Monthly Wrap-Up: June 2018

June 2

This month I read 22 books. GR links for the books that I didn’t review. There will be a note attached to the books that I did mini and full reviews for. GR and WordPress links included. Please note that links are only provided for the book title. Let me know in the comments what you read!

Book(s) that I DNFed (0-2 stars):

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  1. My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by: Kitty Curan-Mini review
  2. Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles by: Various Authors-Mini review
  3. The Poet X by: Elizabeth Acevedo-Mini review
  4. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by: Stacy McAnulty-Mini review
  5. Wild Magic by: Tamora Pierce-Mini review
  6. The Kiss Quotientby: Helen Hoang-Mini review
  7. Ella Enchanted by: Gail Carson Levine-Mini review
  8. Ayesha At Last by: Umza Jalaluddin-Mini review
  9. The Way You Make Me Feel by: Maurene Goo-Mini review
  10. Not the Girl’s You’re Looking For by: Aminah Mae Safi-Mini review
  11. Prep School Confidential by: Kara Taylor-Mini review
  12. Amina’s Voice by: Hena Khan-Mini review
  13. Playing with Matches by: Hannah Orenstein-Mini review   

Book(s) that I Didn’t Really Like (2-3 stars):

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  1. Ms. Marvel, Vol.1: No Normal by: G. Willow Wilson-Mini review
  2. The One You Can’t Forget by: Roni Loren-Mini review
  3. Sweep in Peace by: Ilona Andrews-Wordpress review 

Book(s) that I Enjoyed (3-4 stars):

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  1. Ms. Marvel, Vol 2.: Generation Why by: G. Willow Wilson-Mini review
  2. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed by: G. Willow Wilson-Mini review
  3. The Case Study of Vanitas, Chapter 26 by: Jun Mochizuki-Mini review
  4. Crazy Rich Asians by: Kevin Kwan-Mini review
  5. The Tea Dragon Society by: Katie O’Neill-Mini review
  6. One Fell Sweep by: Ilona Andrews-Wordpress review
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Book Haul: June 2018

June 1

Book Haul is when you share books that you bought from the bookstore, ebooks/kindle, borrowed from the library or a friend, books you won through giveaways, and books for review purposes. GR links for (only) the book titles. Let me know in the comments what books you hauled!

Library:

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  1. Prep School Confidential by: Kara Thomas
  2. Ella Enchanted by: Gail Carson Levine
  3. The Kiss Quotient by: Helen Hoang
  4. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why by: G. Willow Wilson
  5. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed by: G. Willow Wilson
  6. Wild Magic by: Tamora Pierce 
  7. Amina’s Voice by: Hena Khan
  8. Ayesha at Last by: Uzma Jalaluddin
  9. Sweep in Peace by: Ilona Andrews
  10. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by: Stacy McAnulty
  11. The Tea Dragon Society by: Katie O’Neill
  12. One Fell Sweep by: Ilona Andrews   

 

Ebook/Kubo/Kindle/Audible:

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  1. China Rich Girlfriend by: Kevin Kwan
  2. Rich People Problems by: Kevin Kwan
  3. Magic Bites by: Ilona Andrews 
  4. The One You Can’t Forget by: Roni Loren
  5. The Case Study of Vanitas, Chapter 26 by: Jun Mochizuki
  6. Playing with Matches by: Hannah Orenstein
  7. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Vol. 2 by: Fujita
  8. The Case Study for Vanitas, Chapter 27 by: Jun Mochizuki 

 

Bookstore: 

June books

  1. Guardian by: A. J. Hartley
  2. Bruja Born by: Zoraida Córdova
  3. Save the Date by: Morgan Matson
  4. My Hero Academia Vol. 6 by: Kohei Horikoshi
  5. My Hero Acdemia Vol. 13 by: Kohei Horikoshi
  6. Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World Vol. 7 by: Tappei Nagatsuki and Shinichirou (Illustrator) 

 

Review: One Fell Sweep

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One Fell Sweep by: Ilona Andrews

My Rating: 4 Stars

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!!

