Royally Lost by Angie Stanton // An Adorable Contemporary That Makes Me Want to Go to Europe

Monday, 10 October 2016 2 comments
Royally Lost, by Angie Stanton
Publication: May 6, 2014, by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½

Dragged on a family trip to Europe’s ancient cities, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, over-eager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. That is until she meets Nikolai, a guy as mysterious as he is handsome. And she unknowingly finds herself with a runaway prince.
Nikolai has everything a guy could ask for-he's crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn't freedom. Staging a coup, he flees his kingdom and goes undercover on his own European tour.
When Nikolai and Becca meet, it’s their differences that draw them together. Sparks fly as they share a whirlwind of adventures, all the while dodging his royal guard. But Becca's family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say goodbye forever, will his destiny catch up to him, or will they change history forever?

My Thoughts:

Royally Lost is such a lovely, intriguing story that makes you want to hop on a plane to Prague and fall in love with a hot European guy who will throw you on a motorcycle. I read this story of Becca's when on vacation a few months ago, and for some reason (SCHOOL), I had to set this review aside. I will try my very best to write this as if I just read it last night. This is an addicting, memorable (insert every positive adjective here) novel about falling in love (even at first sight) and how teenagers, even, can make relationships work. We have two different cultures clashing, seeming as if the two characters were stuck in a time frame that did not suit them whatsoever. We had Nikolai, who is the Crown Prince of Mondovia, and Becca, who is the protagonist, on summer vacation on this ultra-hip river cruise with her brother, dad and stepmother, who she *kind-of* despises. Forget about the *kind-of,* SHE DOES despise her. 

This book is basically everything you can imagine. It's about a snobby teenager who is completely upset with her life's situation. She is moping on this summer vacation of hers because right after, she'll be going off to an university she isn't so glad on attending because she split from her boyfriend. It has to be the boys, as usual. One day, she meets Nikolai, who immediately catches her eye, and they both find that their bond is strong. He follows Becca and her family off to each stop of their European trip, but a secret lies in the middle of this all: he ran away from his palace to seek independence. 

And we find ourselves feeling hyper over one question: will their bond survive? MWA HA HA HA HA. One would expect that the author would purposely put obstacles in to break the characters apart because it's expected that they will end up together. Angie Stanton kind of mended a different kind of outcome for Nikolai and Becca. Their love story certainly isn't a Romeo and Juliet one, showing that they are destined together. I guess that they only spent so much time together because (A) they were bored, (B) they decided to rebel against the norm that their parents expect them to live in and (C) they both were attractive? A major flaw was that I felt no real connection between the two characters. Maybe there was a physical attraction, but I obviously couldn't sense any of that. 

This is a light read, nevertheless. I didn't expect it to unwind with plot twists and suspense that would cause me to run to the nearest bookstore to search for more at the nearest moment. It stayed at the same base as my expectations, and I must say that I was certainly glad to see that outcome. In the end, it was pretty enjoyable, but lacked connection, whether it was a connection between the characters or a connection between the rest of the plot, tying into the ending. Each section of the plot seemed to be separate, placed there for reasons only tying to readers' enjoyment. Nonetheless, I must say that I did not enjoy this pieced plot. 

Stanton tried to create foil characters. Becca was the stupid (I said it!), plain-Jane character who basically thought that everything she wants would come to her in a snap of her polished fingers. Nikolai was the basic, attractive Prince who rebelled because duh, he didn't want to do more work for his royal family. That meant not joining his nation's Navy. I have mixed feelings about that, because he had no plan set out for him, and just went with the flow. No one has as much luck as he obtained, unfortunately. (HOW CAN YOU FIND THE SAME CHICK'S CRUISE OVER AND OVER AGAIN?!)

Reading Royally Lost actually did make me feel lost—weirded out. It seemed as if this was trying too hard to become a fairytale that Disney would approve of. It's definitely cute—that's a word I feel appropriately describes the book as a whole. I would have enjoyed a more passionate romance (even though the characters are clueless teenagers), as well as intelligent characters that would cause this to seem more believable, but hey: at least I finished it in a sitting at the beach. 

What book has caused you to want to travel to a specific place so badly? What is your dream European destination to travel to?

