Friday, December 15, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give
Written by: Angie Thomas
Published: February 28, 2017 by Balzar +  Bray (HarperCollins)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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

Okay, yeah, I get it. This book was amazing. It’s really nice when a super hyped book actually lives up to that hype. This is a book that I had heard great things about and I loved. I was honestly nervous because I don’t usually like serious contemporaries but this was really well balanced and really impactful.

Angie Thomas does a great job in pulling you in right away by connecting you to the main character Starr. I seriously loved Starr. It’s easy to like her though. She’s snarky, intelligent, and compassionate. You feel her struggle as she is torn between two worlds, neither of which does she feel like she fully fits into. It was really nice seeing Starr figure out her place in these worlds, and the world in general throughout the book. Her development throughout the book was subtle but enough for it to make an impact. Seeing her speak out for what she believed in and the people and places she cares about made her all the more likable by the end of the book.

But she was not the only interesting and likable character. I think the heart of this story is in the family. A lot of times we see YA novels where the parents are not around and if they are they are a negative influence. This book could have done that (and to be fair it kind of did but just not with Starr) but it didn’t. Starr’s parents were around and they were so involved. You could tell they loved her and wanted what was best for her and her brothers (who were also amazing, I seriously loved Seven). But they were also just fantastic on their own. I really liked her father Big Mav. He was such a freaking dad. But like in the best possible way. He was corny but still so funny and tough but seriously loving. Her family was just great. And their relationship was great. It added a great layer of humor and heart to the book.

But Starr’s family wasn’t the only great characters. From her friends at school, to the people around Garden Heights, to the local activist all the characters were complex and engaging. I listened to the audiobook and Bahni Turpin really did an amazing job. I already loved her and her narration but I think I love her even more now. The characters cake Alice in this book. There was a massive cast and she made them all feel unique and interesting. Plus she really got the tone and emotion that came with this book. It could have fallen really flat but not in Bahni’s expert hands (mouth?). It’s no wonder this book was voted best audiobook of the year by Audible. That is well deserved.

But I also want to take some time to talk about the plot of this book. It’s an extremely serious and topical event. With everything going on in the world a book like this needs to exist. It addresses a lot of really serious issues and it does it in a way that makes you think. I don’t like when books beat you over the head with their message and this book definitely didn’t do that. It had its point, it addressed that point but it didn’t come off and preachy and didn’t take it too far. I think even if you don’t like serious issue books you will still like this one. And if you do like them you most certainly enjoy this. But I think the reason the book didn’t get too extreme with it’s message is that it balanced it all out with humor and heart. Those are the kinds of contemporaries I enjoy and that’s what I loved about this book. It made you laugh, it made you cry, and it made you think. Isn’t that all you can ask for in a book? I think so.

I seriously flew through this book. I couldn’t stop listening to the audio. I really loved it. I wish I hadn’t waited to read it but I am glad I did read it. I get why it is such a favorite with a lot of people. It was really amazing.

I give The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 9.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you are like me and you have been waiting to read this book for some reason, stop waiting. This book is worth all the hype and accolades it has been getting. It's a fantastic, impactful, and important read. Definitely buy it.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What did you think? Give me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

ARC Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Title: Genuine Fraud
Written by: E. Lockhary
Published: September 5, 2017 by Delacorte Press (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

This is one of the most unique books I have read in awhile. I enjoyed We Were Lies and I was interested in reading more of E. Lockhart’s books. And I am so glad I did because this was a super interesting read with unlikeable characters, plenty of surprises, and a plot that kept me on my toes.

The thing to keep in mind about Genuine Fraud is that it is definitely a thriller. I wouldn’t really call it a mystery because there wasn’t anything to solve but it was full of twists and turns and plenty of thrills.It had all the trappings of my favorite kind of a thrillers too. It had me guessing from beginning to end and even when I thought I knew what was going on it had me doubting myself and the characters. I love when books are like that. I love being surprised and confused and this book definitely did that.

