Down Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuire Review

Down Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuireDown Among The Sticks And Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Pages: 189

Summary: Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Dark, gothic, and atmospheric, Down Among The Sticks An Bones is a a prequel which follows twins Jacqueline & Jillian and their adventures in the Moors set before the events of Every Heart A Doorway!

What I love about this series, is how McGuire is able to pack in so much story and character depth into such few pages! Every Heart A Doorway was just so unique and magical, I was happy to be getting more tales from this world💖~

Having a twin sister myself, I was beyond heartbroken at the forced separation that Jack & Jill were grown into from the very beginning and seeing the rift between them grow with each turn of the page. Reading passages of their resentment and just few feelings they had for each other, left me feeling so sad!

I felt the story started out completely strong with the background on their parents (Serena & Chester) and how their decision to have children really impacted how Jack & Jill would grow and see themselves. It really set the stage and tone for the rest of the story.

With their parents having their own selfish desires for what they wanted their perfect children to be, Lousie Wolcott (Chester’s mother) did her best with the time she spent with them to remind the girls to be themselves and not let anyone control who they want to become.

This quote resonated with me throughout the rest of the story “She had tried to make sure they knew that there were a hundred, a thousand, a million different ways to be a girl, and all of them were valid…(34).

Jack was molded by Serena and forced to be a proper lady in her mothers eyes, while Jill was forced to be more of a tomboy, by Chester. Up until the age of 12, they lived very different lives under the same roof and there was a rift between them because of it.

Later they soon find a doorway that leads them to the Moors and their 5 year journey begins.

Jack and Jill go their separate ways and undergo their own personal journey and we get a better understanding of who they are and how they try to break free of their parent’s molds.

Additionally there is an f/f relationship that develops nearing the middle/end of the novel!

I felt the 3rd person narrative really gave a broad scope at the world and each character in this story, which made it easy to get a sense of each character, Jack & Jill’s home life + their new life at the Moors. However, there’s just something about this novel (from the writing-style) that delivered a more “telling” rather than “showing” at times, which made the novel feel rather flat in some aspects.

While the story really did resonate with me, I couldn’t help but still feel a disconnect through the writing. Additionally, unlike Every Heart A Doorway, I felt this novel’s pacing felt much slower, which took me out of the story.

Honestly I have so many conflicting feelings about this book, because while there’s a lot that I really loved about it, I loved Every Heart A Doorway a little more~ 😭❤️🚪

Aside from those minor issues, there was still so much that I really loved about this novel. The uniqueness of the plot itself, the atmosphere of the world, and I also loved the positive messages about what it means to be a girl.

Down Among The Sticks And Bones introduces a much darker and brutal world compared to the first novella, it also delivers such powerful messages on who we are vs. what we become as a product of our environment.

Through thought-provoking writing, McGuire sets the stage for a dark but whimsical fairy tale-like world where the choices we make impact who we become.

While I had a few issues, I really enjoyed this sequel and cannot wait to read how this trilogy wraps up in Beneath A Sugar Sky!

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren Review

The Last Thing You Said by Sara BirenThe Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Last Thing You Said follows Lucy and Ben over the course of the summer as they continue to grieve over the death of a loved one. The complex emotions that weave throughout the novel, drive the story which follows two journeys of grief, loss, and acceptance in this YA Contemporary.

This was a very difficult book to rate, because it had strong elements that really made it stand out from other YA Contemporaries and above all aspects that made it a good story in general, however there were elements which disappointed me, that just couldn’t allow me to rate it any higher.

Biren does a fantastic job at developing and presenting deep and emotional complexity in her characters (clearly shown through Ben & Lucy POV’s). With how she executed her st person POV’s, I will definitely be interested to read more of her future works.

Told through 1st person, they felt so real I could sympathize with their differing stages of grief over their loss of Trixie. To Ben, she was a beloved sister and to Lucy, she was a dear best friend.

Seeing how this loss impacted them so differently was unique to see in a YA Contemporary and above all, they were so developed and it was interesting to read their story unfold as they come to terms with it being almost a year since Trixie’s passing.

Biren introduces such supportive friends and family helping the characters (especially Lucy) in coming to terms with the loss.

Lucy hasn’t spoken to Ben since Trixie died, so she still struggles with the hurt and grief she still has for her best friend, while also feeling she will never sort things out with Ben (who was also her long-time crush).

However, since then Lucy has come to know Hannah and the 2 are inseparable. Hannah was completely understanding of Lucy’s loss and no matter what, always made an effort to help her and just be there when she needed someone.

Then there is Simon, a new guy who rents a house with his mother next door to Lucy to stay for the summer and when the two quickly connect, he also is very understanding and supportive as Lucy grieves. He really likes Lucy and wants to help her move past her feelings for Ben, above all he was a great character to read about.

