Daughter Of The Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller Review

Daughter Of The Pirate KingDaughter Of The Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (DOTPK #1)

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: February 28, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A fast-paced pirate adventure with the perfect blend of action, romance, swashbuckling, and a hint of fantasy that will keep you turning the page!

Ever since I found out about this book back in 2015, I knew this would be a book I would love!

I mean kick-butt lady pirates, deception and adventure on the high seas? Whats not to love??

And this book absolutely went above and beyond my expectations! ❤ ❤

I flew through it in less than a day! 

You know when your reading a book, your transported and feel your right there with the characters in their world + before you know it you’ve reached the end?? Thats what reading this book was like! I loved each & every moment! (´▽`ʃƪ)

The plot surprised me with each and every page! I never knew where the plot was going & overall it went in very unique directions I was not expecting!

Reading from Alosa’s POV + through Tricia’s fantastic writing style, made DOTPK the swashbuckling adventure I was anticipating!

In terms of writing-style, Levenseller does a phenomenal job with atmosphere and characters, while the world-building itself is lightly touched upon in the beginning & introduced more towards the middle/end, she crafts it in such a way where you can really understand the world with its mythical sirens, mysterious islands and seafaring adventures!

I loved learning about the mythical Isle De Canta! Levenseller really built it into the lore and history of this world perfectly!!

As for characters I loved them! As stated before with Tricia’s writing, you really get to know these distinct characters through Alosa’s POV & get more insight to them through Alosa’s perceptive/pirate skills!

+ Oh gosh I adored Riden!! (´▽`ʃƪ) While he appears to be a ruthless, cold person, Alosa learns there’s more to him than she expects & the relationship they build through their banter was the best! Their relationship never felt forced to me & overall I really loved their dynamic!!

The plot surrounds Alosa as she plans her capture onto an enemy ship known as The Night Farer to find the missing piece of a 3-part map that will lead her father (The Pirate King) to the Isle De Canta! Thought that’s not without some obstacles along the way, like Riden’s interrogations, Alosa having to be constantly aware of her cover and not reveal any of her ruthless pirate skills or the plan for that matter!

Draxen, captain of The Night Farer underestimates Alosa’s pirate skills, however Riden (younger brother + first mate to Draxen) is sure that she’s hiding something!

I adored the female crew she had by her side when she finds herself docked for a night at a small town & how they were eager to help her no matter what! (Mandsy, Zimah & Sorinda were all such supportive friends to Alsoa!) It was clear that they all looked out for each other + supported each other!

Alosa also struggles to come to terms with who she is (when certain secrets are revealed) + while also wanting to prove herself to her father and seeing that struggle really surprised me because when the book starts out, you don’t really see much fear from her.

Her development + Riden’s was remarkably done! Levenseller really added depth to their character (among others) and you really see them differently by the end of the novel!

Overall this book went above and beyond my expectations and I cannot wait to see where Alosa’s adventure is headed in book 2!

Daughter Of The Pirate King is a swashbuckling adventure with action, kick-butt lady pirates and an immersive + fun story to keep you turning the page!

 

A List Of Cages by Robin Roe Review

a-list-of-cages-by-robin-roeA List Of Cages by Robin Roe

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 320

Summary: When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian–the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

*I requested a copy from the publisher and received a finished copy. This in no way influences my thoughts*

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A List Of Cages will capture and shatter your heart with each and every page!

*Note: This novel discusses abuse & neglect! Be aware if those are triggers for you*

Adam and Julian are quite different. Told through dual POV, the reader will come to understand how their lives aren’t what one would expect from looking in from the outside and the struggles they are facing.

These characters were written with such depth and felt so real. I sympathized with Julian + Adam at every step of the way and when truths are revealed about Julian’s difficult home life, my heart was aching. Both are complete opposites yet they find themselves reunited once again and while it is a difficult road for them both, rekindle their friendship and help each other along the way. They each have a distinct voice and its clearly seen throughout the narrative.

I adored Charlie and Emerald. Though they are side characters, Roe makes them unforgettable and through both POV’s they truly come to life and are given such depth that they feel just as real as Adam and Julian. As a reader you come to see their growth through their interactions with Julian and Adam, but also the small facets to their personality that feel so real.

Roe’s writing really brings out a deep and moving narrative/voice through each of her characters and especially through Julian from his loss, fears, and hopes.

