Review: Hello, Sunshine

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Hello, Sunshine by: Leila Howland

My Rating: 4 Stars

A Prep School Girl with a Hollywood Dream

Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.

Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she’s running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?

Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.

Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Content Warning: A creepy neighbor who continues to harass and stalk the main character. There are some sex scenes but nothing explicit. And a nudity situation.

Book 2 for Monstrous March.

Becca and her boyfriend Alex are spending one last hoorah before Alex goes to college. All of the college’s that Becca applied for denied her. Upon her mother’s request Becca plans to look for a part time job whilst trying to became an actress. Much to her surprise Alex breaks up with her. Feeling lost Becca decides to move to LA and try to become an actress there.    

I had heard about Hello, Sunshine through Netgalley in 2017. I really liked the synopsis and heard good things, so I decided to purchase a copy. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! The book is written in first person limited following Becca’s point of view. There are text messages, lists, as well as quotes from a book and online articles.

I really liked that this book is YA! I think this book would help so many teens before going into college. And it’s nice to see college YA. There are a lot of valuable lessons such as the value of work, a person’s worth, and money.

I really liked Becca! She was so happy and energetic. I rarely read about those types of characters and Becca felt so fresh and fun. Her growth throughout the Hello, Sunshine was amazing! I really enjoyed her standing up for herself. And learning and experiencing new things. Which in turn helped her grow and become a really good actress.

I loved the family aspect! Becca is really close to her mother and even her cousin Vivian. She had a fantastic relationship with her mother! I also appreciated that Becca didn’t mind that her father was out of the picture. As long as she had her mother she was all good. Becca’s mother plays a huge part in the story and in the decisions she makes. I wish more YA would bring in family.

I loved the friendship between Becca and Marisol! Marisol was also trying to become an actress. The two supported each other rather than tearing each other down. Which was so nice to read about! They had such a wholesome friendship which made the book all the more enjoyable.

I also really liked Raj! He was a good friend and a genuine person. His crush on Becca was so cute to read about. I did enjoy how it was slow burn. Also when Becca friendzoned Raj he came back and was cool with everything. They really did complement each other.

I did have some issues with Hello, Sunshine. I didn’t like that Raj got all giddy at the thought that he looked like a ‘criminal’. This didn’t feel realistic considering that he was an Indian. And Indian’s are primarily confused by ignorant people as Muslim’s therefore are terrorists.

While I’m happy that Becca got into California film school I am a bit muffed by it. I really thought that she would answer that question and grow even more. But that didn’t happen. I know that connections are everything and while I appreciated that aspect, I still would’ve liked to see her answer it. 

The conflicts at the end were weird. Marisol was rich and kept it a secret. And that whole thing with Raj kind of made sense but also felt thrown in there for some drama build-up. Not every contemporary needs that and this book could’ve done without it.

While I like Raj and Becca as a couple I’m not happy with how they got together. It read odd and felt rushed. And it affected how I felt about them as a couple. I think it would’ve been better had they gotten together earlier and maybe not had a conflict before.

Overall I really enjoyed Hello, Sunshine! I highly recommend.       

  

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Review: The Dark Days Deceit

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The Dark Days Deceit by: Alison Goodmen

My Rating: 4 Stars

The thrilling, genre-bending conclusion to Lady Helen’s demon-hunting adventures, set in the glittering Regency world.

Lady Helen has retreated to a country estate outside Bath to prepare for her wedding to the Duke of Selburn, yet she knows she has unfinished business to complete. She and the dangerously charismatic Lord Carlston have learned they are a dyad, bonded in blood, and only they are strong enough to defeat the Grand Deceiver, who threatens to throw mankind into chaos. But the heinous death-soaked Ligatus Helen has absorbed is tearing a rift in her mind. Its power, if unleashed, will annihilate both Helen and Carlston unless they can find a way to harness its ghastly force and defeat their enemy.

In the final book of the trilogy that began with THE DARK DAYS CLUB and continued with THE DARK DAYS PACT, the intrepid Lady Helen’s story hurtles to a shocking conclusion full of action, heartbreak, and betrayal.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Death, physical violence, drugging someone, manipulation, cheating, sexism, misogynistic society, graphic fight scenes, and abuse of power/authority.

The Dark Days Deceit was read for the theme Reborn Tales. For a book group called The Theme Thieves.

Lady Helen is preparing for her wedding to the Duke of Selburn. She receives a letter from her aunt Lenore saying that she will be visiting soon. This scares Helen as her aunt isn’t aware that she is a Reclaimer. And any of her recent activities.

