Review: Red Queen // All I Want are Magical Powers

By Victoria Aveyard

Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Community Rating: 4.08

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: February 10th, 2015

Format Read: Paperback

Goodreads Summary: This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart 

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Review: Select // Had Me Hooked From Page One

By Marit Weisenberg

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Community Rating: 3.59

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: October 3rd, 2017

Format Read: Ebook

Goodreads Summary: Coming from a race of highly-evolved humans, Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. But there’s something rotten beneath the surface—dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of people determined to keep their talents hidden and who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally disrupts the Jaynes’ delicate anonymity, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school.

Julia’s goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him—John Ford, tennis prodigy, all-around good guy. When Julia discovers a knack for reading his mind, and also manipulating his life, school suddenly becomes a temporary escape from the cold grip of her manipulative father. But as Julia’s powers over John grow, so do her feelings. For the first time in her life, Julia begins to develop a sense of self, to question her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide: can a perfect love be worth more than a perfect life? 

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Review: One of Us Is Lying

By Karen M McManus

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4.07

Genre: YA Mystery

Publication Date: May 30th 2017

Format Read: Audiobook

Goodreads Summary: Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

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Review: Lola


By Melissa Scrivner Love

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.63

Genre: Thriller

Publication Date: March 21st 2017

Format Read: Physical ARC

Goodreads Summary: The Crenshaw Six are a small but up-and-coming gang in South Central LA who have recently been drawn into an escalating war between rival drug cartels. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six appear to be led by a man named Garcia . . . but what no one has figured out is that the gang’s real leader (and secret weapon) is Garcia’s girlfriend, a brilliant young woman named Lola.

Lola has mastered playing the role of submissive girlfriend, and in the man’s world she inhabits she is consistently underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter–and in many ways tougher and more ruthless–than any of the men around her, and as the gang is increasingly sucked into a world of high-stakes betrayal and brutal violence, her skills and leadership become their only hope of survival.

An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman who combines the genius and ferocity of Lisbeth Salander with the ruthless ambition of Walter White. Lola marks the debut of a hugely exciting new thriller writer, and of a singular, magnificent character unlike anyone else in fiction.

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This was essentially a book about a gang, more specifically the leader of that gang, who happens to be a woman.  Their gang gets on the wrong side of the mob, and Lola has to deal with being a secret leader, a woman, trying not to get herself killed, and saving her gang all at the same time.  This was a great idea for a plot line, in my opinion, and that is what carried me through the novel with a 4 star rating.  If it hadn’t been for the solid plot, I might not even have been able to finish.  The actual writing style was weak, and I often had to reread sentences just to make sure I was properly understanding.  Overall, I would recommend if you have a deep love of the genre, but not if you’re looking for a well written book.  The two need to be separated for you to enjoy.

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Lola, the main character, is absolutely totally completely awesome.  She comes off as this passive, submissive housewife to a gang leader, but really she’s a total badass who doesn’t play by anybody else’s rules but her own.  Just becauses of how amazing she is, it makes it very feminist, because Lola is very set on not listening to what the “big man” says, and making a name for herself despite the fact that she’s a woman.

The other characters were not nearly as well developed as Lola was, but that was okay because it was told from Lola’s perspective and they were really just side players in her story.  If you aren’t interested in Lola’s personality, you probably won’t enjoy the story at all, since she powers it through and is the only very well developed part of the story.

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The plot in this story was my favorite part, by far.  It was very well written, and it was a strong story line which built properly without twisting off into some far fetched fantasy.  The author did a great job keeping it realistic, intertwining side stories in such a way that helped develop Lola’s character and show what type of person she was while still moving the main plot along.  I thought the pacing was perfect, and would have given a solid 5 stars to just plot alone.

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This was written present tense, which threw me off a whole ton of times, but maybe that’s just me having an issue with the way it’s written.  I was willing to put that aside as a personal problem, but in general it just wasn’t well written.  The sentence structure felt very middle school, and I never encountered a single word that I didn’t know.  It felt very basic and young, which was weird for me in an adult novel.  It’s not like I was expecting anything spectacular, but it was less than other “fluff” reads that I typically read.

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The plot was absolutely incredible, Lola was well developed through actions, words, and just being able to hear inside her head.  I would highly recommend this just based off of the story alone.  However, you have to know going in that it’s not spectacularly written, or you’ll be disappointed.

