Monday, 22 May 2017

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1)

Series: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Page Count: 359
Published: February 21st, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  3 Stars ★★★

Aristotle doesn't have many friends. A fifteen year old boy living in Texas, the summer provides a welcome break from school. He meets Dante at the pool, when he offers to teach Aristotle how to swim. They start a close friendship that both will cherish and that will withstand misfortune, distance, and growing up.

The main characters in this novel, Aristotle and Dante, were definitely enjoyable to read about. The story itself is told through Aristotle's eyes, so the reader gets to know him a bit more than Dante. Aristotle is surprisingly mature for a fifteen year old, and he's dealing with his own issues at home, including his father's memories of the war, and his brother's absence. Dante, on the other hand, seems to have a simpler life, with a professor for a father and, as with Aristotle, a Mexican identity.

However, this book didn't really have a plot. The whole thing seemed more like a journal written by Aristotle than a novel. There didn't seem to be any main story line besides growing up, making friends, and discovering oneself. I personally prefer books with more defined plots, lots of action, or at least a central conflict. But this book lacked these elements. Even as a contemporary novel, it was almost boring at times in comparison to other contemporary books.

The dialogue between Aristotle and Dante was, in my opinion, unrealistic. Sure, they can be mature for their age. But the way they were speaking didn't seem typical of fifteen year old boys, even mature ones. I felt like I was reading dialogue between two university students, at times. While I'm not a fan of stereotyping people, particularly based on one's age, there's no denying that the behaviors common in teenage boys generally do not include pseudo-philosophical ideas or flowery language, as observed in this novel.

I can't say too much about the ending of this book without spoiling it, but I will say that I think the ending was rushed and unrealistic as well. Very little, through Aristotle's eyes and thoughts, was expressed throughout the book to even hint that the book may end this way. Considering that it concerns a fairly important part of Aristotle's identity, I was really disappointed that the book ended this way, or, that the author failed to include any hints or ideas throughout the book that may have pointed to such an ending.

On the positive side, I will say that I appreciate that this book tackled some tough subjects such as hate crimes, and it did so pretty well. I found myself devastated when one of the characters found themself targeted by bigots, and Aristotle's descriptions of the situation really tugged at my heart.

Overall, a contemporary novel with some interesting characters, but it falls short. There was lots of potential for this book to be absolutely, five-star level amazing, but the lack of concrete plot and unrealistic dialogue took away from my reading experience.

I recommend this book to fans of young adult books, contemporary novels, and stories about friendship.

Find Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe on Goodreads

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

The Reckoning (Darkest Powers, #3)

Series: Darkest Powers
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Page Count: 391
Published: April 6th, 2010
Publisher: Orbit
  5 Stars ★★★★★

Chloe and her friends have taken refuge with Andrew, a man from Simon and Derek's past who is part of an organization against the Edison Group. The teens fear that the Edison Group will kill them, especially Derek, because their genetically modified powers seem to be out of control. But the Edison Group aren't the only people who think that they are dangerous: individuals in Andrew's group agree that they might be better off with the Edison Group. 

Their problems aren't just a matter of life and death. Chloe is dealing with some personal issues as well, such as her attraction to the two brothers. While she doesn't want to break Simon's heart after all this time, she can't deny that her attraction is leaning towards the werewolf boy, Derek. With their lives and their hearts at stake, the group has a lot to lose. 

In the conclusion to the Darkest Powers trilogy, Chloe doesn't know who she can trust. 

This is the third book I've read by Kelley Armstrong, and it certainly won't be the last. As with the first two books in this trilogy, I was absolutely captivated by the story of Chloe, a young necromancer, struggling with her powers and her feelings. 

As usual, Chloe's narration remained sincere and genuine, her voice making her identity as a fifteen year old girl certainly very plausible. I also like that she is portrayed as quite mature for her age, and that she deals with her problems generally in a very serious, thought-out way. She is a likeable character for sure, she's the kind of paranormal, teenage girl that readers of all ages will be cheering on from start to finish, from the first page to the last. 

Her friends, Simon, Derek, and Tori, return in this book as well. Tori is still a bit annoying, of course, not exactly getting along perfectly with the others, but the way that she changes and becomes more cooperative reflects the danger that she and the others are facing. Simon and Derek, brothers, and Chloe's love interests, remain unique and likeable in their own ways, and just as important to the story as they were in the previous two books. I really love both of them, but this book made me lean more towards Derek, just as Chloe did. The author did a great job of making me understand Chloe's feelings and choices, both related to romance, and unrelated to it as well. 

This trilogy made it possible for me to understand what it is like to be pursued by a scary organization! Yes, the characters' fear was very real, very important, and incredibly well portrayed. This made the book not only a paranormal romance, but suspenseful and thrilling. Chloe's struggles were an adventure, and I have to say that I'm sad that the trilogy is over. 

I recommend this trilogy to anyone who likes paranormal romance, especially if you're into young adult. If you want to read a book featuring a necromancer, this is a great pick. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

50/50 Friday - Character You'd Want / Not Want to Meet

This is a meme hosted at The Butterfly Reader and Blue Eye Books

This week's topic is character you'd want / not want to meet

Would not want to meet

 Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)

I do not want to meet Vaughn, or anybody like him. Rhine's father-in-law from Wither is very creepy and just all around one of the least likeable characters, especially as you read book two (at the moment I am reading book three and I still hate him).

Want to meet

 Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, #1) Nevermore (Nevermore, #1) Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)

I'd want to meet several characters. These include Skulduggery Pleasant, Varen / Pinfeathers, and Sam / Grace. Yeah I know, I was only supposed to choose one. If I had to choose only one it'd be Skulduggery but I can dream of meeting many more, can't I?

Would you want to meet any of these characters? Who would you dread meeting? Also, who else struggles with choosing just one or two books when participating in these kinds of memes? :P

Monday, 8 May 2017

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

 Series: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Page Count: 404
Published: May 7th, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  4 Stars ★★★★

Celaena is an assassin, living in a nation where a king has taken over, banned magic, and enslaved criminals like herself. One day, she is summoned from her work in the salt mines of Endovier and brought to Dorian, Prince of Adarlan, where he asks her to be his Champion in a competition for the King. Thinking of escape and a life beyond the salt mines, and eventually the castle, she accepts. 

