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! 

 

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Review: Chaotic Good

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Chaotic Good by: Whitney Gardner

My Rating: 3 Stars

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Cyber bullying

I heard about Chaotic Good through GR. It hasn’t really been that well advertised or talked about. The synopsis reminded me off Moxie which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Cameron (Cam for short) and her family has just recently moved to Eugene. Cameron is a cosplayer and really wants to get into the university of her dreams. Chaotic Good begins with Cameron shopping in a comic shop where she is harassed by Brody. At some point Cameron gets a paid cosplay request. In order to make the costume properly Cameron has to make another trip to the comic shop. Although this time Cameron will go in as a boy.

I had fun reading Chaotic Good! It’s written in first person in Cameron’s point of view. There are chapter titles and a drawing of a dice with the chapter number. Comic strips of D and D are scattered around the book. Also there are text messages and blog posts.

I really liked all the comic references! There were so many throughout the book and it really did give the book a geeky feel. Cam’s cosplay costumes were so much fun to read about! Gardner clearly did her research. From the sewing, the fabric shopping. sewing machine terminology, Cam’s thimble collection, and to the costumes themselves. It was fantastic!

The D and D role playing was tons of fun! While I have heard of the game I didn’t know anything about it. The characters were so vivid as was the setting. The d-dice was also fun. For some reason I really like that dice. 

There was diversity! Wyatt was black and gay. And Cam’s twin brother Cooper was gay as well. Lincoln was fat. I liked how Gardner did a good job intergrating these characters into the plot without making their character arc’s only about their diversity.

I really liked Cam’s character! I totally understood and empathized with her plights. I liked how well done the idea and the act of courage was done for her story arc. Cam was nice and strong willed. But also had glaring flaws that were realistic. Her character arc definitely gave Moxie vibes and I was here for that.

I liked the relationship Cam had with her family! They were all supportive off each other. And some of their lines to each other were so funny. The twin aspect was done well. Cam and Cooper had nicknames for one another. I thought they were adorable!

The couples were cute! It was nice that Cam was actually attracted to a fat guy. Cooper and Wyatt also worked well together. The author also did a splendid job exploring unhealthy relationships. Cooper’s ex Farrin (real name is Brian) plays a huge role in his story arc. I felt that it was necessary and not just useless drama.

Cyber bullying is a main theme throughout Chaotic Good. Cam get death threats and essentially bullied simply because she’s a female cosplayer. Brody’s character plays a major role in this arc. As he believes that all females are fake and only into geeky things to get attention. I liked how as a boy Cam continuously gave it to him. It is implied that Brody does improve but it’s not really shown.

I do some have dislikes. For starters I think that Cam kept up the boy disguise far too long. To a point where Wyatt’s feelings were hurt. I do understand why she donned the disguise but it went on for an unnecessarily long time. Cooper was selfish and annoying. It felt that he turned the boy disguise situation about himself. He was definitely right and he didn’t know everything that Cam went through, but could’ve said it better. 

While the couples were cute it felt rushed. Chaotic Good is a small book that took place over the whole summer. I fell that maybe had it been longer that would’ve made a difference. Chaotic Good is supposed to be empowering for women. But I didn’t get that vibe. When it comes out that Cam is a girl and that Lincoln and Cooper knew, the only person truly blamed was Cam. Wyatt was upset for a short time at Lincoln but that’s it. This really grated on my nerves because I felt that it defeated the whole purpose of Chaotic Good.  

I really didn’t like how Wyatt and Cooper got together. Cooper glues himself to Wyatt after it comes out that Cam is a girl. He did this to cheer up Wyatt by lending him his shoulder and to also start a relationship with him. This put a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have gotten together. But I would’ve preferred another way for that to happen.

While I enjoyed Cam’s character I kind of wished we got a story arc with Brina (Brody’s crush). Brina was so brave! When she came to the comic store she didn’t freeze Brody, nor did she really care what he said to her and about her. Brina would’ve been an interesting main character.

Also it is stated that Cam and Cooper are going to be in their last year of high school after summer. Now what I don’t get it why is Cam applying for university this early? I know there are early admissions but I’m pretty sure those start later on. Could someone please clarify that in the comments? Thanks! 

