Historical Fiction, Reviews, YA Historical

ARC Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken

GoodReads Summary:

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

My Review:

And I Darken was quite an interesting book for me. It is a retelling of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, or better know as, Vlad The Impaler. This story takes place in the mid 15th century when the Ottoman’s were trying to take Constantinople. It focuses on Lada (female version of Vlad), her brother Radu, and Mehmed- heir to the Ottoman Empire . It is a dual narrative, switching between Lada and Radu.

Lada Dragwlya is one of the strongest female characters I think I have ever read. She doesn’t take crap from anyone. She isn’t afraid to stand up for her beliefs and even tell the most power man in the world no. Her mind is a thing of it’s own. She is always calculating, planning, evaluating every situation, trying to figure the best way to get her agenda accomplished. She does everything in her power to show that she is equal to any man.

Radu Dragwlya is the opposite of his sister. Where she is night and terror, Radu is sun and calm. While he doesn’t start out as smart as Lada- by smart I mean calculating and conniving- through the teaching is Islam, his mentor, and watching the Ottoman Court, Radu learns to use his beauty and friendliness to develop relationships with the “right” people. Top use those relationships in the same way Lada uses strength and will.

I loved that And I Darken was more a setup for what is to come. In order to understand the end game the characters must be developed and complex.  White does an exemplary job with Lada, Radu, and Mehmed’s growth. They start out as children, barely understanding the world in which they live. But over the ten to fifteen year period the novel takes place, each character grows into their traits. And by the end, they each know their purpose in life and do what is necessary to fulfill it.

I also want to applaud White on her research and detail to Islamic religion. It is quite clear she went above and beyond to understand the religion and portray it in the most realistic way possible. Our society judges Islam as a terrorist religion when, in fact, that is an extreme view of it. White showed the other side, the peaceful side, the true side.

Knowing nothing about Vlad the Impaler, the Ottoman Empire, and Islam I truly enjoyed this book and what Keirsten White had to offer us. Definitely give this novel a try.

Rating: 4 out of  5

I’d like to thank Random House Children’s and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my review.

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Reviews

Book Review: The Crown by Kiera Cass

The Crown (The Selection #5)

GoodReads Summary:

In The Heir, a new era dawned in the world of The Selection. Twenty years have passed since America Singer and Prince Maxon fell in love, and their daughter is the first princess to hold a Selection of her own.

Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and now Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult—and more important—than she ever expected.

My Review:

I have to say that I really The Selection Series and was excited to have an extension of that series with new characters. The Heir was pleasing and engaging; The Crown was nothing less than clever.

The Crown picks up right where The Heir left off. Eadlyn has narrowed the Selection down to the Elite- six guys remaining including country favorites Hale and Kile. As the novel moves, you watch Eadlyn go on dates with the guys all while handling being Queen Regent due to her mother’s heart attack and her father’s need to be at America’s side.

I was rooting the entire time for one particular male in the Selection, but as I finished the  book it became clear that someone else has Eadlyn’s heart… it was painfully obvious. But I will say the choice she made is one of the heart; I will never say that her decision was wrong.

The overall story felt rushed and was lacking in detail. It felt like Marid Illea was a side plot randomly thrown in. I wish there was more between Eadlyn and the guy she picked to be her husband, because while I did see it coming, it felt rushed as well. The epilogue left me wanting more. It too felt rushed and was much too short for my liking. I wanted a glimpse at Eadlyn’s wedding day or something of her and her husband.

While I do have issues, I still really enjoyed the story, so much so I finished the book in a few hours. That is why I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars. Because, honestly, I would read it again…

Rating: 4 out of 5

Contemporary Conversations, NA Contemporary, NA Romance, Reviews

ContempConvos: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

My Review:

Hopless is a roller coaster of emotion. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this book. All of Colleen Hoover’s novels deal with some kind of serious issue throughout the story, and Hopeless was no exception.

I do have to say that this book and the theme’s represented hit very close to home for. I don’t want to say too much about what happens because that basically gives away the entire plot of the book.

I can say that Holder is a very caring and concerned person. He truly only wants what is best for Sky and that basically means telling her the truth, which has been locked away for a long time, and exploding her world apart. Sky is very much a simple girl who wants to go to school, love her mother, and live her file. Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible. When events take place they put a lot of pressure on Sky. But, with Holder by her side, even though he turned her world inside out,  she is able to face a past that was  suppressed. She came out on the other side stronger and more understanding of why her mother home schooled her and kept her in the dark.

