Review: ‘The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things’

Hi! I have had this ARC for a WHILE but I never got around to reading it. Someone was interested to trade for it, so I decided I would read it before I sent it off to a new home!

Title: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary

This book was cute! It follows the story of Sage and Shane, who meet at school and become friends. Shane had just moved from another town and he is kind of a loner, where Sage tries to include him in whatever she can to make him feel more welcome. I usually don’t read too many contemporary romances but I felt that this was adorable and the cover has a nice aesthetic to it.

Likes

I have to say I was surprised at a few turns in this book! On the outside, it is a fluffy and adorable romance between two teenagers. But, there are some darker elements to this book and it examines things such as bullying and tough pasts that were a surprise to me. I thought that Sage was such a sweet character and she reminds me of… Well, me. She tried to help Shane out the best she could, all the while struggling with her own best friend and other people she meets. I think the story of how they fall in love is very cute and that they truly are meant for each other by the end of the book. It is heartwarming to read romances like this every once in a while, I find. Shane is also an interesting character. He is a bit mysterious in the beginning and I was unsure of how I would feel about him. Now, I want my own Shane! He really grows to care for Sage in a way that I have only seen in a few romances in the past. He is truly selfless and It think that is so refreshing to see in a book sometimes.

(Dis)likes

I thought there was a very realistic portrayal of bullying in this book. It happens between Sage and a boy named Dylan and I think that needs to be spotlighted for a second. Nowadays, bullying both goes online but also in the school, but in more violent ways. These violent ways include verbal harassment and stalking. It needs to be addressed in schools today ad this book does a great job of that.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of romances and really likes to be tossed and turned a bit along the way. Not everything presents itself as peachy keen in this book and that down-to-earth reality makes it soar!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

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Review: ‘The Falconer’

I have seen photos of this book all over Twitter and honestly it is one of my favorite covers that I have seen in a while! This book is a little older but I decided that I needed to check it out after seeing all of the tweets!

 
Title: The Falconer

Author: Elizabeth May

Series: The Falconer

Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary

Yet another book about faeries! Okay, I have to say that they are starting to grow on me. I think I just read some books that included the fae that weren’t really that good but I have to say that my opinion is changing! This book follows a girl named Aileana, who is from Scotland, and her journey to accepting her role as a Falconer. A Falconer is a woman who hunts and kills faeries (the bad ones) and who traditionally used a falcon to do this.

Likes

This wasn’t really too much of a book that contained historical fiction. The only books I have read that were set in Scotland were the Outlander books so I was excited to get that vibe from these. I have to say that I did enjoy the atmosphere and the climate that the book painted. It was both about Aileana’s life hunting faeries and trying to balance that with her duties as a marquess’ daughter. I did find Aileana a likable character. I thought that she was very brave and courageous as the story went on and her fearlessness for fighting faeries was palpable. I found that I liked her little faerie friend the most, as he was quite funny at some points. He lived in her dressing quarters, unbeknownst to others living in the same grand house as she was. The book is advertised to have steampunk qualities and I have to be honest and say that I don’t think I’ve ever read a steampunk book before. I found the Scottish lore to be a strong element in this book and enjoyed that a lot because I am a fan of any kind of mythology.

(Dis)likes

One thing I didn’t like about this book is that I felt there were a lot of parts that could have been more detailed and that I wanted to know more about. There is something in the book that has to do with her mother and it is only mentioned, but I would’ve liked to her more about her mother in the appropriate parts. I also found that one of the ‘plots’ in the book was kind of unnecessary to the story of Aileana being a Falconer and hunting faeries in her free time. It just didn’t seem like it really needed to be included and I would have rather seen more about the lore aspect instead of that. I like when books are cohesive and tell a grander story, but that is just my opinion. I think the ending of this book was slightly abrupt, but I think that the cliffhanger was a good place to kick off the second book.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Scottish lore or who enjoy books about badass female heroines. I wouldn’t really classify her as a heroine, maybe, but she is a very strong female character that I look forward to reading about in the next book!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Wolf by Wolf’

