Review: ‘Turtles All the Way Down’

I have to confess that the only John Green book I’ve read is the Fault in Our Stars. BUT I definitely was excited for this one and it did not disappoint!

 

Title: Turtles All the Way Down

Author: John Green

Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary

This book follows the story of Aza, who suffers from anxiety and OCD tendencies. She investigates the mystery of a fugitive billionaire, who is the father of one of her classmates, with her best friend Daisy. There is a reward offered for any information that leads to information on his whereabouts. She befriends Davis, the classmate, and begins to find out that she feels something more than just friendship with him and maybe it isn’t all about the reward anymore.

Likes

I really loved this book. I had been in a reading slump prior to this and I found myself brought out of it by John Green. The first thing I will address, as it is a passion of mine, is the mental health representation in this book. As someone who suffers from anxious tendencies herself (I am not diagnosed), I certainly related to Aza a lot in this book. While she has many habits that I do not, the thought spiraling is the most difficult thing to deal with. You could have one thought and that leads to another, and then another, and then you’re lost in them. I thought how anxiety and this behavior presents itself was described so well and I appreciated the caveats addressing the mental illness directly. Especially in young adult books, I think that it is so important to represent accurately so that readers can see that they aren’t alone. So much of the descriptions made sense to me and made me love the book even more. I was confused about the title of the book until a (SPOILER!) story was told within the book and then it made so much sense. I also love the cover art, as it describes the spiral well. I also liked the reality of the book. I felt that Aza was relatable and that even though Davis has some wacky elements, it was very real. I think her relationship with Daisy was also something to be admired and it felt like a real friendship.

Dislikes

The only dislike that I can note was that I wasn’t a fan of the romance. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Hazel and Augustus: but I just didn’t ‘feel’ the romance between these two characters. I couldn’t decide at times whether Aza was truly all-in or if she was using him at times. I did appreciate that Davis respected Aza’s anxiety in regards to her boundaries, though. That is something that is incredibly important within the context of dating someone with anxious tendencies.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to fans of John Green–obviously!–or anyone who wants a read about mental health that is beautifully told.

 

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

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Review: ‘Stealing Snow’

I picked this up while browsing at the library the other day! The cover was GORGEOUS and SHIMMERY and I have to admit that I am a sucker for that sort of thing. I don’t judge books by their cover… But sometimes, the cover is too pretty to not pick it up.
Title: Stealing Snow

Author: Danielle Paige

Series: Stealing Snow

Rating: 3/5 stars

This was my first read by Danielle Paige! She is famous for her Dorothy Must Die series but I haven’t gotten around to picking that up yet (but I plan to!). The summary said that this was a retelling of the classic Snow Queen story and I truly love retelling so, because I love how authors reimagine classic tales into something wonderfully new. This story follows Snow, who is in a psychiartri company hospital. She learns one day that she is actually a princess of another land called Algid. She is taken away by a boy named Kai and she discovers truths about herself that she never thought possible.

This book was alright. I didn’t love it and didn’t hate it, hence my rating above. I like reading books that have some aspect of mental health in them and part of the reason I picked this up was to see how the author portrayed a mental hospital. I found that the representation was somewhat stereotypical but it didn’t bother me that much. I would also categorize this story as more of an Elsa-ish type of story. Yes, her power deals with controlling snow, but I got a very Elsa vibe from the way the story was told: which I was totally okay with! I thought that the story was transformed into something new and it was interesting to see the direction the author took the story in. I thought that there was a heavy fairytale aspect in this book and it follows many of the typical princess tropes that you find in classic fairy tales. My favorite thing about the story was that it depicted the main character as someone who discovers she isn’t broken and she is actually stronger than she ever thought possible, even when faced with the cold hard truth.

