Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas {5.0}

 

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 464 pages
My Rating: 5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Hate U Give is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read, and I wanna beat myself up for not reading this when it came out but I just got really scared of the hype. With hyped books, it’s usually a hit or miss for me, and I didn’t want people to hate me if I didn’t like this one. But oh boy, I was so wrong because I love this book with all my heart. In fact, this is my first 5-star book of the year.

I actually just watched the trailer for this one the other day, and I had goosebumps the entire time. The Hate U Give is a book that everyone must either read, or watch at least once in their lives. It’s an amazing story about a young girl finding her voice, having solace in her family, standing up for herself, living through grief, learning to love, learning the reality of Black violence, along with all the things that come from being a teenager.

The story is beautifully written, and I definitely felt so much while reading it. It’s amazing how Angie Thomas was able to weave all these things together into one beautiful novel. The Hate U Give encompasses so much, and my heart truly connected with the characters in this one. They all felt very real to me, and I just had this urge to give Starr a big hug. Ugh, definitely a must-read!

eye-opening-and-life-changing stars
Angie Thomas

Review: My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows & Brodi Ashton {2.5}

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Title: My Plain Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton
Series: The Lady Janies #2
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Mythology
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 26th, 2016
Pages: 464
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

 

When I read My Lade Jane as an ARC way before it came out, I loved it so much that I said I would read anything that these three authors come up with. And because of that, I didn’t even read the synopsis for My Plain Jane before requesting it and diving into it. Maybe it’s because of that, or maybe it’s because of my high expectations, but I found My Plain Jane to be lackluster and boring.

My Plain Jane is sort of a retelling of Jane Eyre, except in this story, we see that Charlotte Brontë and Jane Eyre are actually friends. It also showed how Charlotte came to write the book, and how things did not exactly happen as how Charlotte told it.

There were some things here and there that piqued my interest, but compared to the whole story arc, these are only bits and pieces. For the most part, I didn’t really feel that invested in the story. I couldn’t make up my mind as to whether the bringing in of ghosts made the story interesting or feel a bit juvenile. I really just felt kind of meh about the whole thing. I will still read the next book, but I just didn’t like this.

2.5 dragging and disappointing stars

Review: Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas {4.0}

 

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Title:
 Catwoman: Soulstealer
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Publisher: Random House Books for young Readers
Publication Date:  August 7th, 2018
Pages: 384 pages
My Rating: 4 Stars

When the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. It’s time to see how many lives this cat really has. . . .

Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing’s undoing.

Catwoman: Soulstealer is the first book I finished in 2019, and I take a lot of pleasure in that fact. Sarah J. Maas has always been one of my favorite authors and I long ago vowed to read any book she publishes. I also read Batman: Nightwalker, which is why I was super excited about this one.

If you guys know me, you would probably know that I did not grow up with superheroes. In fact, I don’t know much about them. And then I read Batman: Nightwalker, and I started getting interested, until I binge-watched the entire Marvel universe movies. I still don’t know a lot about DC, so I don’t know back stories and all that. So fair warning, this review is from the perspective of a person who doesn’t know anything at all, and may or may not have pestered her brother to inform her about such things.

When I first picked up Catwoman: Soulstealer, I didn’t know if I would like it or not. I had such high expectations because of Batman: Nightwalker but this one was slow in the beginning. I enjoyed being transported into the world, but not much exciting was happening yet. And then I got to about 50% and things started become so exciting that I forgot to put the book down. Towards the end, I was wiping tears from my eyes and my heart felt full.

Catwoman: Soulstealer centers on Selina Kyle, who disguised herself as socialite Holly Vanderhees. She goes to Gotham to wreak havoc, while Luke Fox – Batwing – tries to anticipate and stop her. I like how this novel centered on Catwoman being a villain instead of the superhero portion. I like how this story gave dimension to her character and how she formed amazing bonds within the novel. It’s amazing how human villains can be when we look into their backstories. I really liked the way everything tied together and unfolded.

Catwoman: Soulstealer is not a fast-paced action novel in my opinion, which was what I was expecting. This novel gave just the right amount of action, but it focuses more on the humanizing part, as well as the wit. It was also humorous in some parts, and I may or may not have been caught grinning like a fool on the airplane. This novel is well-rounded and exciting, and I really enjoyed it.

Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers {4.0}

 

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Title:
 Sadie
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date:  September 8th, 2018
Pages: 311 pages
My Rating: 4 Stars

A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

If you know me, you probably know that this is not my type of read. I don’t like reading about crime, gory stuff, or things that make me overly uncomfortable. However, curiosity got the better of me with this one as it was hyped so much that I just had to know what everyone was talking about. It did make me uncomfortable, it did make me read about things I don’t normally like reading about, but it also made me understand all the hype surrounding it.

