Long Time No Blog

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It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? I have been quite busy in my offline life but that isn’t entirely the whole story. I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to, I’m in a bit of a reading slump and even when I have finished books I haven’t felt like reviewing them. So I guess I’m in a bit of a blogging slump as well. However, I still love reading. Of course, I do. And I would like to bring this blog back to life. So this is what I’ll do. I will expand my blog beyond just book reviews to other bookish topics. This was always the plan, I just kind of forgot about it. So I’ll be posting more discussion posts on books and the book community, doing some fun tags, and whatever other bookish topics I can think of. (Feel free to suggest some ideas in the comments below!) This is really just a quick post to explain why I haven’t been blogging and what I’m planning on doing to bring this blog back to life. So thank you for reading this little update.

Have you ever been in a reading and/or blogging slump? How did you deal with your slumps? Let me know in the comments below!

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My Favorite Books of 2017

2017

What a year. It had a lot of ups and downs. But now it’s over and we’re all hoping for better in 2018. Reading-wise, however, the year was amazing for me. I read a lot of wonderful books and I’m going to mention them in this post. Note that these are not necessarily books published in 2017, just books I’ve read this year. I’d also like to give a special shoutout to those who ran #DiversityBingo2017, for bringing so many wonderful, diverse books into my life. Thank you so much.

Without further ado, let’s get to the books. There’s 14 of them on this list.

14. The Beast of Callaire by Saruuh Kelsey

Summary: 

Yasmin is a descendant of the Manticore. A creature of Persian mythology. A Legendary.

But she doesn’t want to be. Unlike the Legendaries in The Red, Yasmin wants nothing more than an ordinary life. She tries to fool herself into believing that she doesn’t change into a beast every full moon and savagely kill innocent people.

But when Yasmin starts hearing a voice in her head and is drawn into dreams that aren’t her own, she is led to Fray—a girl who once saved Yasmin from hunters, who has shadowy memories that hint at her having Legendary magic—and Yasmin is catapulted into a life of Majick and malevolence.

Despite the danger around her and Fray, Yasmin might finally have a chance at being a normal girl with a normal girlfriend. But with Legendaries being killed, a war between the Gods brewing, and the beast inside Yasmin becoming stronger each moon, her mundane life is little more than a dream

(via Goodreads).

Why it’s on the list: This book has a well-developed world with well-written characters. The plot keeps you on the edge of your seat. The book also has POC and LGBT+ characters. It features a f/f relationship between two of the main characters. It’s full of diversity and is an amazing book. To see more of my thoughts on this book, check out my Goodreads review.

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

13. Pick Me Up by Adil Dad

Summary: 

Pick Me Up is designed to take you through a journey of enlightenment, featuring a collection of poetry which explores life, faith, self-love and growth. Also features travel photography by Adil Dad, along with interactive prompts which allow you to interact with the book in exciting new ways.

“this isn’t a book, its an experience” – Reema A

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: This book is truly a pick me up. A much needed one. I read it in one sitting and because of that it’s kind of a blur but I remember enjoying it a lot. It made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me feel. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone needing a pick me up.

Goodreads Link/Amazon Link/Barnes and Noble Link

12. The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace

Summary: 

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: Yet another poetry book I loved this year. The writing is beautiful, so much so that I put this book on my beautiful writing shelf on Goodreads. I only put the books with the most wonderful writing on that shelf. Like Pick Me Up, I read this in one sitting so it’s a bit of a blur. However, I remember absolutely loving it. The themes of feminism and self love are amazing and I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone needing more confidence, especially women.

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

11. Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

Summary: 

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: This book is just plain fun! There are plenty of superhero shenanigans to enjoy. The characters are amazing. The plot is fast-paced and interesting. The book is an #ownvoices book, and has main characters of color and if I’m remembering correctly some secondary characters who are LGBT+. The diversity in this book is amazing, as is everything else about it. Check it out! If you want to know more of my thoughts on this book, read my review. 

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

10. Sappho’s Fables, volume one by Elora Bishop and Jennifer Diemer

Summary: 

The Sappho’s Fables series takes well-known, beloved fairy tales and retells them from a lesbian perspective. Volume One contains the first three novellas in the series: SEVEN (Snow White), BRAIDED (Rapunzel) and CRUMBS (Hansel and Gretel), compiled together in an enchanting omnibus edition.

* SEVEN: A Lesbian Snow White
The strange witch girl Neve has skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and a dark secret. Her father Lexander, an alchemist, harbors an evil obsession, and Catalina, his newest bride, made the grave mistake of becoming his wife. When Catalina finds herself falling in love with his daughter, Neve, instead, the deepening bond between the women sets in motion the final chapter of a story that began long ago, with a desperate longing and a handful of apple seeds. Together, Neve and Catalina must venture into the Huntsman’s haunted forest to undo what has been done and set themselves free.

* BRAIDED: A Lesbian Rapunzel
Zelda is cursed to spend her days on a platform in an ancient, holy tree, growing her hair long enough to touch the ground. But it wasn’t her curse to bear: Gray, the witch’s daughter, was meant for that lonely fate. Gray visits Zelda each day, mourning their switched fates, and falling deeper in love with the cursed girl, until one night, at the Not-There Fair, an extraordinary creature outlines a magical plan that could set both of them free. Will Gray’s love for Zelda be strong enough to survive the strange dream world of Chimera, or will Zelda remain a prisoner of the curse forever?

* CRUMBS: A Lesbian Hansel and Gretel
Greta’s never ventured beyond the refuge of the Heap. Outside, the Ragers lurk, ever hungry and hunting. But Greta and her brother, half-starved and now alone, must risk death for the dream of safety they hope to find within the metal forest. Once there, nothing is as it seems: in the confines of a crumbling old candy factory, the woman who rescues them with sweet words and sweeter treats harbors a dangerous secret

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: I had to put it on the list. I mean, come on, f/f fairytales? What’s more my taste than that? I thoroughly enjoyed every story in this collection. I thought that all of the stories were inventive takes on the original fairytales. They weren’t just the original fairytales rewritten with a f/f relationship. They were true retellings where the writers really made the stories their own. I definitely recommend this collection to anyone. It is also #ownvoices so that’s great. If you’d like to know more of my thoughts, check out my review.