Definitely know that if you have triggers for certain themes, this book may not be for you. But if you can handle serious life situations and learn from them, then read Hopeless.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Reviews, ya contemporary

ARC Review: 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

Goodreads Summary:

Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl?

In her brilliant, hilarious, and at times shocking debut, Mona Awad simultaneously skewers the body image-obsessed culture that tells women they have no value outside their physical appearance, and delivers a tender and moving depiction of a lovably difficult young woman whose life is hijacked by her struggle to conform. As caustically funny as it is heartbreaking, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl introduces a vital new voice in fiction.

Review:

I really enjoyed reading 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl because I empathized with Lizzie. Struggling with weight in a society that won’t accept you if you aren’t skinny is difficult. It affects you mentally and physically. The book is an eye opener- you need to be comfortable in whatever body type you have. And if you are heavier and lose weight, your thought mentality won’t change just because you lost that weight; you’ll always be worried about getting fat again… like Lizzie does. Reading through this I definitely understood the thoughts Lizzie has- trying on clothes is the worst experience, nothing fits right, she has a difficult time looking at and talking about her body, and she has a lot of insecurities with guys because of her weight.

The ending wasn’t my favorite, but it makes sense. As a women, I believe we need to accept our bodies and while Lizzie may not ever accept her body, she understands that this is only body she has, therefore she needs to take care of it.

Mona Awad takes a deep look at the character’s flaws and insecurities, and should be a must read for all women whether you are skinny, fat, short, tall, etc. It is reflective of our current society and something we need to change.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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This book will be released on February 26, 2016. And is available at Amazon and B&N.

Disclaimer: Thank you First to Read and Penguin Random House for providing the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not influence my opinion.

Reviews, YA Fantasy, ya romance

Book Review: Winter & The Lunar Chronicles By Marissa Meyer

Goodreads summary:

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

review:

Since this is a review of the last book in The Lunar Chronicles series. Short reviews for the first three books are first, followed by the review for Winter.

Cinder:

I liked the introduction to the main character Cinder. She does get on my nerves, but her family was so much worse. I love that she is a cyborg. Iko is so feisty. Oh Kai, what a dream boat! I love that she and Kai have a connection right away. Dr. Erland is mysterious. And I kept thinking Konn Torin worked for Queen Lavana.

3 OUT OF 5

SCARLET:

This is my favorite book of the series. I connected to Scarlet on a psychological level. She just wants to find her grand-mere and run her farm. And Wolf- ugh love him. Their chemistry is everything a relationship should be. We get a lot of Scarlet’s point of view, which is a nice break from Cinder. Captain Carswell Thorne- YUMMY! He can be my captain any day. Lots of character growth from all the characters- it was needed immensely. Except Cinder made alllllll the wrong decisions.

5 OUT OF 5

Cress:

I did enjoy Cress but not as much as I enjoyed Scarlet. I figured out who Cress was at the beginning and where she fit in with the group. She annoyed me a lot because all of her experiences were so “oh it’s so beautiful” or she was scared the whole time. I feel that some of the descriptions could’ve been taken out. I skipped some pages of Cress’ because it was too much. We got a lot of reading time with other characters which I loved! Also, how all the characters end up together is just too convenient. Cinder wasn’t as annoying as she was in Scarlet but her decisions, which have annoyed me from the beginning, don’t get any better.

4 OUT OF 5

WINTER:

It. Was. Too. Long. My ebook was 1,169 pages. Hard copy is about 800 pages. And the length wouldn’t bother me so much if there weren’t many scenes that felt unnecessary. I don’t need to be told that Winter is crazy. Over. And over. And over again. Yeah, I get that Levana wants to kill Cinder. How many times do we have to watch her try and fail? The constant dividing and bring back together of Scarlet, Kai, Iko, Wolf, Cinder, Cress, Thorne, Winter, and Jacin was just too much. Also the final scene between Cinder and Levana- it took too long. I was so excited to start this book but by the end I was just like “is this over yet?”. I will concede that there were moments where my heart hurt and I was worried about the love the author created- whether these couples would end up together or if someone would die.