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins // Some Good, Some Bad

Tuesday, 4 October 2016 2 comments
Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, by Stephanie Perkins, Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron and Jennifer E. Smith
Publication: May 17, 2016, by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Anthology
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

My Thoughts:

Hello, my fellow Stephanie Perkins fans. I am a HUGE Stephanie Perkins fan (I could not contain myself over her books), and I adored her first holiday anthology, My True Love Gave to Me. This time around, for my favourite season of the year, summer, we have twelve new stories about love, carnivals and the beautiful season. (Not that every story contains a carnival.) Some stories were certainly better than others, and I must say that I hated a bunch of them, especially those from the beginning of the anthology. I tried to give new authors whose books I have never touched upon a chance, and some of them definitely were amazing, while others continued to disappoint. Instead of speaking about this as a whole, it probably makes sense to speak about each of the twelve stories on their own, that way, I could label the good and the bad. Let's get this party started!

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo: 2/5 stars

I wanted this anthology to just be about contemporary-romances featured in the summertime, you know? Leigh Bardugo, as usual, disappointed me. I wanted to (someday) adore her writing, but this one didn't cut it for me. Yeah, it's taken place in the best place in the world, New York City, but that was just one of the things that I enjoyed about this short story. I kind of felt that I couldn't WAIT for it to end. Bardugo is such a raved author, but I feel that she's overhyped. I disliked this completely.

The End of Love by Nina LaCour: 3.5/5 stars

Nina LaCour fails to disappoint. This is probably the third story I have read by her, and I liked this one. I didn't adore it, but I really enjoyed reading another lesbian romance story by her. I was awed by the dedicated protagonist who was doing whatever it took to chase her dreams, and in this case, her dream was to be with the girl she loves. My heart feels all giggly and sweet.

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray: 1/5 stars

I began reading this with high hopes, as it would be my first Libba Bray story (I still have The Diviners in my shelf), but once I began reading, I had no connection to this. I DNFed it and just moved on. Again—I didn't want fantasy. I couldn't care less about what actually happened in this story. Hopefully I'll like Bray's full-length stories.

Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block: 4/5 stars

I loved the way Francesca Lia Block formatted this story! None of the characters were named except for (probably) the first letter of their name. It gave us readers a better look at their characters instead of labelling them. I also enjoyed the Los Angeles setting. *wiggle eyebrows* It was great and moving and just made my heart squirm.

In Ninety Minutes Turn North by Stephanie Perkins: 3.5/5 stars

Sadly, the editor's story isn't the best story... again. This, I'm pretty sure, is a continuation of the story that Stephanie wrote in her Christmas anthology, and I really liked this, but the wow-factor wasn't there, compared to her Anna/Lola/Isla trilogy. I just want to go to North Carolina after reading this.

Souvenirs by Tim Federle: 4/5 stars

This is another LGBT story, this time, featuring two gay characters—Matt and Kieth, who are about to breakup in the amusement park that they work in. I live next to an amusement park, and after reading about their fun adventures, I feel like applying for a job there. *giggles* This one was fast-paced and compelling—I needed to know what would happen!

Inertia by Veronica Roth: 4/5 stars

I certainly do miss Veronica's writing! This one, I must say, was my most anticipated story, alongside Cassandra Clare's, because Veronica is one of my all-time favourite authors and I NEED MORE FROM HER. I cannot wait until January until her next novel is released. This had a sci-fi aspect implanted, but that did not take anything out from the romance or summer. Everything mixed in together beautifully.

Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skovron: 3/5 stars

I adored the setting and the characters, but sometimes this was just too drama filled for my liking. I wouldn't want to read this as a full-length novel which proves that the three star rating I gave it seems fine. I shipped the romance, but then that didn't seem very believable to me, and... yep. 

Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert: 4/5 stars

AWWWWW. This story featured a protagonist who was getting depressed over the fact that her cousin would be jetting off away with her girlfriend. She then forms a relationship with her cousin's girlfriend's brother, if that makes any sense. This story just kept me going and being interested for the whole duration. I'm looking into Brandy's writing right away!

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare: 4.5/5 stars

CASSANDRA CLARE HAS DONE IT AGAIN WITH MY SECOND-FAVOURITE STORY OUT OF THIS ANTHOLOGY. I loved this one, even though it had fantasy aspects! This featured family drama, romance, and this super eerie traveling carnival that I adored and want to work at. Oh, and did I mention that our protagonist is goth with rainbow-coloured streaks? You cannot get better than that.