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

9. The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis

Summary: 

After dropping out of university and breaking up with her girlfriend of three years, Chris Morrison’s life is now a mind-numbing mess. She doubts that working at the small neighborhood bookstore is going to change that. The rest of her time is spent mostly playing guitar and ignoring the many messages her mother keeps sending her about going back to college.
But one day, an adorable and charming new bookseller waltzes her way into Chris’s life. Josie Navarro is sweet, flirty, and she always has a new book in her hands. The two girls start a fast friendship that, for Chris, holds the promise of something more. But is she reading too much into this or is it possible that Josie feels the same way?

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: Another one that simply had to make this list. An adorable ff romance that takes place in a bookstore? Two of my favorite things in one. So of course this book made the list. In addition to that, the characters are great and the writing is great. The plot isn’t terribly exciting but that’s often the case with contemporaries (at least for me). I also appreciate not only the LGBT+ representation, but the representation of POC.

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link not available

8. The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

Summary: 

A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: This book reminded me not only of Jumanji but also of Labyrinth, which is one of my absolute favorite movies. However, it’s not only the similarities to that movie (and Jumanji), but the differences that make this book amazing. The characters are wonderful. The world is unique and interesting. The writing is beautiful. This book is also #ownvoices for both representation of POC and Muslim representation. For more of my thoughts on this book, check out my review. 

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

7. Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Summary: 

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Why it’s on the list: I absolutely love this series. It’s one of the few contemporary series/books I truly love. And this final installment is no exception. I loved everything about this book. The characters, the plot, the writing. Everything is amazing. This book is also #ownvoices for representation of POC. For more of my thoughts on this book, check out my review. 

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

6. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Summary: “There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centres. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below. . . . And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.”

Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose. A man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe — the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind.

And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move.

Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: This book describes a truly original dystopian world. It has some similarities to other worlds in the genre, but overall it is unique and amazingly so. The characters are great, the plot is exciting, the writing is beautiful. I cannot recommend this book enough. Read it, you won’t regret it. This book is also #ownvoices for indigenous Australian representation. For more of my thoughts on this book, check out my review. 

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

5. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Summary: 

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: This book is so important, so wonderful. I said in my Goodreads review that if I ever found the words to explain how, I’d write a review on my blog. As you can tell by the lack of review, I never found the words. Yet here I am, putting this book in my top books of 2017 list. So I have to say something. This book tells the story of Malala, who I’m sure many of you have heard of, but it doesn’t only tell her story. It tells the story of her country. It breaks so many stereotypes about people in non-Western countries. It tells Malala’s story and her country’s story so well with beautiful writing and interesting stories. I think everyone should read this book. I can’t fully explain the wonder that is this book but I can say that it’s so so so wonderful and so so so important. Go read it, now!

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

4. The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Summary: 

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: This book is simply beautiful. From the writing to the characters to the world. Everything is beautiful. Maya is a truly wonderful character that I loved reading about, as is Amar. The world of this book is rich and beautiful and so well-described. This book is also #ownvoices for representation of POC. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves a good fantasy world with well-written characters but is looking for one with more diversity than the usual fantasy world.

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

3. Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Summary: 

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: This book was one of the first I read this year and from the moment I finished it, I knew it would be on this list. It honestly would’ve been number one if the books before it hadn’t come into my life. However, this book is definitely number one in my heart. I love it. I love the superhero shenanigans. I love how who’s a hero and who’s a villain is complicated. I love Jess. I love Abby. I love Bells. I love Emma. I love Abby and Jess’ relationship. I love the world created in this book. It reminds me of a combination of Sky High and The Hunger Games with its own unique elements as well. This book is also #ownvoices for both LGBT+ and POC rep. I cannot recommend this book enough. Go read it! For more of my thoughts on this book, check out my review.

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

2.  The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Summary: 

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: This book is so so so important. Not only is it #ownvoices for the black (Jamaican) MC, Natasha, but it has representation everywhere. The other main character, Daniel, is Korean-American and Natasha is also an undocumented immigrant. In fact, she and her family are due to be deported the day that the book takes place, which starts the whole chain of events in the story. This book has so many important themes. From themes of racism, to what it truly means to be American, to deportation, and more. Though this book takes place in one day and the characters fall in love within that time, the book does not fall into the usual instalove trap. Natasha and Daniel are both realistic and well-written characters and their relationship is beautiful and realistic. They truly get to know each other, and that’s why I don’t consider it true instalove. The writing in this book is also beautiful. Read this book, you won’t regret it. If you want to know more of my thoughts on this amazing book, check out my review. 

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

And last, but certainly not least:

  1. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Summary:

Three friends, two love stories, one convention: this fun, feminist love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

(via Goodreads)

Why it’s on the list: This book was made for me. It’s about fandoms, it takes place at a convention, it features a bisexual female main character falling in love with another girl (Charlie) and a character with anxiety doing her best to overcome it (Taylor). I related so well to Charlie’s bisexuality and Taylor’s anxiety it isn’t even funny. If I had told Jen Wilde exactly how to write bisexuality and anxiety, it couldn’t have been closer to my own experiences. Though sadly I don’t have an amazing love interest in my life. Maybe in 2018. Still, this book is so easy for me to relate to. Charlie and Taylor are my queens. I admire both of them so much, Charlie for her confidence and Taylor for her strength. I hope I can be like more like them in the new year. Take more risks and step out of my comfort zone a little. Not only was this book inspiring to me, but it was well-written too. The characters are all well-developed. The writing is amazing. The plot is interesting, far more so than contemporaries often are for me. I recommend this book to anyone but especially to my fellow fandom geeks, my fellow bisexual women, and my fellow people with anxiety. This book is #ownvoices (I believe) for bisexuality. This book also has anxiety/autism/fat representation (Taylor), and POC (Charlie, Alyssa, & maybe Jamie) representation. I cannot recommend this book enough, go read it! It’s amazing and I love it to pieces.

Why this book is number 1: Because to put it simply, this book has my heart. It was meant for me. I was meant to read it. This book doesn’t only have my heart, it is my heart. I couldn’t have written a book that represents me more if I had written it myself. This book has characters and quotes that inspire me. This book is simply amazing. This book is perhaps not as eye-opening to issues as books such as The Sun Is Also A Star are (there’s a reason that book is number 2, it could’ve easily been number one), but it is a good book with good and important representation. And this is my list so I make the rules. And I love this book with all of my nerdy bisexual anxiety-having heart.

