Mini reviews: Warcross, Wonder Woman and Gentleman’s Guide

I’ve read all three of these books a while ago and didn’t want to write individual full reviews so mini reviews it is! All of these had been on my TBR list for a while and fortunately I loved all three of them!two lines

29385546“Warcross” by Marie Lu

4.5 stars

“Every locked door has a key. Every problem has a solution.”

Oh wow, this was a good book. Marie Lu never disappoints! Warcross is the first virtual reality book I’ve read and I have to say, I am a fan. It doesn’t hurt that the protagonist Emika is a hacker and as someone who’s studying computer science, hacking has always been something I’m interested in.

If you’re read Marie Lu’s Legends trilogy and remember Alaska in Champion, Warcross is an even grander version of that. I wanted her to do a spin-off of that book series just to get to know that society more and Marie Lu has answered my calls.

Emika, after a little hack gone wrong, finds herself as a wildcard in this year’s Warcross games. The technology in this book is so well weaved into the story, I was impressed (and also very concerned about where our world is headed).

  • Emika and Hideo were the cutest together
  • There were two huge plot twists, I saw one coming but the second surprised me
  • Seriously, the technology, so good
  • Emika has rainbow colored hair and it’s mentioned one too many times

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29283884“The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee

4 stars

“God bless the book people for their boundless knowledge absorbed from having words instead of friends.”

I loved this book but I was very conflicted while I was rating it. After I finished The Gentleman’s Guide, I just sat there and thought, what the heck did I just read? I went into the book expecting a historical contemporary and it was that but there were elements of other genres thrown in that I wasn’t expecting (like fantasy).

Monty was a complicated character, at times I loved him and at times I wanted to punch his guts. He is bisexual in a society where that was absolutely unacceptable. He is in love with his best friend. He’s also irresponsible, takes his inheritance for granted and gets drunk for living. And he also takes his white male privilege for granted, very much so and at time his comments made me want to slap him. But Monty does go through a lot of character development in the book and he learns to get better at listening.

  • Felicity (Monty’s little sister) was my favorite and I loved that girl so much
  • Percy was also great and I loved him too
  • Monty and Percy ARE SO ADORABLE TOGETHER IT HURTS
  • Felt like there was too much happening sometimes

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29749085“Wonder Woman Warbringer” by Leigh Bardugo

5 stars

“You can’t live in fear. You make things happen or they happen to you.”

I had high expectations going into this book after absolutely loving Wonder Woman’s movie and my expectations were met and then some. This was SO GOOD. Yes it has some clichés but it’s a superhero story retelling so it’s bound to have some clichés. That’s not to say Bardugo didn’t put her own little twists and turns into a story we all love (or at least I do).

I’ve said this before but only Leigh Bardugo can introduce five new characters in a book and make me care about every one of them. Even though the book is about Diana growing into her Amazonian self, it’s also about friendship and dedication and doing what’s right. Also I LOVED the diverse casting, that’s not something I see often in superhero retellings (basically every main character but Diana was a POC).

The story picks up once Diana gets to New York with Alya. Diana starts to question a lot of the racism and prejudice that happens in society. I also love her cluelessness when it comes to technology and confusion to slang and modern film references.

Female superheroes are just empowering. This book especially, Diana is Wonder Woman but you have two other strong female characters. Alya is intelligent and brave and fierce. Her best friend Nim is hilarious and loyal and as fierce as Alya.

  • Also, FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS! GIMME MORE! Alya and Nim’s relationship is the sweetest!
  • Nim is a fat bisexual South-Asian character and I absolutely loved her!
  • Tyler is also a sweetheart
  • So usually I see plot twists coming but I did not see this one coming

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Have you read any of the books mentioned? Are you planning to?

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Review: “You Bring the Distant Near” by Mitali Perkins

33155334Rating:
5 stars

This elegant young adult novel captures the immigrant experience for one Indian-American family with humor and heart.

Told in alternating teen voices across three generations, You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture – for better or worse.

From a grandmother worried that her children are losing their Indian identity to a daughter wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair to a granddaughter social-activist fighting to preserve Bengali tigers, award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together the threads of a family growing into an American identity.

