WARCROSS by Marie Lu

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When there’s books like READY PLAYER ONE about to come out as a big blockbuster movie, I want to read more of that particular set of books. Stories about young people who fight for what they believe is right even if that means sacrificing everything. Good thing I stumbled across WARCROSS by Marie Lu.

Here’s some more about the book:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire. 

WARCROSS is definitely one of those girls kick ass kind of novels. I love a strong female character who sticks to her beliefs despite what other people (including the law) says. The story takes place in the near future where everyone is hooked up to this new game called Warcross. The game comes with a special set of glasses that immerses you not only into the game, but this virtual world where you can basically win points for breathing. It was definitely reminiscent of READY PLAYER ONE’s Oasis world where you can basically do the same thing.

I honestly think there’s a little bit for everyone. There’s science fiction, mystery, thriller. I think the big part is figuring out who is trying to sabotage the game and who is trying to hurt Hideo’s vision. There was lots of game play and strategic thinking on everyone’s character. Reading it from Emika’s point of view, it almost makes you feel like you’re playing the game.

The best part was that it wasn’t contrived. Emika needed time to think about her next step and it wasn’t easy for her to learn how to play Warcross properly. I love it when a character’s knowledge is based on real humans and how they would consider things. No one goes right into a battle knowing all the ins and outs unless they were cheating.

I also found the writing to be quite detailed and developed. Marie Lu didn’t leave any details out and I was able to imagine the mech battles during game play pretty easily. It’s tough for me to read battle scenes sometimes because I get all lost in who is doing what and to whom. However, it was super easy in Warcross and it definitely left me wanting to read more.

The twist on this book was definitely something I couldn’t stop thinking about. The argument made was kind of compelling and if you’re looking at the world from one perspective, you can see why someone would be so motivated to change it. However, there’s a lot of plays on morality here. What’s right and what’s wrong? What determines who you are and should that be controlled? While I wish I can give more of this away, I’m afraid that it’ll ruin the entire book.

The only things I considered issues were the romantic aspects and the technological aspects. For the romantic aspects, it was really unnecessary. I tried to think about this carefully after I finished and while there were romantic scenes between Emika and Hideo, I don’t think that it really contributed anything to the story. It was fun to see them connect in that way, but it felt a little gratuitous and unnecessary. I think it’s great that Emika finds Hideo as this huge role model and someone she looks up to, but falling in love with him kind of cheapens her strong female character.

For technology, I thought it was really awesome to read about these hi-tech glasses that allow you to comm with your friends and has augmented reality and you can play games with your real life. However, it irked me that after a game of Warcross Emika took out her phone and proceeded to call Hideo with it. You have all this technology with a device that allows you to read each other’s minds and then you have your dumb phone that you’re making calls with? It kind of doesn’t make sense in this world.

But these aren’t major flaws. These aren’t the make or break of a story, but little things that almost feel like me nitpicking a little. I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (September 2017)
  • Rating: 4/5 stars
  • Buy WARCROSS on Amazon

Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.

Instructions for a Secondhand Heart by Tamsyn Murray

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I don’t know about you, but I need a break from the world. Sometimes the news or my life or even my reads get so heavy that I need to step away from everything and just enjoy myself. Self care is a real thing and something I try to always keep in mind. That’s why I chose to read this book. It felt like the right time for me to step away from all the heavier reads coming across my desk. I’m so glad that I did.

Here’s some more on the book:

Jonny knows better than anyone that life is full of cruel ironies. He’s spent every day in a hospital hooked up to machines to keep his heart ticking. Then when a donor match is found for Jonny’s heart, that turns out to be the cruelest irony of all. Because for Jonny’s life to finally start, someone else’s had to end.

That someone turns out to be Neve’s twin brother, Leo. When Leo was alive, all Neve wanted was for him (and all his glorious, overshadowing perfection) to leave. Now that Leo’s actually gone forever, Neve has no idea how to move forward. Then Jonny walks into her life looking for answers, her brother’s heart beating in his chest, and everything starts to change.

Together, Neve and Jonny will have to face the future, no matter how frightening it is, while also learning to heal their hearts, no matter how much it hurts.

