book recs

Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag

I’m doing this popular tag via blog because no one and I mean no one wants to watch me on YouTube. So really, I’m saving you from having to gouge out your eyes. You’re welcome. 🙂

Thank you the original creators:
IsThatChami: https://www.youtube.com/user/ReadLikeWildfire
ElyJayne: https://www.youtube.com/user/MidnightBluex

— THE QUESTIONS —

Best book you’ve read so far in 2018:
Picture Us in the Light, Kelly Loy Gilbert


Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018:
Wildcard, Marie Lu (review in the works!)


New release you haven’t read yet, but want to:
The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang

I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this book and I can’t wait to dive in.


Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:
Queen of Air and Darkness, Cassandra Clare

The ending to LORD OF SHADOWS nearly killed me and I love this trilogy so much. Please don’t kill my Julian, Cassie.


Biggest disappointment:
Our Kind of Cruelty, Araminta Hall


Biggest surprise:
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah


Favorite new author (Debut or new to you):
Helen Hoang (The Kiss Quotient)


Newest fictional crush:
Thomas Cresswell, Stalking Jack the Ripper Series by Kerri Maniscalco

  <— I mean…*heart eyes* (credit: Phantom Rin)


Newest favorite character:
Helene Aquilla, An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir

I admit that I highly disliked her in the first book because she was an obstacle to my Elias-Laia ship, but now I love her for being a bad-ass Bloodshrike, loving her family so much, and I’m really happy she’s taken on a larger role in these books. Also note to Sabaa, please don’t kill her.


Book that made you cry:
All Your Perfects, Colleen Hoover (REVIEW IN THE WORKS!)


Book that made you happy:
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, Ashley Herring Blake


Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received):
The Way You Make Me Feel, Maurene Goo

Look at the beautiful pinkness AND the beautiful Asian girl on the cover?!


What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
The Darkest Minds series, Alexandra Bracken

(or at least before the movie comes out)


Favorite Book Community Member:
Book Riot staff + contributors

I’m cheating a little (and I’m a little biased), but this group of people is fantastic. I love working with all you and thank you for keeping me sane on Slack all day.

MINI REVIEWS: February 6, 2018 Book Releases

This pub date snuck up on me and there are several book birthdays today that I want to talk about. I also have a few more ARCs yet to read. So, enjoy a round up of books that are available today!


THE QUEEN’S RISING by Rebecca Ross

Kingdoms Maevana and Valenia are bitter enemies. Maevana historically has had a Queen as their sovereign leader, but the kingdom is currently under the reign of the malicious King Lannon. After completing her education as a passion of knowledge at Magnalia House, our protagonist, Brienna, is taken on as a patron to the mysterious  Alderic Jourdain.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰ This was fantastic! While I do agree with some other reviewers that the plot moved kind of slowly, I was so invested and eager to unravel more of the story that I didn’t really notice until it was brought to my attention. For a 400+ page book, I breezed through this. The main romance in this book would typically have me cringing a bit, but I didn’t mind it at all here. Also, it’s definitely not the focus of the plot. The politics between Maevana and Valenia and Brienna’s heritage take the forefront. I can’t wait for the sequels and to meet Rebecca Ross in person during the Epic Reads Tour in March!

Thank you HarperTEEN for my galley!


SHADOWSONG by S. Jae Jones

After leaving the Underground and her Goblin King, Liesl returns to life as we know it determined to further her musical career. Also along for the ride is her fellow musician and brother, Josef, who is sullen and withdrawn.

MY RATING:  ✰✰ This makes me incredibly sad because I loved WINTERSONG something fierce. But this sequel just fell completely flat for me until the last 30ish pages. The writing is beautiful and the story arc this time around is even darker and focuses on each of the character’s demons in more detail. The author’s note at the beginning talking about depression, bipolar disorder, and self-harm was also wonderful. I appreciated these things immensely. However, I was completely bored 95 percent of the book. I was looking forward to this conclusion so much and it pains me to rate it this low–but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for my galley!