Booktubers recommended to listen to the audiobook of this instead of reading the paperback, so I did. I learned that it has a cast of about 30 voice actors, and that just validated how amazing it could be. And it was. While I did not love this book as much as other people did, I still liked it.

This book is not one to be enjoyed. This book is to be understood and put to heart. Sadie is not a fun book to read, but it is an important and necessary one. It fucked me up and it bothered me, but it opened up my eyes. Sadie is one of the most infuriating characters ever, but she’s one of the realest ones as well.

I honestly don’t know how to give a proper review of this book because I still can’t wrap my head around the story until now so this is my best attempt. All I can say is if you can, listen to it on audiobook, and get ready to be mind fucked. Oh, and the hype is totally worth it!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand {3.0}

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Title: Furyborn
Author: Claire Legrand
Series: Empirium #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 22nd, 2018
Pages: Kindle, 512 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

I first heard about Furyborn while watching a book haul on Youtube, and once I heard what it was about, I knew that I had to read it immediately. Once I got a copy, I immediately started reading, and I must say, the first chapter was so captivating that I knew this was going to be a great novel. However, I had some issues with reading this book, and although I really am interested in the story, I couldn’t give it more than 3 stars because of those issues.

 

What I Didn’t Like:
1. The long, excessive narratives: As I said, I really like the story that this novel tells, but I just found the narratives to be quite boring. I often found myself skimming the pages until conversations would come up because the book is a long one. I still want to read the next book, but I just hope that the 2nd book would be more concise so it would be less boring.
2. The main characters: The main characters were both insufferable, although I must say I grew to like Eliana more towards the end of the novel. I couldn’t say the same thing for Rielle though. She’s so arrogant and prideful, and sometimes I just want to shake her awake because dude, can you see the situation you are in? Do you think this is the time to boast around your skills just because you have them? Gosh! And with Eliana, at first I couldn’t get a grip on her personality because she switches from one decision to another completely opposite decision, without thinking of how it will affect others, and within a few pages. She was confusing as heck, and it was hard to keep up with her.
3. The alternating POVs: I really, really hated the way in which the chapters ended. I feel like it just takes me out of the story, instead of deepen my interest in it. The chapters cut the POV right as I was getting interested, and because of that I kind of forgot my interest after the next chapter. It was also confusing at first, because it was hard to keep up with what was going on. I kind of wished that this was two separate books instead of one.
4. It was confusing despite the number of pages: Speaking of confusion, this book was confusing as heck! So many things happened, and yet I have no answers. I just read a 500-page novel, and I only have the tiniest clue about what this really is about. Although this book did a good job in setting the tone for the following novels, I just felt like there were still far too many questions left unanswered.

 

What I Liked:
1. The side characters: I really enjoyed the characters of Remy and Ludivine. They add a nice element to the story, and the innocence coming from them both is really just something else. I always like it whenever they appear in the story. Sometimes I like Audric and Navi as well, although other times I just want to knock Audric in the head because he can be so clueless at times.
2. The story: Although I complain about how slow the plot moves, I really am interested and invested in how the story will go. I’m genuinely interested because it seems like such a unique story. Even though I did not love this one, I see myself still continuing on with the series because I just feel the potential. I mean, angels are bad in this novel, and there are prophecies, kingdoms to save, and so many secrets yet to uncover. I honestly can’t wait for the next book!
3. The gripping start: Honestly, the first chapter was what really drew me in. I loved how action-packed and ominous it was. It’s what got me excited for this book, and it’s also what’s still hooking me to the series, even though I didn’t love it. If we’re basing it on Rielle’s chapters, the first one was actually in the future, after everything has already happened. Honestly, I’m more interested in the after of that first chapter than the before, so I just want to find out more about what happened.

 

Overall, this book is a unique story that I truly am interested in, but I just couldn’t rate it higher because the plot was moving too slow for me, it was confusing at times, and I felt like there are still so many questions left unanswered. That said, I still can’t wait for the second book because I just want to find out more about this world!
interesting-but-slow stars

 

Review: PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han {4.0}

Title: PS I Still Love You
Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 26th, 2015
Pages: Paperback, 337
My Rating: 4 Stars

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

P.S. I Still Love You continues right where To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before ended, and I’m glad. This was a quick and short read. I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first book, but all the elements that I loved from the first book are still present – the cute romance, the family bond, being there for others, and the harsh realities of life. 

I expected a lot from this book, and while it’s not a 5-star read, I still enjoyed it thoroughly, given my high expectations. There were still lots of amazing quotes, and the feels were definitely there! I was annoyed at how I was constantly feeling like something wrong was about to happen, which prevented me from enjoying the story as much as I should have. Although, when I read the ending, I finally got why it was so.

I really loved Kitty in this book. Sure, she’s kinda annoying in that kid way sometimes, but most of the time, she’s actually right. She’s wise beyond her years and she knows much more than I knew when I was 9 or 10. In this book, I saw that she’s equal parts Margo and Lara Jean.