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning: Mention of war, death, and mention of annihilating a species.

Despite being a tad disappointed in Sweep in Peace I was still looking forward to reading One Fell Sweep. I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it!

It’s been a few days since Sean and Dina went to the movies together. Gertrude Hunt has become quite. Sean and Dina are attempting to form a relationship. At night Dina senses a presence. It turns out to be Sean. Sean explains that he had a really bad feeling and came to the inn. A wormhole appears in the sky and a supernatural being emerges. Sean and Dina quickly deal with the situation.

The supernatural being is a Ku who has come to deliver a message to Dina. The message turns out to be from Dina’s sister Maud who is in trouble. Dina requests Arland to take her to Maud (who is on a different planet). All three then go to retrieve Maud and her daughter Helen. This journey will be the last of Dina’s problems.

I’m so happy that I enjoyed One Fell Sweep! The book is narrated in first person following Dina. There are some more pictures. And new characters. As well as an expansion on the world.

One Fell Sweep was more action packed! I enjoyed the additional new characters. Maud and Helen were awesome! I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship Maud shared with Dina. It gave readers an insight to Dina’s life before the book series. Helen was so cute! I really enjoyed reading about her interactions with all the characters.

The Hiru and Draziri situation was well done! The Draziri believe that if they kill one Hiru then they are guaranteed a place in heaven. It is not stated in any records why it is that the Draziri God’s preach this. A Hiru comes to Dina requesting help. The Hiru states that they have found a solution through the Archivarian. A sentient being of intelligence. In order to accomplish this the Hiru says that they will need to gather all the Archivarius. Once all the parts are gathered then they’re home free. In return Dina will get to ask the Archivarian a question. 

Dina wants to help but can’t really put her guests in jeopardy. The Draziri are known to not obey rules. And will likely reveal themselves to her neighbors. Which goes against the Earth treaty. However she ends up accepting as the Draziri launch an attack on her inn for housing the Hiru. Dina decides to ask the Archivarian about her parents.

Maud’s character was very intelligent. Maud’s ex-husband was a vampire who pulled a lot of stupid actions. This resulted in them being sent to Kahari an almost dead planet. Maud’s husband was murdered for his actions, leaving her to fend for Helen. Her insight into politics was awesome to read about! Also she was such a great parent!

The romance was really good! Maud and Arland had some of the best interactions. Arland falls hard for Maud. He’s also really great to Helen. Sean and Dina were adorable in this installment! I actually felt something for them. I didn’t feel much in the second installment. Sean’s parents also come in. They were actually really nice to Dina. Which I really appreciated.

George should truly get a medal for all his scheming. It’s revealed that George is the one that gave Maud the Ku and sent the Hiru to Dina. It’s really amazing how much he can accomplish in the name of good. Officer Marias gets involved in the supernatural war. He takes the information about the supernatural pretty well and proves to be helpful towards their cause. The Assembly and Ad-Hal is expanded upon. I really like how in every book that is some world-building. 

I really appreciated all the quirks in this installment. Gertrude Hunt, Olasard (Dina’s cat named by Helen), Caldenia, Beast, and Orro. Each off these characters made such a great addition to this installment. I especially loved Gertrude Hunt’s role. 

I’m just going to clarify something: One Fell Sweep is not a final book. It ends on a cliffhanger. Dina doesn’t find her parents (she does get some information), the Assembly summon Dina but you don’t get to meet them, and there is something that is hunting the Ad-Hal’s.

Considering how popular these authors are, I don’t think they mean to end the series on a cliffhanger. This series is self-published and over the past two years they’ve been really busy with other releases. There will likely be more books. It’ll just take some time. Thus far (on their website) they are working on a short story with Arland and Maud. I do still hope that it comes soon though.

Overall I really enjoyed One Fell Sweep! I highly recommend this series.       

