Girls with Sharp Sticks ARC Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Author: Suzanne Young

Publication: March 19th 2019 by Simon Pulse

Pages: 400

Rating: 3.5/5

GoodReads

Thank you very much to Netgalley and the publisher for the free advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

When I first began to read a few pages of this book, I will admit that I wasn’t as hooked. It was probably due to the typical YA dystopian aura I felt from earlier books that it did not grasp me. However, it was not until the 80 page mark when I noticed a more mysterious and thrilling atmosphere looming within the pages. I grew curious and that made me more invested into wanting to complete the book. It wasn’t long before I found myself flying though the pages wanting to know what happens next. If you are a fan of dystopian/thriller novels, then I think this one is the book for you!

Summary:

The Innovations Academy prioritizes in providing the studies and activities for the girl students to be the best in society. However their curriculum is quite different from those offered today. Some of which include courses such as  “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The main purpose is to ensure that the girls grow to be obedient young ladies – something that Mena and her friends realize is part of a darker scheme within the school. Together they hope to uncover the secrets of the school, their background and the purpose of their studies there no matter how ugly the truth may be. 

My Review:

Setting : Who doesn’t love a boarding school setting? Especially if it incorporates a thrilling atmosphere such as this one? While it is quite obvious from the first few pages that the Academy is not your typical High School, it still peaks your interests with the strange behaviors of the students and faculty.

“The roses. . . They’re alive, you know. All . of them. And if you listen closely enough, you can hear their shared roots. Their common purpose. They’re beautiful, but it’s not all they are.” 

Plot: I believe the main issue for me was the story line. Maybe it was because I read a lot of dystopians before but it felt a bit similar especially in the beginning. However, over time I noticed the story changing and when the elements of thrill were thrown into the mix, that was when I became invested into the story. I will admit there were moments which made my skin crawl! I didn’t expect that going into this book. And the amount of plot twists in this book too! These were the moments which the author handled very well since she cleverly weaves the threads of suspense and danger into the book where the readers would have no choice but be glued to the pages!

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Characters: We follow the perspective of Mena who in the beginning we see her venture through her school life one day at a time, but a sequence of events has her questioning the origins of the Academy and because of her experiences, she grows to be very dynamic. I really liked her as a character since she truly cares for the other girls around her and develops an intense bravery despite the odds. We also see her with her close friends, Sydney, Brynn, Marcella, Annalise, Valentine, and Lennon Rose. We also have a side character by the name of Jackson who is the romantic interest; however, it was not over bearing and it did not overshadow the main plot.

Themes: Definitely do not let the Girls Private School setting fool you! While some may expect to find a lot of toxic jealousy, I was so surprised to see the amount of female friendship in this novel and it was truly one of the aspects that made it a delightful read. The feminism in this book is worth noting and I love the spin the author took on this subject and I am sure it is something that the readers will find intriguing.

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Overall, I did find this to be a quick easy read and it is definitely something to get you out of a reading slump for sure!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all in my next bookish post!

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Throne of Glass Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Author: Sarah J. Mass

Published: August 7th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Pages: 406

Genre: YA Fiction; Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

“You could rattle the stars. You could do anything, if you only dared.” 

I am so late this series, it’s really SAD hahaha I do believe that this was originally a loose Cinderella re-telling that eventually took flight with it’s own unique storyline in the future books. Overall, I did find this book to be a great start to the series despite some minor flaws. Regardless, I am positive that I will continue with the series and I cannot wait to learn more about our characters and the adventures to come 🙂

Summary (From GoodReads):

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Characters:

CelaenaStrong, Determined, and Quite Hilarious – As soon as I read the first few pages of Celaena’s introduction, I knew I was going to enjoy her character. While it is true, she can be a bit rash and arrogant, I found it refreshing to see these qualities in a female lead. I think these characteristics add to her personality and make her more interesting to learn more about. Sarah definitely incorporated a lot of layers to Celaena’s character which gave her more depth. While being feared in a country for being a ruthless assassin, there were moments which she surprised you. For example, she was pretty much a book nerd and I found myself fangirling! Sorry but I just love it when our characters love to read! I honestly found myself to grow more curious about her and I hope to see more of her growth in the future novels.

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DorianCharming, Playful, Jovial – Another character who I loved to read about! Plus, he likes to read too! Hoorayyy! I loved how his relationship with Celaena grows throughout the novel. All of his witty moments were a pleasure to read about as well! One thing I did appreciate with Dorian was seeing a bit of character growth by the end of the novel and I hope to see more of his strength in the next book.

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ChaolBlunt, Skilled, Professional – I wish we had more scenes with Chaol since we couldn’t see much of his personality or backstory since he remained professional throughout the novel since he was Captain of the Guard. I felt that he was a bit restrained and was not in a position to share more information about him or his past/experiences with Celaena. Due to this issue, there was not much layers to his character so it was difficult for me to relate to him. I hope we can learn more about him in the future novels.