Lord Carlston meanwhile is looking for Lady Elise. Thus far there have been no findings. Lord Carlston and Lady Helen get into a fight. Lady Helen fears that her marriage to the Duke of Selburn will be put to the test. As her aunt and many other friends start joining the party Lady Helen is having a hard time completing her Reclaimer duties. With Deceivers more prominent Lady Helen and Carlston soon find themselves backed in a corner. Can the two defeat the Grand Deceiver and make it out alive?

I have been a longtime fan of this series! So I was really looking forward to this installment. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! As per usual this is book is written in third person limited following Helen. There are chapter numbers and letters. There are dates and the year. Plus there is a lace like pattern on the tips of the pages. 

The Dark Days Deceit was so tense! The beginning from the end was tense. With maybe a few nice and peaceful moments. And a hilarious scene. There was even tension between Helen and Carlston. At first it was just that they were mad at each other. But then it shifted to romantic tension. Which I think was done very well.

Some new characters are introduced. Lord Henry and Lady Georgina who are going to be Helen’s in-laws soon. Aunt Lenore and Andrew come back in this book. A few new Reclaimers come in as well.

There was some more world building present. Particularly with the Grand Deceiver. The Ligatus also comes into play. And how it’s effecting Lord Carlston, Lady Helen, and Darby. I really enjoyed all the information and how it fit in with the plot. The plot twists and reveals were so good!

As always I loved reading about the relationship Lady Helen has with those around her! I was surprised at the friendship with Lady Georgina. I assumed that we weren’t supposed to like her. The author instead chose to add more layers. Which I really appreciated. Her mentoring with Sprat was also sweet to read about! I really like Sprat. And was so happy that she played a huge role in the story.

It was nice to read about Helen’s aunt and brother. I was happy when they came back in. They provide a good support for her. Really great family dynamics. The author also surprised me by adding some layers to Helen’s uncle. While he is awful and sexist, he cared about them. In his own way. He set up Helen’s bank account as he did with his wife.

The romance was pretty good to! I enjoyed reading about the love triangle. And the back and forth that Helen went through. I wasn’t happy with how the love triangle ended. But I commend Helen’s strength.

I did have a few problems. I’m kind of upset about Selburn being the Grand Deceiver. I think that there was a better way to end the love triangle. Also about Lady Margret and Delia’s deaths. It felt like all Helen wasn’t left with too many female friends.

Overall I enjoyed this installment! I highly recommend this series.          

Review: A Dash of Trouble

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A Dash of Trouble by: Anna Meriano

My Rating: 5 Stars

Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Death mentioned, mention of cancer, bullying, physical violence, and abuse of magic powers.

A Dash of Trouble was read for the theme January Jam Jar. For a book group called Devour Your TBR on GR.

Leo’s family runs a bakery. As she is too young Leo isn’t allowed to partake in the bakery activities. Leo soon realizes that there might in fact be another reason to it. With the help of her best friend Caroline, Leo discovers that her family are practicing magic!

Behind her families back Leo begins to practice magic on her own. Leo decides to use her first spell to help Caroline. Rather than doing any good Leo instead creates a big mess. Can Leo right her mistakes with the help of her family and Caroline?

I heard about A Dash of Trouble through Twitter. The cover and the synopsis was cute so I decided to purchase myself a copy. I am happy to say that I loved it! The book is written in third person limited following Leo. There are chapter titles, and chapter numbers along with an illustration. There are poems. The spells were mostly in Spanish. At the end of the book there’s a section labeled Leo’s Lucky Recipes. And lastly baking similes.

This was such a cute book! While also being unique. I loved the magic system and how the baking was involved. All the baking terminology and process was accurate. I also liked how present the culture was even in the spells!

I loved the family aspect! Leo is very close with her family. I liked how unique all the sisters’ were. Isabel the kind oldest and calm one. Marisol the second oldest while a bit rude still caring in her own way. Alma and Belen the twins who are the closest in age to Leo. Thus are a bit closer. I also liked Leo’s parents and aunt Paloma.

Leo and Caroline’s friendship was also well done! Caroline’s mother passed away due to cancer prior to the book. Sometime after that Caroline and her father moved. The family returns back home. And it’s like no time has passed at all between the girl’s. There’s also Brent whom I took some time to warm up to. Regardless he grew on me.

I absolutely loved the diversity! Leo’s family are Spanish. There culture is present in their magic, as the women are Bruja’s. Caroline is half Colombian. She helps Leo translate some spells. The book actually begins with The Day of the Dead festival.

I felt that the author wrote realistic middle graders. All the social problems even felt so. Especially with Brent and the peer pressure he felt in leaving Caroline. Which also ties in to the magic mishaps. Leo decides to put a love spell on Brent so he would go back to being friends with Caroline. Of course this doesn’t end well. And it effects the social hierarchy system.