She is brought to the castle, where she trains and takes part in tests against other Champions, leading up to a final duel to determine the winner. Much is at stake, if she loses, she may be sent back to Endovier. But her opponents are turning up dead, horribly mutilated in the hallways of the castle. Chaol, the Captain of the Guard, trains and spends time with her, and along with Prince Dorian, he thinks he might be dealing with feelings for the assassin. But romance will only make things more complicated for Celaena, as she realizes that more is going on in this castle than it seems. 

So originally when I saw this book, I didn't have much interest. I'm more into urban fantasy, vampires, werewolves, all that good stuff. After constantly seeing praise for this series, I finally gave in and decided I'd give it a try. 

I actually really, really liked this! I'm so happy that I ended up buying a copy, because if I had borrowed this from the library, I'd just end up getting myself the book anyways because it's the kind of book that you have to own, you have to see it on your shelves, you have to buy the next in the series, not just borrow it. What I mean is, it's the kind of book that even if it's not perfect, I enjoyed it enough that I'll probably end up re-reading it at some point. 

So I absolutely loved the world of Adarlan. I hated what the king had done, but the descriptions of the setting, and the history, seemed so real and well thought out. I was captivated by the people of Adarlan, and the royals, and the castle! Everything just seemed to make perfect sense in context, I never had to re-read passages to understand why something was going on, or even what was happening in the first place, as I often do with fantasy stories. Overall the setting was just amazing. 

And then there are the characters. Celaena, the main character, Adarlan's Assassin, was interesting, and likeable, and while I didn't like everything that she did, I always liked her. She was extremely determined and strong. I also have to mention that she was fairly feminine, which I appreciated because I've noticed that a lot of the more bad-ass characters, even female ones, are portrayed as masculine, therefore frequently equating masculinity with true bad-ass-ery. Of course, there's nothing wrong with being masculine, but to have a character be a nice mix of masculine AND feminine, with the feminine side portrayed as just as important as the other sides of her.... it was a nice change. 

The love interests, Chaol and Dorian, were both likeable as well, just as they were different. I thought they both had their qualities and I could see why they liked Celaena, and why she might like them both in return. I also like that they weren't just "ornaments" on the sidelines....the narration gave the reader a look into their thoughts every now and then which helped me to understand them better! I really appreciated this as well.

The other Champions, and the mysterious deaths, brought some suspense and tension to the book. Cain, a particularly unlikeable Champion, really stood out from the others (for obvious reasons), however this wasn't always a good thing, in my opinion. I won't say much because I don't want to give it away, but the way that the author focused on Cain....I knew what was going on with him chapters before the truth was revealed. 

Nehemia, the princess of Eyllwe, happens to be visiting the castle when Celaena is taking part in the competition, and they develop a friendship. This friendship brought out the softer side of Celaena, in my opinion, because she had empathy for what Nehemia and her people were dealing with concerning the King and his army, and this connection brought them together in ways that I thought made the book even better. The mix of romance and the love triangle with this friendship made for a great balance between the two forces, so the level of romance wasn't overpowering, but it remained significant enough for me, as a romance lover. 

I had a bit of an issue with the pacing at times. Some of the scenes seemed a bit drawn out, which annoyed me, and dropped this book from a five star read to a four star rating. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this fantasy novel. I loved that the main character was bad-ass and feminine at the same time, I think that the love interests were well written, and I loved the friendship between Celaena and Nehemia. While the pacing was a bit too slow at times, the mystery behind the Champions' deaths kept me reading. I am excited to read the next book!

I recommend this to those looking for great young adult fantasy reads. Even if you're not a big fan of fantasy, you might change your mind after reading this book!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

2017 YA Releases that I am Excited to Read!

Hey everyone! I've noticed many intriguing 2017 YA releases discussed lately, and all of the hype has made me add a bunch to my to-read list! I thought I'd share a few that I am especially excited to read (when I finally get the money and time....).

So, in no particular order....

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

Caraval. The name rolls off the tongue nicely, don't you think? There was so much hype over this book, that I had to add it to my to-read list. The cover is lovely as well! 

The Beast Is an Animal

The Beast is an Animal. This book sounds deliciously dark and unique. I also really like the title and the cover. It might seem from all my ranting and raving about beautiful covers that I judge books based on their covers...I promise I don't! I just can't resist a cover like this. Or an intriguing title. I just can't!


RoseBlood. So this is a retelling of the Phantom of the Opera so of course I am going to want to read this. I love the Phantom of the Opera! I've also read some spoiler-type comments that make this book seem like something I would really enjoy.

Royal Bastards

Royal Bastards. I've recently gotten into fantasy books with royals and drama. This one sounds interesting because it includes crime and going on the run! 

Mask of Shadows (Untitled, #1)

Mask of Shadows. A genderfluid protagonist? Check! Fantasy world? Check! Lovely cover? Double check! Yeah, I'm reading this book. Not to mention that I was just approved to read it from NetGalley so....

What 2017 releases are you excited to read? Have you read any 2017 releases so far this year? What did you think?

Monday, 1 May 2017

Still Waters by Emma Carlson Berne

Still Waters

Series: N/A
Author: Emma Carlson Berne
Page Count: 212
Published: December 20th, 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse
  3.5 Stars ★★★

Hannah has planned a secret trip to her boyfriend's family's lake house. She's hoping that having time alone with him will give her the courage to say that she loves him, and that they can spend some romantic time together before he leaves for college. But her boyfriend, Colin's, reaction to her surprise is less than enthusiastic. He starts to act uncomfortable and unsure, and Hannah becomes more and more worried as they drive to the mysterious lake house. 

When they arrive, it doesn't take long for Colin to start acting like another person entirely. Surrounded by eerie wilderness, with the nearest town almost a ghost town, Hannah wonders if she should fear for her safety. One thing's for certain... this trip is not turning out as she had planned. 

