The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

36039614The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

4_stars

Funny side note to begin this review. I apparently had no clue how to spell “loneliest” before I began typing this title and spell check kept sneaking an extra “e” in there! Now I know! The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was such an entertaining, different, and surprisingly good book! I have heard so much about it lately and when it kept popping up I finally broke down and decided I needed to see what the hype was all about. I didn’t really know what to expect, and I’ll be honest, I was a little hesitant at first. But then I got swept away in the mind of the MC Romy and all of the emotions she was going through being the sole occupant of a spaceship called The Infinity that is heading to another planet, Earth 2. I can’t begin to imagine how I would feel knowing that all communication with anyone on Earth had a two year delay in response, and being millions upon millions of miles away from all other life. My palms start sweating just thinking about it!

Being a book about a single character, alone, far away in outer space, there really isn’t a large cast of characters that you meet. There’s Romy the MC, her therapist from NASA named Molly (assigned to her after she sent word that her parents had died in an awful accident), and J who’s on another spaceship sent to help Romy get to Earth 2.  Yep, you read that right, NASA decided that after Romy having spent years completely alone captaining a spaceship all by herself since the age of 11, they are finally sending her help!!! And in the form of a man named J on a spaceship called The Eternity.

Romy was actually born on the ship after her parents accidentally got pregnant in the early years of their space travel to Earth 2. So she has never known Earth or anything really besides The Infinity and all its nooks and crannies. She was raised there by her parents until a horrible accident kills them while she’s only 11 years old, and she is then forced to run the spaceship all on her own. I found myself really connecting with Romy, the thoughts that ran through her head and the way she handles all the problems or questions she comes across are pretty realistic to how I would feel if ever stuck in the same circumstance. She craves touch, and love, and even just a conversation from anyone other than the halfway conversations in the emails she receives from Molly on a daily basis. The emails from Molly really aren’t conversations at all because as Romy gets further and further away from Earth, the longer it takes for her messages to reach Earth. And at the time we enter her story, it currently takes one year to make it to Earth and then another year for the response to arrive in Romy’s inbox. Two years just to get a response to any question she might have. I would go insane.

The format the book is written consists of the emails Romy receives, her fanfic of Loch & Ness (which was some of my favorite to read) and then the rest from Romy’s POV and all the thoughts running through her head. It hit me about halfway through that it was weird to read a book with little to no dialogue. I didn’t really notice it until Romy herself mentions at one point that she didn’t know if her voice still even worked, that she hadn’t actually spoken out loud in years. Can you even imagine that? I constantly talk to myself, so I know that wouldn’t be the same in my case, but who actually knows what it would be like to be so alone for so long. Maybe I would just cease to talk out loud, what’s the point when you are literally the only person around to hear it?!

This book had one crazy twist of an ending that brought me to almost tears at one point. It goes from being a mellow adventure of a 17 year old girl to something of a thriller. I was biting my nails hoping that she would survive. It was interesting the way that things were revealed over time instead of all at once. And you learn just exactly what happened on the ship that Romy doesn’t want to remember, or speak of. The whirlwind of an end had me consuming this book faster than my brain could keep up.  I read this in less than 24 hours and finished it feeling like I had just gone on a deep space adventure myself! This was a great read, and it will stick with me for a while to come. I’ll be putting this pretty book up on the favorites shelf along with all my other beauties!

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If You Liked this Book:

23395680If you liked this book, then you should read Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. As I was reading The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, I kept thinking it reminded me somewhat of the Illuminae Files so I wanted to recommend this one to anyone who might have liked The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. They both have a different reading format, as well as deep space exploration. Both are filled with crazy twists and turns and will leave you on the edge of your seat ready to find out what happens next!

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Let’s Discuss

What would you feel like being stuck completely alone in outer space? Would you survive? Mentally, do you think you could handle it? I’m curious to know if these kinds of books bring about the same thoughts that they did for me. I was constantly trying to put myself in Romy’s position, and asking myself if I could handle everything she went through. It really is such a hard concept to grasp my mind around where here I am constantly in contact with so many people on a regular basis. Can you imagine how you would feel left to your own thoughts for so long?! How would you deal?