I really liked Leo’s growth! Throughout the book Leo believes she can solve the problem on her own. In doing so she lies to her family and Caroline. Even to herself. All under the assumption that if her family found out rather than helping her they would stop her from using magic. Leo sees the error in her ways and confesses to everyone. While also owning up to her mistakes.

Overall I loved A Dash of Trouble! I highly recommend this series.           

Review: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

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Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by: Alison Goodman

My Rating: 4 Stars

Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he’ll become apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon’s power. It is forbidden for females to practise the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. But after a brilliant sword ceremony, Eon is catapulted into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where his desperate lie comes to light …

Beware spoilers ahead!

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn was read during Tome Topple. And for The Dream Thieves December theme Missed TBR.

Trigger warning: Physical violence, bullying, harassment, drug addiction, mention of war, death, grief, misogynistic society, gory fights, critical injuries from battle, ableism, transphobia, disability cured via magic, mention of salt mines, mention of slavery, abuse of power via authority, taking control of one’s body, and rape.

Eon is a twelve year old boy with a lame leg. Eon is hoping to become a Dragoneye so his master can become rich again. There’s just one small problem. Eon is Eona a sixteen year old girl. And girl’s can’t be Dragoneye’s. It is punishable by death. If the council finds out Eona and her master will be punished. On top of all that there is a war brewing. How will Eona manage to balance her lies and survive the imperial court?

After reading The Dark Day’s Club by the same author I really wanted to read more off her works’. The Eon series has such rave reviews that I decided to give it a shot. I am really happy to say that I enjoyed it!

I am really happy that I read this! The book begins with a prologue was explains some of the world and magic system. There is a map of the palace, and dragon charts. Which lists each dragon and their dragoneye. The book is narrated in first person limited following Eona’s point of view.

I really enjoyed the world building and the magic system! It was very unique and interesting. Also the dragon aspect was so cool! Eona is still learning so not everything was explained. Particularly the bound with a dragon. The power that the Dragoneye’s have is explored but again to a degree.

The beginning was a bit dense as everything is being introduced to the reader. It did feel like an adult fantasy for that reason. Once I got into it, the book flew! This was so fast paced and I wasn’t expecting that.

I enjoyed the political intrigue! It’s very rare to find well done political intrigue. When Eona gets to the palace it’s a constant game of lies and a bit of cat and mouse with one of the Dragoneye’s. Whose name is Lord Ido. It’s get even messier when Eona make’s some friends and gets dragged into a battle of sorts. There is a bit of power imbalance which was is discussed multiple times throughout the book. 

I really liked Eona’s character! She’s very unique from some of the characters you read about now-a-days. She’s compassionate but ruthless as she’s backed into a corner most of the time. Eona was quite intelligent and very mature for her age. I think the author did a good job with Eona’s leg. I liked reading about her inner struggles. Particularly her fear off being herself and accepting her female side. With the help off her friends and her dragon Eona comes to accept herself. Her character development was truly excellent!

Eona is close to Chart and Rilla. Chart is disfigured and can’t speak. Due to this he is picked on quite a bit. Rilla is Chart’s mother. Barron is Eona’s master who she trained under. Barron bought Eona from a salt mine when he realized she could see all the dragons’ energies. She has a complicated relationship with him. Regardless they both still care for each other.

Eona becomes friends with Ryko, Lady Dela, and Prince Kygo. Also some of the dragoneye’s and their apprentices. Lady Dela spends her time navigating Eona through all the political intrigue and Ryko is tasked with guarding Lady Dela. Lady Dela is a transgender female. Prince Kygo and Eona become friends for mutual interests. There are hinting’s of a romance between the two. Nothing becomes of it in this installment.

All these characters shape Eona. And grow from one-another. I really liked the relationship’s she had with all of them! My favourite is Lady Dela. She was such a fun character but knowledgeable as well.

I also liked all the plot twist’s and foreshadowing you get throughout the book! Some of it was predictable. Though I still found it entertaining. Truly this book kept me on the edge of my seat. 

I did have some problems with this book. I felt that Lady Dela wasn’t done that well. There are several times when Eona will mention that Lady Dela would sometimes look like a male or have the strength of a male. Which didn’t feel that well done to me. Once Eona has truly bounded with her dragon her leg is ‘fixed’. Magically she’s cured. And it does send the wrong message.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I am looking forward to reading the sequel. I highly recommend this series!                

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

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A Very Large Expanse of Sea by: Tahereh Mafi

My Rating: 4 Stars

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Violence, bullying, harassment, xenophobia, Islamophobia, discrimination, mention of divorce, mention of wars, mention of death and car accident, racism, blackmailing, and invasion of privacy via technology. 

