Every Day (Review)

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Every Day by David Levithan

Released August 28, 2012

324 pages

Purchased through Barnes & Noble

Rating: 3/5 stars

Goodreads summary: 

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.


I have very mixed feelings about this book. When I think about it, it is almost as if I am thinking about two different books combined into one. One part of this book is a romance story focused around the two characters, A and Rhiannon, and the time they spend together. Meanwhile, the other part of this book is a philosophical commentary on the nature of human beings and love. I loved the commentary and hated the romance.

The love story felt completely forced to me. The two characters don’t really know much about each other, yet A assumes to know everything about Rhiannon and how she is feeling at any given moment. They claim to be in love, yet it feels like the most forced instal-love that I’ve ever read about. In addition, A assumes to know what is best for Rhiannon and, as a result, seems apt to making decisions on her behalf, especially when those decisions pertain to her love life. Overall, I could not for the life of me understand why the author kept pushing the idea that these two characters were somehow meant to be. Also, A felt clingy, annoying, and selfish at several points throughout the story. Which brings me to my next point. Some of the things I’ve stated actually make sense when given the context of A’s existence. A is essentially a genderless consciousness who floats in and out of people’s bodies. It makes perfect sense that A is clingy and selfish when they finally find someone who they love and who knows that they exist. That being said, these characteristics still managed to get on my nerves. Maybe because, at some points in the novel, A seems wise beyond their years. Meanwhile, at other points they seem like an whiny and slightly hormonal teenager.

Moving on from the romance, the parts of the novel that I personally enjoyed most were the ones where A is experiencing the lives of the people whose bodies they inhabit. There is something really beautiful about the way that Levithan is able to take the reader on this journey through so many perspectives and so many different lives. Every person who A lives through is experiencing their life in a way that is unique to them, and every person has a story to tell.

Disregarding the romance, this book felt very poignant and real because it really demonstrated the idea that people’s existences are not just anchored in themselves, but in the people around them. Oddly enough, this book reminds me of the question “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” In the same way, this book makes me ask this question: If a person exists but no one is aware of their existence, are they actually alive?

In many ways, Every Day reminds me of another book that I read- Written On the Body by Jeanette Winterson. Like Every Day, the narrator is genderless in the sense that the author never states their gender. In addition, it’s a love story/ philosophical commentary in which I loved the commentary and, again, hated the romance. And, come to think of it, the narrator also makes decisions on behalf of their lover in that story as well.

Overall, the fact that this book felt very raw and thought provoking was what kept me from giving it a lower rating. I think the premise behind it is genius, and the book could have been amazing if it were not for the annoying romance.

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A Court of Mist and Fury (Review)

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Released May 3rd, 2016

624 pages

Purchased through Barnes & Noble

Goodreads Summary:

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.


I have been waiting for this book since I finished ACOTAR back in May of 2015, and I will be the first to tell you that the whole year of waiting was completely worth it.

Never have I read a book by an author that was able to manipulate my emotions so successfully; everything that Feyre felt, I felt. Her pain, her despair, her fear, her joy-it truly felt like I was experiencing all of these emotions firsthand. I appreciate Maas’ dedication to exploring the emotional and mental states of her characters on such a deep level, and really allowing the reader to connect with them in this way.

One of the many reasons this book has made it to my favorites list is the obvious care that Maas puts into crafting each and every one of her characters. Every single one of the characters, right down to the minor ones, was created with intention. Also, each of the new people we are introduced to in ACOMAF has a personality and a backstory. These characters were not meant to just fade into the background; they are unique individuals, and you cannot help but fall in love with (or hate) each and every one of them. It’s fun to be able to see new characters being introduced to old characters, and old characters being introduced to each other- you can really see the potential relationships starting to form.

Aside from the characters, the setting of this book is incredible. All of the descriptions of the various places Feyre goes are so vivid and beautiful. I honestly wish that a movie of this book would be made, if only just so I can see the setting come to life. If you thought the Spring Court in ACOTAR was lovely, the Night Court in ACOMAF will have you wishing for the ability to teleport yourself into fictional places for sure.

“Maas is so skilled at world building and creating complex plots. For this reason, she is also skilled at blurring the lines between good and evil. You may hate a character in the first half of the book, only to discover that they are completely different from what you originally thought.”

This is a direct quote taken from my old ACOTAR review, and it still most definitely holds true in ACOMAF. I really felt that this book does a good job of testing your ideas of “good” and “evil”. Is someone evil if they have good intentions, but their actions cause other people pain? Is someone evil if they are willing to do evil things to protect someone they care about? Is being cruel justified if it protects lives? These are all questions that I had as I reached the end of A Court of Mist and Fury.