Julian has dyslexia and Adam has ADHD, while I don’t have personal experiences with either of those, Roe not only discussed them and made them a clear part of these character’s, but also through their POV there were moments of internal thoughts or dialogue which showed how it influenced them with events in their day-to-day life and overall I felt I learned more about ADHD + Dyslexia through their narrative.

There are a variety of topics discussed in this novel and are very integral parts of the story from mental health, foster care, and overarching themes of friendship, family, as well as self-growth and change.

Julian and Adam meet once again after many years apart, considering they used to be foster brothers when Julian’s parents passed away from a tragic accident.

However Adam begins to notice that Julian may be keeping secrets. It was great to see Adam invite Julian in with his friends and in general want to reconnect with him. After spending a lot of time apart, it was very realistic to read Julian hesitant and weary about Adam’s friends, but at the same time it was heartbreaking!

Julian is a character who I felt my heart breaking for and while he always doubted it, he was truly the hero of his own story and through the worst moments he kept moving forward and that was so inspiring!

While there were so many memorable lines, one that will truly stay with me and really encompasses what this novel is about is “Hate ricochets,but kindness does too.”
This line speaks volumes. I could definitely remember moments where I was negative or unhappy about something and reading this line had me thinking “Was it worth it?” being upset or angry about something? No. That energy could be directed towards making a bad situation better or seeing things from a more positive light. That line truly stayed with me for the rest of the story.

The theme of kindness and hope are really evident in this novel, especially through Adam’s character. He is a generally happy and overall positive person and its his character that shows how easy it is to bring positivity or encouragement into any situation when times seem tough. He puts others before himself and knows that it makes him feel better.

The reason I’m struggling between 4 and 4.5, is that there is a small time jump (which usually takes away from the linearity of plots for me personally) additionally, the plot does jump around rather quickly due to the character’s voices and it made the story a little too fast paced at times which took away from the flow of the story (mostly near the middle/end).

Regardless this was a spectacular novel and one you should definitely keep your eye on when its out this month!
This is YA Contemporary with so much heart discussing friendship, abuse, family but has an overall inspiring message about hope and overcoming difficult situations, knowing others are always there for you and finding yourself through it all when all seems lost.

The Weight Of Zero by Karen Fortunati Review

the-weight-of-zeroThe Weight Of Zero by Karen Fortunati

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 387

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disorder, almost triumphed once; that was her first suicide attempt.

Being bipolar is forever. It never goes away. The med du jour might work right now, but Zero will be back for her. It’s only a matter of time.

And so, in an old ballet-shoe box, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its living death on her again. Before she goes, though, she starts a short bucket list.

The bucket list, the support of her family, new friends, and a new course of treatment all begin to lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. The problem is, her plan is already in place, and has been for so long that she might not be able to see a future beyond it. 

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fortunati delivers a  YA Contemporary with an informative look at bipolar disorder, strong emphasis on the bonds we create with others, and the hope to keep going when all seems lost.

Catherine struggles with her bipolar disorder and depression. Her grandmother passed away right in front of her and her friends have left her, so she knows “Zero” will return. Because of that she’s made a plan to take her own life. After making new friends (Krystal at therapy & Michael her history classmate and soon boyfriend) she begins to feel hopeful again.

However, her fear of admitting to her new friends of her bipolar disorder makes her worry that they won’t understand and abandon her as her ex-best friends did years ago. She then begins to withhold the truth from them and with “Zero” never too far, she’s not sure what to do.

Fortunati doesn’t shy away from the elements of Catherine’s illness and what made the novel so much more richer in terms of plot/characters was the inclusion of how Catherine’s illness affected the people around her like her mother, friends, etc.

The writing itself is very captivating and reading from Catherine’s POV really brings such rawness and honesty to this story.

Reading Catherine’s struggles felt very realistic because it was clear to see after what happened to her in the past she truly feared being judged for her disorder and being abandoned again. It took her quite a while for her to open up to people as she withheld the truth about her illness from her therapy group and lied to Michael about it. Over the course of the story begins to see her lies catching up with her.

Now she must face her truths in order to save these newly forged relationships that mean the world to her

Additionally another great aspect of this novel was the emphasis and positive messages about therapy and treatment. Fortunati delivers these messages all through out the novel through Catherine’s interactions with her therapist, her new friend Krystal, and mother. With Catherine’s therapy and new relationship with Michael, Fortunati shows the mental illnesses/difficulties many families may have when one notices, but that there is always a way to make the best of tough situations.