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Whisper of the Tide

34519536Whisper of the Tide (Song of the Current #2) by Sarah Tolcser

4_stars

ARC received from the publisher via Netgalley for a fair review.

“A ship was not meant to sit at anchor in the harbor, and neither was I.”*

Join Caro as her adventure continues with the emparch, Markos, who is continuously being attacked as he attempts to get his country back. Caro starts to question who she is and her purpose as she struggles with the idea of being emparchess and parting with the sea. This swashbuckling romance will keep you turning pages to the very end.

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The Story

From the very first chapter till the end I loved following Caro as she discovers who she is and what she really wants to do with her life. I couldn’t help cheering Caro on while she struggled with her star crossed love life that just didn’t want to be harmonious with her sea life.

Even though much of the story the characters were struggling to just stay alive or were fleeing capture, the story still had a plot and direction. If you’re looking for an action packed pirate adventure then I would say check this series out. Between the love story, actual pirating, a treasure map, and being cast away on the island you are sure to be entertained the whole way through.

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The World Building

There is so much more ship jargon in this book. I loved it in the first book with the wherries, and I loved it again in this book. It’s not an overwhelming amount that if you don’t know the directions on a boat that you wouldn’t be able to understand, but having the language there helped bring the feel of the ship to life.

It was fun to learn a little bit more about the favoritism of the various gods, but not to the point that it took away from the adventure. I love that the ocean god has a snarky attitude that fits with Caro’s.

We also get a little bit of fun with more of the shadow magic through Kente (winner of cousin of the year for being so faithful to Caro). Though at times I thought the shadow magic ended up being a little too convenient, I appreciated that it wasn’t 100% fool proof and that there were still obstacles that interfered with it’s capability.

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The Characters

elizabeth GIFThis book made me want to watch the first two Pirates of the Caribbean’s. You know when they were still good. The dynamic of Caro and Melanos just reminded me so much of Elizabeth Turner and Jack Sparrow.

I thought their trust/hate relationship really helped drive the story along, as you tried to decide if Melanos was going to be a bad guy or not by the end of the book. I was a nice way to keep you on your toes.

Caro has this selfishness that she has to overcome where all her decisions seem like they’re about what’s best for Markos, but at the same time she just wants a bit of everything.  I loved that she just didn’t have everything figured out, and was willing to make some sacrifices in the end.

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The Soundtrack

Eisley – Currents

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*Quote is from an unproofed ARC and may be different or omitted in final print.

This Mortal Coil

33876440This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1) by Emily Suvada

4_stars

In the future we have learned to change things to our DNA like appearances as well as enhance our bodies through technology implanted into our bodies. Not only that, but through the DNA recoding they have been able to cure diseases and viruses such as flus. Until they come across one that literally has people exploding.

This Mortal Coil follows the story of Cat, the daughter of reknowned gene hacker and a talented one herself. Unfortunately she is essentially allergic to the gene hacking and can’t really do anything to herself that would make her a better looking, more efficient, and more skilled human being.

When her dad is taken by a company called Cartaxus, his last warning to her is to stay away from them. So that’s what she does. She survives for 2 years while the world falls to crap around her. That is, until a Cartaxus soldier shows up on her doorstep.

