ARC Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

51ait2bmdvulTitle: This Savage Song

Author: Victoria Schwab

Series: Monsters of Verity #1

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: July 5, 2016

Source: e-galley provided through Edelweiss by the publisher

 

 

 

 

 

I received a free e-galley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes the honesty of this review.

Um, guys? I LOVED THIS BOOK. So many reasons to love this book, but the main one was: this story was incredibly gripping. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done a review (Sorry. I just started grad school and am still working full time), so remember, I keep things spoiler free! If you want to discuss finer points, please message me here or on Twitter! Without further ado, here is your synopsis from Amazon:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

1. The protagonists were AMAZING.

This book follows to main characters: Kate Harker and August Flynn. One is the daughter of a rich man who offers protection for money (who, I might add, has his own army of monsters). The other is a monster – a Sunai – the most rare type of monsters in this crazy world. They both have parts about themselves that they hate, and they battle this beautifully in the book. A lot of the book is with them being apart, but once they meet, they are able to bring out the best in each other. They come from completely different backgrounds (and believe me when I say COMPLETELY DIFFERENT), but find themselves thrown together on this crazy adventure. Their growth and development over the course of just a book is astounding, and a true testament to Schwab’s incredible talent. Even though her characters live in a world we know nothing about, it is so easy to relate to them, commiserate with their troubles, and celebrate their successes.

2. The world building is INSANELY GOOD.

Sorry for all of the shouty caps so far, but believe me that this book deserves them. A lot of this book was world building. Of course, as readers, we all know that that is a necessary part in a book one. A lot of times, I will get bogged down with the details of world building and get really bored, but not so here. This world is a world destroyed and divided. The enemies are not only monsters, but the monsters that live within “normal” people that create the monsters. North City is where Harker rules. He doles out protection to the people who inhabit his city in the form of medallions that repel the Malchai and Corsai monsters that inhabit the dark. Harker has a “pet” Malchai named Sloan who is basically his butler and the thing that carries out tasks that would get his own hands dirty. The monsters themselves are even part of the world. Malchai and Corsai are both formed after violence is committed. Malchai look like monsters and are mostly bone, so they are hard to kill. Corsai reside in the dark, and abhor UV lights, so they’re a little like vampires…but also not. Sunai are formed from mass murders, like mass suicides or mass shootings. Anyway, the South is run by the Flynns, who are basically fighting for their lives. They have an active military, and do not charge a fee for their protection. As long as you are a good person and are willing to work, you earn their favor. I’m not going to say much else about the world, since that gives away a lot about the story, but aren’t you intrigued?

3. The villains. OOOOHHHHHH, the villains!

This book is a little along the lines of American Horror Story, where you don’t truly know who the monsters are. Yes, there are monsters that inhabit the world, but are they really that bad, or is it the humans that make them that way? The humans in this world are sometimes as bad as the monsters. One of August’s “special talents” is that he can see the darkness on people. When someone commits a violent act (which creates a Malchai or a Corsai, depending on the severity), their shadow has a stain on it. It shows their evil to August. Sunai (the type of monster August is) are the great equalizers. They are there to even the balance between good and evil. Aaaand that’s all I’ll say on that. However, we never really know who the true villain is here. Is it Kate’s dad, who will stop at nothing to keep his power? Is it Sloan, the one who seems to be raising his own army? Is it Flynn, who will also stop at nothing to keep his city safe? Is it August, who is a monster? Is it Kate, who buys into everything her father says? Or, is it something completely different? I’ll never tell. Read. It.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!! Couldn’t you tell, with all the shouty caps? Anyway, I know I only gave you three points here, but I feel they’re extremely descriptive without giving anything away, so I think I get a pass. This was the first Schwab book I have read in its entirety and I need to go out and get all of her other books immediately. The world was stunning, the characters were amazing, and the writing was top notch. Get thee to a book store to get yourself a copy on July 5, 2016! Links below!

Amazon: Get it here!

Barnes & Noble: Get it here!

Visit the Goodreads page here!

 

ARC Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

51crgzr20qlTitle: And I Darken

Author: Kiersten White

Series: The Conquerors Saga #1

Pages: 496

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: June 28, 2016

Source: E-Galley provided by the publisher

 

 

 

 

This is my first review in awhile, so stick with me here, okay?

I was provided with a free e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion on the book.

1. Ladislav is the most bad ass heroine I’ve seen in a long time.

Lada’s father is awful. Like, I’m not sure he’s even capable of love kind of awful. However, Lada is just like her father. He is vicious and cruel and wild. While Lada is the unwanted, weak female in a world that values males, she tends to surpass her brother, Radu, in everything – even though he is a boy. Lada fights for everything she wants. She is seen as ugly, but she is so strong-willed that she is noticed by the soldiers, her father, and feared by her brother. She is more vicious and ruthless than any boy her age running around her castle. I can’t tell you a lot about the story, because a lot happens, but Lada was definitely my favorite part.