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith: 5/5 stars

THIS IS MY FAVOURITE STORY. I never have given Jennifer E. Smith a 5 star rating before, but this absolutely deserves it. I WANT THIS TO BE A FULL-LENGTH NOVEL. This is about Annie and Griffin, the boy she has had a crush on forever. They finally start hanging out, and then THERE'S A PLOT TWIST AND AGH. I cannot get this out of my head. Can I meet a cute guy at the grocery store? ;)

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman: 1.5/5 stars

NOPE. This story was senseless, honestly. I currently don't remember anything about it and I only read this book two days ago, hah. 

So. My favourite story? A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong, then Brand New Attraction, then the four star ones. I love this collection, but I can only wish that some stories were better, more fluffy and satisfying. I NEED MORE PERKINS ANTHOLOGIES.

From all of the authors who wrote a story here, who is your ultimate favourite?

The Trap by Melanie Raabe // A "Mystery" About PTSD

Monday, 3 October 2016 0 comments
The Trap, by Melanie Raabe
Publication: July 5, 2016, by Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

For 11 years, the bestselling author Linda Conrads has mystified fans by never setting foot outside her home. Haunted by the unsolved murder of her younger sister--who she discovered in a pool of blood--and the face of the man she saw fleeing the scene, Linda's hermit existence helps her cope with debilitating anxiety. But the sanctity of her oasis is shattered when she sees her sister's murderer on television. Hobbled by years of isolation, Linda resolves to use the plot of her next novel to lay an irresistible trap for the man. As the plan is set in motion and the past comes rushing back, Linda's memories -- and her very sanity -- are called into question. Is this man a heartless killer or merely a helpless victim?

My Thoughts:

Melanie Raabe's The Trap was one of my most anticipated books to read from BEA this year, mainly because the Hachette booth spent so much of their time advertising this newbie and all that it has to give. I remember getting it on the first day and stroking the cover in my hotel room afterwards, wanting to read it more than anything. (Some other books came later and I then decided that I wanted to read them more than this, haha.) The Trap was promising something else to me, I felt. I looked for this to be a psychological thriller that is simple, yet intriguing for the whole time and then shocked us in the end. I had nothing but high expectations for this new release, and I felt rather disappointed by the end because instead of a thriller, we just got a contemporary about grief and PTSD. If I felt in the mood to read that kind of story, I perhaps would have enjoyed this one, but it fell rather short of my expectations. Yes, Goodreads and the publisher label this as a mystery, but looking at the way that we readers got to know the protagonist, Linda Conrads, I felt that this was more of a character-driven story about her development after the death of her sister, Anna. 

PTSD is rarely touched upon in books. This definitely is a fantastic example of how PTSD is actually portrayed (I've read a lot of articles/true stories about people who have dealt/are dealing with it currently), and unlike your cookie-cutter cases where the protagonist could possibly be a veteran/police officer/firefighter, this is the realest case possible, a victim of violence. Linda wasn't the straight-on victim herself, but she did witness the aftermath of the murder of her sister, seeing her corpse on the ground and even seeing her murderer, who later ran away. If you are curious to read about the aftermath of a brutal murder, this book is perfect for you. I didn't look for the aftermath. Okay, I kind of did, but I looked more for the mystery part of the story. Melanie Raabe gave us more of Linda's personal struggles mixed in with the plot. 

PTSD, also known as post traumatic stress disorder, is a real mental illness that many people deal with constantly. It never goes away, and I adored Raabe's portrayal of this illness with Linda's character. It makes the murder seem more believable, that her trying to discover who her sister's murderer is is killing her on the inside. Linda's character has also never left her house after the murder, spending her spare time with her dog or people who are there to provide her aid (and buy her groceries and those things), and most importantly, she spends her time writing books. At first, they were books of a complete different genre, but Raabe does let us on into her new book, which is basically everything Linda herself has overcome with her sister's death, put into a "fictional" story. 

Yes, plot twists come in here and there throughout the story, all because Linda, at the same time as she writes her novel, is creating a trap for the murderer. I felt that there was no emphasis on the trap itself, but Linda's novel, which I couldn't care less about. I don't like books in a book. Sure, some excerpts are cool, but this was basically a half-Linda's life half-Linda's book story. I didn't want to read the same thing over and over again. Occasionally, things got interesting when something was revealed in Linda's book but was never mentioned in her actual perspective. (I hope that those things were actually real and true, now that I think about it.) 