I fell in love with Invictus, as those who read my review would know, and I decided I should try more books by that author! When I read the summary I was certainly intrigued and it was available in eBook format from my library, so I thought why not try it.
Title: Wolf by Wolf

Author: Ryan Graudin

Series: Wolf by Wolf

Rating: 3/5 stars

This book follows the story of Yael, who is living in an alternate history where Hitler won the war and is now governing over his empire. Her goal is to assassinate Hitler at the Victor’s Ball for a motorcycle race called the Axis Tour. In order to do this, she must use her ability to transform her face into someone else’s (the result of being experimented on in a death camp), Adele, so she can get close to the Furher.

This was not what I expected at all, I have to admit! I was intrigued by the cover and by the summary, as well as the length of the book (about 250 pages). Yael was a strong female character, there is no denying that. I think her suffering in the death camp was a strong cause of that and it is a balance between actual history and fictional history that gives this story its power. I think we have all heard about what happened in Nazi death camps with mass execution but what might be lesser known was the experiments that were done on some from the camps. There was a strong fascination with twins and other ‘strong’ candidates were used for testing many different gruesome techniques by German doctors. Yael is the unfortunate recipient of one of these techniques but she acquires the ability to transform her face, which is something I thought was an interesting turn in an otherwise horrid situation. She is able to escape the camp by impersonating an important official’s daughter. The wolf reference in the title comes to us through the form of 5 wolf tattoos, which cover her camp numbers as well as represent 5 vital people in her life who died. I enjoyed the mix of real and imagined history in this book and that would have to be my favorite part! Graudin does a fantastic job of making the story unique but interesting with the elements she weaves in. The idea of a motorcycle race was something intriguing to me and Yael’s attempt to win the race as well as remain undetected is a struggle throughout the book. She keeps her goal set in mind, though, and I think that determination is very strong.

I felt like the book ended a little abruptly, though. I think I was expecting more to happen and that it why I was so surprised that it ended quickly. The ending was not horrible, by any means, and definitely sets it up for the next book. I just feel that I wanted to explore Yael’s world just a bit more before the climax of the book came to a head. I also didn’t feel too emotionally attached to any characters except Yael in this book. There were others–Adele’s brother and a fellow opponent–that were large parts of the book but I didn’t feel connected to them like I did Yael. I also think that I wanted to know more about the ring for renegades that was planning to assassinate Hitler and how Yael was mixed up with them in the first place. I am sure this is examined more in book 2 and I will definitely continue the series so I can find out the fate of Yael and her mission.

I would recommend this book to those who are fans of historical fiction and also the era of Hitler. It has always fascinated me, as I have family who were right in the middle of this war in Poland, and I felt that it showed many aspects of real history mixed with wonderful fantasy.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Genuine Fraud’

I liked Genuine Fraud until the very last chapter. And I guess the saying goes, “The journey is more important than the destination” – that’s exactly how I feel about this book. I really enjoyed the journey of it! I probably should have never reached the destination.

Title: Genuine Fraud
Author: E. Lockhart
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I read E. Lockhart’s previous suspense thriller, “We Were Liars” when it was released and didn’t get the hype. I strongly disliked that book. I was curious to read something else of hers so when I had the chance to read the ARC of Genuine Fraud, I figured I’d give it a try.

Genuine Fraud is told in reverse chronological order, from the present and going back to how the main character Jule ended up at that moment. I feel like it is best read in one sitting (the ARC is just 262 pages) because otherwise you will forget what previous happened. (I made that mistake. I had to backtrack to recall what had happened.) It’s pretty clear from the first chapter (no, first few pages!) that Jule is lying about something. The entire story is built upon lies and whom you believe. It’s suspenseful in the aspect that you don’t know what is truth and what Jule has made up and accepts as the truth.

What I found interesting was all the lies Jule built up for herself and how she kept track of what the constant people in her life knew (or didn’t know) about the true Jule. She is very smart for being able to memorize bank accounts, passports, emails and other personal and valuable information. She can change her persona based on the situation. And who really is her bff Imogen and why is Jule going by “Imogen”?