2. There is a lot of questions about religion in this book. Normally, this would make me uncomfortable, but when I considered when this took place, it actually made a ton of sense.

Because of some unforeseen circumstances, Lada and her little brother Radu end up in the grasp of the Ottoman empire. The two siblings came from a world of one religion (usually fire, blood, sacrifice, and death) and thrown into the Muslim-run country that they were brought up to adore. The more he learns about The Prophet (peace be upon him), the more Radu is drawn to the foreign religion of his adopted land. Lada rages against the Prophet, and is violently angry toward the religion. She is desperate for her home of Wallachia, and will never forget it until she is returned to it, so anything non-Wallachian is horrible to her. A lot of this book is a question of morality, what is right, love, and religion. Normally, that would be something that would make me roll my eyes, but this is done extremely well. White does this in a way that doesn’t intend to try and sway her readers into believing what her characters believe – simply there just for a story, which I LOVED.

3. This is my third Kiersten White book, and there was NO. PARANORMAL.

This is something that I’ve come to expect from White, but honestly there is no complaint from me here. It’s like historical fiction – except the horrible man in charge is changed into a female, which is so awesome! The preview I read on Amazon says that it’s for fans of Game of Thrones, and that is definitely correct. If you liked the Song of Ice and Fire books, then this YA version is most definitely for you. Kiersten White did a fantastic job with this. It may seem heavy, but it is most definitely a feminist book. In a time when females were NOT valued, Lada makes a name for herself and is powerful when she shouldn’t be. What’s better than that?!

 

OVERALL: 4 STARS! I know I didn’t tell you a lot here, but that’s because SO. MUCH. HAPPENS. I honestly don’t even know what you would consider a spoiler because there is just so much here. It feels like the entire history of Lada’s life, and the end catches up with her present. This was beautifully written, especially if you like historical fiction. This book comes out on June 28, 2016 so if you’re down for some medieval adventure, go forth and preorder!!

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

ARC Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

 

819udjxxcml1Title: Passenger

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Series: Passenger #1

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Source: E-galley provided by publisher.

I really liked Bracken’s Darkest Minds series. Therefore, I was super excited for this book. Bracken tackles time travel?! I’m in! Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles, but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods-a powerful family in the Colonies-and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick must ensure she brings it back to them-whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home forever.

1. This book was a really slow burn for me.

This took awhile to get really started. For such a long book, that’s something I wasn’t really okay with. It was a slow burn that had some exciting parts, then went back to that slow burn. I can’t really tell you whether or not I could actually get into the story since I kept getting distracted and had to reread some parts that I had missed. I can’t take a completely slow book. This one had me hooked enough to finish though, so it couldn’t have been all bad.

2. Etta. I still don’t know how I feel about Etta.

Etta is an extremely talented violin prodigy. It annoyed me that she was insanely cocky when it came to her playing – when she hadn’t played in awhile when our story starts. She is really vindictive and she seems like she holds grudges entirely too easily. She is really trusting (a trait that we share), but then that immediately goes away. I can’t decide how I feel about her kind of how she can’t decide the person she is. I don’t dislike her, but I don’t really connect with her, either.

3. Nicholas. Oh, boy.

I have a major crush on Nicholas. I mean, who wouldn’t have a crush on a pirate who can time travel? He is insanely smart, even if he is technically enslaved to the Ironwoods – the evil family who coerces all time travelers to do their bidding. It is odd when he and Etta start to travel to see him in all of these different times, since his time is in the 1700s (I could be wrong there). Anyway, Nicholas has a hidden agenda, and even though this could totally screw up everything Etta is working for, I still have a crush on him. This is the first time where a male lead has an ulterior motive and I don’t immediately hate him. WHY DO I LOVE YOU, NICHOLAS?!

4. The insta-love drove me nuts.

I hate insta-love. At the very least, this book doesn’t have a love triangle! However, as soon as Etta meets Nicholas, she is all a-flutter over him. I can’t really blame the girl, but they spend a lot of time together; their love story could have been developed more rather than being instantaneous.

5. I really love time travel books.

My biggest problem with time travel in books is that they don’t stick to their own rules. This book, though, sticks to its rules – for the most part. I have it on authority that there will be rules broken in the next book, but that they’re meticulously explained, which is okay with me! I haven’t been telling you much about this book because there is SO MUCH that happens, and I never want to accidentally (or purposefully) spoil anything for you. Just know that the time travel aspect is so awesome. If you’re like me, time travel hurts your brain, but Bracken does a fantastic job of trying to make it easy to understand for everyone.

 

OVERALL: 4 STARS! I really did love this book, despite the harsh criticism I gave it up there. I’m hoping the next book isn’t as slow. I understand that series starters sometimes need that slow burn in order for the next books to make sense, or to set up for something huge. There is a lot of explaining done in this book, which is good, because I really feel like I know the world Alexandra Bracken has built. This book comes out on January 5, 2016, so go forth and pre-order a copy at the link below!