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

So that’s it. My favorite books of 2017. This was an amazing reading year for me, thanks to Diversity Bingo and all of these wonderful books on this list, most of which were read for that challenge. I’m not sure if I’ll participate in Diversity Bingo next year but I will definitely continue to read diverse books because I love them.

What were your favorite books that you read this year? Tell me in the comments below.

 

Many of these books were read for #DiversityBingo2017.

 

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina Review

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“There will come a day when a thousand Illegals descend on your detention centres. Boomers will breach the walls. Skychangers will send lightning to strike you all down from above, and Rumblers will open the earth to swallow you up from below. . . . And when that day comes, Justin Connor, think of me.”

Ashala Wolf has been captured by Chief Administrator Neville Rose. A man who is intent on destroying Ashala’s Tribe — the runaway Illegals hiding in the Firstwood. Injured and vulnerable and with her Sleepwalker ability blocked, Ashala is forced to succumb to the machine that will pull secrets from her mind.

And right beside her is Justin Connor, her betrayer, watching her every move.

Will the Tribe survive the interrogation of Ashala Wolf?

(via Goodreads )

My rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, exciting plot, good/unique worldbuilding, good writing

Cons: Some slow moments

I am no stranger to dystopian worlds. I’ve read The Hunger Games. I’ve read Divergent. I thought I knew what a dystopian world was like. But my preconceived notions of what a dystopian world is like were blown out of the water by The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. Though this book does have many of the typical dystopian elements, it also has unique elements all its own, which made me enjoy the book even more than I already did.

Why did I enjoy it so much, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

Firstly, the characters. As always, characters are important to me. Ashala herself is an amazing character to follow. I love her bravery, her intelligence, her loyalty, her caring nature, and her badass side. I like Connor. I like his loyalty, his caring nature, his intelligence, and his kindness. I like Ember. I like her intelligence, her kindness, her loyalty, her bravery, and her badass side. I like Georgie. I like her caring nature, her loyalty, her bravery, and her childlike wonder.

In addition to the characters, I enjoy the plot. The plot of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is one that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat. Even if you think you know what is going to happen next, you don’t. The author manages to keep you guessing and I like that. It’s not often that a book truly surprises me like that and it’s a pleasant change from the normal predictability. The plot isn’t the typical dystopian one either of taking down the government. Sure, there’s elements of rebellion in the end (which I won’t talk about since I don’t want to give away any spoilers), but the way the rebellion is carried out is different from the typical dystopian story. It’s again a pleasant surprise and I really appreciate the author’s originality.

Speaking of originality, the world created in The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is beautiful and unique. I really love the connection to nature that so many of the characters have. Nature isn’t often mentioned so prominently in books, especially dystopian ones. Often dystopian stories show a world in which humanity has destroyed nature far too much. I prefer this version where there’s at least an attempt to work with nature. Where the main characters are connected to nature and do their best to protect it. I also like the Grandfather character (not going to give away too much here either) and His role in the story. I like how stories have their own role in this book. I like everything about the world created in this book. I love the explanation of The Balance and how that concept (which is a good one, I believe) is misused, as good concepts often are in the real world, to harm others. I love the tuarts. I love the saurs. I love the explanations of the old world, which all of us should take care to avoid fitting as much as we can. I could go on and on but let me just end by saying that Ambelin Kwaymullina has created an amazing and unique world in this amazing book.

Speaking of amazing, the writing in this book is wonderful. The descriptions are beautiful and poetic. There are many quotes that I love but for now I will only post a few.

“I walk among my enemies. But I carry my friends with me.”

I like this quote because it shows that Ashala never truly feels alone. She is still connected to her friends, to her “pack.” To The Tribe. I just love the idea of being connected to those you care about even when they’re not physically present.

“You have to let her love. Because it’s the only thing more powerful than hate.”

I think we could all use a reminder that love is more powerful than hate right now. It may not always seem like it, but it’s true. Love always wins in the end. It may take time. We may not always see it or notice it. But it’s there. Love wins. Hate loses. Love survives, no matter what.

“People, animals, trees–everything grieves, and regrets, and mourns what’s passed. But nothing is ever truly gone forever. This is the place where life began again, where I began again. Whatever we were before, whoever we were before–it doesn’t matter. Because we’re all made new here. We live. We survive. We belong.”

I think these lines right here get across one of the messages of the book (at least for me). That no matter what, nothing is ever really destroyed. It is simply changed into a new form. That it’s never too late to begin again. That everyone can find a place to belong. And it’s a rather hopeful theme, especially for a dystopian novel. Yet another reason why I appreciate this amazing book.

And finally:

“Advances in technology could never compensate for failures in empathy.”

Another timely and very true message. No matter how much we may become desensitized to the world around us, we must not allow it to happen fully. We can’t lose our empathy. We have to stay connected to the world around us. To other people. To nature. To ourselves. To remain empathetic, no matter what.

Now that I’ve gone into why I love this book, I have to say why I didn’t. To be honest, I can’t think of anything except that there were some slow moments in this book. However, no book is perfect. Every book has its flaws. And the only flaw I can think of for this book is that there were some slow moments. Not bad at all.

Overall, I really liked this book and would recommend it to anyone, even those who don’t usually like dystopian books. If you like stories with good, well-developed characters, exciting plots, unique and well-described worlds, and beautiful writing then this is the book for you.

Have you ever read a book that stood out from the usual books in its genre? Tell me about it in the comments below!

 

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

 

 

Legacy by Michelle Lowe Review

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A thief, a lover, and a toymaker; drawn together by fate; unlikely champions against a powerful and remorseless enemy. When not fighting each other, they must defeat the powerful Lord Norwich, and end his plan to unleash global violence and crown himself emperor of the world. No problem.

But behind the scenes, the Trickster god is manipulating men like puppets, changing history to his own ends and for his own amusement. As an ancient plan is set into motion, the trio are faced with events they do not understand and may not survive.