Disclaimer: I received this book from LibraryThing and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Have you read LOLA? What’s your opinion? Have you read any other gang banger books that you’d recommend?


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Review: The Bone Witch (Dramatic Details and an Amazing Plotline)

By Rin Chupeco

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.53

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: March 7th 2017

Format Read: Phone Ebook via Netgalley

Goodreads Summary: The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

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This is one of those books that takes you a while to get into, but once you do you don’t want it to end.  I think part of the reason for this is that it’s a series (which I didn’t realize when I requested it) and it takes place in a world very, very different from our own, which meant that it required a lot of worldbuilding.  Plus, Chupeco uses a lot of flouncy, descriptive imagery in her writing, which makes me vaguely nauseous at times and reminds me of the reason that I wasn’t a huge fan of Jane Eyre.  It just felt like there were some paragraphs that took FOREVER to read, just to describe a girl’s hua (a type of apparel with Asian roots)

That being said, I still adored the story and gave it 4 stars because the characters were magnificently developed, and the plot was interesting.  It kept me going throughout because I desperately needed to figure out what would happen to Tea.  The book follows her story, so it is sort of a fantasy coming of age novel, which is something that I appreciate.  Plus, there’s elements of (semi-unrequited) romance, evil beasts which must be defeated, and a girl struggling with her identity.  It’s perfect.

While I read, I was reminded a lot of the book “Memoirs of a Geisha” mainly because the life of an Asha, which is what Tea was training to be, is basically like a magic Geisha who at times has to go out and slay beasts.  Since I always found geisha life mildly appealing (don’t judge please) now my main goal in life is to be an asha.  Anyways, back to the review…

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Tea, the MC, was super cool.   And her name is pronounced Tay-uh, which I didn’t know until about halfway through when some minor character had trouble pronouncing her name.  Not only could she use magic to raise the dead, but she was totally badass and a strong character, which made me love her.  There was no “I need a man to save the day” whatsoever in this book, which was one of my favorite parts ever.  I thought Tea was very very well developed and relatable, because you never saw her as just one thing.  From the opening scene, she was this super powerful Asha, but also had some weaknesses, strong family ties, and wasn’t immune to what other people thought of her.  Chupeco made her this incredible female lead while still showing that she was vulnerable, which made me relate to her more than I would have otherwise.  She was also super dynamic, because she went from being somewhat more nervous, frightened girl to someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer, which is exactly the type of progress that I love to see.  And this is only book one.  The fact that it isn’t going to take Tea the entire series to become “tough” is a testament to the writing and makes me wayyyyy more excited to read the next books in the series.

There are virtually no men in this novel except for the love interests, and Tea’s brother Fox, whom she rose from the dead.  I think that made it very women’s empowerment-y because it was women that were teaching and helping Tea “come of age” without the influence of a male role model to help her.

All of the minor and side characters in the novel had strong backgrounds and you could see how they became the people which they are today.  You wanted the best for all of them, especially Mikaela, Tea’s sort-of mentor.

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Hmmmmm…. what can I say here.  The plot was very very good, but at times I felt like Chupeco put the story on hold in order to write overly detailed descriptions.  And I don’t mean there wasn’t a lot of action in parts, because there was always stuff happening, and Tea developing, but there were a lot of paragraphs of description that almost made me ditch the book in the opening parts.  I don’t understand why there had to be so much flouncy detail.  I think part of it was Chupeco wanting to make the reader understand teh worldbuilding aspect better, but the bottom line is that it put me to sleep and caused me to move very slowly through the book, since I just didn’t want to pick it up.  That being said, I felt like it got better– or I just got used to it– as it went along, and the story itself makes it worth pushing through the beginning.

The plot contained flashforwards every chapter or two to Tea on a beach after she has already gone through a lot of her story.  In the whole book, the story lines never intersect, which is weirdly cool.

The ending has a sort of present-timeline plot twist which is confusing to everyone (I think) even if you had guessed that it would come, because Chupeco doesn’t really explain it at all.  That being said, I think it’s coming in the sequel and that we haven’t caught up in the past timeline plot yet.

