On My Wish List

Usually I’m not a fan of dystopian. I think we all know this by now. But Jen at The Bookavid (which is a fantastic book blog you should totally check out), told me I had to read 27 Hours by Tristina Wright. Not only is it filled with representation of PoC and all sorts of sexualities, there is a Deaf person in the book.

As a Deaf/HoH person let me tell you how easy it is to find Deaf or HoH characters outside of contemporaries. It’s not. When I do find one, usually it’s done horribly.  Deafness is magically cured or the Deaf/HoH person is just the sidekick that makes the hearing people look good (“Hey, look at me, I’m cool and hip cause I have a friend who can’t hear and I let them tag along with me!”). Contemporaries have this problem too.

So when Jen told me that 27 Hours had gargoyles and awesome representation including a Deaf character that can hold their own, I was totally down for reading this! Sadly I have to wait until October 8th, 2017. Below is the cover, pre-order links and a link to the author’s twitter. Trust me, you’ll want to follow her twitter.

27Hours_Cover

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Goodreads Description: Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

You can definitely expect me to read and review 27 Hours as soon as I get my hands on it. I wish that I had these sorts of books when I was growing up and I’m really happy that the upcoming generation gets to have this sort of representation. while you’re at it, be sure to check out Tristina Wright’s twitter. She has some really cool stuff there and it’s a great way to show support.

TBR Pile: Airport Edition

I haven’t had much time for reading this month. Why? Because for the first time ever I’m getting on an airplane and headed to the West Coast. It’s my first time on a plane and so I’m both excited and a little nervous.

Cure for nervousness and a 6 hour flight (and the 5 hour flight back)? Books of course! I downloaded what felt like a ton of books, but here are the ones I’m putting at the top of my reading list. All links lead to Goodreads if you want more details.

Shiloh (Helena Sorensen)

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I had read this book a while back and adored it. I’m looking forward to re-reading it, although my review of the book is already on Goodreads. It’s a YA fantasy with elements of The Giver in it. It takes place in a beautifully crafted world overtaken by the Shadow, a darkness that has not only pushed the world into a physical darkness, but the creatures as well. First in a trilogy, Shiloh follows the story of Amos and his friend Simeon and their struggle against the Shadow as well as the fears and expectations of their town.

 

The Tale of the Vampire Bride (Rhiannon Frater)

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I have been wanting to read this book for the longest time. Vampires and historical fiction are my vice when it comes to books, and I am so excited to finally read this. The story is a New Adult novel about a young woman who marries Dracula via an arranged marriage. I’ve heard that it’s incredibly dark with lovely elements of gothic horror which is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

 

The Emperor’s Edge (Lindsay Buroker)

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A trusted friend recommended this book to me, and honestly this person has never steered me wrong when it comes to books. I’m a sucker for high fantasy, and when you tell me that there’s a diverse steampunk book out there about a law enforcer who gets in over her head, you’ve sold me.

 

Book Review: Illumine

|+| Warnings: Violence/gore, ableism, strong language throughout |+|

“Don’t fight it. You were created for this.” ~Kayden

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Author: Alivia Anders

Genre: YA Fantasy (Paranormal)

Synopsis: For the past five months Essallie Hanley has been trying to forget about the frightening murder of her boyfriend. Haunted by vivid nightmares and hallucinations of the event she does anything she can to pretend she’s like every other normal girl in High School.

Only Essallie is far from normal. Able to conjure blue fire and a shimmering silhouette of wings from her body, she seeks the only known solace left to her name; her first home in Belfast, Maine.

But she soon realizes that her return home is only the beginning of a long and twisted road taking her as far from her humanity as possible, with Kayden, the demon originally summoned to slaughter her, leading the way. Unable to touch her but oddly curious, he joins Essallie in her search to find out just what she is. But neither of them were prepared for the secrets they’ve begun to unravel, secrets that will change Essallie and everyone around her forever.

My Opinion: When I first read this book (soon after it came out in 2012) I adored it. I thought that despite the pacing issues and a few too many pop culture references, it was a fun read. I decided to go back and re-read it for old times sake. And I was very disappointed. This time around I found a plethora of ableism that made me extremely uncomfortable or downright offended me. I have no idea how I missed it all the first time. Despite a cool idea and fun characters, due to pacing issues and a shocking amount of ableism I gave this book 1.5 stars.

As I like to end my reviews on a positive note when possible, I’m going to start with the issues that I had with Illumine then move on to what I liked.

While over all I really liked the concept of the book, I had issues with the pacing. The book starts off with a bang and for the most part goes steady. The end of the book though, was extremely rushed. I found myself having to go back and re-read things multiple times because I was sure I had missed something. I hadn’t, the information simply wasn’t there. I would have loved to have seen the ending expanded a bit more. I feel like more information would have added to the overall suspense. Instead, because things were so rushed, I wound up confused, the tension lost on me.

This also ties into the world building. I understand this is the first in a series but there were so many unanswered questions that could have easily been answered then expanded upon later on. Yes this book takes place in our world, but we’re still left with a lot of missing details. For me this contributed to the ending feeling rushed and left me feeling disinterested in the story.

While the majority of the characters were interesting, I was frustrated with how much girl-on-girl hate there was. Essallie and Ursula disliked each other from the get go, and this is never fully explained or resolved. At the beginning, after the murder of her boyfriend, Essallie and her best friend comment on the cheerleaders and the popular girls. They imply that being popular means being loose, fake, and a brat. Ironically, Essillie becomes the exact thing she was looking down upon but excuses her own behavior. I’m so over this mentality and it really did nothing to help move the story forward.

My biggest issue with this book is how mental illnesses were treated, specifically PTSD. I really disliked how closely linked the author made PTSD and as our narrator says, “asylum worthy behavior.” I know many people with PTSD and how it’s portrayed in the book is not at all what it’s like. Once Essillie discovers her abilities, she realizes that she had never been hallucinating in the first place and she essentially no longer has PTSD. Magical cure at its finest. In this book PTSD was a gimmick to make the story more edgy, not a valuable part of the story. Once she accepts her powers, Essellie never struggles with anything PTSD related. I wish I could say that was the only example I had. But the language the narrator uses about herself and her mental state is awful, making her mental illness into a joke. She frequently jokes in anger about how people should just cart her off to a mental institution or how she’s “crazy.” In fact, all of the parts related to mental illness (weather it was in relation to our heroine or her mother) were extremely ablest and I found them to be incredibly offensive.

There is a light here though. Kayden was an interesting character. We don’t have an Edward Cullen here as Kayden never hides what he is or what he wants. He never tries to redeem himself, yet he does have flickers of kindness. While Essillie didn’t interest me, for the most part I didn’t mind the story being narrated by her. Ursula was my favorite though. She had a surprising amount of depth and she really does come into her own. For such a short book and for such a minor character, Ursula does the most growth. She made the book for me.

The over all concept was set up to be a win. Not only do demons and angels exist, but so does everything in between. Ultimately it’s the idea that all faerie tales are true to some point or another. For such a short book there was quite a bit of diversity when it came to mythical creatures.

But not even a hardcore lady like Ursula could redeem everything this book has going on with it. Nor could the interesting concept. A rushed ending, horrible portrayals of mental illnesses, and fake drama in the form of girl hate was simply too much for me to overlook.

TL;DR: Illumine was a let down for me. I was hoping to fall in love with the world again and instead I was offended by the portrayal of PTSD, worn out from petty girl-on-girl fighting, and confused by a rushed ending. Even if the girl hate and ending were fixed, I wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending this book simply because of how harmful the portrayal of PTSD is. If you or loved ones struggle(d) with PTSD, pass on this book. An interesting concept and fun characters couldn’t make me overlook the flaws Illumine has.

Bookish Recap (May)

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I’m back! It is so freaking great to be back! I could go on about how excited I am to actually be able to do this again but I’ll spare y’all.

Point is! This month had a lot of changes starting with a new post schedule, revamps to blog pages and clarification of which genres I will read and review. You can check all of that out in more detail here.

Because of these changes I’ve also decided to change how I do the monthly recap. Instead of doing a recap of all books I’ve read for the month I’m doing a recap on posts for the month and a sneak peek at next month. Missed a post? This will help you catch up!

Why the change? Some months I’ll read a lot more books than I have the chance to review so just doing a post recap will hopefully save us all some confusion. It also is pretty similar to what I’ve been doing, so it won’t be too much of a leap.

Book Reviews for May:

Whispers in the Dark (Pam Jernigan; 4 stars)
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins; 5 stars)
The Turning (Francine Prose; 3 stars)

Other Posts:
On My Wishlist (Before She Ignites; Jodi Meadows)

I really cannot recommend Whispers in the Dark and The Hunger Games enough. I feel like both really do something new to their genres. While I am making a (slow) move towards adult fiction, there’s a lot of dark YA books out there that I’m working through. So expect some more YA horror and fantasy next month!

Book Review: The Turning

|+| Warnings: Unreliable narrator, emotionally abusive relationships |+|

“The big, dark house was their world and they were letting me in. But only so far.” ~Jack (The Turning)

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Author: Francine Prose

Genre: YA Horror

Synopsis:  Jack is spending the summer on a private island far from modern conveniences. No Wi-Fi, no cell service, no one else on the island but a housekeeper and the two very peculiar children in his care. The first time Jack sees the huge black mansion atop a windswept hill, he senses something cold, something more sinister than even the dark house itself.

Soon, he feels terribly isolated and alone. Yet he is not alone. The house has visitors—peering in the windows, staring from across the shore. But why doesn’t anyone else see them . . . and what do they want? As secrets are revealed and darker truths surface, Jack desperately struggles to maintain a grip on reality. He knows what he sees, and he isn’t crazy. . . . Or is he?

My Opinion: The Turning has all my favorite horror tropes in it and uses them beautifully. Did it scare me? No, but there’s only been one horror book that’s done that, so I won’t hold that against this book. Although it took me a bit to get into the writing style and I wasn’t fully satisfied with the ending, I was in love with the concept, characters, and setting. Overall I gave this book 3 stars.

This book is based off of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, a book I’ve had on my TBR list for a while, but have yet to read. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed The Turning more or less if I had read Henry James’ book. Regardless, this book relies a lot on classic horror tropes and uses them flawlessly. The book doesn’t feel bogged down with tropes because from the start, we know exactly what we’re getting. We expect to get a creepy house with creepy kids and paranormal activity and we do.

I love books that are told through letter style, and to see a horror book that does that was super fun. I think the only problem with this narration style was that we ultimately had three letter writers (Jack, Sophie, and Jack’s father) that all sounded the same. I found myself double checking the “Dear ____” part because I was getting confused. This took me out of the story somewhat.

I also had an issue with the predictability and pacing of the story. There’s odd and interesting things that happen at the start, but it’s easy enough to make (accurate) assumptions about them. This changes 100+ pages into the story. Because this is a short book (just over 200 pages), that meant a lot of waiting.

Despite the slow pace and the predictability I think what sold me on this book was the fact that once it picks up, it picks up. Not only that, while we’re seeing tried and true horror tropes we also are seeing some genuinely interesting things. This is done mostly through the setting and how the characters react to it. The way that the characters and supernatural events behave within the setting was extremely well done. This element was what really kept me going.

TL;DR: If you’re looking for something to scare you stiff and a more serious horror book, this might not be your cup of tea. But if you’re looking for a more fun horror read and are a fan of horror tropes, this is the book for you! Although this book is predictable and has a slow start, it’s still a quick and fun read.

 

On My Wish List

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows has it all. Beautiful cover? Check. A heroine who struggles with OCD and crippling anxiety? Check! Dragons? Oh yeah, they’ve got dragons.

Some books are insta-pre-orders for me and this book is at the top of the list!

BeforeSheIgnites_Cover

Check out the Goodreads description (and add it to your TBR list!):

Before
Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.
But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.
After
Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.
No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.
Jodi Meadows’s new Fallen Isles series blazes with endangered magic, slow-burn romance, and inner fire.

Well if the description isn’t enough to get you hooked that cover is. The cover holds so much, and I really do recommend that you read the author’s blog post for the cover reveal. Reading that made me even more excited for this book. I was thrilled to find out the story behind the model. I’ve seen book covers with Black or other PoC models on the cover and yet the character description pretty much had them coded as white. It’s a bait and switch I cannot imagine how hurtful that must be for a reader, to think they’re getting representation and to not get it at all. So even though the model clearly looked like a heroine I could get behind, I was worried. After reading the blog post, my fears were laid to rest. The post also dropped some hints about the world building which once again, got me super excited.

The bar is set high for this one, but I’m sure it will live up to my excitement. This will be my first Jodi Meadows book but I’m really looking forward to it.

Book Review: The Hunger Games

|+| Warnings: Detailed depictions of violence (including torture and abuse), death, suicide mention|+|

“It’s to the Capitol’s advantage to have us divided among ourselves.” ~Katniss Everdeen

“I’m not the forgiving type” ~Katniss Everdeen

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Author: Suzanne Collins

Genre: YA Dystopian

Synopsis: The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

My Opinion: For the record, spellcheck keeps wanting me to change Katniss to Satanists. Strange, funny, but true. Anyway, moving on.

We all know at this point that dystopia and sci-fi are not my things. The Hunger Games is phenomenal and the one dystopian book I will swear by. This book is a hard read but worth it. The honest portrayal of violence, survival and poverty, and the portrayal of human brutality and grace makes this one a must read. That’s not even touching the world building and three dimensional characters. Hands down, five stars. 

Honestly, I don’t know where to start. This book gives me such tangled emotions, and everything in the story is so interconnected it’s hard to know where to begin. But I’ll start with Katniss herself.

Katniss knows she’s different in that she’s one of the few brave enough to sneak out of district boarders to hunt for food. Not only is this dangerous, it’s highly illegal. To add on to this, she has a weapon (her bow)-again highly illegal. Both crimes have the penalty of death. But Katniss knows she’s like everyone else in that she hates the Capitol, she wants her family to survive, and she, like the rest of her district, is dreading the approaching Hunger Games. Despite all this, at the start Katniss is surprisingly self centered. It’s her against the world and through her time as a Tribute, she realizes that it’s not just her against the world. There’s others who share her thoughts, who have her back, who are rooting for her. She and her family are not as alone as she thought. Due to the narration style it’s almost hard to see how Katniss grows until the very end of the book because she doesn’t realize it herself. But the growth is there. This touch of realism is one of the things that really sold me on this book and made me root for Katniss and her friends.

Katniss is also perfect for showing us the new dystopian world because she wants no part of it. She’s not indoctrinated into the way of thinking, and she wants nothing of adventure or of being a hero. In this respect she’s very practical. She’s not blindly in love with the system like we usually see in many YA and Adult dystopian books. Again, this adds a dash of authenticity. Katniss’ world is brutal. Some of it hit a little too close to home for me. But I think that can be eye opening for those who haven’t experienced it. Dystopian fictional world? Yes. Completely unfounded? Absolutely not.

Onto the fabled love triangle. Heads up, it’s not there. Katniss has no time for Peta or Gale. She’s too busy trying to survive and keeping her family alive. She manipulates, kills, and allows her humanity to slip. But what makes this book so vital and fascinating is what she does to try to retain and regain her humanity. Peta plays a key role in this, although not in a romantic way. There are others such as Rue, the true Mockingjay, that help with this too. It’s incredibly refreshing, but more than that, it’s incredibly realistic. Love is not a priority when you’re fighting for your life.

There are so many important things and people in this book, but I think Rue is the most important. Without Rue, Katniss wouldn’t have indirectly rebelled later in the book. Katniss was able to keep her humanity while with Rue and then carries her humanity throughout the rest of the Games. That was the biggest rebellion of all.

TL:DR; This book is not a book you can passively read. It’s not the typical dystopian in the way that it offers no hope or a way out where everyone gets a happily ever after. I think that is why this book is such a turn off for so many. Romance is not the core, nor is the taking down of a corrupt system. But that makes it no less powerful or important. The pacing, character development, and the physical and moral challenges these characters face make the book phenomenal and important. Even if dystopian books aren’t your thing, I strongly encourage you to read this.