Legacy is the first of an epic new series that combines Fantasy and Steampunk in an unforgettable novel set in Victorian England.
(via Goodreads)

My rating: 3/5 stars

Pros: Mostly good characters, cool setting, mixture of two of my favorite genres,good writing

Cons: A lot of slow moments, underdeveloped characters, confusing multiple POV, plot all over the place, uncomfortable with the representation of POC

*This review was originally posted on Goodreads. It has been added to for the purposes of this blog post.*

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

First, let me start by saying that I liked this book. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. I liked the characters, from Pierce to Archie to Clover to Indigo. Although I do have some issues with them, as you’ll see later, I did find them enjoyable to read about. I loved Pierce’s humor even in tough situations. I loved Archie’s love for and loyalty to those he cares about…and even Pierce. I loved Clover’s intelligence and kindness. I loved Indigo’s caring nature. I liked the setting. I’m a sucker for historical settings, especially Victorian era settings. I just love them. I liked the mixture of historical fiction and fantasy elements. Two of my favorite genres combined? I’m sold. The synopsis also mentions steampunk elements which I like as well but didn’t really notice somehow while reading. I liked the writing style. It was simple yet beautiful.

However, there were more things I wasn’t too into about this book. I’m going to say that it’s me and not the book (in most cases). Firstly, there were a lot of slow moments in this book. Not that nothing was happening, more like the way it was happening wasn’t particularly interesting to me. I’d also like to add that I was reading this book on my computer and that I tend to have a short attention span when reading on a screen, not sure why. So that might have added to the slowness of the story. Secondly, though I did like the characters, I felt like they could have been developed more. All of them were interesting but didn’t quite feel realistic or fully developed. Pierce is the stereotypical badass/rogueish character. Archie is The Responsible One. Clover is The Adorable Precocious Child. Etc. Etc. Thirdly, the multiple points of view were at times confusing. I still don’t understand what the first chapter (which I actually enjoyed a lot!) has to do with the rest of the book. I also felt that since the characters weren’t (in my opinion) fully developed, that their points of view were not particularly interesting to me and didn’t stand out much from each other.  Fourthly, the plot, while it was interesting–when not being slow as I mentioned in my first point–was a bit all over the place. It didn’t seem like a sequence of events leading to an ending. More like a lot of random events leading to a cliffhanger ending. (Which I did quite like, to be fair. The ending, that is.) Fifthly, the representation of people of color in this book left me feeling uncomfortable. I’m white so I can’t really say with any authority if it’s good or bad representation. I can only say that it made me feel awkward and I felt like all the characters of color in this book were token characters rather than well written, well-developed, well-represented characters. But as I said, I’m white and can’t really judge, so if you’d like, feel free to take my words with a grain of salt.

To conclude this review, I would like to say that I think it’s mostly me and not the book (except the representation thing, which I think is a valid complaint). I wouldn’t warn anyone away from this book. (Unless perhaps the representation was read as bad by someone with more authority than me). Many might love it. I just didn’t. I liked it enough to finish it but not enough to warmly recommend it and maybe not enough to read the rest of the series. I do, however, think this book has the potential to be good. Even great. The characters are there. The setting is there. The plot is there. With more character development, a more linear plot, and better representation of people of color, I would have loved this book. Perhaps those elements will be there in the rest of the series. I might just have to read it to find out. (Maybe. Possibly.)

 

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi Review

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Summary:

A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how.

Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?

(via Goodreads)

My rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, Great world-building, Exciting plot, Good writing

Cons: Would have enjoyed more at a younger age (but still enjoyed it a lot!)

Many of you reading this might be familiar with the movie Jumanji. It’s even referenced in the description of the book! And while this book did remind me a lot of Jumanji, it reminded me a lot of one of my personal favorites as well. What movie is that, you may ask? Labyrinth. I mean Farah has to save her little brother from the Goblin Ki–I mean Architect. Farah defeats the G–Architect in the end. Am I the only one seeing these similarities? I can’t be the only Labyrinth fan out there. Let me know.

Like Labyrinth, this book captured me from the very beginning. I found myself reading eagerly, wanting to know more. Whenever I picked up this book, I simply could not put it down. And here’s why:

Firstly, the characters. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that characters are important to me. More important than even plot. A book can have the most exciting plot around, if I don’t care about the characters, I won’t like the book. This is definitely not a problem for The Gauntlet. Let’s start with Farah, the amazing main character. I absolutely adore her. I wish I was that awesome when I was 12! I love her intelligence, her bravery, and her loyalty to her family and friends. I love how she does everything she can to save Ahmed, no matter what. I just think she’s great. I want to hug her and give her a huge high five. Let’s not forget her friends, Alex and Essie. Both of them are just as intelligent, brave, and loyal as Farah is. They are both just as easy to root for. I especially love Alex, for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe cause he’s a total nerd. I don’t know. But he’s great and so is Essie. And Ahmed. He’s so adorable and somewhat annoying as younger siblings can be (I imagine, since I’m an only child). I spent the book worrying for him along with Farah and wishing him well. I love Henrietta and the rest of the lizards. I love Vijay. I love Farah and Ahmed’s aunt and their parents.  I even love characters like the Architect and his mother. While I don’t root for them, I find them interesting to read about.

In addition to the characters, the world is amazing. The world of The Gauntlet is described so well that the reader can’t help but picture it. I know I couldn’t, and I’m not a very visual reader in most cases. The world of The Gauntlet also reminds me somewhat of Labyrinth because of it being hard to navigate and not always what it seems. This similarity only made me enjoy the book even more because it reminded me of one of my favorite movies. The world of this book is beautiful and well-written and I would love to get lost in it. (Probably not really, I’d worry I wouldn’t get out again. Haha.)

Along with the characters and the world-building, I love the plot in this book. Though it is a fairly simple one it is extremely exciting. You find yourself rooting for Farah and her friends to find Ahmed and make their way through the tasks set for them by the Architect. This book constantly kept me on the edge of my seat and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes an exciting plot.

Finally, the writing. The writing in this book is beautiful. From the descriptions of the food to the world of the Gauntlet. Everything is described so well. The writing is simply amazing.

Given all of this, you may be wondering why I didn’t give this book five stars. Well, dear readers, I’ll tell you. While I absolutely loved this book, I was aware while reading that it is a middle grade novel. I think that I would have enjoyed it even more if I had been in the target age range. So that made me knock it down a star. But honestly it’s just a personal thing. Please don’t take my lack of a five star rating as anything against this amazing book. It’s great and I thoroughly recommend it.