Here is a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

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You Bring the Distant Near quote

Hello everyone! I’m coming out of hiding to rave about this spectacular book that everyone should go read as soon as physically possible.

I LOVED this book so much! A book has never resonated so well with me; it’s been months since I read it and I still can’t stop thinking about You Bring the Distant Near. There’s FINALLY a book about Bengali girls, not one, not two but FIVE kickass Bengali girls/women who are awesome in their own imperfect ways. 

You Bring the Distant Near follows five characters spanning three different generations, their struggles, their joys, their dreams and their failures. But most importantly, it’s about their relationships with each other and their identities as immigrants in America.

The highlight of the book for me was definitely all the characters. The characters all have their individual character arcs where they grow at their own pace but they’re also all skillfully woven together in the overall story arc. Perkins is an expert at developing and writing characters in a way that leave no doubts of their authenticity. All five of them go on their own individual journeys trying to find their niche in society as first and second generation immigrants. I also just really love following characters’ stories from childhood to adulthood to make sure I know how they turned out so this book was perfect for me.

The cultural representation is something else I adored. Seeing common mundane aspects of Bengali culture reflected in a book made me very happy because it’s so rare to find in the media. Things like the parents listening to Rabindranath Tagore songs while cleaning the house made the book feel special in a way no other book has.

The book also doesn’t sugarcoat the negative parts of South Asian culture but instead takes the challenge head on by having the characters deal with it. Racism, misogyny, colorism and feminism play big important roles in shaping the characters. There’s also an emphasis of the characters trying to balance the two cultures, deciding what parts of Bengali culture to hold on to and what to leave, figuring out what exactly makes them American. That’s a story most immigrants (myself included) know well so it hits close to home.

All in all, I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who likes a well written and well developed diverse contemporary. And also a huge shout out and thank you to Shenwei @ Reading (AS)(I)an (AM)erica for sending me a copy of this back in July.

Have you read this book? What book characters do you resonate with the most?

Review: “Words in Deep Blue” by Cath Crowley

31952703Rating:
5 stars

Love lives between the lines.

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

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“We are the books we read and the things we love.”

Wow. I am stunned.

From afar, Words in Deep Blue may look like yet another book about anonymous letter writing and people magically finding lost notes but Cath Crowley’s take on this trope was unique and perfect. She turned the concept into a beautiful and heartbreaking story. The book deals with depression, loss of a family member, and grief. But also of hope, love and friendship.

Rachel returns to the city she grew up in about a year after her brother Cal drowned in an accident. She is reacquainted with her old best friends (one of them being Henry, the guy she had a huge crush on) but she hasn’t told anyone her brother. Rachel starts to slowly ease back into the lives of her former friends. She has a lot of memories in the town of her brother and it takes her time to sort them out.

Henry is also in the middle of a family disaster. His girlfriend just dumped him again. And it also seems like his family would be losing their second hand bookstore: Henry’s favorite place in the world. Rachel starts to work at their store once she moves back into town and they start to mend their relationship little by little. I liked both Henry and Rachel and I was rooting for them.

The side characters were all great and never felt one-dimensional. Henry’s family members were all dynamic characters. Did I mention his parents are actually a present part of the plot? I know it’s rare but it happens. I hope we get more parental presence in YA books in the future. Henry’s sister was probably my favorite character. I loved how different the two of them were and yet always looked after each other.

Sometimes I fall in love with characters, sometimes the plot, rarely the setting. But I have to say, if I could live in a book, I would choose this one solely because of the precious book store. The way the bookstore is described is every reader’s dreamland. The idea of the Letter Library especially was brilliant. (The Letter Library is a section of the store dedicated to people leaving letters for each other in the books). I loved reading the letters the characters would write to each other, the little highlighted quotes and passages. Years and years of people’s history on the margins of second hand books is a lovely concept to think about.

“Sometimes science isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the poets.”

I also fell in love with Crowley’s beautiful writing. She puts an emphasis on the power of words in the story and her writing is fully up to par with her theme. The book is just so quotable but never seems like it’s trying too hard.