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ARC Review: Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

10k SkiesTitle: Ten Thousand Skies Above You

Author: Claudia Gray

Series: Firebird, #2

Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance, YA

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: November 3, 2015

Source: ARC sent by my #OTSPSecretSister

GUYS. THIS WAS AMAZING. I’ve got a lot to say, but first, a warning: TURN BACK IF YOU HAVE NOT READ A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU. TURN BACK NOW. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST BOOK CONTAINED IN THIS REVIEW. Here is your synopsis:

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross through to alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurt the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked, and his consciousness is scattered across multiple dimensions.

The hunt for each splinter of Paul’s soul sends Marguerite racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each dimension brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with every trial she faces, she begins to question the one constant she’s found between the worlds: their love for each other.

1. I loved seeing all of these different versions of Paul.

We all know Paul as this quiet, lovable scientist. We also know that he and Marguerite are totally and helplessly in love. I usually hate love stories, but Paul kind of reminds me of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and he’s so awkward – even with Marguerite – that this romance is so endearing to me. In this book, Marguerite has to go save Paul from Conley, who has splintered Paul into four pieces. Marguerite is sent on a mission over 4 different dimensions (with some bonus dimensions thrown in there) to retrieve the pieces of his soul – or is it only his consciousness?

2. Conley is the most annoying villain EVER.

Can you imagine a villain who can’t be defeated, because there are actually unlimited versions of him? My brain doesn’t science very well, so it’s kind of hard to wrap my head around all of the science stuff in this book. Having met Claudia Gray and talked to her about the research she did, I know that she hardcore looked into research on dimensional time travel, physics, quarks, all the science-y stuff. Anyway, we see a lot of Conley in this book and a lot of versions of him. This was super interesting since I didn’t absolutely HATE some versions of him. I kind of had to sit back and remember everything he’d done in book one in order to really hate him again. Isn’t that a fantastic testament to Claudia Gray’s mastery of her craft?! I thought I had one character figured out, then his different selves make me actually kind of feel for him?! WHY.

3. We see some crazy worlds in this book.

While a lot of this universe traveling stuff makes my head hurt (especially the science – there’s a reason I teach English) the universes we traveled to with Marguerite in this book were awesome! They weren’t as crazy as the underwater universe in ATPOY, but some of them are pretty out there. Marguerite even visits *our* world! There was one, and I won’t give you much detail about it, that reminded me of The Fifth Element – one of my all time FAVORITE movies. Not so much what happened, just the way the world was run and the way it looked. But dang, I would love to live in Gray’s mind for a day.

4. Remember how Marguerite was convinced every her loved every Paul? That is seriously questioned in this book.

While I totally adore Marguerite and Paul together, there are some really…questionable versions of Paul. We see things about him that we never thought we’d see from him. This makes Marguerite question everything she’s assumed about fate, destiny, and the science of their souls being drawn to one another. In the first book, she’s of the firm belief that every version of Paul contains versions of her own (barring those splinters Conley put in the others). However, I was totally shocked at some of these versions. I can’t wait for you guys to read, because I really need someone to discuss this with!!

5. Claudia Gray is queen of long flashbacks.

I love a good flashback. Sometimes, Gray’s get long, but they’re never confusing, and they always fit. At times, I feel like flashbacks are kind of just thrown in for the most part, but all of the flashbacks had something to do with what Marguerite was going through.

6. Last point, I swear: Marguerite goes back to the Russiaverse. YEAH. I KNOW.

I’m not telling you anything spoilery here. Just know that Marguerite needs to visit the Russiaverse. We all remember the Russiaverse so very fondly. *eyebrow wiggle* That’s it. That’s all I’m saying.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!! I loved this just as much as I loved the first! I get to Skype chat with Claudia Gray soon (the book club I advise at school has chosen ATPOY for their November book) and I’m going to need some one on one time to discuss some THINGS with her. Anyway, this was fantastic, the rules still held true (which, as you know, is my biggest gripe with sci-fi), and it was just ENGROSSING. Sequels sometimes fail to impress me, but this one was fantastic. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the cover is GORGEOUS. This book comes out on November 3, 2015 so click the link below to pre-order!

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ARC Review: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

IlluminaeTitle: Illuminae

Authors: Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Series: The Illuminae Files #1

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release Date: October 20, 2015

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance

Source: E-Galley from the publisher through NetGalley

I received a free egalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects the integrity of my review.

LOTS OF SHOUTY CAPS HERE. HERE’S YOUR SYNOPSIS:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

1. Let’s start simple: the layout of this book is so insane.

This is told through a dossier of documents. There are interviews, instant messages, recorded conversations, and reports from different individuals. At first, it’s a little weird, but as soon as you get used to it, you wonder how you’ve read books any other way. This was the strangest layout I’ve ever seen but that is NOT a bad thing. It’s amazing. It immerses you so much into the story that you feel like you’re a part of it. There are diagrams of the ships, maps, posters from the ships, etc. When I first heard about this layout, I wasn’t entirely sure if I would like it. However, this is so in your face that you can’t help but fall into it. This book is genius.