Overall I enjoyed this book. I definitely recommend it to everyone. Especially if you liked Moxie.      

Review: Ace of Shades

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Ace of Shades by: Amanda Foody 

My Rating: 1 Star

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

Beware spoilers ahead!

DNF

Disclaimer: I skimmed a majority of this book. Lots of my information is based on that. If I have some wrong information/details please do mention it in the comments. 

Ace of Shades has been everywhere. Fellow book bloggers have been giving it raving reviews, it was avaliable on Netgalley for review, everyone was talking about, and there was quite a bit of advertising done on Twitter. Foody’s previous book was decent (I DNFed it), seeing as this is her second book I was hoping it would be good. Unfortunately that was not the case.

I liked was that Enne is very much a girly girl. I definitely enjoyed reading about her clothes and whatnot. I’d imagine that she’d have really great fashion sense if she were real. The idea behind their powers was cool. Levi was black and bi. Yay for diversity! The major plot twist was interesting. And that’s the end of my likes.

The writing was very frustrating. In Daughter of the Burning City I enjoyed Foody’s writing style. Ace of Shades had a very condescending tone. This reflected in the characters’ as well. None of them were likable. The plot wasn’t a lot better. I felt a weird sort of detachment toward the characters and plot. I just couldn’t bring myself to truly care about anything that happened.

The tone of New Reynes was nothing like Ketterdam. New Reynes was dark, filled with money obsessed people, and a ton of male slime-balls. It just wasn’t fleshed out enough. While I could picture myself there I didn’t exactly get a good feel of the world. It was very difficult to wrap my head around it.

The same goes for the history, politics, and magic system. Despite the info dumps scattered throughout the whole book, I felt that there wasn’t any depth to the information. The magic system probably confused me the most. Every time Orbs was mentioned I kept on imagining spheres floating.

I found most characters to be annoying. Enne’s stupidity really grated on my nerves. You would think that when Enne realizes her true potential she’d get smarter, but she doesn’t. And aside from Enne’s true potential she didn’t really have a personality. I didn’t care for her friendship with Lola. 

Levi was proud and just ugh! I really didn’t like how many times he called Enne ‘Missy’. Levi wasn’t believable as the leader of the Irons. Levi is nothing like Kaz.  Levi never felt like a black character. You could really just believe that he’s white. I felt that his friendship with Jax wasn’t developed enough. 

Enne and Levi are attracted to one another early on (chapter 3 or 4). Though there are hints of two getting together, nothing actually happens in this book. It’ll likely be the case in later books.

I really don’t understand why Ace of Shades is constantly being compared to Six of Crows. The later chapters are definitely reminiscent of Six of Crows. And that’s about it. It would make more sense to compare it to Jade City. 

The series is called The Shadow Game. The Shadow Game is actual game wherein you play with cards and certain people can die. This reminded me so much of Yu Gi Oh. Just with less interesting cards and odd rules.

Overall I didn’t like it at all. I recommend Jade City, Six of Crows, and Yu Gi Oh instead.  

Review: Always and Forever Lara Jean

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Always and Forever Lara Jean by: Jenny Han

My Rating: 5 stars

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?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Lara Jean and her boyfriend Peter are in their last year in high school. Lara Jean is hoping that she’ll get into UVA. As she’ll be with Peter but also remain with her family while she’s at college. Her father’s relationship with Ms. Rothschild is going well. In fact Ms. Rothschild has become apart of the family.

Lara Jean is preparing for her classes trip to New York City, college, and the inevitable good-byes to her teachers and classmates. Unfortunately not everything goes according to Lara Jean’s plan. Throughout this book Lara Jean has to decide what she wants in life and how will she and Peter navigate their relationship.

When I heard that this book would be released I was overjoyed! This is my favourite contemporary series! I am glad to say that it was wonderful! Just like the previous books it is written in first person all in Lara Jean’s point of view. And there are chapter numbers. There are text messages, admission emails, and a letter of sorts at the end of this book.

I loved everything about this book! From the trip to New York City, the wedding, as well as Lara Jean and Chris’s spontaneous road trip to North Carolina. I especially love that in every book Lara Jean develops. There’s no reset button just growth.

