Book Review: One Wish Away by Kelley Lynn

One Wish AwayI have many things to say about this, so first, here is the synopsis from Amazon. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am not good at synopses. So, here it is:

Be careful what you wish for…

Lyra has always been ahead of the curve. Top of her class in school, a budding astronomer, and with a best friend like Darren she barely has time to miss the mother who abandoned her family years ago. She’s too busy planning to follow in her father’s footsteps, and to become the youngest astronomer at Space Exploration and Discovery.

When a star goes missing Lyra is determined to get to the bottom of it only to discover her braniac dad is the mastermind of a top-secret government experiment. They promise to build a perfect world, one galaxy at a time, but with every tweak of the present, a bit more of the future starts to crumble.

Lyra has to go undercover to reveal the truth and let humanity decide if the consequences are worth more than wishing on a star.

1. Lyra Altair is my spirit animal.

It is so refreshing to see such a flawed main character. I don’t even think I would go so far as to call her a heroine, but I think she achieves that title by the end of the book. Since it is my goal to NEVER spoil a book for you lovely followers, I won’t tell you why. But Lyra is a nerd. She is a hardcore nerd and she offends people accidentally because of her knowledge. I am the same exact way. She is me, transmitted into a book. At first, I thought I was going to hate her along with her high school peers, but she is so endearing and smart. But, on the other hand she’s also impulsive and courageous. I loved all of these things about her.

2. The family dynamic in this book is weird. Not only Lyra’s but her best friend, Darren’s.

So, Lyra’s dad is a genius. His head is always in the sky, because he is the main researcher at an astronomy facility and the creator of the Cricket Project. I’m not saying the weird is bad, but it is different. Lyra’s dad is never around and her mom disappears when she is very young. Darren, on the other hand, is very poor. It’s different to see two people from such different backgrounds having such a good friendship. Honestly, I don’t really like Darren. He seems a little controlling to me. But his family is just like every other family I know. The parents work too many jobs and have too many kids, and a lot of times, they go without food. The parents in the book are not really around at home, so when they show up, it’s kind of a surprise, since they choose strange times to actually care. I like how the book navigates these things and makes them realistic, instead of just glossing over the hard stuff that comes with broken homes and broke homes.

3. The Cricket Project is so awesome, I can’t even explain to you!

So, the whole book is about the Cricket Project. This is Lyra’s father’s baby. He created it, and he – along with his sister – are the only people who can work it. Haven’t you ever wondered what would happen if you wished on a star and that wish was actually granted? This whole book is about that possibility. But, it’s not about magic. When I first read this synopsis, I thought it would have a lot to do with paranormal magic, but it’s not. It has everything to do with science and astronomy. Lyra is an aspiring scientist; she wants to be like her father. Since I’m not huge into science, it was interesting to see how the science can be used to grant wishes. It’s really, really interesting and one of my favorite parts about this concept.

4. The high school dynamic is there, but it is not overstated, and again: it is so real. Nothing is glossed over.

So, the book opens with Lyra and her team winning an Academic Decathalon. She gives an interview to the news and this is the first hint at how absolutely socially awkward she is. (Again, I say she is my spirit animal). Anyway, she isn’t necessarily bullied, but she is kind of revered as some kind of “weird kid” because she’s so smart. There are not a lot of scenes in the book where she is at school, but when she is, she’s not really the butt of that many jokes and she isn’t abused as much. It’s more of like kids rolling their eyes when she raises her hand to answer a question. I get that so much, even in my college classes. Anyway, I like how this book wasn’t about some frumpy girl who gets bullied and then finds her way. I know it’s a reality in our world, but it was nice to see that even though kids were irritated with her, Lyra never let that affect the way she saw herself or her world. I like that she remains smart through the whole book. (Yes, she makes some dumb decisions, but don’t we all)?

5. I hate the ending of this book so much. It’s unclear whether there will be a second.

Let me explain my above statement. I hated the end of this book because there is an opening for a second book, but we’re NEVER TOLD if that’s coming! *sob* I will read that book in a second! There is a crazy mystery throughout the entire book, and we get KIND OF an answer on the last page, but we never know what happens. Obviously, something huge happens, with the chance for huge consequences, but we never find out what happens during the aftermath. WHAT HAPPENS?! TELL MEEEEEE!!!

OVERALL: 4 stars! I really liked this book. It was such an interesting concept and I liked the way the story was told. I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and I couldn’t be happier with this! This comes out on November 24, 2014 so click the link below to pre-order! And enjoy it, because we will never be able to wish upon a star and honestly know our wish came true.

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Book Review: SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch

Snow Like AshesI can’t even wait to tell you all how much I loved this book, so here’s the synopsis really quick, from Amazon:

Game of Thrones meets Graceling in this striking fantasy tale of dark magic, dangerous politics, and discovering your true self.  Sara Raasch’s debut fantasy is a lightning-fast story of loyalty, love, and controlling one’s destiny.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Alright, here we go. This will be full of fangirling and gushing and just…good things.

1. The main character.

I have only recently gotten into fantasy. A lot of the fantasy I attempt to read annoys me, because I hate how indecisive and whiny female main characters in a fantasy can be. Not with Meira. Meira gets whiny sometimes, but she always makes up for it by doing something totally awesome and selfless that I can TOTALLY forgive her. She spends a lot of her time thinking about how selfish she is throughout her life, but honestly, she is the most selfless heroine/main character I have ever encountered – and not even for a “fantasy” novel.