Another favorite character is Stormy. I really enjoyed the chapters where she was present. She’s strong, independent, quirky, isn’t afraid of saying things, and she imparts some great knowledge, albeit being a bit sexist. She’s really different from any other grandma I’ve read of or known, and it’s enjoyable reading about her.

The ending of this book was not the kind of happy ending that I was expecting, but I am appeased by it. I still felt all the feels, and I felt really connected with Lara Jean. As always, Jenny Han’s writing was just amazing! Definitely a must-read!

4 a-must-read stars

ARC Review: Busted by Gina Ciocci {3.5}

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Title: Busted
Author: Gina Ciocca
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date:  January 1st, 2018
Pages: 288
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Marisa wasn’t planning to be a snoop for hire—until she accidentally caught her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. Now her reputation for sniffing out cheaters has spread all over school, and Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

But when ex-frenemy Kendall asks her to spy on her boyfriend, TJ, Marisa quickly discovers the girl TJ might be falling for is Marisa herself. And worse yet? The feelings are quickly becoming mutual. Now, she’s stuck spying on a “mystery girl” and the spoken-for guy who just might be the love of her life…

It has been a long, loooooong time since I last finished reading a book in one day, and Busted was the one that finally cracked me after a while, even with responsibilities the whole afternoon. Busted was written in such a way that it was addicting and hard to put down, and I couldn’t stop even when my brain nagged at me to do homework. I’m not a fan of mysteries, but the hint of a little mystery in this book was just perfect to make the book addicting.

Busted is a short and quick read, and I loved how invested I was in the story. My absolute favorite things about this book are the friendship and family dynamics. For the friendship, I loved how Marisa and Charlie could talk to each other honestly, to the point that Marisa called out Charlie for being judgemental, and Charlie apologizing instead of getting mad like most people would be. I just loved how they could talk everything out with respect, and not with the tone of blame. For the family, I loved how Charlie could freely talk to her mother about things, and how her brother is actually an accomplice instead of the enemy.

On the other hand, I felt like sometimes the story seemed to lack direction and objective because it was just snaking its way through everything without a clear path. Sometimes it felt like reading in circles. It also dragged on a little bit for some of the parts. I don’t know why I felt this way towards the book, and I really can’t explain it in words, but that was what was on my mind while reading it.

The major issue I have with this book is the lack of connection with any of the characters. This is the reason why, although I enjoyed the book, I couldn’t give it a rating higher than 3.5 stars. I just didn’t feel anything for the characters, and I absolutely dislike the love interest. For me, TJ is sketchy af, and I just didn’t really feel that he liked Charlie honestly. Maybe in the start but then towards the end it seemed like he didn’t care about Charlie, and even supported her flirting with another guy. Shouldn’t he be at least a teeny tiny bit jealous or protective? I don’t know, I just didn’t like him overall.

To wrap things up, I really enjoyed this quick and addicting read, although I couldn’t give it a higher rating because I didn’t really connect with any of the characters.

3.5 couldn’t-connect stars

ARC Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows {3.0}

Title: Before She Ignites
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 12th, 2017
Pages: Kindle, 400 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars

Before: Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After: Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

 

Before She Ignites has a really interesting storyline. When I first read the synopsis, I couldn’t help but read the book. But although this book was able to deliver with an incredible plot, I found it to be dragging and not captivating enough, as well as not being able to explore the entire world built enough.

My biggest issue about this book is how the main character thinks. As a result of always being labelled as stupid by her mother, she thinks that she is stupid, and I get that. But she thinks in such a way that the only thing she is good for is her pretty face, and I hated that. For instance, when Aaru saw the scar on her face, she was so, so ashamed and thought that her face is her only asset. I hated it. Whatever happened to looking at inner beauty and strength? Whatever happened to not putting too much emphasis on the physical? Somehow, when there was so many things that could have been her best quality, her face became the forefront of it, and I just don’t get why.

Other than that, I also felt like the story were exciting at some parts, and then boring at other times. It dragged on, and it wasn’t exciting enough for me. The world built is big – there are seven kingdoms. However, I felt like they were not explored well enough, and were only talked about in small instances. Additionally, I also felt like too little was revealed throughout the book. On one hand I want to read the next book to find out what happens, but on the other I fear that I wouldn’t get much information anyway.

Negative points aside, I did love the story of the book. It was interesting and it was cool how the author was able to form a story when the main character was within the confines of a cell for almost the whole duration of the novel. There were so many mysteries and things to find out, and it piqued my interest. For the most part, the main character was badass as well, she just doesn’t know it.

Overall, I didn’t love this book because of the execution, but I did love the story. I want to find out more, but maybe I could just read a recap instead of reading the whole thing if possible.

3 annoying-self-pity stars