Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill Review

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'NeillPrincess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 56

Summary:When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They’ll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all.

Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what happily ever after really means — and how they can find it with each other.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: This fast-paced fairy tale follows 2 princesses and their adventures across a kingdom. Not only are there so many positive and inspiring messages in Princess Princess Ever After, but O’Neill also puts twists and spins on fairy tale tropes!

I loved this graphic novel ❤ it was pretty quick, but adorable!~ I also felt myself getting into another reading slump, but Princess Princess Ever After, pulled me right out of it!

The story begins with Amira who is traveling across the kingdom when she hears Sadie from her tower and decides to rescue her from her tower.

“Dozens of princes already failed. What makes you any different?

Because I am no prince!”

From the very beginning its clear that there is a connection between Princess Amira and Sadie! They develop a great friendship as they leave the tower and travel across the kingdom.

Princess Amira is shown to have dark skin, while Sadie is shown to be “big-boned” and obviously there is a sweet relationship that develops between the two over the course of the story.  It was great to see tons of diversity!

Its revealed that Sadie sabotaged all those who would attempt to rescue her because she was told by a sorceress to never leave.

Not long after, they meet Prince Valdric who needs their help to get revenge on an ogre (who also managed to destroy a village nearby). After its discovered that the ogre was just dancing, Sadie and Amira spend the day teaching the ogre to dance more safely to avoid destroying anymore villages.

What I loved about this story was the twist and spins O’Neill put on classic fairy tale tropes. Its revealed that Prince Valdric feels there’s a lot of pressure on him, by his family to be the type of prince who slays monsters, etc., but reveals that isn’t who he really is, or wants to be.

When the sorceress returns to take back Sadie, she takes Amira instead and its revealed that the sorceress is actually Sadie’s sister (the current queen). After they save the day, Sadie takes the throne, but it will take time before she can fully take on her role.

As for Amira, she knows she still needs to learn more about what it means to be a hero. Sadly the two spend time apart for quite a number of years.

However, by the end they’re reunited and have their happily ever after.

There were so many positive/inspiring messages in this story about body image, gender, and what it means to be a hero.

I also really love Katie O’Neill’s art style and cannot wait to read her next webcomic turned book: The Tea Dragon Society (which I’m still currently reading & love so much ❤ <3)

I did want to the story stretched out a little longer, because it felt the pacing was just a little too quick. And I really wanted to see more of these amazing characters.

Overall Princess Princess Ever After is a cute and sweet fairy tale of princesses falling in love. It features such inspiring and positive messages, creative spins on classic fairy tale tropes, and is a great read for fans of graphic novels and comics. 

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 Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie Review

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily SkrutskieThe Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (TASU #1)

Publisher: Flux Books

Release Date: February 8, 2016

Pages: 320

Summary: Cas has fought pirates her entire life. But can she survive living among them?

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

My Rating:★★★☆☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Abyss Surrounds Us is a YA Sci-Fi that is set in a fascinating futuristic U.S. with sea monsters and pirates! Wonderful characters and its unique setting will keep you turning the page!

I think I just went into this book with completely different expectations (hyping it up in my head) + based on edits and praise I’d heard, I was personally expecting a completely different story than I got! So sadly, TASU did let me down.
However…
I will absolutely be reading the sequel!! I am still very invested in the story and intrigued to see where the plot goes!

Cassandra (or Cas) Leung is a Reckoner trainer who’s worked with her parents her whole life to understand Reckoners (giant + genetically-engineered sea monsters) and use them to accompany ships and avoid trouble with pirates.

However, when she gets assigned her first solo mission, things go very wrong! She gets captured by pirate queen Santa Elena and is forced to train Elena’s own Reckoner pup or face serious consequences!

What I really loved about this novel was the world! Set in our world, the U.S. is now divided among much larger territories, such as the Northern and Southern Republics of California.

In this futuristic U.S. there are now floating cities, pirates, genetically engineered sea monsters! So many great elements were introduced to this world and that is what really set this sci-fi novel apart from other’s that I’ve read. I just loved how focused it was on the science of this world!

Additionally, I loved the diversity! From the main character Cassandra who is Chinese-American + a f/f relationship that develops!

Aside from that, there’s so much girl power + I loved that this novel had a large cast of female characters! Many, such as the girls on Santa Elena’s ship (& Elena herself) were morally grey and it was clear they had so much depth and complexities to their characters! Above all it was just great to see a large cast of females at the center of this novel!