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The Story

I’m not going to lie. I picked up this book because of the pretty cover. I took my chances and wasn’t really let down either. TMC reads very quickly. From start to finish there is pretty much non stop intensity as we follow Cat around in her survival. Let me sum this up for you. It’s basically post-apocalyptic slash dystopian slash zombie slash sci-fi futuristic slash YA romance. You might think that that’s way too much really going on, but it somehow works. Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly how to categorize it in my head, but I don’t really care. What I do know is that by the end there were enough twists that I just had to know what happens next. Not only that, but somehow I started to care if the characters were going to make it. divider

The World Building

Genetic coding was such a great concept to use and having technology is the type of thing that could very much become a thing. I mean most of us can barely function without our phone nearby. The idea of the coding plus the virus brought this typical YA dystopian story uniqueness. I think the best part was how violent the virus was. It’s not just the fact that they explode when they reach the peak of sickness, but what people do to survive. divider

The Characters

I wanted to dislike Cat throughout the book, but this poor girl gets the short end of the stick on so many things. I mean, to start, how awful to have the best coder in the world for a dad, yet you can’t even use any of the technology he creates. Lame.

I really liked how Cole’s character developed and how his role was explained as the story progressed. He became a much more complicated character and I just want to put him in my pocket and shield him from the world.divider

The Soundtrack

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – No No No

 

 

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A Date with Darcy

35888335A Date with Darcy (Bookish Boyfriends #1) by Tiffany Schmidt

Publish Date: 4/24/2018
ARC received from Netgalley for a fair review.

4_stars

When Merilee transfers from an all girls school to Reginald R. Hero High she thinks it just might be the place she might meet her personal hero. That is, if they can live up to all the bookish boyfriends she’s forever dreaming about. Having herself surrounded by actual Romeo’s it seems that Merilee might just be living out one of her favorite love stories of all time.

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 The Story

Okay, so I was really thrown by this book. Initially when I started this book I thought I would spend it rolling my eyes from cheesy cringe worthy moments. But I didn’t! I must say, it did take me a quite a few chapters to find myself invested, but once I was, I was there for the long haul, which to be honest, I did think the book was a little long for a YA contemporary.

So, at first I was a little confused, because I thought to myself, “where’s Mr. Darcy?” because, to be honest, I picked this because I am a sucker for anything P&P inspired. When the book started off spouting Romeo & Juliet bits I was a bit lost. I am so glad I stuck it out, because somehow Schmidt was able to bring it around to relate to P&P.  Let’s just say I was swoony and cringing in the good way by the end, sighing, laying my kindle against my chest and smiling really cheesily towards my husband. If you want your HEA, it’s definitely can be found here.

I loved that this book referenced real books as well as I am assuming some fictional. A lot of the references were sneaked in so well, I just loved the extra seasoning it added to the book. I thought it really brought together the obsessive nature Merilee had towards books. The best part was how Merilee started to realize what a life would be like if the things that happened in the books happened in real life and ultimately how it made her feel.

Okay, so things I didn’t like? Obviously the slow to start and the length. I don’t think I really need to delve more into that. The thing that really irked me was mostly how perfect everyone in Merilee’s life was. I think too much time was spent on how swoony these boys were, especially when her best friend was incredibly sensitive to be objectified for her looks. I didn’t think it quite matched.

LGBTQ bonus, some of Merilee’s new friends at Hero high were lesbian. The best part is, it’s not pointed out as a struggle with their family or anything. It’s accepted as a norm.

Anyway, if you like cutesy YA contemporaries, especially ones that involve book nerds and psuedo retellings of classics, then by all means, pick this up.

Oh and Tiffany Schmidt, please tell me that the next book is a Date with Theodore Laurence!

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The Characters

Let’s just talk about Merilee. She had a great arc as she learned from her selfish whims about dream boys to reality. Let me be incredibly frank about why I loved her from the beginning and please don’t judge. I was exactly the same way when I was 15. I am not joking that I would rush into a “friendship” with a boy just to see if it would play out into a great swoon worthy romance. I’d like to admit that I was definitely boy crazy and incredibly flighty. I was Lydia Bennet. It’s such a surprise that I got married at 18 and am still happily married 12 years later. Yay us.

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The Soundtrack

Taylor Swift – Love Story

 

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Suitors and Sabotage

34499243Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

Publish Date: 4/17/2018
ARC received from Netgalley for a fair review.