Like the previous books there is such a large emphasis on family. Margot, Kitty, their father, and Lara Jean are a very close knit family. Ms. Rothschild and Peter are additions to their family. Partway in the book their father proposes to Ms. Rothschild with Lara Jean, Kitty, and Peter’s help.

Margot doesn’t quite like that Ms. Rothschild has such a huge role in their family. As she was in university for most of this book, Margot gets the shock when she sees how close her father is to Ms. Rothschild. For the majority of the book Margot has a very strained relationship with Ms. Rothschild. Margot doesn’t have a problem with Ms. Rothschild as a person, just that she didn’t expect her father to ever get married. Despite this Margot remains supportive of her father and his decisions. The two do make-up and it was beautiful!

Applying for college was a huge part of this book. All of Peter and Lara Jean’s friends are going their separate ways. The seniors all plan to have one last get-together before that happens. They have the trip to New York City, seniors week, and some plans after graduation. It was so much fun to read about, but also had a bittersweet feel to it. Kind of reminds me of my high school days. 

As foreshadowed in the synopsis Lara Jean doesn’t get accepted in UVA. This obviously puts a strain on her relationship with Peter. The two come up with another plan instead. They plan to spend their first year apart but in their second year Lara Jean will transfer to UVA.

Peter’s family is actually a huge part of this book. His father actually make’s an appearance and it attempting to get back into Peter’s life and good graces. Due to his insecurities with his father Peter felt that Lara Jean would dump him  Further proven to him when Lara Jean made a scrapbook so that he could take it to him in UVA. Peter thought that this was Lara Jean’s way of saying good-bye. The two make-up (of course) and decide to face any obstacles that come in the future together.

I was actually happy that Peter’s family life came in. And that this time it was his insecurities that drove them apart rather than his relationship with Genevieve. It has been heavily implied that Peter has many insecurities. And I have always assumed that his parent’s divorce had more of an effect on him than he implied. I felt that it was done well.

Lara Jean is really upset that she didn’t make it into UVA. She won’t get to be with her family nor will she be in school with Peter. Once Peter lays out the new plan to Lara Jean she has a purpose. Though she is very depressed and instead of meeting with her future peers (one of the those college freshmen get-together’s) Lara Jean puts all her energy into planning the wedding. Surprisingly Lara Jean gets accepted into UNC. When Lara Jean tells Chris, she (Chris) tells Lara Jean that they should go a on spontaneous road trip to North Carolina.

The road trip was a blast to read about! Chris and Lara Jean saw UNC (which was beautifully described), they meet new people, ate new food, and just had fun. Of course when the two arrive home they get into trouble. Lara Jean’s family is overjoyed that she got into UNC. Her family urge her to choose what she wants and that they’ll always support her.

Now I know that there were some people that weren’t happy when this book was announced. But I personally felt that this book was necessary. Unlike P. S. I Still Love You, Always and Forever Lara Jean felt like a conclusion book. Lara Jean has a last hora with Chris (I like to imagine that they’ll still keep up in the future), has last conversations with Lucas, John, Genevieve, and Stormy (who sadly passed away in this book), and her father gets remarried (the wedding planning and the wedding itself was awesome)Even the drama was realistic and well done. 

Overall Always and Forever Lara Jean was a beautiful conclusion to the series. I recommend this series to everyone. 

Review: Freeks

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Freeks by: Amanda Hocking

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the blog tour. I had heard about this book through Netgalley. I was scrolling one day and came across this book. It sounded good and some of my friends were reading it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book!

The book is written in first person all in Mara’s point of view. Before every chapter there is a picture of a tarot card with the date and the year. This book does take place in the eighties.

The book begins with Mara and the circus traveling to their newest location. Mara’s mother and her boyfriend Gideon have a bad feeling about this location but they need the money. One of their former members lives in said town and promised them a good deal.

Mara would love the idea of living a normal life. While she likes her family on the circus, she would like to stay in one place and maybe start a family of her own. Whenever Mara reaches a new town she explores it the night before any of their performances.

While exploring the town and taking in all the houses Mara runs into this girl dragging her drunk boyfriend. Mara offers to help said girl. Later the girl invites Mara into the party where Mara meets the girl’s brother Gabe. She is instantly attracted to Gabe and spends the night with him.