As you may have guessed, this was definitely a sweet story. It’s filled with heartwarming love between two teenagers who are separated by one giant lie. And you may think that a book like this would just be a candy for my sweet tooth, it’s always good to step away from being serious and just relax.

I went into this thinking that it would be the story of a young person who was scorned in the past by someone and then fell in love again. However, I didn’t actually think the heart mentioned in the story’s title was a literal heart. When Jonny receives his brand new heart, you already know that it belonged to Neve’s twin brother, Leo, who had died in a weird accident on the beach. However, what you don’t know is the lives both Neve and Jonny lived before they met each other and after they met each other.

This story was definitely your typical outcasts falling in love with each other although the circumstances of how they meet are not your typical outcast story. Jonny basically stalks every victim that fit the profile of his new heart. All he knew was that it belonged to a 15-year-old boy and he died recently. Not a lot to go off of, but apparently enough for him to research online and possibly find some possible donors. I didn’t find this part of the story to be as strong. It felt like the search was a few short clicks and not a labored event for him. He didn’t visit any other possible families and he came out to this fundraiser Neve’s mother was running. It was too easy especially with the amount of info he was provided.

Tamsyn Murray is definitely a great writer too. She’s not the type of person to fuss over big words and the voices of both Neve and Jonny were pretty clear. The jury’s still out for me on whether I like books with interchanging POVs, but for Jonny and Neve it helped to move the story much faster.

I loved that the story also included some illustrations Jonny drew. He includes panels from superheroes he created. He outlines his favorite day. He even draws Neve and when Neve was seeing them for the first time, we were also seeing them for the first time. That was a nice little device to really draw the reader into the book.

When Neve and Jonny finally meet, Jonny does that one thing that happens in a story like this; he lies. He lies about his condition. He lies about how he knows Neve’s brother and he lies about being the heart recipient. Of course a story like this requires a big lie before the big reveal. It’s not the reason why you’re reading this story, but you end up waiting for it throughout the story. When does the truth come out? How will this affect their lives? Will their newfound friendship survive it?

I think the one big glaringly obvious issue with the story is the way they treated mental health, grief, and loss. For Neve, she handled it poorly. She didn’t go to her therapy sessions and she didn’t really cope with her brother’s death. However, she also hoarded pills and planned to kill herself because the lack of affection and attention she craved from her parents. This whole part of the novel is written in her point of view and no one takes the time to sit her down and speak directly about how she’s doing. She just struggles alone, which feels a little irresponsible of the author. And sadly, it all comes to a head at the end of the story.

For Jonny, I mean, I figured there would be much more talking to a counselor. He just received a new heart and things were just moving along like it didn’t matter. Wouldn’t there be an adjustment period? Shouldn’t he be talking to someone to process his emotions about receiving a heart? I just feel like these mentally exhausting moments from both of these characters were underdeveloped and the focus was more on the loving relationship building between them. It was nice, but I just wanted something a little bit deeper than this surface story. Perhaps I’m asking too much from a piece of candy.

I received this book from The Novl in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the method I received this book and I was not paid to write this book review.

Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

I honestly am so happy that a book like this exists. Shortly after being told I had OCD, I tried to search the book world for fiction stories featuring characters with similar traits. I was a little surprised to find out that the world’s exposure to OCD was only As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson and some documentaries of folks with such debilitating compulsions that they rarely leave the house.

My mother told me that when I was in kindergarten class, I would wash my hands after using a single color in finger painting. The teacher thought it was adorable that I would dip my finger in the paint, brush it across the paper, then get up to go wash my hands. Was it because even at that age I didn’t want to blend my colors too much or was there something more insidious going on?

I never liked getting my face painted. I don’t like touching things with my bare hands. I hate bugs of all kinds even butterflies and lady bugs. I can’t stand when strangers touch me. I can’t walk on grass barefoot. I’m the only person who knows how to clean my house.

And I thought these were all quirks. That everyone thinks about the microbial germs crawling across the surface of a subway pole. That everyone knew if you touched a smelly homeless person, you would get whatever disease that they had that made their feet and ankles balloon up. I believed everyone thought about the dust mites that crawled across your skin and carpet.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with OCD that I realized these thoughts weren’t thoughts everyone had. This isn’t “normal” and most people think about them briefly and then move on with their life.

TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN starts with the sudden disappearance of a local billionaire. In attempts to try and win the reward for more information, Aza and her best friend Daisy start to look for clues that could help them score some big money. After all, it was Aza’s friend, Davis, who’s father disappeared suddenly.

Aza was just your average girl who seemed for the most part just living her life. She went to school. She had a pretty solid family life despite her father’s death. However, what you find out and realize is that her mind is a swirling jungle of thoughts and worse case scenarios and worries that she didn’t need to worry about.

I thought this book was going to be about a group of kids who were looking for a missing billionaire. You’d believe that too if you read the inside cover. I thought this would be The Goonies of the 21st century with a little twist, that the main character would have OCD. I thought this would be some manic version of Sherlock Holmes.

It most definitely wasn’t.

While you’re led to believe this is some rag tag team of teenagers looking for their friend’s dad, TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN is not about that. The story is truly about Aza. The use of the first person point of view in this context lends a hand to shape the story. You read what Aza thinks about in her head. You see her running through her thoughts. You find her battling herself and reminding herself that it’s not real. Her thoughts aren’t real and that her OCD is battling out against her.

I guess the idea of having a story about a billionaire gone missing also lends itself to the power of OCD. One minute you’re trying to find a missing person and have a grand adventure with your friends. The next you’re having an all out anxiety attack and spiraling downward toward oblivion.

For Aza, everything is a battle. Trying to maintain her friendships while her brain tells her to go and do something else. Trying to keep her mother from worrying too much as she picks on a scab that’s been trying to heal. Trying to be in love with a boy she’s known for a long part of her life without freaking out about kissing him.

There were so many examples of how debilitating OCD can be. I loved that John Green gave examples of how the thoughts can be so evasive that you forget you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone. You spend a lot of time pushing to be present and speaking directly with the person in front of you.

It did feel like the whole looking for a billionaire part was an afterthought that was wrapped up in the last ten pages of the book. I wish there was a little bit more there and spread more evenly throughout the book.

While it would have been really cute to see the four kids running around trying to find a missing billionaire and get some answers to the choices he made, I get that this book is to be more about exposure and understanding when it comes to OCD.

For those who do have OCD, you’ve found a friend in a book that knows exactly what you’re going through. Although, I would be careful because there are some triggering thoughts. I needed to step away for an evening even with only a few pages left. The thoughts it triggered in my head were too overpowering for me at times.

And for those who don’t have OCD, you get some idea of how our brains work daily but I would keep in mind that everyone struggles from any mental health issue in different ways. I feel I have a firmer grip on the thoughts my brain tells me, so I’m able to snap back to reality much quicker than Aza. I know that my condition could be so much worse, so I’m grateful that it’s manageable.

I would strongly recommend approaching this with an open mind. This book is good, but I can imagine someone who doesn’t have OCD getting really annoyed by the characters and their mindset. It’s really hard not to want to shake Aza and say “snap out of it,” but this is how it is. You’re doing whatever life thing that you’re normally doing and then, something triggers you and you’re spiraling down.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

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Oh brother, this one is a doozy. I’ve read countless reviews from other people who read this book and all I saw was that they cried at the end. So many raves and happy thoughts. about this book and it’s so awesome to see everyone feel so good about it. So many awards that they don’t even fit on the cover. The title is so freaking long and completely unassuming that you actually think this book is about two philosophers from different periods of time that get together and actually discover the secrets of the universe.

But let me tell you how I felt.

It

was

AWESOME.

Reading this book was like reading about royalty. You’ve heard so many good things about it that you can’t help but to want to read it and this book really doesn’t disappoint.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a story about friendship. Aristotle is a 15-year-old kid with no friends. It wasn’t until he decides to take swimming lessons that he meets Dante, another boy with no friends. You know what happens when two people who have no friends. They become friends.

Aristotle is a little bit of a loner with a snarky bite and some experiences in his life that he can’t seem to shake. Dante is more care free and what I like to call a “butterfly chaser” which I use to describe bohemian and free spirited and not weighed down by society. They’re the likely opposites of each other, but as the saying goes opposites attract.

I don’t think I recall making a best friend the way Aristotle and Dante befriended each other. I’ve been the loner type and maybe a little more on the Aristotle side than the Dante side. I’ve always wanted a best friend and I found one in my partner. I guess that it’s commonplace to find a comfort in a friend that not only wants to be your friend, but loves you on a completely other level.

