Review: “Now I Rise” by Kiersten White

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5 stars

Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first book in the series And I Darken. 

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

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“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge.
Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

AHHH I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. This book tore me TO PIECES! I liked the sequel even more than And I Darken.

If there were ever such a thing as a character driven stories, this is IT. Lada, Radu and Mehmed are such complex and imperfect characters that I go from wanting to hug them to wanting to strangle them to death. The main three characters have developed into such distinct personalities it’s a marvel of Kiersten White’s writing. She writes historical characters with a twist that’s fresh yet familiar.

Our Radu, Lada and Mehmed are no longer children, though all three of them still have the same goals in mind. From the first book, we know what they value above all else: Lada will always choose Wallachia, Mehmed will always choose Constantinople and Radu will always choose Mehmed. In Now I Rise we see how their desires play out and how their goals affect their decisions – politically and emotionally.

If I thought I disliked Mehmed in the first book, I downright hated him in this one. He cares about both Dracul siblings but it’s clear he doesn’t care about either one as much as he cares about being the Sultan who expands the Ottomans towards Constantinople. I never understood his desire to conquer Constantinople, his reasoning is questionable and his means to his goal is even more so.

Lada is more brutal and ruthless as ever. Her and her soldiers are parading through the countryside trying to get to Wallachia’s throne. Lada doesn’t know how to get to the throne, she was never one for politics, all she knows is that she wants it. She finds an unlikely ally in the man who killed her father. Lada was my least favorite out of the three in the first book but became my favorite in this one. Lada never pretends to be someone she isn’t, she is fierce and violent and she gets things done with brutal force. After all the mind games Radu and Mehmed were playing in the book, Lada’s chapters felt honest and refreshing.

Radu is getting on my nerves. I understand he’s in love with Mehmed but there should be a line that you know not to cross. His blind devotion to Mehmed annoyed me for most of the book especially since so many innocent people are now suffering because of it.

And yes the main three are great characters but do you know who took me completely by surprise? Nazira. I’m SO GLAD Nazira had such a strong presence in this book because I was dying to learn more about her after And I Darken. She is kind, caring while being strong and sly, and she’s also crazy smart and resourceful. She’s everything I look for in a character.

Cyprian is also a character I quickly became very fond of. He is generous and opened up his home to Radu and Nazira. He basically provides Radu an opportunity to spy on the Ottomans from the heart of their city. Poor Cyprian deserves better.

Have you read this? Or “And I Darken”?

Review: “Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor” by Rick Riordan

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4 stars

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.

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Oh Rick Riordan, how much I love thee. I liked Hammer of Thor much more than Sword of Summer and let me just start by giving a huge round of applause to Riordan for this fantastic and diverse cast of characters.

Magnus Chase: a sassy pan sexual healer with a heart of gold. I complained about him in the last book because of how similar he sounded to Percy but his voice was unique in this one. He sounded more grown up and mature, and when he brought in humor to the situation, he still understood the gravity of things.

Samirah al-Abbas: an axe wielding, hijab wearing Muslim Valkyrie. I love love LOVE her and Riordan for making her such a strong, liberal person. She’s also very happily betrothed to Amir who’s an absolute cinnamon role.

Alex Fierro: a transgender/genderfluid shapeshifter whose weapon is a metal wire. How cool is that? This was the first book I read with a gender fluid person where the book didn’t revolve around the character’s gender identity.

Hearthstone: a deaf dwarf who comes from an abusive family. He’s also a master at rune magic. This was also the first book I read with deaf representation.

Blitzen: a POC elf with a great fashion sense who wants to open his own fashion line someday. He’s also a great craftsman.

The plot itself is nothing special. Thor’s hammer is stolen and the main cast must go on a mission to retrieve it. All the while, Loki is threatening the demigods and trying to achieve his own agenda. It’s a typical Riordan book, fairly predictable but enjoyable nonetheless. There were a few twists I didn’t see coming which was a surprise.

“Sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn’t it? An atheist and a Muslim walk into a pagan afterlife.”

This is also a book about acceptance and unity. Sometimes you may not understand people and where they are coming from, but you have to respect them, no matter their religion or sex or sexuality.

And of course the best part of the book: Annabeth cameos!

What’s your favorite Riordan series?