There are some twists in this book that I wasn’t expecting. But other than that, the story didn’t really grip me too much. I liked the writing style and how it was told, but I didn’t feel drawn into the world of Algid. I also felt a disconnect between a few characters that I expected to really feel connected to and for those characters to be connected to each other. I kept wanting something more, if that makes sense. I have to commend Danielle, though, for flipping the script and having the girl save the guy in her retelling. It was refreshing to not see that trope in this book and to have a female character doing the rescuing.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of retellings. It is a nice read and I am curious to see how she expands on the story in the second book.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Autoboyography’

If you’re looking for a light-hearted contemporary YA that also deals with LGBT (and some romance!), then this is the story for you! I had been hearing about this book on Twitter and it peaked my interested. I ended up listening to this entirely via audiobook and the narration was fantastic!

Title: Autoboyography
Author: Christina Lauren
Rating: 4/5 stars

Upon first reading the summary, I assumed this was a teacher/student forbidden romance type novel. It is both of those, but the teacher is a teaching assistant who graduated just the year prior to the class he is assisting in teacher and the forbidden part isn’t only because they’re both male, but because one of them is a devote Mormon. Can’t say I’ve read a book that deals with the Mormon religion before, so that was a very interesting aspect! And yes, this is considered a YA book – nothing past a PG-13 rating happens in this book. More on that later.

Tanner is an easy go lucky bisexual guy who moves with his family from open-minded California to a Mormon dominated suburb called Provo in Utah. While his family is aware of his sexuality and fully support him, they all decide it would be best for Tanner to not come out to anyone in their new town. This story takes place a few years after they’ve moved to Provo.

Sebastian is the son of the bishop and very much Mormon, but takes a liking to Tanner in the seminar class he is aiding in teaching. The seminar challenges high school seniors to write a complete book in the span of a semester. (So, basically NaNoWriMo in four months instead of one.) Tanner is falling behind in the class and Sebastian offers to help him outside of class.

I found the progression of their friendship to more then friends to be such a fun read. Tanner has a crush on Sebastian but has to keep it on the down low, as he isn’t out as bisexual in this town. And Tanner assumes Sebastian to be completely straight, as homosexuality is forbidden in the Mormon religion. When Sebastian begins reading Tanner’s book for the class to help him brainstorm ideas, he discovers that Tanner is queer and things spiral from there. Little does Tanner know that Sebastian reciprocates his feelings, but Sebastian is very unsure of himself and how these feelings fit into his religious beliefs.

I loved seeing the struggle these characters faced and how they dealt with what was thrown their way. This book was definitely outside the normal books I read, but also familiar in that LGBTQ+ is so important in this day and age. I live in New York City and nobody even blinks at eye at your sexuality or gender but that isn’t how the rest of the world or even the country is. It’s sometimes hard for me personally to remember that not everyone is as open-minded and maybe even for you too – sometimes the internet can be a very accepting place where as real life people, family, and friends may not be as accepting to beliefs outside of what they know as “normal.”

I’d rate this book at PG-13 – sex is mentioned as having happened off page, but there are no details given – it’s only mentioned. Kissing and making out does occur but again, I would rate it PG-13 at most. I very much recommend this book and audiobook if you’re looking for a LGBT love story with an interesting twist – it was an enjoyable and compelling (and sometimes nail biting “omg what are they going to do!”) read!

~Missy

Review: ‘Rosemarked’

Title: Rosemarked

Author: Livia Blackburne

Series: Rosemarked

Rating: 2/5 stars

Summary

I hadn’t heard of Rosemarked until I saw a few bloggers on Twitter raving about it. I figured that I would try to request it and I was so happy that I was accepted! The cover is absolutely gorgeous and I was drawn in by the summary. This book is about a girl named Zivah who is a nurse and Dineas who is a soldier. Their stories become intertwined when they both become spies. This book was also advertised for fans of an Ember in the Ashes, which is one of my all time favorites. Without further ado, let’s get into the review.

