A Real Life Dystopian: Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee

28818317Publisher: Amulet Books

Publication Date: September 13th, 2016

Series: N/A

Genre: Memoir, YA

Rating: 3.5/5

This was a flawed but interesting read. North Korea, as put by the author, is a real life dystopian. Sungju Lee provides a fascinating experience as he becomes disillusionment with the North Korean society when his family moves from the nation’s capital among society’s elite. It’s a shocking tale for both reader and writer alike as he goes from assuming everyone in Korea is well-fed and taken care of to becoming homeless and starving, where every day becomes a fight to obtain even life’s most basic necessities.

This book made me want to learn more about North Korea. I didn’t realize that Kim Jong-un was basically regarded as a deity or just how badly disparaged society is there. I don’t even know if you can travel to Korea from the US or if it is embargoed like Cuba.

On the flip side though, I did find the title and initial summary a bit misleading. It led me to assumed that the story would include more details on the actual escape from North Korea to China. And the presentation at times made me question the writer’s credibility. I have no doubt that while it is an accurate depiction in general, there seemed to be an awful lot of minute detail for every aspect of the book to have actually happened. I doubt, especially when living in such destitute conditions, that the author can recall all these small events and conversations as perfectly as is presented. Those were my two issues with the book from a critical standpoint.

Overall though, a harrowing and thought-provoking read that will increase your appreciation for the blessings in your life.

Magicians and Axe Murderers: The Chronicles of Alice by Christina Henry

Wow. I almost don’t even know where to begin. This retelling of Alice in Wonderland is one crazy, dark, wild ride. And I loved every minute of it. Even the parts that made me squirm. Continue reading “Magicians and Axe Murderers: The Chronicles of Alice by Christina Henry”

Why is Neverland Full of Hippies?: Never Ever by Sara Saedi

22840374Publisher: Viking Books

Publication Date: June 21st, 2016

Series: Never Ever, #1

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 2/5

Never Ever is a contemporary re-telling of Peter Pan. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take this book seriously, and me not liking something Peter Pan-related is just unheard of. It goes against the very core of my being. Continue reading “Why is Neverland Full of Hippies?: Never Ever by Sara Saedi”

Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond

26828513Publisher: Skyscape

Publication Date: July 5th, 2016

Series: Girl on a Wire, #2

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 2.5/5

I read this book last week, and it was released yesterday. I had a moment of extreme cover love, which ultimately led me to requesting this book. Isn’t the cover gorgeous?

Unfortunately, the cover is my favorite part about this book. Continue reading “Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond”

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Mass | Part I: Review

17927395Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s 

Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016

Series: A Court of Thrones and Roses, #2

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Rating: 5/5

Okay, if I could go back, I would change my rating of A Court of Thorns and Roses to a three, maybe a two, because not only did I have my issues with the book, but A Court of Mist and Fury was a gazillion times better!

I literally told my husband, “Just skip the first book if you want to read the series. I will fill you in so you can begin with this one.”

I have to have a two part to this review because I want to discuss some spoilers! This first part will be my actually review with minor spoilers at most. The second part will be my discussion of the book and more reasons why I think it’s amazing with all the spoilers in the world.

Okay, here’s my running list of why this was better:

  • Much less hanky panky: Sarah J. Maas’s sex scenes are weird and over-the-top so I appreciated that in the book overall they weren’t as frequent.
  • More angst: However, this book was much more angsty in the sense that the whole time you’re thinking, “Will they? Won’t they?” I didn’t feel that in the first book, whereas this book, I really wanted to see how the relationships evolved and progress.
  • Less romance: Obviously, there’s still lots of romance ^^. But it’s flirtatious and natural and less plot centered. In the first book, the romantic elements are at the heart of the action. I’d actually call the first book a romance with fantastical elements. This book is a fantasy novel with romances in it. This shift alone did wonders for the book.
  • Feyre is her own character now: In the first book, I mostly just thought of her as a Katniss Everdeen copycat. Now I actually think of her as her own character. The development she made was phenomenal! She has some truly dark moments that she has to figure out and get through. She goes from being a martyr to embracing her role. It was awesome.
  • f4caec92c7250f6bd86321200e45c760418c69bac94bbff291a3149671864d12Rhysand, Rhysand, Rhysand: I think Rhysand is basically everyone’s favorite character. I knew from his entrance in A Court of Thorns and Roses that he was going to be mine in the series. I instantly recognized his trope: the bad boy with a secret heart of gold. Those are always my favorites, and he did not disappoint in this book.
  • Less Tamlin: Tamlin didn’t bother me in the first book so much as I was apathetic. I didn’t care for him, nor did I hate him. He was just meh. Though I’m not sure I can totally see the jump from his characterization in the first book to this book, I at least appreciate that he has taken on a more interesting and meaningful role, even though he isn’t in the story as much.
  • A strong supporting cast: We meet a ton more characters in ACOMAF. What’s more is that they are all well-developed. They have backstories, histories, character ticks. They all feel real and relevant. This book is definitely more character-driven than plot-driven, as opposed to the first book.   

