Review: ‘Select’

Hi! I am on to my last few ARCs that I got at BookCon *sad face*. This was one that I randomly picked up at a booth I was stopping by and had heard about it on the BookCon app!
Title: Select

Author: Marit Wiesenberg

Series: Untitled

Rating: 1/5 stars

Pub date: October 3, 2017

I received this book as an ARC from BookCon. This is an honest review.

As you can see above… I didn’t like this book. Like, at all. I find it hard to give honest reviews sometimes when I really don’t like the book. But, I think that’s the point of being a book blogger: I won’t sugarcoat what I actually thought and I will let you guys know what I liked and didn’t like! This story focuses around Julia, who is part of an elite group of humans that have abilities normal humans do not. They have to keep themselves hidden and avoid revealing themselves to other normal humans.

I honestly can only think of one thing I liked about this book and it was the idea. I thought it was cool to have humans that have adapted via something like natural selection to become ‘better’ humans. It was interesting in that science aspect. But the execution of that was… Not good. It came off as some sort of Twilight spinoff: I honestly thought of the movie the entire time. There was a group of these ‘extra’ humans (like the Cullens) who always only hung out together because they were ‘family’. They were discouraged from hanging out with normal teenagers because they might reveal themselves. Enter John, who is basically our version of Bella. He notices that there are many unusual things about Julia, especially after an incident with Julia & her sister at a public pool. He finally confronts her and asks if she is one of ‘them’, almost akin to the scene in the movie where Edward and Bella are in the forest. It was just super similar and I found myself definitely dragging to get through this book. But, I wanted to review it, because it is an ARC and I did make a commitment to myself that I would read all of the ARCs and review them.

That brings me to my next point: the romance. Which, really isn’t a romance in my opinion. I didn’t feel like there was any buildup and it kind of just came out of nowhere. I didn’t feel connected to John or Julia at all and I didn’t feel butterflies and fuzzies from it. It was kind of just… Weird. It was this sort of forbidden love thing–again, like in Twilight–that didn’t do anything to advance the story. It was kind of like an afterthought, in my opinion, and I wish I had gotten less attempt at love story and more about the group of elite humans. How were they created? Why? Why do they have to keep it a secret? How many are there? Questions that I didn’t get an answer to.

Sorry to say, but I wouldn’t recommend this book at all. I didn’t feel there was much redeeming qualities about it enough to honestly want to tell people to read it. It was disappointing and I hate to say that because it has a gorgeous cover and a great idea of a story…. Just not written in a way that worked for me.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

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Review: ‘Everything All At Once’

Hi! I actually won this book through a contest on Twitter by the author. She is so sweet and I am so happy that I was able to grab a copy of this book. I received it before the release date but I wasn’t able to read & review before release because of vacation!

 

Title: Everything All At Once

Author: Katrina Leno

Series: Standalone

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

I loved this book. It is a fantastic contemporary about a girl named Lottie, who’s aunt dies and leaves her letters. The letters give her things to do that test her limits, make her realize her humanity, and give her heartwarming memories. Lottie also has elements of anxiety and so I classify this as a mental health book. Along the way, she meets Sam and discovers truths about him that she never thought were possible.

This story really helped to put into perspective what it means that we only have limited time and we need to cherish every moment. The letters written by her aunt, who died at the early age of 40, help Lottie to think about mortality and how she is so afraid to die. A lot of people are afraid to die but I feel like this made me appreciate the little things in life. Lottie gets to meet many people that influenced her aunt’s life and that leads me to my discussion of Sam. Sam is an interesting character all around. Lottie meets him after the first letter that leads her and her family to a party organized by her aunt before her passing. He is an intriguing character and begins to get very close to Lottie, which both scares her and excites her at the same time. That is until the big twist in the book, which gives it an air of fantasy and wonder that I wasn’t expecting but really loved. It adds an extra layer to the already magical story and pushes it over the edge, in my opinion!

I don’t see anything to fault in the book. It caught my attention from the first page and I was always excited to see what happened next. Also, the book is set in Connecticut, which is where I live. It was cool to read about places that I haven’t been to before (I have been told by Katrina that one of the bookshops is actually real, so I will be paying a visit!) in my own state. The use of seaside towns made the book feel very home-y and down-to-earth, which is weird to say about a book but that is how I feel about it!