4_stars

When Imogene has a good season in London, her family deems it best for the most suitable gentleman to join them over the summer. She is eager to get to know her suitor better as a proposal is bound to come, that is until she meets his younger brother. As Imogene and Ben spend more time together, they do their best to fight off their growing feelings. However, it seems that someone amongst them seems to be plotting against Ben as many incidents happen that when put together just couldn’t be accidents.

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The Story

How does Cindy Anstey do this? When I read her books I am reminded how much I just adore regency novels. All the proper manners and indirect speech. I love it. It gives more for the heart to yearn for.

So I docked a star solely for the fact that the book seemed to lag just a little bit in the middle. As Imogene and Ben got closer a lot of time was spent with them ignoring their feelings and just pushing it aside.Unfortunately for me I didn’t become really attached until Ben and Imogene were so wound up that they began to have a disagreement. Really it’s not the part where they are falling for each other, its the part where they just can’t be together that I find so riveting.

The fact that there was actually a 4-way love triangle at first seemed like such a terrible idea, but it turned out to work so perfectly. It made the growing tension more…intense. I just loved how much their affection grew as their denial was forced more and more. The complication of their feelings for each other affected so much more than just their own shyness or situation, it affected a brother and a best friend.

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The underlying mystery of who was trying to subtly attack Ben definitely added substance to a story that could have just been about a real awkward situation between best friends and brothers.

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The World Building

I loved the description of the homes and the ruins in this one! I absolutely adore old architecture, so the fact that our characters visited more than just one home over the course of the book, but also old castle just made my heart happy. I would just love to jump into this book and lounge about on a picnic while learning to sketch.

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The Characters

One of the best part of this book was that you were  subtly thrown into the mystery of who was trying to hurt Ben. With that being said we were introduced to a plethora of characters that could have had reason to hurt him. While I guessed it about half way, I still wasn’t entirely sure. I am not going to really discuss all the characters because I don’t want to give anything away. However, I could say I adore Imogene. It was so hard to read about her forcing herself to try to admire Earnest while watching her friend flirt with the man she was actually interested in. I loved that neither girl ended up being ridiculously catty about the men. They were both just sweet, tender hearted women.

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The Soundtrack

Cat Power – I Found a Reason

 

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The Hazel Wood

34275232The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

4_stars

“Once upon a time there was a girl who changed her fate.”

When bad luck seems to chase you everywhere, you live on the move. When Alice and her mother finally decide to settle down and her mother suddenly goes missing, it’s to her grandmother that Alice looks to. But her grandmother isn’t the caring, sweet type. In fact, she only knows what the rest of her cult-following fan base of her fairy tales book The Hazel Wood know about her. Miraculously, a schoolmate just happens to be one of those fans, and the only person who may be able to help her find her mother. As they make their way to The Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s estate, they start to learn more about the fairy tales and her own story.

The Story

Guys, before I get to the content, can I just say that this book is so beautiful to hold in my hands.

Everything about this book emits creepiness. I LOVE IT. I don’t go for scary books, but this book has a serious undertone that embodies that of which Grim fairy tales had before Disney glossed them over. The best thing is that we aren’t just directly told that something is wrong. We are given beautiful metaphors or descriptions that increase the eerie vibe that surrounds the story.

“The first thing that hit me was the smell. A wet almost rotten scent, with something wild curling beneath it – something green. It crawled under my skin and set my heart to hammering.”

There were many moments where I had to stop reading if it was before bed because it just gave me the heebie jeebies….but in a good way. I did, however, have to stop the book for a few days, and it is only for one section of the book that I really drop my star. This book went down a rabbit hole in a very Alice in Wonderland feel that read like an LSD trip.

Across The Universe GIF

The pacing of the story was pretty spot on (until that one part, but by that time I was close enough to the end that it didn’t matter). I liked how the closer Alice got to The Hazel Wood the weirder the events became. It felt like I was slowly getting to the edge of my seat, increasing my anxiety for her. Also, the ending tied everything up nicely, but not in your typical happily ever after sort of way. Which was to be expected with how the whole book went.