2. This book features one of the most bad ass females I’ve seen in awhile.

Kady Grant is a bad ass. I was unsure about her at first, until I read the opening interviews from she and Ezra. She is telling the interviewer how she stole a truck (btw, that is NOT spoiler-y!). He kind of scoffs at her to which she responds, “‘I am frequently underestimated. I think it’s because I’m short.'” (page 15 in the ARC). I honestly slow clapped for Kady because YES. Not because she’s female, BUT BECAUSE SHE’S SHORT. I laughed for a long time. This book is full of witty one-liners that kind of catch you off guard. Kady is also an insanely clever hacker. I love this about her because it’s so rare that you see a female MC who is also good with technology. Not only GOOD, but GREAT. She hacks into files that the most experienced hackers on her crew can’t get to. She is scary good and she is the heroine of this entire story. There is some romance, but she never swoons. She just kind of accepts that she has these feelings and runs with them. She will do anything for Ezra and he will do anything for her. More on that later.

3. The romance is adorable and I am never really one for romance.

Ezra and Kady keep in contact while they are on different ships. Kady is able to hack into the messaging system and talk to Ezra in 7 minute bursts. From this, their romance blossoms again (remember – they broke up the day their planet was invaded). Sometimes, I feel like a lot of YA romances aren’t believeable because they happen so quickly. In this situation, they were dating, they broke up, then they realized that they still love each other. It built slowly and consistently. They had a history which makes their romance all the more believeable. I think this is why I didn’t mind the romance and even liked it a little.

4. This book combines three of my biggest fears: space, airborne diseases, and AI that starts to think on its own.

The entirety of this book takes place on three ships in space outrunning another ship that is chasing them from Kady’s planet. Space scares the crap out of me and I never want to visit, ever. So any books that take place in space really freak me out. Seriously, I can’t even watch movies that take place in space. Airborne diseases is a recently developed fear of mine. Ever since the zombie apocalypse fad started, I’ve been petrified of diseases floating in the air, inhaling them, and dying or becoming undead. Airborne diseases are insanely terrifying, especially since everyone would be infected. Everyone. So, with that, there is an INSANE disease in this book called Phobos Beta. I won’t tell you much about it except DON’T LOOK AT ME. Now, the Artificial Intelligence fear may seem weird, but just hear me out. Artificial Intelligence is there to make our lives easier, but it could also form a mind of its own. Who knows what could happen if a robot started thinking it had feelings and making decisions by itself?! Haven’t you ever seen the Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House?! Anyway, Illuminae explores this possibility and it is absolutely terrifying. All I’ll say is: beware the black pages.

5. The bravery and sacrifice in this book is incredible.

I could never imagine sacrificing myself for somebody else. Call me selfish, but it’s true. Kady and Ezra are constantly sacrificing their safety and sanity in order to help the thousands of people on their ships. After Kady’s planet is attacked, the ships they are on are filled to capacity with refugees. These refugees are then – for the most part – turned into soldiers with no combat training. Or really, any training at all. They’re just thrown into saving the ships. If it were me, I would be scared out of my MIND and would rather cower in a corner than take up arms against an unknown enemy. Every person who sacrifices themselves in this book is a much braver person than I am, for sure.

6. The character development is so strong, it’s ridiculous.

Each of the characters we see a lot of in this book goes through an insane amount of growth in the little time we’re with them. We see a lot of characters – not just the MCs – go through a metamorphosis. While we do see Ezra and Kady transform, we see a lot of the captains and higher ups in the military go through changes as well. By the end of the book, I felt like these characters were my friends. I haven’t read a book with character development this solid in a REALLY long time.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!!! I want to give this book every star in the universe, it was seriously so good. It’s a 600 page masterpiece that I finished in about 24 hours. Seriously. I know this review is pretty vague, but that’s on purpose because I don’t want to give anything away. You need this book in your life. Be warned, though. This book ruined me for other books. It took me two weeks to start and finish another book after I was done with this. This book comes out on October 20, 2015 so click the link below to preorder! Plus, I don’t know how long this will last, but if you preorder, it’s UNDER TEN BUCKS for this fantastic masterpiece! Go! Gogogogo!!!

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ARC Review: The White Rose by Amy Ewing

The White RoseTitle: The White Rose

Author: Amy Ewing

Series: The Jewel #2

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Source: E-galley provided by the publisher through Edelweiss

I was provided a free galley of this book from the publisher. This in now way affects my review.