Review: “Lord of Shadows” by Cassandra Clare

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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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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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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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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 Upside of Unrequited” by Becky Albertalli

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4 stars

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

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Ahh, this was so adorable! The Upside of Unrequited was even more adorable than Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Molly is kind, creative, and utterly relatable. The book has a diverse, multi-dimensional cast and of course Albertalli’s quirky writing style.

Molly is a fat girl and she is extremely aware of it. Her confidence in her own body increases as the story develops and her journey to self love was my favorite part of the novel.

To me, the best thing about a Becky Albertalli book is the dialogue. The characters speak like normal teenagers, they’re not whiny brats and they’re also not wise beyond their years sprouting out medieval quotes. Her characters always seem like genuine teenagers you can picture in a high school setting.

I’m always craving stories where family plays an important role in the MC’s life and Molly has a fantastic family. She has two moms, a twin sister Cassie who I also loved, and the cutest little baby brother. A good part of the book revolves around her moms’ wedding; they can finally get married because it’s now legal.

Molly and Cassie’s relationship was another great aspect of the book. Where Molly is quiet and cautious, Cassie is outspoken and a little reckless. Cassie meets her dream girl and is in a serious relationship for once and Molly is worried it’ll change her relationship with her twin. Their sibling relationship felt completely authentic, with arguments and fights but also fierce loyalty.

If you’ve read Simon vs. then you’re in for a treat because CAMEOS!

And Reid is an absolute darling (I just had to mention it).

Have you read this? What did you think?

 

Review: “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

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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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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: “When Dimple Met Rishi” by Sandhya Menon

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4.5 stars

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Release Date: May 30th, 2017

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I picked this up at ALA Midwinter 2017 which was held in Atlanta this year. A huge thank you to Simon & Schuster for handing these out!

Ahh, this was so freakin’ ADORABLE! This is a Bollywood romance turned into a YA novel. By Bollywood romance, yes I mean the cliches and the overused tropes and the songs and the drama, it was perfect! Now, if you don’t already know this, I. Am. An. ABSOLUTE. Sucker. When it comes to Bollywood romantic comedies. And don’t even get me started if the movie is starring Shah Rukh Khan.

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Not the best gif I could’ve chosen…

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Hehe, that’s not any better.

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Awwww, LOOK

Shounima, you’re not even talking about the book anymore, get a hold of yourself!

Okay, okay, I apologize. On to the story.

Dimple Shah is the only child to her traditional Indian parents; parents whose biggest goal in life is to marry her to a suitable boy now that she has graduated high school. Dimple though has no desire whatsoever to get married. Dimple is a coder and her biggest goal in the book is to win a programming competition and meet Jenny Lindth, her programming role model. She is intelligent, determined, and is always struggling to find the perfect balance between her family’s tradition and western society. I saw a lot of myself in her; I have never been so well represented in a book character before (she’s literally me but much cooler). That’s probably another reason I liked this book so much, I connected with the characters on a much deeper level than I usually do.

Rishi on the other hand is more traditional, he wants to do whatever will make his parents happy and he’s completely on board with an arranged marriage. He is an artist at heart but is pursuing more “practical” goals like going to MIT to become an engineer. I understood where he was coming from, there’s usually a huge pressure in South Asian culture to pursue careers in science and the arts are usually dismissed as silly hobbies that you are supposed to do on the side but not make a career out of.

The book itself can be best described as a romantic comedy and there were lots of funny scenes thrown in there with the romantic ones. I was giggling all through the book because of the sheer cuteness.

The author does add some Hindi dialogues when Dimple and Rishi are talking to their parents which may throw off some non-Hindi speakers. Though you do get the gist of what they’re saying because of the context.

All in all, When Dimple Met Rishi was just plain adorable and I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a fluffy read.

DNF Review: “The Bone Witch” by Rin Chupeco

30095464~o~Rating~o~
2 stars

“The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.”

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

~o~My Review~o~

First off, thank you so much to the publisher (Sourcebooks Fire) and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted to like this SO BAD!! I don’t usually review books that I haven’t finished but I felt like I needed to explain why I couldn’t finish it. If I were to describe Bone Witch with one word, it would be boring. It’s uneventful, and I honestly could not tell you what the plot is. The book started off well too, we find out that Tea is a Bone Witch when she accidentally resurrects her brother. And then… nothing happens. It got so bad, I started reading this book when I couldn’t fall asleep at night. I only got through about 35% before quitting and calling it a day.