Out of all the friendships/relationships in this novel, I adored reading the relationships Catherine made with Kristal and Michael and seeing just how happy she became because of them.

Another plot point of this book that I loved was the soldier history project! Michael + Catherine have their plan to report on Jonathan Kasia but after a trip to the local museum with Kristal, she discovers Jane Talmadge (part of the 6888th, the first black female unit to go across Europe during WW2!) Through reading her archived letters, Catherine comes to find her story inspirational and moving! The letters help Catherine through difficult times throughout this story and through her POV you could really see just how inspired she was from learning more about Jane!

There is also a big emphasis on family, especially through the relationship between Catherine and her mother + the strong relationship Catherine sees between Michael and his family. While I do wish Fortunati gave more page time to the side characters, she managed to bring them to life and show just how flawed they were as well through Catherine’s eyes.

I did take away .5 stars because once I neared the end, I did feel it was a bit rushed and just wanted more from Michael & Catherine. Additionally, as mentioned above I also wish there was more interactions/page-time with Catherine and the side characters!

Overall Fortunati’s debut delivers a realistic, raw and engaging story about mental health. Through Catherine’s POV, you’ll join her on her journey to recovery as she finds happiness again during dark times and sees that there is always hope!

 

The Queen Of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst Review

the-queen-of-blood-reviewThe Queen Of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst (The Queens Of Renthia #1)

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 353

Summary: An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure.

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Queen Of Blood is an enchanting fantasy tale that will transport you to a world entwined with nature, wicked spirits, and a daring adventure that will keep you hooked!

This book was absolutely incredible!! ❤️❤️ + Definitely got Final Fantasy vibes from this book! Which I loved!! 💖✨😍

From the chilling opening lines:

Don’t trust the fire, for it will burn you.
Don’t trust the ice, for it will freeze you.
Don’t trust the water, for it will drown you.
Don’t trust the air, for it will choke you.
Don’t trust the earth, for it will bury you.
Don’t trust the trees, for they will rip you,
rend you, tear you, kill you dead.

I was captivated by the unique and magical world that Durst created!

The writing style featured multiple POV’s, which expanded the world and showed how rich and lush it was!

The world of Aratay itself is highly guided by nature and the elements. The spirits of this world live among humans but can be quite vile towards them if they are left uncontrolled. That becomes quite apparent in this novel when spirits begin destroying villages and killing not only citizens, but potential Heirs!

And women are the only ones who can control them and protect the citizens. By becoming queen!

If they choose, women must take part in an exam to see if they are able to enter into an academy where they will spend many years training and if ready, will receive a Champion and train even further to become an Heir. From there they will go against other Heirs for the one and only spot of being Queen.

Enter Daleina. She isn’t the top of her class in terms of her ability to control the spirits. But she gets by with her intellect and her determination and I loved that about her so much! I could definitely see myself in Dalenia! There are certain things I’m not necessarily good at, but I always do my best to keep going no matter what and found that trait in Dalenia not only relatable, but inspiring.

Daleina is training to become a Queen Of Renthia, but knows very early on she isn’t cut out for it. However she keeps at it for many years training at the academy and learns more about who she wants to be and find the strength/confidence in herself.

Along the way she befriends young women just like her who are training to be queen. As the day approaches, she finds herself chosen by a disgraced Champion, Ven, who has a special bond with the queen and sees Dalenia as his only hope to bring control to the restless spirits!

There is so much girl power and female friendships which I absolutely loved! Dalenia befriends other women like her and they support each other along the way, regardless of the obvious competition between them for the spot of Queen. As time passes in the novel, they remain friends and continue to remain at each others sides when times get tough.

I did take away .5 because there is a romance (which doesn’t interfere with overall plot) and I felt was a rather rushed and did take me out of the story at times.

The characters were fantastically written and developed! Even with minor characters who were given few lines or mentioned in the background, they still felt real and vital to the story.

I seriously cannot pick between Ven and Dalenia! Both were wonderfully written characters and I could definitely understand their struggles and obstacles that they faced in this novel!

But there is so much more to this than just wayward spirits and queens. There is blood, betrayal and deep messages about connection with those you love/care about and finding yourself!