A Very Large Expanse of Sea was read for The Dream Thieves: Badass Broads.

When I had first heard about this book I didn’t care. I’d tried reading some of the author’s previous works and they didn’t work for me. After reading all the rave reviews I caved in and gave it a shot. I am happy that I did so!

Shirin has spent most of her life moving from one school to another. She hasn’t stayed at one school long enough to make lasting friendship’s. With every move her parents try to put her in a better school, ideally make more money, and move into a better house. The latest move is no different. Another high school with mostly white people.

Shirin has been spending most of the schools’ she goes to putting up walls. She doesn’t talk to people and people don’t talk to her. Her hijab seems to be a large neon ‘Avoid this person’ sign. Much to Shirin’s surprise, her lab partner Ocean becomes her friend. And even more shocking they start to become more than that. Throughout the story Shirin starts to realize she may have been wrong about people.

Before starting A Very Large Expanse of Sea I didn’t read many reviews. I went into it with little to no knowledge but decently high expectations. It really surprised me! The book is written in first person following Shirin. It’s like Shirin is talking to you. Which I thought worked for the story. It’s really amazing how many times Mafi can change her writing style. There are some text messages, AIM messages, and chapter numbers. It takes place one year after the 9/11. The title of the book is also mentioned in the story.

Shirin was one of the best parts of this book! I found her so relatable, mature, and surprisingly funny. Seriously some of the things she says were on point and hilarious. Also completely vulnerable. Normally the character that puts up a lot of walls doesn’t admit they are vulnerable. Shirin on the other hand mentions so many times that she is vulnerable but wishes she wasn’t. Which I found to be rather refreshing.

Shirin and her brother Navid are born and breed American’s. Their parents are Iranian immigrants. There was quite a bit of mention about Persian culture. Such as the language and the food. Even some of the traditions. They are also Muslim’s. Islam play a large part in the story. As a Muslim I found the Islam rep to be amazing! Shirin also has a lot to say about wearing the hijab. Such as why she wear’s it and her views on the hijab. I also wear the hijab so I loved everything she had to say! Some of it brought tears to my eyes, and made me respect Shirin even more.

I really enjoyed reading about Shirin’s relationship with her family! Navid was such a sweetheart. And their parents were supportive in their own way. What really stood out to me was how much Shirin and her family love their religion and culture. Which is a rarity to read about.

Shirin has many interests. Breakdancing, fashion, books, tv, and music. These interests are always brought up throughout the book without being too in your face. Every tiny detail regarding Shirin as a person is weaved into the story effectively. 

I really liked all the diversity in this book! Navid has dyslexia. It’s treated like a part of him not something to ashamed off. Their breakdancing crew also has some diverse members. Bijan is gay and Middle Eastern. Not quite sure where exactly he’s from. Jacobi is black. Carlos I think is Hispanic. I’m not a 100 percent positive. It’s not really mentioned. But I have a feeling he’s not white either. 

I had so much fun reading about breakdancing! This is actually the first time I’ve read about the topic in a book. And I have to say that I did actually learn quite a bit. The competitions were the best to read about though. The relationship the crew had with one-another was also so cute!

Ocean really surprised me! I did not expect to like him as much as I did. He was really nice and of course due to his privilege a bit oblivious. I really liked that Shirin and Ocean were friends first then an actual romance formed. Rather than some insta-love. I loved their conversations! They were so cute together! 

Ocean as well as other characters allow Shirin to grow. And understand that Shirin was doing exactly what people did to her. Stereotyping everyone around her. Shirin herself allows Ocean to realize his privilege and allowed him to grow into himself more.

My favourite part about their relationship was that they were more than their relationship. Shirin still keeps up her breakdancing, and Ocean still stays within the status quo. Sometimes I find that when the romance takes a center stage the characters are just demoted to dating status. It was nice that it wasn’t the case here.   

Mafi did an excellent job with the ramifications off Shirin and Ocean’s relationship. There is a large focus on politic’s as well as the high school social dynamics. The school, neighbors, teachers, parents, and students all react to their relationship in different ways. Peer pressure is brought up, even feeling powerless to an adult. Each aspect was done wonderfully! And with great care.

I do have some issues. I wish that the Mr. Jordan situation was handled a bit better. And I do agree that some things were pushed off to the side when Ocean and Shirin started dating. Also the dating situation may make a few Muslims uncomfortable. I was perfectly okay with it. But I know others won’t be. I also wish that Amna would’ve been mentioned at the end. Ocean was as the two were spending a lot of time together at the end. But Amna isn’t. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed A Very Large Expanse of Sea! I highly recommend it!        