I honestly thought this would be one of those books where Aristotle and Dante fall in love in the beginning of the novel and you struggle to see them come to terms with their sexuality and with the people around them. But no, it’s not.

It’s a book about friendship and the kind of friendship that leaves a lasting impression on you. It’s about what you do for someone you love, be it a painful experience or a fun one. You’re with someone that makes you happy. For Aristotle and Dante, there’s just the added bonus of loving each other.

Aristotle and Dante both undergo a series of events that help shape their friendship and what they mean to each other. Dante is artistic and poetic while Aristotle is cynical and pessimistic. Their clashing personalities really bring a sense that while they may not see eye to eye on everything, human beings are able to transition to a place where you’re not finding a friend, but you’re finding a life partner. It doesn’t have to be overly romantic and life isn’t that way anyway, but regardless of romance it was still beautiful to behold.

I clutched this book close to my chest after I was finished reading. I couldn’t believe that this book was created and I couldn’t believe it took me so long to experience it.

You can find a copy of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe on Amazon.

Dreamology by Lucy Keating

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When I was a little girl, I used to have these amazing dreams about this guy. I would first fly through the air around my childhood home and watch the sun set orange and red across the lawn. I would finally land and sit down on our front stoop.

Suddenly, he would walk over to me. He’s always wearing an oversized sweater and well cut jeans. His smile made me melt and his dark hair was always in his eyes. Because it’s a dream, there’s always some strange quirks about what you see. For example, he was an alien from another planet.

I don’t remember all the details now that I’m older but I do recall that we would kiss under the street light before he headed back up to his home planet.

While the details of the dream are a little hazy, for some reason, I’ve never forgotten that dream and that dream boy and I think fondly about that time when I was a kid.

Have you ever had that dream before where it was so amazing and so memorable that even as an adult you can’t get it out of your head?

In Dreamology by Lucy Keating, you get to experience the same feelings for the main character Alice, who has been dreaming about her dream boy since she was a kid. All she knows is that the dreams were vivid and ended when she woke up. It was a surprise to her when she began school in a new city and found her dream boy in reality.

Of course, Max isn’t who he was in the dreams. In fact he appears to be rude, indecisive, and already in a relationships. You can see how a girl who has been in love with her dream boy for so long could be disappointed by the real thing. I mean, I would never want to meet my dream boy in real life worried about the same results.

From this point on, the story begins to get a little weirder as their dreams start to bleed into reality. They visit this dream lab to get it fixed and it’s something out of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where the main characters’ brains have been altered to allow for their dreams to meld together and then have their dreams become a reality.

I love books like this sometimes. The premise is pretty simple, the story is easy to read and follow along and you finish reading it in a few days. You get to feel that rush of love when you first fall for someone. It makes you feel good and sometimes you need a little bit of sugar in your life.

But I think what I love most about this novel is how they chase each other and their dreams. If I dreamed of my dream boy every single night, I would be worried that one day he would just disappear. It’s kind of the same here. What if Alice woke up and never dreamed of Max again? Would she be okay with the real Max or would it never be the same again?

You can find Dreamology on Amazon.

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

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For my second YA novel of this month, I chose You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan.

I picked this book up last year in hopes of learning more about sexual identity and preference. It was way before I started reading diverse books, but even then I was curious as to stories like this. I was afraid of approaching people and still afraid to this day to say something stupid or make someone feel uncomfortable, so I decided to look for books that talked about being gay or questioning your identity. I definitely knew I didn’t want to be the dolf that said “so what does being gay mean?”

The great thing about You Know Me Well is the subtly of the subject. It’s not this big shout to the void screaming I AM GAY AND I HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT. The story begins with the characters already knowing this about themselves and they blossom like flower buds to fully incorporating their lives with the new knowledge that they have.

I had read Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay a few months back and she was able to do this subtle conversation about sexual preference in that novel as well. It didn’t read about a girl who is trying to figure out if she’s straight or gay. It read like a story of a young woman lost from the tragedies bestowed on her life and how she found solace in her first soulmate ever. It was beautiful.

