Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga Review

Here We Are Now by Jasmine WargaHere We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Pages: 304

Summary:Despite sending him letters ever since she was thirteen, Taliah Abdallat never thought she’d ever really meet Julian Oliver. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star from Staring Into the Abyss shows up on her doorstep. This makes sense – kinda – because Julian Oliver is Taliah’s father, even though her mother would never admit it to her.

Julian asks if Taliah if she will drop everything and go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father – her grandfather – who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah, torn between betraying her mother’s trust and meeting the family she has never known, goes.

With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her ‘father’ and her family. But Julian isn’t the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother’s past are seriously shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Here We Are Now is a moving YA Contemporary that follows Taliah when she meets her rock-star father for the first time, connects with him and his family, and learns more about her parents past! Plot, writing, characters, and themes all come together to deliver an unforgettable tale of family, love, and new beginnings!

I read Warga’s debut novel My Heart And Other Black Holes & just loved everything about it, from the characters to the writing and was definitely excited to pick up her next book the moment I heard it was announced!

With each page, I just continued to fall in love with this book! From the wonderfully written characters to the mystery that unfolds surrounding the past of Tal’s parents to the importance and power of music that weaves its way into the characters and strong theme of family that is such an important part of this story.

Tal has always had her suspicions growing up that her father may be rock-star Julian Oliver, though her mother usually avoided the topic. When he shows up on her doorstep one day to explain to her that his father is gravely sick. and may be passing away soon, she knows its a lot to take in.

But she knows its her only chance, so she takes the opportunity with her mother out of town on business in Paris, to reconnect with her father and figure out how Julian and her mother Lena met and exactly what happened between them that caused them to split up.

Though her friend Harlow is hesitant at first, she’s convinced to tag along and join Tal on her adventure.

Now she’s in Oak Falls, Indiana meeting Julian’s family, from his mother to the cousins, aunts, and boy next door Toby.

I loved how character-driven this book was! It was beautiful reading how Tal grew close to the father that she had always thought of meeting one day, how music shaped her father’s life and how it inspires her too (with her dream to become a song-writer too).

This novel is also driven by the important theme of family. Not only through learning more about her parents past and getting to know her father better, but through Tal connecting with her father’s family and just reading how happy they are to get to finally meet her. Family is such a huge part of this story that you sense it with each page.

Also told through Lena’s past, we better understand by Tal’s mother grew to avoid talking about Julian and how their relationship shaped her and how it really connects with Tal as she learns more about her family.

The intricacy of the plot and storytelling was done so perfectly and really allows you to solve the mystery of Tal’s parents past as it unfolds for her with each and every chapter!

While the pacing was slow at some points, I felt it really allowed me to immerse myself into the story and really understand the amazing characters.

This is also an OwnVoices story as Tal’s mother is Arab-American! It was also great to read such diversity in this novel with Harlow’s f/f relationship with Quinn that’s mentioned, and Tal who is biracial (1/2 white and 1/2 Jordanian).

The theme of friendship is also makes its way into this story as we learn that Tal feels her friendship with Harlow is slowly fading as she spends more time with her girlfriend Quinn & her band. Tal and Harlow used to be so close, writing and preforming songs with each other or just hanging out. She feels their friendship is slowly fading and you really understand how Tal feels when Harlow later decides to leave join Quinn back home and tell Tal that she shouldn’t only rely on her. I felt bad for Tal, but she takes charge and decides to let Harlow’s tough words inspire her to connect with her family.

Similar to My Heart And Other Black Holes, Warga also explores mental health as Tal overcomes her anxieties and opens herself up to better knowing her father, his family, and having more confidence in herself (and her music).

I loved the writing so much, following Tal’s POV! Not only with the themes of family, music, and love that weave their way into the depths of this story, but also through Warga’s beautiful and subtle writing that brings so many aspects from themes to the characters of Here We Are Now, to life.

While I just adored this book with each and every page, I can’t really explain why but Tal’s friend Harlow was just not really my favorite character 😂 She was pretty pushy at times with getting Julian to open up more and just wasn’t a supportive friend when she decided to leave Tal. I just felt the overall story felt odd with her there, if that makes sense? 😂😂

Here We Are Now beautifully explores the strength and fragility of family, love and how it changes over time. With themes of family, music, love, character-driven storytelling, and an intricate but moving plot, Warga’s latest YA Contemporary is not one to miss!

Advertisements

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab Review

our-dark-duet-victoria-schwab-cover-revealOur Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (Monsters Of Verity #2)

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: June 13, 2017

Pages: 510

Summary: THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Through Schwab’s character-driven and immersive finale, a new monster emerges in the world of Verity as Kate and August’s adventures conclude in Our Dark Duet!

It saddens me that this novel wasn’t a full 5 stars similar to This Savage Song (which I adored! <3) however it is definitely a solid conclusion! 