Review: Sweep in Peace

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Sweep in Peace by: Ilona Andrews

My Rating: 3 Stars

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn…and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Death and mention of war.

After finishing Clean Sweep I was excited awaiting my turn in my library. Sweep in Peace had a lot of expectations to meet. I am happy to report that I enjoyed it! 

Sweep in Peace begins with a prologue from a new characters point of view. Said character has just murdered somebody due to personal reason. The unknown character is confronted by Klaus (Dina’s brother) and offered a job. The character’s name is revealed to be George. George accepts Klaus’s job offer.

Life has become boring for Dina. There’s no Sean or Arland, and just nothing to do. Caldenia mentions as much and suggests Dina should do some better advertising. Much to Dina’s surprise an Artibrator whose name is George asks for her help. George needs an inn to host a peace summit. Dina is a bit reluctant at first as it will be quite difficult to maintain all the parties of the guests arriving. However she agrees once she sees the amount of money she’ll earn. Dina does not anticipate just how taxing this peace summit or George can be.

I enjoyed reading Sweep in Peace! The story follows Dina’s point of view in first person. There are pictures throughout the book. The book opens with a prologue in third person following George. New characters are introduced.

As the new characters were introduced the world building was expanded upon. I really enjoyed reading about the situation on Nexus and how it affected the vampires, the Hope-Crushing-Horde, and the Merchant Clan. I was surprisingly interested in all the politics. I usually don’t care for politics. So this was a nice change.

There was an emphasis on understanding everyone’s side in the story and realizing that everyone has emotions. Which I appreciated and thought it was really important. Considering the different sides of the war.

As usual Dina was fantastic! She really does get better every time I read about her. Of course Caldenia played a vital part in the story. I’m also really surprised that Caldenia is treated very well for a criminal. All the new characters respect her and when speaking refer to her title. Orro and Dina’s cat were my favourite new additions!

Orro is a former chef that Dina hires to cook for the peace summit. The descriptions of the food he made was fantastic! It can really get you hungry. Orro himself is quite the character. Very dramatic but truly cares for people and what others think off him. The cat was a bit of surprise to Dina as well. I enjoyed reading about their interactions.

Sean does come in but much later on. And there was a plot twist regarding his appearance. He goes through quite a few changes in this book. It did hurt but it also made for good character development.

George, Jack, Gaston, and Sophie are some of the new characters. They play a major role in the book. George was extremely intelligent and manipulated a lot of the situations that occur. His role as an artibrator allowed him to get away with most things. Of course it came to a point where Dina stopped taking his nonsense. The Sci-Fi elements are expanded upon as George is from another Earth.

I did have some issues. I thought that because Klaus was introduced in the prologue that he would make an appearance. That didn’t happen. It almost felt like the prologue was written for the purpose of enticing the reader, but the information was never expanded upon. The mind games that all the guests (mostly George) partake in became very frustrating. When it all came together it made sense, but that didn’t really help.

Overall I enjoyed Sweep in Peace! I highly recommend the series.     

Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2018

May 2

This month I read 20 books. GR links for the books that I didn’t review. There will be a note attached to the books that I did mini and full reviews for. GR and WordPress links included. Please note that links are only provided for the book title. Let me know in the comments what you read!

Book(s) that I DNFed (0-2 stars):

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  1. First Test by: Tamora Pierce-Mini review
  2. The Astonishing Color of After by: Emily X. R. Pan-Mini review
  3. The Good Citizen by: Joel Henning Doty-Mini review (Image from Amazon)
  4. Tempests and Slaughter by: Tamora Pierce
  5.  Starry Eyes by: Jenn Bennett-Mini review
  6. Babe in Boyland by: Jody Gehrman 
  7. The Way to Game the Walk of Shame by: Jenn P. Nguyen
  8. Lost Stars by: Lisa Selin Davis
  9. Going Geek by: Charlotte Huang
  10. The Season by: Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer    

 

Book(s) that I Didn’t Really Like (2-3 stars):