One thing I didn’t like, that was fairly sporadic was how occasionally the prose included a line that sounded like a sailor threw in a line because a curse word just popped into the sentence. I am not sure while Albert did this? Maybe to attract a younger reader? Maybe she just speaks this way?

“I sat up, let a wave of dizziness pass, sung my feet to the floor. I could feel my muscles running over each other in funny, fucked-up ways, but the cool of the linoleum took the words of the hot throb out of my soles”

The World Building

I loved that the fairy tales that are mentioned in this book leak out into the more familiar world. That magical realism just added to the eerie vibe that the book provided. The biggest part of the world building was spent on the characters and what it means for Alice to get to The Hazel Wood and what she finds there. I won’t mention it here, because that would be spoiler-y. Let’s just say it’s like fairy tales on some bad drugs.

The Characters

I’m only going to talk about Alice here. Let me be frank, she’s sort of an ass-hole. When she receives help from her classmate, Finch, she treats him so poorly. Like here is a guy being so nice, granted he has his own motives, but still, he is helping you. Fortunately, her disposition is explained towards the end, but still, no excuse for being a dick. Sometimes she was so over dramatic about the situation. I mean, yes, her mom was missing, but really, sometimes I was thought, “oh, really?”

“And if she were dead – I believed this to the bottom of my being  – I would know it. She couldn’t die without it rending me in some way I would feel. If she were dead I’d be limping. If she were dead I’d be blind.”

That’s some sort of bond she’s got going with her mom if her death would cause her physical ailments. Just saying, over dramatic.

However, she has this great relationship with her mom. Again the way Albert writes out the relationship is phenomenal. Instead of just telling us that she has a great relationship, she shares past stories that describe and provide an understanding of how they work so well together and are best friends.

The Soundtrack

Bright Eyes – Sunrise, Sunset

 

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The Wedding Date

35259631The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

4_stars

When Alexa agrees to be the date for Drew, the man she just met while stuck in a hotel elevator, she doesn’t realize that what they are faking is just what she needs in her life.

 

The Story

This book was pretty cute. I loved that this takes the fake date trope up a notch. It added in diversity and a whole lot of reality that goes along with long distance relationships, especially the kind that aren’t made clear about what the relationship really is.

The story started to lag a little in the middle of the story, while the beginning offered a meet -cute that turned sexy. The relationship quickly jumped into an amicable romance of a few texts, see-you-next-weekends, and a lot of food. While I appreciate the knowledge Guillory had of the Bay area and of yummy foods, it didn’t make the story very exciting to hear about having breakfast, lunch, and dinner for several weekends in a row. Finally though, at about 80%, the story starts to pick up again into the heart clenching that we read these types of books for.

One thing I really liked about this book was that it was sexy without it being erotic. I think the most important part though, is that both characters practiced safe sex. No joke, condoms were mentioned on multiple occasions, and I think it is often times completely ignored or omitted in the heat of the moment. Some may think that condoms aren’t exactly sexy, but you know what is? Someone without any venereal diseases.

The biggest no-no for me that happened in this book, only comes from my background in the medical field. At one point Drew discusses with Alexa information about his patients (one that she knows) and that is a huge HIPAA violation.

The Characters

I loved that this book featured a educated and professional black woman. While she addresses the race issue, it isn’t made into an overbearing issue. Despite being an accomplished woman, however, Alexa still had her doubts and self-esteem issues. The real kicker though, is that she may be affronted by these issues, but she doesn’t let it push her down.

Drew, well he’s just a dumb dumb that looks good. There isn’t really much that stands out about the guy except that he is basically McSteamy (except in pediatrics instead of plastic surgery).

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The Soundtrack

Ariana Grande – Thinking About You

 

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American Panda

35297380American Panda by Gloria Chao

4_stars

Mei is 17 and starting at MIT to become a doctor that she has always wanted to be her parents have pushed her to do. While struggling with the fact that she is a legitimate germaphobe going through premed she starts to discover that maybe everything that her parents think is the best for her just might not be exactly what she wants for her life. Like starting a dance studio, or *shock* dating a non Chinese boy.

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The Story

As a Filipino American I am completely drawn to a story about any Asian American. While I am only half, there are some strong stereotypes that follow me around that had me relating to a lot of what she struggled with as far as Asian stereotyping went. Unfortunately, I don’t always agree with sometimes with the “it’s okay for me to say this because I am also *insert stereotyped group of people here*. Like, yeah, sometimes it’s funny to mutually tease about some social restrictions a particular culture has, then there are some instances where a stereotype is poked at without out being necessary. I only bring this up for one particular reason in this book: her mom can’t drive. Since this book was chock full of Chinese slams, I was irrationally annoyed by the fact that it is clearly pointed out that her mom can’t park and has yet another dent on the bumper. I was totally fine reading about the peculiar food, homeopathic traditions, racial restrictions, etc because that is something that is very particular to this situations. However, there are plenty of non Asian women that can’t drive too soooo….

Anyway, so if you didn’t get it from the rant above, this book has a lot of stereotypes that many people may be aware of and even some peculiar things that they had never heard of. Yes, a lot of it is pretty funny. Since I am part Asian it definitely was a little relatable. I think that most of the stereotypes weren’t too much in the face either though, and were lightly explained in a way that anyone, whether they go through something similar or not, can at least understand.

The fact that she is struggling against what her parents want is really just a base for the rest of her issues stem from. Does she really want to become a doctor so that she “always has a job” and wont have to worry about money? Does she really want to not talk to her brother anymore? Does she really not want to pursue a relationship with the cute Japanese boy who is showing interest in her?  I love how it all really stems back to how she struggles with separating herself from how she was raised to how she really wants to be, regardless if it will disappoint her parents.

I did think it was a little strange that as far as school went she was mostly just struggling with the germs, I mean she mostly just hopped right into college courses just fine and I think that going to a school like MIT would have had a little bit more of an adjustment, even if she was having regular check ins with her parents.

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The Characters

I think one of my favorite things about all that Mei struggles with isn’t just about not getting money from her parents, but more of being conscious of what they had sacrificed for her and understanding them rather than just going against them. It’s not that she doesn’t understand that they have their traditional values, but rather she isn’t quite as traditional as them. I just thought it spoke volumes of how she differs from a typical rebellious kid.

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The Soundtrack

Daya – Dare

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Instructions for a Secondhand Heart

34848810Instructions for a Secondhand Heart by Tamsyn Murray

4_stars

“And I ache for her, because I want nothing more than to help, but I don’t know if I can. Leo brought us together, but he’s also standing between us. Or at least, his heart is.”

After receiving a transplant Jonny can’t help but try to find out who he is by finding out about the boy who donated his heart to him. Neve is battling grieving over her twin Leo after he dies because she spent so much time when he was alive in his shadow, and even now she can’t escape the constant reminder about how amazing he was. That is till Jonny comes by saying all the wrong things and still stealing her heart.

The Story

I was a little skeptical to start another YA contemporary romance involving a kid who gets a heart transplant because I thought I would compare it so much with Things We Know by Heart too much. Fortunately it was just barely there nagging at my mind, and though there are some parts that are similar in story, it really was different, and still really good.

Told in alternating POV we get to see both Jonny’s and Neve’s stories unfold. From the start my cold, stubborn heart became invested in the characters. The chapters were super short but hitting directly where it was going to hurt the most. Each chapter really brought about the struggle that both characters were going through, and how they eventually come together.

Extra points for the additional comic books from Jonny, it really added just that extra bit of flair that makes this book extra special and really help develop the character.

