Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: Book Review

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Title: Strange the Dreamer

Author: Laini Taylor

Series: Book one of the Strange the Dreamer Duology

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton (UK edition)

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Format/Source: UK edition from Bookdepository

(Side note: Just putting it out there that I don’t know if it was only for the first editions, but my UK hardcover came with a title page signed and illustrated by Laini herself as well as blue-stained pages. You need this in your life)

Where, oh where, to begin with this striking, unforgettable story Laini has given us?

Like with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Laini’s unrelenting and unparalleled talent for seamlessly weaving words together as if they were magic has once again offered us a remarkable, spellbinding world full of its own unique mythology/history and rich characters that you are bound to adore.

Continue reading “Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: Book Review”

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir: Book Review

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)

Title: A Torch against the Night

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Series: An Ember in the Ashes

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Books)

My Rating: 2/5 stars

This review may be shorter than my others, but by my rating, you can probably tell how I felt about this one, and I hate to go on and on about books I disliked when everyone else loved them–for that, you can choose to check out my Unpopular Opinion post coming soon. 😉

“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”

So I should start this off by saying that those who were enthralled with An Ember in the Ashes will probably enjoy this sequel. I never quite loved Ember as much as everyone else seemed to, but I did really like it and bought my own copy after borrowing it from the library. (As someone with limited shelf space, this says a lot.) I also really liked the idea of a duology. Maybe it’s just because this is now part of a four-book series, but Torch suffered some serious second-book syndrome; it definitely felt like a filler book. I was highly disappointed.

A Torch Against the Night picks up pretty much immediately after its predecessor, with Elias and Laia escaping Blackcliff with the objective of reaching Kauf prison. There they plan to free Darin, Laia’s brother, whose knowledge might be key in leading a successful rebellion against the Empire.

Helene is now Blood Shrike and must obey newly-crowned Marcus, who tasks her with capturing Elias, whereupon his return he will be executed. As if choosing between serving the Empire–which she has planned and trained for all her life–and saving her best friend’s life wasn’t already hard enough, Helene must also consider her family whom Marcus is using as leverage to ensure her loyalty.

Continue reading “A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir: Book Review”

GEMINA by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff: Book Review

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)

Title: GEMINA

Authors: Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff

Series: THE ILLUMINAE FILES

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Kids)

“Patience and Silence had one beautiful daughter. And her name was Vengeance.”

GEMINA picks up briefly after ILLUMINAE--like as in about five minutes after–but this time our setting is Jump Station Heimdall. Which also just so happens to be where the surviving characters of the previous book are currently headed. *wink wink*

But before they arrive, we get an entirely new story starring some of the characters currently living on Heimdall, and featuring, yet again, another invasion both of the human variety and of the… not-so-human variety. (Haha, you’ll see what I mean when you start reading.)

First and foremost, we are again lead by both a male and female protagonist.

There’s Hanna, daughter of the station’s commander, Charles Donnelly. Upon first impression, she’s your basic privileged white girl, but once you see her in action, she puts all “dumb blonde” stereotypes to rest. She is a strong, intelligent, and resourceful heroine, just like Kady from ILL.

And then there’s Nik, a juvenile delinquent and also… Hanna’s drug dealer. His family, the Malikovs, are members of the infamous gang they call House of Knives, of which Nik begrudgingly is a part of. They’re pretty hardcore. And though she may have a boyfriend, that doesn’t stop Nik from trying to charm his way into Hanna’s life.

Other than Hanna’s boyfriend, Jackson, there are a lot of side characters. There’s another genius hacker–Ella, Nik’s fifteen-year-old cousin, and there is also a large number of “bad guys” that the protagonists and us readers unfortunately get to know. Also, if you remember from ILLUMINAE, a certain someone’s dad lives on Heimdall. 😬

Continue reading “GEMINA by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff: Book Review”

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer: Book Review

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1)

Title: Spindle Fire

Author: Lexa Hillyer

Series: Book 1 out of 2 in the Spindle Fire duology

Publisher: HarperCollins

Format/Source: DISCLAIMER–This is a review of an ARC I received through #booksfortrade on Twitter, so there may be differences from its finished copy.