I love creepy books! The synopsis of this story made it seem similar to some kind of horror movie, with the haunted cabin in the woods, or the crazy murderer hiding in an abandoned building, waiting for naive teens to come along and act as prey. I made little theories on what would happen before I even opened the book. My theories didn't really come close to the actual conclusion of the book, which to be perfectly honest, I found a little bit disappointing. 

So first, a few good things about this book. I liked the characters. I liked Hannah, and while she wasn't the smartest at times, I thought she made the book seem a bit more realistic. In such a scary situation, nobody is going to be absolutely at their best, their minds are going to be running wild, they're going to be panicking. So, when she screwed up or made a less-than-stellar choice, I actually liked it because it made her seem more real, more like a person I could meet walking down the street than a super-intelligent, always prepared, basically fantasy-based person, that I read about in a lot of other books. 

I also think that the author did an amazing job with the descriptions. Descriptions of the settings, in particular, were very well done. The creepy atmosphere was conveyed effectively and added to the mysterious and sinister feel of the book, including descriptions of the almost ghost town near the lake house, the forest, and the lake house itself. 

I did have some problems with the book. First of all, the whole ghost town thing? While I thought it was interesting, it didn't really serve much of a purpose in the book other than to provide a creepy atmosphere. I kept waiting to find out how the town would connect to the story overall, but there didn't seem to be a truly important connection. This was kind of disappointing. 

I also had issues with the explanation behind Colin's behavior. I can't say much without spoiling it, but I will say that the way that past events had been covered up seemed a bit convenient, almost too easy. Colin's condition was explained way too easily in the end, and the idea that things could go back to normal, or what seemed like normal, so quickly just didn't make sense to me. 

Altogether, this was a story with a creepy atmosphere and an interesting mystery. While I had some issues with the ending and the importance of some of the settings, I liked that the main character seemed realistic and I enjoyed the descriptions of the settings. 

I recommend this to those looking for young adult thrillers. If you're interested in a short book with a creepy atmosphere, this book is for you.

Friday, 28 April 2017

50/50 Friday - World You'd Like/Not Like to Live in

This is a meme hosted by The Butterfly Reader and Blue Eye Books!

This week's topic is world you'd like to live in / world you'd not like to live in

World I'd like to live in 

 Night World, No. 1 (Night World, #1-3)

I'd like to live in Night World! I mean, I might be a vampire! That'd be amazing.

World I would not like to live in

 Glow (Sky Chasers, #1)

Living in space? Nope nope nope nope nope. I could not live in the world of Glow.....the idea of living in a spaceship far from my home planet sounds terrifying.

If you could be any paranormal creature, what would you be? Do you find the idea of living in a spaceship as unnerving as I do?

Monday, 24 April 2017

Proxy by Alex London

Proxy (Proxy, #1)

Series: Proxy
Author: Alex London
Page Count: 384
Published: June 8th, 2013
Publisher: Philomel Books
  4.5 Stars ★★★★

In the City, there are patrons, and there are proxies. Patrons pay proxies to take on their debt, which includes punishments for misbehavior and crimes. Knox is a wealthy teenage boy who has lived a privileged life, especially compared to Syd, his proxy, who lives in the poorer area of town. 

Syd has spent almost his whole life being punished for Knox. He's having a fairly normal, if slightly unfortunate day: he's had to give blood for his patron, he's been outed as gay, and he has offered to help fix a peer's gadget at no cost. Things change when the Guardians come for him, and he is sentenced as a criminal, because Knox's recklessness has killed someone.

Syd decides that he won't throw his life away for a thoughtless, wealthy patron, and he escapes the Guardians. After stumbling across Knox, they go on a journey, hoping to save Syd, and maybe to change their society's entire system, too.

I've increasingly found myself drawn to sci-fi and dystopian fiction. Finding a dystopian novel with an LGBTQ character was a pleasant surprise, and finding this novel at the thrift store brought an extra smile to my face. I can truly say that this book was almost perfect, with my main issue being that I wished that it was longer! 

The world that Syd and Knox lived in was described in such detail that it seemed like a real place. Everything from social norms, to social classes, to the legal system was clear and connected and made for a great reading experience. Worlds where everything just fits together nicely, like this one, are the best fictional worlds, in my opinion. 

The differences between Syd and Knox made this book even more interesting. Knox was super wealthy and privileged compared to Syd, who lived his life dealing with punishments for Knox and swimming in debt. The juxtaposition of the situations of these two characters was especially important when it came to the way that the author switched perspectives from chapter to chapter: the book was in third person, but the situations of the two boys, especially when they were separate, were described and explained from their eyes or thoughts. 

Both characters were likeable in their own ways, though I preferred Syd over Knox. Some of the side characters, such as Syd's friends, played important roles as well and created twists and turns in the story, which of course kept me reading on! The fear that Syd felt, being pursued by people with lots of money and power, was absolutely understandable and brought a special kind of suspense to the page. 

The ending was super emotional for me. I can't say much without giving it away, but the twist....I have to read the next book, I need to know what's next for this world!

I recommend this book for people looking for sci-fi or dystopian books with LGBTQ characters. If you like young adult books with themes of power and rebellion, this book is for you.

Friday, 21 April 2017

50/50 Friday - Favorite/Least Favorite Book in the Paranormal Romance Genre

This meme is hosted at Blue Eye Books and The Butterfly Reader

This week's theme is favourite / least favourite books in the _____ genre (choice of genre) 

I've chosen paranormal romance because it is one of my favourite genres!


 Nevermore (Nevermore, #1)

My favourite paranormal romance....that's a tough one. I have a lot of favourites but one that sticks out is obviously Nevermore. But you all already know how much I freaking love this book. For the sake of variety, I'll add a few honorable mentions: Hush, Hush, Shiver, Vampire Kisses.

Least Favourite

 Fallen Angel (Fallen Angel, #1)

My least favourite paranormal romance....I didn't really like Fallen Angel. It's not the worst book in the world by any means but I felt like it kinda wasted my time. I didn't enjoy it. 
~ ~ ~ ~

So I was thinking about books lately (duh). And reviews (duh again). But specifically I was thinking about mini reviews. I read some books that I don't feel are worthy of a full length review, either because I can't say much without spoiling it, or I just don't have a lot to say about it anyways. I was thinking about posting little batches of mini-reviews every now and then. What do you think? Do you post mini reviews? Do you like them, do you hate them? 
Thanks for visiting my blog :) Have a great day, and happy reading!