Because I don’t want this review to have half the book written on it, I will refrain from writing down my favorite quotes (which basically consists of half the book). All in all, Words in Deep Blue made me cry (a lot) and it also made me laugh quite a bit and that’s the best reaction a book can give you.

Have you read this or are planning to?

Review: “Lord of Shadows” by Cassandra Clare

30312891Rating:
5 stars

Warning: the following contains spoilers for previous books of Cassandra Clare including The Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices trilogy, all the short stories, and Lady Midnight.

Would you trade your soul mate for your soul?

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

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“The bad things can’t matter more than the good things”

I CAN’T I CAN’T HOW DO I MOVE ON I CANNOT EVEN THIS WAS FANTASTIC OH MY GOSH!! This book is all I talked about for five days with one my best friends who I was reading this with (she’s over @ Empire of Starlight. I’m mentioning her because some of the points I made in the review are because of our conversations).

*deep breath* *deep breath* How do I write reviews again?

Cassandra Clare books get better and better with each installment and I didn’t think it was possible after the wonder that was Lady Midnight but this BLEW ME AWAY. So many things happened! The plot was intricate and complex and engaging from beginning to end. And Clare once again delivers a book with eight thousand main characters all of whom I loved and cared about. Very few authors can pull of multiple main characters with such ease.

The book starts off a few days after the events of Lady Midnight. Emma and Mark are now pretending to be dating because Emma found out about the parabatai curse. Cristina is back together with perfect Diego. Julian is being a trooper with the Mark and Emma thing because he thinks they truly care about each other. Kit is trying to adjust to living at the Institute and still isn’t sure if he wants to be a Shadowhunter.  

Meanwhile, there are Centurions coming to the Los Angeles Institute because of a sea demon uprising after Malcolm Fade died. Some of the Centurions you’ll recognize if you’ve read Tales from the Shadowhunters Academy.

The plot is so interconnected, it is hard not to give away anything. It was an incredible ride. The characters all grow as people. What surprised me most was how much I came to care about Kieran. And Kit, Ty, and Livvy are a great trio and I loved their chapters the most. All the Blackthorn children are just precious and perfect little gems.

Julian, oh Julian. He is a Slytherin perfectly disguised as a Hufflepuff. He really does have a ruthless heart and you get to see that side more and more in this book. He will do anything for his family and when I say anything, I do mean anything. The world and everyone else can burn to the ground if it means his family and Emma are safe. He doesn’t understand that there are some lines you cannot cross.

There are of course mentions of other characters from the other series. Four of them make pretty big cameos and I loved every moment.

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SPOILERS SPOILERS LOTS OF SPOILERS Don’t read past this if you haven’t the book!

AGAIN OH MY GOSH I CANNOT PROCESS THIS BOOK. A bunch of random thoughts coming your way.

Okay, the very first death of the book: Jon Cartwright. I know he wasn’t a big part of this one but I loved him in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy! Well, I hated him at first but then I grew to love him just like Simon did. And I felt so so bad! Poor Marisol.

The fairy land was cool. I always love it when the characters go into any of the fairy courts because they look so different and eerily beautiful. This time when going in to save Kieran, we get to see the more run down fairy places.

“I’ve always needed you so much, I never had a chance to think about whether we were good for each other or not.”

Okay, I understand Mark is trying to figure out what he actually wants out of a romantic partner, BUT I feel so bad for Kieran. Kieran loves Mark wholeheartedly. I was never mad at him in Lady Midnight for doing what he did because I knew he thought he was helping. And I still don’t understand why Mark was lying to him for half of the book. He could’ve just told him the truth and it’s not like Kieran had many other options anyway. He would’ve testified either way. Mark just needs to get himself together and him and Cristina need to stop having feelings for each other. It’s only making things more complicated.

“I would that you would meet me, formally, that I might court you,” said Gwyn.

Gwyn and Diana are the couple I didn’t think I needed until it happened. I didn’t think much of Gwyn in the first book, he just seemed like this unfeeling Fairy warrior with his own agenda. Seeing him with Diana humanized him. And the scene when Diana revealed she is transgender was a beautiful and heartbreaking moment.

Kit and Jessamine are kind of friends now and it’s great!