My Rating: No rating (DNF)

Spindle Fire is a brand new, inventive retelling of Sleeping Beauty that also borrows elements from Alice in Wonderland. (Sounds perfect so far, right?)

It focuses on Princess Aurora of the kingdom of Deluce and her half sister, Isabelle. Though extremely close, the two are, of course, polar opposites–both physically and characteristically.

Aurora is petite and girly, where Isbe is tall and awkward. Aurora is devastatingly gorgeous with sun-kissed hair and skin, while Isbe is pale with dark, contrasting features. Aurora is reserved and perfect as a princess should be, and though Isbe is brave and headstrong, she has always been cast-aside and overlooked; unloved and under-appreciated. After all, she is only kept around out of common courtesy, as she is the illegitimate daughter of Deluce’s late king.

Oh, and there’s another thing: both of the girls are missing key senses after being tithed of them at a young age. Aurora was tithed of her sense of touch as well as her ability to speak, while Isbe was tithed of her sight.

All of their differences aside, the two have always been inseparable. The strong bond between them is all they have left in the world, so when Aurora and the rest of her kingdom falls victim to a strange, ominous sleeping curse, of course Isbe is willing to do whatever it takes to save her beloved sister.

Continue reading “Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer: Book Review”

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones: Book Review

24763621

Title: Wintersong

Author: S. Jae-Jones

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan)

My Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Format/Source: US hardcover from my local library

Coming from a family as musically-inclined as hers, it’s only natural that eighteen-year-old Elisabeth, more affectionately called Liesl, dreams of becoming a composer. A female musician, however, is definitely not natural. Society would most certainly look down on her.

In addition to that hindrance, Liesl already suffers from a severe lack of confidence in her music. She was never encouraged and educated with the same care as her brother, Josef, so instead she hides her dreams away in a locked box that lives under her bed.

“The wishes we make in the dark have consequences, and the Lord of Mischief will call their reckoning.”

All her life, Liesl has always put herself last. As the oldest child in her family, it’s always been her job to look out for her younger siblings–her beautiful, golden-haired sister and foil, Käthe; and Josef, her brother with whom she shares an intense, almost unearthly, bond.

This bond is actually where Liesl’s troubles begin. By favoring one sibling, she has neglected the other and put her in danger. 

“Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.”

When Käthe goes missing, Liesl immediately knows just who is responsible for her sister’s disappearance. The boy that she used to play with in the Goblin Grove near her house. The boy who was not actually a boy at all, but Der Erlkönig. The Goblin King of legend. The cruel Lord of Mischief.

“I could not tell what color his eyes were from where I stood, but they were likewise pale, and icy. The Goblin King tilted his head in a duelist’s nod and gave me a small smile, the tips of his teeth sharp and pointed. I clenched my fists. I knew that smile. I recognized it, and understood it as a challenge.

Come rescue her, my dear, the smile said. Come and rescue her…if you can.”

Continue reading “Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones: Book Review”

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: Book Review

The Upside of Unrequited

Title: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Publisher: Penguin Randomhouse UK

Format/Source: UK paperback from Book Depository

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Molly Peskin-Suso is the queen of crushes. She’s had almost thirty crushes throughout her life, and she’s only seventeen.

Unlike her twin sister who has been with countless other girls, Molly has only ever been on the unrequited side of love. Cassie, being the extrovert that she is, says this is because Molly has never taken chances–that she’s just never gone for it.

“There’s just something terrifying about admitting you like someone. In a way, it’s actually easier when there’s no chance of anything happening. But there’s this threshold where things suddenly become possible. And then your cards are on the table. And there you are, wanting, right out in the open.”