Review: Children of Blood and Bone

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Children of Blood and Bone by: Tomi Adeyemi

My Rating: 4 Stars

The B&N Exclusive Edition includes six pages of handwritten, behind-the-scenes material plus a map of Lagos, the capital city of Orïsha. The city map shows the Royal Palace, the marketplace, and the diviner slums that ring the marketplace.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Genocide, slavery, torture, abusive parent, discrimination, assault, colorism, and oppression.

GR Ultimate Summer Reading Challenge: Sand Between My Toe’s, Hook ‘Em, and Sports-a-holic. Tome Topple Readathon Round 6.

Last year I got a sample from Netgalley. I was so intrigued and thoroughly enjoyed reading the sample! Naturally I bought the final version. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

11 years ago King Saran ordered the murders of the former Maji. The same day that the Maji lost their powers leaving them defenseless. Zelie witnessed her mother being murdered. The King also ordered all the dead Maji to be put on display. So as to make the diviners fear him.

In secret Zelie and other girls in her village get training from Mama Agba. Mama Agba teaches them how to defend themselves with a staff. To further make the diviners miserable the King increases the diviner tax. In an attempt to be brave Zelie angers the guard and nearly gets herself killed. Much to Zelie’s surprise Mama Agba allows Zelie to graduate and awards her with a metal staff.

Zelie arrives to terrible news. Her father nearly drowns in an attempt to keep her from becoming a slave. Zelie agrees to sell fish in Lagos which is the capital city. While there she runs into the princess who is on the run from her father. Zelie, Amari, and Tzain (Zelie’s brother) then embark on a journey to bring magic back.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read such an intense fantasy! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The B & N edition comes with an annotated chapter, and the map of Lagos. The hardcover is also a different color. Narrated in first person the book follows Amari, Zelie, and Inan. There is also a one page prologue and an epilogue. The point of views’ are actually written well! You can tell that their different people.

The world-building and magic system were incredible! Zelie lives in a very gruesome and tough society. When magic makes a vague comeback it got really intense! I enjoyed reading about the journey to all the sacred temples. And the I really liked that there were objects tied to getting magic back. There a huge part that mythology and religion plays into the story. I found the whole concept to be original. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the culture. Such as food, clothes, and language.

I’m just going to say this first: I understand why people don’t like Zelie. Zelie spends a majority of the book being angry. And she usually took it out on Amari and Tzain was always stuck fixing the mess. The reason I actually liked all the characters is because they were understandable. While Zelie could be a real pain, I understood where she was coming from. And she did actually develop throughout the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading from Amari’s point of view! It was lovely to read about her journey and struggles. I liked how Binta was a strong motivation for Amari. In some books said dead character usually disappears 20% in. That didn’t happen. From the beginning to the end Amari is always thinking about Binta. I also liked how Zelie and Amari came to be friends. Their chapter together was fantastic!

I found Inan’s chapters to be the most insightful. His character was very interesting. I enjoyed watching him develop and reading about his outlook on the world around him. While he did a lot of questionable things I understood his motivations. I look forward to his journey in the sequel. 

I’m kind off hoping that for the sequel we’ll get Tzain’s point of view. I would love to read his thoughts! And hands down Tzain is my favourite character. He’s serious while also showing a goofy side. And he’s a very fair person. 

I really liked how there was a large focus on family! As someone who has siblings it was so much fun to read about the relationship’s between Amari and Inan, as well as Zelie and Tzain. Even the King’s relationships’ with his children. Mama Agba was a mother figure to Zelie and Tzain. And I really loved Zelie’s father! He was so sweet.

Onto the romance! I loved Amari and Tzain together! They developed such a sweet relationship and get along so well. They bring out the best in each other. I would love for them to be official in the sequel. As for Inan and Zelie I felt nothing. Yeah they got along but it came it off nowhere. It’ll be interesting to see where the sequel will take them.

I liked the involvement of Zu’s crew as well as Tzain’s opponents. They made the story and the journey to get magic back so interesting. I am really looking forward to reading about them again in the sequel! 

There are some deaths’. Starting from the beginning of the book. I appreciated that the author didn’t hold back. I’m sort of weary and curious as to who will die in the sequel.

I only had one problem. I honestly did not understand Zelie and Inan’s relationship. They spent a good bit of the book hating each other. Inan was trying to kill her. They had an opportunity to work together. Which lasted two days. And somehow in those two days they were basically in love. They moved very fast. It was very surprising.

Overall I really liked Children of Blood and Bone! I high recommend to fantasy fans.    

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!