The Characters

Neve- a part of me really wanted to hate this girl. I like that from the beginning she has accepted that she was basically the grouchy child that gave her parents a hard time because her twin Leo had outshone her so much. Even through the grief of her twin dying she still sticks to the attitude that she had developed from living in his shadow. It was incredibly heartbreaking seeing how much survivor guilt she had because of the way her parents treated both of them so differently, and how she can never ever try to beat him again.

Jonny-Okay, so despite what he does in the book, this kid is ridiculously naive and sweet. My heart hurt so much when he was trying to just figure himself out after being the sick hospital kid. Murray does such a good job using subtle moments to really drive that in, like when he is teased for having all new brand name clothes and he really didn’t know what his style was. I loved how he battled with what he thought was right and how he ended up feeling, and even how he felt about getting a transplant in general.

“Sometimes I wish the surgeons could remove my real heart and leave me with this artificial one forever. Then I wouldn’t feel so guilty about wishing for a tragedy to happen to someone I’ve never met. I’d be genuinely heartless then, instead of only feeling like I am.”

Soundtrack

Machine Gun Kelly feat Hailee Steinfeld – At My Best

 

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Poison’s Cage

34371260Poison’s Cage (Poison’s Kiss #2) by Breeana Shields

4_stars

“Each weapon is a work of art, and I wonder what drives the impulse to make the instruments of death so beautiful.” 

Marinda and Iyla infiltrate the Naga in an attempt to kill the Nagaraja. They somehow continue to work with each other despite the lies that are woven into their lives and plans. They can hardly trust each other but still continue to rely on each other as their missions unfold.

The Story– I liked how this story of a vish kanya was still able to continue as the girls essentially aim to overtake the organization that turned them into monsters. The story flows easily and like the first book, was a very easy read. There really weren’t many dull moments as our characters are metaphorically thrown into a pit of snakes and are never quite out of danger throughout the story. It seems the entire time that the Naga are always just one step ahead of the girls.

Though the book continues my favorite aspect (the Indian/Hindu/Buddhist inspired world building) it also brought back aspects I didn’t like, that first and foremost being the romance. This time, Iyla has her chance at romance, and it seems one meeting was enough to have a hold on her heart. Though love at first sight can always be built upon, which later I am sure it is assumed the characters bond between the pages), their encounter did not seem to justify their actions before they really had a chance to get to know one another.

For me, this book was mainly triggering two things I liked: lives in imminent peril with a dash of cultural flavor. If that’s your main dish and you liked the first book then I say this is the book for you. If the somewhat bland romance is going to be a problem for you then maybe don’t put this at the top of your to-be-read list. However, with that being said, let me reiterate that this book isn’t focused on the romance but more of comradery between Marinda & Iyla and how it is challenged.

The World Building– Although the first book set up the world with the vish kanya, this book gave a little more information regarding the Nagaraja, Tiger Queen, Crocodile King, and Garuda. I always have extra love for a book that incorporates real culture or folklore into its story, and this is no exception. There is something intriguing about transforming an idea to fit into another story, especially when it’s not your typical westernized/European/medieval style folklore. I do wish there was just a smidge more about the other factions, though, it would be expected that it would focus on the Naga. I did appreciate that Garuda had a slightly bigger role (since Garuda is an enemy to the Naga), and that even though typically is seen as male was written as female! Yay, girl power! I loved how Shields portrays their true forms as well. The concept made the Raksaka seem much more present and fearful.

The Characters-Iyla really stood out in this book, and for me was more the main character than Marinda. Again, I didn’t care much for her romance, though the girl does deserve to have someone she isn’t just trying to trick. Overall her character’s spirit and conviction is what shines the most. Though Marinda fights tooth and nail for Mani and occasionally for Iyla, Iyla is still the much better friend of the two.

I felt that Deven was really lack luster in this book. His character didn’t really do much of anything, and also just didn’t seem to fit. He’s supposed to be a prince, but didn’t really act very or do anything very princely.

The Soundtrack– The Dear Hunter – The Poison Woman

ARC provided by Random House via Netgalley for a fair review

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