Book Review: Winter

Winter   Winter

By: Marissa Meyer

Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Young Adult

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

~From Goodreads

After a month of reading bits and pieces of it when I could, Winter has finally come to an end. While it wasn’t perfect, it managed to capture all the right high and low points that made it a fun roller coaster ride of emotions from start to finish.

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Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of YouA Thousand Pieces of You

By: Claudia Gray

Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.”

~From Goodreads

This book tore me in half and I still haven’t decided whether I like it or find it mediocre.  I absolutely loathed the first hundred pages so much that I shuffled my feet through them for about a week. Then I hit a portion of the story that I fell in love with and I took about two days to finish the rest of it. Ultimately, what my predicament boils down to is that there are some really bad elements in this book and then there are some really great ones. I’m trying to be good and make my reviews as spoiler free as possible so I apologize for vagueness and nonsensical cyclical weirdness.

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Book Review: Lair of Dreams

Lair of DreamsLair of Dreams

By: Libba Bray

Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Supernatural/Horror, Young Adult

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

~ From Goodreads

I had picked up The Diviners back in 2013 after finishing up a grueling week of college final exams. I was tired and ready for something fun to ease me into a relaxing summer vacation before a stressful senior year. The Diviners had been sitting on my Nook for months, collecting cyber dust and almost begging me to give it some love and attention. I caved and cracked it open. I wasn’t fully prepared for just quickly I was going to be sucked into Bray’s book. While disturbingly spooky (which is not something I usually go for), it was also fast-paced, mysterious and lush with 1920s flapper culture. I immediately fell in love with the crazy characters and the spooky murder mystery. When I finished it, I was pleased to see that Bray had three other novels planned for the series and that she was busy writing the sequel. I set The Diviners aside and quietly waited for Lair of Dreams. Fast forward to two years later and I almost completely missed the release date, but when I saw that it was available for purchase, how could I say no? I bought it and just finished it about twenty minutes ago. I think I am as much in love with this book as I was with its predecessor. It’s not perfect by any means, but this series is slowly becoming one of my favorites and I will quietly wait ten years for the next book if it means it will continue to be as well written and well researched as these first two books were.

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Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl's Moving CastleHowl’s Moving Castle

By: Diana Wynne Jones

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

~From Goodreads

Like many people, I discovered Howl’s Moving Castle through the Hayao Miyazaki film. While I loved the film, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the romance (it was a little rushed for my taste) so I went searching for the original source material and vowed to read it one day to satisfy my dissatisfaction. While it took me several years to get to it, I found that the book did satisfy me in ways the movie didn’t, but not in the ways I originally thought. Rather than a stronger romance, Jones gave me better characters, with 100% more hilarious bickering and character flaws. In fact, the book has less romance than the movie, surprisingly enough. Who would’ve thought?

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Book Review: Tsarina

TsarinaTsarina

By: J. Nelle Patrick (Pen name for Jackson Pearce)

Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Natalya knows a secret.

A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia’s Winter Palace.
It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics.
A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov.
Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.

But it’s in the wrong hands.

~From Goodreads

The summary of this book should read something more along the lines of this: “Natalya knows a secret…but can she keep it?” And the answer to that would be no, Natalya can’t. Tsarina promises so much in the summary, but ultimately doesn’t deliver. I was expecting an alternate Russian Revolution with more of a positive Romanov influence and a happy ending for all involved. Instead, I got a lackluster account of Natalya’s journey to protect a secret Faberge egg that was doomed before she even started because of her own stupidity.

This Review Will Contain Spoilers

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Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and DanteAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

By: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, LGBT Lit

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.”

~ From Goodreads

What can you do to fill a hole in your heart that you know can’t be filled? This is a question that Ari, our narrator, struggles with through most of the book. From an outside perspective, Ari has everything in life he could want: a good home, two parents who love and care deeply for him, and a good education. Yet, despite this, he feels empty and finds little joy in most of what he does. Although his parents love him, his father rarely speaks to him, perpetually living through the horrors of his experiences in the Vietnam War and his mother refuses to acknowledge his older brother, Bernardo, exists after being thrown in prison for a crime Ari is completely unaware of. He has no friends to speak of until he meets Dante at the local pool, someone both open and happy in ways that Ari is not. This book, while not perfect, was both heart-wrenching and beautiful and deserves the praise it gets.

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Book Review: Uprooted

UprootedUprooted

By: Naomi Novik

Genres: Fantasy, Romance

“‘Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.’

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.”

~From Goodreads

I wasn’t properly prepared when I went into this book. I was expecting something light and fluffy, a fairytale retelling of the Beauty and the Beast that would feed my nostalgia and eventually force me to rewatch the Disney adaptation. What I got instead was a roller coaster ride filled with twists and turns that left me dizzy by the last page. I got a beast that sucked me in on page one and then spit me back out again, leaving me to tend to my feelings in my semi-irrational state. I don’t think I properly have the words to describe how much I love this book so please excuse my lunatic ramblings below.

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