Atlantia by Ally Condie | Review

17731926Stats:

Title: Atlantia
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Children’s, 2014
Genre: Young Adult – Dystopian
Page Count: 368
My Rating: 2 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (from goodreads):

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

my thoughts:

Before I get into the review, let me just point out that this book is horribly mis-marketed. If it had been marketed properly, I probably would not have picked it up. From the synopsis and the cover art, it is implied that this is going to be a mermaid story. It is not. It is a dystopian taking place in an city enclosed underwater. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that I wasn’t even able to finish Condie’s other dystopian series, Matched. If I would have known I was heading into another dystopian, I probably would have passed on this one.

As with Condie’s Matched series, I found the world building in this story to be lackluster. There is a strong focus on the religious beliefs of this society, but other than that, there is no real reason given for why the rules, regulations, and rituals of the society exists. We also are not given much actual description of what is probably a very cool underwater world.

The characters of Atlantia are also pretty flat. I found our main character to be very similar to the main character in Matched. I didn’t understand many of her motives. She discusses how disconnected she felt from her twin sister, but then is spending all of her time trying to get back to her sister because she “needs” her. It doesn’t match up. Thankfully, this story was lighter on the romance than Matched was, and that was my biggest concern. I wasn’t attached to the romance in this story, but I wasn’t particularly bothered with it either. The villain was also a mustache-twirling bad guy, and very one dimensional.

Lastly, I found the plot generally enjoyable. It was a slow read at times, but there was a mystery element to it that I found engaging. Parts of that mystery element did drag, but overall, I still wanted to know how everything was going to turn out. By the end, I was left with all of my questions answered and was glad it wasn’t extended out into an unnecessary trilogy.

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Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman | ARC Review + Giveaway

vengeanceroadStats:

Title: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fiction/Western
Page Count: 336
My Rating: 4 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

* I received an ARC of this book at BEA, and was also mailed a second ARC from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

synopsis (from goodreads):

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

my thoughts:

This book was exactly what I wanted in a Western. As a fan of the genre, I was craving exactly what I got with this book. A lot of the speech is written phonetically, which really helps to world build. The beautiful map doesn’t hurt either.

I enjoyed our main character. She has a lot of snark and is both stubborn and reckless; exactly what you want in this kind of story. I was also pleasantly surprised by the fact that there was not a love triangle in this book. The synopsis made me think that it might go that way, but thankfully, it did not and the book was better off for it. Being a standalone, there was no time for that kind of plot.

Overall, there were some elements of the story that were predictable and fit into many of the Western tropes, but I found that more comforting and nostalgic than annoying. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a solid Western that doesn’t want to sit through multiple books to have the story wrapped up.

giveaway:

I am giving away an ARC of Vengeance Road. This giveaway is US only, and will run through September 7, 2015. Winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed | Review

22521951Stats:

Title: Written in the Stars
Author: Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Page Count: 277
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

synopsis (from goodreads):

Consider reading my thoughts before reading the synopsis!

This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.

my thoughts:

This is actually a book I don’t recommend reading the synopsis for, as I feel it spoils a lot of elements of the book. I know I know.. I just posted the synopsis. But that is my review structure and I’m sticking to it.

First off, this was a very interesting story about a subject matter I had never read about before. It introduces the reader to the culture slowly, and I found a lot about it very fascinating.

While I felt for Naila and her plight, I also found her very naive at times. I saw the plot twist coming from a mile away, and it seemed obvious to everyone but her. I also found that due to how short the story was, many of the characters weren’t developed. I was hoping for more interactions with her family that made them more sympathetic, when we instead got a very stereotypical image of them and their beliefs. I kept waiting for them to get some redemption, and they never did. I found it very interesting that the author is in a happily arranged marriage herself, and chose instead to write about the horror’s surrounding that same topic. I was expecting this book to have a little more middle ground on the subject. While the situations she chose to depict are important, I think that is often the image we see of Middle Eastern culture here in the West, and I would have liked to see something different there.

