There’s Someone Inside Your House

15797848There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

4_stars

“Students were urged to stay home, or if their parents would be at work, stay in the home of a trusted friend. It wasn’t safe to be alone.” 

Osborne High has a serial killer, as seemingly random students are viciously killed one right after the other. The police department is severely understaffed for the case, and everyone is speculating over who did it and who is next.

The Story-Guys this book was so perfect for me. I am a serious scardy cat so I can’t really do any real horror books. But I grew up with some of those major iconic high school slasher films from the late 90’s early 00’s: Scream, I know What You Did Last Summer, Final Destination, etc. If you expect this book to be like those movies…that is exactly what you’re going to get.

The BEST part of this book is that you get to read the killing from their perspective. I know that sounds really twisted, but hear me out. You know the moments when you’re watching one of these slasher films and you yell at the TV (pun intended) “There’s someone in your house!” or something of that variation and you think to myself, I would so not do that, or I would be out of there so fast. That is what makes this book fantastic. Each character has their own rationalization of why things are different than how they left it – thus falling them into the trap of the killer.

At about the half way point the story starts to drag just a little bit, but is livened up shortly after. Aside from the stress of the killings each kid has their own life going on, own worries, and of course their own hormones. It’s this recipe of teenage-ness meets serial killer that really gives that “classic” high school slasher movie vibe.

The Characters-I’m not going to specify anyone in particular here, because I honestly feel like it might give away a little bit of the story if I specify on any one student. But let me just say this, if I was ever attacked by a knife wielding psychopath I would hope that I had friends as awesome as the crew in this book.

Final Thoughts-There’s a reason why I don’t read scary books, and for the next few days my paranoid butt is going to increase the amount of times I check that the doors or windows are locked.

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Warcross

29385546Warcross by Marie Lu

 

4_stars

 

“Some people still say Warcross is just a stupid game. Others say it’s a revolution. But for me and millions of others, it’s the only foolproof way to forget our troubles.”

 

A virtual reality world surrounding a game that has captivated millions of users around the world. Bounty hunter and hacker Emika Chen is recruited by the creator to stop Zero, a user who has infiltrated the system, and his nefarious plans to disrupt the world championship. Emi finds herself engrossed in more than a simple chase of cat and mouse.

 

The Story- My initial expectation going into Warcross was that it would be similar to Ready Player One. Now, while there were some similarities they just weren’t enough for me to compare the two realistically. The story itself is actually quite different. The primary focus is not about winning the game, it’s about finding the villain and uncovering their plans.

“A tingle runs through me at the chance to crack this problem, possibly the biggest puzzle I’ve ever been given the chance to solve. I’m going to win this time.”

The pacing of the book was really well done by not having any long stretches ongoing scenes of gaming, romance, etc. It was broken up so that you get a nice dose of action mixed with a dash of swoony moments that actually helped drive the story. One of my only problems was when the romance tears through Tokyo zero to sixy (HAHA, if you’ve read it you know the significance to that pun). We go from first date status to here’s all my secrets  that I don’t tell anyone, p.s. meet my parents. Now while I understand the necessity of needing the reason for these secrets to be exposed in the story, I didn’t appreciate how abruptly it was done.

The World Building-One of the things I loved was that this wasn’t overly futuristic and overly submersed into virtual reality. I don’t think it’s any secret that I love Japan and Japanese culture so having that as an underlying factor was just bonus points for me. I also appreciated that the addition of Warcross outside of the game to everyday life was more of an overlay to real life rather than an obsessive second life and world altogether. It seemed to act more as an enhancement to life rather than a replacement thereof. My favorite aspect of the world building was the subtle salutes to geekdom in general, such as this shout out to the legendary Leeroy Jenkins (see link if you aren’t WoW geek enough to know the reference).

“…Leeroy something – actually got drafted into the Stormchasers, even though he always just charged in…”

My lease favorite part was that it was hard for me to understand and visualize the game. At first I thought it would be some epic digital version of capture the flag, but it turned out to be more like a capture the glowing orb  artifact floating over the carrier’s head. Each player had a specific role, but they ended up interchanging them. I was sorely disappointed at the “architects” role. I anticipated it to be more like Ellen Paige’s roll in Inception where she can alter the worlds, but all Emika had that was different from the others was some dynamite and a rope. Big whoop. In team games like this it’s important to have specific roles yes, but I thought the aspect was lost just a little bit.

The Characters-

Emi- What a great protagonist. This is a girl who came from nothing, but didn’t quite rub it in your face all the time, basically saying woe is me, and neither did she go crazy once she did have all her money. She just tucked it away like a good little squirrel. I thought it was weird that she skateboarded everywhere though, I mean, you’re in Tokyo, take train or bus…Also, we get it, you’r hair is rainbow colored.

Hideo-sort of a bland romantic interest. The only things this guy had going for him was his good look and mysteriousness. But hooray for an Asian love interest! Also, before you call people, put some clothes on, just saying. You are asking to be be ogled at if you invite someone to video chat you while you’re getting dressed, have some class.

Zero-In what little interaction we get to have with Zero, he’s got me more intrigued than Hideo. I await to see how your character develops a little bit more in the future.

Wonder Woman : Warbringer

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo

 

“As I breath, your enemies will know no sanctuary. While I live, your cause is mine.” 

 

4 Stars
If you’re new to superhero stories, you should know this, there are lots of different versions to each hero’s story. As a new writer or director brings the story around, they keep the simple elements, but renew the story each time. With that being said, if you recently watched the movie starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, please don’t expect this book to follow the same story line.

Warbringer tells the story of Diana who was born an Amazon, and didn’t earn it. She is steadfast in finding a way to prove that she is worthy of living on the island with her sister Amazons. When Diana makes the mistake of saving a drowning girl, Alia, she goes through great lengths in atoning for the law she broke despite the risk of being banished from the island. Alia is a Warbringer, a descendent of Helen of Troy, and well…a bringer of war. It’s up to Diana and Alia to find a way to break the Warbringer curse or risk starting WW3.

The Story– Told from alternating POV, this action packed book brings the punches over and over as Diana learns to maneuver in the mortal world while trying to protect Alia and save the world from a massive war. While the book was exciting, it did take place over just a few days, making it also fast paced. Therefore there really wasn’t room for a very in depth story. After the origins portion of the book, the reader is sent on a mission to get from point A to point B alive – meaning, a lot of stuff happens in quick spurts to deter them from their mission.

The World Building-The world building for Themyscira was wonderful. You get a real sense of peace and a bonded sisterhood among the Amazons. Getting the background on the culture of the Amazons really helps a reader to get into the conscious of Diana and why she is so motivated to prove herself. Being set apart all she really wants is to belong and be worthy of being called an Amazon.

The Characters-All the characters had their own unique personalities, and even though Diana is the main character, it was a relief to experience a wide variety of attitudes; the fierceness of the Amazons, Alia’s need for freedom, the controlling aspect of Jason (Alia’s brother), the whitty Nim (Alia’s best friend), and the nerdiness of Theo. All of their personalities combined give a little bit for everyone. My favorite part for Diana, however, is her cluelessness to modern idioms despite her knowledge of the mortal world.

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A Darker Shade of Magic

22055262A Darker shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Victoria Schwab)

4 stars

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

Schwab has this way of presenting a story where you aren’t really rooting for the typical good guys. In A Darker Shade of Magic we are introduced to multiple Londons.

Grey London-what we would be familiar with, magic free (no Harry Potter’s here, sorry), where one of our main charater’s, Lila, hails from
Red London-a flourishing magical city with a red river, where our other main character, Kell, hails from
White London-another magical London that is essentially fading
Black London-well, let’s not talk about that place, because nothing good comes from Black London

These Londons sort of…overlap…so to speak. People used to be able to go from one London to another, but now only Antari (like Kell) can make their way with their magic to cross between through doors they can conjure with blood. While Kell is on a special mission he somehow gets into some trouble, bumps into Lila, and shit pretty much hits the fan.

The World Building-I loved the idea of these overlapping Londons. My favorite part about the Londons were their different levels of magic, and that even though they are all called London, they are nothing alike…except that one spot where there seems to always be a bar/tavern no matter which London you are in. There are different languages and even a limit to the magic that everyone has. Even when it comes to elemental magic there is a variety to it. There aren’t a bunch of people just moving water, fire, and other elements around with their magic. It just isn’t that simple.

The Story-The only reason why I didn’t give this book 5 full stars was because it honestly took me a little bit to really get invested into the story. It took me a good 25% before I was really sure I was going to keep going, because honestly, before that I probably easily could have set it aside and left it to back burn for a while. Fortunately I had enough people pestering encouraging me to read the book that I kept going. Thank the Lord for that. Once you start to really understand all the London stuff and have all the characters established is when the fun starts. It’s original and exciting, and you never know what kind of sticky situation Kell & Lila are going to have to get their way out of.

You know what else? We have a handsome young man and fierce young woman for our main characters. You know what they don’t do throughout the entire book? Swooning for each other. It is so refreshing to read a fantasy story that was primarily driven by romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love those books too. It’s just….refreshing.

The Characters-Let’s be real. It’s the characters that really make this book. I love the idea of the magic & world, but without Kell & Lila, the story would be boring. I love Lila, she really is such a hoot. She’s the type of girl that may fail or make a mess out of things, but doesn’t back down from a fight. She stands up for what she believes in and fights for those that are weaker than their enemies. She seeks adventure and is willing to drop everything familiar and safe to get it. I felt like Kell was so lonely, even with having a family and all his needs met. I don’t think he truly realizes it until he meets Lila and realizes what he is missing.

Now I am eager to read the next book, and ready to spend just a little more time with the fantastic Delilah Bard.

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Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton 


4 Stars


“Ahmed would tell me that an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind. Shazad would tell me that was why you had to stab people through both eyes the first time around.” 

Well that was well done and a stellar sequel. I don’t even have a good excuse as to why it took me so long to finish, because it was exciting from start to finish.

TTTT picks up pretty much where RotS leaves off and our Blue Eyed Bandit just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, even with the help from her friends. Throughout this book you are forced to reconsider who are your allies and who are your enemies and whether or not you can draw a clear line between the two. Amani winds up at the palace and is determined to not let her position go to waste, but while she is there she faces more challenges than she expected and her faith in the rebellion might be wavering. 

The Story-this book had so many twists that there was never really a moment that you could stop and rest easy. Amani suffers a great deal in this book and somehow survives through it all. Her heart and determination is the only thing keeping her going. My heart broke for her so many times, and trust me when I say that it didn’t even have anything to do with her love for Jin. if you’re looking for more romance between her and Jin, then just be warned that it is not a primary aspect of the story.

The Characters-We already met most of our rebels, but what I found interesting was seeing the other characters developed much more in this book, especially the sultan. His ideals and aims are much more different than what is expected, and the things he does to keep his rule barely intact is astounding. The man is definitely someone to fear. Again, the real question Amani has to face is who to place her trust in.

The World Building-The history of the Djinni is elaborated a lot more in this book. The magical elements are somewhat minimal, in fact for a majority of the book there aren’t many grand gestures of magic. 

One of my biggest problems with the book was the cover. For one very simple reason. Why is Amani (I am assuming that’s who it is) holding a bow and arrow when she is a gun sharp shooter? She uses a bow once…when she is trying to shoot a duck and it is such a tiny moment that it seems ridiculous to somewhat feature her with a bow on. the. cover!

-Scrill

Kissing Max Holden

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

4 Stars

 

Publish date: August 1, 2017

ARC from Netgalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for a fair review

 

THE FEELINGS GUYS!

 

Kissing Max Holden was not your average boy-next-door trope. It is much more real, dramatic and heartbreaking. Jillian kisses Max, unfortunately, he’s already got a girlfriend. Then what happens? Well, a LOT. There’s kissing, crying, lying, betrayal, OH MAN, life freaking happens, and my heart hurts so hard from this book.

 

The RomanceReally, boy next door is usually fool proof for me. I will always read (and probably adore) boy next door stories. This one really takes it to the next level. I wouldn’t say it’s the HBO version because it stays pretty PG13, however, it’s definitely not the charming story you find on the Hallmark channel either. 

 

The CharactersI love that Max sort of was like this bad boy, but wasn’t really. There were real reasons to why he was acting out and a friendship between Jillian and him that was grounds for their romance to take off. All the characters were incredibly endearing and added to the story.

 

I can’t really say much more about the book without giving away spoilers. But let me just say, that there is a lot of hurt happening in this book. A lot of the time, I felt just as bad as Jillian knowing that she helped a guy cheat on his girlfriend. No one wants to be that other girl. My heart broke with hers throughout the book. 