I would recommend this book to those who are fans of contemporaries and also don’t mind a little extra mystery mixed in.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘The Love Interest’

This is the first of 7 reads that I won from a giveaway on Twitter that I decided to review this week!
Title: The Love Interest

Author: Cale Dietrich

Series: Standalone

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

This book is about a secret organization that produces Love Interests for those that need spying on. That’s the easiest way to put it. Caden and Dyl are love interests created for a girl named Juliet: both are sent out into the world to win her heart and whoever wins gets to keep her, whoever loses has to die. It sounds super harsh but that is the way of the world in this book and boy, does it get interesting.

I expected a lot more from this book. I wanted to like it but I found myself saying ‘wtf?’ After the first 100 pages. It didn’t seem charming and it didn’t seem like something I would want to continue reading, but I had to know the ending at that point. The one redeeming quality about this was the LGBT romance. I literally called it within the first 100 pages so it wasn’t really a joy or a surprise when it turned out that way. But I think the way it happened was sort of cute and I did like that they ended up together. I won’t say who, that’s for you to read and find out, if you want! I also found Juliet to be less than stereotypical in the way she was portrayed as a ‘nerd’. She was pretty and funny and had a personality that seemed to figuratively light up a room. I don’t get why the organization wanted to spy on her, per say: she is incredibly intelligent and nex generation with her tech, but I didn’t think it was enough to attain a love interest. The reason is given but it just didn’t work for me and in general this book didn’t work for me.

Which brings me to my main problem: I felt nothing from this book. It’s sad to say that, but I really didn’t. I didn’t feel anything for the characters and the plot didn’t really have much advancement except for the fact that the two interests were trying to win Juliet. Speaking of that: I know it must have been a play on girls having to be perfect for men to make two men perfect for girls, but it just felt… Not genuine. The whole book seemed like a game of back and forth and cat and mouse and it was predictable because of that. Caden was the only one with a real personality in the book and that was probably because we hear the story from his point of view and it was expanded on by writing his thoughts and desires. The story felt kind of sci-fi in ways and I thought of the Maze Runner more than a few times. The organization in the book (LIC, I forgot to mention) seemed a lot like WICKED, but not in the same manner.

I don’t know if I could recommend this book but if you want an LGBT read, it could be worth a shot!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

ARC Review: ’27 Hours’

Queer teens in space! LET’S GET TO IT!

 

*Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing for providing me with advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review*

 

Title: 27 Hours

Author: Trisina Wright

Series: The Nightside Saga

Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary

This book follows the stories of many teens, most importantly Rumor, Jude, Nyx and Braeden. It is set over a 27-hour period (hence the title) where they must prevent a war from happening between humans and gargoyles. It is set on an fantasy planet in space and the main characters are all part of the LGBT community.

Likes

I had begun hearing a lot about it on social media and I knew that I had to read it. I was drawn in by the queer representation and let me tell you: it did not disappoint! There were so many different representations, I was absolutely thrilled. To name a few there were bisexuality, pansexuality, and ace represented in the main characters. I find this to be so important both to the young adults this book is targeted towards and for anyone who wishes to see their sexuality represented in YA. They were represented well and accurately, which also made me super happy! I could sort of guess where the relationships would go once the characters were introduced, but it didn’t make the book any less enjoyable and the interactions between the characters were lighthearted but meaningful. I found the romances in this story not forced at all and I really loved Nyx and Delilah’s romance throughout the story. Nyx had to be my favorite character in this book: she was so innocent and sweet, afraid that Delilah wouldn’t feel the same way. At the same time, she was such a strong character and proved to be one of the few that ‘saved’ the day. I also liked Jude. A lot. I was confused as to his part in the plot at first but really grew to love him. His power had to be the coolest thing I’ve read lately, though: he is able to sense people’s auras, a little bit like an empath, I would describe it as. He sees them in colors, like synesthesia, and that was such a cool addition into the story. It also plays a part in his relationships with the other characters, such as Rumor. Finally, I would add that Braeden is fantastic comic relief. I laughed out loud a few times at some of his lines and his bravery is truly something courageous. The characters were extremely relatable and I thought that their romances were woven in nicely with the rest of the story and both elements were given equal attention, so one did not dominate the other.

