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Book Review: Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and her monsters

Eliza and her Monsters

Release date: May 30th 2017

4.5 stars

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea‘s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

I loved Made You Up by this author so I was really excited to see a second novel. I thought the way the story was told using illustrations from the character’s webcomic and screenshots of her online chats and the fan forums made for a very unique reading experience. I’ve read books that involve seeing characters’ text messaging before but with the online world being so important to Eliza, it felt like an extra way to connect with her.

I absolutely loved Eliza. I could definitely relate to how she felt about finding solace in online fandoms in a way that she couldn’t in the real world. The online world was just so much easy to navigate for her. The real world had so many people and variables that were out of her control and social interactions/cues that she didn’t get. She was a quiet bookworm with anxiety in a family full of loud, seemingly confident athletes. It was an interesting dynamic to see them all try to relate to each other but it was clear there was a lot of love in that family. I could understand why she kept her webcomic such a secret from everyone expect a few select people and why she didn’t reveal too much about how big it had become to her parents – who she didn’t feel wanted to know or hear about her online life.

The relationship between Eliza and Wallace was really interesting. There were many times I would be cringing in sympathy for Eliza because I knew there was no way keeping her identity as Monstrous Sea’s creator a secret would end well but I could understand why she did it. There were other times I actually felt proud of her for doing something outside her comfort zone – like meeting Wallace’s friends or going to a Halloween party. Their relationship was sweet and they understood each other in ways only they could.

I also thought the author did a great job in showing Eliza’s anxiety and panic attacks through the books. It was a very realistic portrayal of a young woman living with a mental illness and how much it can affect your life and how it doesn’t magically go away just because you might be happier or more confident. This ended up being one of my favourite reads so far this year.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

Kat and Meg

Kat and Meg Conquer the World

Release date: November 7th 2017

Goodreads: Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different.
Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to new people. The only place she feels safe is in front of her computer, playing her favorite video game.
Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. Friends. Her boyfriend. Even the stepfather who raised her.
But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: their obsession with the online gaming star LumberLegs and his hilarious videos.
Meg’s pretty sure this is fate. Kat doesn’t know how to deal with someone who talks faster than she thinks. But if they can stick together and stay out of their heads, they might figure out how to help each other—and build the kind of friendship Kat never knew she wanted and Meg never believed she’d find.

Why I’m excited: Female friendship? Sign me up! I’ve fallen in love with this book already!

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Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

Well, hockey playoffs didn’t last too long in this house. More time to read:)

Currently reading: dreamfall

Finished reading: Four weeks Five PeopleGirl out of waterEliza and her monstersAntisocial

Reviewed: WarbringerDefy the Stars

What I’m hoping to get to next week: avengedThe Gauntlet to read

Girl out of waterEliza and her monsters to review

Books read it 2017: 69

Debut authors read in 2017: 21

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten things that will make me not want to read a book aka book turn offs.

10. Boring love triangles. I’ve accepted that most times I pick up a book, there will be some form of a love triangle involved. They’re not going away. When I can predict the end pairing from the synopsis, it’s not something that intrigues me.

9. The synopsis gives it all away. Much like a movie trailer, when the synopsis gives away 90% of the plot of the book, I’m not interested in finding out the other 10%.

8. The main character having a hobby the author obviously didn’t research. I love it when characters have interesting or unique hobbies and interests but show me those hobbies and interests. A passing remark that the main character loves curling but it’s never mentioned again does not show me they love curling.

7. No growth arc. I love when even the supporting characters, at least the more prominent ones, have growth arcs along with the main character but if there’s no growth arc at all, I usually lose interest.

6. Too many issues packed into one plot. Most of the time when a book tries to tackle too many issues, it ends up doing none of them well.

5. Insta-love. I can handle instant attraction but at least let them find out each other’s names before declarations of love.

4. When the characters never do necessary things like eat or sleep. I don’t need details about their bathroom schedule but little things like grabbing an apple on the way out the door or waking up with bedhead are small things that make the characters feel so much more real to me.

