I received this book for free from Publisher, Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: scythe, by neal shustermanScythe by Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Simon and Schuster on November 22nd, 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Death & Dying, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher, Simon and Schuster
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

THIS BOOK IS PHENOMENAL.

when i received this title in the mail – having known nothing about the story or read anything by the author – i wasn’t sure if i’d like it. i sworn off dystopian novels after reading one too many but this one sounded so interesting. so i decided to read the first page and i knew, right off the bat, i would love this novel.

i love everything about this book – the writing, the plot, the characters, everything. my love for this book came in quiet waves. i started off being really intrigued, but that soon became something more. the plot began to build (love all the twists and turns it all has – nothing i was expecting!) and soon enough i was flipping through pages and rooting for characters and screaming at situations. i also love how there was a romance in the story, but it was very slow-burn and wasn’t the main point of the storyline. it was so small that i almost thought there was no romance at all! but the chemistry builds and it becomes more obvious as the story progresses.

the main reason why i love this novel is due to its recurring themes. i find it hard to see meaning/a purpose in some dystopian novels aside from an entertaining story, but SCYTHE was different. when you’re forced to kill people as your job (or you’re learning to kill people), your humanity becomes questionable. when you live in a world where there is no pain and your life is immortal, you see how detached we can become. nothing is at risk. is that really a perfect world? it made me really think about what it means to be alive and what it means to be human. it made me question the meaning of life and death.

the one thing i will say is it was a bit hard to reaaaaaaally connect with characters at first because the book is written in an omniscient POV. the story would jump around from person to person, making it easy for me to stop reading and do something in my daily life. also because of this, i didn’t feel the need to continuously read. BUT, this is my first time reading a book with this type of writing and it didn’t bother me too much. the writing itself was beautiful and i often found myself wanting to annotate.

all in all, this book is amazing. i wasn’t expecting much from it and now it’s one of my favorite reads of 2016. not only is the story well thought out, but i also gained a lot of perspective on what it means to be alive. and that, i think, is something really special.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.6

review-heartless, by marissa meyer

I received this book for free from Macmillan, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: heartless, by marissa meyerHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 8th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Legends, Myths, Fables, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: Macmillan, Publisher
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

HEARTLESS by marissa meyer

marissa meyer twisted together a tale that is different, and yet familiar.

i had high expectations going on HEARTLESS. marissa meyer is one of my favorite authors and ALICE IN WONDERLAND is one of my favorite stories. naturally, the mix would be amazing. but this book is nothing like THE LUNAR CHRONICLES, and this story is not your ordinary retelling. i came to love the story and its characters, but i do have some minor complaints.

before beginning, i’d recommend going over a wikipedia of what the original ALICE IN WONDERLAND story consists of. i knew a small basis – alice follows a rabbit down a hole and ends up in wonderland – but i didn’t bother with the details. i always imagined wonderland as a sort of place with a plethora of mysteries yet to be discovered. and so, i didn’t remember or care for minor characters. lemme say this again: KNOW THE ORIGIN STORY. not only will it make the book more enjoyable, but you’ll also be less confused. for the majority of the book, i was confused. but i didn’t mind so much because that’s wonderland. marissa meyer wrote the novel in a style that made me feel as if i should already know the world, but i didn’t. there were also (of course) parallels between the original tale.

the writing style was really unexpected – and i loved it. everything from the characters to the setting to plot made the whole atmosphere feel so magical and wistful. i felt like i was IN wonderland and i was watching all the events string together. it took some getting used to – i was expecting something similar to TLC – but by the end i was in love. (and also drooling. don’t read this book when you’re hungry because the DESCRIPTIONS OF FOOD OMG. the main character is a baker and i just *sighs* I WANT THE FOOD.)

what bothered me slightly about this novel was the pacing. i had a hard time getting into it (see: confusion) and when i did, there’d be chunks of chapters that were so sloooooooooow. there wasn’t much going on, and i couldn’t see where the focus was, and then BAM last hundred pages had me clutching the book like it was a missing arm. suddenly, i realize i love all the characters and the plot clicks into place. BUT i do think the climax could’ve come earlier in the book because it went from snail’s-pace to sofastsofast. although when the climax was revealed, i was an emotional wreck. marissa meyer can be SO HEARTLESS sometimes. (pun intended)

HEARTLESS was a bit of a weird read for me. there were so many aspects i loved about the book – the characters, writing, plot, etc. – but the pacing and world threw me off. however, i also feel it’s partially my fault because i had expectations of what the story might be or “should” be. like wonderland, this book is not one you can predict. there are twists and tricks and turns and flips; so sit back, relax, and enjoy the story – because i’m sure you’ll have sympathy for the so-called evil queen of hearts by the end of the journey.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
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Cover
Overall: 3.7

there are only 46 days until the release! are you excited to pick up this novel? (you really really should)

review - how it feels to fly

I received this book for free from HarperCollins, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: how it feels to fly, by kathryn holmesHow It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes
Published by HarperTeen on June 14th 2016
Genres: Anxiety, Contemporary, Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Fiction, General, Girls & Women, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: HarperCollins, Publisher
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

A struggle with body dysmorphia forces one girl to decide if letting go of her insecurity also means turning her back on her dreams.