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NehemiaIntelligent, Brave, Strong – Besides having a great story line, relatable characters, and relevant themes/morals, an aspect I also enjoy seeing in books are strong female friendships. In the case with Celaena and Nehemia, their connection and growth over the novel is worth noting.

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Final Thoughts: 

In terms of the story line, it does resemble previous YA fiction, such as the Hunger Games with engaging in a competition, but I noticed that it did not focus too much on that aspect. The author did add an element of mystery to the story when she mentions the disappearance/slaying of the other competitors and it tends to peak your curiosity. This is where the story gains momentum, builds on the world and really pulls you into the novel. In addition, there is a bit of a love triangle but it was not overbearing as with other YA literature.

The writing was well done that everything flowed together and Sarah did her best to create cinematic images where you can visualize the scenes in your head. I also loved the playful banter between the characters which helped to lighten the atmosphere amidst the dark moments within the novel. In addition, Sarah also did a great job in adding complexity to the different relationships as the story progressed and it will be intriguing to see how these relationships grow in the upcoming novels.

Have any of you read Throne of Glass? What were your thoughts on it?

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you soon with another bookish post!

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Stalking Jack the Ripper Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.” 

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publication: September 20th 2016 by Jimmy Patterson

Pages: 337

Genre: Fiction; YA; Mystery

Rating: 4/5

Summary:

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is not like many women her age – organizing tea parties, attending silk dress fittings, or jumping in on the latest gossip. Instead, she lives a secret life unbeknownst to her father as an apprentice to her Uncle, a professor of forensic medicine. Amidst her dissection studies, she stumbles upon an investigation of a notorious serial killer who rampaged the streets of London. Despite the brutality of the murders, Audrey’s curiosity and tenacity pushes her to search for answers and reclaim justice for the victims. But as she gets closer to unraveling the clues, it leads her to the most blood chilling conclusion.

Characters: 

Audrey Rose WadsworthSmart, Witty, Kind, Fearless – Its official. Audrey has fallen into my top favorite female leads of all times 🙂  She has such a great combination of strength, tenacity and intelligence which makes you want to root for her throughout the novel. Despite these esteemed qualities, she does have her weaknesses too and that showcase her to be more relatable as a character. Nevertheless, I loved her curiosity and her passion for forensic science and it was so refreshing to see her fight for women given the time period that the novel is set in.

“By my blood, I will make this right or die trying.” 

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Thomas CreswellCharming, Witty, Arrogant – Oh Lord. This guy haha A close representation of Thomas’ character would probably be Captain Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles whom I adored from the start and Thomas was no different. I swear, the amount of eye rolls and laughter I experienced whenever he would comment with a sly and witty demeanor is exponential 🙂 And when paired with a feisty heroine with sass of her own, you get the most entertaining banter ever! I loved it!

“I don’t blame you, I am rather attractive. The tall, dark hero of your dreams, swooping in to save you with my vast intellect. You should accept my hand at once.” 

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Final Thoughts: 

After finishing Truly Devious, I was in the mood for some more mystery novels and this one immediately caught my attention. Everything about the premise was so interesting and I am happy to say that the author delivered an awesome story! One aspect of the novel which I really enjoyed was the setting. The late 1800s London was very well delineated and I honestly felt as if I was walking through the streets with these characters. It was also refreshing to read about a heroine who is from a mixed background – half Indian and half British. It’s not so often I come across characters who I can relate to! And I loved the bits of Indian heritage that the author had woven into the story but I would have definitely liked to have seen more of it.

In addition, the author does a fabulous job setting the tone for the novel, creating an eerie yet mysterious atmosphere which entangles you into the story. I will say that there were certain parts of the novel which completely creeped me out! But if you are a fan of forensics and criminal investigations, then I would definitely recommend this book to you!

Have any of you read Stalking Jack the Ripper? What were your thoughts on it?

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all with another bookish post!

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Wolf by Wolf Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“Her self-reflection was no reflection at all. It was a shattered mirror. Something she had to piece together, over and over again. Memory by memory. Loss by loss. Wolf by wolf.” 

Author: Ryan Graudin

Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, October 20th 2015

Pages: 388

Rating: 5/5

Plot:

Set in an alternative history during the year 1956 where the Axis Powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan hold significant control over the world, Wolf by Wolf details the journey of a young girl named Yael who vows to restore unity to the world through destroying the one man responsible for her people’s suffering: Adolf Hitler. After her heartbreaking and terrifying experiences within a death camp, Yael tattooed five wolves on her arm to serve as a reminder of the ones she lost, each representing a significant part of her character. Through cruel and painful experimentation, Yael develops the ability to skinshift – allowing her to exhibit the facial features of a character she chooses to imitate. As a result, she proves to be a brilliant candidate for the Resistance to take part in the imperative mission to bring down Hitler. By winning the annual Motorcycle Tournament under the character of the previous year’s champion Adele Wolfe, Yael would be given the opportunity to dance with Hitler himself at the Victor’s Ball. But the mission seems to grow complicated as Luka, Adele’s former love interest, and Felix, Adele’s twin brother, enter the picture. Even with the growing relationships with the other candidates, Yael must prove herself to be as ruthless and daring enough to bring down Hitler and his regime.