Similar to all of Schwab’s other novels, I love how she builds the atmosphere of her worlds! Through her writing, her stories/worlds are always immersive and unique!

It was great to see August and Kate develop as they are set on their own paths, especially August since This Savage Song.

Kate now in works as a monster hunter, but when a new monster emerges she finds herself heading back to Verity.

As their stories progressed, it was heartbreaking to read them come to accept difficult truths not only about the fate of their city, but of themselves.

As a new monster emerges, it was also fascinating to get a lot of POV chapters from Alice and Sloan. They get much more development than in Book 1 and it really brought more depth the story overall to see their plans unfold over course of Our Dark Duet.

Additionally, what made them so fascinating to read about, was being able to get into their head and learn more about who they are and what their goals/plans do to them along the way.

I also loved the inclusion of Soro’s character, another Sunai (who identifies as gender fluid) and used they/them! They were a great character who was such a supportive friend to August when he found it difficult to use his Sunai abilities and coming to terms about humanity and what it means to be human. Above all Soro was an amazing character and even though they were just introduced in this novel, definitely became one of my favorite characters.

As mentioned above, through the inclusion of Sloan + Alice’s chapters, we got even more depth into the hierarchy and inner workings between the Malchai and Corsai!

As for world-building, there is a little more in terms of the different monsters and their role in Verity, which I loved because they were such an interesting part of the world. However, in terms of setting I do wish there was a little more description.

Schwab’s writing especially in this novel, really shows the stark differences between Kate & August, with that, we see the dark truths of humanity and the divide between good & evil which really built into the story.

As to why I took off a star, I did find that since this novel read as a dystopian (for me personally) and found there to be some tropes I usually find in those novels, present in this one, which really made this novel feel difficult to get through at points.

I felt what made TSS so much fun, was the interaction/connection of August & Kate and I felt they really didn’t have that many scenes together in Our Dark Duet which made me so sad :'(!

There were also a couple important plot points that felt super rushed as I neared the end, which really made it difficult to really grasp their severity.

Above all, it felt like there was just something missing from this novel that made it quite different from This Savage Song.

Regardless…

Our Dark Duet is a solid, action-packed conclusion to this dark, character-driven duology! Monsters still roam the streets of Verity and with that, Kate and August must face the difficult truths of who they are!

Hunted by Meagan Spooner Review

Hunted by Meagan SpoonerHunted by Meagan Spooner

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Pages: 384

Summary: Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Spooner delivers a magical and captivating Russian-inspired Beauty & The Beast Retelling! With vivid characters, themes of sisterhood and family, immersive plot and rich world, you will be enchanted!

Told through a 3rd person POV, we follow Yeva (the Beauty) and the journey she undergoes when her family (Her sisters & father) loses their fortune! Forced to move to their old cabin in the woods, they must adjust to their new life.

However, when their father gets lost in the woods (presumably searching for the Beast), Yeva sets out to rescue him! As the story progresses she finds herself in Beast’s castle and learns more about herself and the magic that lies deep in the woods.

The characters were wonderfully written! While it may seem that this is a very romance-heavy novel, it really isn’t! It focuses so much on the characters and their development.

Spooner really showed the bonds that the sisters (Yeva+Asenka + Lena) have with each other and no matter what tragedies or trials they face along the way, they are always there to help and support each other! No jealousies or rivalries. Just sisterly love/support and I loved that so much! ❤ ❤

Even the male characters, who show feelings for some of the sisters don’t have romance as a central part of their story. They help the sisters and stick by them.

Each character was crafted wonderfully! There was never a character trait/motive that felt out of place or dragged the story. They all remained focused and nothing they did ever felt out of character!

Yeva was my favorite! She longs for freedom and wants to seek out more for herself and her life! While she may be eager to seek out the magic of her world on her own, she always puts others happiness first before her own! ❤

The world, while setting wise could have used a little more description, was very well constructed and the Russian-Folklore elements weaved perfectly into the story!

While reading, this story felt magical and I loved that!

Above all, a lot of fantastic elements to a fantastic retelling!

However, my only issue was towards the 50% mark or so, the story felt like it slowed down for me personally. For the rest of the novel, I was powering through. Not that I didn’t enjoy it…I really did! It just felt that once the story progressed and Yeva finds herself back home, the rest of the story’s pacing felt very slow.

Aside from that, as for the plot while I’m very familiar with the tale, I loved Spooner’s retelling and found myself surprised along the way! Overall the originality and surprises of this tale, kept me turning the page!

Spooner delivers a magical that puts emphasis on characters and their development! With magic weaved throughout each page, you will find yourself captivated Russian-Inspired retelling of Beauty & The Beast!
Spooner’s tale is spellbinding, bringing a wholly original take to a classic fairy tale!