I think the important lesson about sexual preference and identity is normalization. Asking questions and trying to understand why someone was gay are all in the past. At this point, in 2017, you either are or you’re questioning and your sexual preference doesn’t define you. Your friends are your friends because you like them and you get along. They’re not there to be your “gay best friend” or have the word “gay” put in front of phrases like “bestie” or “shopping buddy.” We’re at the point where no one should be defined by their sexual preference unless they want to.

But let’s get into the details of the story and stop talking politics.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book written by two people, but somehow these two authors are able to seamlessly combine their two stories into one. Honestly, it felt like one voice the entire time coming from one author, but what each author brings is a sense of authenticity. You’re the gay jock that’s in love with your best friend or you’re the girl in love with a crush for so long it’s almost surreal to be with them in real life. Mark and Katie dealt with things only teenagers go through and they were able to find each other to help figure this out on their own.

I loved that after a night of knowing each other Mark and Katie were just best friends. They were looking to each other for advice and trying to help each other as if this was something they did all the time.

Mark was in love with his best friend, so it made it difficult for him to discuss things with him that he wanted to talk about specifically about their relationship. Katie was in love with her best friend’s cousin and while she was secure with her feelings for her, she somehow managed to mess it up at every turn.

It was quite cute and beautiful at the same time. The writing is effortlessly easy to get through and a lot of it was conversational. I think that’s the great part about YA sometimes. You don’t get too caught up in making the language something out of an AP English class, but you make the subjects hard hitting ones where the people they’re meant to attract will learn a little bit about society.

You can find a copy of You Know Me Well: A Novel on Amazon.com

Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert

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Imagine you’re in high school.

Now imagine you’re in high school coming to terms with your sexual preference, your decisions for school, your religious identity.

Now imagine that you have a brother who is bipolar and you love him to death and you want to make sure he’s okay.

LITTLE AND LION by Brandy Colbert is a novel about mental health, understanding your sexual identity, being in love, feeling responsibilities of being an adult, being a teenager, and being yourself. It’s jam packed with excitement all within 250 pages.

Suzette (aka Little) is your narrator for the story and from her point of view alone you get a myriad of different questions and thoughts that I don’t even know I was thinking when I was sixteen.

The story begins with her returning from school in New England. She was sent there out of concern that her brother’s behavior will affect her. First, she’s struggling with her sexual identity. Is she gay? Is she straight? Is she bi-sexual? She can’t know for sure. Then, she’s struggling with her friendships with her friends prior to leaving for school. Finally, she’s struggling with protecting her brother who seems to have it together, but she believes she needs to be closer to him and help him out.

Lionel (aka Lion) seems like your average sort of guy, except last summer he was having a hyper manic moment leading to his diagnosis of bipolar disorder and testing out different medications before deciding that he was going to quit them cold turkey.

This was at the same time Suzette came back from school to finally spend a summer with her brother. They were very close for step-siblings, but Suzette’s concerns for Lionel pulled them apart eventually changing their relationship forever.

I’ve known some very bi-polar people in my life including my cousin who went from partying all night long to waking up and asking Jesus for forgiveness for the sins she committed during the evening (she just danced. I was there, God). I’ve dated people struggling with their anti-depressant medication and how the medication made them feel listless. They didn’t have any more interest in what they were doing. They hated the person they were without them.

The world for people struggling with mental illness is tough. I should know; I struggle with it myself. But in order for us to feel normal, we need to be treated normally. We need to feel that our diagnosis isn’t us; that we aren’t the mental illness people tell us we have. We need to feel that our medications don’t define us either; that anti-depressants are there to help us normalize not make us feel like monsters.

However, these are two areas that a lot of people who don’t struggle with mental illness don’t understand. This is where Suzette’s perspective comes in. I believe this story is great for a lot of reasons, but I think the most important reason is that it gives light to the perspective of those who have loved ones with mental illness. Suzette’s reactions to Lionel’s behavior feels on par with someone who hasn’t adjusted yet to knowing or being around someone with mental illness.

I think something valuable that you get out of this story is that you learn that people with mental illness are trying their best to put on a smiling face everyday and feel like the person they were before they were diagnosed. Our jobs as loving friends and family members are to always make sure they feel included; don’t approach us with kid gloves. We may be struggling, but we’re not fragile porcelain dolls.