Feyre’s growth and the changes she undergoes throughout the course of this novel make me feel a sense of pride in her character. We as the readers are able to watch a broken young woman piece herself back together and finally create an identity for herself. In the first book, Feyre’s identity  is initially tied to her family and the work she puts in to care for them. As she moved away from that, we could see her starting to shape a new identity for herself. However, by the beginning of ACOMAF, her identity has again become tied to another person: Tamlin. At it’s very heart, this novel is a journey for Feyre as she struggles to find herself again after her traumatic experiences in book 1.

Anyone who is being rude to Sarah J. Maas or other fans based on the relationship choices that Feyre makes clearly missed the entire point of this novel. Any decision that Maas made for Feyre was to allow her to grow and develop, and finally find an authentic voice for herself.

I fell in love with A Court of Thorns and Roses, and now I have fallen even more deeply in love with A Court of Mist and Fury. Pick it up- I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani (Review)

Sunbolt (The Sunbolt Chronicles, #1)

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani

Released June 13th, 2013

142 pages

Received as an ebook through NetGalley

Goodreads summary:

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.


 

This book completely took me by surprise. Khanani may be an indie author, but this book is as good as (if not better than) many of the books currently sitting in the YA section at Barnes & Noble. If you enjoy reading about powerful females saving people and kicking butt, then this book is for you. 

Sunbolt is a novella, so it is fairly short. Most readers will tell you that this doesn’t have an impact on the quality of the book, and I agree with that to a certain extent. However, I do feel that the novel was lacking emotional depth. In the first half, we are thrust into action and adventure, yet we aren’t given the necessary amount of time to form a connection with the protagonist. As a result, I often found myself wondering why I should care about the protagonist to begin with. Why should I be invested in her story? Why should I want her to succeed? I almost felt as if I was handed an incomplete book because of that lack of emotional and mental development.

Other than that, this novella had all the makings of a good fantasy. The protagonist, Hitomi, is a person of color (which is AWESOME). She’s resourceful, intelligent, strong, and witty. She’s also determined and full of a desire to help the people around her.

Being a fantasy novel, magic does play a significant role in the story. There are also vampire and werewolf-like creatures, as well as other creatures such as a “breather” which basically can suck the soul out of you. There aren’t really any love interests in the novella, so if you’re looking for romance this isn’t the place to find it. 

Overall, I think this series has potential and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment once it comes out.

Thanks for reading,

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The Splintered Series (Review)

The Splintered Series by A.G Howard

If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that I don’t normally review an entire series at one time. Originally, I planned on reviewing Splintered on its own, but I ended up reading this series so fast that I can’t really separate the books anymore. It’s all just become one giant blur of emotions and crazy events. So, I’m going to do my best to try to explain why I ended up loving this series so much.

Here is the Goodreads synopsis of Splintered to give you a bit of background:

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

When I started reading this series I had no idea what to expect; unlike so many other books that I’ve read, there wasn’t really any hype or talk surrounding it (or at least none that I had seen). It seems like the Splintered fandom is pretty quiet, and that needs to change effective immediately because these books are AMAZING.

Since the author does draw inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s story, Splintered features magic and crazy creatures galore- but with a dark and sinister twist.  One of the reasons this series is so amazing is Howard’s attention to detail and her commitment to engaging the readers’ senses. Her descriptions of Wonderland and its inhabitants are so rich that you feel as if you are experiencing everything first hand. Wonderland is no longer the fun and bright place you saw in the Disney movie; it’s scary and threats lurk around every corner.

Another aspect of this series that also drew my attention was the extent to which the protagonist’s parents were involved in the plot. A common trend I often see in young adult literature is the lack of a consistently present parental figure, or the presence of one who is problematic. While these kinds of relationships certainly exist in real life, they are not a reflection of every real world family. It was refreshing to see that even though Alyssa’s relationship with her parents, especially her mom, does become strained at times, her parents consistently support her and do what they can to be around her and keep her safe.

As for Alyssa, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this series from her perspective. She’s fun and quirky and, like any good character, has her own flaws and shortcomings that she works through on her journey into adulthood. She develops strength and confidence as she matures, and along the way she learns to balance other people’s expectations with her own expectations for herself.