The world, characters, and plot in The Queen Of Blood come together to create a magical and unforgettable tale! ✨

I’ll definitely be reading book 2!

Bound By Blood And Sand by Becky Allen Review

bound-by-blood-and-sandBound By Blood And Sand by Becky Allen (Bound By Blood And Sand #1)

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 320

Summary: Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free. 

Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the realm’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Allen delivers a character-driven fantasy that shows a dark and oppressive world, but the bravery and lengths characters will go to bring change!

The best part of this novel was definitely the characters. Allen created her characters with such complexity and wasn’t afraid to show their dark and flawed sides. In doing so, Jae,Tal, Shirrad, and Elan go through immense character development and really come to life on the page.

Additionally there was no romance! Which was definitely a plus for me. With that, more development and focus is given to the characters and plot.

Jae is a slave living in a fantasy desert world. She lives in a house with other slaves (Closests) called Aredann where she among others are forced by their Curse to follow orders by the owner of the property Lady Shirrad to care for it and have minimal freedoms.

From page 1 Jae, is out for vengeance to free herself and her twin brother Tal from the awful Curse and escape after years of oppression.

She discovers there is magic on the property and figures that will be the only way she can bring water back to the land and free herself and other Closests just like her.

A prince from a neighboring land comes to inspect and reveals that the minimal water will leave Shirrad no choice but to vacate.

As the novel progresses prince Elan discovers Jae’s magic and wants to use her to find a magical Well which can bring water back. However, Jae who has been seen as less by Elan’s people (the Highest) is skeptical of his motives and doesn’t trust him.

As Jae learns more about her magic, she discovers there is more to her world’s history than she is lead to believe and that she may be the only one who can bring back the water and free herself once and for all.

However there were 2 issues that prevented this from being a full 5!
1.Pacing: A majority of this novel moved extremely slowly for me personally and that really took me out of the story at times.
I will admit, for me it definitely picks up around the ~70-80% mark and I was hooked to the very end.

2.Elements of world-building:
I felt the world-building (in terms of background history + magic) was quite under-developed. Flashbacks were the general bulk of the historical aspect of the world building and b/c of that I felt the world didn’t feel as rich and developed.

However I applaud the author with her writing style because I could really picture the setting and the characters and overall the plot itself is very unique!!

There were definitely many heart-breaking and emotional moments in this book! Allen weaves in and discusses many topics in this novel such as abuse/assault and social class.

I felt so connected to the main characters Jae, Tal and Elan and could definitely understand their differing points of view + individual struggles over the course of this story!

Bound By Blood And Sand is filled with rich and captivating characters that definitely drive this story and an intriguing world/plot that shows promise for the next installment!

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova Review

labyrinth-lost-by-zoraida-cordova-book-reviewLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Brooklyn Brujas #1)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: September 6, 2016

Pages: 336

Summary: Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A magical coming-of-age story, with themes of family and self-identity!

What originally drew me to this novel was the  premise! Being Latina I was quite familiar with the magical and cultural elements of this story and I adored reading them in an urban fantasy setting!

Family is a big theme of Labyrinth Lost, and I felt the magic and the bonds between Alex’s mother and sisters, Lula and Rose, the moment they were introduced. Along those lines, many themes interconnected and gave so much depth to the overall world.

Themes of family and self-identity merged definitely weaved together with the Latinx heritage and culture.

There was so much diversity in this novel, which was fantastic! Latinx Culture, Bisexuality, and GLBT+ characters!

Alex is unsure whether or not she wants to accept her magic/power as an Enchantrix and definitely has an internal struggle of wanting to forge her own path, yet feeling unsure because of what her family expects of her.

After a spell goes horribly wrong, she finds herself headed to Los Lagos, a mythical land tied closely with Brujas. She finds herself teamed up with Nova, a family friend and Rishi, her best friend as she explores the mythical and magical land to save to her family.

The myths and legacy of the Brujas, magic system and world of Los Lagos was the best aspect of this novel. I’m very familiar with the idea/folklore surrounding brujas and found that to be a wonderfully rich and engaging part of the world/story.

Descriptions of Brooklyn, Los Lagos, and the history of the Brujas comes to life through the writing and I could really picture myself there. Both the world and characters are given such depth and were wonderfully written.

It was great reading from Alex’s strong, engaging, and empowering POV. While reading, I was captivated by the rich world of magic and Latinx culture that definitely showed the magic of familial/sister bonds which I could relate to so much!!