Overall, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves Jumanji (or Labyrinth, or both), or who enjoys exciting plots with well-written characters and well-described worlds that the reader can get immersed in.

Have you ever read a book that reminded you of one of your favorite movies? Tell me in the comments below!

Goodreads Link / Amazon Link/ Barnes & Noble Link

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

#DiversityBingo2017 update

Hello everyone! As you might know from another post of mine, I’m participating in #DiversityBingo2017. As I wrote in that post, Diversity Bingo is a challenge that inspires readers to read more diverse books by having 36 different squares, each one corresponding to a diverse book. I thought I’d post an update on how my Diversity Bingo reading is going by talking about the books I’ve read for the challenge so far. I have posted reviews for many of these books, so for those books I will simply leave a link to my review and give my star rating of the book. For those books that I haven’t reviewed, I will give a brief explanation of what I liked and disliked about the book.

Just for a reminder, the Diversity Bingo card looks like this:

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Without further ado, let’s get onto the post.

So far I’ve filled 12 squares. Not a lot, I know but I have read other books not for the challenge. The squares I’ve filled so far are the Retelling with a Main Character Belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, Bisexual Main Character, Main Character of Color in SciFi/Fantasy, Free Choice, Biracial Main Character, Pansexual Main Character, Main Character on the Ace Spectrum, LGBTQIA+ Main Character of Color, Diverse Non-Fiction, Person of Color on the Cover, D/deaf/Hard of Hearing Main Character, and Immigrant or Refugee Main Character. Now on to the books I’ve read for those squares!

For a Retelling with a MC belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, I read Sappho’s Fables by Elora Bishop and Jennifer Diemer.  I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and would definitely recommend it.

For a book with a  Bisexual MC, I read Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and would highly recommend it.

For a book with a MC of Color in SFF, I read The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars and would highly recommend it. I love everything about this book from the characters, to the world, to the beautiful writing. I can’t think of one thing I dislike about it.

For the Free Choice square, I read Huntress by Malinda Lo. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. I wouldn’t recommend it based on my own reading of it, but as I stated in my review, it wasn’t the book, it was me. The book simply wasn’t my thing. However, it isn’t a bad book by any means and I’m sure many people would love it.

For a book with a Biracial MC, I read Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn.  I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I would definitely recommend it.

For a book with a Pansexual MC, I read The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I would definitely recommend it. I love the romance. I love the main characters. I just love this book. I can’t remember anything in particular that I disliked about this book, but there must have been something since I didn’t rate it 5 stars.

For a book with a MC on the Ace Spectrum, I read We Awaken by Calista Lynne. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I would definitely recommend it. I love the romance. I love the characters. I love the magical elements. I didn’t give this book 5 stars only because I didn’t absolutely love it, but I did thoroughly enjoy it. I can’t remember anything particular I disliked about it.

For a book with an LGBTQIA+ MC of Color, I read Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it.

For a Diverse Non-Fiction book, I read I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it. I said in my review on Goodreads that I don’t have the words to express how wonderful and important this book is. That is still true. Just read it. You can thank me later. 😉

For a book with a POC on the cover, I read Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it, along with the rest of the series.

For a book with a D/deaf/Hard of Hearing MC, I read El Deafo by Cece Bell. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I definitely recommend it. I found it a fast and enjoyable read. Although the main character is far younger than I am, I found myself cheering her on throughout the story. However, I do feel like this book would be more enjoyable for younger readers and I found myself wanting a little something more from the story, which is why I rated it 4 stars instead of 5.

For a book with an Immigrant or Refugee MC, I read The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon.  I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend it.

Now that I’ve mentioned all of the books I’ve read so far for this challenge, I want to talk a bit about the challenge itself. I decided to participate in this challenge because I wanted to diversify my reading. Reading more diverse books had been a goal of mine for a while and I wanted to accomplish that goal. I am glad to say that I have read more diverse books this year than I have in the past. I also would like to say that reading more diverse books has improved my reading experience. So far, for Diversity Bingo, I have read mostly 4 and 5 star books, only one 3 star book and no 1 or 2 star books. Clearly diverse books are more enjoyable than non-diverse books.

How are you doing with your Diversity Bingo challenge? What is your favorite book you’ve read for the challenge so far? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han Review

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Summary:

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

(via Goodreads )

My rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, good relationships, good writing, realistic, quick read

Cons: somewhat predictable but not too predictable

Before reading this review, check out my reviews of the first two books in the series.  As you will see, I gave both of those books 3/5 stars. While I thoroughly enjoyed them, I did find them a bit too predictable for my taste. Also, I felt that the second book in the series, PS. I Still Love You, had too much drama. While the drama was realistic and not over the top, it was not fun to read about for me. However, the final book in the series, Always and Forever Lara Jean, did not have similar pitfalls and earned 4/5 stars from me. To explain why, I’m going to start, as I usually do, with the pros.

The characters in this book are amazing. Lara Jean continues to be a wonderful main character. She is, understandably, feeling nostalgic as her high school years come to a close. While I’m not that much like Lara Jean (though I wish I was, she’s pretty cool!) both of us share a wariness of change and a hopeless romantic sensibility. Both of these characteristics of Lara Jean’s are shown throughout the story, as they are in the first two books. I love how Lara Jean grows throughout this book. How she begins to follow her own path, to embrace change. I hope that I can do the same in my life. I also love that her newfound maturity does not cause her to lose her romantic side. Another thing I would like to emulate in my own life. Basically, Lara Jean is one of my favorite main characters ever. And that’s saying something. I love how I can relate to her. I love how thoughtful she is, how caring, how loyal. I love how she’s innocent yet mature at the same time. I love how she’s a work in progress, how she doesn’t have everything figured out–nor does she think she does. I love how she loves everyone in her life with all of her heart. I love how realistic a character she is. I love how well-written and three-dimensional she is. However, Lara Jean isn’t the only character I love in this book, though she is my favorite. I love all of the characters. I love Peter for his kindness and loyalty. I love Kitty for her mischievousness and caring side. I love Margot for her confidence and maturity. I love Mr. (Song-) Covey for his nerdiness and kindness. I love Trina (Rothschild) for her confidence and her fun nature. I love all the characters in this book so much and could go on and on about them but I won’t.