Now I know what you may be thinking. What about the romance? Are there any good looking love interests to swoon over? Yes, there are romances. And yes, they are very swoon worthy- I literally had to stop reading several times to either a) stop blushing, or b) put a hand over my heart and sigh dramatically. I kid you not. In case you were wondering, there is a strong presence of a love triangle, but that wasn’t a problem to me. It certainly didn’t detract from the story. Actually, I would argue that it made the story better because Morpheus and Jeb (the two love interests) are like incarnates of Wonderland and the human world, so they represent everything that those two worlds have to offer.

Oh, and you know this guy?

Well, he’s the character that Morpheus is supposed to be based off of, but he gets a MAJOR upgrade in Splintered. Oh, Morpheus. I could write an entire post on why his name has been added to my “Favorite Male Characters of All Time” list. He’s a tricky, manipulative, self-serving word master with a penchant for eccentric fashion and flashy moth-covered hats, and yet I could not help but fall in love with his wicked ways. But seriously, the guy’s got a hat for literally every occasion. Seduction Hat? Check. Insurrection Hat? Check again.

Before I end my post, I’d like to take a moment to do something I don’t normally do. I’d like to thank A.G Howard for writing this beautiful series. Before reading it, I had been stuck in the biggest reading slump of my life. College had hacked away at my will to read, and, in a fit of desperation, I almost gave up on something that I consider to be my passion. This series changed that. It made me fall in love with reading all over again, and I will be forever grateful for that.

Take the time to fall into this series just like Alice fell down the rabbit hole. I promise you that it’s worth it.

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The Anatomical Shape of a Heart (Review and Giveaway)

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Hi everyone! This is my review for one of the Sunday Street Team’s November books, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennet.

You can enter to win a copy of this book here.

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Release date: November 3, 2015

304 pages

My rating:

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?


As far as contemporary young adult romance goes, this has to be one of my favorites so far. Since the goodreads synopsis gives you a good idea of what to expect, I’m going to jump straight into the review and skip the summary that I usually give.

I love the fact that this book has a strong artistic flavor to it. Both the protagonist, Beatrix, and her love interest, Jack, are artistically inclined, but in completely different ways. I also love that Beatrix is motivated and has a goal in sight which she stays focused on throughout the novel.

Both Jack and Beatrix have family issues that they have to deal with throughout the novel, and the support that they provide for one another is admirable; I enjoyed seeing the way that they were able to help each other during those difficult moments. I liked how no one in the novel is “perfect” and that even the characters that we assumed were honest and straightforward turned out to be hiding something. It’s fun to see a contemporary novel that still has plot twists and surprises.

This book deals with specific issues that I won’t go into because of spoilers, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a seemingly light book take such a dark and heavy turn. To me, that shows that you don’t have to sacrifice a good plot and meaningful message for a cute romance story; you can have both and still end up with a great novel.

Lastly, I liked the romance between the two characters. They were both endearingly cute and shy and a little awkward at times. They respected one another and understood that boundaries should only ever be crossed with permission. Neither of them tried to push the relationship in a way that made the other uncomfortable.

If you’re looking for a short and adorable love story that isn’t cliche or boring in the least, then I highly suggest you give this book a try.

Thanks for reading!

About the Author:

Jenn Bennett is the author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series with Pocket and the Roaring 20’s historical paranormal romance series with Berkley. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two pugs.

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Heir of Fire (Review)

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

562 pages

Released on September 2nd, 2014

Borrowed from local library

Goodreads summary:

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king’s assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

I read Heir of Fire for the first time almost a year ago. Since I never reviewed it, I’m going to do that now having read the book for the second time. I’m actually glad I didn’t review it after only reading it once; the first time I read it I was so focused on Rowan’s character that I failed to notice how AMAZING Celaena’s character development is in just the span of that one novel.

One of my absolute favorite things about this novel is how emotionally intense it is. Since the other two novels don’t really focus the emotional and mental effects that Celaena’s experiences have had on her, it’s great to see this part of Celaena in such a raw and undiluted way. In this novel Celaena is broken and has to find the strength to piece herself back together bit by bit. She clearly suffers from depression, and even what seems to be PTSD. It’s also great to see her come to terms with who she truly is. Up until this point she has been spending her life running from her past, but in this novel she embraces her past and finds peace within herself. She recognizes that she has made mistakes, and she makes a promise to herself to go into the future with a goal of changing the world for the better this time. In my opinion, Celaena’s character development is the most beautiful and emotionally powerful character development that I’ve read about.

Maas also develops Dorian’s character in a way that makes me feel so proud of the person he has become. He is no longer a scared boy who can’t stand up to his father; Dorian finds his voice and uses it to fight for what he believes in. Other than that, this novel introduces some awesome new characters that you will be sure to fall in love with. *Cough* ROWAN *cough* *cough* MANON *cough*.