(Dis)likes

All this being said, I feel that it was a little hyped up for me. I didn’t receive the 5-star read that I was expecting but I think that was due to my personal taste. I didn’t care for the gargoyles as the monsters/villains in the story: they just didn’t seem to fit in. The premise of the book is definitely interesting to me and I did enjoy how it was told. The story was set on a planet and I wished that it had incorporated more space elements, such as a new alien race. Gargoyles and humans at odds with each other in space didn’t really work for me. I also wanted to know more about the humans that lived in the forest! We got a glimpse with characters such as Jude, but I wanted to know more about their way of life and their history with the gargoyles. I expect that it will be expanded on in the next book but it was an element that tied the whole story together so it was important to me. I also think that the alternating POVs were a bit confusing to me. I would have preferred a third-person POV because there was a lot of jumping around between narrators that threw me off at some points and I had to go back to check whose chapter it was. But, that being said, I found the book to be gripping and I read it all in one sitting! I have to add that the cliffhanger in this book killed. me. Oh my gosh, I almost threw my iPad across the room! It was so good and left me sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering what’s going to happen in the next book. I love/hate (love) when books do this and this was no exception.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to those who are looking for a diverse representation of the LGBT community as well as who love stories about a group of teenagers that triumph against all odds. Also, for those who are fans of Star Trek because I got a very Trekkie vibe from this.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

*I do not own the rights to the cover art of this book. All copyright goes to rightful designers, creators and owners*

Review: ‘Holding Up The Universe’

Another contemporary coming your way! I tend to read fantasy but every so often I choose a contemporary read to balance it out a little bit.
Title: Holding Up The Universe

Author: Jennifer Niven

Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5 stars

I didn’t like this book that much. It follows the story of Libby and Jack, who are two kids that attend the same high school. Libby is the resident ‘fat girl’ and returns to school after a few years break because of her excessive weight gain and then weight loss. Jack has a neurological disease that makes him ‘face blind’ and is one of the resident ‘popular’ kids. Their stories intertwine after Jack makes an unfortunate choice in regards to Libby and a love story brews.

I just couldn’t get into this book. The chapters are short, to the likes of Nicola Yoon’s, and I didn’t feel like I really got anything from it. Libby’s story is pretty tragic, having suffered her mom’s loss and she has an unfortunate accident where she needs to be rescued from her home in an embarrassing manner. I related to this character in terms of the bullying she experienced, even after she was able to lose the weight. Kids in high school can be really cruel and it’s always hard to read when you have experienced it yourself. I think that is a positive about this book: Niven represents what high school is like for those who don’t fit in pretty well and shows the effects that bullying really has on a person. Jack seems kind of like a douchebag in all honesty throughout a majority of the book. He is kind of a pushover and while he is dealing in private with his face blindness, it can’t be used as an excuse for the things that he does, one of which directly impacts Libby. I thought that entire situation was just kind of disgusting and weird and I didn’t want to keep hearing about it throughout the book. I wish there had been more focus on their mending of their relationship instead.

Additionally, I got into this book maybe 150 pages in, which was halfway through. That is when the substance of the story began to form and it was a little late for me, but I was already half done and I usually DNF within the first 50 pages. I also don’t understand how their relationship really grew out of such a horrible event. If it were me, I would refuse to associate with this kid outside of our counseling sessions together. It just really didn’t make sense to me how their stories intertwined and the beginning of their relationship didn’t seem all that healthy at all, in my opinion. I went into this book expecting something like Dumplin’, and I was sadly mistaken. The other positive I see in this book comes towards the end where Libby takes control of the situation and writes a really beautiful poem/letter that blasted me out of the water: it hit me hard. I think that is the thing I take away from reading this book, not the romance or other elements.