A lot of this story had a coming of age, geisha training vibe.  I wouldn’t recommend this book if you’re looking for a tale of adventure and defeating monsters.  It’s not that.  It’s more about Tea’s emotions and the way which she develops both as our protagonist and in her feelings and confidence.  I think the next book will have more of a defeat the system feel to it, but this book did not, so bottom line is you won’t enjoy it if that’s what you’re looking for.

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I think I’m going to make a list, because listing is fun and why not.

  1. Tea’s development and the way she was always portrayed as just as strong, if not stronger, than men
  2. Mikaela and the motherly yet all powerful role she played in the book while still having weaknesses
  3. The wordbuilding.  Let me tell you that it was amazing.  Like, so unique and vibrant and real.  You literally wear your heart in a necklace, and have to kill this unkillable monsters called daeva on a yearly basis.  I felt like I was really in the world, and could imagine it just as well as I can my own.  (That’s actually why I put Chupeco in my dream worldbuilding panel, if you were wondering)
  4. Likh’s whole story line was perfect, but I can’t really explain without including spoilers so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
  5. The plot twist at the end of the past timeline was so so so good
  6. All of the side character’s personalities and yet realness.  Nobody was a one dimensional character, not even the “mean girl”, thank gods for that.
  7. The geisha-ness

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Another list, you ask? Why not, I say!

  1. The excessive description
  2. The romance aspect that wasn’t really going anywhere but just felt like two people who had a crush on each other but neither would admit it but not in the awkward tension kind of way, just in the “we’re too little to be in a real relationship” way
  3. Not much else!

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This whole book drew a lot from Asian culture, and the MC is a PoC, which is great and super rare in the fantasy genre as a whole.  I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the culture, but I do think that  it made the book more real than it would have been otherwise.

There was a minor character, one of Tea’s friends, who ended up being transgender and coming out over the course of the book, which is really awesome because of how accepted and the fact that Tea never once thought that it was anything out of the ordinary.

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The dark asha (so basically Tea and Mikaela) cut themselves in order to draw their runes in the air, which I’m not really sure is a trigger or not, but I figured I’d include it.

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“I would much rather remain undetected in the shadows than saunter out into the light, with my flaws out for all to see.” (chapter 11)

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Once you got past the over description, the book was really solid, and I’m very excited to read the next books in the series when they come out.  I think the worldbuilding was incredible, and would highly recommend to fans of YA fantasy who don’t mind it being minimally action-y.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Scrappy Little Nobody (I was Laughing the Whole Time)

By Anna Kendrick

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.97

Genre: Memoir

Publication Date: November 15th 2016

Format Read: Physical Copy

Goodreads Summary: A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.  Even before she made a name for herself on the silver screen starring in films like Pitch Perfect, Up in the Air, Twilight, and Into the Woods, Anna Kendrick was unusually small, weird, and “10 percent defiant.”  At the ripe age of thirteen, she had already resolved to “keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy: It. Wants. Out.” In Scrappy Little Nobody, she invites readers inside her brain, sharing extraordinary and charmingly ordinary stories with candor and winningly wry observations.  With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”  Enter Anna’s world and follow her rise from “scrappy little nobody” to somebody who dazzles on the stage, the screen, and now the page—with an electric, singular voice, at once familiar and surprising, sharp and sweet, funny and serious (well, not that serious).

Okay so I’m not quite sure how to write this review, because it’s for a memoir, and so I’m going to keep it pretty short and to the point.

I personally love Anna Kendrick– her acting in Pitch Perfect made me fall in love, and I followed her other movies too (not stalking, just I watched them because they had a good actress in them).  So I feel like that will certainly make a difference as to your enjoyment level.  Anna is blunt, funny in a sarcastic way, and not afraid to knock herself down.  For me, that added significantly to my enjoyment.  For others, if they don’t find that type of humor amusing, the book will likely not be worth it.

Part of what I loved is that Anna told many different stories from her life that covered all aspects of her journey, and what it’s like to be in the spotlight.  While reading, you are able to get a good feel for everything she went through that makes her into what she is today.  It was cool to be able to see an actress who you idolize as someone much more down to earth and REAL.  

One thing I would caution about this book is that she is very open about sex and how she feels about it, and actually doing it, so if you are uncomfortable with that, don’t read the book.  It’s frequently mentioned, so it isn’t like there’s just one chapter you can skip.