I think the biggest thing that kept me confused though was the structure of this book. It’s not your typical narrative style. No, you read the book backwards. You start at the climax, the last chapter, and then work your way to how it all began. You would think this would mean that there weren’t any surprises, but there were. Sure, you could piece together the big picture stuff but there was still a lot of drama and surprises. I have never read a book like that before. It took a little while to get used to but when I did, I was so into it. It added to the drama of the book and made it all the more interesting.

The other really interesting thing about this book was the characters. These are some truly unlikeable characters. I am one of those readers who likes when the characters are terrible people, and that’s a good thing because that is exactly what had happened in this book. These characters were seriously awful. They were self-centered and awful. But they were also really complex. Jule was a character that I had empathy for even when she did the most terrible things. I mean don’t get me wrong, she was absolutely awful and out control but interesting. She was also an unreliable narrator. So much of my confusion and doubt came from not knowing or trusting Jule. If you are like me and you like unlikeable characters then you will love the characters in Genuine Fraud.

The thing I really appreciated about this book is that it’s uniquely written and weird but it’s also a quick read. It’s a book you could read in a day if you read fast and/or have the time to devote to it. It’s only about 260 pages and the font is pretty big. But it’s also such an engaging read that you will want to find out what is going to happen, or well had happened. I really couldn’t put it down. I flew through this book. It was really interesting.

I really enjoyed Genuine Fraud. It wasn’t a perfect book but it was incredibly engaging. It was a thriller that kept me confused, a uniquely written book, and unlikeable characters.

I give Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I think this is probably one of those books that either you love it or hate it kind of book. I in particular loved it. It's a unique book but it was good. If you like YA thrillers or want something completely different then check this book out.

Have you read Genuine Fraud? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

It seems a bit early to do the best books of the year, especially because my theme this month is reading the books that I have not yet read but want to before the end of the year. But I think I can give a pretty good list of books based on what I have already read. Here's we go...

1.) The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - My Review
I really liked Mackenzi's  debut so I was really excited for her next book. And this book was seriously phenomenal. It had amazing characters, an exciting plot, and actually surprised me with how complex it was.

2.) Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Lantham - My Review
This book was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I love a good historical mystery and this book was just that. I mean it was one of the first books I read this year and I liked it so much that it is this high on my list.

3.) Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - My Review
Probably I liked this book so much because I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by my absolute favorite narrator, Steve West. But it was also my first Laini Taylor book and it was really amazing.

4.) Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Broadhurst - My Review
This was without a doubt my favorite debut of the year. I really loved it. It was a fantastic modern fantasy and really creative retelling all at the same time. It was beautifully written and I loved it.

5.) La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman - My Review
I mean how could the His Dark Materials prequel not make my favorites of the year list. But seriously, this book was amazing. I didn't expect to fall that in love with a book without Lyra but it was that good.

6.) Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh - My Review
I really liked The Wrath and the Dawn but I think Flame in the Mist may have been even better. It was a great fantasy Renee Ahdieh know how to develop a world and her beautiful lyrical writing and plenty of surprises made this amazing.

7.) Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - My Review
When I read Simon Vs. it was one of my favorite books of the year so it should come as no surprise that Upside made my favorite as well. I related so much to Molly and Becky's trademark humor and way of balancing that with the more serious made this fantastic.

8.) Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza - My Review
I was blown away by this book. It usually science fiction books that do that for me. This one was definitely had a great world full of political intrigue and a thrilling plot that had plenty of surprises. Plus the audiobook was amazing because Rebecca Soler

9.) The Dire King by William Ritter - My Review
No surprise here as well. Jackaby books always make my favorites of the year. I love this series so much. And the final book in the serious was everything I wanted. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it surprised me, it enthralled me, it was amazing.

10.) Jane Unlimited by Kristen Cashore - My Review
Another book that totally surprised me in the best possible way. I have wanted to read Kristen Cashore for awhile now, I've heard amazing things, and yet this as my first. I ;liked it so much that it makes me wish I had read her fantasies years ago.