However the novel did have one con.

Through the 1st person POV, while I definitely got an overall rich and magical view of Los Lagos, I would have loved if the settings/world was expanded and given a little more depth. Additionally, I would have loved more from the plot. The “rescue” part of the novel felt rather jumpy and I would have loved more development from that, considering a majority of the novel took place there.

Overall with a satisfying conclusion, Labyrinth Lost dives deep into a magical world filled with Brujas, magic, Latinx Culture, and introduces many themes that weave together to tell a tale just as magical.

I will definitely be reading the sequel and can’t wait to see where Alex’s journey is headed!

The Grift Of The Magi by Ally Carter Review

the-grift-of-the-magi-by-ally-carter-book-reviewThe Grift Of The Magi by Ally Carter (Heist Society #3.5)

Publisher: NLA Digital LLC

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Pages: 105

Summary: Katarina Bishop is a thief. To many it wouldn’t matter that she now uses her considerable skills to re-steal valuable works of art and return them to their rightful homes.

She’s still a thief.

So that’s why Kat’s surprised when an Interpol agent comes to her one snowy evening, asking for Kat’s help.

The Magi Miracle Network was set to auction off a very rare, very valuable Faberge egg two days before Christmas, but the egg’s been stolen and now the charity’s reputation—and their future—is on the line.
Kat’s family and Interpol might be opposite sides of most jobs, but someone just stole Christmas.

Now it’s up to Kat and her crew to steal it back.

The Grift of the Magi is a Heist Society novella and is approximately half the length of the other novels in the series. It stands alone, but if you want read more about Kat and her crew check out Heist Society, Uncommon Criminals, and Perfect Scoundrels.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A fun and fast paced heist which takes readers back into the world of Heist Society!

Heist Society is a very special series to me, because it sparked my love of reading! Its been 3 years since Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society 3) released and after finishing this short story it brought back so much nostalgia.  It was truly wonderful to read about Kat and her crew again! 💖💕

The plot, dialogue, writing style, etc. were all fantastic! Yet, the strength of this story was definitely the character development.

Kat and Hale were beginning to get used to their newly developed relationship in Perfect Scoundrels, however by this point they have fully established it and it was great to see how much they’ve grown since then.

At the start of this story, Kat and Gabrielle have been approached by Interpol agent, Ameila Bennett because one of her dear friend’s (Elizabeth) London charity, the Magi Miracle Network, has been robbed.

Amelia reveals how special the organization is to her and believes Kat and her crew are the only ones who can help.

An auction is set to take place on Dec. 23, which will not only support low-income families around Great Britain but bring more attention to the organization itself.

A Faberge egg (1 of 3 Eggs of the Magi) has been stolen and it must be found before the auction takes place!

With Hazel Hale (Hale’s grandmother) the original founder of the Magi Miracle Network and W.W. Hale V currently the new chairman, he is automatically no. 1 on the list, considering Kat’s mother also had one similar to it and believes Hale knew that too.

The crew has 11 days to figure out who really stole the egg (possibly even a forged one) and get the real one back in time.

Carter’s writing kept the story fast paced and entertaining. There was definitely expansion on side characters introduced early into the Heist Society Series, like Amelia, Gabrielle’s mother, and even more development on my favorite characters like Hale & Kat!

Additionally what I adore about Carter’s plots/writing style, like in this short story, is how she leaves clues here and there which makes it so much fun to uncover the secrets/mysteries of the cons and characters as you go.

Kat really revealed her more humorous side in this story which I loved! (She was so funny!) Overall it was just amazing to see how much she grew and see her and crew back again for another heist!!

The mystery and con was planned perfectly. I didn’t know who to trust and there were twists and turns, but it all wrapped up wonderfully in the end.

My only minor issue was some moments of slow pacing and just wanting a little bit more character development (mainly from side characters towards the end).

I adored this novella and my fangirl heart is still processing the amazing-ness of another Heist Society story!!  🎉🎉

Highly recommend if you are a fan of the Heist Society Series or are looking for a fun and fast paced Heist/Con story to read during the holidays!

Blood For Blood by Ryan Graudin Review

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 11.24.46 AMBlood For Blood (Wolf By Wolf #2)

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Pages: 481

Summary: There would be blood.
Blood for blood.
Blood to pay.
An entire world of it.