"As you mentioned before, my life is far from normal. I don't leave the house, don't go to work, don't go to the baker's or the supermarket. I don't travel, I don't meet friends in caf├ęs or clubs. I live a life that is very secluded, which means it is not always easy to avoid boredom. Writing is my way of allowing myself to escape a bit, and I wanted to try out something different" (117).

I must admit, at first, I thought that this was a true story, hah. Melanie Raabe made it sound so believable! I started thinking that this was from Melanie's POV, until the name "Linda" was said, and I realized that this is pure fiction. Yay to Melanie for making this really believable. I just strived to read something more... action-packed, instead of the slowness that this actually provided. In terms of plot and writing, there was practically no development whatsoever. That's why I could only label this novel with three stars, instead of five or four or what the majority of readers are giving to this. I'd also like to congratulate Imogen Taylor, the translator, who did an amazing job of translating Melanie's work from German to English. I love reading translated work!

The Trap by Melanie Raabe was a trap for readers, that's for sure. I came into this expecting an action-packed thriller that will make me scared of the world (especially at night), but instead, we just received a character-driven story that was more about the reality of these kinds of events happening instead of legitimately solving the mystery. That's okay too, but I absolutely don't enjoy being fooled.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

Have you ever gotten fooled by a publisher where you thought you would be reading a mystery/thriller novel? What is your favourite translated work?

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui // Graphic Novels Like This Are the Best!

Saturday, 1 October 2016 0 comments
The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui
Publication: March 7, 2017, by Abrams ComicArts
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.
In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

My Thoughts:

Occasionally, I enjoy reading graphic novels and comics just because of the format. Why not choose to read a supposed "gorgeous, moving memoir" that's a comic, which will help one boost their Goodreads reading challenge? Why not read a beautiful comic story filled with gorgeous art that will make you swoon and not be able to sleep at night, because, in addition to words that stunned you, there are astonishing drawings included? Why not read a book that you will finish fairly quickly? There are so many positive things I see about reading a comic book—and this isn't your typical Archie or Looney Tunes story. Instead, Thi Bui, the author of The Best We Could Do, stuns us readers with a true story of her childhood, and the lives of her parents when they decided that they would leave their hard lives in Vietnam and move to America during the Vietnam War. We learn about things that our history teachers may have not told us otherwise, secretive things right from the perspective of someone who has been through it all, and someone who has researched like crazy to put this story and her drawings together. 

Throughout her memoir, I learned that Thi Bui was on a mission: to find out the truth behind her culture and family. Some people simply do not care or have an interest in their family's heritage and what their home countries really stand/stood for. Although Bui was a child when she was in Vietnam, barely remembering anything, she went back, for the sake of readers and herself, going to her parents, who, afterwards, have built a better relationship with her, asking for answers about the past that is forbidden to mention. 

Bui's artwork is unstoppably beautiful. When I say beautiful, I seriously mean beautiful, not in a light way whatsoever. It makes her story come more alive, allowing readers to get a real feel for how the people she loves look like, and how Vietnam looked like, from her perspective, because I simply believe that everyone has a different outlook on what a place really looks like from their own eyes. I appreciated Bui's, because honestly? It hurts to look at how much people suffered in that country in the past, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to visit the country and learn about their history otherwise. Bui did that marvellously in a three-hundred paged memoir that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Sometimes, I enjoy leaving the young-adult genre and head out to explore books in a more realistic way. In adult fiction/non-fiction, I find that there are so many more opportunities of novels explored that the possibilities are simply endless and no one will ever be able to explore every single novel that they would like to explore and read. I really enjoyed taking a break from life/YA to read this memoir. It's something new, heartbreaking but lovely to read about because we barely get to from the perspective of a survivor or someone who has looked for a better future in a place that promised that. We see Bui's family's struggles, even their struggles in America, whether it was getting a job, staying away from illnesses that they never knew they were prone to catch, or being able to have enough food on the table. Bui illustrates the fact that us humans never stop struggling, but that we could minimize the struggle if we look up at the sky and be grateful. 