The next day Mara’s mother is asking her whether she has seen one of their members and her roommate Blossom (I think that’s her name). Mara has not. This is actually quiet normal for Blossom to disappear and come back again. Which is why Mara doesn’t worry about her. On the other hand Mara’s mother has weird vibes about the town and sends Mara and Gideon to inform the police. Informing the police doesn’t really go anywhere but at least Mara’s mother is appeased.

As the book continues weird things start to happen to the circus crew. A majority of their powers aren’t working properly. More people have gone missing. Something seems to be only targeting and killing the circus crew, specifically those who are the most powerful. Mara actually starts having these nightmares about a woman screaming something at her in another language. And the town is just giving off weird vibes. The town thus far has do nothing to help. It’s up to Mara, the circus crew, and Gabe to figure out what’s going on.

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to except about this book. I had heard about Amanda Hocking before but have never actually read any of her other books. I was kind of surprised that I enjoyed this!

I really liked basically all of the characters! Mara’s voice felt real to me and I understood her longing to live a normal life. I have actually forgotten all but three characters names, so I don’t remember Mara’s friend’s names. Which sucks but is also not surprising seeing as I read this back in October 2016 and didn’t take any notes. I apologize in advance for any confusions.

I liked the relationship Mara had with her mother. It wasn’t complicated but instead the pair were quiet close. Mara and Gideon had a good relationship as well. Now you would think that they’d have an awkward relationship seeing as he is dating her mom, but surprisingly they were close as well. Gideon genuinely cared for Mara and all of the other performers.

The powers were really cool to read about! I actually didn’t hear about some of the powers so that was nice. Mara’s mother could predict the future using tarot cards and allowing the spirits to speak to her. This did have a negative affect on her physically and mentally. This was the same with all of their powers. I found this to be very original as I have never read about paranormal powers having negative effects on the people themselves.

Mara’s friends were nice and they all had a good relationship with one-another. Mara also becomes friends with Gabe’s sister whom I loved. As for Mara and Gabe’s romance it was very quick. It wasn’t insta-love so much as insta-attraction. Normally I don’t like reading about rushed romances, but I didn’t mind it in this book. I really liked Gabe so maybe that’s why I let it slide. There is an LGBTQIA romance as well. Both the characters are already dating before the book takes place so you didn’t get to see their romance develop.

The setting was fantastic! This was my first eighties book and it certainly won’t be my last. I also felt I was walking right next to Mara as she took in the town and described the circus and some of the places she went to.

I did not see any of the plot points coming! I found it very original and entertaining to read about. Note this book is more focused on the characters and the setting. It’s a decent pace but not a whole lot happens right away.

I only had one problem with this. In the beginning I found that not much happened in the book (which I mentioned above). It took awhile for some of the characters to go missing and for the circus to realize that there was something up with the town. After some time I got used to it. I started to get sucked in because I really enjoyed reading about the characters.

Overall this was a good standalone! I recommend this to anyone looking for a character driven standalone. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this author.  

Review: All the Feels

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All the Feels by: Danika Stone

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life…and her last tangible connection to her deceased father. Thus, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.

Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinare, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a call that ignites the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life, and her disapproving mother’s new boyfriend. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to get away from it all… and figure out what (and who!) she really wants.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the Sunday Street Team for this book. 

I had heard about this book through GR. At the time I didn’t really pay attention to it. Then when I joined the Sunday Street Team for the author’s other book Edge of Wild I noticed that the author was having another book coming out this year. Honestly the first time I read the synopsis I thought I would hate this book because at the time it sounded really dumb. But I decided to give it a shot. There are a lot of books that I now love and at one point I thought I would hate. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book!

The book begins with explaining us a movie. The only thing you know is that it’s an alien movie. The main character whose name is Spartan is trying to kill the aliens. With him is a little girl who is attempting to help him. When the two reach an escape pod Spartan tells the girl to run while the countdown is going off. The girl is able to reach the pod and escape. Meanwhile Spartan dies in the explosion.

We are then taken to Liv and Xander. The two are both in shock. Although Liv is in much worse shape. Xander gently tells her that they need to leave the theater and guides her out. He goes to get the car meanwhile Liv waits inside. She has an emotional outburst and takes it out on the workers. Eventually she leaves still very upset. The minute she reaches her house she goes to Twitter and tells some of her friends that Spartan died. Spartan could have made it out  as there was one more pod left.