I loved The Jewel so much. It really surprised me how much I love it since I usually stay away from books like that. The ending ripped my heart out and this one was pretty much no different (ripping my heart out-wise). IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE JEWEL, PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FARTHER. GO GET THE JEWEL AND READ IT NOW. I DO NOT WANT TO SPOIL ANYTHING FOR YOU FROM THE FIRST BOOK, OKAY?! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!!!! Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Violet is on the run—away from the Jewel, away from a lifetime of servitude, away from the Duchess of the Lake, who bought her at auction. With Ash and Raven traveling with her, Violet will need all of her powers to get her friends, and herself, out of the Jewel alive.

But no matter how far Violet runs, she can’t escape the rebellion brewing just beneath the Jewel’s glittering surface, and her role in it. Violet must decide if she is strong enough to rise against the Jewel and everything she has ever known.

1. The world is still spectacular.

In the first book, we’re introduced to the Jewel. We don’t see much else of the world other than the Smoke and the Jewel. I love how this island is built in a circle, with the different parts of the community in the rings of the circle. I think this is so interesting, because the farther out you go from the Jewel, the worse the environment gets. The Jewel is the pinnacle of wealth and excess. In this book, since Violet is on the run from the evil Duchess of the Lake, we get to see a lot more of the environment. We heard a lot about the Smoke from Ash in the first book and in this one, we get to see it. It’s eye opening and sad. Then, we get to see the Farm, which I really liked. I could totally live there. I loved seeing more of this place, since it was pretty limited due to Violet’s imprisonment in the Jewel with that horrible hag.

2. Ash is so wonderful and I love him.

Even though I kind of found Ash and Violet’s romance pretty stupid, I ended up liking him a lot more in this book. A lot of the action happens because of him (since Violet refuses to leave the Jewel without him). Poor Ash. All he wants to do is help the cause of rebellion and he can’t really do much. However, I think he handles this really well. He could lash out and be a total jerk, but he just keeps his head down and waits for his opportunity. He pulls some really stupid stunts while they’re on their way to the Farm and they almost get caught a bunch of times because of him. I mean, they’re looking for him because everyone believes he raped Violet. He’s got a recognizable face – yet he still puts his face out there! A few times, I definitely wanted to punch him. He ends up being an asset, though.

3. Violet and Raven’s friendship makes me feel the warm fuzzies.

So when we last saw Raven, she had this vacant look about her. I thought she had undergone a lobotomy, she was acting so weird. We know that Violet gave Raven the serum that Lucien gave to her to give the illusion of death. Well, it works! Violet refuses to leave the Jewel without Raven, because she knows what awaits her if she has the baby. We find out what happened to her, which is absolutely horrible. I mean, I knew the royalty was evil, but I didn’t know HOW evil they were. *shudder* Anyway, their friendship only grows in this book and it’s so wonderful to see. They realize all of the things that the Auguries and the royalty have been hiding from them and they forge an even stronger connection than they had before (if you can imagine that).

4. This book shows us heroes in the most unlikely of places.

I’m not going to reveal the big one (even though you know this within the first page or so), but people help Violet who you never thought would end up helping her. Other than this particular person, we meet Lucien’s Society of the Black Key. In the Society are a network of people. Lucien always tells Violet to “ask for the key.” At first, I was super confused by this, until I saw a key. Within the Society are so many different kinds of people – all with code names. The ones you meet range from little kids to old spinsters and they pop up in extremely unlikely places. I really loved how the resistance was everywhere and so willing to help Violet.

5. Violet wakes up to find who the heck she actually is. It’s terrifying and awesome.

I had no idea that the Auguries were holding the surrogates back from so much. I’m not going to tell you what, but just know that the surrogates should be feared – not controlled by the baby sick royalty.

6. Last point, I swear: Violet really womans up in this book and I liked that much more than the Violet in the first book.

Violet handles herself so well. She is brave and selfless and she really impressed me. She goes through so much more in this book than she did in the first, and she doesn’t let it break her. There were too many times in the first book that I just groaned and rolled my eyes and yelled, “woman up! Make the best of it and find a way out!” Not so in this one. She really comes into her own and I adored her so much more.

OVERALL: 4 STARS!! The ending was a punch in the gut, but I called it too early, so it wasn’t as much as a surprise as I wanted it to be. But it still hurt so bad. Anyway, I really loved the balances of power shifting in this book and I can’t wait for the next one. If you’re as excited as I am, click the link below to pre-order! This comes out on October 6, 2015 so go go!

Click to Pre-Order!

ARC Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

A Madness So DiscreetTitle: A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Series: Stand alone

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Genre: YA, Historical, Thriller

I was provided an egalley of this book for free from the publisher through Edelweiss. This in no way affects my opinion of the book.