It’s just so funny how Brandy Colbert approaches the topic. While yes, a part of the story is about Lionel, but a lot of the story is also about Suzette. I think in her own way, Brandy Colbert is trying to tell us that you should continue to live your own lives. Don’t get caught up in making sure your loved ones feel comfortable, fall in love and go out and have a great life. We’re trying to do the same thing too.

So if you’re new to knowing someone with mental illness or if you want to better understand why some people act the way they do towards people with mental illness, then I would recommend reading this book. It’s good to show you how people approach different challenges in their life and the most important lesson you can take away is that mental illness is an extremely personal struggle.

Buy it on Amazon: Little & Lion

It took me exactly one month to finish A Court of Wings and Ruin

IMG_3145Some of you may do this while others take a more traditional approach, but I love to track my books on Goodreads. Being as my day job consists of looking at numbers all the time, I wanted to look at the numbers for a book I was reading. How long does it take me to read a book? What genres motivate me more? What motivates me less? What do I truly love to read? I can find out all that information through tracking.

So when I recently finished reading A Court of Wings and Ruin (or lovingly referred to as ACOWAR) by Sarah J. Maas, I did what I always do; I marked it on my Goodreads. And lo and behold, I can see the dates I started reading the book and when I finished.

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Looking closely at the status dates, I started ACOWAR on May 9th and marked it read on June 9th. That is ONE MONTH of reading a book.

I think the last time it took me that long to read a book I was reading 1Q84 and I wasn’t as avid a reader as I am now. That book took me four months, but we don’t have to talk about that.

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You must be thinking, a 700-page book and it only took you a month? Please that seems accurate. But it doesn’t feel accurate when the last book you read by Sarah J. Maas was even longer and you read it in eight hours.

Yes. Eight, straight hours.

Granted there are a million excuses for me not reading faster or carving more time out of my day to read this book, but I think the biggest reason why I didn’t read is just circumstance. I was busy getting fired from my job. I was busy looking for another job. I was busy putting all my life possession into boxes, moving to another city, and then unpacking all those boxes. I didn’t have Internet for a week and then I got a new job that I needed to focus on.

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And the reason why I bring this up is because life is filled with circumstance. There will be days, weeks, or even years where you don’t have time to read. Just remember that deep down while you don’t have a book in your hand, you’re still a book reader. If it takes you a week or a month to read a book, just be happy with the fact that you’re reading. You’re educating yourself and you’re questioning the understood belief.

People always say that life is short, but it’s only short if you want it to be. If you savor each moment and spend your time doing instead of thinking, then you might think life is short, but it’ll have been the greatest life of all time. Don’t waste your time getting caught up by your reading challenge. If you’re a blogger, don’t feel guilty for not writing a post in a few months. People always find a way back to you especially if they like you.

Anyway, onto my review.

Synopsis

23766634Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

This book was difficult for me to get through despite the fact that I had some outside circumstances getting in my way of finishing it. However, I feel like this always happens when you’re reading a book series.

Rating: 4/5 Cauldrons

My thoughts

Aside from the fact that it took me a month to read this, I thought this book was OK. In comparison to the last two, this felt like a mid-series novel where a lot of set up needed to happen in order for the final battle can happen. There was a lot of setting up of meetings and conversations and thoughts and wondering about things and sometimes you need to sacrifice a book to the series gods in order to build up for the big thing. I was worried this book would be a whole bunch of build up and then nothing happens. I thought Sarah J Maas was going to leave us on the edge of our seats and wait for the next book to come out. However, she doesn’t. Actually, I loved this ending (and endings are a bit of a sore subject for me), but where will she go from here?

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Another big thing about this book is that we see the true nature of the characters that Sarah J. Maas created. I was kind of shocked to see that some of them were “playing the game” while others were just hurt and sad. It’s true to reality where we wear these masks of pride in order to hide what we truly feel. In the end, masks are removable and for the characters, no one can hide for long.

I was reading a few reviews of this book and someone brought up the fact that Feyre has had it pretty easy for her. Without knowing spells or having the talent or the little tidbit where she was human, she’s been able to manage through the Fae world pretty easily without being too injured or too abandoned. I guess that blogger is right. It’s been pretty easy for her, but I do hope that things get a little bit tough. Granted, I don’t want to see anyone die, but perhaps that’s what’s in store in the future. Perhaps we’ll see something go wrong.