Likes

I have been incredibly busy lately, both with school and my personal life, so I haven’t had much time to read. A quick shoutout to Missy for holding down the fort! I had this sitting on my Kindle for a while before I picked it up but I was able to knock it out pretty quickly. I think the format of the book made it easy to read and I did find the premise of the story interesting. I think that it moved very fast and that is something I really needed after not reading for a while. As I mentioned before, I also really liked the design of the cover! It accented the ~rose~ perfectly and related well to the story.

Dislikes

But, I honestly can’t give this book more than 2 stars. In the goodreads summary, it also said that there was a political edge with a slow burning romance, which are things I am normally a fan of, but didn’t like in this book. I felt that it was quite confusing at times and I wasn’t connected to the characters as much as I had hoped. I didn’t feel much romance between Zivah and Dineas until the end and maybe that was part of the ‘slow burning’, but it didn’t automatically stand out to me as a major plot point. I thought that Zivah’s healing knowledge was an asset to the book and that is one of the things that redeemed it for me: it was interesting to see how she went about healing, even healing those who nobody else wanted to heal.

Recommendation

I would suggest this book to someone who is looking for a more unique read and who really enjoys politics.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘The Night Circus’

Ahhh this cover is so gorgeous! I actually picked this up due to Goodreads and so many friends on there were reading it and loving it.

 

Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5 stars

Summary

This book follows the story of Celia and Marco, as well as the rest of the performers at the Night Circus. The Night Circus appears in a different city every few nights and is open from dusk till dawn, closing at that exact time. There are those who try and follow the circus but Celia and Marco became involved for a different reason: they are bound together and to the ‘game’, something that one of them must win in order to end it. But, love has a different idea for the both of them and not everything goes as their ‘masters’ planned.

Likes

I thought the concept of the circus was interesting. It kind of reminded me of Caraval and Daughter of the Burning City in the carnival aspect of it. I also liked that the author separated parts of the book by describing an area that you could walk into during the circus, what you would see, and what you would think. She used ‘you’ and it really put you into the circus at the point and I enjoyed that. I wanted to feel like I was at the circus and what I was experiencing while there. That was a unique aspect aspect and it propelled you into the world a little bit more. I am one for magic and I thought that Celia’s illusions were very cool. One thing she was able to do included changing the fabric of her clothes itself and making new outfits right on the spot. Of course, some would say that’s a party trick, and while it kind of is, she was much more powerful than that. Celia was a likable character and she was extremely intelligent. That quality came out in the story in a variety of ways, including solving the big question that formulated as the plot in the book. Her partnership with Marco was also inspiring and the two of them truly risked it all to be together.

Dislikes

Here is another example of me not liking a book that was super hyped and rec’d for me. And that’s completely okay, it was just disappointing. First, I wish there was more about the actual circus. I understand that there was a side plot that was the bigger picture, but other than those little blurbs I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really get to see what was happening in the circus. I wanted to hear about the characters doing their different acts–the main characters’ acts weren’t touched on in those blurbs. The two twins in the book also had a side plot that was interesting and I wanted to hear more about their part of the circus as well. I also wasn’t attached to these characters at all. I was trying my best to breeze through the book because I just wanted to finish. It was short, so that was possible, but I didn’t feel anything like I normally do when reading. The ending definitely surprised me and I think it was executed well but it should have evoked emotion and it… didn’t. So it missed the mark on an emotional connection for me.

Recommendation

Since it is below 3 stars for me, I’m not sure I could actually recommend this book. But, I will say it is for fans of the books I mentioned above and for those who are fans of the Crown’s Game. the Game is pretty similar and I think that also threw me off.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

 

Review: ‘The Star-Touched Queen’

I picked up The Star-Touched Queen on a whim – I had just finished a few contemporary stories and needed something magical to read. I checked Overdrive (an app & website that is part of your local library!) for a new audiobook and saw this was available so I figured, why not give it a try!

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: Standalone – but with a companion novel, A Crown of Wishes
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I liked this book a lot, but I’m also left very confused by it. I couldn’t tell you what exactly I liked about it or very specific details or tell you how things happened because… I’m not sure?