Since I love the characters in this book, I obviously love their relationships with each other. Let’s start with the obvious one of Lara Jean and Peter. While I enjoyed their romance in the first two books, I feel like it reached a new level in this book. Lara Jean and Peter are growing up, after all. They’re going off to college and are getting closer to adulthood. This shows in how they work so well as a team and truly understand each other. However, their relationship never loses its admirable innocence. Even as Lara Jean and Peter mature, as their relationship matures, it still remains adorable and innocent, which I quite like. Lara Jean and Peter are not perfect either as characters or in a relationship. They have their ups and downs. Yet through it all, their romance remains one that the reader truly roots for. Along with Lara Jean and Peter, there’s Lara Jean’s relationships with her family: with her father, with Kitty, with Margot. First of all, I love Lara Jean’s father. He’s one of my favorite book parents. I love how he truly loves and cherishes his three daughters. He never seems to complain that he’s surrounded by girls. In fact, he loves it! He also ensures that his daughters remain connected to their Korean heritage, which I believe the characters and readers appreciate. In this book, he and Lara Jean continue to have a strong relationship based on mutual trust and love. There are some growing pains as Lara Jean becomes more independent but both characters handle them well and there is–luckily for me–no drama. Lara Jean and Kitty continue to have a typical older sister/younger sister dynamic that I absolutely love reading about. Kitty continues to be adorable–and adorably annoying. I love how Lara Jean tries to include Kitty in her life as much as possible. I love how Peter has a bond with Kitty as well. One of my favorite moments in the book is when Lara Jean, Kitty, and Peter are hiding behind a tree together. (I won’t tell you why, you’ll just have to read the book!)  I also love Lara Jean and Margot’s dynamic. It’s also a very typical older sister/younger sister one, except in this case Lara Jean is the younger sister. I love how Lara Jean leans on Margot and always asks her advice. I love how their bond is just as strong as ever, despite how much time Margot spends away from home. I loved seeing more of Margot and her relationships with Lara Jean and the rest of her family in this book. Finally, I love Lara Jean’s relationship with Ms. Rothschild–oh, sorry, Trina. I love how Lara Jean grows closer to Trina throughout the book and in the end asks her for advice as she would with Margot. Although Trina will never replace Lara Jean’s mother, I do like that they can have a good relationship and that they get along as stepmother and stepdaughter.

One thing that I must mention in this review is the writing. While I liked the writing in the first two books, it was not the type of writing that stayed with me or blew me away. However, that was not the case in this book. This writing absolutely stayed with me. It made me smile, made me laugh, made me cry, made me think. There are lines in this book that I absolutely love. I’m going to quote a couple of them here. The first one is:

“Is this how it goes? You fall in love, and nothing seems truly scary anymore, and life is one big possibility?” (p. 61)

I like this line because it shows Lara Jean’s hopeless romantic side. Something I can definitely relate to. Unlike Lara Jean, I’ve never been in a relationship but I imagine if I was, I would feel the same as Lara Jean does. I would feel as if life was “one big possibility” The second line that I absolutely love is:

“Why not take a chance and bet on happiness?”  (p. 205)

I like this line because it makes me think. It makes me think of times in life when I’ve been unsure of my decisions. Of times when I wanted to make one decision but was unsure of what the result would be. I knew that making the decision would make me happy, but I couldn’t help worrying about what would happen on the other side of the decision-making process. This line reminds me to not be afraid to take chances. To make decisions that will make me happy. To try my best to always “bet on happiness.”

With all of this in mind, you may be wondering why I didn’t give this book five stars. To that I will say that the book had some predictable moments, as most contemporary books do. However, it was nowhere near as predictable as the first two books which is why I only took off 1 star for it instead of 2. Genuinely, while reading this book I felt as if I was going on the journey with Lara Jean and although sometimes I knew where the path would lead, I usually didn’t. Jenny Han managed to keep me on my toes and that’s hard to do for a contemporary. Especially for me, someone who’s not the hugest fan of the genre. It’s books like this one that make me reconsider that position. So don’t take my lack of a five star rating as anything against this amazing book.

Overall, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance and a good coming-of-age story. (But make sure to read the first two first.)

What is an ending to a series that you enjoyed more than the other books in the series? Tell me in the comments!

Goodreads Link/ Amazon Link/ Barnes and Noble Link

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

It’s Not You, It’s Me: Huntress by Malinda Lo Review

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Summary:

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo’s highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

(via Goodreads)

My rating: 3/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, interesting world

Cons: Slow pace, characters somewhat hard to reach, POV makes characters hard to reach, confusing POV changes, abrupt ending to story (and romance!)

Before I start my review, I would like to say that I know it’s been a long time since I wrote one. Sorry about that. I’ve been in a bit of a reading and blogging slump. But I’m back! And determined to be better than ever! Without further ado, let’s get on to the review.

I’d like to start out by saying that I like this book. Really. I just don’t love it. And to be perfectly honest, I’m surprised that I don’t. I mean, on paper it seems like the perfect book for me. It’s a fantasy book–my favorite genre–featuring a relationship between two women. What’s not to love? Unfortunately, for me, this book’s cons outweighed its pros which is why in this review I’m going to start with the cons.

First of all, the pace of this book is very slow. It reminds me of Lord of the Rings in that way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the awesomeness factor that Lord of the Rings has to keep me loving it. Though I would also say, in defense of Huntress, that Lord of the Rings also already had my love because of the movies. Huntress does not have the example of some of my favorite movies to lean on. And with the slow pacing, this book really could use the help. The action starts late in the story, around 3/4 of the way through the book. This would not normally be a problem for me. I’m not really a huge fan of action scenes in the first place. However, this book’s description promised me an epic quest and what I got was…well….not epic. Usually in these situations, my love for the characters would get me through the story. However, as much as I adore Malinda Lo’s characters, there’s something stopping me from fully connecting with them.