My poor Drusilla. I was hoping we would get more of her in this book since she was barely there in Lady Midnight and we did. She’s the Blackthorn child who gets overlooked the most. I’ve declared her my favorite Blackthorn because that girl just needs a friend. The older kids think she’s too young to be with them, and Dru is too old to always be with Tavvy and not feel lonely. Even in all the scenes with the whole family, it’s usually her sitting alone quietly.

Malec as parents is the greatest thing ever! The scene when Magnus starts singing a Spanish lullaby to Rafe? It was adorable.

“And I will be a uniquely lucky person, because there will be someone who always remembers me. Who will always love me.”

Can you imagine Alec Lightwood from City of Fallen Angels say this? Alec has come to terms with Magnus’ immortality and the fact that he will most likely die long before Magnus does. And he is okay with it. Just seeing Alec grow so much in the past five or so years is so lovely.

That last scene I did NOT see coming. So far, all the deaths in the Clare books have been people I don’t care for much so I was starting to think I was safe. And then this happens!! And Robert dying now begs the question who the new Inquisitor would be. I guess we can assume that he or she will not be as kind and lenient. I guess it was too much to ask that both the Inquisitor and the Consul be people we actually like. And now that Robert’s gone, Emma will no longer be able to be exiled and their parabatai bond will remain strong as ever. It took a lot of trust for them to go to Robert even when Magnus vouched for him, they wouldn’t want to do that again with someone they don’t trust.

LIVVY MY POOR BABY!! I loved her! She was the only person Ty understood. And when you look back to how upset Ty was when she was injured in battle, what will happen to him now?? They’re twins! They were together every step of their life. And now she’s gone. This isn’t fair.

I’m also really scared of what Julian will do now. We all know he will do anything to keep his family together. I have a feeling he might want to use the Black Book to raise Livvy. Because, like I said, he doesn’t realize there are lines he cannot cross. I mean, the boy is thinking about breaking all the parabatai bonds in the world just so he and Emma can be together. They are not that important, he needs to chill out. Even Emma admits that Julian scares her sometimes because of how far he’ll go to get what he wants. This is how villains start.

And the whole thing with Dru and how she ended up in fairy when she touched the strange fairy object thing that Jaime left behind? I don’t even know what I’m supposed to think of that.

I have so many theories about the next book. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WAIT TWO YEARS?

Have you read this? Are you going to? Who is your favorite character in this series?

Series Review: “Shades of Magic” trilogy by V.E Schwab

Oh. My. Gosh. I finally FINALLY read these and this series is freakin’ fantastic! I was going to start beating myself up for reading the trilogy so late but then, I think I did myself a favor since I was able to read all three in a row instead of having to wait years. The Shades of Magic trilogy is everything I hoped: intriguing, complex and simply magical.

I fell in love with this world (or rather, worlds). The concept that there are four different worlds all connected by the constant city of London. And more than that, adored the characters. This series has both a plot driven and character driven story.

This was also my first attempt at a V.E Schwab book and I’m a fan. Her writing is descriptive without being monotone and she has the perfect balance of show vs tell.

On to the reviews! The later books will have spoilers for the previous one so if you haven’t read the entire series, feel free to skip the later books.

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22055262~o~Rating~o~
4.5 stars

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

A Darker Shade of Magic was a thrilling introduction in this fantastic journey. Here, we meet Kell, an Antari – the only one in his world who can travel between the three Londons. He’s the adoptive son of the King and Queen of Red London and brother to prince Rhy. And we also meet Delilah (Lila) Bard, a wanted thief with too many knives and a seeker of adventure.

Schwab is a pro at world building, she doesn’t shove this new world down our throats but transitions us slowly.

My favorite thing about this book is the witty banter between Kell and Lila. I love humor and action in my Fantasy books and this one delivers. I also love a slow romance, no insta love and no love triangles. Their relationship isn’t really a romance, they’re just two people who have crossed each other’s paths and decided to go on a journey together. I appreciated their bond, their friendship.

Rhy, even thought he was absent most of the book, was by far my favorite character. We mostly see him through Kell’s eyes but even then, it’s obvious he is a kind and genuine person.

