Reviews, YA Fantasy

Book Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Unhooked

GoodReads Summary:

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

My Review:

Listen to Lost Boy by Ruth B while you read this. I couldn’t get it out of my head while I read Unhooked.

Recently I have been in a pirate mood. I finished The Girl From Everywhere and Blackhearts. Let me tell you, when searching for good YA pirate books, there aren’t many out there… unless you want Fabio on the cover and then that is NOT a YA book. So in my searchings, I came across Unhooked. I am not usually one for Peter Pan and Neverland stories, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

I finished Unhooked in 24 hours.

Lisa Maxwell really draws you into the story through her narrative. And what’s great, there is more than one narrative being told.

Unhooked is not your traditional Peter Pan/ Captain Hook story. It literally unhooks the classic stories you’ve heard before and spins them on their head. Maxwell shows that not all “heroes” are good and that not all “villains” are bad. It is a deeper look at the decisions a person makes and how those decisions change the course of a person’s life. The simple act of turning off a light, or signing a paper.

“Since being brought to this world, I’ve come to understand that everything I’ve ever learned about good and evil, about choices we make and the choices we must live with, have been nothing more than convenient fictions invented by those who have never been confronted by the darkness and actually forced to choose.”

At the beginning, the relationships between Gwen, the Captain, and Pan are very convoluted. You don’t know who is telling the truth and who is lying. And as the story unfolds, truths become complicated, lies destroy. The tension between Gwen and the Captain is swoon worthy. I couldn’t get enough of him.

This is what I pictured every time.

When I started reading, about 100 pages in, I tweeted that I was sure my heart was going to break before the story ended, and I was right. There is a twist I didn’t see coming and it changes everything.

If you like retellings that go more in depth with the character development, that give characters their own backgrounds and their own internal struggles, definitely read Unhooked. If you like pirate stories, with heroes, villains, magic, and romance, also read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Reviews, YA Fantasy

Book Review: Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Written by Liz Brooks 

GOODREADS SUMMARY:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

Review:

Six of Crows is the latest installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse. The first installment was her Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising (all very good books).

“You don’t have to read the Grisha Trilogy to read Six of Crows. It was built for people new to the Grisha world. Yes, there are trilogy spoilers but there are also misdirects. (And if you’ve read the trilogy, lots of little Easter eggs.)”- Leigh Bardugo

Bardugo’s world building ability is probably one of my favorite things about this book (as well as the others). It’s full of thick descriptions of the different settings as well as each of the six main characters. Even the secondary characterizations are detailed. This is a pet peeve of mine. If authors are going to create a brand new world, I need details.

Six of Crows isn’t your typical single point of view narrative. The heist is told from six different POVs (Nina, Kaz, Inej, Wylan, Jesper, Matthias), which makes this book more intriguing. Bardugo shows us one situation in six different ways; each person showing the reader what they are feeling and thinking.

The characters themselves are very flawed and each goes through a transformation over the course of the book. There is also great POC and LGBTQ representation. You will learn their backgrounds. Why they came be apart of the heist group. Their relationship to one another. And what’s truly at stake. I will say that my favorite characters are Nina and Matthias. Their stories really stuck out for me. But that doesn’t mean that Kaz, Inej, Wylan, and Jesper aren’t fascinating themselves. Keep in mind those characters are not heroes.

My favorite place is the Ice Palace (when can I visit?). It’s so convoluted. It took a while to truly understand the intricacies that Bardugo was describing. And it’s not just the physical palace that is a labyrinthine but the inner-workings of the people of Fjerda (who we don’t get to know in the Grisha Trilogy).

If you like adventure, fantasy, and romance give this book a read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Also keep an eye out for the follow-up post to this. I will be attending the Magic and Mayhem Tour for Leigh Bardugo/Six of Crows on November 17.

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Reviews, YA Paranormal

Book Review: Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

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Goodreads Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

What I liked:

First of all, I loved that this book had alternating POV’s. It gave the book a well-rounded feel as we saw the story through the lens of the two main characters. The changing POV’s had a nice rhythm to them, never feeling choppy or as if something was out of place.

Second, I loved both of the main characters. We were able to get to know each of them very well, and each had a distinct voice. When I was reading Vane’s point of view, I felt like I was reading a real guy’s point of view. I applaud Shannon for this accomplishment.

Third, I loved the plot and story. It is not like anything I’ve read in the YA Fantasy/Adventure genre. I also loved that a love triangle did not exist. The love aspect of the story is closer to real life than all those darn love triangles that have become a signature of most YA books.

What I disliked: 

The beginning was a little slow. I felt like the ‘spark’ that was presented in the first part of the book wasn’t that much of a spark. It felt too hyped. I wish I could have seen a little more interaction with them (Vane and Audra) in the “real” world and not in their own little bubble.

Overall:

I really loved this book and I want more. The cliffhanger at the end was not as bad as most cliffhangers in a lot of books nowadays, but it still gave me that sense of anticipation and want for the next book. The plot and the twists that were in this book were done really well. I could keep writing about how awesome I think this book is, but I want to keep this short. Bottom line, Let The Sky Fall has become one of my favorite books of 2013.

Rating: 5/5

Rating System:

1/5: I hate it.

2/5: It had some redeeming qualities but overall, not a good book.

3/5: I like it /A fun read.

4/5: I really like it, but something is missing.

5/5: I love it! It’s as close to perfection as it can get!

Special Review, YA Paranormal

Special Review: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

A-Corner-of-White

I was provided with a copy of this book by NetGalley & Scholastic. Thank you very much for approving my request.

Goodreads Summary:

The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot’s dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds — through an accidental gap that hasn’t appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called “color storms;” a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the “Butterfly Child,” whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses.

Review:

I am going to start off with a food analogy to explain how this book was for me. It was like a big juicy delicious looking steak without the seasoning. It was missing something. I liked the idea of the book. I loved how Moriarty build the world in the book but I wasn’t swept away by the story. This had so much potential for being great. I really wish I wasn’t giving it a bad review. This book did not move me and the characters, especially Belle and Jack didn’t move me. Kala didn’t add much to the story either. The only character I liked was Elliot. I felt nothing special for Madeline.

Overall, this book could have been better. Part of the reason why this book did not move me was the writing. It was strange and it took me a while to get used to it.

Sidenote: I love the cover art for this book. It’s so beautiful. 

Rating: 2.5/5

Rating System:

1/5: I hated it.

2/5: It had some redeeming qualities but overall, not a good book.

3/5: I liked it (A fun read).

4/5: I really like it, but something was missing.

5/5: I love it! It’s as close to perfection as it can get!