The following week Liv remains depressed. Xander has tried his utmost to help her and get her out of the house. Her mother has tried to same although she doesn’t do it very nicely. Then one day when her mother’s boyfriend comes over and Liv’s mother wakes her up. Liv changes and goes downstairs to find her mother and her boyfriend going out somewhere. Liv’s mom asks her to tag along but Liv declines noticing that Gary (the boyfriend) doesn’t want her to come. They leave and she opens the fortune cookie’s they left her. Taking the fortune as a sign Liv comes up with #SpartanSurvived and enlists Xanders help.

Wow I seriously did not expect to enjoy it that much! The book is written in third person which I found surprising considering it’s a contemporary book. But luckily I liked the writing style! I found that it suited the story. It is divided into two parts. Before Dragon Con and during Dragon Con. There are text messages, twitter conversations, and some fanmade pictures! This was really cool! I’ve never read a book that’s formatted this way. The chapter titles are quotes from things like Harry Potter and Doctor Who. I think that added a nice touch the to overall story.

I completely understood where Liv was coming from! While I haven’t been an active member in fandoms I have loved so many tv shows and books, and mourned the characters that died. While I never let it take over my life I can see why some people would.

Liv’s only connection to her father was through the Starveil films and when Spartan died her whole world feel apart. It wasn’t much help from her mother who viewed fandoms to be dumb and also internet friends. She isn’t close to her mother because of this. Xander and his girlfriend Arden helped whenever they could. 

Xander and Liv’s friendship was adorable! He was so sweet to her and understanding. He agrees to help her with #SpartanSurvived and eventually gets sucked into the fandom. This in particular was amusing to read about. I was really glad that for a majority of the book they remained friends. The romance was really slow burn but I liked it.

I thought it was brilliant when Liv came up with #SpartanSurvived and it was awesome watching it grow and become such a big deal to the fans that Liv talked to! I would never have come up something like that. And I absolutely loved reading about Dragon Con! It was amazing and I so need to go there one day!

The author did an excellent job writing about being in a fandom! It was so much fun reading and it reminded me about how I converse with my friends on GR! While Liv loved Starveil Xander loved steampunk and cosplays. The author did a good job fleshing out the two different fandoms.

The characters in this book was realistic! Liv eventually finds the confidence to get out there and explore the real world and try to make friends with people in her classes. Xander was her support system as was the other fans of Starveil. She grew into a strong and likable character! Xander was a doll! I loved how he said things like ‘dearest’. He’s so different than the other male love interests. It was refreshing reading about him.

I only had three problems with this book. I would have liked to see her of Liv and her mothers relationship. When she goes to Dragon Con you’re not shown her mothers reaction and I really wanted to read about that. And when she reached Dragon Con Liv only called her mother once. I’m surprised that her mother never called her. And like most contemporaries Xander and Liv get into a bit of a fight which I didn’t understand. Thankfully it was resolved quickly. While the epilogue was sweet I felt that it was rushed and somewhat unnecessary. Nonetheless I still liked this book!

Overall I enjoyed this book! I recommend it to all fangirls and fanboys. And anyone trying to understand fandoms.   

Review: The Lies About Truth

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The Lies About Truth by: Courtney C. Stevens

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she’s unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she’ll always be trapped in the past.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I had heard about this book through Twitter. There was a giveaway going on and I entered. Now I didn’t win the giveaway but this book was always in the back of my mind. After reading several reviews I decided to buy it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

The book begins with Sadie walking to the beach. Going to the beach in shorts is apart of Sadie’s list of goals that she made with her therapist Fletcher. So far she’s managed to do it until she sees whose on the beach. Gina who is her former best friend calls her over. Seeing no other choice Sadie follows suite and the two talk. Their conversation goes as it normally does. Gina tries to get Sadie to keep in touch, she apologizes profusely, and assures her that Gray (Sadie’s ex boyfriend) and her aren’t dating.

Gray joins the conversation and it just goes south from there. He can’t look Sadie in the eye. She has a few scars from the accident and he simply cannot bear to look at her because it reminds him of their best friend dying. Sadie takes that as her cue to leave. Once her old friends are out of sight she writes in the sand her goal list. Then she jogs back home.