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20764879~o~Rating~o~
5 stars

“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”

My favorite out the three books, A Gathering of Shadows is the perfect sequel. You know what I love best in Fantasy books? Epic magic duels. I LOVE super powers and I love it even more when we get to see people fight with said super powers. Most of A Gathering of Shadows revolves around the Element Games, a tournament where the best magicians of the three kingdoms come together and the best magician earns the glory of the championship.

Kell and Lila are separated during most of the book and I absolutely loved it. I loved seeing them grow as characters. Kell is having to deal with a level of distrust from the King and Queen because of his previous smuggling habit as well as the knowledge of what he did to Rhy. Lila is getting used to living in a world full of magic and new rules.

All the new characters who were introduced are lovely additions, Alucard especially. He’s hilarious! If I thought I liked Lila and Kell’s banter, I love hers and Alucard’s even more.

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29939230~o~Rating~o~
4.5 stars

“Life isn’t made of choices, it’s made of trades. Some are good, some are bad, but they all have a cost.”

I was a pile of crumbling mess after finishing this book. How am I expected to move on now? This one broke my heart and then tried to piece it back together but it was too late because my heart was already shattered, just whyyy.

The plot was on point. The characters were all present and perfect in their own imperfect ways. The fights were wonderful as usual. It was action packed with the occasional humor thrown in.

If you haven’t read the conclusion yet, just know that it’s fantastic and skip these later paragraphs.

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SPOILERS SPOILERS LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD!!

(This is not going to be very coherent, I’ll just warn you now)/

AHHHHHH, all these deaths, I CANNOT EVEN! Every side character I loved died?? And I loved all the side characters and they’re all pretty much dead. And the characters who survived are left damaged and heart-broken and it HURTS.

Kell and Rhy’s relationship is so nice! I love their brotherly duo and for a while, it almost seemed like they would beat Heronstairs which is high praise! (They didn’t but almost).

Rhy and Alucard are so darn adorable! The way Alucard stayed with Rhy when he “died” and then Rhy stayed with Luc when he was almost possessed! Their relationship is so nice and I’m so very glad Luc didn’t die on that ship. My poor Rhy has lost enough people.

I also just love all the little character interactions between everyone. How Lila was basically the first person to trust Rhy on his own. How Kell and Alucard have finally agreed to not hate each other after Alucard told Kell the real reason he left. How Holland was the one to save Lila and while that wasn’t enough for her to like him, she at least tolerated him from there on. Hastra and Kell’s conversations and how he seemed so eager to show Kell how he can grow a plant. Lenox and Lila and how he finally seemed to be comfortable around her. ALL THESE CHARACTERS ARE JUST SO BRILLIANT.

HOLLAND NOOOO! I was so hoping he would end up surviving, that poor man has gone through so much! And he still had the strength and the courage to keep going and fight against evil even though he had so many reasons not to.

The last scene with King Maxim and his iron soldiers was awesome. He literally created his own army just so he wouldn’t have to ask his people to sacrifice themselves. I’m still angry at him for blaming Kell for so long but I have to admire his strength.

Can we have a slow clap for the wonder that is Tieran? That man is the Dumbledore of this trilogy except much more helpful and is actually there for the main characters when they need him.

I so wanted to give this book five stars except it left some unanswered questions that I thought would be resolved by the last book. Schwab was probably just wanting to leave some things ambiguous but I really like closure.

Things I needed in this book:

  1. Kell’s parents!! I NEEDED to know even though apparently Kell didn’t. I need to know who his parents were, why they left him, or whether or not he was kidnapped. Does he have any siblings? Is he even from Red London? Why are his memories erased? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED?
  2. Lila’s past! What happened to her eye? Did her parents know what she was and had gotten rid of it? When did it happen? Who are her parents? WHAT IF HER AND KELL ARE SIBLINGS?! Not likely at all, I know, but can we be certain if we don’t know who their parents are?
  3. The king’s letters. He wrote letters to Emira, Kell and Rhy because he knew he was going to die. I wanted to know what was in them. Did he finally apologize to Kell for blaming him for the dark magic stuff? Does he tell Kell what really happened with his parents?
  4. Queen Emira and Kell. I really liked her POV chapters and that she cared about Kell but didn’t know how to express herself but I wanted her to! I know they have the brief scene where she gives Kell the kerchief with the initials KM but I wanted MORE. I wanted a scene where she calls him her son and then they hug it out like the mother/son duo they were always meant to be and life would’ve been perfect!