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

 Series: N/A
Author: April Henry
Page Count: 213
Published: June 11th, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
  5 Stars ★★★★★

She wakes up to two men arguing over whether or not to end her life. She doesn't know her name, she doesn't know where she is, and she doesn't know why one of her fingernails has been pried off of her hand. 

She manages to escape, but her ordeal is far from over. As she investigates herself, who she is, and what is going on, she gets help from an acquaintance who is determined to solve this mystery with her. Only one thing is for certain...danger is around every corner. 

It's hard to write a synopsis of this book without giving anything away. The complete mystery of what is going on made this book truly a five-star read, and as my second five-star April Henry novel, I know that I'll be reading her books again. 

The main character's fear was absolutely palpable from start to finish. I love that the author started the story off with the two men discussing whether or not to murder her, this absolutely drew my attention in and it didn't let me go until I turned to the last page. The little touches, like the main character's injured finger (ouch!) really gave the book an eerie vibe and built suspense. 

The characters themselves, from the main girl, to the boy who helps her figure out what is going on, worked well with the story, and I think that all of their personalities, relationships, and affiliations contributed to the awesome quality of this novel. As I mentioned, it's hard to say much without giving important pieces of the plot away, so trust me when I say that the explanations behind the characters' motives and situations were far from disappointing. 

There truly isn't much else that I can say, except that if you like mysteries, you should read this book! I can't say much more because I worry that I'll spoil it somehow!

I recommend this to those who like mysteries and thrillers where a lot is at stake. If you're into suspenseful young adult books, this one is for you.

Friday, 14 April 2017

50/50 Friday - Lightest/Darkest Book (themes or atmosphere)

This meme is hosted at Blue Eye Books and The Butterfly Reader

This week's theme is lightest / darkest book 


Vampire Kisses (Vampire Kisses, #1)

Vampire Kisses is a cute paranormal romance with quite a light atmosphere, especially for a vampire story. I've read contemporary romances that are darker than this series. It's a nice read for people who want a change from the more intense paranormal worlds in young adult fiction.


 Captive in the Dark (The Dark Duet, #1)

Captive in the Dark has an extremely dark atmosphere, with many dark themes. There's lots of heavy stuff in this book, with many events that would upset a lot of readers. I am not one of those readers, I love books like this! But it's dark enough that I feel obligated to warn anyone considering reading it that there are many serious themes. 

I really liked both of these books. What did you think of them? What are some of the darkest or lightest books that you have read?

Monday, 10 April 2017

Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard

Watch the Sky

Series: N/A
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Page Count: 272
Published: April 7th, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  3.5 Stars ★★★

Jory's stepfather, Caleb, is always watching for signs. Signs of what, Jory doesn't know, but what Jory does know is that Caleb cares for him, his mother, his step-brother, and Kit, the girl he considers a sister, so he doesn't question Caleb's claims. Jory spends time with other people from his school, and slowly Caleb's grasp on his mind seems to weaken. When his stepfather says that it's time to start digging a tunnel to prepare for what's to come, Jory has to make a choice before his family disappears into the ground, abandoning the outside world. 

This is a middle grade book, with Jory, the main character, around eleven or twelve years old. I mostly read young adult, and I'm expanding into the adult range as well, so reading a middle grade book was a nice change from the usual paranormal romances and contemporary dramas. 

I think the author did a great job of narrating what was going on through how Jory perceived the world around him. Written in third person, the story focuses on Jory's struggle to question Caleb, make friends, and choose what is ultimately right: to abandon Caleb's plan, or to go through with it without question. The theme of questioning what one has been told was very important, and I really appreciate that the author included this theme in a middle grade novel, because I think it's essential to introduce the idea that not everything you're told is right, from a young age. Critical thinking, and thinking for one's self, were things that Jory struggled with and ultimately inspired him to question the things that his mother just accepted for fact, and this to me made him seem like a strong character and a great role model. 

The other characters provided some interesting dialogue and situations, and they ranged from Jory's "normal" friend, Alice, to his mysterious stepfather. Alice, and the other children that Jory befriends, provide a way for Jory to feel like he's not completely alone outside of his family, and they are very likeable! They're smart, bright, and hopeful, which contrasts the uneasiness that Jory experiences at home. 

This uneasiness mainly takes the form of Caleb and his "signs". I disliked Caleb from the start, I thought he was suspicious, paranoid, and fairly controlling. I also didn't really like Jory's mother, for buying into Caleb's ideas so easily, and dragging her children into everything. Jory's sister, Kit, was an interesting character. While not his biological sister, they form a bond that remains important throughout the novel, and while she remains mostly silent in the story, I think she has a big impact on the way the story is told overall. If she wasn't in the book, I feel that it would be a much different book than it truly is. 

I had some issues with the pacing. I think that at times the book dragged on, and at others, the events went by way too fast. While the idea of the book was very interesting, I think there weren't enough answers as to what exactly Caleb was preparing for, and why Jory's mother bought into his ideas so easily. 

Overall this was an enjoyable middle grade novel. While the pacing was a bit off and some pieces of the book seemed to lack context, the themes of questioning what one has been told, and the characters themselves made for an interesting read. 

I recommend this to middle grade readers who enjoy stories set in the contemporary world. If you're interested in a book that explores what it means to think for yourself, this book is for you.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Thoughts About Book Blogging

Hey everyone! Lately I've been thinking about book blogging, and why I love it, and how it's affected me as a reader and as a person. I wanted to share some of these thoughts with my readers to see if any of you have the same ideas as me, or if you've been affected differently!
My cat, Poe (Instagram)

I think that one major thing that book blogging has forced me to do is to face some of my social anxiety. My social anxiety isn't just an issue when it comes to in-person's online as well! So whenever I make a blog post, I have to look it over a million times before and after I post to make sure I don't sound awkward, and while I love interacting with my followers and blogs that I love through commenting, I'm always anxious that I've accidentally left some horrible typo that will make me seem really strange! However, since I started blogging, this has gotten quite a bit better. I've had to move past my comfort zone to interact with people online and it's helped me a lot. Interacting with other bloggers has been a great experience for me, it's made me a bit more confident.