Lastly, I also found the writing to be simple, and the plot to overall be wrapped up a little too quickly and easily. The writing allowed for the story to move quickly, but it was also very blunt. It made me feel like I was reading a script more than a story. I also felt that the conflict was wrapped up very quickly, leaving me reeling a bit. This story is very intense, and it is brought to a close rather easily. I also felt that the ending was a tad unrealistic for the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I found it to be a quick read about a subject matter that many of us don’t know much about. While I had some problems with it, I still think it is worth a read if you are interested.

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Rogue by Rachel Vincent | Review

2314315Stats:

Title: Rogue (Book #2)
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: Mira, 2008
Genre: Adult – Urban Paranormal Fantasy
Page Count: 394
My Rating: 2 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

synopsis (from goodreads):

WARNING: This is book 2 in the series so synopsis may contain spoilers!

I know that better than most. Since rejoining the Pride, I’ve made big decisions and even bigger mistakes: the kind paid for with innocent lives. As the first and only female enforcer, I have plenty to prove to my father, the Pride, and myself. And with murdered toms turning up in our territory, I’m working harder than ever, though I always find the energy for a little after-hours recreation with Marc, my partner both on- and off-duty.

But not all of my mistakes are behind me. We’re beginning to suspect that the dead are connected to a rash of missing human women and that they can all be laid at my feet–two or four, take your pick. And one horrible indiscretion may yet cost me more than I can bear…

my thoughts:

After all the fun I had with Stray, I was expecting to love Rogue just as much. Sadly, I found it disappointing.

First off, although this one is smaller than the first book, I found it to drag. I thought the plot was very predictable, and we were missing all of the character interactions that I loved from the first book.

Also, Faythe’s character wasn’t what it was in the first book. I found her rashness to be more annoying than enjoyable. There were also times where a plot point was very obvious, and it took her some time to figure out. This is not the perceptive character I loved in the first book.

Lastly, I found the relationship in this book to be problematic. What was an equal power dynamic in the first book switched to a relationship that read as very emotionally abusive. I expect these alpha male type characters in a book like this, and I can enjoy them. But the love interest crossed the lines in a lot of ways in this book and Faythe did not have the power that she had in the first book, which rubbed me the wrong way.

Overall, I found this book to be a completely different experience than the first book. I do plan to continue on with the series, but I am going to take a break before continuing, as this book left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

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Stray by Rachel Vincent | Review

793399Stats:

Title: Stray (Book #1)
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: Mira, 2007
Genre: Adult – Urban Paranormal Fantasy
Page Count: 618
My Rating: 4.5 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis (From goodreads):

There are only eight breeding female werecats left…

And I’m one of them.

I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds.

Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.

I’d been warned about Strays — werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared.

This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back… for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I’m no meek kitty. I’ll take on whatever — and whoever — I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays — ’cause I got claws, and I’m not afraid to use them…

my thoughts:

I had a really good time with this book. Some of my favorite series of all time are from the urban paranormal genre, and I spent my time re-reading those books over and over throughout high school and college. So this book felt like a return home. It had all of the tropes of the genre that I know and love, making it feel familiar and nostalgic to me.

Faythe is a character that I really enjoy. She is stubborn and rash, but she also is very perceptive and strong. She is from a group of people that are very animalistic in nature (since they kind of are animals) and as such, she is surrounded by misogyny. But she as a character is not okay with that, and is always trying to subvert that. I found myself pulling for her throughout the story, even when she was making decisions that were less than thought out.

There were parts of the plot that I found a tad predictable, but that could be because of the amount of this genre that I have read. Having said that, I didn’t really read this book for the plot. I really enjoyed the world building and being introduced to all of these new characters and this new mythos surrounding shifters. I enjoyed all of the characters interactions.

The romantic elements of the plot I really enjoyed in this installment. Faythe has a pre-page one love interest who has come back into her life, as he is an ex, and I enjoy their relationship. I found it to be realistic, with a lot of back and forth, and that is what I like. Faythe gave as much as she got, and I really felt that she held her own in their power struggle.

Overall, I really enjoyed this first book. I read it in one sitting and found it to be the perfect start to a series.

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Update #2 | ARC August

This is my second update, as I skipped last week’s update. That week I was working on two books, one as a buddy read, as well as being incredibly busy with my parents visiting for the week. So I didn’t end up finishing any ARCs that week. But I tried to make up for all of that this week.

Book 3: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

17564519I absolutely adored Rae’s Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, and this did not disappoint either. As a first book in the series, this was incredibly strong, and set up a lot for the future of the series. All of the characters are complex and real. There are a lot of different themes explored such as friendship, family, feminism, and gender roles. Rae’s first series was full of strong, and diverse characters, and this one is setting up to be as well. I will be doing a full video review on my channel closer to release date.

book 4: fans of the impossible life by Kate Scelsa

24039396This was a very highly anticipated LGBTQ+ read of mine that was described as being a bi-sexual love triangle. I highly enjoyed the first half of the book. I enjoyed the characters, and it was full of diversity, both in terms of sexualities and race. The writing style is also unique, as it is told in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, depending on which character you are reading from. But ultimately, I did end up having some problems with this one. Mental health is a strong theme in this book and I do not feel it was handled appropriately in many cases. I also do not think this was marketed properly, as no characters use the term bisexual in the story. Additionally, there are also some issues of consent as well as drug use that are not addressed and that I found problematic. I have a full review with my thoughts coming closer to release.

book 5: cut both ways by Carrie mesrobian

23718736This was another LGBTQ+ read and I ended up picking this one up directly after Fans of the Impossible Life, as this was also supposed to be a bisexual love triangle. Again, I was disappointed. I do not understand the point of this book. It had no plot or conflict resolution. The characters do not develop, and the main character, who is an asshole, is the same at the end as he was in the beginning. He has virtually no consequences for his actions. Additionally, for a book that is supposed to be about bisexuality, the character never once says he is bisexual. There are also some issues with consent in this one as well. I found the main character to be both bi-phobic and misogynistic. The depiction of bisexuality in this book is particularly problematic, as the main character frequently says “I want both” when referring to his girlfriend as well as his gay best friend that he is hooking up with. The bisexual community has been fighting to get people to see that not all bisexuals are in fact non-monogamous. Polyamorous and bisexual are two different classifications. But the author was playing them off as one in the same. There are so many more things to discuss and problems I had with this story, but I will leave it at that for now. A full review will be out closer to release date.

upcoming:

I am currently reading Six of Crows (finally!). After Six of Crows, I am torn about what to pick up next. I’m torn between What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (which I’m praying does not disappoint!) or A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston.

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A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery | Review

Stats:

Title: A Million Miles Away
Author: Lara Avery
Publisher: Poppy, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Page Count: 302
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

*I received an ARC of this book at BEA, but this book has since been released.

synopsis (from goodreads):

When high school senior Kelsey’s identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn’t know about the tragedy is Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can’t bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.

As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want.

my thoughts:

This is one of those books that you should know from the synopsis if you are going to enjoy or not. I am all about angst, so this synopsis stood out to me immediately and I wanted to know how much this was going to rip out my heart.

The first half of the book was full of angsty goodness. One element I really enjoyed was that Kelsey and her sister had a tumultuous relationship, and that was explored through Kelsey’s grief. This was an interesting take on twins, as we usually have twins being an inseparable force. I also really felt for Kelsey’s situation, as she was stuck between wanting to be honest and knowing how much her honesty could hurt (or second hand kill) someone.

As the book went on and we got to some of the events of the later half, I found the story getting more unbelievable. Peter’s deployment was very much glossed over, and wasn’t as much of a focus as I thought it would be, so if you are looking for something about a military boyfriend, this may not be for you. I also found myself reading less for the angst, and more to find out how she was going to get caught. Although Kelsey does eventually have to answer for her lies, I felt that she ultimately got off easily, and I found a lot of elements about the ending to be too easily resolved. There was another way the book could have gone, and I felt that would have sent a much better message.

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