Sam has always known she’d be a professional dancer—but that was before her body betrayed her, developing unmanageable curves in all the wrong places. Lately, the girl staring back at Sam in the mirror is unrecognizable. Dieting doesn’t work, ignoring the whispers is pointless, and her overbearing mother just makes it worse.

Following a series of crippling anxiety attacks, Sam is sent to a treatment camp for teens struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. Forced to open up to complete strangers, Sam must get through the program if she wants to attend a crucial ballet intensive later in the summer. It seems hopeless until she starts confiding in a camp counselor who sparks a confidence she was sure she’d never feel again. But when she’s faced with disappointing setbacks, will Sam succumb to the insecurity that imprisons her?

This compelling story from Kathryn Holmes examines one girl’s efforts to overcome her worst enemy: herself.

how it feels to fly

it’s frightening how much i related with the main character.

HOW IT FEELS TO FLY is a book that is ME. the story follows a ballet dancer who struggles with anxiety, panic attacks, and body image issues. although i don’t have anxiety, i am a ballet dancer and i do struggle with my body image from time to time. (when you critic yourself in the mirror for hours on end every day — wearing a skin-tight leotard and tights — it’s hard not to judge.) needless to say, the main character’s thought process didn’t stray too far from my own on a day-to-day basis. her’s was just an intensified version of mine.

most “ballet books” i’ve read are a mild version of BLACK SWAN, which isn’t the slightest bit accurate in terms of dancing and feeling. this novel was the first i read that made me feel that yes, the author must’ve been a dancer herself, and yes, everything was en pointe (pun totally intended). i could imagine samantha being a girl at my studio, or a girl i could meet at a summer program, or even in some cases, myself. sam’s character arc was really refreshing because we can slowly see her getting better, and wanting to get better.

“She’s light, but grounded. She moves like water, like a reed, like the wind. She shines on stage.” (pg. 111, ARC)

since the story is set in a mental illness camp for teens, we also meet other characters who hope to pursue careers in gymnastics, football, tennis, figure skating, acting, and more. i liked this aspect because it’s also not something you would “normally” see. most people focus on academics and all these professions are very specialized. although relationships build between these characters, i didn’t feel its depth and thought it was a bit reserved.

my biggest issue with this book was the romance because it was completely UNNECESSARY and frustrating (like i-want-to-throw-this-book-across-the-room frustrating). the summary is so misleading because it makes it seem like the romance was a big deal, but it honestly wasn’t. it started off being really subtle and i wasn’t even sure if it was a ~thing~. but towards the end it was suddenly “important” and afterward, it was just left unresolved. i think the story would’ve been better if it wasn’t there. the author could’ve gone deeper into sam’s own character and self-discovery. i know the male lead helped develop her character, but it sends a message that makes me feel squeamish; like, does a person HAVE to “fall in love” in order to recover? it made me feel like you HAVE to be reliant on someone (romantically) in order to get better. it was frustrating and frankly, dumb. (also there’s a thing about the ending that bothered me just a tiiiiiny bit, although it was really realistic.) View Spoiler »

“I think you have to love something if you’re gonna make sacrifices for it.” (pg. 118, ARC)

i connected with the main character and situation really well, but i can’t be sure everyone else will. however, i do think people should read it simply because it’s so insightful on anxiety and mental illness. it shows the way athletes can mentally overwhelm themselves in addition to physically. it shows that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to want to get better. i can’t say if it’s the perfect book for you, but i can say it was the (almost!) perfect book for me.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

REVIEW: THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING

I received this book for free from Publisher, Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: the unexpected everything, by morgan matsonThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Fiction, Friendship, Love & Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 519
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher, Simon and Schuster
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

Andie had it all planned out.
When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.
Important internship? Check.
Amazing friends? Check.
Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks)
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.
Because here’s the thing - if everything's planned out, you can never find the unexpected.
And where’s the fun in that?

THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING

THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING was, unexpectedly, everything i could ask for in a novel.

i wasn’t entirely sure what the story was about when i first started; the summary was a little vague and it simply seemed like a fun, summer read — which it was, but it was also more than that. unlike the other two Morgan Matson novels i read (SYBG and A&RED), the plot wasn’t very clear. we know from the start of SYBG that there’s a list and the main character needs to complete. TUE was much more… unexpected because we didn’t know where it was going. it was like a REAL summer when days blur together and all that’s left are the moments.