I cannot, in any way, summarize Thi Bui's story. That's absolute blindness from my side if I chose to do that for my fellow reviewers/readers. That's Thi's job to do, and you will simply adore reading this story of hers, and now I have decided that I just want to find out more about Vietnam, its struggles with communism, and discover more stories from people who just want their struggles to be shared, but not to be felt sorry for, but to teach others about their histories, to give them information and to have them feel. 

Once I began reading, Bui's images honestly captured me—I was thrown into the past, in the last century where the world was hit with the most violence ever in history, and I had tears in my eyes and in my heart. Inside, I was crying hysterically, but outside, I felt strong, because I just wanted to keep reading and not be disturbed by my excessive crying and feels. Sometimes, I must admit, crying is not the way to feel a book—reading it and adoring it is, instead.

The Best We Could Do is a stunning, truly impressive story written about a stunning family who I would love to meet and just have a chat about history with. Thi Bui is an amazing artist and writer, who, during the period of time I read every page, made me feel as someone more important than just a reader of her upcoming debut memoir. Her story is one in a million, although thousands and millions of citizens of her nation, Vietnam, encountered some similar events as her family, the Buis, had. On release day, March 7, 2017, take a visit to your local bookstore and support this electrifying story. 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What are some other comic memoirs/comic debuts that really moved you? What are some other amazing stories about the Vietnam War?

Blog Tour: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter // A Fantasy Novel That Many YA Readers Will Adore

Monday, 26 September 2016 0 comments
Vassa in the Night, by Sarah Porter
Publication: September 20, 2016, by Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.
In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.
But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .
Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.

My Thoughts:

Sarah Porter’s Vassa in the Night is one of the books that many of us book bloggers, especially us YA ones, would adore. It’s unique, carries a plot in a setting rarely explored—a city that we all love and find enchanting beyond its billboards, New York City. In fact, Porter explores the city of Brooklyn, a city that still holds the glitz and glamour beyond Times Square. I ached to purchase this one—I ached to buy it and fall in love with it after BookExpo America this year. I was one of the unfortunate ones who wasn't able to grab a copy, but I was so happy to have been offered a spot on this blog tour. Vassa in the Night originally seemed that it would stun us readers so incredibly that it would pop up on many Top 10 lists this December. I was a little bummed, expecting a five star read, though, nevertheless, I would definitely recommend it.

We immediately are thrown into this day-and-night imagery cycle, really reminding me of something that Shakespeare would write about. Sarah Porter uses Night as the most enchanting part of the day in the world we’re reading about. The characters, especially Vassa, seem so much more intriguing when they are described side by side in accordance with Night. We never hear much about “Day,” which could be some kind of religious reference or allusion, but we usually read about Night. Everything, everything that was written about in the story has meaning to it. No matter if you look at this book as a page, or as a chapter, everything had extreme imagery and meaning. Thank you, Sarah Porter, for that. 

One of the issues I had with this all was the pacing and concept. Fantasy is a hit or miss for me, as I constantly mention, and I do have to say that this was more of a miss from my perspective. Something that bothered me was the fact that I got constantly bored with the story. I didn’t get some of the plot points and all of that. I did get extremely emotionally attached to the characters, if I do say so myself.

ERG. VASSA. EVERYONE. Can I just cry right now? (I feel like I need them in my life and I do not want to spoil anything about them because they’re mine. Okay? *giggles*) Is there romance? Heck, yes. THE SHIPS ARE REAL. 

I just adored reading the story and it was so enjoyable. I don't know if I would a hundred percent want to go ahead and read a sequel, but I must say that Porter is a talented author who keeps on impressing readers again and again. I have read the first book of her Lost Voices trilogy, which hadn't gone well for me, but many have adored it so… *twiddles eyebrows* This definitely can go perfectly well for many people. I was somewhere in the middle.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*