11.) Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco - My Review
Stalking Jack the Ripper was one of my favorite books of last year and its sequel was just as fantastic. I loved getting more of Audrey Rose and Thomas. I ship them so much and I can't wait for book three.

12.) The Empress by S.J. Kincaid - My Review
And another sequel of a book that I loved. The Diabolic was one of my favorite books of 2015 and this book was just as fantastic. I loved catching up with Nemesis and this book had even more surprises and twists than the first book.

There you have it. All of my favorite books of 2017. I'll do a full on year in review so there will definitely be more favorites coming up in the next two weeks. But until then, here they are. What books made you list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, December 11, 2017

ARC Review: The Knowing by Sharon Cameron

Title: The Knowing
Series: The Forgetting #2
Written by: Sharon Cameron
Published: October 10, 2017 by Scholastic

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Samara doesn't forget. And she isn't the only one. Safe underground in the city of New Canaan, she lives in a privileged world free from the Forgetting. Yet she wonders if she really is free, with the memories that plague her and secrets that surround her. Samara is determined to unearth the answers, even if she must escape to the old, cursed city of Canaan to find them.

Someone else is on their way to Canaan too . . . a spaceship from Earth is heading toward the planet, like a figment of the city's forgotten past. Beck is traveling with his parents, researchers tasked with finding the abandoned settlement effort. When Beck is stranded without communication, he will find more in Canaan than he was ever trained for. What will happen when worlds and memories, beliefs -- and truths -- collide?

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

I loved The Forgetting. It was on of my favorite books of 2015. Therefore I was super excited when I heard it was going to have a companion novel where we find out what happens after the events of the first novel. And it was just as interesting a science fiction novel.

I want to start by talking about the world. Because I really loved the world in The Forgetting and I liked it even more here. Now that we know that this is a science fiction series, all pretense are put aside and we can dive into exploring that aspect of the world. You would think that there wouldn’t be many surprises when it comes to the world after the revelations of the first book but there totally were. Here we explore what Canaan is like now that people don’t have to Forget. And of course that had backfired and made it so the people can’t forget. It once again explored ideas of memory and whether or not that is a good then. Then there was the societies that were created. Yes, multiple societies. It very much had a dystopian vibe still as we delve into those societies and the haves vs. have nots aspect of the way things have become. There was a lot of really interesting stuff in that respect which made for a totally interesting world.

The characters however were not as interesting. Now don’t get me wrong, Samara and Beckett were fine. On their own they were interesting and complex characters. They both had engaging motivations and backgrounds that made them compelling protagonists. I enjoyed watching both of them interact with the world and felt invested in them when trouble arose. But I never completely connected with them. Maybe because there was two of them. From a narrative standpoint it made sense to have multiple perspectives, but I do feel like it maybe stopped me from getting attached to one or both of them. But I also really hated the romance. Oh man, I hated it so much. I’m so picky about romantic relationships and this one did nothing for me. If fact it had the opposite effect on me. Instead of making me engage more, it made me pull away. Unfortunately, the characters just didn’t work for me here.

But the plot did work. There’s a lot here. This is on the longer side of some YA reads but no part of if was boring of slow. Everything really built to an exciting conclusion, plus there is tons of action and adventure along the way that it kept me guessing and engaged. And I have to be honest, there was so much drama, and so many different threads here, that I couldn’t see how they were all going to connect in the climax but they absolutely did. They connected in a big way and made for a thrilling ending that had me wanting to turn pages faster than my brain would allow. I have this thing where I don’t finish books before I go to bed but this one really had me considering breaking that. I wanted to stay up to read the last 30 pages, it was that good.

However, much like The Knowing, I feel like there is just too much unresolved in this book, which is honestly just annoying especially considering this is a surprise companion novel to what I thought was a standalone. The way this book ended did not leave me feeling content and like everything is all wrapped up. It left things wide open and that had me wanting more. I want to know what happens next. I feel like there are two possible directions the story can go in and I want both. Sharon Cameron, please write more. If you need ideas for a premise let me know. I can totally help.

