit to not having expected some of the plot twists.

Many people seem to have enjoyed this book. I really liked it, all they way until that terrible ending. Usually I don’t mind endings, to me it has always been the journey that matters. But this ending was so bad that it almost negated everything that came before it. Almost, but not quite. I believe there could be some redemption in the next book, if she does end up writing one. I don’t do spoilers, so I won’t say anything else on that matter. I would recommend this book if you are looking for a quick thrilling YA read, and if you are able to deal with an unsatisfying ending.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. However, if you click on my link and end up buying the book Amazon will pay me a small fee. Thank you for supporting a small blog like mine 🙂

Scythe

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

scythe by neil shusterman
Picture from Goodreads

Author: Neil Shusterman

Series: Arc of a Scythe, #1

Published: November 22, 2016

ISBN: 1442472421

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

My Review:

Hope in the shadow of fear is the world’s most powerful motivator”

I can’t believe I waited so long to start reading this series. This was such a great book with a very unique story. I enjoyed how the author went into great detail describing this new world where there is no famine, war, or disease, and everything is controlled by an entity called “The Thunderhead,” which for some reason really reminded me of “The Cloud” I-phones use to store information. Shusterman did a great job explaining all the new terminology, and I did not feel overwhelmed or lost at any point.

There was a lot of character development as Citra and Rowan navigate through the moral and psychological ramifications of taking human lives. Usually I go for the strong female characters, but I couldn’t decide whom I liked best out of these two. Rowan definitely went through the most changes throughout the story, and Citra was so smart and cunning. There was a small romantic aspect here, but it did not take center stage.

Without the threat of suffering, we can’t experience true joy.”

The story was fast paced and action packed, but it also allowed some lulls in between the action for explanations. I especially enjoyed the diary entries from the different Scythes, which gave us a glimpse into their inner thoughts and fears. If you are a fan of YA/Fantasy and you have been putting off reading this story, I highly recommend you read it! You will not regret it. I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the series.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. However, if you click on my link and end up buying the book Amazon will pay me a small fee. Thank you for supporting a small blog like mine 🙂

The Poppy War

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

the poppy war by r.f. kuang

Author: R.F. Kuang

Series: The Poppy War, #1

Published: May 1, 2018

Pages: 644

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

My Mini Review:

War doesn’t determine who’s right. War determines who remains.”

I decided to read this book after reading some of the raving reviews. I didn’t even read the synopsis and just dove right in. I was definitely not expecting such a monumental book, not only is it 644 pages, but the story develops across many years of Rin’s life. When we begin the story Rin is fourteen years old, and by the end she is nineteen. The character development was amazing to say the least. One of my favorite side characters was Kitay, who becomes one of Rin’s best friends. I adored the way he just had to say what was on his mind at all times, and I appreciated his honesty.

Children ceased to be children when you put a sword in their hands.”

I think I should warn you all, since no one ever warned me, that this book is very graphic. It contains explicit descriptions of rape, killing, and it does not discriminate between women or children. I listened to the audio book, and at times I had to stop because it made me very uncomfortable. I do believe the author’s point in doing this was to enrage the reader, just like these heinous acts enraged Rin into taking action. But as a reader, I only ended up feeling powerless and frustrated. I do recommend this book if you can stomach graphic violence, and I believe Kuang has created an amazing work of art depicting the realities of war and the effect it can have on a nation and its people.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. However, if you click on my link and end up buying the book Amazon will pay me a small fee. Thank you for supporting a small blog like mine 🙂

The Starless Sea

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

the starless sea by erin morgenstern
Picture from Goodreads

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Published: November 5th, 2019

Pages: 498

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

My Review:

We are all stardust and stories.”

I admit I’ve never read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern before, and after reading The Starless Sea I might have to. I did hear through the reviewer grape vine that The Starless sea was a good book to listen to as an audio, so I purchased it. I did enjoy the audio, but I think I will purchase the real book for a re-read. One of the main narrators for the audio book had a bit of a monotone voice which made the narrative seem boring and slow at times.