I love Mindy McGinnis. I am thoroughly convinced she is my spirit animal. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that her words astound me constantly. This had me hooked from page one, seriously. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

1. Grace is such an interesting character. Being inside her head was a little nuts for me.

Grace is put into an insane asylum because she’s a high society girl who is also pregnant. She is put in the asylum until she gives birth – the excuse being that she is on a European tour. Even though Grace herself isn’t “insane,” she is around actual insane people daily. The orderlies and doctors – even though they know why she’s there and are getting paid handsomely to treat her well – treat her just like another patient. And, if you know anything about early insane asylums, you can imagine how horribly these people were treated.Grace is an ideal patient, except for the fact that she will not speak to anyone. However, her severe mistreatment catches up with her and she eventually lands in the dark, dank cellars where she meets Falsteed – a patient himself who helps her through her literal darkest time. Falsteed introduces her to Dr. Thornhollow and the dominoes fall from there. Grace’s mind is not broken. She has a LOT of family issues, yes, but she is almost painfully intelligent and clever. She’s able to remember insane amounts of details and can figure things out just from observation. I loved that fact that she wasn’t just some poor little rich girl. She fought for what she wanted, even if it wasn’t what you expected her to want.

2. This book took a really weird turn for me. Grace kind of reminded me of a young, female Sherlock Holmes with Thornhollow acting as her equal.

In this time period, it’s strange to see a man like Thornhollow recognize the cleverness and intelligence in a woman, let alone a woman in an insane asylum. I really liked this aspect of the book not only because it was unexpected, but because they both had a lot to teach each other. Thornhollow is a fantastic doctor, but he has problems recalling tiny details while Grace is able to listen extremely close and remember crazy details.

3. I adored the friendship in this book so much. It gave me the warm fuzzies.

When Grace gets to the second asylum with Thornhollow, she sees how life could be if the patients in Boston were treated humanely. The rooms are comfortable and spacious and the patients who don’t cause problems are basically able to roam free. This is how she meets Nell and Lizzie. These two are firecrackers and totally different. Nell is a syphylitic and probably a tid bit of a nympho (which, being the time it is, is the reason she’s in an asylum). Lizzie talks to something she calls String. String tells her anything and everything – this scared her father, so he stuck her in the asylum.Nell and Lizzie show Grace what it’s like to have true friends, not friends who are chosen for her in her high society life. They are full of life and want to know everything about Grace. They are a perfect trio and warm my heart.

4. THERE IS NO ROMANCE. NONE.

As a girl who generally avoids anything romantic in my reading, this made me really excited. There was definitely potential for romance between the attractive Thornhollow and Grace, but it never happened. Bless you, McGinnis! Anyway, the lack of romance left the story open for the actual story, which I LOVE. This book was so full of meticulous details and crazy awesome creepiness that there was absolutely no need for romance.

5. This book was beautifully written, true to Mindy McGinnis’s past two novels.

This woman astounds me. I met her at the Vegas Valley Book Festival and she is also a wonderful person as well as a brilliant artist. Her words are so gorgeously woven together – I am in awe of her, completely. The world building in this book was brilliant and I could see everything SO clearly in my head. McGinnis has astounded me from the first time I discovered her and I don’t know how her writing could improve at all, since I think it’s so perfect. Wow, I’m such a fangirl.

OVERALL: 5 STARS!!! I love how this book explored what is truly considered sane and what one person will do in order to escape two horrible lives that were forced upon them. The family dynamic is heartbreaking, the research that went into archaic lobotomies was both disgusting and insanely accurate, and the writing brought tears to my eyes at some points. This book not only has a gorgeous cover, but is written beautifully to match. Click the link below to preorder this – it comes out on October 6th, 2015!

Click to Preorder!

ARC Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

DumplinTitle: Dumplin’

Author: Julie Murphy

Series: None. Standalone

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release Date: September 15, 2015

Source: Egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects the honesty of this review.

Before I start, I feel like I need to warn you. I loved this book so much and I see a lot of shouty caps and exclamation points in your future if you choose to continue reading. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Unless you like shouty caps and awesome books and my excitement about them. In that case, enjoy! Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . .  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

1. This entire book is centered around body positivity, even when Willowdean is not feeling positive about her body.

Willowdean Dickson calls herself a token fat girl. She is our narrator and she discusses things like how the word “fat” offends people, but as she explains, that’s what she is. She has this incredible outlook on life and she knows she is fabulous. She never lets her weight drag down her positive attitude, that is, until she meets Bo. After she and Bo have their little fling, Will lets her body take over her mind. She feels disgusting in her own skin, which she shouldn’t because she’s amazing, and lets this control her life. Then, when going through her deceased Aunt Lucy’s things, she sees the application for the town pageant – which is a BIG deal. She decides to enter, because it’s not something anyone could expect. From there, so much happens that I won’t tell you. However, I adored Will through this whole book. She went through such an incredible metamorphosis and I just want to be best friends with her. She sounded like me, talking to me through a book.