All in all, this was a really great read. A fantastic companion to a book that I loved. It further explores the world and gives us a thrilling plot the had me totally hooked from beginning to end. It wasn’t perfect but it was great.

I give The Forgetting by Sharon Carter 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. If you liked The Forgetting, definitely check out this book. It’s super interesting to see how the events of the first novel affected things. And if you haven’t read it and you want a dystopia with an interesting sci-fi world you NEED to read this series.

Have you read The Forgetting? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Audiobook Review: Imprudence by Gail Carriger

Title: Imprudence
Series: The Custard Protocol #2
Written by: Gail Carriger
Published: July 19, 2016 by Orbit

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: London is in chaos.

Rue and the crew of The Spotted Custard returned from India with revelations that shook the foundations of the scientific community. There is mass political upheaval, the vampires are tetchy, and something is seriously wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most inappropriate military types.

Rue has got personal problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they all really are… is frightened.

When the Custard is ordered to Egypt, transporting some highly unusual passengers, Rue’s problems go from personal to impossible. Can she get Percy to stop sulking? Will she find the true cause of Primrose’s lovesickness? And what is Quesnel hiding in the boiler room?

I absolutely love Gail Carriger and all her books. I've been wanting to get all caught up on her books and I finally took the time to listen to the audiobook to do just that. And I am so glad that I did because this book was totally fantastic.

My favorite thing about probably every Carriger book is the characters. They are always such amazing, quirky, and fun characters and this book wasn't any different. I fell for the characters here in Prudence and I was so happy to have them all back in my life. Rue is just as brash, sarcastic, and take charge in this book which was amazing. It was also fun seeing her get a little more complex and vulnerable here. All in all, Prudence is a fantastic main character and I loved being back in her head and along for more of her adventures.

But that is only the beginning because this book is full of amazing secondary characters. In this book we got to see more, and learn more, about Rue's parents. Lord and Lady Maccon play a big part in the overall plot which was amazing because I love Alexia and Conall so I was very much interested in getting some more of them. And Lord Akeldama is always a joy.  Then of course we have the crew of the Custard. The Tunstall twins were amazing and fun. Prim was super awkward and adorable while Percy is as insufferable as ever. Then of course the is Quesnel. Ugh, I really loved Quesnel in this book. He's so roguish and charming but the troublemaker that he was as a child. Him and Rue are amazing together too. I'm such a romancephobe but no one melts my cold heart like Gail Carriger. Because seriously I shipped it so hard. Because all in all Carriger knows how to write amazing and likeable characters.

She also knows how to write a thrilling plot. There was so much action and adventure in this book. Rue and The Custard are constantly finding them in some sort of scuffle, whether by their own doing or someone else's. It made for a fun and exciting plot for sure. However the plot in this book wasn't quite so self-contained. It built on some things from the first book as well as some things from the previous series which was interesting enough. And it did build to an exciting conclusion with plenty of excitement along the way. However, when it was all over it just felt like it lacked a little cohesion. It didn't have quite the impact that I expect from a Carriger book. It was still a good plot and I am confident the next books in the series will be great but I think maybe the plot here could have been a little but more.

The world however was just as fantastic as I expect in a Gail Carriger book. I have always loved the way that she balances steampunk and paranormal. It's the perfect balance of historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. The world is complex and detailed. With every book we get to explore the world even more and learn more about it. Every thing we learn here was fantastic and so interesting. I don't want to give to much away but there are more were creatures that come into play here. With every passing series things develop even more and I love the way everything ties in with previous books and previous series. This is now my eleventh book from Gail Carriger and you would think by now I would be sick of this world but I'm not. I want more.

I totally loved this book. It's another fantastic example of the magic and fun that is Gail Carriger and the world that she has built. This book has amazing characters, a thrilling plot, and a unique and interesting world. It was a great audiobook and a good read.