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But it’ll probably be another year before we all find out, so I guess for now all we can do is wait.

 

 

 

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

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I love me some good old fashion young adult. No frills. No complications. The kinds of books that don’t surprise you with turmoil or unexpected struggles. It’s like reading a book about reality and sometimes in reality, there’s not a lot of drama for your mama.

Synopsis

30312860Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

My rating: 4/5 love letters

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My thoughts

Lara Jean and the three Song girls have been my favorites ever since I picked up To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. You know me, I’ve always got to go for the diversity angle, so when I heard that the girls were half-Korean, I got a little excited to read it.

But the reason why I love the diversity angle so much is because there’s that small amount of resonance between the author and the reader. The way that the girls were raised with understanding and appreciating their Korean culture is exactly how I was raised. Even in a household when only half of the family is Korean, it was still important. I believe it’s important to always have that deep connection with your history and culture no matter what it is.

Getting back to the book though, this was such a lovely way to wrap up the entire series. It reminded me of a Morgan Matson novel in which there’s some real life drama for a 17-year-old to manage and it wasn’t earth-shattering, but it felt real. What do you do when you’re deciding on the next steps of your life? What happens after high school? All those thoughts about that post-high school life rear its head back up here.

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I loved that Jenny Han used her alma-mater as one of the possible schools Lara Jean would end up going. It’s always fun to know a little bit about the author and see how their personality is sort of injected into parts of their novel. As they always say, it’s better to write what you know.

But I think what I loved the most is that you’re transported back to being a high school senior. Not to get personal, but my life right now is pretty messy with not having a job and finding a new apartment and getting a new car. It’s all these adult responsibilities and Jenny Han’s novels have always been a nice escape from those things. I don’t have to be an adult for a little while because I’m wrapped up in where Lara Jean wants to go to college, what will happen with her and Peter, and finding yourself a bit better.

If you’re trying to find something not too complicated and just a really enjoyable read, then I would recommend this series.

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We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

 

IMG_2657Well, it took me long enough to write up this review and I want to do it justice because We Are Okay was one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read in 2017. I finished reading this one on the flight to Florida earlier in April and sadly, it took me this long to write the review. Will I ever be better at this? It’s now my personal goal this year to be a bad ass book blogger and not bore you with things like life updates <_<

Synopsis

28243032You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

Rating: 5/5 wintry evenings

My thoughts

Just a heads up, I have a lot of thoughts about this book. Good thoughts, but thoughts.

I truly loved this story and in the past few chapters of this book I couldn’t put it down. The story is laid out in a past/present format alternating between what happened before Marin disappeared and what’s happening in the future. The writing was in Marin’s point of view and really captured a maturity in someone who has seen a lot of tragedy in her life.

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The message: People grieve in different ways. Some people cry it out. Others hide it behind a mask. Some people push others away while others bring people closer. We lash out. We fight. We love. We create. We destroy. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a friend, a loved one, a favorite pet. This is a story that shows the ways we grieve and how even though we try our best to keep a smile on our face or show people we’re ok, we’re sometimes not.

The story begins with Marin, a teenager who recently lost her grandfather. She’s in her dorm room in New York waiting for her childhood friend, Mabel, to arrive and spend the Holidays with her. However, there’s a huge veil of mystery surrounding Marin and the most important one being where she went for the few weeks before her first semester at school started.

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As the story goes along, you realize that Marin not only lost her grandfather, but her mother as well. What you get from Marin is raw, emotion-filled anxiety about who she is, who her family is, and will she ever recover from the loss of every stable entity in her life. She does the one thing that only makes sense to her and that’s to run away.

Fortunately, what you find is that she isn’t alone. Before disappearing, Marin developed feelings for her best friend Mabel and the two of them spent their summer languishing in youthful love. I loved the story between Mabel and Marin. It was unobstructed and not the plot of the story. This story could easily have been the struggle of two teenagers finding true love and the struggle for them to be accepted by society and their family, but it wasn’t and I loved it. The message stayed pure and that is that sometimes loss takes different forms in different people, but I think the most important message to take away from all of this is that nothing stays lost forever.