I don’t know if I could really recommend this book. I personally didn’t like it, but gave it a couple of stars for its two redeeming qualities for me.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘The Last Magician’

It is no secret that I love books about magic! Harry Potter and A Darker Shade of Magic are just two examples of my favorite books that focus on Magic. But, this was a little bit different than I expected.
Title: The Last Magician

Author: Lisa Maxwell

Series: Unnamed, but apparently will be a duology

Rating: 3/5 stars

I wasn’t IN LOVE with this book. The story follows Esta, who has the power to time travel and is sent by her mentor back to 1920s New York, where she must stop The Magician from stealing a book that could destroy magic forever. 

Let’s start with what I did like! The premise of the book is so interesting and it shows a different side to the idea of a fantasy about magic. There are those who actually have affinities (powers) and those who are also able to create illusions. Harry Houdini is mentioned in the book! I also have to add that the setting was absolutely perfect and worked really well with the story. I think using New York was a great choice and the author did a great job of creating a world within a world and employing differenct historical references (as I mentioned before) into the tale. I love historical fiction and while this is fantasy, I definitely felt like I was in 1920s New York with the way the story was told. I loved Esta as a main character: she was so enthralling. She placed all of her trust in her mentor and she was actually fantastic at the job. My favorite relationship was between her and Harte, the so-called Magician that the entire plot line focuses on. Their banter was witty and it kept me involved in their characters throughout the book. I would also note that I did not see the ending coming AT ALL and it was a thrill to get to be surprised by this book!

I have to say that it took me a good 200 pages to get into this book: I almost DNF-ed it. The book is a hefty 500 pages and I feel like it was unfortunate that it took me until almost halfway to start feeling attached to the characters. I did start to feel attached to the characters and story after this, though, that is worth mentioning! I just felt that it dragged a bit in the beginning before the real action began to happen. I also feel like it was similar to The Diviners by Libba Bray: the setting was the same and I feel like there were a few storylines all intersecting that also reminded me of it. That’s not a bad thing: it was a different plot but it was similar in era and amount of characters. Speaking of that, it was a little hard for me to keep all of the characters straight in the beginning but they all had developed personalities which made them enjoyable to read.

I would suggest this book to those who are fans of The Diviners and who want a different take on a book about magic that intersects with the real world.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Library of Fates’

I had requested this (as well as the book in my next revie) before I went on vacation and I really didn’t think my library would get them so quickly: but it was a great surprise when they did! The library I use is actually pretty great at getting new books in and I’m grateful because I am able to read so much more.
Title: Library of Fates

Author: Aditi Khorana

Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5 stars

This book came to my attention through promotion on Twitter (a lot of the books I read tend to happen this way lately) and I figured I would check it out since my library was ordering it! It is about Princess Amrita’s quest to save her country from war and conquer. It employs various elements of Indian folklore throughout the novel and is a perfect mixture of fantasy and history.

I loved this book! I love mythology of any kind but I have only read books with Greek (or Roman) mythology in the past. This expansion into Indian folklore brought the story home for me and I loved how it unraveled. I didn’t see the twist coming and I was surprised, but overjoyed by that. Usually I can guess what is going to happen in a book but this was a refreshing turn of events for me. I do not know much about Indian culture and Hindu beliefs but this book elaborated on a parable and other elements of that culture really well. I found myself entranced in the story and the intermingling of folklore as it applied to the main character and her quest to save her kingdom. Speaking of the main character, Princess Amrita was a joy to read and she was written in a way that made her vulnerable and strong at the same time. Yes, that is a contradiction, but I feel that while she appeared wholly vulnerable, she also was able to show her strength and overcome the challenges she faced throughout the pages of this story. I also really loved her relationship with Thala and it shows Amrita’s humanity and how simply caring for the welfare of another person is a transformative experience.

The only thing I could critique about this book would be that I wish there was a second one! The ending works well with the story but I want more. I want to know more about Indian folklore and I think I will actually be researching some online after reading this. I also want to know what happens to a few characters (mainly Arjun) after the book is finished because I felt my heart go out to those characters throughout the book. The author does a wonderful job of elevating the fantasy as well as showing what it was really like for royalty in the olden civilizations.

I would recommend this book to fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn: it was marketed this way online as well, and is yet another reason I picked it up. You won’t be disappointed if you give this a try!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor