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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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Weekly Reading Recap

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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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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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Weekly Reading Recap

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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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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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Book Review: Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

Windfall

Windfall

Release date: May 2nd 2017

3.5 stars

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.
At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.
As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

This book was very typical Jennifer E Smith, in the best ways possible. It was a light read with quirky characters and that familiar writing style that has me reading until the last page. It dealt with a lot of topics other than just focusing on an eighteen-year-old winning a massive lottery and it changing his life. It dealt with death, survivor’s guilt, first love, heartbreak. I thought the book did a wonderful job showing how different people would react to winning and how they would choose to spend the money, which Jennifer E Smith was able to do by having her main character be the friend who bought the lottery ticket instead of the person who won.

Alice was a character I found myself both relating to and not quite understanding. Loving seeing her friend happy, worried he would change with all that money, worried people would use him, not wanting to confess her feelings, all those I got. Even being afraid of accepting some of the money in fear it would change her I could understand. The part I had a hard time with was that she could be very judgemental but that was part of her growth arc. With Teddy, we got to see his growth arc through Alice’s eyes and he had to learn what having all that money meant to the people who were suddenly appearing in his life. I couldn’t blame him for going a little crazy with it all at first. Even the adult in me knows I would too.

I love the friendship between Alice, Teddy, and Leo. They were a perfect balance to each other. Leo was very practical and seemed a lot more mature than the other two. Alice was a good girl, trying to make her late parents proud with her volunteer work but still looking to find who she really was. Teddy was the more brash and impulsive of the three of them and was the one often reminding the other two to have fun. The friendship was strong between these three, even with the feelings between Alice and Teddy. I liked that Leo wasn’t easily shoved to the side the second something started to develop between Alice and Teddy.

The plot went pretty much where I was expecting it to go but it was still a fun reading journey. It did a good job balancing the more fun aspects of the story like an eighteen year old suddenly having so much money and going a little crazy with it to and the more serious tones like Alice still dealing with the deaths of her parents and the downside to having all that money. It was a quick read and I would definitely say this is one of my favourite Jennifer E Smith books so far.

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

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Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

I binged watched 13 Reasons Why this weekend. That was…it just was. How do you describe something like that?

Currently reading: Warbringer

Finished reading: Once and For AllHouse of Furiesone-of-us-is-lyingWindfall

Reviewed: traitors-kissRamona Blue

What I’m hoping to get to next week: inconceivable-life-of-quinnDefy the Stars to read

one-of-us-is-lyingWindfall to review

Books read it 2017: 60

Debut authors read in 2017: 18

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Book Review: The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beatty

traitors-kiss

The Traitor’s Kiss

Release date: May 9th 2017

3 stars

An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.
With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.
As the girls’ military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

This was one book that I was really excited for when I’d first heard about it so when I found myself having a hard time connecting with the characters and getting into the book as a whole, it was disappointing. It felt very slow, which I’m usually fine with as long as there’s great character dynamics and world building. But both of those elements really felt like they were lacking so there was nothing to make up for the slow pacing.

Sage was not a character who really drew me in to her story. She was a very judgmental girl, especially toward other girls, and I wasn’t a fan of the way she thought she was better than them because she was a tomboy with no interest in boys and they liked things like make-up. I’m not a fan of the heroine continuously putting down other girls just so she stands out as different. It felt like one of those “all the boys like her because she’s so different, which makes all the girls hate her” trope that I really, really dislike.

If I had connected more with Sage, I think there’d be a chance I would have liked the book more, or at least been more forgiving of the slow pace and lack of interesting character dynamics. It ended up being pretty predictable, which could also be because I have read so many fantasy books in the last year or so that it feels like not much surprises me anymore. There were glimpses of potential for some great supporting characters.

I will likely pick up the sequel when it comes out to see where the author takes the story, to see if my theories are right, and because I hate leaving a series unfinished.

*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: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue

Release date: May 9th 2017

2.5 stars

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

So far Julie Murphy has been pretty hit or miss with me. I wasn’t a fan of Side Effects May Vary but I loved Dumplin’. Ramona Blue had the potential to be on either side and, unfortunately, the more I read, the more I found myself thinking it belonged with Side Effects May Vary in terms of enjoyment. The pacing was slow, it felt like it was really dragging in the middle, and so many characters had very little development.

I think this will be one of those books that ends up dividing readers. Ramona was a girl who had always identified as a lesbian who started to have confusing feelings for a childhood friend who’d come back to town – and that friend was male. Her journey of exploring what those feelings meant and what it meant for it is not something I feel like I have a right to comment on, even with it being a fictional character. I did enjoy her relationship with her sister and her two friends Ruth and Saul, and the dynamic between Ramona and Freddie’s grandmother was something I wish we’d gotten a lot more of.

The supporting characters were where this book lost me the most. None of them were very developed. There were a lot of them but they could have been condensed into two more well-rounded characters. They were fun and I liked them but they were mostly just there and had very little to do with the plot except for when Ramona needed a sounding board. I do wish we’d gotten more of Adam in some fashion, whom I got very attached to even with his limited page time.

I did expect swimming to play more of a role in the book, based on the synopsis. It was present and it was something Ramona loved but for the most part it was in the background compared to her arc and her family. The swimming and the training was another thing I wish we’d gotten to see more of during the book. Overall, I think the book tried to focus a little on too much instead of choosing a few things to focus a lot on.

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

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