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard Review

kings-cageKing’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #3)

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 528

Summary: Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

My Rating:★★★★☆ (maybe 4.5? Still deciding on rating!)

My Thoughts: King’s Cage expands the Red Queen world and Aveyard delivers incredible character development + will leave readers ready for Book 4!

Looking back while Glass Sword wasn’t the strongest addition to the series, King’s Cage definitely delivered!

I’m never let down by Aveyard’s writing and as always I find myself surprised at how fast I finish reading her books!

~Major Spoilers Ahead~

The story starts off with Mare as both Maven’s prisoner and pawn. She is being tortured and due to the Silent Stone, can’t use her ability!

Maven forces Mare to use her identity as the “Lightning Girl” to bring Newbloods and Reds to his side and expand his power as king.

An aspect which took me by surprise was seeing the inner workings of Maven’s rule! Mare states during her time in the palace, he looks weaker and more tired. Due to all the stress he is put under, he knows he can easily loose his grip on power, so he will do anything to keep the throne!

The Scarlet Guard doesn’t give up hope to get Maven off the throne & it was definitely a surprising twist to see them get stronger as the months passed, becoming an unexpected obstacle for him.

Mare comes to terms with how she treated people back in Glass Sword + over the course of the novel she really changes and reflects on her behavior to become a better person.

The last act mostly revolves around getting Mare comfortable with the guard/her friends & family now that she’s escaped + prepping her for to join the expanded guard ready to fight Maven!

The aftermath of the battle was definitely fast-paced and had me unsure what was going to happen next!

*No spoilers, but while I didn’t absolutely love it, I really enjoyed the ending to King’s Cage and I definitely feel the final installment will end the series off on a good note!

One of the best parts of this series is Maven! Aveyard really knows how to handle his character and we really come to know more about him and his past! While I do enjoy reading about him, I definitely applaud Aveyard for not excusing or showing redemption for his behavior!

Over the course of this story I really felt more connected to Mare than I did in GS and through her narrative it was clear that Maven’s equally expanding rule would bring trouble for the Scarlet Guard as well!

I adored getting more from the world! We know there is more beyond the Kingdom of Norta and while we get a bigger scope of RQ’s history we also get introduced to the surrounding kingdoms and their rulers.

Another interesting addition was Multiple POV! I’ll be honest, my rating is low because while I enjoyed the new perspectives and adored the characters themselves, *Which I won’t spoil* and while I enjoyed both pretty equally I felt one of the POV’s both dragged the story and just directly told us of events going on behind the scenes, instead of letting us figure it out ourselves.

As for other aspects I really loved about King’s Cage:

~What truly took me by surprise was the inner turmoil and rebelling of the other Houses! How it was developed was something I really enjoyed. I loved how Aveyard showed the costs for Maven taking the throne! I was not expecting Maven to show stress/fear from his position!

~We get more development from characters like Evangeline, Maven of course, Kilorn and it was great to see different facets to their character. (Kilorn + Cal development was also done very well!)

~I loved the Cal + Mare development! 

~Mare bonds more with the other women in this series which was awesome and I loved how they helped/relied on each other along the way!

Aside from some minor issues with the POV, I also took off a star b/c:

~I wish there more  page time with Cal + Maven! I felt this novel showed how big of a role they have in the series overall+ once Book 4 comes and overall it would have been great to get more scenes with them!

+ I tried my hardest to, but personally I just couldn’t avoid similarities between this novel and another I previously read before getting into King’s Cage! 😥

Regardless of those issues, King’s Cage is filled with fun twists and turns, expansion beyond Norta and overall this novel truly shines because of its characters! Aveyard as usual will leave you wanting the next book right away!

Book Bytes I #9

Book Bytes is a monthly feature I created to share news in the world of YA!

Each month posts can contain anything from new cover/title reveals, book-to-movie news, even the latest book deals!!

1.Wayfarer Tour

Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger duology will come to an end with Wayfarer releasing January 3, 2017!

As of November 4, Bracken revealed her tour dates for the upcoming novel and will be joined by Susan Dennard, author of Truthwitch + the upcoming novel Windwitch.

2.Roshani Chokshi Book-Deal

NYT Bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen Roshani Chokshi, had a new trilogy acquired by St. Martins titled The Gilded Wolves.

With plans for a Fall 2018 release, this trilogy is set in a darkly glamorous Paris and “Follows a charismatic but cursed heir of a massive fortune as he plots to steal one of three ancient and powerful artifacts of fate. He and his crew will navigate the elite gatherings of secret occult societies, traveling through Paris’ catacombs where they must confront their worst secrets as well as a destiny they never imagined” (Source: PW)

a-criminal-magic3. A Criminal Magic Bought By CW

Lee Kelly’s YA Historical Fiction/Urban Fantasy is set in 1926 Washington D.C. where magic is illegal!

According to Deadline as of November 11, The CW picked up the novel and is set to be an hour-long drama from the team who brought iZombie.