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  1. Twelve Steps to Normal by: Farrah Penn-Mini review
  2. Hero at the Fall by: Alwyn Hamilton-Wordpress review 

 

Book(s) that I Enjoyed (3-4 stars):

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  1. The Stone Girl’s Story by: Sarah Beth Durst-Wordpress review
  2. Clean Sweep by: Ilona Andrews-Wordpress review
  3. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Vol. 1 by: Fujita
  4. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Vol. 2 by: Fujita
  5. The Case Study of Vanitas Chapter 25 by: Jun Mochizuki
  6. Piecing Me Together by: Renée Watson-Wordpress review
  7. Defy the Stars by: Claudia Gray-Wordpress review 

 

Favourite Book(s) of the Month (4-5 stars)

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  1. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 by: Izumi Tsubaki 

Book Haul: May 2018

May 1

Book Haul is when you share books that you bought from the bookstore, ebooks/kindle, borrowed from the library or a friend, books you won through giveaways, and books for review purposes. GR links for (only) the book titles. Let me know in the comments what books you hauled!

Library:

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  1. Twelve Steps to Normal by: Farrah Penn
  2. First Test by: Tamora Pierce
  3. Piecing Me Together by: Renee Watson 
  4. Tempests and Slaughter by: Tamora Pierce
  5. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by: G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Illustrator)

 

Ebook/Kubo/Kindle/Audible:

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  1. The Case Study of Vanitas Chapter 25 by: Jun Mochizuki
  2. Welcome to the Ballroom Vol. 9 by: Tomo Takeuchi 
  3. Tsuredure Children Vol. 8 by: Toshiya Wakabayashi 
  4. Chihayafuru Vol. 10 by: Yuki Suetsugu
  5. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Vol. 1 by: Fujita

 

Netgalley:

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  1. The Storm Runner by: J. C. Cervantes 

 

Bookstore:

May books

  1. The Queen of Sorrow by: Sarah Beth Durst
  2. Always Never Yours by: Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
  3. My Hero Academia Vol. 1-12 by: Kohei Horikoshi-Vol. 6 Arriving later 
  4. Re: ZERO-Starting Life in Another World-Vol. 6 by: Tappei Nagatsuki and Shinichirou Otsuka (Illustrator)
  5. Baccano! Vol. 7 by: Ryohgo Narita and Katsumi Enami (Illustrator)

Review: Defy the Stars

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Defy the Stars by: Claudia Gray

 Nate Begle (Narrator) and Kasey Lee Huizinga (Narrator)

My Rating: 4 Stars

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: War and death. Dystopian society.

Part of Defy the Stars was read during #rimpysreadsathon. 

Defy the Stars was recommended to me by my dear GR friend Elise! Click on her name to read her review. When I heard that Claudia Gray was releasing a new book I didn’t particularly care. I’ve never read any of her books nor did I care too. Then I came across Elise’s review and was instantly captivated! Listening to the audiobook sample sealed the deal. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this!

Noemi along with the rest of the pilots is about to go on a suicide mission. She isn’t necessarily comfortable with this, but is still ready to die. However Noemi is considered with her adoptive sister and best friend Esther. Plunged early on into the an attack from Earth Noemi sees Ether’s ship in the far distance. Steering herself to it, Noemi comes across an abandoned looking ship.

The two land on the ship, while Noemi quickly tries to save Esther’s life. In the process she runs into Abel. A mech that has been abandoned for the past 30 years. Abel swears himself to Noemi and proclaims that he will follow her every order. Thus shenanigans ensue.

Defy the Stars is a unique Sci-Fi! I had a lot of fun reading. It is narrated in third person omniscient following Noemi and Abel. There are some flashbacks. The narrators did an excellent job bringing the characters to life! Nate Begle was especially impressive as he did a monotone robot like voice for Abel.