 

Characters:

Yael – Strong; Smart; One of my favorite aspects of Yael was that she was very goal oriented from the start and her passion and determination for her mission is truly remarkable.

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Adele Wolfe – Passionate; Strong; Although we see Adele Wolfe for a limited time within the novel, we can already see that she is strong and capable of standing on her own.

Felix Wolfe – Protective; Supportive; Smart; Felix was enticing from the start. He loves his family and will do anything he can to keep them together.

Luka – Extroverted; Bold; Strong; Adele’s former love interest who has a strong passion for winning the game despite knowing that Adele (Yael) is participating.

 

Final Thoughts:

If you have not read this book, please pick this up!

It is a thrill ride and it had me hooked from the start. One of my favorite aspects of the entire novel is the writing and storytelling – it is absolutely amazing and so well done. The setting does shift from the past to the present many times within the novel but I never felt as if it slowed the pace or left the plot lagging. It was done at the appropriate moments to add depth to the character and progress the story. By revealing her past experiences, we learn why Yael is the way she is and what are her weaknesses/regrets/strengths. It was through these areas of the book where I found her to be relatable since she is a strong character; yet she also had her own monsters/vulnerabilities’ within her which made her seem more human.

I have also developed a strong appreciation for the historical fiction genre. As with writing any novel, research is crucial to develop a thorough world/setting. However, with historical fiction it is imperative to maintain accuracy to previous events in order to provide credibility to the reader. While Wolf by Wolf is an alternate history novel, I truly appreciate the author’s efforts for creating a work of literature while maintaining a believable world and an accuracy to history. Previously I have read Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anna Blankman which had a sense of mystery and intrigue entangled with the historical fiction genre which made it a compelling and brilliantly crafted read. This was the first novel that really helped me to venture into a new genre and through reading Wolf by Wolf, I will definitely be picking up more in the future!

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Have any of you read Wolf by Wolf? What are your thoughts on it? And if you have any historical fiction recommendations please let me know 🙂

Until next time, keep reading and I’ll see you all soon with another bookish post!

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Legendary Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“Your future can be whatever you wish. We all have the power to choose our own destiny.” 

Author: Stephanie Garber

Published May 29th 2018 by Flatiron Books

Pages: 451

Rating: 5/5

I loved the first book, Caraval, and OMG I love this one even more! Everything about the setting, the plot and the characters are so rich and dynamic that you can’t help but be glued to the pages. LOL I even had to rush to class since I was busy finishing up this novel 🙂

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Summary:

After the events of the first Caraval, Tella is required to repay her side of the initial bargain she made to save her sister from a terrible arranged marriage. Her contact requires her to once again enter Caraval to retrieve Legend’s true name. This time the game is more darker, mysterious and real than she ever imagined. As determined as she is to win the games, Tella realizes that there may more at stake than she ever realized. Stephanie Garber dazzles with this electrifying sequel which adds additional layers to the original story and heightens the stakes to the point where you can’t help but be thrilled by this novel.

Characters:

Tella – bold, brave, intelligent – I personally did not enjoy Tella’s character in the first book but she definitely earned my appreciation in this sequel. I think everyone can find certain qualities in both Scarlet and Tella which they can relate to and the more I read from her perspective, the more I understood her and ended up really liking her character.

Dante – the tall, dark and handsome HAHA – Just as I enjoyed reading about Julien in the previous book, I really liked Garber’s portrayal of Dante in this novel as well. Garber can seriously write some great male leads 🙂

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Favorite Quotes:

“Once a future is foretold, that future becomes a living thing and it will fight very hard to bring itself about.” 

“. . . she liked to say that love trapped and controlled and ripped hearts apart. But the truth was she also knew love healed and held people together . . . “

“There are two types of endings because most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most. Only those who persevere can find their true ending.” 

Final Thoughts:

Garber once again weaves the mysteriousness and potential danger throughout her writing as she did with the original Caraval – but this time the imagery and detail is exquisite and very well done. You can tell that her writing improved from the last book. She keeps the reader hooked from the very beginning with stories from Tella’s mom and she slowly starts revealing details which sets up the plot of the book. It does not lag from the start and this is one of the strong points – it had my attention from the very beginning. Do not get me started on those cliffhanger chapters . . . I honestly could not stop reading.