Have you read this series? Are you planning to? What other Victoria Schwab book would you recommend?

Review: “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

32075671~o~Review~o~
5 stars

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.

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Hate U Give quote

When books like this come along, I realize how incredibly inept I am at reviewing books. I’m sure everyone has either read this book or has at-least heard of it. It’s pretty much everywhere now and the hype is very well deserved. It’s been about a month since I read this and I’ve been putting off writing a review for it because nothing I say will justify how great of a book this is.

The Hate U Give is perfect. I was laughing and crying and was happy and heart-broken. If you are to read one book this year, this should be it. This is the epitome of an important book. 

The Hate U Give is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. It has really opened my eyes on a lot of issues that I was aware of but not to the degree in which they exist. This novel touches on police brutality, racism and racial profiling, micro-agression, etc. The fact that there are parents in the world who need to sit their children down and talk to them about how to protect themselves from the police if they are ever pulled over? That’s APPALLING to me. But THUG also depicts the good side of cops through Starr’s uncle who is like a father to her. Not all cops are racist and discriminatory and the story shows both sides.

Even though THUG portrays so many contemporary societal problems, it never seems like the author is shoving her opinions down her readers. The issues are all wonderfully crafted into the characters’ lives and we see how it affects them on a daily basis.

Starr is a great main character. She is strong, funny and utterly relatable. She lives in two different worlds (as she would say). The neighborhood she lives in is impoverished, a little run down and crime ridden but she goes to a private school with wealthier kids that’s about an hour from her house. Because she is a part of both worlds, she also doesn’t think she can be wholly herself in either places. She struggles with finding her place in both her home community and her school.

There were quite a few funny scenes too. Lots of references to Harry Potter, High School Musical, Tumblr, and Starr’s favorite show of all time: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Another wonderful aspect of the book is the importance of family to the story line. Starr’s parents are straight up awesome. They are supportive, encouraging but also stern. Starr has a great relationship with both her mother and father which can be hard to find in YA. Her older half-brother Seven is great: he is very protective of Starr and his two other half sisters. And Starr’s little brother Sekani is just an adorable cutie.

Like I said before, I cannot stress enough how good this book is. EVERYONE needs to read it.

Have you read it? What did you think?

Review: “And I Darken” by Kiersten White

27190613~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

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~o~My Review~o~

“Souls and thrones are irreconcilable” 

Vlad the Impaler re-imagined as a girl. Historical fiction and I do not usually get along but sometimes, some rare jems like this book present themselves and I just can’t help falling deeply in love. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews about this book so I didn’t think I would love it as much as I did. Lada is vicious, manipulative, downright cruel and painstakingly AWESOME.

And I Darken is a perfect balance of real historical events with a creative outlook. I never felt like Kiersten White was being anyway disrespectful to the culture or to these historical characters who actually existed once upon a time. It’s clear she did a lot of research on the topic. Keep in mind though that I am in no way an expert on the Ottoman Empire and I’m not claiming to know all the history behind it but to my [limited] knowledge, the story was executed well.

This book is action packed but also very heavy in politics which can turn some people away but it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the book even more. Political alliances, building connections, ruling empires, stabbing people, it’s glorious!

One of my favorite aspects of the book was the relationship between siblings Lada and Radu. Where Lada is violent, vicious, and unseemly, Radu is the opposite: he’s beautiful; sympathetic; and a little fragile. Their relationship was complex and held all the emotions of both sibling rivalry and loyalty.

My favorite character: Radu. Radu goes through the most transformation in this book. He goes from a scared little boy to a charming and (seemingly) collected man.

Overall, this book was the best YA historical fiction I’ve read. If you’re on the fence about reading this one, I VERY strongly recommend.

Have you guys read this? What did you think?