Let me start off with saying that Defy the Stars is a journey book. I mean this in a literal sense. Abel and Noemi travel to many different planets. This took up a good 20 percent. So if you don’t like that then I would suggest that you read another book. Or you could finish this, as each planet had it’s own culture and religious views. Which was written beautifully!

My other point is that there is a large focus on religion. Noemi identifies as a Christian and throughout the book she is questioning God’s existence. And how she fits into this world. I personally thought that the author did an excellent job! It was relatable and I do think that others would relate. There are also several other religions and races. Yay for well done diversity!

And lastly Defy the Stars deals with refugee’s, assimilation, and the messy war. Each planet has a different culture and in order to fit in to said planet you have to assimilate to said culture. Also when Earth was in terrible condition they migrated to the other planets and assimilated. The refugee’s actually had a name but because I was listening to the audio I have no idea how to spell it. The refugee’s travel the galaxy and try to find a home. The Liberty War and all the different sides was handled excellently! It was messy and really great to read about all the different sides and opinions.

Defy the Stars is very similar to most YA dystopian books. I personally think that this book is much better than a lot of dystopian books. Earth is the villain, which is a surprise because most books have another planet as the main villain. There is a man made disease, a rebellion, and a war. Regardless all these points are handled really well where as some books aren’t.

Noemi and Abel’s relationship was fantastic! They don’t agree with each other at first. And all Abel is to Noemi is a tool and a means to a mission. As they spend more time together Abel grows to genuinely care about Noemi. From her health to her mental well being. Noemi too grows to really care for Abel. They develop a really great friendship! The romantic aspect doesn’t come until the end of the book. I appreciated that the author develops Noemi and Abel through their friendship. 

Noemi’s relationship with Esther and Esther’s family is a huge part of her character. She thinks that she’s always angry and not compassionate. Abel is the one to point out that isn’t true. Noemi overcomes a lot of her misgivings with the Gatson’s and tries to move on with her life. Her parents and baby brother died in a car accident. Noemi is a Lationa! Her culture isn’t mentioned but her religion is.

Abel’s fatherly relationship with his creator Mansfield is a huge part of his character arc. Abel truly loves Mansfield and wants to see him one day. Throughout the book Abel comes to terms with the fact that he has feelings. And even begins to question Mansfield and his motivations. This is partly due to Noemi. Also Abel’s sarcasm was really funny! And it was surprisingly sweet to read about his love for Casablanca. 

While on their journey Abel and Noemi come across various people. They come across the Razors. A group of hackers who aid Noemi and Abel. The leader of the Razors is Virginia and she was awesome! Her and Noemi’s friendship was really sweet to read about. Also Virginia is implied to be LGBTQ. Virginia’s lines were some of the best. Like so on point and hilarious. 

Harriet and Zayan are a biracial couple. Harriet a black and Zayan an Indian. They were so nice! Riko and Ephraim are a part of Remedy which is a rebellion. Both were very interesting as was their relationship to one-another. All the side characters are useful to the plot and have their own back stories. Which is quite rare in YA.

There are multiple hints throughout Defy the Stars about Mansfield’s questionable motives and the reason behind creating Abel. I still have to admit that I did not see that plot twist coming! I look forward to reading about more of his motivations in the sequel. 

The book does end on a sort of cliffhangers. Noemi and Abel are separated. With Noemi being back on Genesis and Abel seemingly starting up a business of sorts. Considering how high the stakes are I am excited for the sequel!  

I only had a few problems with Defy the Stars. I wasn’t invested in the first 20%. This is a character driven book, so in the beginning I wasn’t that into Abel and Noemi’s story. However the more I read the more I grew to love Abel and Noemi! Seriously those feelings kind of snuck up on me!

With the amount of POC and religions I was really surprised that there wasn’t any racism. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just kind of odd. And logically speaking it doesn’t make sense. To be honest I didn’t really mind while I was reading. But now that I’m typing this review I’ve come to realize this. Maybe this will come up in the sequel. We’ll have to see.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Defy the Stars! I am looking forward to the sequels. I highly recommend it!