Seeing Hannah, Simon, and Lucy’s parents give her the time and space she needed was incredible to read. It was also great to read how much they also just wanted to help her gather the strength to move on.

Then there’s Ben, who is going through the grief much differently than Lucy. He’s drinking, out partying, and finding girlfriend after girlfriend.

While it added so much depth to the story exploring and expanding on grief and loss from differing characters, I felt the dual POV really slowed the story down and I did have problems with Ben’s POV.

Above all, reading from his POV made me really dislike his character more and more as the story went on. Even though he acknowledged his actions and how he treated people  poorly throughout multiple chapters, he really didn’t change at all throughout the novel and that was pretty disappointing.

Its revealed he and Lucy were together in the past for a short while, but got into an argument shortly after Trixie died and he pushed her away.

Aside from that, it never felt like he appreciated or acknowledged the pain/strain of certain relationships like his father who was also grieving (at least in the beginning), current girlfriend, or Lucy when he knew why he was feeling so upset and frustrated all the time. Above all it just didn’t seem like he ever wanted to make an effort for anyone else and only cared how things would benefit himself.

As I mentioned above, he does mend the relationships as the story progresses, but not till very later on in the novel and that really made this novel hard to get through. They were very understanding and it just didn’t seem like he cared. So while his POV really shows a different side of the impact of Trixie’s death, moments of his POV really dragged and ruined the story for me.

As for additional elements I really loved about The Last Thing You Said, Biren shows an array of positive role models from friends to parents that help/show support for Lucy and Ben as they grieve Trixies loss.

The formatting and presentation of the book also made it stand out! The text of the novel is purple and aside from that, it’s also divided into 4 parts (May-August), features illustrations of a lake + forest in between chapters, and inspirational quotes. Overall I really loved how the book was presented!

The dual POV really expands not only on how the grief impacts people differently, but in general delivers a unique take on an emotional summer contemporary!

The Last Thing You Said is an enjoyable summer contemporary that really tackles grief in an honest and unique way. While the pacing and some character decisions make it slow to get through at points, the story above all follows the impactful and emotional journey of grief and acceptance.

I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo ARC Review

Teenage model in hear shaped glasses laughingI Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (BYR)

Release Date:May 30, 2017

Pages: 336

Summary: Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

*Got an ARC from a festival*

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: Delightful, heartfelt, and funny, I Believe In A Thing Called Love had me hooked from page 1! With the magic of first love, themes of family, friendship and independence weaved throughout, Goo’s novel will capture your heart!

I adored this novel so much and refuse to believe its a standalone!!

We follow Desi Lee as she navigates her senior year of high school! She’s always got a plan, but when it comes to love, “Flailure’s” are never far behind.

Told from Desi’s first person POV, following her inner dialogue was relatable and had me laughing too! She is so ambitious, independent, and driven and I loved following her in her journey through senior year!

Her inner thoughts about talking to guys is so me! XD I could relate to the nervousness she was feeling and just being unsure of how to approach them! 

When she falls for a new student in her class, Luca Drakos, she devises a formula using plots from Korean dramas to see if she can plan out her first love, but of course she has help along the way!

Friendship and family were a big part of this novel! Even in her plan to find love, Desi tried to keep her friends Fiona and Wes in the loop no matter what and they stuck by her, even when her plans went a little overboard at times :’)

While I’m pretty new to K-Dramas myself, I was still able to understand the tropes that are mentioned and above all just loved how Desi referenced different K-Dramas + tropes through out the story!

With her mother having passed at a young age, she worries for her single, mechanic father and throughout the novel, its clear they have such a strong relationship! I adored the family dynamic!! Throughout this story, its clear family is such a huge part and while YA tends to put family off to the side, I Believe In A Thing Called Love kept this theme as such an integral part!

Goo’s writing delivers such well-developed and in-depth characters, that through Desi’s POV, they feel so real! Desi’s father, Luca, Wes, Fiona, even side characters like Cassidy and Violet really came to life on the page.

While this novel does have its sweet and fun moments, there are also a lot of important themes and messages (being true to yourself, following your dreams, independence) inclusion/diversity! There was so much depth to IBIATCL!

There was Korean, Mexican (Desi’s BFF Fiona) and lesbian representation! Above all, loved the diverse representation throughout this novel!! ❤

While there was a little bit of slow pacing for me personally, it worked really well with this novel! Through it, you really get time to understand Desi and her world. 

Through Goo’s writing the setting of Orange County, Desi and friends, themes/messages, and above all just the atmosphere of first love comes to life all through out the novel and I loved that so much!