Lastly, I love that we see the power of having even one true friend. We’ve never seen Celaena really rely on anyone else, but in this novel she sees that sometimes true strength and bravery can be just accepting the help and support that you need. I enjoyed seeing Celaena both heal herself and help others heal as well.

And Celaena has some intense, hard-core, bada** fire powers. Just thought I’d drop that in there. LIKE SUPER INTENSE, GUYS. Okay, I have to control myself. *takes deep breath* BUT DID I MENTION HOW COOL LIKE I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND HOW AMAZING HER POWERS ARE?!?!

So far, Heir of Fire has been my favorite out of the first three ToG novels. Fingers crossed for Queen of Shadows!

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SST June Review- The Revenge Playbook

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Here is my review for one of the Sunday Street Team‘s books for the month of June: The Revenge Playbook!

You can enter to win The Revenge Playbook by clicking this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

the revenge playbook

The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen

Release date: June 16, 2015

368 pages

My rating:

 

In this poignant and hilarious novel, Rachael Allen brilliantly explores the nuances of high school hierarchies, the traumas sustained on the path to finding true love, and the joy of discovering a friend where you least expect.

Don’t get mad, get even!

In the small town of Ranburne, high school football rules and the players are treated like kings. How they treat the girls they go to school with? That’s a completely different story. Liv, Peyton, Melanie Jane, and Ana each have their own reason for wanting to teach the team a lesson—but it’s only when circumstances bring them together that they come up with the plan to steal the one thing the boys hold sacred. All they have to do is beat them at their own game.

Brimming with sharp observations and pitch-perfect teen voices, fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Mlynowski are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sharp tale—by the author of 17 First Kisses—about the unexpected roads that can lead you to finding yourself.


As I’m sure I’ve mentioned various times on my blog before, I’m not really a fan of contemporary novels. However, I tried to put aside my dislike of contemporary fiction in order to be able to write a fair review for this book. This novel tells the story of four high school girls living in a small Southern town where high school drama is just about the most important thing in the planet. The football team is the town’s pride and joy, and so they get to do whatever they want and treat people however they want without facing any consequences. Every year, the varsity football team does the Ranburne Panther Scavenger Hunt, a crazy scavenger hunt that involves condom water-balloons and peeing on giant rocks and hugging bikers (don’t ask me to explain because I don’t know that I’d be able to). To get revenge on them, the four girls (Liv, Ana, Melanie Jane and Peyton) attempt to beat the boys at their own game.

First of all, I’d like to talk about the characters. In my opinion, the characters were pretty forgettable. Putting Ana aside because she is Portuguese, there isn’t really anything that sets the three other girls apart from one another. They’re all white girls going through some kind of boy trouble. Their voices as narrators are fairly similar; so similar, in fact, that I had trouble remembering which character was which. “Is this the girl that was slut shamed, or is this the girl that is missing the tip of her pinky?” was a question that actually ran through my head at one point. Aside from that, I liked their dynamic as a group. They had a crazy adventure, and they supported each other throughout it all. I found Ana to be the most likable out of the entire group because she was different: she hung out with “nerds” and reenacted Game of Thrones scenes and dressed differently than the other girls. Also, her motivation for getting back at the team is the most heartbreaking and real. Of all the issues covered in this novel, I think the one that Ana faces is the most important.

As for the setting, it comes with all the wonderful “perks” of living in a small town in the South: there’s homophobia, there’s a little bit anti-semitism, there’re attempts to cover up an attempted rape in order to preserve the image of the football team. About that last one, if I had read The Revenge Playbook a year or two ago, I probably would have thought that the amount of power the football team has in this book is unrealistic. Now,  having read stories like the Steubenville High School rape, I know now that this is actually real. That there are places where schools look the other way to protect their athletes. And I applaud Rachael Allen for deciding to talk about this heavy subject in her book.

This book was a fairly light read, despite the heaviness of the topics it covered. There are several moments where the girls’ shenanigans will make you laugh out loud. Their determination to take action against the injustice they see is admirable. If you’re looking for a quick read with some “girl power”, a little bit of romance, and some hilarious antics in it, then The Revenge Playbook is for you.

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About the Author:

Rachael Allen lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, two children, and two sled dogs. In addition to being a YA writer, she’s also a mad scientist, a rabid Falcons fan, an expert dare list maker, and a hugger. Rachael is the author of 17 FIRST KISSES.