2. The Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant is almost like a character in this book.

Will’s mom runs the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant and she has for as long as Will can remember. But unlike most pageant moms, Will’s mother has never asked her to join or even considered that she’d have an interest. Her mother always likes to bring up that she used to be a bigger girl, then shed the weight her freshman year of high school (unlike her sister, Lucy, who died of a heart attack at over 500 pounds). Will’s mother is sneaky with her tactics and fad with her diets for Will. When Will decides to join the pageant, her mother is most definitely not enthused. The pageant normally takes over her mother’s life, but when Will joins, there is extra tension. Her mother seems to believe that Will aims to embarrass her and that she doesn’t take the pageant seriously. Just like football is a big deal in the south, so this pageant is to their small Texas town. The pageant takes over Will’s life, even when she doesn’t mean it to. At first, she is gung ho about showing how anyone can be anything with enough courage and confidence, which leads to Amanda, Hannah, and Millie (girls that are relentlessly bullied for their looks) to join Will’s ranks as pageant outcasts. This creates a whole new dynamic that helps Will (also inviting the pageant to permeate her life) which I’ll explain shortly! All in all, the book says it best. About the pageant, Will says, “But I don’t want it to be brave. I want it to be normal.” (79% in the ARC). This is what this book boils down to. Yes, Willowdean, YAAASSSS!!!

3. Ellen and Will have the cutest best friendship.

El and Will’s friendship was built on a mutual love for Dolly Parton when they were kids. El’s mother is a Dolly impersonator. They have been inseparable since childhood. Then, when Will enters the pageant, El does too, and that is too much for jealous Will. Before entering the pageant, Will talks a lot about how she thinks she and El are growing apart and she is extremely upset about it. When the pageant happens, that is the last straw. Through most of the book, we see El and Will blatantly ignoring each other and it really broke my heart. However, enter the school misfits: Amanda, Hannah, and Millie. They become extremely close with Will through their involvement in the pageant and they’re some of my favorite characters. This book is heavy on the friendship aspect, too, which I adored. At one point, Mitch (who I’ll talk about shortly) says to Will, “‘Listen,’ he says. ‘I obviously don’t know the whole story here, but good friendships are durable. They’re meant to survive the gaps and the growing pains.'” (55% in the ARC). This is golden and so, so true. Slow, thunderous clap for you, Julie Murphy.

4. There is kind of a love triangle here. As a notorious hater of love triangles, though, I actually didn’t mind this one.

Will has this thing with Bo over the summer, but then she feels like a secret so she leaves. Then, come to find out, that Private School Bo is now her classmate, which makes things MORE awkward. Especially when she starts pseudo-dating Mitch. Don’t get me wrong, Mitch is a really nice guy, but from day one Will never experiences the spark she feels with Bo, which leads her to leading Mitch on for an extremely long time in the book. Bo comes back into the picture because he’s amazing and then she’s really torn. However, when this triangle falls apart, there is no huge drama played out in the hallways. There is no tire slashing. There is no extreme emotion. There is just…life going on, which I think was the reason I was okay with this. I love Julie Murphy for giving Will a love triangle. Even when she’s extremely down on herself for her body, she still has two dudes vying for her attention! That is so awesome!

5. The biggest reason I adored this book was its focus on loving yourself, regardless of how you look.

Julie Murphy really wrote an incredible book on how to love yourself and its name is Dumplin’. For example, here is Will explaining her criteria for a perfect bikini body: “Do you have a body? Put a swimsuit on it.” (96% in the ARC). Will exudes confidence and you don’t normally see that from a protagonist who is flawed. Actually, you don’t see much of a protagonist’s flaws. I loved Will because she didn’t try to hide her imperfections, even if the only one she complained about was her body. She was proud to be in the skin she was in. Even with her mother harping on her to shed a few pounds before the pageant, she doesn’t, because she knows she is beautiful the way she is. “I’m Dumplin’. And Will and Willowdean. I’m fat. I’m happy. I’m insecure. I’m bold.” (98% in the ARC). I can’t tell you how many times I screamed YAAAAS WILL, YAAAASSSSS!!!!! while reading this book. I lost count. Bottom line: I loved this book for its message.

OVERALL 5 STARS!!! I really, really loved this book. I’m usually not into contemporary, but I adored this so much. This is a great book to pick up if you’re ever feeling down on yourself because it’ll give you the boost you need to pick yourself back up and keep on going. Because, as Will says, “I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of tiny imperfections, because some days the damn dress just won’t zip.” (99% in the ARC). Trust me when I say you need this book in your life. This comes out on September 15, 2015 so click the link below to go forth and preorder!

Click to Pre-Order!

#TLCreadalong Bonus Post: Favorite Sci-Fi Novels!

Hey, guys! I love that the #TLCreadalong hosted by Brittany over at The Book Addict’s Guide is giving us these crazy topics to write on along with doing recap posts! So I’m pretty new to sci-fi – I never really thought I’d like sci-fi and I’m EXTREMELY picky when it comes to my sci-fi novels. This list will most likely be short, but full of some POWERHOUSE recommendations. *pats self on back* here we go!