  I pick her up between my thumb and forefinger and wrap her in a hand towel. She’s a pretty thing with her swooping violet eyelids and tiny ruby mouth, her thin arched black brows and perfect curls. She has a carved wooden dress, sky blue with white painted loops standing in for lace at the collar and cuffs. Her exposed skin is just varnished pale wood, then her legs end in white socks with more of that curly trim and black Mary Janes, all painted. Her knees, elbows, and waist are jointed and she can pivot her head. Nice workmanship. Too bad they didn’t spend more time on her personality.In spite of myself, I kiss the top of her shiny head. She tries to bite my lip, but I yank her back in time and her little wooden jaws snap on empty air. 
  When I said that magical things in Brooklyn should be shunned like the plague? I’m sorry to say that’s not always an option. I was leaving Erg out of the equation although, with her being a talking doll and everything, she’d be magic by anyone’s standards. I don’t have much chance of avoiding her, since we’re bound to each other for life. And no, I didn’t name her that. It’s what she calls herself. When I was younger I tried to get her to accept names like Jasmine or Clarissa but she wasn’t having it. 
  I plonk Erg down on my lap and get out the bottle of lemon oil from under the sink. It’s her favorite and I always try to keep some around. Dab the oil on some toilet paper and give her a nice rubdown, working it up and down her limbs while she makes little purring sounds. Getting oiled makes her sleepy and she rolls on my black flannel pajamas and rubs her face against me like a kitten. She can be cute sometimes. She’d better be cute, really, considering all the trouble she causes.

What is your newest favourite fantasy read? What are some good books featured in NYC?

Soundless by Richelle Mead // Boring and Not My Type!

Friday, 23 September 2016 0 comments
Soundless, by Richelle Mead
Publication: November 10, 2015, by Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 266
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

In a village without sound… For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.
When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation. One girl hears a call to action… Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon. She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever… And unlocks a power that will save her people.

My Thoughts:

I've officially almost read all of Richelle Mead's books, guys! Soundless is a very interesting take on a diverse fantasy novel taken place a mystery faraway kingdom called Beiguo, which features Chinese (supposed) characters who live in this kingdom and they're all basically suffering. I never got why. Or understood why. Anyways, Richelle Mead for the first time (from what I have read) has created a standalone novel that features myths, creatures and searing noises. *laughs* I didn't really enjoy this one, and I must say that it's one of Richelle's worst books, in my opinion. WHERE WAS THE EXPLANATION BEHIND ALL OF THE DIVERSITY AND THE COOL FIGHTS? This was just hideously boring and I almost DNFed it because I was bored out of my mind and didn't have the patience to read more about Fei.

Richelle Mead never has created a snoozefest for me in the past. I'm surprised, because she is one of the only fantasy authors who I could read, and actually enjoy. Vampire Academy and The Glittering Court were both great. Hmmph. Khanh explained her worries about this book perfectly in her review. I totally agree with her, though I saw a tiny bit more light than she did. I liked Fei and her wicked Mulan-like mentality. I read this a few weeks ago, and I cannot remember anything about this book, though. I am pretty sure that's a bad sign. I won't change the rating of this, because I have no classified information into why I didn't like it so much. Oh, well. 

I've never read anything like this before, so that was a highlight for me. I unfortunately missed out on a copy of this at BEA in 2015, and my life was ruined from that moment on. I didn't purchase a copy of this because (a) hardcovers are too expensive, and this is only 266 pages, really short compared to Richelle's other big, chunky books. Thank goodness I didn't buy it. I did want to meet Richelle last year, though. *cries* Soundless seems to be a hit or miss for many reviewers out there, especially on Goodreads. I see a mixed of positive and negative reviews, and I'm more in the negative crowd, I feel. I wanted action, I wanted explanations, though not too many explanations that I would call "info dumping." I just wanted to know the reason why behind the starvation of the citizens of Beiguo, and why Fei herself is put in the situation she was.

Richelle Mead always writes with passion in her books. It always seems that she researches a whole lot before she actually writes a particular story. Soundless had that rich culture in it, but it was too boring and eventless for my liking. 

AND GUYS. This book was about deaf villagers. THAT'S NEW, RIGHT? But it was just a minor thing, and Richelle confused us a whole lot because there was a mix of weird dialogue. I'm still confused. That was a weird addition to the plot, for sure.

Soundless is a weak telling of a diverse fantasy that has such an unique interesting twist: a community of deaf people, but it turned out to disappoint than please. I liked our protagonist, Fei, but this was a snoozefest as well. Thank goodness I liked the idea, though, or the fact that I was initially interested, but would I reread this ever? Nah. Thanks fate, for not making me waste my time for a review copy when someone else could enjoy this more.