I Believe In A Thing Called Love is filled with fantastic characters, romance, humor, K-Drama scenario’s, themes of family and friendship! A delightful journey from beginning to end! Highly recommend this novel!

Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland + Michael Miller Review

Shadow Run  Cover RevealShadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland + Michael Miller (Kaitan Chronicles #1)

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: March 21, 2017

Pages: 400

Summary: Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power–and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Shadow Run is a fun, action-packed space adventure, with a diverse cast of characters + twists and turns!

The characters were all phenomenal! They are not who you expect when you’re first introduced to them and there are secrets and unexpected surprises uncovered about them along the way. While told through Nev and Qole’s 1st person POV, you really get attached to these characters and really feel the bonds they have with each other and how they are strengthened as the story progresses!

As always I’m always on the look out for diverse books and loved reading the gender-fluid representation + POC characters!

The inclusion and discussion of Shadow (a dark energy of sorts) that travels freely across space was such a fascinating concept of this novel and it really brought a unique element to the story that I don’t really read much about in science fiction! It was definitely reminiscent to me of fantasy/Sci-Fi video Games!! ❤ ❤

Nev Dracorte (a prince) finds himself on Qole’s ship, the Kaitan as he tries to convince Qole to return to his home planet so they can better study Shadow (which Qole harbor’s within her).

I was not expecting Qole to have a shadow ability and felt it added a great twist to the story!

The banter and interactions between the characters was amazing! I could really feel the connections and bonds they had with each other!

I don’t want to go too much into the plot, b/c there’s so many twists and turns, that I feel its just best for you to read it for yourself!

The writing (1st person POV) really helped me to connect so much to Qole and Nev! Understanding them fully through their POV also helped me to better understand their own worlds and the internal struggles they face!

While there were so many wonderful aspects to Shadow Run,  the pacing did make it difficult to stay in the story every now and again and I wish there was more description for the atmosphere + background of the different planets that are discovered along the way, it would have helped to connect me more to the world!

Regardless, I’m definitely eager to read the 2nd book in the Kaitan Chronicles to see where the story is headed! ❤

Shadow Run is a character-driven story that puts its characters first, delivers a unique world and premise, while also adding tons of twists and turns to keep the reader turning the page!

Highly recommend if your looking to get into more Young Adult Sci-Fi!

Literary Listens: Publishers And Podcasts

literary-listens-24hryabookblog-feature-bannerLiterary Listens is my newest blog series/feature where I discuss podcasts & books!

My most recent post was “YA Books That Need Podcast Adaptations,” which you can check out Here!

This weeks post is all about publishers and podcasts!

As of May 1, Tor Books announced it would be launching ” ‘Tor Labs,’ a new serialized fiction podcast imprint.

Their first project is set to be “Steal The Stars” written by Mac Rogers, the award-winning writer of podcast thrillers The Message and LifeAfter, which will have weekly episodes starting August 2-November 1. This “Noir Science Fiction Thriller” plot is set to center around the “story of Dakota Prentiss and Matt Salem, two government employees guarding the biggest secret in the world: a crashed UFO.

According to Senior Editor Marco Palmieri, from The Verge “no US book publisher, as far as we knew, was doing audio dramas — plays written to be performed by voice actors.

With podcasts gaining such popularity right now, this got me wondering, “Would YA/Young Adult and Teen publishers consider getting into podcasts?

If they did, how could it work?

After some thought here are some ideas I considered that could link a print book with audio:

~Author interviews

~First chapters/excerpts or bonus content converted to an audio drama format

~Behind The Scenes

~Similar to Tor Labs, perhaps teaming up with established audio drama podcast creators to deliver an original serialized podcast

Considering podcasts are free to find/download through iTunes, it could also be just a fun way for readers to hear more from their favorite authors or books!

Aside from the traditional book this is an interesting venture to deliver/experience stories!

Storytelling can come in a number forms whether its books, podcasts, etc. and considering the dynamic, groundbreaking, and immersive power of podcasts and audio dramas, I can definitely see this as a new way for publishers to connect with readers in a different way!

What are your thoughts on this?

Do you think more publishers will/should consider podcasts as a way to deliver stories?

Let’s discuss in the comments below! 🙂

April 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 4

The Golem And The Jinni1.The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker (The Golem & The Jinni #1)

The Golem And The Jinni Full Review

Publisher: Harper

Release Date: April 23, 2013

Pages: 486

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: I hardly ever rate books a full 5 stars, but this novel truly deserved it! It captured my heart! I loved everything about this novel from the characters, writing, world-building…I could go on & on about this book! It follows both Chava (a Golem) and Ahmed (a Jinni) as they learn more about  themselves and the world when they find themselves in 1899 New York. There is multiple POV, but Wecker does a fantastic job at differentiating them through the 3rd person POV. This is a novel I will never forget! A true gem + Highly recommend!