And she’s right. Molly has never actually been rejected; she’s always been too scared to actually confess her feelings to any of the twenty-something people she’s crushed on. She’s always been too “careful.” But when you’re always comparing yourself to your thinner, blonder, and charming sister who naturally wins everyone over, it’s hard not to let it damage your confidence.

However, everything changes this summer for Molly. She’s starting a new job, and there she befriends her co-worker, the charming, down-to-earth Reid. Him, she can actually talk to without flipping out the way she normally does around most boys.

Though he may be the first boy Molly can talk to with ease, he is an incredibly geeky one who wears this atrocious pair of white sneakers and goes to renaissance festivals. Definitely not the boy Molly has always pictured as her first boyfriend.

Especially not when there’s cute hipster Will who might be into her and just so also happens to be the best friend of Cassie’s new crush. Which is also important, because after Cassie meets Mina, everything starts to change.

The closeness the twins used to share suddenly goes missing, and it feels like Cassie is slowly, but surely, leaving Molly behind.

Continue reading “The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: Book Review”

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: Book Review

We Are Okay

Title: We Are Okay

Author: Nina LaCour

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin)

My Rating: 4.25/5 stars

“I was okay just a moment ago. I will learn how to be okay again.”

As the only student who opts to stay on campus during dreary winter break, college freshman, Marin, finds herself stranded in her empty dorm. She is alone both physically and mentally, but not for long–Mabel is coming.

Marin’s life has been full of hardship. Nothing has been easy for her. Her father was never in the picture, and her mom passed away when she was young. To make matters worse, it seems like everyone in Marin’s town knew and loved her mom. They’re drawn to her, always randomly walking up to Marin and talking about her as if she remembers her. Ever since her death, she has lived with her strange yet loving–in his own way–grandfather.

A few months before we join her story, tragedy struck and eighteen-year-old Marin could not have gotten out of California any quicker. Thankfully, she had college waiting for her in New York as an excuse, and upon her abrupt departure, she cut all ties with everyone she knew, saying goodbye to no one.

But you can’t outrun tragedy forever. After months of silence and the countless calls and texts–laced with the gentle concern of a best friend–going unanswered, Mabel takes a different approach. She decides to visit Marin in person, where she knows she will be incapable of ignoring her. Now, Marin must begin to face all that she has tried, and failed, to put behind her.

Told in alternating chapters between the past and present, we slowly piece together an idea of what Marin’s life was like before she left, and what happened to make her leave the way she did.

Continue reading “We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: Book Review”

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta: Book Review

The Piper's Son

Title: The Piper’s Son

Author: Melina Marchetta

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Rating: 4.9/5 stars

The Piper’s Son is the sequel to Melina Marchetta’s wonderful Saving Francesca, but can also be read on its own if you don’t mind spoilers. I highly, highly, recommend checking out SF before diving into this one–seriously, no book will ever have the same impact on me as it did, ever again–but SF may not be for everyone. Though both books may begin dark and depressing, I feel that the journeys through each of them are quite worth it. But not everyone can or wants to handle it, so it’s up to you to decide for yourself.

“Maybe she’d always been there. Maybe strangers enter your heart first and then you spent the rest of your life searching for them.”

THIS. BOOK. This. Book. You. Guys.

Continue reading “The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta: Book Review”

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman: Book Review

Norse Mythology

Title: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman 

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

My Rating: 5/5 stars

As much as I love mythology, I actually know nothing about Norse mythology. I haven’t even seen Marvel’s recent Thor movies–not that they count; I’m just trying to explain how truly little I know–so when I heard one of my favorite authors was putting together a collection of Norse mythology, I knew just where I was going to start. Thank you, Almighty Neil Gaiman.

“The Norse myths are the myths of a chilly place, with long, long winter nights and endless summer days, myths of a people who did not entirely trust or even like their gods, although they respected and feared them.”

Continue reading “Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman: Book Review”