I give Imprudence by Gail Carriger 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! I love this series, I love this world, I love this book. If you are a fan of Gail Carriger you need to read the Prudence series. And if you like steampunk and you haven't read Gail Carriger stop wasting time and read it. It's amazing!

Have you read Imprudence? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Alpert
Published: January 30, 2018 by Flatiron Books (Macmillan)

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Why I'm Waiting:

I am always in the market for a new YA fantasy and this one sounds completely fantastic. For one thing it has that modern fairy tale sort of vibe. I love when there are new books that remind me of classic fairy tales or fantasy reads. I have a feeling that The Hazel Wood is going to be one of those books. On top of that. books in forests are always fun and atmospheric which I enjoy, plus this one seems like it will be a pretty dark fantasy and that is also something I enjoy.

I have heard good things from blogger friends who have read this already so I am very excited to read it myself. I picked up a copy at ALA so I can start it at any time. But knowing me I will wait until January to read it.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Are you waiting on Artemis along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I Would Like to Visit

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I did a very similar post to this on a freebie post like a year and a half ago. In the interest of not wanting to repeat lists I will not be including these worlds but know that I absolutely want to visit Red London, Fillory, The Gallagher Academy, and Mademoiselle Geraldine's.

1.) Thisby from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater
I moved back to New England in October and honestly being by the beach in the fall gave me serious Thisby vibes. Maggie made the island come alive and I would like nothing more than to see it for real. I'll just avoid the water.

2.) Lyra's Oxford in His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
I mean who wouldn't want to visit this alternate reality? For no other reason than to find out what their daemon would be. Although mine will probably be something lame like a mouse or a cricket. But also, I read La Belle Sauvage recently and it was amazing so obviously I want to go there.

3.) The Rampion from
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
I love this crew so much. I would love to be a member of the team, going on adventures and hanging out with Thorne, Cinder, Iko, and everyone else. I don't even have to be in the crew. I can just be around the crew.

4.) Artemis from Artemis by Andy Weir
I just finished reading this book and Artemis is a really fantastic setting. For one thing, it's a base on the moon. THE MOON. And you can go there to visit and go on a moon walk where the first landing occurred and do other fun stuff. I want to go.

5.) New Fiddleham from the Jackaby series by William Ritter
Unlike Thisby, New Fiddleham actually is in New England. But where in New England. I want to know so I can go there. I assume Massachusetts. But anyways, I want to go to New Fiddleham and be part of the crew with Jackaby, Abigail, Charlie, and Jenny.

6.) Cabeswater/Henrietta from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater
Has this list just become places I want to go so I can hang out with my favorite squads. Maybe. Probably. Yes. But regardless, I think Henrietta sounds like a pretty cool place and Cabeswater seems extra interesting. Dangerous, but interesting.

7.) Fear Street from the Fear Street series by R.L. Stine
In case you didn't know, I have a podcast with two friends where we read and review the Fear Street series. It's usually pretty funny. I would love to visit Fear Street to check out the burned out mansion, the old abandoned old abandoned mill, and of course the fire that won't go out.

8.) The Night Circus from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I know so many people are so obsessed with this book. I didn't love the plot so much but I did love the world of this series. I mean wo would not want to visit The Night Circus for the magic and mystery. It would be so amazing.

9.) The Witchlands from The Witchlands series by Susan Dennard
Susan definitely created a fascinating world in this series. A world that I want to visit and explore. Each kingdom is so different and I think there is probably a lot to see and do in The Witchlands. Plus it'd be cool to see some witcheries in action.

10.) Hogwarts from The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
You didn't think I forgot Hogwarts did you? I mean it was on that previous list but I couldn't leave it off this one. I want to go there that badly. I mean so many of us already pretend we went to Hogwarts with out house paraphernalia and what not.

There you have it, the list of settings I would like to visit. What worlds or settings made your list. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!