Be brave…Be bold. Be loud. Never change for anyone but yourself. Any soul worth their star-stuff will take the whole package as is and however it grows. Don’t waste your time on anyone who doesn’t believe you when you tell them how you feel.”

I really loved Zachary Ezra Rawlins, the main character. He was so introspective and sweet. I liked that he battled his depression by diving into books. One of my favorite side characters was Eleanor, and I enjoyed her and Simon’s romantic side story. I also really liked Zachary’s friend Kat who refused to give up on him until the end.

The descriptions of the scenery as the story progressed from one scene to another were amazing. The dresses, the dancing, and the music were described in great detail. Then we would be transported to book mazes, ships, and snow covered Inns. I could almost feel the wind and the freezing snow on my face as I read.

Strange, isn’t it? To love a book. When the words on the pages become so precious that they feel like part of your own history because they are.”

This was a book within a book and stories within a story, I’ve never read anything like it. The writing was poetic and entrancing. I was transported to this fairy tale like world containing mysterious books and secret libraries, and honestly I did not want to leave. This story was a book lover’s dream come true, and it’s hard to describe how it was lovely and confusing at the same time. After I was done my mind was spinning in circles, but I will be glad to do a re-read soon. I’m sure even after a few re-reads I will still be a bit confused, but happy. I highly recommend this one to all book worms out there looking to get lost for a while in The Starless Sea.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. However, if you click on my link and end up buying the book Amazon will pay me a small fee. Thank you for supporting a small blog like mine 🙂

Deviate

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Author: Jay Kristoff

Series: Lifelike (#2)

Published: June 25, 2019

Synopsis from Goodreads: **skip this part and go straight to the review if you haven’t read Lifelike, the first book in the series**

Lemon Fresh has seen better days.

After the climactic battle in Babel, she finds herself separated from Ezekiel and Cricket in the wastelands. Lemon’s abilities to manipulate electricity mark her as a deviate, and deadly corporate operatives are hunting her to use as a weapon in the war between BioMaas Incorporated and Daedelus Technologies. Instead, Lemon finds herself falling in with a group of fellow deviates—a band of teenagers with astonishing abilities, led by an enigmatic figure known as the Major, who may hold the secrets to Lemon’s past.

Meanwhile, Cricket finds himself in possession of the puritanical Brotherhood, a religious cult set for a head-on collision with the Major and his band. Searching for Lemon, Ezekiel finds a strange ally in an old enemy, and uncovers a plot that may see him reunited with his beloved Ana.

And inside Babel, a remade Eve hatches a plan to bring an end to the world.

My Mini Review:

Once again I’m in awe of Mr. Kristoff’s writing. How does he do it? Kristoff has created such real and relatable characters in this series, so much so that I’ve even become attached to some of the villains. How does he make up such catchy slang words? True cert, and at the risk of sounding like a total lunatic, I find myself wanting to use these words in real life all the time.

Kristoff also makes you ponder moral, environmental, and life questions as you read, while also inserting lots of humor. He shows you the issues from both sides, and in different characters’ perspectives. I personally love reading post apocalyptic books like these, because I enjoy seeing the different ways humanity would react and adapt to the end of the world as we know it.

I highly recommend this series to all Sci-Fi/ Fantasy fans. The third book in the series, Truelife, will be released June 30, 2020, and I can’t wait!

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. However, if you click on my link and end up buying the book Amazon will pay me a small fee. Thank you for supporting a small blog like mine 🙂

Red, White and Royal Blue

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Author: Casey McQuiston 

Published: May 14, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

ISBN: 1250316774/9781250316776

Synopsis from Goodreads:

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramablefriendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

Maybe there’s more than one dream for you, or more than one way to get there.

June

My Review:

This book was absolutely hilarious. The puns, the analogies and the wit had me laughing out loud the whole time. I kept see this book everywhere on social media alongside raving reviews. I’m happy I finally decided to read it. I also liked the historical background of the story, as well as all the letters from previous gay men and women in history that were provided. I enjoyed the idea that this type of political change could ever be possible in the United States as well as England. Mostly, I would love to live to see the day when there is a sitting female President of the United States.