  1. RPOReady Player One by Ernest Cline

THIS BOOK BLEW ME AWAY. If you like video games, alternate realities, and late 80s-early 90s pop culture, this book will take you places. I definitely agree with the people saying that it’s got some The Matrix elements and I LOVED. THIS. I originally listened to this on audiobook, and Wil Wheaton narrates. No WAY can you go wrong with that. This book is all of your nerd dreams come true. I am forever a fan of Ernest Cline, which brings us to…

2. Armada by Ernest Cline Armada

This is his second book and is JUST as awesome as RPO. This one is a tad reminiscent of another book on this list (Ender’s Game) while being its own amazing story. Video game players are unknowingly training for an imminent alien invasion. When they finally arrive, the top pilots in the game are recruited to become the military’s best pilots. So many things happen in this book and it blew me away AGAIN. Way to go, Ernest Cline, you’ve gotten me back into sci-fi.

3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott CardEnder

While I hate Orson Scott Card for being a bigot, mysoginist, homophobe, I LOVED this book! This book is basically about a genius kid, taken from his home at the age of 6 to become an elite military fighter for an impending alien invasion. A lot of the book focuses on Ender Wiggin and the absolutely horrible things he goes through in order to achieve his goal. If you’ve seen the movie, YOU DON’T KNOW THE HALF OF IT. One of the biggest gripes I had about the movie was that they did not even come close to scratching the surface of all of the things Ender goes through while he’s away from his family. It is horribly heartbreaking. I haven’t continued the series (I refuse to buy an Orson Scott Card book, and the library NEVER has it) but eventually, I will!

4. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie KaufmanIlluminae

OH. MY. GOD. This book was absolutely insane. Told in emails, instant messages, ship transcripts, and recorded video and conversations, Illuminae takes you through the story of Katy and Ezra. The day Katy breaks up with Ezra, their planet is attacked. They are saved by a giant warship called The Alexander. Their love starts to grow again as they’re put on separate ships, but then Phobos Beta breaks out – a horrible disease in which the infected rip apart their victims. Then, there’s AIDAN, the AI in charge of keeping The Alexander afloat. All I can tell you is that this book is INSANE. Even though it was 600 pages, I breezed through it in a day. All I can say is: DON’T LOOK AT ME.

5. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia GrayA Thousand Pieces of You

There isn’t much I can tell you here, other than that our main girl is Margeurite and her parents are BRILLIANT physicists. They have created a device named the Firebird (hence the name of the series being Firebird). This device allows the wearer to jump to an alternate dimension. However, in order to jump to that dimension, a version of YOURSELF must exist there. If an alternate version doesn’t exist, you don’t get to go. Margeurite is on a mission to find Paul, who she deems responsible for her father’s murder. Huh, I guess I did tell you a lot. Anyway, this book is amazing and Claudia Gray is a bad ass. And COME ON, that cover is GORGEOUS.

6. Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, is all of The Lunar Chronicles. These books were definitely my introduction back into sci-fi. Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella, cyborg and future style. I can’t really tell you a lot about this book, as I know you’re going to read it anyway. Just know, Meyer is amazing at creating this world and Cinder is one of my all time favorite female protagonists because she’s a BAD ASS CYBORG.

So, how’d I do? Let me know your favorite sci-fi novels in the comments below. I’m always open to new sci-fi recs! I’m super picky, but I’ll try anything once! And, come join us for the #TLCreadalong. Just click the link at the top of this post to sign up!

Blog Tour: The Uninvited by Cat Winters! PLUS, A GIVEAWAY!!

Guys, I adored this book so much! Never did I think I would enjoy an adult book this much! If you want to see my full review of this book, click here.

The Uninvited

Praise for The Uninvited:

“Dark and romantic…[The protagonist’s] compelling voice carries this gothic coming-of-age story, at once horrifying and tender, toward a revelatory yet hopeful conclusion.”

— Publishers Weekly

“A wonderfully atmospheric and intriguing novel. Cat Winters portrays a fascinating period in American history with clever writing and a delicious plot twist. A novel that is sure to keep readers hooked to the end.”

— Hazel GaynorNew York Times bestselling author

“Evocative and lushly written, THE UNINVITED also features a twist I never saw coming.”

— April HenryNew York Times bestselling author

Don’t forget to check out USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog post about The Uninvited! There is a bonus excerpt included!

Cat Winters ap1Connect with the Author:
Ya’ll Cat Winters is amazing and loves connecting with her fans. Which, honestly, is one of my favorite parts about Twitter and the bookish community. Go stalk her! I promise, she’s the best!
Don’t forget to pick up your copy from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1T1ciAN
And finally, as promised, A GIVEAWAY! Two winners will get a print copy of The Uninvited for their very own to cuddle and read and go on frolicks with. Follow this link to enter!