There’s one thing though that did drive me nuts about this book, and that was the flying scenes. Sometimes I’d wonder from the description how these things were even physically possible!

But other than that, no complaints. The ending was fantastic. Not a cliffhanger, but left me on the edge of my seat nevertheless. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

What did you think of the book? Who is your favorite character?

Stay tuned for Part II!

Tootle loo, darlings!

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Hope and Red by Jon Skovron

25804214Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: June 28th, 2016

Series: Empire of Storms, #1

Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi, YA

Rating: 4/5

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, and I was even less sure when I started reading. It took me a while to get settled into the world, and here’s why: this book is Pirates of the Caribbean meets the Godfather meets Elektra meets I-don’t-even-know-what.

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This book is the ultimate combination of pirates and ninjas with a fantastical, slightly sci-fi twist. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out. But to Skovron’s credit, it totally did.

As a young child, a girl witnesses the horrifying massacre at the hands of the Empire’s biomancers, mages capable of manipulating living materials. Traumatized and orphaned, she is taken in by a group of warrior monks called Vinchen and secretly trained in their ways despite females being forbidden from the Vinchen order. Unable to recall her own name, the monks give her the name Bleak Hope in honor of her destroyed village.

In another part of the empire, an eight year old boy finds himself orphaned by drugs and illnesses, forcing him out into the slums. He is discovered by the criminal Sadie the Goat, who recognizes his cleverness. takes him aboard her crew and calls him Red for his red eyes as a result of his mother’s drug use during his pregnancy. Sadie teaches Red the ways of a wag, to fight, steal, and throw knives. Red grows up, esteeming to be the greatest thief in Paradise Circle.

We follow Hope and Red’s individual stories till they converge when the two are older. They’re both interesting characters, but follow familiar archetypes. Bleak Hope is the perfect name for our female heroine. She is stoic, solemn, and honorable. She’s obsessed with the vow she’s taken to avenge her village. Some might find her a bit lackluster since she’s not your typical saucy, sarcastic woman that we often see in the warrior female lead roles. Personally, I’m a such a softie when it comes to stories about women taking on men’s roles. And let’s remember that she is a ninja after all: you know, quiet but deadly. Red, on the other hand, is the charismatic thief with a heart of gold. He’s definitely the funnier one of the pair, but they end up complementing each other and making a great dynamic duo. Naturally, there’s also a romance element between the two, but it wasn’t all soppy and gross, thank goodness.

While the pair can at times come off as “Mary and Gary Stu” with their mad skills and ability to overcome insurmountable tasks, I think what sells it was the world building. With the crazy mix of plot elements and tropes, Jon Skovron is able to pull it off by building a world that neatly connects them together and makes it believable. He creates rich cultures, social classes, and even an impressive vocabulary of unique lingo and curses; though be warned, crude references to genitalia are common in the dialogue.

The real reason I rated this a 4 star as opposed to a 5 was that the plot structure seemed a bit wonky to me, like the book almost should’ve been split into two parts. The plot structure I was always taught in English was: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution. This seemed to happen a few times within the book.

025c5a9a2c7357d8dc616cd812318382455a58f89302b71ea53312c1df10f50cI’d be reading along and something crazy would be happening. I’m staring at my Kindle screen, saying to myself, “Oh my gosh, this is crazy, this has to be the climax of the story! Oh wait, I’m only 57% through the book…” This may have happened a few times, which drove me a little nuts. I feel that perhaps emotionally I might’ve felt a deeper connection to the Hope and Red if the book had been split in half.

But, I will say the ending note that the book left off on was surprising, totally unexpected, and left me anxious to see what happens next.

All in all, I call that a success! The book is being released on Tuesday, so go out and get it!

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! 

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Okay, the blog might be a hit or miss this week because I am apartment searching again, and it’s a real pain in the butt; the place we’re looking to move is a 40 minute drive away. Thus I may not be home much to do the things I want to do. Please pray for me, everyone, that we find a place because I need to get out of here. I am getting desperate!!!

But let’s get back to the subject at hand.

My tribulations notwithstanding, I had the time this weekend to read this book by Kiersten White called And I Darken. It’s being released at the end of the month.

And. Oh. My. Gosh.

Continue reading “And I Darken by Kiersten White”