“…as I looked up, I wondered which of these stars – the ones that seemed so permanent and fixed – weren’t actually done changing quite yet.” (pg. 462)

a big part of this novel revolves around the relationships between people — friendship, family(!!), and romantic. at first, it was a bit difficult to differentiate our cast of friends, but eventually, i grew to learn their quirks and personalities. i love how accurate everything was to real life. some relationships started off rocky and awkward and i LOVED that because it made it much more natural. the way the story plays out makes me realize and appreciate how important all the relationships in our lives are.

i love love love our characters. for one, the main character’s real name is ALEXANDRA and i immediately felt a kinship with her because i’ve never read a book with an MC that has my name. even though she couldn’t be any more different me, i still understood her. andie’s character arc is so pronounced and kind of empowering. a big reason why MM is one of my fave authors: her character arcs are FANTASTIC. another big reason: the male leads are SO SWOONY… in an awkwardly nerdy and adorable way. clark is probably my favorite of her male leads (yes, more than frank porter) because HE’S SO WONDERFUL. i’m just going to leave that that because i can’t elaborate without going on for another 5,000 words. (and also, the two of them together are SO ADORABLE.)

“If whole galaxies could change, so could I.” (pg. 505)

my favorite aspect of this novel was the honesty of each character and situation. i keep repeat myself saying it’s SO REAL, but it’s true; it really is so real. like yes, there are some situations that are tropes or clichés or “not realistic” (like being the senator’s daughter? REALLY??), but looking beyond and past those things you see the honesty of it all. the reactions and interactions of these people. the growth and concept. (sounds sentimental, i know) i could see myself having these conversations in my real life, and it made me feel as if i were truly part of the story.

“Life is so short, my darling. And there’s no day like today.” (pg. 474)

as you can clearly tell, THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING is fantastic. i was initially worried i’d be disappointed by my high hopes but nope, i truly enjoyed it! it was, i suppose you could say, less interesting than MM’s other works because there wasn’t thaaaat much going on in the plot and instead focused on characters, but in many ways, it made me like it more. all in all, TUE didn’t disappoint and i’m really happy with how things wrapped up.

story soundtrack: summertime, by the mowgli’s

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
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Cover
Overall: 4.8

review - lady midnight

I received this book for free from Publisher, Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW + DISCUSSION: lady midnight, by cassandra clareLady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on March 8th 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, Friendship, Love & Romance, Romance, Siblings, Young Adult
Pages: 720
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher, Simon and Schuster
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

note: all quotations are taken from the uncorrected proof and may differ from the finished copy. they’re subject to change.

saying LADY MIDNGHT is an emotional rollercoaster ride is an understatement.

i’m shell-shocked by cassandra clare’s improvement in writing, world building, character development, EVERYTHING. especially since i just finished rereading her first two novels, it’s so obviously clear as to how much she’s grown as an author. she keeps getting better and better. her ability to create more depth in the shadow world never fazes to amaze me. i personally don’t find the writing to be very special, but THE WORLD is so incredible. we see characters we know from TMI and TID (which made me SO GIDDY) and now THEY’RE the side characters. more secrets about their government unravel, more family relationships explained, and MORE ANGST. it’s also nice because it’s written in a way that doesn’t require you to read the companion series.

“Everyone is more than one thing… We are more than single actions we undertake, whether they be good or evil.” (pg. 565, ARC)

my favorite part of LADY MIDNIGHT is not the intricately thought out plot – which is very intricate and very well thoughout out – but the depth of our cast. i remember reading THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS and finding everyone a bit flat or “too perfect.” clary and jace (from TMI) were both born to be legends and, to me, they were cutouts of The Chosen One. our main characters in LM, emma and julian, aren’t naturally “special” but work to where they’re at. i could easily connect with them because they’re just regular people shadowhunters, who are trying to make the most out of what’s thrown at them. and it’s not only our two leads who i adore; EVERYONE is incredibly fleshed out and unique. clare made it so easy for me to connect with all of them, which led me to feel ALL THE FEELZ. i also love how there are many diverse characters and aspects, but they weren’t the main focus; it’s there and it’s important but it’s not flung in your face.

the plot has such a nice balance between action, romance, suspense, and magic. although the book is the size of a monster, there weren’t many parts that felt dragged or unnecessary (a few, but not many). one of the conflicts the story follows is family centered, which i LOVE because i feel like there’s more to YA than romance and monsters; LADY MIDNIGHT has all three! *sly grin* but yes, this book has a perfect mix of everything.

“The choices we make, make us.” (pg. 608, ARC)

if you couldn’t tell from my paragraphs of gushing, I LOVE THIS NOVEL. i usually try to be very picky and critical with my books, but i honestly couldn’t find anything i truly disliked. it made me fall in love with the world and characters and everything about everything. (it also made me feel like i was being stabbed in the heart a few million times, but i suppose i’m a bit masochistic.)

Rating Report
Plot
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Writing
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Overall: 4.8

spoiler-filled discussion beginning. PLEASE do not continue reading unless you want to be severely spoiled. and let me tell you, YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED. GO READ THIS BOOK!


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