This was a nice pic I took (Instagram)

Blogging has also made me feel better about myself because every follower, every comment, every page view means that somebody cares about what I have to say about books, and I think that's awesome! Knowing that people want to know what I'm reading and reviewing, what covers I like, and my opinions on other book-related subjects makes me so happy. :)
 A picture from when I was re-arranging my bookshelf (Instagram)
Lastly, book blogging has introduced me to so many books that I want to read! I might not have come across some of them had I not stumbled upon a review on a blog that I follow. This is great because I'm discovering more books, but it's also a bit annoying because it adds to my ever-growing to-read pile! 

How has book blogging affected you?

Monday, 3 April 2017

Blue is for Nightmares by Laurie Faria Stolarz


 Series: Blue is for Nightmares
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Page Count: 284
Published: November 8th, 2003
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
  4 Stars ★★★★

Stacey is a junior at a boarding school, a witch, and has been having nightmares about one of her best friends. In these nightmares, it is undeniable that Drea, her friend, is in trouble, and she soon worries that these dreams may come true when strange gifts and phone calls start arriving.

Stacey uses the magic that her grandmother taught her with hopes to reveal who is behind all of this. But will she be able to unravel the messages in time?

So the first thing I'll say is that this book is rather short, but the length works for the story. I was worried that it might be too short and that the ending could be rushed, but it was paced well and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

When I started this book I was expecting more of a paranormal or supernatural mystery, but instead what I got was more of a contemporary story with religious or realistic magic. Stacey wasn't the kind of witch who can summon lightning from her fingertips, rather she uses candle magic and reads cards for divination. 

I really liked this aspect of the story. Most of the witch or magic books that I come across, especially in the young adult genre or range, are more mystical and based in the witches and warlocks of fairy tales and movies. I was surprised to find that the character actually practiced Wicca, because I rarely find Pagans or Neo-Pagans in YA books! 

The mystery itself, of who was targeting Drea, was suspenseful and interesting but to be honest, it didn't feel very original. I was also somewhat disappointed with the ending and who turned out to be the culprit. Their motive didn't make much sense to me, it seemed slightly over the top for the situation. I thought the villain seemed kind of stupid, actually, for thinking that they could get what they wanted through scaring Drea? I can't say much else with spoiling it. 

Between this book and Deadly Little Secret, I can say that I definitely enjoy the writing of Laurie Faria Stolarz. I will be looking for her books in the future, however, I won't be absolutely rushing to get the sequels. I feel like while I like her books, I'm not absolutely blown away. 

I recommend this book to people who want to read a more realistic or diverse portrayal of magic! If you want a YA mystery, you may enjoy this one.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Unique Blogger Award


I was nominated on Paperback Darling for this award! Thank you very much!

The Rules:
- Share the link of the blogger who nominated you
- Answer the questions
- Nominate 8-13 people for the award
- Ask them three questions

Melanie's Questions:

Q: What was the one book that started your reading obsession?

A: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, for sure. I enjoyed reading before I found that book, but when I read it, my obsession truly started.

Q: If you could only pick one character, who do you relate to the most?

A: This is really hard to answer for me, because I relate to so many different characters for so many different reasons. I guess it'd have to be Varen from Nevermore by Kelly Creagh because we like the same style of clothing/music/etc, we've both been bullied and had family issues, and we're both AWESOME of course.

Q: Could you name three books you can never, ever part with and why? 

A: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh because the characters are awesome, the story is amazing, and the world is an interesting place to read about. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy because I think the world of this series is the best world to just escape to for hours. Stolen by Lucy Christopher because it's my go-to emotional, bittersweet read.

My Questions:
1) What book do you recommend to everyone and why?
2) Why did you start blogging about books?
3) What book were you surprised to enjoy?

I nominate:

Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader  
Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight 
AngelErin @ Angel Erin's Books Obsession
Alice @ Married to Books
Lauren @ Always Me
Ashley @ Truth About Books by A Fae
Alex @ A Geek With Books
Edward @ Scaredy Engines

If anyone doesn't want to make a full post for whatever reasons, feel free to answer in the comments!!

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

The Awakening (Darkest Powers, #2)

Series: Darkest Powers
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Page Count: 360
Published: April 28th, 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins
  5 Stars ★★★★★

Chloe has escaped from Lyle House, but she's been captured by the Edison Group and is staying in another one of their facilities. With Simon and Derek still on the run, Chloe has to escape by herself this time. While the group continues to pose as one that helps those with powers like herself, Chloe knows the truth, that there have been deaths... young people who have been subjects in the Edison Group's studies have died mysteriously in their care, and that she may have been genetically modified. 

When Chloe does escape, she leaves with Tori, a girl with a bad attitude, to find Simon and Derek. But there is a reward offered for her return, so Chloe has to travel in the shadows to safety... that is, if she isn't killed first. 

Kelley Armstrong has done it again! I remember loving The Summoning, and when I remembered that I already owned The Awakening, I decided that I had to find out what happened to Chloe, Simon, and Derek, next. I enjoyed this book as much as I loved the first one, maybe even more. 

In this sequel, the same interesting characters star in an exciting supernatural story. Chloe remains the likeable necromancer that she was in the first book, Simon and Derek, the two foster brothers, continue to be complete opposites of each other and friends with Chloe, and Tori is still the same annoying, stuck-up bully that she was in the first book. This cast of characters makes for a book of paranormal thrills, amusing dialogue, and lots of tension!

The author did a great job of making me feel what Chloe was feeling. This mainly consisted of concern for those she cared about, and fear of the Edison Group. Chloe's voice remained believable, and her struggles relatable, despite their often supernatural nature. I love when I can relate to characters in vastly different situations than my own, because it just makes the whole situation seem a bit more real to me, which greatly affects my reading experience. 