Which brings me to my next point. The characters in this book are somewhat hard to reach. Perhaps it’s the POV it’s written in. Perhaps it’s the author’s writing style. Perhaps it’s just the personalities of the characters themselves. Whatever the case may be, I find Taisin and Kaede both difficult to connect with. Taisin is a very private, reserved person. So in her case it is expected. Yet Kaede, the more open of the two, is still hard to connect with for me as a reader. Both main characters seem somewhat untouchable, hard to relate to. Taisin is almost too private, too closed-off. Even when the reader sees things from her point of view, it seems as if there is a wall up. However, that is her personality. Kaede, however, is different. While I adore her character–in fact, she is my favorite–I still find her somewhat difficult to connect to. Especially during her time after running into the childlike creature in the village on the way to the Fairy Queen, as well as after she completes her task for the Fairy Queen. Both of these events are significant for Kaede and change her as a person. Perhaps that is it. Perhaps these events change Kaede so much that they make her hard to recognize for the reader. Or, at least, for me. I have also thought of another reason that the characters are hard to connect to: the point of view.

This book is written in third-person point of view. That is not normally an issue for me. However, I believe in this case the point of view makes the characters hard to connect with. There are also somewhat confusing point of view changes, sometimes in the middle of a chapter. These are not a huge issue for me, so I won’t spend much time on them in this review. I will just say that they are somewhat confusing and that the POV in general makes it harder–for me, at least–to connect to the characters.

Speaking of characters, I feel that the ending of the story happens abruptly for all of the characters. It’s like taking a long leisurely walk through a park, only to have to run to your car. The walking, while not always enjoyable, was full of beautiful sights and serenity. The running, however, is not so peaceful and feels too fast after the beautiful walk. That is how I feel about the ending of this book: it’s too fast. Everything happens too fast. The plot is resolved too fast. The romance between the two main characters ends too fast. Two secondary characters reunite too fast. It’s all too fast.

As I said in the beginning of this review, I like this book. But Annie, you say, you’ve just spent paragraphs explaining all the things you didn’t like about it. I know. But I can explain. You see, this book is probably the best case of it’s not you it’s me I’ve ever seen. It’s probably a great book–just not for me. I truly believe that just as the wand chooses the wizard in Harry Potter, books are meant for their readers. And this book is just not meant for me. However, I did enjoy certain things about it.

As I mentioned before, I do like the characters. Taisin is intelligent, caring, capable, and brave. Kaede is caring, loyal, adventurous, and brave. Con is funny, intelligent, caring, and brave. Shae is intelligent, determined, adventurous, and brave. Noticing a pattern here? Anyone know if Malinda Lo is a Gryffindor? Cause her characters are all pretty brave if you ask me. Though I guess you’d have to be to go on a quest like this one. All of the characters are interesting to read about, even if they can be difficult to connect to at times. I found myself especially enjoying reading about Kaede and Con.

In addition to the characters, I also enjoy the world in this book. Worldbuilding is important in fantasy and Malinda Lo definitely does it well.  The world of the Kingdom, of the Academy, of Taninli is so well-written. It is easy for the reader to imagine him, her, or themself in such a world. My favorite part is probably a tie between The Wood and Taninli. I’d love to visit both of those places if I could. And that’s a worldbuilding win in my book. If you can make me want to visit your fictional world, you’ve created a good one.

Overall, I liked this book but did not love it. However, I’d recommend it for those who love fantasy, good f/f relationships, and don’t mind a slow pace and characters that are occasionally hard to connect to.

What is a book you expected to love but didn’t? Tell me in the comments!

Goodreads Link / Amazon Link  / Barnes & Noble Link 

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.

Anonymous Bookaholics Tag

Hello everyone! I would like to thank Diana Prince Reviews  for tagging me. Without any further ado, let’s get into the tag, shall we?

What do you like about new books? 

Besides reading them? I love holding them and flipping through the pages.

How often do you buy new books?

As often as I can. Whenever I have some money saved up, usually.

Bookstore or online shopping, which do you prefer?

Bookstore. There’s something special about walking through a bookstore and picking out the books you want to buy. Also, when I buy books in a bookstore I don’t have to wait for them to arrive, I can take them home with me right away.

Do you have a favorite bookshop? 

Barnes & Noble. There’s a pretty cool one near me.

Do you pre-order books? 

Not often. Only if I’m really excited for it and even then I prefer to just buy it in a bookstore once it’s released. It’s more fun that way.

Do you have a monthly book buying limit? 

Nope, but I wouldn’t say I buy books every month.

Book buying bans, are they for you? 

I’ve never actually gone on an official book buying ban so I guess not. Perhaps I’ll try it some time.

How big is your wishlist? 

My Amazon one has quite a few books on it. And my TBR is as big as any avid reader’s.

Which three books from your wishlist do you wish you owned right now? 

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I Tag:

Taryn at Novel Paradise

Sinead at Huntress of Diverse Books

CW at Read, Think, Ponder

AJ at Lacy Literacy

and YOU if you want to do this tag!

 

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde Review

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Summary:

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

(via Goodreads)

My rating: 5/5 stars

Pros: Good characters, Great relationships, Good writing, Unapologetic nerdiness, Good representation of bisexuality and anxiety

Cons: Would’ve preferred a slightly slower burn romance for Charlie & Alyssa

I’m really starting to rethink my position on the contemporary genre. I’ll always prefer fantasy/paranormal but I’ve been reading so many great contemporaries lately that I think I’m starting to think of the genre as higher on my priority list than it once was. Books like The Sun Is Also A Star and Queens of Geek make me excited about the genre in a way I never used to be. Perhaps it’s the fact that both of those books include actual diversity. Maybe the reason I’ve always been bored by contemporary books is because they’re always just about white cishet ablebodied neurotypical non-mentally ill people. That is definitely not the case with Queens of Geek. Charlie is a bisexual Chinese-Australian woman. Taylor is an autistic woman with anxiety. The diversity of this book is amazing and I love it but I’ll talk more about that later on in my review.

You clearly know I love this book but you’re probably wondering why. So here goes.