The plotline within this sequel is a little more intricate because of the addition of the multiple characters and the folklore of the Fates. Speaking of the folklore, I loved how she gave a story/background to each Fate. It was interesting how she pointed out the different magic that the Fates had yet each of them had a flaw. With sequels, additional story lines are added  to thicken the plot but sometimes it would be overwhelming and difficult to follow but everything seemed to flow flawlessly with Legendary. Every single character, new and old, were placed perfectly and the new setting at the palace definitely added to a darker tone of the novel.

We are automatically thrown into a web of mystery from the start of the novel and cannot help but keep asking questions. I was constantly curious about the characters, the additional story lines, and ultimately, where the line of reality/fantasy exists in the game. We are all told to believe Caraval is only a game. But as we venture deeper and deeper into the story, we can’t help but question: Is this really just a game? 

Have any of you read Legendary yet? What are your thoughts on it?

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you soon with another bookish post!

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Genre: Contemporary

Author: Ingrid Paulson

Publication: Published June 6th 2017 by Entangled: Teen

Pages: 287

Rating: 4/5

GoodReads

Hello everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful week! For today’s post I will be reviewing the new release from Entangled Teen entitled “Why I Loathe Sterling Lane” by Ingrid Paulson. Thank you to Entangled Teen this amazing opportunity! I was able to receive an e-ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from GoodReads

“Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is.

As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn’t entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole.”

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My Thoughts

I absolutely love these types of books since they are quite refreshing and a breath of fresh air from the hardcore, dark and epic fantasies novels which I am usually swept up by. I really enjoyed reading about Harper as a character; she is very meticulous in everything she does and is pretty much a studious girl with very high grades. Sterling on the other hand is the complete opposite and is a trouble maker and I loved seeing the relationship between these two unfold. While the story is predictable in its plot that this is a hate to love type scenario, it was quite enjoyable to read. If you are looking for a read that will pick you up from your low spirits, this is the one! There were times were I was pretty much laughing at the quirky scenes between the two main characters. They truly did put a smile on my face! I also love how everything flowed together towards the ending, where Harper does grow through some character development where she learns not to live life by rules but with freedom and true happiness.

That’s all for now!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another post!

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172 Hours on the Moon Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“In space, no one can hear you scream.”

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Supernatural, Horror

Author: Johan Harsbad

Published April 5th 2012 by Atom

Pages: 368

Rating: 4/5

Originally written and published in Norway, 172 Hours on the Moon is a Scandanavian thriller which is downright terrifying. Despite the extremely slow start to the novel, it quickly picks up pace by the second half of the book to the point where is it difficult to put down. The timing of when I read this book is something I have to point out since its quite hilarious . . . and embarrassing for me lol I actually started to read this before my first solo trip to Italy and the events in the book completely paralleled closely with what happened in my life which made it even more creepy. Because here, we have characters who are leaving their homes to a place where they are all alone and have no one else close to them which did resemble my situation so I ended up putting this book aside to give my heart a break. Not to mention I was reading this at night because I’m a crazy like that 🙂

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Summary:

172 Hours on the Moon is a science fiction thriller where three teenagers win a week long trip to the moon with NASA. This is the organization’s attempt to increase the public’s interest in space travel and also create some sponsors for the program. In terms of my criticism, I found the whole premise of the story line to be a bit far-fetched since the idea of placing kids in outer space seemed unbelievable. Even astronauts require years of training before they can fly to outer space but the kids had to undergo a couple of months. I find that a bit strange. And why did it have to be teenagers? I think it would have done well even if the characters were adults. I assume the age range for the three main characters was probably small since this was targeted to be a young adult book. I also did not find myself having any interest for any of the main characters since I did not find them to be relatable at all. There was also a small romance aspect within the book which I thought was completely unnecessary since it did not progress so there was no need.

Despite these flaws. the only reason as to why I kept reading was because I knew from other book reviewers that the plot does not become interesting until they land on the moon. With that being said, if I did not know anything with regards to the book when I picked it up, I probably would not have finished reading it. But once they do land on the moon, things start to escalate pretty fast and so much to the point where I thought I was reading a completely different book!

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Coming to the actual core plot of the novel – this was absolutely fantastic. I am not sure why the author prolonged everything just to come to the moon since I found the prologue to be quite dull. I have noticed that the author had done a bit of research for this novel and it was even more evident through his interview in the last few pages of the book. For example, I loved how he incorporated a bit of the Japanese folklore into the story since it ties in very well within book, especially towards the end. Oh my gawd . . . THAT ENDING THOUGH!!! Still get chills thinking about it!

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All in all, I think the entire thriller/suspense aspect of the story made up for the lackluster character development. I did manage to finish this book after my trip from Italy of course. Overall, in terms of ratings, I gave this book 4/5 stars!

Have any of you read 172 Hours on the Moon? What were your thoughts on it? Let me know below!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon!

 

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