The writing style was incredibly easy to read, which made this book go by very quickly for me. I just devoured page after page because I couldn't stop reading! The book was packed with event after event, one after the other, and I was never, ever bored. I hope that the third book in this trilogy is as good as the first two!

I recommend this trilogy to fans of young adult paranormal stories. If you're looking for a story with different paranormal creatures, secret groups, and teenagers on the run, this book is for you.

Friday, 24 March 2017

50/50 Friday - Book Hype

This meme is hosted at The Butterfly Reader and Blue Eye Books

This week's topic is novel worth / not worth the hype.

Worth the Hype

 Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

I thought that Throne of Glass was actually really worth the hype. I wasn't expecting it to be such a great read, I'd found myself disappointed by books with high ratings on Goodreads and lots of hype like this before, so I was pleasantly surprised to end up rating it 4 stars! I really enjoyed it. I really want to read the next one. 

Not Worth the Hype

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

The Hunger Games wasn't a bad book. It just wasn't super amazing. I did like it, but it didn't blow me away and I didn't go on to read the next books in the trilogy. I like the story of The Hunger Games, but the book didn't live up to the hype for me.  

What did you think of these books?

Monday, 20 March 2017

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human

 Series: N/A
Author: Jeff Garvin
Page Count: 352
Published: February 2nd, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
  4 Stars ★★★★

Riley is the child of a congressman, loves rock music, and is genderfluid. They aren't out to anyone but their therapist yet, but they start an anonymous blog under the name Alix so that they can discuss their experiences as a genderfluid person. When Riley moves to a new school, they experience harassment and bullying, but they also make a few friends. Suddenly, their blog becomes extremely popular, and it appears that somebody may know Riley's true identity. Will Riley have the courage to come out before somebody reveals their identity to the world for them?

I was super, super, SUPER excited to read this book. There are very, very few genderfluid characters in books, and so as a genderfluid person myself I was really hoping that someday, a genderfluid character would appear. Then one day, this book was recommended to me, and my wish was fulfilled! I was certainly not disappointed with this book, though it didn't exactly blow my mind, either.

First off, I was impressed with the way that the author depicted gender dysphoria. Actually, by reading this book, I found another way to describe dysphoria, so I'm thankful! It appears that the author did his research concerning what its like to be genderfluid in a world where just the idea of someone being nonbinary provokes confusion or even mockery. I think that the author writing about a genderfluid character was a brave step, and I'm hoping that it's one that will help people to consider including nonbinary characters in their own books in the future.

Riley as a character, as a person, reminded me a lot of myself and of other nonbinary people I know! Riley's taste in music and clothing gave them a distinct image, and their struggle with anxiety and depression was incredibly relatable. While Riley seemed a bit reactive and dramatic at times, these flaws added to their character and deepened my understand of their flaws and struggles. It was interesting how Riley interpreted different interactions, and often their attitude really mirrored real life. 

My main issue with this book was the bullying. Bullying is certainly an unfortunately common occurrence, especially for LGBTQ people. However, the bullying depicted in this book seemed fairly unrealistic or just cliche. The bullying was at times even cheesy, and occasionally I feel it went a bit over the top, or became fairly over-dramatic. Maybe things are different where I live as opposed to where the author lives, but I interpreted much of the bullying that Riley deals with as based on stereotypes, as opposed to real life. Now, the cyberbullying was well depicted, with the various trolls, anonymous haters, slurs, and even the threat of the online bullying extending into real life. I also want to mention that there is an instance in the book where a sexual assault, or at least a near-sexual assault, occurs, and this might upset some readers, so I felt it was important to include a warning in this review. While I think that it's important for some books to exist which don't mention serious issues, serious crimes, like this, against trans people, I think that this book incorporated this assault very well and depicted it realistically. I think this part is obvious, but this book was at times a very emotional experience for me, especially since I have such a connection with the main character.

I also feel like there was a bit of an awkward use of pronouns within the book. For example, the author used things like "she/he" or "she...or he?" and similar pieces, when characters of indeterminate gender were present. At times this felt awkward to read as it didn't fit well into the sentences, and I'd suggest that authors make use of the singular "they", as it sounds smoother and also spreads the general awareness that there is, in fact, a valid gender neutral pronoun for people to use if necessary or requested.

Overall, this emotional book captured a lot of important details of what it means to be a genderfluid person. While I had issues with the somewhat cliche bullying and the awkward use of multiple pronouns, I was not disappointed and I hope to read more books by this author in the future. 

I recommend this book to readers looking for something with a genderfluid main character. If you are a fan of LGBTQ novels, and you like contemporary young adult stories, this book is for you.

(Note: the author uses "gender fluid" with a space, but I prefer to spell it as one word, "genderfluid", so I used my preferred spelling in this review).

Monday, 13 March 2017

Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter


Series: Shadow Falls
Author: C.C. Hunter
Page Count: 398
Published: March 29th, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  4 Stars ★★★★

Kylie is dealing with a lot, including breaking up with her boyfriend, being stalked by a strange man, and her parents' divorce. After being caught at a party, Kylie is sent to Shadow Falls, which is a camp for supposedly troubled teens. However, once she gets there, she learns the truth: this camp isn't for troubled teens, but rather for young vampires, werewolves, fairies, and others to learn how to deal with the world and each other despite tensions and feuds. 

There she meets some friends and some attractive "gifted" individuals, including Derek and Lucas. Derek falls for her quickly, and she remembers her secret history with Lucas. However, there's more to worry about than boys and crushes. She, and the others at the camp, are unsure of what kind of paranormal creature Kylie actually is. Having to deal with seeing ghosts complicates things, too. But Shadow Falls is in danger of being shut down, and when some start to suspect her and Lucas of having something to do with it, she must fight to figure out the truth before it is too late. 

So one thing that I will say about this book is that there was definitely some rather cliche aspects to it. The love triangle felt a bit out of place, although it wasn't too major of an issue within the book. The feud between vampires and werewolves seemed a tad unoriginal, but that didn't really take away from the story as a whole. 