At home her mother gives her a letter that came for her in the mail. Noticing Sadie’s expression she asks what happened. Sadie tells her that she ran into Gray and Gina and that it didn’t really go well. Her mother then mentions that she was talking with Sadie’s dad and they have decided to put Sadie back in school in the fall. She further explains that they found homeschooling necessary because of the therapy sessions and surgery. But now Sadie is better and should go back to school. Sadie argues but her mother points out that Sadie isn’t happy at home and that she can’t spend the rest of her life avoiding people.

Sadie says that she’ll think about it and her mother leaves. She decides to open the letter. It has no return address just her name typed up. Once she has it open she is shocked at what she reads. It was something she wrote years ago. Sadie has this blue ostrich toy. Trent had won it for her and they named it Big. Her mother then pointed out to her that there was a hole in the bottom of the toy. Trent then suggested that Sadie put papers in Big. Much to Sadie’s surprise the words on the letter are one of the papers she put in Big years ago.

Sadie thinks that her parents are behind this and confronts them. It becomes obvious that her parents aren’t behind it. Her father brings up going to school again and Sadie storms off to her bedroom. She immediately checks Big for the paper and finds it. Sadie doesn’t have any idea who is doing this and how the person even got the paper, but she intends to find out.

I honestly did not expect to enjoy this book! When I started reading it I thought that I rate it 3 stars. But as I continued to read on I found myself enjoying it immensely! The book is written in first person all in Sadie’s point of view. There are letters, emails and flashbacks that come in this book.

A year prior to The Lies About Truth Sadie, Max, Gina, Trent, and Gray were in a car crash. Trent was killed. Sadie who had forgotten to put her seat belt on went flying out of the window. Sadie has some scars on her and she went through several surgeries to look somewhat the same. Max’s vocal chords are not what they used to be. He has a hard time speaking and it usually comes out as horse. While Gina and Gray didn’t have physical injuries they were scarred as well.

Max’s family moved to El Salvador for a year (his family comes back in the beginning of the book). Sadie stopped keeping with Gina and Gray. After she saw Gray (her boyfriend at the time) kiss Gina. Sadie kept up with Max through emails. Sadie pretty much stopped getting out of her house. She’s very conscious about her scars and she now has social anxiety. So she can’t be in a crowd. Sadie’s parent decide to put Sadie through a Social Experiment. To get her ready for school. At first Sadie does not want to participate but it becomes very obvious that she has no choice and decides to go along with it.

I liked how the author showed the readers the aftermath of the car crash. It’s true that there isn’t only injuries especially if you lose a loved one. The grief was messy and dealt with very well. I understood Sadie’s need to forgive Gina and Gray but at the same time she couldn’t bring herself to do it. It was realistic. The relationship between all four of them was also dealt with well. There were a lot of Before and After’s which was to be expected.

I liked reading about Max and Sadie. They had a nice relationship and it was sweet to see it unfold with the emails. I also liked reading about Sadie and her parents. They were an amazing support system! I also liked reading about her therapist Fletcher and the goals she set for herself. A lot of the people Sadie met were nice and supportive. This is probably one of the most realistic contemporaries I have ever read.

I liked how there was a strong focus on forgiveness and finding the strength to move on. The flashbacks were also sweet. You saw what all the characters were like before the accident including Trent. The mystery aspect wasn’t that great. But it didn’t bother me and I understood why the person did not. What is nice about this book is that I got to relax and turn off my brain and just enjoyed the ride. I also liked how everything came to a full circle at the end. 

I did have one problem with The Lies About Truth. I couldn’t relate to the characters. I felt that they were defined by their lies, regrets, and mistakes. Sadie was defined by the relationships she had with the people around her. I didn’t know any one of the characters. I honestly thought that because of this I wouldn’t rate it higher than 3 stars. But much to my surprise the plot sneaked up on me. I’m not sure when this happened but it did.

Note this is a really slow contemporary. This didn’t bother me but it might bother some readers. It takes a very long time for anything to really happen. Including the mystery with the letters. It also deals with a lot of grief so if you don’t like that I would skip this book.

Overall this was a fun ride. I recommend it to fans of contemporary and people who like reading books dealing with grief.