I enjoyed the ride and thrill of this book, but the ending left me a little upset, just how I felt with We Were Liars.

I would recommend this book if you enjoyed We Were Liars. If you enjoyed that story, you will most likely enjoy this one. But if you don’t like suspense or not knowing what is going on until the very end – turn back while you still have the chance.

~Missy

Review: Vengeance Road

Vengeance Road is a book I never expected to love as much as I do, but oh boy do I love this story! A “western” novel isn’t one I would typically pick up but in 2015, I won a Goodreads giveaway (I guess people do really win those!) for an ARC of Vengeance Road and I’m so glad I did. This was one of my favorite books of 2015 and I just reread it in preparation of the companion novel, Retribution Rails out November 7, 2017.

Title: Vengeance Road
Author: Erin Bowman
Series: Standalone (with companion novel Retribution Rails out 11/7/17)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Vengeance Road takes place in the Arizona territory in the year 1877 during the gold rush. The story is fast paced and non-stop action from page 1. On page 1, we find out Kate’s pa was murdered and she wants revenge. And thus starts her on her road to vengeance. Kate has to pose as a boy because in 1877, nobody would have taken a woman seriously. Kate’s pa always told her if anything happened, she should ride to his friends home a few towns over. She does this and joins up with her father’s friend sons, Jesse and Will, and together the three of them ride together – on different missions but heading the same direction – safety in numbers!

This is written in a western accent but I found it very easy to get into. If you’re having difficulty, just read a few passages out loud and it will make more sense. For this reread, I decided to listen to the audiobook and I loved the audio as well, and it was nice to hear everything pronounced as it is written. Highly recommend the audiobook! And lets not forget the gorgeous cover of this book! It’s a beautifully drawn illustration that alone enticed me to pick it up and give it a chance.

I love Kate’s character – she is strong willed and determined, and won’t let society tell her what she can or can’t do. Even when her pa dies, she only allows herself a moment of sadness before she knows what she has to do – find the men who killed him. Kate is already well developed when we meet her and we learn more about her as the story progresses – I like this a lot about her. She isn’t weak. She isn’t scared. She sticks to her guns (pun intended). We also learn about Jesse and Will as the story progresses and I enjoy Kate’s interactions with these brothers.

“Am I more good than bad, more revenge than forgiveness?” – This is the question Kate battles with throughout the story. She is seeking revenge for her fathers murder by murdering more men. Where does it stop? Is there a line that is too far and once you cross, you can’t come back from? This is Kate’s struggle and I love seeing how she copes with her choices.

An educated 18-year old girl with a gun and a horse who can take care of herself in the year 1877. This is everything I never knew I wanted from a western! As I mentioned, if you’re wary because of the “western” genre, don’t be. Give this a chance. I did and I’m so in love with this story!

Be sure to stay tuned for my review of Retribution Rails in a few weeks! I’m very excited to read it!

~Missy

Review: ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’

Hi! I am back to reading & reviewing after a 3-week vacation across Europe! It was an amazing experience to be able to have at this point in my life, but it’s slowly back to reality. This book appeared on my Overdrive the day I was flying home, so I was able to download it to my phone and begin it on the plane!

 
Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary

There was a ton of buzz about this book on Twitter: I recommended the eBook almost immediately after hearing about it to my library-and they bought it! But I was third on the waiting list so I didn’t get to read it until recently. Let me tell you, though: it was well worth the wait. The story follows Dimple, a girl getting ready to head to college, and whose parents are deeply rooted in traditional Indian culture: which translates to them trying to find her a husband! Enter Rishi: their pick to be Dimple’s husband one day and who also attends the summer college program that Dimple does in order to woo her. Let’s just say things don’t get off to a great start: *spoiler* she throws an iced coffee in his face!