2. It was LONG.

For those of you who want to get through as many books as possible, you should probably skip this book. It is long (I finished it in two days though, that should tell you something). I saw someone on Goodreads warn that it was long, and that it could do without about 50 pages, but I would like to politely disagree. Every part of this book was necessary and relevant and engrossing, and it really is a treat. I probably could have read 100 more pages, but I understand the need for brevity and clarity. The only reason I am upset about the book at all is that I started the series now. I now have to wait forever to finish it.

3. There’s a love triangle. If you have ever read any of my blog posts, you know how I feel about love triangles.

Let me explain, though. This love triangle is not like any love triangle you or I have seen. Both dudes are equally matched, and you are as unsure about Meira about how to feel. But, this love triangle moves slowly, through the entire novel. There is no way you could forget about it, but there is also no way you will be annoyed by it. By the end, of course, since there will be AT LEAST two more books, there is no solution. But at the end, you STILL don’t know! There is no clear choice! I love this love triangle, and I never thought I would type those words…ever.

4. The world that was built is kind of confusing at first, but really awesome once you get the hang of it.

So, this world is split into Season kingdoms and Rhythm kingdoms, mostly. I don’t remember the Rhythm kingdoms, although I should, because they’re intensely important. However, you have four Season kingdoms (just like the four real seasons, get it?). Anyway, four Seasons. Each season is stuck in their perpetual season. Winter is in winter, Autumn in autumn, etc. And the people show the season from whence they came. THIS WAS SO COOL. I hate when synopses say “for fans of [insert popular series here]” but I really did see the Graceling and Game of Thrones influences here.

5. The magic rules are so, so different.

Okay, there is magic in this world, and there are always rules when it comes to magic. It is so different to see this. So, the leaders of each nation have a conduit which holds their magic. It can be either female or male wielded, depending on the blood line. There’s a catch, though. They can’t use their magic to like, have their royal letter opener float across the room. No, no. Each kingdom uses their magic for their own means, but in a different way. For example, during war, the leader can pour their power into their military to give them stamina and strength. They can also heal. It’s really cool. Just read it.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!! At first, I was very nervous about this book because, as I said, I am new to fantasy and I have been burned by fantasy before. BUT, I ended up eating this up in two days between grading essays and teaching lessons and being a busy bee in general. You need this book in your life, especially if you need a good fantasy to keep you enthralled for awhile. Take your time and savor it. I wish I had done that, because now it’s over and I am sad.

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Book Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

Half BadHello, everyone! I know it has been a long time since I have done a book review. However, I am student teaching right now, so please forgive me; I am a busy, busy lady. However, now that my three week takeover is over, I have MUCH more time to read. Since it’s October, I’ve been reading very witchy books. I’ve had a few decent ones, but this book was the book that brought me out of my blogging slump so I could tell you all how much I love this book and how much I hate myself for starting this series too soon. We have to wait until March for the next one…MARCH!! WHY?!!!! Anyway, on with the review!

1. The world. The world. The world.

I have a hard time believing in alternate universes a lot of the time. Either they’re too outlandish, or they’re not built very well. If you’re going to build an alternate universe of modern day, you need to make sure the things you populate your world with are believable within the realm of that world. Half Bad did this beautifully. We’re used to witches and wizards attempting to emulate the almighty Harry, but this world does not. At all. It blends elements from our reality (cell phones, computers, guns etc.) with those of the witchy world (potions, powers, alternate ways of transportation, etc.). It’s perfect and beautiful and believable and I lost myself in it.

2. The characters were multi-dimensional.

In a lot of books I’ve read lately have clear cut characters: they are bad, or they are good. This book flips that on its head. Every character is good and bad. Every character makes you think a certain way about them, then something happens where you think that there may be some good in them, then it switches AGAIN. Reading this book and getting to know its characters is just like real life, where you never really know if a person is altogether good or bad. It is interesting to see that in a book.

3. THE MAIN CHARACTER IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL.

This whole book is about Black Witches and White Witches. Nathan is our main man, and he is half Black, half White, or a Half Code. This book is about what happens when you are born into a certain type of stereotype. Nathan is judged from the second he is born because of who his father is. He is beaten, bullied, and tortured, even by members of his own family. It is truly heartbreaking. My students just learned about literary anti-heroes, and Nathan is the perfect example. He’s Black, but he’s also White, but he also doesn’t know who he really is. I loved him. He is an incredible character and I am astounded by how much I just loved him.

4. The villains. They’re not the villains, but they are the villains. It’s all really confusing.

The villains are the White witches. Yes, you heard me, and I did not give you any spoilers. The White witches, who are supposed to be good and kind and just, are horrible people – for the most part. There are few who redeem themselves on behalf of their “race,” but the same goes for the Black witches. Basically all I’m telling you is that you don’t know who to trust in this book – ever – and it makes for a really fun time. This book is long, and I blew through it in two days.

OVERALL RATING: FIVE STARS!!! I would give it like 11 stars on a scale of one to five, but I’m not trying to be excessive. Who am I kidding? ELEVEN STARS!!! I have said it before and I’ll say it again, this surprised me. I am really, really happy I spent the time on this, because it was worth it. So, when you get it, clear your weekend and finish it. You’ll be happy until you reach the end and yell obscenities because you have to WAIT UNTIL MARCH FOR THE NEXT BOOK TO RELEASE. MARCH.

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