It’s clear Rin Chupeco put a lot of thought into building this world and some of the concepts are original with a lot of potential which is why I read as much as I did. But rather than easing readers into this world, there are massive information dumps to where I couldn’t keep up with the Fantasy elements. One of the concepts I really liked about the world though was the heartglass. The characters literally wore their hearts around their necks and heartglasses can give you a glimpse into a person’s personality and powers.

The book’s slowness also has a lot to do with the two different point of views: Tea is basically telling her story to someone else so half the chapters are from his point of view while the other chapters are her POV telling the story. That’s a good idea and props to the author for trying but it wasn’t doing well for me.

I love character driven stories and this was not one. Tea as a character has no substance and little to no emotion. She’s just plain (sorry for the repetition) boring. I could not connect to her at all.

Bone Witch gets two stars because of the originality of the world. And the writing itself is good even if the execution isn’t. (Also the cover fits in so well with my blog’s color scheme!)

Have you any of you guys read this yet? Is it on your TBR?

Mini Review: “The Bane Chronicles” by Cassandra Clare

16303287~o~Rating~o~
4 stars

Warning: The following contains spoilers for both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare.

Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.

This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.

Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print for the first time and includes a never-before-seen eleventh tale, as well as new illustrated material.

~o~My Review~o~

finally picked up the Magnus Bane chronicles. It had to do a lot with the Shadowhunters show and I wanted to know Magnus’ entire back story. (Side note: season 2 of Shadowhunters is SUCH a great improvement than season 1. So if you gave up on the show after that horrendous first season, I strongly encourage you to try season 2. From the fourth episode and on, there’s a new writing team and they’re a lot better than the previous one).

Anyway, I really liked the compilation of short stories about Magnus. I feel like I understand him more as a character now. All my favorite characters make an appearance. I was most excited to see Will and Tessa and I was practically jumping with joy when they showed up.

There are eleven short stories in total and most of them were great. My favorites were #4 – The Midnight Heir about Tessa and Will’s son. And #6 – Saving Raphael Santiago about, obviously, how Magnus saves Raphael (this one was just so sweet! And I love Raphael now). And also #10 The Course of True Love (and First Dates) in which Magnus and Alec go on their first date and THIS WAS SO CUTE!

There were two stories I didn’t care much about (What Really Happened in Peru and The Rise of the Hotel Dumort). But Magnus’ sass and snark almost make up for it.

The stories themselves are all about fifty pages or so long and they go by really fast. I read this in under five hours which is unusual for me because I’m a slow reader. There’s action, romance, humor and heartbreak.

I recommend this to anyone who has read all the other Cassandra Clare books. These stories are wonderful additions to the Shadowhunters world.

Review: “City of Saints & Thieves” by Natalie C. Anderson

29995905~o~Rating~o~
4.5 stars

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

~o~Review~o~

TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape, attempted rape, abuse

“If you’re going to be a thief, the first thing you need to know is that you don’t exist.”

Wow, this was a good book.

Tina is a refugee from eastern Democratic of the Congo. When she was five, her and her mom escaped from the Congo to Kenya because of the raging war. Tina is a strong, independent protagonist who has had to learn to survive on the streets after her mom’s murder. She will do anything to avenge her mom’s death and that’s exactly what brings her to the gang – Goondas – in the first place. She is fiercely loyal to her little sister Kiki and she takes care of her to the best of her abilities. Tina is a multi-dimensional character and I felt genuinely attached to her.

The originality of the setting is one of the qualities that sets this book apart. The setting is rich, descriptive and made me fall completely in love with Kenya. The story is set in the made-up city of Sangui, Kenya, which isn’t a real city but was inspired by Mombasa and Nairobi.

City of Saints and Thieves is a murder mystery and revenge story while being a contemporary refugee story. The author, Natalie Anderson, spent a lot of time with refugees from the Congo and a big part of this novel is based on her first-hand experiences with those women. It was a eye-opener for me. Refugee stories are heart-breaking but important and I thought the novel portrayed it respectfully.

I also loved her two sidekicks: Michael and Boyboy. Boyboy provided the much needed comic relief in the story and I love funny characters so he was a favorite of mine.

All in all, I thought how the overall story unraveled was fantastic. It was engaging and kept me turning the pages throughout the novel, beginning to end. I highly recommend!

Have you read this book? Or are you planning to?