3. Magically good at a difficult skill. It’s one thing to be a natural at a new skill. It’s another to master it after one lesson. I actually prefer when the character struggles because it can make for a great moment when they to master it.

2. A book compared to two very popular at the moment books. When I see X meets Y with X and Y being two of my favourite books, all that does is set up very, mega high expectations.

  1. No positive female interactions. If all the female character are horrible to each other through the whole book and there’s no real female friendships, I just can’t do it.

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Book Review: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Warbringer

Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Release date: August 29th 2017

4 stars

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .
Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.
Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.
Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

When Leigh Bardugo and Wonder Woman collide, I expect great things. This was the first book release of the four planned DC Icons series featuring Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Batman, and Superman and it set the bar pretty high. I was never into comics growing up so my superhero love is a more recent thing and I feel like I’m forever playing catch up to these amazing characters’ stories. Maybe not knowing all the details about Wonder Woman’s story helped me just be able to read and enjoy this book since I wasn’t looking for holes or differences.

Diana was definitely a badass but she was a badass who had yet to prove herself to her sisters and to her mother. She was still young compared to most of them and longed to be accepted. She was really easy to relate to in a lot of ways. She just wanted to do what was right and keep her family safe. She was smart and determined and brave. And while she was trying to save everyone, she was going through her own self-discovery journey.

The plot ticked off most of what I would expect from a book based on a superhero. The origin story, the moral dilemma, the mission, the sacrifice, and of course the good versus evil. I could recognize Leigh Bardugo’s signature storytelling through the whole book and it just drew me in. There were a few predictable moments but still many twists that were surprising and makes me wonder if we’ll see another Wonder Woman book coming out soon.

I thought the book did a great job showcasing a young Diana on the cusp of her legacy, making her relatable but also other-worldly. The supporting cast were all wonderful additions and the five teens that ended up on the mission together were a lot of fun to watch banter back and forth. If there is a sequel, I will definitely be reading it.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

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Book Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars

Defy the Stars

Release date: April 4th 2017

4 stars

She’s a soldier.
Noemi Vidal is a seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.
He’s a machine.
Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.
Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

I loved Claudia Gray’s Firebird series so I was really excited for a new Sci-Fi story from her. The story of Noemi and Abel intrigued me before I even started it and with each page, I found myself getting more and more invested in their stories, both separately and together. It was an interesting dynamic. For a lot of the book, it was just the two of them on the mission Noemi was hell bent on completing but they did meet up with some great supporting characters.

The book was a dual POV between Noemi and Abel. I always find it interesting when a dual POV has two such different characters and it was hard to get any more different than these two. Noemi was a soldier from a planet cut off from the rest of the galaxy and whose people had strong opinions about the technology the rest of the galaxy was using. Abel was a machine, a mech, with such advanced programming that it was almost impossible to tell he wasn’t human. These were two individuals with limited life experience who’d both been raised to believe one way of thinking and were learning that maybe their elders/creators weren’t telling the whole truth.

I was a little surprised that I didn’t miss the crew feel in this Sci-Fi book. Usually, that would be high on my list of loves when I read a book involving space and missions, but the dynamic between Noemi and Abel was so well done and so entertaining that they filled all the areas I would normally look for in a crew. I loved watching the relationship between them change and the little ways they realized they’d become to care for each other, much to their own confusion.

The plot was a mix between the type of action scenes one might expect(and hope) for in a space book and a slow build-up toward the mission’s end goal. It did a great job setting up for the second(and final?) book. It didn’t get too slow that I felt my attention wandering and it didn’t get too fast where I felt like I was missing pieces of information. I’m very excited to see where the travel takes us in book two.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

A Map for Wrecked Girls

A Map for Wrecked Girls

Release date: August 15th 2017

Goodreads: We sat at the edge of the ocean—my sister Henri and I—inches apart but not touching at all. We’d been so sure someone would find us by now.
Emma had always orbited Henri, her fierce, magnetic queen bee of an older sister, and the two had always been best friends. Until something happened that wrecked them.
I’d trusted Henri more than I’d trusted myself. Wherever she told me to go, I’d follow.
Then the unthinkable occurs—a watery nightmare off the dazzling coast. The girls wash up on shore, stranded. Their only companion is Alex, a troubled boy agonizing over his own secrets. Trapped in this gorgeous hell, Emma and Alex fall together as Emma and Henri fall catastrophically apart.
For the first time, I was afraid we’d die on this shore.
To find their way home, the sisters must find their way back to each other. But there’s no map for this—or anything. Can they survive the unearthing of the past and the upheaval of the present?

Why I’m excited: I’m big on sibling dynamics and this one seems like it will have an intriguing one while being something I haven’t read before.

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Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

Hockey playoffs have started, which means lots of time to read while my mom is watching the games.

Currently reading: Antisocial

Finished reading: No Good DeedDefy the Starsinconceivable-life-of-quinnWarbringer

Reviewed: Windfallone-of-us-is-lying

What I’m hoping to get to next week: Four weeks Five PeopleGirl out of water to read

Defy the StarsWarbringer to review

Books read it 2017: 64

Debut authors read in 2017: 18

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten things that will make me read a book.

10. Road trip – I love road trip books, which is a little weird because I’m not much of a traveler. I guess I like living through the characters.

9. The Breakfast Club – the synopsis giving me a Breakfast Club vibe is a sure way to make certain the book ends up coming home with me.

8. Hate-to-love romance – I love slow burn romance so when the two characters start off hating each other, at least I know there’s no instalove.

7. Geek/nerd themes – the book bringing comic con, fandom, or anything else that I love into it is another way to make sure the book ends up in my shopping cart.

6. Misfit family – A step above the Breakfast Club vibe, this one is more Firefly-like. A bunch of outcasts/misfits ending up considering each other family is always a must read.

5. Blurb by a beloved author – If one of my favourite authors has read the book and loved it, I will pick it up.

4. Snow/rain storms – This isn’t something that’s in the book but whenever it’s storming outside, I read. It’s automatic.

3. Siblings – As someone with 3 sisters and a brother-in-law, sibling relationships is always something that really intrigues me in a book.

2. Magic – I blame Harry Potter and Tamara Pierce. I love magic in my stories.

  1. Space travel – I love Sci-fi but I especially love it when the characters are on a ship traveling through space instead of planet-bound.

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Book Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus

one-of-us-is-lying

One of Us is Lying

Release date: May 30th 2017

4 stars

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.

I really enjoyed this Breakfast Club vibe meets Pretty Little Liars mystery. It had some interesting twists, great characters, and it really drew me right into the story. Putting a Breakfast Club vibe into a book is a sure way to get me to pick it up and I was not disappointed.

The book was told in many POVs as we followed the four main characters trying to figure out who was framing them for Simon’s death. I liked all four pretty equally. Maybe Bronwyn and Cooper edged out the other two but not by much. Even with the book being less than 400 pages and very fast paced, there was still a lot of growth for all four characters. The story was as much about their growth as it was about the mystery and I really enjoyed that.

I wasn’t a fan of how the cops handled the whole case but I could see why they were so short-sighted. They had four teens in the room with the victim, all who were about to be exposed and all who had access to Simon and to the epi-pens in the nurse’s station. With all the publicity the case was getting, of course they wanted to solve it quickly, but they just ended up looking a bit incompetent. I thought the book did a good job showing how their narrowed focus affected the case and the teens and using some outside media sources to call them on their dropping the ball.

The mystery held my interest and I was looking for clues everywhere. It was the type of mystery where the reader could simply read to enjoy it and hopefully be surprised at the twists, or they could try to pick up the clues and solve it. It made it a book that was impossible to put down.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

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