I kind of fell in love with Prince Henry. I believe this was inevitable because his character is so likeable, and Alex’s descriptions of Henry were so full of affection…eventually. At first, they’re mortal enemies, and this enemies to lovers trope is also one of my favorites. I liked Alex as well, although his personality was a bit too much at times, which I think he was also aware of which helped a bit. I could also have done with a bit less angst, pining, and introspective musings from both of them. I did love all of Alex’s Harry Potter references, he took “The Prisoner of Azkaban” with him on one of the flights and I was in love with him too then 🙂

Not only did I love Henry and Alex’s relationship, I also really enjoyed how they interacted with June, Nora, Pez, and Bea. My favorite minor character was June, I liked how down to earth and supportive she was. Another minor negative for me was I thought the ending was a bit dragged out and I could’ve done without a lot of that. This book had me wishing we actually lived in a world where political changes like this could be possible, it had me thinking maybe they are within our reach. Love is love. 

A bit of a warning, the sex scenes were not SUPER explicit but there were some details mentioned as well as a lot of language used. It’s not as much detail as I’ve encountered in other books, but it’s there, so be warned. I apologize for how many times I wrote the word “love” in this review I just really really enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a feel-good Contemporary Romance, I highly recommend this one.

Geekerella Mini Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

geekerella book by Ashley poston
Picture from Goodreads

She wears life like Elvis wore sequins, with no apology laced into the seams.”

Elle

Geekerella (Once Upon a Con, #1) by Ashley Poston was a fun and entertaining take on Cinderella. I personally love fairy tale retellings, and this modern take on it was no exception. Darien and Elle are two lonely teenagers trying to figure out who they really are in a world set on sticking a label on them. This story was fast paced, and once I started reading it was hard for me to stop. Sage was one of my favorite characters, she was strong and confident and lived life with no apologies. (the quote above was about her) I liked the character growth for both Darien and Elle. I especially liked that they were both eventually able to speak up and stand up for themselves.

I’m strapped to the pilot chair of my life, and my hands are tied.”

Darien

I took off one star from my rating for two reasons. First, the relationship between Elle and Sage felt forced at first. Suddenly this girl (Sage) that has never crossed two words with Elle wants to talk to her? AND she happens to have amazing sewing skills? Second, I don’t like it when girls fall in love with guys they barely know. Elle and Darien just shared a few texts and all of a sudden they were in love, but I guess it wouldn’t be a fairy tale if they weren’t. Overall, I loved this whole geeky world and how the author shines a light on the fact that just because you “cosplay” or dress up as one of your favorite characters, doesn’t mean pieces of your true self can’t shine through. Sometimes pretending to be someone else can help you figure out who you truly are.

Starlight, star bright, you can be anyone you want to be tonight.”

Elle’s Dad

I love Poston’s writing, and I will definitely be reading the next book in this series. Did you read the book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Aristotle and Dante Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin alire saenz
My bookstagram

I didn’t understand how you could live in a mean world and not have any of that meanness rub off on you.”

Ari

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz was an amazing read. I started reading this book one afternoon and was surprised to find myself finishing it up at 1:30 AM that same night. I was unable to put it down, and when I absolutely had to in order to do things like cook, eat, and take care of my two children, I switched to the audio book and had it plugged into one ear all day. I became so invested in these kids’ lives, which is my main problem when I read Contemporary Fiction. I keep having to remind myself that these are fictional characters, something I never have to do when I read Fantasy or Sci-Fi. But mainly this was just exceptional writing which kept me engaged and almost hypnotized.

One of the secrets of the universe was that our instincts were sometimes stronger than our minds.”

Ari

The first thing I realized while reading this book, was that Ari was just like me. I really wanted to know what would happen to this dark and heavily guarded boy. On the other hand, Dante was a lot like my husband, right down to his aversion to wearing shoes. Needless to say these characters were well developed and relatable. I could also relate to Ari’s family in many ways, one of the few differences being mine are Cuban and his were Mexican.