My main issue with this book rested with the characters themselves. At times Kylie seemed really shallow. While the narration was not first person, the author did delve into the thoughts of the characters, especially Kylie, even while using third person. There were little things that made me dislike her, for example the long paragraph (on page 105 in my edition) where it is explained why Kylie "gets" the reason that Derek, who is half fairy, would prefer the term "fey". This reason is apparently due to the fact that "no straight guy would want to be called a fairy" (despite the fact that he is literally a fairy). Also notable is the fact that Derek is supposedly "overly female-loving male", whatever that means. I don't believe that books must remain politically correct or entirely inoffensive, because characters, just as real life individuals, aren't all going to believe the same things, they haven't all been raised the same way, et cetera. But because of my personal experiences, I found this to be something that affected me and my view of Kylie and the other characters, so I felt that it might be important to mention for other readers dealing with similar life circumstances or opinions. It seems fairly small, but as an LGBTQ person, it made me roll my eyes.

This wasn't my only issue with the characters. I feel like Derek fell for Kylie way too early in the book. It made his feelings for her seem superficial and I found this really annoying. I also don't really see what Kylie saw in Derek, to find herself attracted to him so early on as well? He seemed quite average. I mean, he could be spectacular and interesting and multidimensional, and in the next book this may become apparent, but the way that the author portrayed him within this book was really boring. 

The thing that I really enjoyed about this book was Kylie's ability to speak with ghosts and how that affected her.  Her struggle with accepting the fact that she wasn't fully human was reminiscent of the struggles that people may face in real life, and I felt that despite the fantasy or paranormal aspect, I could really relate to what Kylie was going through. Denying something that is an important part of you is something that lots of people have to deal with, including the changes that come with finally accepting that you're not who you thought you were. This theme or aspect was well discussed throughout the novel, in a way that I found redeemed Kylie's character enough to keep me reading and excited to pick up the next book in the series. 

I also really loved the setting! I've heard of many boarding schools for paranormal creatures used as a setting within books, but camps appear to be less popular. I thought that this was a unique twist on the idea, and I think that the setting made the story really interesting to read, especially considering some of the myths or legends surrounding the falls themselves. The idea that there might be some kind of sinister entities haunting the waterfall that the camp is named after was something that caught my attention quickly, and while I'm a bit disappointed that this wasn't investigated by the characters within this novel, I'm hoping that in the next books this will be a more important aspect of the stories! I want to know the truth about the falls!

So, while I took issue with some of the characters due to my life experiences and the way they perceived certain things, there were still many good things about this book! Kylie may not have been very likeable, but her struggle ultimately redeemed her, and the setting was captivating. I'm hoping that the next book in this series brings more excitement and character development to the story.

I recommend this book to those who like YA paranormal romances! If you're interested in a series that includes several supernatural or paranormal creatures, this would be a good pick. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

50/50 Friday - Best/Worst Royal Character

This meme is hosted at The Butterfly Reader and Blue Eye Books

This week's topic is best / worst royal character


 Between the Lines (Between the Lines, #1)

Prince Oliver from Between the Lines is an awesome royal character. He is a sweet, hopeful love interest, and I'm really glad this book got a sequel!


 Lament (Books of Faerie, #1)

For worst, I'm going for one of the royal characters that I despised the most. This would have to be the Faerie Queen from Lament. I mean, she wants the main character dead! And the main character is actually quite a nice person! No, I don't like this royal character at all.  

What do you think of the royals from these books???

Monday, 6 March 2017

Thirst No.1 by Christopher Pike

Thirst No. 1: The Last Vampire, Black Blood, and Red Dice (Thirst, #1)

Series: The Last Vampire
Author: Christopher Pike
Page Count: 594
Published: August 7th, 2009
Publisher: Simon Pulse
  4 Stars ★★★★

In this bind-up, readers get the first three books of Christopher Pike's series, The Last Vampire. This series features a five thousand year old vampire named Sita, or "Alisa", living in the modern world. The first book starts with Alisa discovering that somebody is investigating her, and after she promises a dying man to look after his son, she meets Ray. Alisa is drawn to Ray, but there is more at stake than friendship and love. Her life may be in danger, along with the lives of those around her.

As with many of the books I own, I found this at a thrift shop. I'd enjoyed Christopher Pike's Remember Me, so I could not resist buying myself a copy of Thirst. After reading six of his books - three in the Remember Me bind-up and now another three in this one - I have come to the conclusion that Pike's stories are addictive. 

While his writing style isn't the best writing that I have ever come across, once I start reading it, I find it hard to stop. This was true for Thirst, as I gave the first book only three stars, but the next two went up to four stars. His writing got better and better as I went along. 

The main character, Sita, or "Alisa", was absolutely captivating. Written in first person, the reader gets to hear all of her thoughts, memories, and fears, and I think that the author did a marvelous job of putting me in the head of a five thousand year old vampire! She was extremely intelligent, with a nice mix of ruthlessness and compassion mixed in. She was truly a bloodthirsty vampire, though she held on to pieces of her humanity. There was nothing boring about the main character.

The origin of the vampires in this book was very unique from what I've read in other novels. There is an interesting mix of Indian mythology and religion in Sita's past, and it made for a very memorable read! This was a nice change from the usual vampire myths and legends.

The characters around her, from other vampires, to the humans she gets to know, were interesting as well and all played important roles in her story. My only issue is that sometimes, the author wrote the characters' dialogue too much like Sita's. For example, some of the main teenage characters spoke like our five thousand year old protagonist at times, which got on my nerves. This did get better as the books progressed.

The books were very short, and it took me very little time to get through them. While it was nice to have some short reads after getting through some longer books, I think that the books could have been a little longer. Some things happened too fast, particularly this sort of insta-love with Ray. While I don't always mind this instant love or attraction, the author didn't do a great job of writing it so it got on my nerves. Their romance didn't seem that believable. Other situations could have been a bit more drawn out as well, this would have added more tension and suspense to the stories!

Overall, I enjoyed this and I'm glad I picked it up. I'll definitely be continuing the series, and I hope to read more books by Christopher Pike in the future. 

I recommend this book to readers looking for unique vampire stories. If you're interested in a bind-up containing short novels with a very interesting main character, this book is for you.