However according to the article the show will be: “Set in present-day Los Angeles, it revolves around two warring street gangs who fight the cops and each other to corner the market on the most lucrative contraband of all: magic. A young woman hiding spectacular magical powers and an undercover cop must try to survive this glamorous world of speakeasies, crime and danger. “

4.Before I Fall Movie Trailer

Lauren Oliver’s 2010 novel Before I Fall movie trailer debut November 17! The movie is set to be released March 3, 2017 and stars Zoey Deutch as the main character Samantha Kingston!

EpicReads also revealed the Movie-Tie in edition cover + cast list which you can check out on their blog!

 

5.Lin Manuel Miranda set to adapt Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicles

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is set to adapt the trilogy along with Rothfuss for TV w/ Lionsgate!

Miranda is set to compose original music for this project as well!

More info can be found on these articles: Deadline + Variety

6. Everything,Everything 2017 Release Date

The adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s Everything,Everything is set to be released: May 19, 2017!

Amandla Stenberg is set to play Maddie and Nick Robinson is set to play Olly!

What Book News Have You Heard? 📚✨

October 2016 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 7

175645191.Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1)

Walk On Earth A Stranger Full Review

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: September 22, 2015

Pages: 436

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: An immersive mash-up of Fantasy & Historical Fiction! I loved the atmosphere Carson weaved into this story and the characters are all well developed! However, due to slow pacing and not getting enough from the plot, I was a little disappointed. But once I reached the end, I definitely found myself interested to see what happens in the sequel!

the-female-of-the-sepcies2.The Female Of The Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Female Of The Species Full Review

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 344

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts:  McGinnis discusses rape/rape culture through multiple POV’s among other topics that weave together to craft an important read with phenomenal writing and complex+well-developed characters.

forest-of-memory-by-mary-robinette-kowal3.Forest Of Memory by Mary Robinette Kowal

Forest Of Memory Full Review

Publisher: Tor Books

Release Date: March 8, 2016

Pages: 88

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: A mysterious and immersive short story! There were so many unique concepts from an antiquities dealer, AI tech part of daily life, and a futuristic setting of the Pacific Northwest! Its a quick read and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. My only issue was the slow pacing and there were some aspects discussed that I wish were given more of a central role! Highly recommend if your looking for a short but different Sci-Fi story!

4.The Universe Of Us by Lang Leavthe-universe-of-us-lang-leav

The Universe Of Us Full Review

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 240

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A delightful collection of poems about love and loss with a central theme/backdrop of space and the universe. However I did take away 1/2 a star b/c not all of them revolve around this theme, which is what I was expecting. Regardless, its a quick but very moving collection.

when-the-moon-was-ours-anna-marie-mclemore5.When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When The Moon Was Ours Full Review

Publisher: Thomas Dunne

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 240

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: A beautifully written magical realism novel with so much diversity and important themes, remarkable characters, and a writing style that is truly magical! I highly recommend this book. With character development at its core, McLemore delivers a story of the importance of family and self-identity!

our-chemical-hearts-krystal-sutherland6.Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical Hearts Full Review

Publisher: G.P. Putnams Sons Books For Young Readers

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Pages: 313

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A YA Contemporary with equal parts humor and heartbreak! What I loved about this novel was definitely the characters! They were wonderfully written. If you’re a fan of Rainbow Rowell or John Green, definitely check out Our Chemical Hearts! Its an engaging and honest tale of first love! Highly recommend

descender-volume-1-tin-stars7.Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire + Dustin Nguyen

Full Review To Come

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: September 24, 2015

Pages: 160

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fascinating Sci-Fi comic which features AI Tech + Robots!! I don’t usually read much sci-fi, but this comic had been on my radar for quite some time, so I decided to give it a shot & wow I loved it! The watercolor art-style is absolutely stunning and the story is very unique! More to come in my full review!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Crooked Kingdom Playlist

Book Bytes I #7

YA Book Recommendations For Hispanic Heritage Month

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab Cover Reveal

What Did You Read This Month? 🙂

 

 

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab Cover Reveal

As of October 13 the cover for Victoria Schwab’s sequel/finale to her Monsters Of Verity Duology, Our Dark Duet was revealed!

Here is the cover!! (originally from EpicReads)

✨🎻✨🎻✨🎻

……

our-dark-duet-victoria-schwab-cover-reveal

A Masterpiece!! ❤ ❤ 🎻✨💖🎉🎉

I adore this cover from the color to the details of the background!! ❤ ❤

Its great that it matches This Savage Song perfectly from the somber/mysterious tone the cover gives to the instrument in the background, additionally its interesting to see the background also feature another part of the city of Verity!

Our Dark Duet is set to be released June 13, 2017!

What Are Your Thoughts On This Cover? 🙂

Lets Discuss In The Comments Below!