Likes

This book was heartwarming. I feel like that is the best way to describe it. I had heard all about it on my Twitter timeline and I felt like I was really hyping myself up for this book! I enjoyed the read, though: it was short (about 250 pages) and sweet, which made it a quick read for me as well. I found myself actually laughing out loud in the airport, much to the dismay of other passengers who were sitting next to me. It was funny at times and I think the lighthearted nature of both of the characters truly brought that out. Let’s start with Dimple: she is feisty and knows what she wants, and what she doesn’t want, mainly that being a husband. She cares about her future and her career and doesn’t think that she has time to invest in dating at the moment. I personally can say I relate to her in this aspect: I have been focused on my career rather than my dating life and while it does suck at times, I feel accomplished that I am investing so much in my future. But, we can’t short Rishi on this one: he is such a charming character, even after his unfortunate first run-in with Dimple. He is respectful of Dimple’s feelings (surprising in this day and age, right?) and shows he truly cares in the deepest of ways. I respect Rishi himself for this and I was finding myself falling in love with him even in Dimple didn’t want to! I also think their chemistry throughout the book is a strong element that makes it the most adorable of reads. Their friendship bond is what makes the book, in my opinion, and I love that about it.

(Dis)likes

I can’t fault this book for much because I think it also does an amazing job of giving the Indian-American community representation. *Spoiler ahead* Dimple is teased by a groups of teens at the summer program and has serious micro aggressions directed towards her. The group assumes that she was born in India, and she certainly wasn’t, but that was an assumption made by the American teens. I feel Iike this happens far too much in our society and we don’t respect the fact that while someone might have a heritage, it doesn’t mean that they adopt all of the elements of the culture, either. It is wrong to assume such things and the author does a fantastic job of addressing this and showing that it can be overcome. Why didn’t I give this book 5 stars? I just wasn’t totally engrossed and in love with the book: I think I expected too much because of the hype. But I definitely would tell others to read this book and certainly promote it

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to those looking for more diverse representation and for someone who is looking for a cute and sweet read. It is one of the better contemporaries that I have read in recent months!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘We Are the Ants’

I picked this up on a whim after seeing it on some LGBT lists on Goodreads. I had no idea the story was out of this world!

 
Title: We Are the Ants

Author: Shaun David Hutchinson

Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary

This story is about Henry, who is kidnapped by aliens. He is shown that there is a button he could press in order to save the world, or he could not press it and let the world end. He is told it will end in January 2016 and is kidnapped a few times and observed by the ‘sluggers’ each time. In between, he returns to Earth and his story there is chronicled.

Likes

Within the first chapter, I knew that this book was going to be a bit weird. It dove right into the whole being abducted by aliens, but it was funny. I laughed a few times just in that beginning chapter alone but I found it to be entertaining. The entire idea of pressing the button makes me think of that online internet game where you can choose either one thing or the other, and one is really good, but there is always a ‘but’ attached to it. I thought that it was an interesting story putting the fate of the world in the hands of a kid. But I think it also made me think deeper than just about the story being told. It is called we are the ants and that is what it points out: we are just one life form in a huge universe that probably is inhabited by many more. A single person is just an ant and while they could not matter much at all, they could also matter the most and make the most difference in the world. It is about the fact that one person can make an impact and change something that would otherwise go horribly wrong. That philosophical idea was something that I enjoyed thinking about as the book is over.

This book also contains LGBT characters! The main character, Henry, is gay and struggles with what that means throughout the book. He is being screwed around by some jerk at school, bullied, and having to deal with the suicide of his boyfriend that had already happened. But, he also finds himself exploring new friendships and trying to meet new people. As mentioned, there is reference to a suicide in this book and so it also examines that aspect and what it means.

Dislikes

What I didn’t like about this book is that I felt it was a little bit too boring for me. Okay, I know I didn’t make it sound boring, but it kind of just went over the same thing over and over. Was he going to press the button? Or wasn’t he going to press the button? And it examined how people in his life made him go back and forth on that. I think the point was to show what a person can do to affect another person, but it just didn’t read that way to me.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to those who like a deeper read and aren’t looking for fluffy unicorns and rainbows.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor