My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
Synopsis: "If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love. "
Review: I've been meaning to pick up this book for years now, but I keep wanting to read it during the holiday season and every time I put it off I push it off for the following year. However, I finally read it this year (as my first read of 2019!) and I LOVED IT. If you can, you should also read this book during the holiday season! (It was a such a cozy read, but you can also read this any other time to get in the holiday spirit or just for some holiday-themed romance!)
First off, I have to say that I really enjoyed all the different styles and stories in this anthology, but I decided to list them from my most favorite to my lesser favorites with a little about what I thought of each story! (Just keep in mind that even the "last" story is amazing)
Favorite Quotes: look for the asterisks above!
The Reader by Traci Chee
Synopsis: "Instant New York Times Bestseller
A stunning debut set in a world where reading is unheard-of, perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone
Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.
With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, The Reader is a brilliantly told adventure from an extraordinary new talent."
Review: Going into this book there were so many overlapping parts that I had to start reading pretty slowly, but this is honestly so beautifully written that I couldn't stop. This is a fantasy novel completely different to everything I've read, the plot is unique and the idea of reading being magical still translate to our world so fluidly.
Let's go over my favorite parts of this novel!
The book feels like inception at times, but that's all part of the appeal. This was definitely a great first book for a trilogy, but it's all buildup and now I'm ready to pick up The Speaker.
Also, The Storyteller is out today! so if you haven't started the series you should definitely start now!
Cover: ★★★★★ (THAT REPRESENTATION!!)
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Synopsis: "Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?"
Review: I LOVE Morgan Matson and ALL of her books, so it wasn't really much of a surprise that I really enjoyed this one too! I just finished a Colleen Hoover book, so I just wanted to offer a quick comparison to those who have read CoHo. Both authors write contemporary romance novels, but Morgan Matson novels are more contemporary and Colleen Hoover's are more romance.
Anyways, onto the book itself, IT WAS SO CUTE. As a fantasy reader, the fantasy experts were adorable and the plot was simple yet attention grabbing. NOT TO MENTION THE DOGS. As a HUGE dog lover I was very pleased with all the cute dogs in this book! (and on the cover!)
This novel was filled with friendships and relationships and if I had to describe it all in a word it would be: sweet. It felt like a fun, summer contemporary novel and even though it was 519, it still felt like a quick read. As much as this book was unique, the vibe was a very classic contemporary romance novel, like those staple rom-coms, but a book.
Cover: ★★★★★★★★★★ + infinity because these dogs are FREAKIN CUTE
Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
Synopsis: "Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.
The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.
Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.
Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves."
Review: This was NOT what I was expecting from a CoHo book, but I REALLY REALLY enjoyed it. This novel covered so many different issues that aren’t usually ever discussed in fluffy contemporary romance novels. I think some parts of the novel could be potentially triggering, but otherwise for those who are not immersed in information about depression, suicide, the syrian revolution, mental illness, and more, her novel is insightful in a way that simple facts may not address: she includes a level of emotion that’s otherwise not really possible for a google search to show. Some may argue that this was just too many issues crammed into one novel, but I didn’t feel that way, life has plenty of issues, so why not incorporate them.
Now for the lighter side of this novel, as an identical twin this novel was strangely relatable (most just cringing from imagining being in that situation). CoHo has a way with romance that’s always amazing, so that’s definitely not lacking in this novel.
One of the biggest things I admire about CoHo novels aside from her willingness to touch upon taboo topics in society, but also her creativity with her novels. Many contemporary romance novels stick to similar plots and even similar characters, but CoHo truly finds unique situations and such detailed characters, blending into one-of-a-kind novels every time.
Nyxia Unleased by Scott Reintgen
*I received an ARC of Nyxia Unleashed through Netgalley, but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
Synopsis: "Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all. Discover book two in the trilogy Marie Lu called, “a high-octance thriller.”
Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.
Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.
But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?"
Review: This book took me way too long to pick up. Life got in the way and I also decided to reread the first book in the series to catch up on all that had happened. Despite how long it took for me to finally pick up this book, this series fascinates me because I am not the biggest sci-fi fan, but this series has truly made me read page after page. (As proven with me finishing this novel in a day after I decided to actually start reading.)
Emmett enters the world of the Adamites in this novel and goes through lots of adventure and even some romance! The relationships between the Genesis crew and Babel or with the crew and the Adamites is something that really builds in this novel. It also reveals a different kind of connection between Genesis and Babel and if you thought there were secrets in the first novel, be prepared to encounter even more!
Death played a huge role in this series from the first novel, Nyxia, and again in this one, death pushes them apart or back together. Even though the deaths are tragic, they really push the plot and help develop the characters.
I loved the adventure, the emotion, the crazy dynamics, but I really loved the world building. One of the main reasons I prefer fantasy novels to sci-fi is because of the fascinating different worlds, but Nyxia Unleashed had it all! From the unique new foods, to the interesting social ranks, this was a part of the novel that really kept me reading.
Reading this sequel really reminded why I enjoyed the first novel so much and now I can't wait for the third book in this series!
Cover: ★★★★★ (I MEAN ...WOW just look at it!)
LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff
*I received an ARC of LIFEL1K3 through Netgalley, but this in no way affected my honest opinion about the book.*
Synopsis: "On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.
Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.
But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.
Even if those secrets were better off staying buried."
Review: I have to be honest, I went into this book not really excited because I've read a couple sci-fi books every now and then, but it's not my FAVORITE genre. It is also very steampunk, which I've never really delved into. DESPITE ALL OF THIS, I knew I had to give it a try because Nevernight is one of my absolute favorite books and I couldn't be more grateful I picked this up because it was one crazy adventure!
Each great book has a reason why it's so loved, and for this novel, for me, it was the characters. Here's why:
I actually have to admit about 3/4th of the way through I felt a little disappointed: I loved the characters, but everything felt so stereotypical, but no worries the last quarter really picked everything up and I was completely surprised by all the twists!
Overall, I have to say that this book really surprised me, in a good way. Even if you're not sure you'll like it, try it out, you might just change your mind!
Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Synopsis: "Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun."
Review: Sometimes a sequel can really fall flat, but LEGENDARY DID NOT DISAPPOINT. While Caraval was through Scarlett's view, Legendary takes the reader through Tella's POV and at first I was hesitant, but I loved it after just a few pages in.
The first book had me completely unable to predict the plot, but Legendary was more predictable (not in a bad way, in the way that I finally understood how this world works). I did guess a couple of large points, but it only made it more rewarding when it turned out to be true. I think the plot was actually more interesting in the book, because the first book was all about this beautiful introduction to the crazy, gorgeous world of Caraval. This book also had lots of stunning descriptions, but the plot moved quicker and with more intensity, picking up the pace from the previous novel.
The characters not really touched upon with Scarlett's POV, come to life in this sequel. It is absolutely amazing to delve into more characters than Scarlett and Julian. Tella has a whole different outlook on life and her circle of people in this book is so different and unique that we barely see Scarlett. And though I missed Scarlett, the new characters and plot twists took all of my time and energy I couldn't really have a moment to miss Scarlett.
Also the romance, as much as I loved the romance in the first novel, something about this novel was even more enthralling. I won't reveal who's with who, but let's just say I was fangirling the entire time (butterflies and everything).
Overall, if you're scared Legendary won't live up to Caraval, don't worry it's even better. If you haven't read Caraval yet, then go go go!
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan// + Movie Review!!
Synopsis: "Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should--and should not--marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich."
Book Review: I didn’t think I’d be writing a review for this because there’s already so much hype, but I was unable to stop myself. I have to say I’m not the BIGGEST fan of this book, but this is one of the only books I’ve read with so much asian representation and that’s created a bond with this book I can’t ever forget. I have always supported diverse books and I have read books with an asian here or there, but never one like this. Growing up in a city where the majority of people are asian led my younger, less knowledgeable self to think that asians were the majority (only to be a shocked to find out years later that we definitely were not). Even now, a vast majority of the books I own don’t even include a single asian character, and so yes I saw diversity as an issue, but I never realized how different it would feel to read a book that was FILLED with asian characters and even represented some of the culture I knew. One of the craziest moments in this books was simply realizing I could talk to my chinese parents about this books and they could RELATE to it. As much as I related to other YA novels, there was nothing really for me to share with my parents.