Friday, 3 March 2017

50/50 Friday Best/Worst Book Read in February

This meme is hosted at The Butterfly Reader and Blue Eye Books

This week's topic is best / worst book read in February


 The Awakening (Darkest Powers, #2)

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong! It was a quick, exciting read, and I enjoyed every page of it.


 Watch the Sky

I didn't read any horrid books in February, but I liked this one the least, I think. It wasn't bad, I've just preferred other books.  

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Dying of the Light by Derek Landy


 Series: Skulduggery Pleasant
Author: Derek Landy
Page Count: 605
Published: August 28th, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
  5 Stars ★★★★★ 

Darquesse is on the loose and is planning to end the world. Skulduggery is working to find her and stop her before it's too late. With his friends and colleagues, he searches for Darquesse with hopes to save Valkyrie as well, and to separate her from the evil that has taken over her. 

Will they find Darquesse in time? Will Skulduggery be able to save Valkyrie along with the world? Or will the world end, everybody dying with it?

I can't really talk about my feelings about this book, the ninth book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, without talking about what I think about the series itself as a whole, and all of the other books within it. Every book moves the greater story-line a bit further along, with unique and exciting situations arising within each one. I think this combination of having different issues within each book along with a progression towards the concluding events of the series itself really makes this book special. 

What else makes this book, and series, special? Everything. Literally everything. The characters are amazing! Everything from their names to their backgrounds to their powers makes for an extremely entertaining read. This is the only series where I've found characters with epic names such as Valkyrie Cain, Ghastly Bespoke, Anton Shudder, and of course, Skulduggery Pleasant. There are evil characters, good characters, and lots of characters who fall somewhere in between. Some are serious, some are silly, and some find the perfect balance between humorous and solemn. I have liked every single character within this series, including every villain, because they are all just so interesting and entertaining!

Of course there are the personal relationships that form between these characters as well. There are business or work relationships, such as Valkyrie and Skulduggery's arrangement with the Sanctuary. Then there are friendships, such as the one that forms between Valkyrie and Skulduggery, Tanith and Valkyrie, and existing friendships such as that between Ghastly and Skulduggery. This series focuses a lot more on friendship than on romance, and as a reader I got to care about the characters in the same way that they cared about each other. This made me shed tears at times, for example times when Valkyrie thought she lost Skulduggery forever, or when various other characters found themselves in unfortunate circumstances. 

Considering this book in specific, I had put off reading it because until recently, everybody thought that it was the last book in this series. As a serious, long-time fan of this series, I really didn't want it to end. Then, Derek Landy announced that he'd be writing another book, and possibly more after that, so I finally picked this one up and read it. 

As usual with the other novels in the series, I was completely blown away. I cannot wait for the tenth book, and I really hope the author writes even more novels featuring Skulduggery and Valkyrie when he is finished that one. 

I think that everyone who loves stories about magic should read this book! If you like books with elements of horror and humor, including some emotional elements and amazing characters, this series is definitely for you. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

50/50 Friday - World Building

This meme is hosted at The Butterfly Reader and Blue Eye Books

This week's topic is most / least intricately built world.

Most Intricately Built World

 Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant, #1)

As if there were any competition for me on this one. The world of Skulduggery Pleasant is so well built, that if I traveled to Ireland and ran into the skeleton detective himself, my surprise would be minimal. The author makes it seem perfectly plausible that there's some secret world of sorcerers, and that's just one of the many things that I adore about this book.

Least Intricately Built World

 Halo (Halo, #1)

This was a tough one. Most of the worlds that I've read about in books have been built fairly well, from contemporary small towns to boarding schools for paranormal creatures. While Halo wasn't a bad book (I actually rated it 5 stars) the world-building in the first book wasn't the most amazing thing ever. In the second book it got a lot better, but as for book one, I remember preferring the characters themselves over the actual world.

What did you think about the worlds in these books?
Has my constant praise of Skulduggery Pleasant caused you to add it to your to-read list yet?

Monday, 20 February 2017

She Loves You, She Loves You Not... by Julie Anne Peters

She Loves You, She Loves You Not...

Series: N/A
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Page Count: 288
Published: June 1st, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  3 Stars ★★★

Alyssa's father doesn't react well when she comes out to him as a lesbian. She ends up disowned, broken up with her girlfriend, and taken in by Carly, her birth mother, a woman she barely knows at all. Adjusting to her new life proves to be tough, as she must deal with the pain of rejection, the heartbreak from her failed relationship, and her mother's own secret past. Along the way she meets Finn, a new friend in this new town, a friend who might just turn into something more. 

I have a few things to say about this book. First, I really liked the portrayal of an LGBTQ person struggling with bigotry from within the family. I feel Alyssa's situation was incredibly well written, and that the author did a great job of expressing Alyssa's feelings on the matter and how it impacted her in her day to day life, both before and after coming out.

I also enjoyed reading about all of the different characters, from Carly (Alyssa's biological mother) to Arlo (the manager of a store who lives his life in a wheelchair). However, there was one issue with the characters: I didn't really like the main character! I was able to empathize with Alyssa considering her issues coming out and being rejected, but as a person, I didn't find her very likeable. She was a bit too judgemental for my taste, she wasn't the kind of person I'd like to be friends with in real life. 

I also feel like the pacing was a bit too slow for me. While I read this book fairly quickly, there wasn't truly much going on. I understand that contemporary fiction can sometimes be a bit slower than fantasy fiction, for example, but there has to be some excitement. While there certainly were exciting pieces, such as Carly's past and the mystery surrounding it, much of the excitement was jammed into the last thirty percent of the book, which made the rest of the book seem so slow, and the ending way too fast! 

There really isn't much else to say about this book. It was short, and while it portrayed a situation that unfortunately is all too common in the real world, the main character wasn't really likeable and the pacing was too slow for my taste. 

I recommend this book to those looking for YA contemporary featuring LGBTQ characters. If you want to read a book about someone dealing with rejection due to their sexuality, this novel provides a look into the thoughts, hopes, and worries of a teenager struggling with that situation exactly.