I would highly recommend this novel for people who are interested in Anna’s life, and who enjoy sarcastic humor.  I found myself laughing out loud, but whether that’s a personal thing or it’s actually funny I can’t say.  But, for me at least THE HUMOR WAS INCREDIBLY GOOD!!!!  Surprisingly, Anna portrays herself as really reclusive and not that much of a social interactor, but she should feel more comfortable because she’s naturally funny.

Also, at the end of my copy there was a “reading group guide” which was semi-sarcastic and I loved it and it made my day 100% when I saw that so you should probably at least read that part.

Sorry for the awful review, but I said in the beginning I wasn’t sure how to do this.

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Review: Truly Madly Guilty (It had me hooked, but was missing something)

By Liane Moriarty

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.55

Genre: New Fiction w/ mystery element

Publication Date: July 26th 2016

Format Read: Phone Ebook

Challenges met: Read Harder Challenge

Goodreads Summary: Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.  Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.  Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?  In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.


I went into this book not knowing a lot, and so I didn’t really know what to expect.  I’d already read a Moriarty book in the past, so I figured it would be something similar, and I was very happy with what I got out of this book.  It isn’t one that I think everyone needs to read, but while I was reading it, I was hooked.  Moriarty has a gift of slowly revealing information in a way that leaves you constantly wanting more, but not becoming bored.  Although it is “slow to unfold” as some reviewers have put it, I believe that the way she did give out information was in just the right quantity.  You never felt like she was intentionally trying to elongate it, nor did she use any of the “cliches” of a novel like this which would make it lose its value.  I don’t know how else to put that without spoilers, but I thought she made everything very realistic to the situation.

The Characters…

There were a ton of characters in this novel, namely three couples, 3 children, a grumpy old neighbor, a crazy hoarder mom, and one of the couple’s parents.  Keep in mind while I write this that this book was written for adults with adult MCs, so “mom” is about 60 while the MC couples are in their late 20s-30s (I’m guessing, they might be older).  The POV alternated between all 6 individuals which make up the couples, but rather than adding to confusion, this clarified a lot and allowed for wayyyy better personality development of everyone in the novel.  And, as the point of this book was to evaluate the impacts of one “mysterious event” it made sense to see the emotions of everyone who was involved.  

I think Moriarty did a great job of characterizing everyone in her novel, even though she had A TON of work to do in order to accomplish this.  Everyone has distinctive personalities, and although you may not like some of them, you have to admit that they are honest and real and the people act in accordance with their personalities.  What I love is that there’s no miraculous “change overnight” scenes.  That doesn’t fit with the way Moriarty works.  I was especially impressed with the way each person had an individualized personality– there were no generic characters here.  One thing that I would complain about is that a couple of them were stereotypes– the big, over friendly Italian, and the girl with parent problems who developed OCD.  That being said, at least they were all different, and their relationships were well done.

The Plot…

I loved the way Moriarty did this.  The reason her story worked is that she incorporated so many small details, with slow revealing, so that the reader was on the edge of their seat the entire time.  

The POV shifted among all of the characters present at the barbeque, which added to the effect of slow reveals, because you slowly learned how everyone felt about the moment, and eventually it began coming together.  It also made me think about how one event can severely impact EVERYONE’S lives, even if it seems like it shouldn’t really matter.

Diversity and Triggers…

As far as diversity goes, there’s not really that much to say, except for the fact that it’s nonexistent.

Triggers, let’s see, there’s a lot.  We’ll go no spoiler first: strippers/sex club, drinking, OCD, hoarding, therapy, marriage problems, lots of people with “issues”.   

And now, for a major spoiler, just cursor over the next sentence, because I’m writing it in white.  If you read this, it will ruin most of the book’s mystery element, which is what makes it so good so I wouldn’t recommend it.  A young child nearly dies with her parents watching, and it is described fairly vividly multiple times with CPR recover, and is the central focus of the whole plot.


Overall, I adored this book, and found it really good, but it was missing something that made it PERFECT.  There’s nothing much that I can genuinely put my finger on, and it might just be because I’m too young to relate directly to the characters and situation, but they just didn’t seem real enough for me to give it 5 stars.  That being said, I would 100% recommend, especially if you liked What Alice Forgot, which is another book by Liane.

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