Hunted by Meagan Spooner2.Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Hunted Full Review

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: A magical and captivating Beauty & The Beast retelling! Spooner delivers such complex characters and makes them + their development a huge part of the novel! The writing really delivers a “magical” tone to the novel and I loved that! I do wish there was more description for setting + faster pacing towards the middle/end. Regardless, this is a captivating tale with an immersive plot and wonderfully written characters/atmosphere! Spooner takes a classic fairy tale and makes it her own!

A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi3. A Crown Of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (TSTQ #2)

A Crown Of Wishes Full Review

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Pages: 369

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Chokshi’s previous novel, The Star-Touched Queen was one I felt dispapointed me, however A Crown Of Wishes blew me away! It was phenomenal! Following Gauri and Vikram, they find themselves teaming up to compete in the Tournament Of Wishes! Chokshi’s writing is exquisite, she elegantly crafts her characters, world/setting and plot through both 3rd + 1st person POV! The plot is filled with twists & turns + is nothing short of magical! I adored it! ❤

Every Heart A Doorway4. Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #1)

Every Heart A Doorway Full Review

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Pages: 173

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: This novel takes the idea of of portals and other worlds and gives it depth. The main characters struggle when they find themselves returning from their Door, eager to find a way back. Filled with a diverse cast of characters, atmospheric writing, and a good amount of mystery, McGuire’s novel is engrossing and unique! My only issues were slow pacing towards the middle and a few disappointments plot-wise. Regardless, this unique tale will keep you turning the page!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Literary Listens: YA Books That Need Podcast Adaptations

Waiting On Wednesday I #9 (When Dimple Met Rishi)

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire Review

Every Heart A DoorwayEvery Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #1)

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: April 5, 2016

Pages: 173

Summary: Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Every Heart A Doorway melds fantasy with mystery, delivering a captivating tale with magic on every page!

I’d heard a lot of buzz surrounding this novel and I finally decided to pick it up!

However, I will admit with people raving about this book and seeing tons of 5-star reviews, I went in with super high expectations and while I was let down slightly, overall I’m so glad I read this book!

I adored the diversity, there’s representation from quite a few different ethnicities (Latino, Japanese) plus asexual and transgender representation!

As for plot, I was left surprised with every turn of the page. You could tell magic was weaved within each and every moment of the story. I could picture the character’s Doors/Worlds when they described them and similar to Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series, could grasp the history of the boarding school as the story progressed.

The story starts off by explaining Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children, a boarding school where children/teens are sent by their parents once they return from a magical world they transported to at some point in their youth.

In these other worlds, they find themselves and once they return to their own world, they find that returning isn’t as simple. They must tackle and struggle with the sense of loss that comes with leaving their wonderland behind.

The development and idea of the Doors/Worlds, I felt were so relatable because similar to my love for books and stories, there is this connection you get every time your thrust into a new world that is captivating + just captures your heart and wanting nothing more than for them to be real. That was a very powerful message and theme prevalent all through out the novel.

Every Heart A Doorway truly captures the spirit that magical or fictional worlds create for someone and I truly loved that!

Each character (Nancy, Sumi, Kade, Jack&Jill, Christopher, etc.) were all distinct and I could really understand their character within this less than 200-page story!

With each character the bits and pieces of their world became part of them and really gave them such depth and through that I could learn more about what their world was like and how it molded them and became an integral part of them once they left!

Additionally, what added so much to their character was the bits and pieces of their worlds they took with them when they returned, which you could clearly tell through their personality and 3rd person narrative.

I’m usually hesitant with 3rd person because I feel I won’t always grasp each character fully, but I’ve got to admit I truly felt connected to these characters and felt it gave me a broader scope of the world McGuire crafted.

I adored the dialogue and interactions between all the characters! Every time Jack+Jill, Nancy, Kade, Sumi, Christopher, Eleanor & Lundy interacted with eachother, I felt closer to them because I could pickup bits of their personality with each page!

(The banter/connection between them definitely reminded me of the Dregs banter from Six Of Crows/Crooked Kingdom)

My only issues was the slow pacing with the novel once I reached the middle and while I won’t spoil it, the conclusion to the murder mystery left me a little disappointed…

Additionally, there were some moments with the 3rd person narrative that the world-building in terms of the explanation of Nonsense, Logic, Wickedness and Virtue felt like it could have used a little more expansion and depth. However regardless of those minor issues…

Overall Every Heart A Doorway was a short, but immersive story filled with a dynamic cast of characters, fascinating world-building, and the perfect blend of fantasy and mystery to keep you hooked till the very end!