For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A heart-pounding conclusion to the dark and thrilling Wolf By Wolf duology!

It was everything I hoped for and more! Blood For Blood was phenomenal and concludes wonderfully!!💖

This novel opens up with glimpses into the pasts of Yael, Luka, Felix, and Adele. I thought that was a brilliant start because, it sets up the tone for the rest of the story!

By the end of Wolf By Wolf, we learn Yael didn’t kill Hitler as she had planned, but a doppelganger. Now with the SS not far behind, she is racing against the clock to return to the resistance HQ and put an end to him once and for all.

I will admit the pacing in this novel was slower for me than with Wolf By Wolf, but the plot was filled with mystery, action and suspense and it kept on surprising me!

Now with multiple perspectives from Luka, Felix and Adele, we’re shown more in-depth layers to these characters and get more from the politics/world introduced in WBW.

We are introduced to a character from Yael’s past and come to get a bigger picture of what happened all those years ago when she escaped.

However issues arise when Yael, Luka, and Felix find themselves on he run from the SS, back to Germania and must stay out of sight to avoid capture.

The tone of this book is definitely darker than WBW, with interrogations,violence, it was difficult to read at some points. However, Graudin really shows the darkness and severity of this world and the dangers that Yael + others could face.

As for characters, they were all spectacularly written! While I love each main character equally, Yael was definitely my favorite. I was rooting for her every step of the way! She has been through so much, yet no matter what stays strong when all seems lost. In this novel you definitely get to see more of her emotional/vulnerable side as she no longer needs to disguise herself as Adele, with Felix and Luka understanding who she truly is.

Luka has been taught to never show weakness and because of it is unsure of who he wants to be, but knows that, similar to Yael he wants to change things. He doesn’t want to be the “poster child” he’s grown up to be and along the journey learns what it means to be a hero.

Felix will stop at nothing to find his sister and reunite with his family,even if it means siding with the enemy. He struggles with his oath to the SS to get information on the resistance while determination to be with his family and ensure their safety puts Yael and Luka in danger.

Graudin’s writing kept a similar tone to WBW, however in this novel she definitely showed more emotional/vulnerable sides to her characters which not only was heart-breaking to read at times, but definitely gave them more depth and added more to the overall world.

It was incredible being a part of Yael’s journey to change her world for the better! The Wolf By Wolf Duology is a tale I will never forget!

Tears shed, but overall Blood For Blood raises the stakes! There’s intrigue, blood and betrayal but it all comes together to an epic and unforgettable finale!

 

 

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon ARC Review

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.inddThe Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Pages: 384

Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A beautifully crafted contemporary that explores life, love and everything in between! 

This book was wonderful!

Similar to Everything, Everything Nicola’s writing style immediately captured me! Its poetic and thought-provoking.

This novel discusses fate/destiny, love at first sight and weaved these topics perfectly into the overall plot, which discusses more serious topics like immigration, etc.

I was not expecting multiple POV’s. It definitely surprised me, but they were all done extremely well and each one was distinct and memorable!

Natasha and Daniel, though complete opposites, connect over the course of a day!

The development of their relationship felt very natural and it was clear they were changing one another with each and every interaction.

Natasha relies on nothing but science and facts, with her goals, etc. planned out. With that mind set, she believes nothing can go wrong. However things begin to change when she has only a number of hours left until her deportation to Jamaica, she does her best to prevent it from happening.

Daniel is a poet at heart, but his family wants him to become a doctor. Throughout the novel, he tries to find the courage to pursue what he wants in life while, unknown to him, all his parents (especially his father) want is for him to be successful and ensure he is taken care of financially.

And while they have opposing ideals and mindsets, they definitely complimented each other and brought out parts of each other they didn’t expect to show through and help each other better understand themselves and their families.

Natasha has a difficult relationship with her father and Daniel not only struggles in his relationship with his father, but also his brother.

While this book does handle serious topics, Nicola’s writing-style balances the seriousness while still adding bits of humor and overall having the story flow perfectly.

My only minor issue was the ending felt a little rushed towards the end and some moments of slow pacing due to the multiple POVs.

Regardless, this a beautiful YA Contemporary that is filled with diversity, delightful writing, engaging and complex characters that feel so real and overall is a unique and unforgettable story!

Highly Recommend! ❤

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!

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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? 🙂