It didn’t end how I pictured it. My ideal ending would have been Scarlet abdicating the throne, Winter getting an implant to help with her Lunar Gift and becoming Queen- the people loved her so much. Cinder would then have gone back to the Commonwealth and married Kai and become Empress. It. Just. Makes. Sense.

I liked Winter but it could have been better. Bright side- everyone get some kind of happy ending.

2.5 OUT OF 5

OVERALL:

It was a different take on Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. I love the futuristic and sci-fi elements. I want to be a cyborg now. I want hover-pods. I want to live on the moon. I want to find an alpha mate like Wolf. Scarlet was my favorite character. She didn’t make stupid decisions like Cinder. She wasn’t afraid all the time like Cress. And she wasn’t crazy like Winter. She was independent and a great leader. She thought about her actions before taking action.

3.5 OUT OF 5

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Adult Contemporary, Reviews

Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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Goodreads Summary:

“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ” 

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

My Initial Thoughts:

The only RR book I had read so far is Fangirl and I wanted to check out RR’s adult fiction work. I was expecting her writing to be similar to Fangirl, but still be different if that makes sense. I honestly did not know exactly what to expect.

Review:

Really, I can only fangirl in this review. I stayed up until 12:30am last night just to finish this book. The last time I remember looking at the clock was around 10:20ish. I said to myself I’ve got time to read a little more… and a little more turned into finishing the book. You all know how that works.

Back in late October/November I read about 30 pages in a span of a week and it depressed me a little so I stopped. It was nothing like Fangirl and I knew the next time I picked this book up I had to be in an adult fiction mood. And that mood hit me last night.

Here are some of the reasons why I loved Attachments so much.

#1 The friendship between Jennifer and Beth.

The bond between these two is perfect. The way the talk, their jokes, how considerate they are of each other, and how real they are. It’s just one of the best friendships I’ve seen on paper.

#2 The D&D Crew

I just really love this bunch of married nerds that play video games once a week you can say almost religiously. They always accept Lincoln into their gaming family. Seriously, they are this big eccentric and weirdly awesome family.

#3 Lincoln

Oh, Lincoln. What have you done to my heart. I’ll love you for who you are. I promise.

#4 Lincoln’s mom

Even though she is a bit quirky and odd, she is still one of the best moms I’ve seen in literature these days. So caring and nice. (although she is a bit too attached to her children.)

#5 Doris

This woman cracks me up! With her stories about her marriages and life, she was exactly what Lincoln needed to stay at The Courier long enough to… figure things out. Yes, let’s put it that way. I don’t want to spoil you all!

#6 The ending!!!

Oh Dear Lord, that ending was just… perfect. The ending of this book left me on Cloud 9. I felt weightless, happy, and content. Just picture this: you know that warm feeling you get when you eat a really good meal and it just sits right? And you feel full, happy, and content? That’s exactly how I felt at the end of this book. I need more endings like that in my life.

Rating: 5/5

Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

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Goodreads Summary:

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

What I liked:

I can describe this book in one single word… perfection. There is a reason why I bought this book without even glancing at the synopsis and just on the basis that it is written by Sarah Ockler. Her writing is phenomenal. I can just read and lose myself into the pages she has written. That my friends is a God given talent.

I was not expecting the ending because the new trend in YA is to have a unhappy ending or as some people call it, a realistic ending. Excuse me, there can be a happy ending in real life too. Its how you view it, half empty or half full. I loved all of the characters, especially the Holy Trio, or Jude’s three older sisters. Being the youngest girl in my family, I can connect with Jude with how difficult it is being the youngest.

I think a reason this book hit home with me is because of the use of the spanish language and hispanic boys. I loved the way hispanic americans were portrayed. A little bit of our past culture mixed in with the american culture. Just how we are in real life.

One more thing, where can I find an Emilio Vargas all for myself? 🙂

What I disliked:

I wish we had more Emilio and Jude moments. I also wish the book was longer.

Overall:

The Book of Broken Hearts deals with a heavy subject without making you sob uncontrollably (Can we all say The Fault in Our Stars?). It has romance, family, good advice, and it mentions amazing food that I wish I could be eating right now. Empanadas anybody?

If you are a fan of Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, or just some good YA Contemporary, this is the book for you.

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!