I also really enjoyed the writing-style! I love reading from 1st-person POV, because we learn so much more about the protagonist from seeing the world and everything that encompasses it from their eyes and that really allowed me to connect with Cas along the way as she finds her strength to prove herself as she trains a Reckoner pup for Santa Elena!

Through the writing (perhaps this is just me) it always felt like I was in a piratey-sci-fi! Skrutskie did a fantastic job at creating the atmosphere that really made you feel like you were out at sea with sea monsters, Cas and the crew!!

This was very character-driven story which I really loved too! As the story progressed, I could see Cas changing and growing as she spent time on the ship.

Now as to why my rating is rather low…I was expecting a lot more action and from my personal reading experience I didn’t really get much from the plot, aside from months passing by with Cas training with the Reckoner and some interactions here & there with the crew. Personally I just wanted more :/

Additionally, I wanted more development from the world. While it was discussed in a broad sense, it would have been great to get a more in-depth look at the politics, etc. of this unique setting!

As mentioned above, just because of my personal expectations, I was a little let down and did feel the pacing was rather slow at points (which did take me out of the story).

Regardless…

The Abyss Surrounds Us is a YA Sci-Fi which delivers a wholly unique story with pirates and sea monsters, fascinating characters, and a complex world that will immerse you from page 1!

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!

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour Review

we-are-okay-by-nina-lacourWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Pages: 234

Summary:Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: We Are Okay is a beautifully crafted story which journeys Marin as she encounters grief and solitude coming to terms with events of her past! 

LaCour’s writing-style is what made We Are Okay a captivating read. Her writing style brings out facets of Marin (emotionally) that drives the novel throughout.

While the plot is there, its mainly the emotion evoked through the 1st person POV of Marin that brings a unique aspect to this YA Contemporary!

Told through present and past chapters, Marin recollects on what led her to leave those she loves behind before her 1st year of college. With each and every line, I could feel the loneliness and grief that Marin carried with her!

Additionally, reading from her POV brought such depth and life to the characters, like Hannah, Mabel and her grandfather.

Reading about the loss Marin goes through was difficult at times, because with each page we understood just how alone she felt. However throughout the novel, we learn more about those from her past and that she has a great support system behind her and slowly but surely can find hope.

Because We Are Okay follows Marin in a unique + emotional head-space,  the novel does slow at some points (hence the 4.5) but it gives such insight into her true feelings and emotions which really makes this novel captivating.

There is not only GLBT+, but also Mexican representation which was great!

LaCour also weaves themes of family and friendship which are heavily discussed and explored throughout.

Marin’s struggles and difficulties with opening up to friends and establishing stronger ties with those friends was something I could see in myself. It’s never easy, but reading that Mabel did all she could to reconnect with Marin, was beautiful!!

Marin was a very soft-spoken character (at least from my perspective) and I found that so relatable. There is so much that she considers and ponders in her head, but when putting those thoughts into words, she finds it difficult!

I loved Mabel and Marin’s relationship! It does have its complications, but they have so much history that their friendship and love for each other is clearly seen in the story. They want the best for one another regardless of what happened in the past. There is so much girl-power that I found throughout We Are Okay! Just girls supporting each other through their darkest + emotional moments in life.

Setting was painted so beautifully. I could picture the New York snow and the California beaches as more than just locations in a story,but moments in time and with emotion + atmosphere (both dark and hopeful) that was only possible through Marin’s POV.

As stated above I adored this novel, however because of the way we follow Marin’s POV, the story did slow at times for me.

We Are Okay captures grief, hope, forgiveness, friendship and family.  Through an elegantly crafted writing-style, emotion and atmosphere capture the tone of this novel and drive the story forward as we follow Marin who finds hope in her darkest times!

January 2017 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

uncaged-wallflower-by-jennae-cecelia-review1.Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia

Uncaged Wallflower Full Review

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release Date: October 6, 2016

Pages: 70

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: An inspiring collection of poetry! Filled with such positivity, Uncaged Wallflower had me hopeful and inspired! It was a spectacular read to start off the new year! Highly recommend!

a-list-of-cages-by-robin-roe2.A List Of Cages by Robin Roe

A List Of Cages Full Review

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 320

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Roe’s debut is not one to miss! Adam and Julian (Adam’s foster-brother) find themselves meeting again after some time apart! A List Of Cages tells the story of the power of friendship and kindness, even when facing the most difficult situations. This novel is heart-breaking *discusses abuse & neglect* but you will feel so attached to these characters, even the minor ones through Roe’s spectacularly written dual POV.

frostblood-by-elly-blake3.Frostblood by Elly Blake (Frostblood Saga #1)