What is your favourite Richelle Mead novel? Do you like Vampire Academy? What is a book that's fantasy and has been written so well unlike others?

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware // Ruth Has Done It Again!

Saturday, 17 September 2016 2 comments
The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware
Publication: July 19, 2016, by Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.
In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

My Thoughts:

A year ago, I was fortunate to read Ruth Ware's debut novel that changed the way I currently look at psychological thrillers. In a Dark, Dark Wood was absolutely gorgeous, stunning and life-changing. I read it in a matter of sittings, adored it and couldn't stop reading once I began. A few months later, I heard about this upcoming thriller by her, taking place on a cruise ship—we certainly don't see that often. In fact, I don't think I have ever heard about a thriller taken place on a cruise ship or plane or anything that's not land. Obviously, things like this occur in reality, but in fiction? I truly appreciate Ruth Ware's smart idea to attract readers to her writing from this setting, and having characters like Lo in store for us to read about. The Woman in Cabin 10 initially had me expecting the woman to be our protagonist, Lo, but as I kept reading, I discovered that this is a mystery/murder/thriller novel being told about someone else on the cruise ship that our travel writer protagonist is staying on... someone we don't know anything about and someone we can just rely one appearance on to start making a mystery.

You see, with Ruth Ware's writing, we don't know the truth to the mystery until the end. I seriously did not know what the truth behind the mystery of the body that was thrown overboard until the last chapter or so. I wouldn't call this as good as Ware's debut novel, but it seriously comes as another amazing addition to her accomplishments that I seriously recommend. We have yet again another protagonist who, to some, can look bratty and absolutely selfish, but does act completely independent in terms of how she tries to find out the truth to everything she does not know about the setting around her. Why I love Ware's writing in her psychological thrillers is because we are on the same basis as her protagonists. If her protagonists do not know something, we don't know it, either. And there's no way that a reader would be able to predict the truth behind it all. I believe that it's mentally impossible to guess the truth. I had no idea, and I had no idea that the people who were involved were going to be involved prior the truth being revealed.

Before I go off about the synopsis and what Ware actually wrote about, I must say that the cover is spectacularly beautiful. It's stunning, and suits the book so well. Now I'm actually fearing to ever go on a cruise again. And never to Finland/Norway and North Europe. As much as I would like to see the Aurora Borealis, I'll jet off to see that on my own. That's something on my bucket list. (Not the cruise thing, though.) We immediately meet Lo Blacklock, our protagonist, who freaks out in the beginning of the book because she gets an intruder in her home... when she was home alone. Her boyfriend, Judah, was off on a trip the night when Lo suddenly woke up and found an unwanted man in her bedroom, who later attempted to hurt her. Flash forward a few days, and this travel journalist is on a cruise ship, a luxurious one, in fact, setting sail to the Northern Baltic Sea. Lo gets her own private cabin, and things seem swell until one night, she spots a body being thrown overboard from the room next door. She borrowed mascara from a girl who stayed there, and Lo freaks out right away, thinking that she was dead. No one believes Lo's accusations, because no one is supposed to be staying in the room next door.

Dun, dun, dun. I freaked out from the beginning of the story, especially after Lo had an intruder in her house. I just felt tension throughout the story and didn't want nothing to happen to her. I've always thought about being a writer and traveling the world, but this has made me absolutely traumatized. I felt that Lo had no one to trust, not even her boyfriend, Judah. I felt attached to Lo and was addicted to her story, though I did see parts of her that made me want to roll my eyes. You know how independence is good, right? Lo took it to another level and seemed to complain about everyone around her. We never were able to get the opportunity to read about why she previously had depression in the past and why she needs those pills. It's just something about her that's placed into the book that was just for filling, to step up the actual mystery's truth. And I would have loved to see more of Ben as a character, find out more about their past together. Occasionally, a book shouldn't only focus on the main point, you know?

The Woman in Cabin 10 is a novel that is so different than others out there. I don't see it as a copy of anything else we've ever read recently—instead, it has its own flair that will probably make other authors look at Ruth Ware as an inspiration. THE ENDING IS THE BEST PART OF THE BOOK. If you're crazy and feel like you need to stop reading the book, DON'T. You can stop once you finish reading it. *winks*

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is your favourite 2016 mystery-thriller? What have you heard about Ruth Ware's writing?