 

The only reason why I docked it a star was just because there was a lull I had to drag myself out of around 60-80% through the book. But it honestly wrapped up nicely. Excuse me while I go find all my family and friends and tell them I love them.

 

-Scrill

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

4 stars


“I had always assumed that when relationships went bad, that was the end. But the entire premise of K dramas was that they always ended happily. And that if you looked closely, there was a formula for making a guy fall in love with you.” 

I believe in a thing called love is about Desi, a go-get-it kind of girl who is good at everything she tries except boys. In fact, she is so bad when interacting with boys that she likes that her best friends call her flirting, flailure. In an attempt to snag the guy that she likes, she decides she needs a step by step plan that she can follow. Her inspiration, Korean dramas. The ultimate romantic drama from her very own culture.

Guys, when I first saw there was a book about a girl who uses k dramas as a plan to land the guy she has a crush on, my reaction was something like this:

I was going to give this book 3 stars, but you know what? This book nails the whole K drama thing. There is seriously a huge culture to just the clichés of K dramas and I think it did pretty well. Although, I am not sure if anyone who has never seen a k drama would quite understand the hype, much like Desi is in the beginning of the book. I LOVE k dramas. They are fantastic, and incredibly addictive (as seen in this book). As we first get to read firsthand how Desi is around boys, I was then all for the idea of doing a k drama plan.

As the story progresses I started to realize, holy shxt, this is actually pretty dang crazy, and beyond manipulative. The things that Desi puts on her list was absurd. Never really coming out quite how she planned but still landing her a check mark next to each cliché that can be found in a K drama. Luca is definitely not the ideal lead for a k drama as he doesn’t seem to pick up on all the ques that Desi keeps dropping. I mean duh he never chased after her in a moment where she walks away and grabs her wrist. But you know what? She manages to create all sorts of scenarios to help her get the result she was aiming for.

The stunts that she pulls are both dangerous and incredibly manipulative. How can she go from completely sensible to so crazy! Poor Desi is so caught up in her plan that she can’t step away from the situation and look at what she is actually doing, even if her intentions were sweet. Sometimes, I thought, I know there are some girls out there like this. Then I thought, oh gosh, I feel bad for every single person alive & thank God I don’t have to go to any extremes to get the guy to look at me. The entire time I was reading I felt more like this:

Despite thinking that she was crazy the entire time, I adored the book. Her father is endearing and I loved their dynamic. There were many a time that I read the conversations with her dad and thought, awww I wish I had a Korean dad. But then I remembered I had a Filipino mom and she does the same type of stuff in her own way too.

-Scrill

Flame in the Mist

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

4 stars

 

“The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.”

Flame in the Mist was supposed to be a Mulan retelling, right? After finishing I have decided it to be more of a inspired by type of story. Mariko is off to an arranged marriage when her transport is attacked. In an attempt to retain her family honor and find out who was behind the attack she makes a resolve to infiltrate the Black Clan. The bandits she believes responsible for the attempt on her life.

The world building was fantastic. When I first noticed that it would be a Japanese version rather than Chinese my interest peaked and was never let down. First off, lets just point out that a majority of the book was set in the Jukai Forest, AKA Aokigahara. 

This forest is incredibly lush and dense, naturally giving off an eerie vibe. This is a forest that is infamous for death, from ubasute a cruel form of killing off an elderly by abandoning them lost in the forest, to being noted as the perfect place to die by Wataru Tsurumi, author of The Complete Suicide Manual. Just at the mention of the Sea of Trees gives me the chills (despite Japan’s efforts to deter the dark imagery surrounding the forest). Even if you didn’t already know the background of the forest, you should be given the hint by the reaction of the Samurai escorting Mariko. Their thoughts are clearly that only evil lurks in the forest. I loved the addition of yōkai spirits and jubokko trees. All these little bits of Japanese folklore really make me anxious for what haunts the setting.

Mariko was exactly what I expected. Here was a privileged girl who wanted to be seen as more than surface value.

“Her tears stained the front of her kimono silk. She refused to die like an animal locked in a cage. Like a girl with nothing save her name.”

Throughout the story there was never a moment when she was suddenly a superior warrior by any means. Even her intelligence and wit was met evenly. It’s only realistic that no matter how determined she was to evolve her mind that she would still have some limitations due to her limitation on just life experiences. The part that makes Mariko was her determination, her resolve, and her courage.

“And in doing so, she’d displayed one of the seven virtues of Bushidō:
Courage.
The way of the warrior.”

I loved Ōkami. From the moment we meet him I couldn’t get past comparing him to the fox (I know not a wolf) yōkai, Tomoe, in the anime/manga Kamisama Hajimemashita. The handsome but broody and sly personality played very well with the sense of loyalty that he had towards Ranmaru. He was also the perfect type to keep Mariko on her toes and not get too comfortable.

The romance was very sweet and was woven nicely into the story. Though it was an element that was important to the story it did help the characters come to make decisions that affected their situations. After a while of just dancing around the subject, the romance certainly came on a bit strong out of nowhere. 

All in all, I was very happy with the book and cannot wait to see what the next one has to offer. Renee Ahdieh has a way of ensnaring my interest easily without over complicating a story. And of course, with Japanese inspiration I am almost always hooked.

-Scrill

Frost Blood

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Frostblood by Elly Blake

4 stars

 

While I was reading Frostblood, I felt like I had read it before. Like deja vu, but only because there were so many elements about it that made me think of other books. Here’s what you might find familiar from some other books:

 

-Two different blooded people pitted against each other (frost vs fire)

-A dark matter/being controlling someone

 

And of course other stuff that’s pretty common

sort of a love triangle

-girl with sad back story has life changing power

Okay, so what? So, there are a lot of familiar aspects in this book. I don’t even need to summarize the story because just pointing out the elements right there should have done enough for you. But it was still good! I enjoyed it quite a bit and am excited to see where the story takes us. Sure, there were a few romantic scenes that were almost cringe worthy in sappiness. But that’s okay, it worked okay in the book. 

Our characters were great. Between our little snarky fireblood who’s personality burns as hot as her power and a broody, scarred frostblood who gets the sparks flying. The dynamic of their relationship made the first half of book go by really quickly. 

My favorite part I think might have been the arena. Super gladiator-esque but with opposing elements. In fact, I thought most of the action sequences were very well done, and helped the pages fly by.

-Scrill

Love & Gelato

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

4 Stars

” Maybe that was just part of the Italian experience. Come to Italy. Fall in love. Watch everything blow up in your face. You could probably read about it on travel websites.”


Love & Gelato is all kinds of adorableness. Lina is in Italy, her mother just passed away of pancreatic cancer and she has essentially been sent for the summer to meet the father she never met. Coping with her grief while avoiding the awkwardness with her father, Howard, she is given a token of her mother. A journal. The journal she kept while she was studying photography in Florence. What she discovers is the story of what happened those 16 years ago when her mother fell in love and found herself pregnant in Italy. Lina’s summer abroad has suddenly turned into a scavenger hunt to find out the truth about her mother’s past and why she left Howard if they were so much in love.

About halfway through this book I decided that it very much reminded me of the movie Letters to Juliet. There’s even a guy named Lorenzo and a handsome British guy to sweep unsuspecting Lina off her feet. Aside from that and the hunt in Italy, there really aren’t that many similarities to be honest. Still, everything about this book made me want to book the next flight out of the states and head to Florence, see the sights, and try some stracciatella gelato. I almost stopped reading to start a pinterest board for my non existent future trip to Florence featuring all the locations she goes to and lists of gelato flavors to try. I suppose I should brush up on some Italian first. The book wove Italian flare not only with the wonderful descriptions of its architectural and art and it’s food, but also by throwing in the occasional Italian phrase or word. I loved it, there was so much more personality in the book because of it.

The characters themselves were super sweet. It was hard not to feel for Lina as she struggled to cope with the loss of her mother while finding herself in a completely strange place to her with a complete stranger that was supposed to be her dad. Ren was such a good friend trying to make her experience smoother by showing her sights, introducing her friends, and even giving her the occasional shoulder to cry on. Though brief, the other characters through the book gave a lot more flare here and there.

The writing was smooth, however, the beginning of the book sort of dragged a little bit. It took me a good 75 pages before I really got into the book. But after that, I started flipping through it pretty fast. Once she really starts getting into appreciating the fact that she is 1. in Florence and 2. has one more opportunity to learn something about her mom the story rolled down hill picking up speed as it went. It was super sweet and touching while she learned more about her mom and more about Howard as well as discovering more about herself in the process. The heartbreaking information hit at the perfect timing the book to push to the end.

-Scrill