THE APOCALYPSE OF ELENA MENDOZA by Shaun David Hutchinson

Elena Mendoza is the first human scientifically confirmed to have been born by parthenogenesis; in other words, she is the product of a virgin birth. After she miraculously saves her longtime crush from a fatal bullet wound, Elena discovers she has the power to heal and she must use her power, or else the world will end. But as Elena reluctantly begins healing those afflicted, people begin around the world begin getting raptured in a bright light.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰✰ This book made my Favorite Books of 2017 list, so obvi…I loved this. It’s poignant, thought-provoking, the representation is out-of-this-world. And someone in a big White House goes into the light and let’s just say, it was appreciated.

Thank you SimonTeen for my galley!


FORCE OF NATURE by Jane Harper

A group of coworkers go out into the wilderness for a company retreat. We follow the five women colleagues and their experience. But one woman doesn’t make it out. And the other four have conflicting stories.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰  I enjoyed THE DRY, the first novel about Detective Aaron Falk–but this one is definitely more my cup of tea when it comes to twisty thrillers. The search for Alice kept me on the edge of my seat.

Thank you Flatiron Books for my galley!


TARNISHED CITY by Vic James

Picking up where GILDED C AGE left off, Luke and Abi Hadley continue their fight against the corrupt Jardine family for peace in a magical, feudal Britain.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰1/2 I liked this! TARNISHED CITY is a solid sequel that builds on the events of the first book. I’m super interested to see how James finishes the series with the third and final book. Also, more Abi and Jenner por favor.

Thank you Del Rey for my galley!


Also available today, SHE REGRETS NOTHING by Andrea Dunlop (), LOOK FOR ME by Lisa Gardner (✰1/2), AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao () and BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS by Kami Garcia ().

REVIEW: Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Melissa Bashardoust (Sept. 5, 2017)

Snow didn’t break or shatter and neither would she. All she had to do was be true to her nature. Cold as snow, sharp as glass.

Ahhh I loved the premise so much and I’m very happy to report that the book definitely lived up to my expectations. I was over the moon when I saw that I’d gotten approved for an advanced copy of this book.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a Snow White retelling—complete with strong female representation, diverse characters, and a F/F romance. Oh, and the “Queen” and “Snow White” characters love each other and aren’t made out to be enemies. Feminist Snow White? Please count me in.

THE 411: Mina is young when her evil magician father removes her heart and replaces it with one made of glass. She sets her sights on the King of Whitespring Castle and becomes step-mother to Princess Lynet. Where does the “snow” part come in? Yup, you guessed it, Lynet’s made out of snow.

The mythology and storytelling is spot on and the narrative switches between Mina and Lynet in the past and present. It all works so well and I loved every second of it. The writing is gorgeous and it’s a super unique take on a well-known story. I hope Bashardoust continues with retellings, I’ll read whatever she comes up with next!


MY RATING:  ✰✰✰✰1/2
RECOMMENDED FOR: lovers of fairytale retellings and strong female-female relationships


Thank you Flatiron Books for my galley. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is available now.

REVIEW: Wicked Like a Wildfire, Lana Popović (Aug. 15, 2017)

The second after I first saw the cover and read the synopsis of WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE by Lana Popović, it got moved to the top of my To-Read list.

Magic. Family. Cute couples. What’s not to love?

THE 411: Set in Montenegro, sisters Iris and Malina discovered at an early age that they have magical abilities, or what they call the “gleam.” However, their mother, Jasmina, began to limit their practice and usage of their magic—so by the time we enter the story, Iris’ magic is seriously depleted. Iris has the ability to manipulate flowers and turn them into glass blowing works of art, while Lina can interpret emotions through her music. After they receive a mysterious visitor at the family-owned cafe they all work at, Jasmina falls into a mysterious stupor and the girls rush to save their mother. They begin to discover secrets behind their magic, a long-running family curse, and the real reason why Jasmina forbade them to fall in love.

I’ll fully admit, I was first and foremost pulled in because of the cover…I mean, it’s gorge…but I stayed for the story. The imagery of Wicked Like a Wildfire is really beautiful. I haven’t read a lot of books set in Eastern Europe, and I really enjoyed setting and the local history that this explored. And even though romance is definitely present, the main “form” of love is between Iris and Lina. Three cheers for sisterly love. Iris and Lina are also strong female characters, and there’s LGBTQ+ representation.

The main argument I’ve heard against this book is that the plot moves slow—it didn’t at all for me. I was engrossed enough that I was invested from the start.

I’m waiting im/patiently for Fierce Like a Firestorm because that cliffhanger was brutal and the sequel’s cover is just as pretty.

The always lovely FairyLoot also included this for their August box. If you’ve been on the fence about getting a subscription for FL, I highly recommended. They’ve always got AMAZING boxes. You can join the waiting list for the January TALK FAERIE TO ME box here.


MY RATING: ✰✰✰✰
RECOMMENDED FOR: fantasy lovers


Thank you Katherine Tegen Books for my galley. Wicked Like a Wildfire is available now.

REVIEW: The Girl in the Tower, Katherine Arden (Dec. 5, 2017)

After hearing rave review after rave review for The Bear and the Nightingale, I took a chance and read even though it’s not typically a genre I read or enjoy. I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the atmospheric reimagining of Vasilisa. And I was so ready to dive back into the world of this retelling of a Russian folktale.

The 411: Your feisty fave, Vasya, is back and faced with the ever-looming decision of taking a husband or going to the convent. Obviously, neither of these options is attractive to her. She’s also tired of the judgment from the villagers, who still deem her a witch due to the mysterious circumstances surrounding her father’s death. Vasya decides to become a traveler and hops on Solovey for a life on the road. After running into burnt and pillaged towns overtaken by rebels, Vasya becomes a hero and takes on the persona of Vasilii, a male. Throw in her complicated relationship with the frost-demon, Morosko, and her estranged family, it’s adventure after adventure for Vasya.

For me, reading this was a different experience than the first book. While I greatly enjoyed “Bear,” I kind of felt like I was playing catch up the entire time trying to figure out the characters, settings, and different elements of the folklore. And although more characters are introduced and more story is revealed, it was nice having that background knowledge to build from. I was able to move more quickly through it, and therefore, flowed better in my head.

The writing is just as descriptive and really puts you in the story being told. I love Vasya and how steadfast and independent she is. I also don’t feel strongly towards horses, but I want a Solovey in my life. And I know it could never happen, but I’m so invested in Vasya and Morosko’s relationship, particularly in the romance department. I’m hoping and praying for a miracle in the final book.

PS Life Hack: If you’re finding you need a memory refresher, there’s a handy dandy reference guide in the back that I found INCREDIBLY helpful.

PPS This was my pick for Book Riot‘s Must Read December New Releases. Check out the full list here!


MY RATING: ✰✰✰✰
RECOMMENDED FOR: 
lovers of historical fiction, retellings, and fans of book 1


Thank you Del Rey books for my galley. The Girl in the Tower is available December 5.

REVIEW: Zero Repeat Forever, Gabrielle Prendergast (Aug. 29, 2017)

Zero Repeat Forever | Gabrielle PrendergastOn the surface, Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast could be your typical apocalyptic, end-of-the-world, alien invasion-type story, and in many ways it follows the formula—but the emotions in this one leap off the page and make you feel. Intensely, at that. The plot does move relatively slowly (so be prepared), but at least for me, the story came alive so effectively it didn’t bother me much.

THE 411: Zero Repeat Forever is told from two perspectives, Eighth (the alien) and Raven (the human). Raven is out for vengeance after the Nahx (the invading alien race) murder her boyfriend. Eighth seemingly has no free will and acts on orders of his superiors (as you might guess, “eighth” is his rank.” Events to lead to Eighth and Raven meeting…and…well, you can probably roughly surmise where the story goes from here.

Like I said before, the fact that this story is told a lot in YA fiction should have turned me off, but it really didn’t. Prendergast has a really lovely, lyrical way of writing (particularly evident in Eighth’s POV) and it kept the story interesting and fresh for me. Raven isn’t particularly likable, but she grows on you, and I just wanted to give Eighth a hug the entire time. And I don’t even particularly like physical contact. When you find out what “Zero Repeat Forever” actually means, the tears will fall and won’t stop until the expected cliffhanger ending.

Book two, where are you?


MY RATING: ✰✰✰✰
RECOMMENDED FOR: 
lovers of alien invasions, dystopias, and slow-burn/heart-wrenching romances.


Thank you Simon & Schuster for my galley. Zero Repeat Forever is available now.