Now that might sound weird but it’s the only way I can think to describe it. This book was beautiful, but I was confused 90% of the time. I want to attribute that to me listening to this via audiobook rather then reading the print book. I listened to audiobooks all the time and rarely have an issue understanding or following the audio but for this story, I just couldn’t follow along. Don’t get me wrong – the narration was absolutely beautiful. I loved the narrator – she had the perfect voice. I loved being able to hear the names of people/places/things that I otherwise would’ve had a hard time pronouncing. (Maya and Amar, got it. But Gauri? I was a little lost without the audio.) The narrator switches between no accent when reading text but uses an Indian accent when the characters are speaking. I enjoyed that and it was a natural flow, nothing felt forced or overdone.

Back to the writing – it was beautifully descriptive and flowing but sometimes I became lost in all the words. I’m not sure how the characters got from Point A to Point B most of the time. I just accepted it and went along, but I was left feeling confused. I liked the beginning more then the ending – I think by the end, I just wanted to know how it ended and be done with it.

This story did remind me of Renee Ahdieh’s Wrath & The Dawn series so if you were a fan of that or looking for something similar, I would recommend this! I just would not recommend this as an audiobook. After reading other Goodreads reviews, it seems this story is really a hit or miss – you loved it and gave it 5 stars, or were like me and were left confused. It was an enjoyable read and maybe you will like it more then I did!

~Missy

Review: ‘Retribution Rails’

Erin Bowman does it again with another western novel, set in Arizona in 1887! Now you may be thinking, “I don’t like westerns” but TRUST ME for a minute and give this story a try! You might be pleasantly surprised to find you love this world, just as I did! I’m not typical a fan of “westerns” either, and I can’t say I can name more western YA books, but this is a solid, fast paced, fun gun slinging horse riding railroad chasing read!

Title: Retribution Rails
Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Vengeance Road companion
Rating: 4/5 stars

Retribution Rails takes place ten years after its companion novel, Vengeance Road. (If you want to read our review of Vengeance Road, head right on over here!) While it is not necessary to have read Vengeance Road to read and enjoy Retribution Rails, I would recommend reading that first and it definitely helps as we see some of our favorites (and not so favorites…) from Vengeance Road return.

This story was action packed right from the get go, as one would expect from a western! It follows Reece Murphy and Charlotte Vaughn and is told in dual perspectives. Reece is forcibly dragged into an infamous gang. Charlotte wants to be a journalist and is seeking freedom from her conniving uncle. Their paths cross and our story is off!

Reece was just a kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, he isn’t a bad guy. Charlotte wants to become a journalist who tells the truth – because the entire truth is important to her. Both of these characters grew on me and grew as people as the story progressed and that’s what I love to see in a story – character development.

Reece and Charlotte quickly cross pass with our favorites from Vengeance Road and I will admit, I squealed. A lot. It’s nice to see some familiar faces in a new story. It feels like coming home after a long journey. If you loved Vengeance Road, you will, without a doubt, love Retribution Rails!

I should mention that I listened to the majority of this story via audiobook and I would highly recommend the audio! There are two narrators, one for Reece and one for Charlotte, and for me, hearing someone speak in the western accent really helps set the mood of the novel. It is written as western speaking accents and while my New Yorker self cannot easily speak like that, I found listening to the audio quite enjoyable! (I also listened on 1.75x or 2x speed, since, like I said, my New Yorker self naturally speaks at 2x speed HA!)

As noted in the authors notes, a lot of what is said in this story is historically accurate, including when and where the railroads were build in Arizona. As with any story, it is mentioned some pieces were fabricated, but its great knowing there is historical accuracy to much of this story as well!

The ending left me wanting more, I need more answers!!! It was a fitting ending though, and I am satisfied with it.

After reading these two novels by Erin Bowman, I am very much looking forward to what she writes next and will have to go and read some of what she has written before Vengeance Road! She has proven herself as a strong writer and can’t wait to see what she puts out next!

Charlotte and Reece, I hope we meet again someday!

~Missy