Although I have definitely never met one of these “crazy, rich asians” as many asians are simply your average people, there were small cultural details that I had experienced and understood.
Asians in America are often seen as the model minority: they are quiet, hardworking, and didn’t cause any trouble. However, this novel shows asians in a light I never really get to see, these asians are influential, powerful, and intelligent not only with math or science, but culturally and socially.
Although the first 75% of the plot felt predictable to me, the importance of the novel, ultimately led me to really value it. For these reasons, I really recommend everyone to pick up this novel and open your mind to a culture you may not have known much about before (like me, since I didn’t know anything about Singapore beforehand ).
Movie Review: I was lucky enough to get to watch Crazy Rich Asians a full week ahead of time and I have to say IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. Not only did it exceed my expectations, but I honestly enjoyed it even more than the book (despite the differences in the movie where I kept a mental list of all the subtle or even larger changes). I found the book a little slow, only picking up near the end, but since the movie has to fit everything in a short span of 2 hours, the pace was much quicker, and lets be honest the gorgeous sets really helped me visualize everything as well. The actresses and actors were absolutely amazing and I was so glad I could share this opportunity with my parents. Since there was so many asian references and Chinese culture it was amazing to hear from them that this movie was super easy for them to understand. Not only that, but they actually knew every single song that was played in the movie and this blew my mind. It's so amazing to see more asian culture represented in media and seeing it on the big screen was SO worth it. However, I'm so glad I read the book beforehand, just to notice the similarities and differences and I will definitely be reading the next two in preparation for the next two movies!
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Synopsis: "Remember, it’s only a game…
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away."
Review: WOW. just WOW. I have seen this book everywhere, so after picking this up I already had pretty high standards, but let's just say that my mind was completely blown.
Caraval has taken me on a journey. When people say books transport you to new worlds, no book does it quite like Caraval. Although, it was incredibly unique (like, I was unable to think about anything else) here are some the things I felt hints of similarities to while reading:
The characters, relationships, worldbuilding, and plot were all so unique that I still can't fully wrap my head around it.
The characters were perfectly imperfect. Unlike most YA novels where we have a classic heroine who is unconfidently perfect, we have some very real characters who each make their own mistakes and carry their own flaws.
The creativity of the world of Caraval is beyond me, but it really works itself into everything else. (AKA It makes everything, especially relationships, VERY complicated). Caraval's magic takes away any of my plot predictions (not a single prediction I had played out and if it did I was already there, so not much of a prediction ahah).
Caraval is on the surface level simply beautiful, but its beauty hides a darkness you can feel while reading: that constant anxious feeling that you have every time you turn the page, but don't know why. Anyone searching for a pageturner and something to scramble your brain and grab and twist your heart, please pick up this amazing novel. (Now it's time for me to leave and return to this insane world as I pick up Legendary! SO EXCITED)
Cover: ★★★★★ ( I MEAN)
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: "When you can't beat the odds, change the game.
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world."
Review: This was such a bittersweet read. Knowing that the story was ending, yet reading such a well-written story had me wanting to read faster, yet not wanting to finish. The first novel set up the world building and all the first impressions of the characters, but Crooked Kingdom really explored the characters, their relationships, and the plot.
The plot was such a rollercoaster and it was somewhat predictable, but still enthralling. With the plot, the switching of character plots really helped move everything along and created suspense by focusing on only one perspective at a time. This switching also really helps me create that image in my brain and I can definitely see this being a movie one day!.
As much as the plot was invigorating, I think this series is a series you read for the characters. They are such a fun group of amazing individuals who only heighten each others' strengths when they are together. This kind of relationship is so amazing to read and gives you that family vibe.
Overall I am just very much attached to everyone and as much as I want more books, Crooked Kingdom was a good book to end at, but I'm just glad I own Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom so I can go back and reread whenever I need some more of these amazing characters!
Cover: ★★★★★ (AND THOSE FREAKIN GORGEOUS RED PAGES)
A fan of anything fiction, furry, & fun.