Firstly, the characters. All of them are so well-written and well-developed. Charlie is so independent and confident but she also cares what people think, perhaps too much. Taylor is so caring and passionate and amazing but she has difficulty navigating the world due to her anxiety and her autism. (I can relate. Well, to the anxiety part anyway.) Jamie is confident and intelligent and kind but has his insecurities like everyone does. Alyssa is talented and creative and confident but has gone through things in her past that deeply affected her. None of the characters are too perfect or too typical. They all have flaws or insecurities or just plain obstacles to overcome, making all of them realistic. I love them. I love Charlie’s confidence. I love Taylor’s passion. I love Jamie’s kindness. I love Alyssa’s down-to-earth nature. I love all of them. Charlie is independent, confident, determined, caring, loyal, intelligent and creative. Taylor is caring, loyal, intelligent, creative, passionate, funny, and so incredibly strong. Jamie is kind, caring, loyal, intelligent, funny, determined, and down-to-earth. Alyssa is caring, loyal, down-to-earth, passionate,intelligent, creative, and confident.  I love all of these characters and can relate to all of them so much, especially Charlie and Taylor. I can relate to Charlie’s desire to please others as well as her bisexuality (which I will get more into later when I talk about representation). I  can relate to Taylor’s passion about the people and things she loves as well as her struggles with her anxiety (which I will also get more into later). I can relate to all of the main characters’ unapologetic nerdiness.

These amazing characters also engage in great relationships with each other. I love Charlie, Jamie, and Taylor’s friendship. I love Charlie and Alyssa’s romantic relationship. I love Jamie and Taylor’s romantic relationship. I love Taylor’s friendships with Brianna and Josie. Charlie, Jamie, and Taylor are the perfect nerdy friend group. I love how they support each other unconditionally and nerd out together. I love how Charlie and Alyssa are there for each other as well as how their personalities work together. I love how Jamie and Taylor complement each other as well as how sweet and adorably dorky they are. (Also I’m a sucker for a good friends to lovers trope.)  I love how Brianna and Josie support and care about Taylor. The relationships, romantic and platonic, in this book are amazing and beautiful and definitely all added to my enjoyment of this wonderful book. No relationship felt forced or simply added to the story for no good reason. I understood why each character in a romantic relationship loved their love interest–which is very important to me, as you’ll know if you read my Heroine Complex review–as well as why two characters worked as friends. It’s simply amazing.

The writing in this book is equally amazing. Jen Wilde’s writing style is not especially poetic but it is no less beautiful for its simplicity. I put so many post it notes on different quotes because of how I related to them and/or how beautiful they were. This book includes so many lines that express a profound point in a simple way. It’s simply beautiful.

As I mentioned before, all of the main characters–and secondary characters as well–in this book are unapologetically nerdy, as is the book itself. I loved the Orphan Black and Doctor Who references. I love the discussion of fandom as a place where people can find friends and feel at home in a way that they can’t always in the outside world. As a member of many fandoms, I can definitely relate to that. I love that this is a book where being nerdy is not simply a quirky character trait but is a big part of the character’s lives. How the main characters embrace their nerdiness and don’t hide it to be more socially acceptable. This book made me feel so comfortable and happy, both because of its unapologetic nerdiness and because of its wonderful bisexual and anxiety representation.

The goal of representation is–or at least should be–to make members of the groups being represented feel seen and understood in a way that they often are not in both the media and society. Queens of Geek, for me, definitely accomplished that goal. I felt seen and understood in Taylor’s anxiety and in Charlie’s bisexuality. As you can probably tell if you were reading along with my Twitter thread  , I relate to Taylor the most out of all of the characters in the book. Not only do I relate to her personality-wise but I also relate to her struggles with anxiety. I relate to how she sees other people interacting socially and wonders how they do it with such ease. I relate to how she feels less “normal” because of the ease with which most people seem to live life, to do things that I can barely imagine doing or that I at least would be nervous about. I relate to how confusing and scary she finds the world at times. I relate to how she’s “scared, but keeps fighting.” I relate to how she expresses herself better in writing because of the lack of anxiety when writing compared to when speaking. I relate to how her anxiety is a constant part of her life. How she’s been without panic attacks for a while but that does not make her anxiety any less present. I relate to how everything feels so intense for her. I relate to how she sometimes feels “allergic to the world…allergic to [her] own species.” I relate to how she worries about if people are mad at her, even if they’ve really done nothing to make her think they are. I relate to how her anxiety is a constant fight and how sometimes you lose and the anxiety wins. I relate to how she keeps fighting anyway, despite how difficult it can be. I relate to how she stays in her comfort zone, yet wants to get out of it. I relate to how one mistake–or possible mistake–can send her into an anxiety spiral. I relate to how she feels as if “nothing is ever stable.” I relate to how she doesn’t want to bother people with her problems, how she doesn’t want those she cares about to think less of her. I relate to how she has done things that make her anxious and survived them. (Though that doesn’t mean she’ll never be anxious again. But it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself of those things.) I relate to Taylor’s idea that “new experiences are always scary, but they aren’t always bad.” I relate to how Taylor can overcome her anxiety, can recover, can get back up. I relate so much to Taylor and I love her so much.  I also relate to Charlie’s bisexuality. I relate to how she’s never been with/flirted with a girl yet really wants to. (Though I’ve never been with/flirted with anyone.) I relate to how she easily found the label to fit her sexuality. (Though for me accepting my sexuality was far more complicated than it was for Charlie.) I don’t have much more to add to this section because I don’t relate to Charlie as much as I relate to Taylor, probably because we’re quite different personality-wise. Yet I truly think that Charlie is great bi representation, just as Taylor is great anxiety representation. Both characters make me feel seen and understood in a way that I rarely do and I’d like to thank Jen Wilde for creating them.

As was the case with The Sun Is Also A Star, I had trouble thinking of things that I disliked in this amazing book. The only thing I could think of is less a dislike and more a personal preference. As you may know if you’ve read my blog for a while, I’m a fan of a good slow burn romance. I like really seeing characters get to know each other well and then falling in love at a slower pace. Therefore, I would have preferred if Charlie and Alyssa’s romance had moved a bit slower. However, since the two characters did get to know each other, I did enjoy their romance (a lot, actually!) and did not find their relationship instalove at all.

Overall, I absolutely adored this book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. I’d especially recommend it to anyone who’s looking for good bisexual and/or anxiety representation and/or is a huge nerd.

What book made you feel represented for the first time? Tell me in the comments!

Goodreads Link/Amazon Link

I read this book for #DiversityBingo2017.