Frostblood Full ARC Review

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fantastic start to a new fantasy series! Blake delivers great character dynamics which is clearly seen between Ruby and Arcus! History and politics play a huge role in the world. The division/hierarchy between the Firebloods and Frostbloods was wonderfully done and its clear its not all black and white which was one of my favorite aspects! The plot while slow at times, definitely keeps you hooked as you learn more about Ruby and the world she’s in! 

crystal-storm-by-morgan-rhodes-review4.Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #5)

Crystal Storm Full Review

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: December 13, 2016

Pages: 379

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Not the strongest novel in the series in my opinion, however it is very character driven and expands even more on the world/magic Rhodes has built thus far! The slow pacing/plotting and introduction to certain characters/motives really made the tone of this novel feel rather off than previous novels! However, the ending definitely will leave you eager for Book 6!

Take The Key And Lock Her Up5.Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #3)

Take The Key And Lock Her Up Full Review

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 336

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Carter delivers such originality to her stories, there are twists and turns you don’t see coming. There are new characters introduced just in this final novel that Carter manages to create so memorably! Grace’s repetitive narrative, lack of side-characters prevalent in previous novels and overly cryptic characters made this novel rather confusing at times due to lack of info which made this a little disappointing! However, Carter ties up the story delivering a satisfying conclusion to Grace’s adventures on Embassy Row!

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silvera6.History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me Full Review

Publisher: Soho Teen

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Pages: 294

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Told in Griffin’s POV’s  (History & Today) we come to understand how his best-friend  +first boyfriend Theo, died. Through out this novel are themes of love friendship, love/loss + acceptance. Through the writing the characters truly come to life. This is a gem of a story you don’t want to miss!

Additional Posts From This Month:

2017 Book Blog Goals {Bookish Goals}

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Winter}

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera Cover Reveal

Top 5 Wednesday {#2} Underrated Books

What Books Did You Read In January?  🙂

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera Review

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silveraHistory Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Publisher: Soho Teen

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Pages: 294

Summary: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Silvera delivers a gem of a story where the reader follows Griffin on a journey of love, loss, acceptance and friendship!

Definitely a character-driven story, we are introduced to Griffin who comes to terms with the death of his best friend and first love, Theo McIntyre, as he recounts and weaves together the history he had with him.

From page 1 Silvera shows this is not just a story, but Griffin’s story! This novel is told through Past/Present narrative and I’m usually hesitant about that particular style, however Silvera brought aspects into both that made them flow well with the overall story, while also weaving differing emotion and unique tone into each which made the story even more memorable!

The tone of this novel, while sad does have its positive moments and shows these characters face grief over the loss of Theo, but find themselves recollecting on their past with Theo and finding the courage to move on.

Silvera brings in great representation through his discussions on Mental Illness (OCD)! It is such an integral part of Griffin as a character, but also it was wonderful to see how accepting his friends and family were about his OCD, by supporting him even if there were times he struggled with it.

The best aspects of this novel was Griffin as a character + the writing! He is such a wonderfully developed character and by the time I finished he truly felt like more than just a character! I was able to sympathize with him and overall be a part of his journey to reminisce on Theo, find the strength to move on and accept what occurred.

You really see Griffin grow over the course of this story and come to learn more about not only Theo, but himself too and it was great being a part of that journey!

As for the other main characters like Jackson and Wade, while I did feel Jackson was the more developed between the two, overall both truly came to life on the page through Theo’s POV.

Through the “History” POV, we come to learn how Theo &Griffin’s relationship started, what first love was like for them and see just how how strong their friendship was (not only  just the 2 of them, but w/ Wade too!), which really sets the tone for the entire story.

Griffin unravels the events of how Theo not only died, but how their relationship started and ended through different circumstances.

We get introduced to Jackson, Theo’s new boyfriend, when he moved to the west coast for college. Griffin has his own perception of Jackson, but over the course of the story comes to accept that they had history too and while Griffin’s+Theo’s didn’t last and he’s still grieving, that doesn’t mean he’s the only one.

This novel really focuses on the relationships (friend, romantic, etc) we have with people and how the history and memories we create with them are both unique and special even as time goes on and those same people begin to change.

However I did have a few cons.

– I did feel the pacing was a little slow in some parts, but overall it never felt like it was dragging which was a plus!
-I wont spoil it, but there is a plot point that gets revealed closer to the end of the novel which I felt could have used a little more development.

Regardless of those minor issues…

Overall Silvera delivers a story with memorable characters, spectacular writing, and messages of friendship, honesty, love and loss which will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.