But I had learned to hide what I felt. No, that’s not true. There was no learning involved. I had been born knowing how to hide what I felt.”

Ari

The story follows these two boys through their last two years of High School, and two unforgettable Summers. The depiction of High School was so real, it really took me back to the days with no smart phones and limited phone access. Summer is also my favorite season, and I enjoyed their mundane way of spending it. Just two boys going swimming at the local community center, reading, and playing made up games. Those were the simple days, but also the complicated ones because it is the age when we attempt to figure out who we are. I recommend this book to anyone wishing to figure out the secrets of the universe along with these two amazing characters.

Illuminae Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Illuminae book by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
My Bookstagram

Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

I would rather be numb than stand here in the light of a sun that can never chase the chill away.”

aidan

I have so many thoughts on this book that I’m struggling to put them all into coherent sentences. First, let’s start with the formatting. I struggled with it at first, but once I got used to it it read like any other book. I actually thought this book was an amazing work of art. It is comprised of emails, messages, descriptions of camera footage, audio recordings, pictures, and many other types of files.

You’re a speck of animated carbon and water with about seven centimeters of ballistics-grade ceramic between you and absolutely nothing. Ninety three billion light years of *ing nothing. No up. No down. No sky. No ground. Just endless dark shot through with tiny spears of sunlight older than you and your entire species stacked end to end. You want to feel small? Spend sixty seconds in a Cyclone’s cockpit…look out at nothing and feel it looking back. Then you know exactly how much you add up to.”

Ezra

The story is mostly set in space, which was described really well in my opinion (see quote above). Other than describing the inside and outside of the ships in perfect poetic detail, there was not much more world building to be done. We also get some maps of the ships as a reference. The main characters were adequately described, but I could have done with a bit more detail. The dialogue was where this book excelled, which is a very good thing since it was mostly dialogue. Conversations were full of humor and sarcasm in the midst of chaos, and they read like an action packed movie. I could almost hear the characters catching their breath as they talked, whispering, and shouting or screaming. It was very well done.

Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”

aiden

The romance aspect of the book was great, and it did not take over the whole plot. I loved Kady and Ezra and I was rooting for them the whole time. They fought like a real couple, they compromised over their differences, and overall their relationship was very realistic. Emotions were described in such great detail that everything they could feel I also could. Their fear gave me chills, and their grief was so real it almost made me cry at times, but I don’t cry easily.

Part of being alive is having life change us. The people around us, the events we live through, all of them shape us.”

kady

I went into this book not really knowing what to expect and having no idea about what the plot really entailed, and I think that was the way to go. Many of the events caught me by surprise, and it was very refreshing to read something so different from the other stories I usually read. This book has definitely made me want more SCI-FI in my life, and I will be reading the second and third installments as soon as I can. I would recommend this series to everyone. Read it! I really don’t know why I waited so long.

The universe owes you nothing…it has already given you everything. After all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is if you do something worthy of remembrance.”

aidan

WWW Wednesday

This is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words where you answer three questions: What are you reading now? What did you just read? What will you be reading next? I love these posts, they help me organize myself for the rest of the week.

Illuminae book by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Picture taken by me

What I’m reading now:

I’m currently still reading a hardback of Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. It’s an awesome read for now, and I can’t believe I had never read it. I’m also reading the e-ARC of The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young. i I was super excited for this one, because I really loved Sky in the Deep, also by her. Lastly, I recently started the King of Scars audio book written by Leigh Bardugo and narrated by Lauren Fortgang. I haven’t gotten too far into that one, but I love the Grishaverse and I hope this won’t disappoint.

daughter of the siren queen by tricia levenseller
My bookstagram

What I just read:

I just read Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller. It was a nice fast paced romantic adventure. You can read my mini review here.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Picture taken by me

What I plan to read next:

Once I’m done with the Illuminae hardback, I’m planning to pick up Children of Blood and Bone next…yes finally!!

What are you guys currently reading?