The Big F

thebigf

The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin

ARC from Swoon Reads and Netgalley for a fair review.

Publish Date: August 29, 2017

5 stars

“Being lost, being without the plan I’d armed myself with my entire life, got me out of my comfort zone in ways that challenged me and forced me to grow as a person.” 

Maggie Ann Martin debut? I dub thee for fans of Kasie West and Morgan Matson.

The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin was a breath of fresh air in the YA contemporary category. Instead of a story about a 16 year old falling for that one guy that sweeps her off her feet in the most unexpected ways we are given the story of post high school but not quite adult. Where YA contemporary has steadily given us that high school romance and NA/Chicklit gives us those mid-twenties/fresh out of college taking on the world through middle age stories, Martin has delivered us a refreshing story that manages to land right in the middle. While The Big F dances around the typical tropes it doesn’t exactly take the same path.

Dani is fresh out of high school and as the daughter of a college guru she is on her way to the college of her dreamsor not. She’s failed her AP English class and her acceptance into the communications program has been taken away leaving her without a college plan. That is until she meets Luke, the boy next door who held her heart till he moved away when she was 11, wearing a t-shirt advertising the local community college. She finds herself enrolled into a community college as a last ditch effort to hopefully get back on track. If only she could figure out how to handle her new budding relationship, passing her classes and getting back into the good graces of her parents.

The Story-Like I said before, I loved that this didn’t follow all the typical YA contemporary tropes, but they are there, just not obnoxiously…

Firstly, lets touch on the base that she has a healthy relationship with parents that are, wait a minute, still together. There was no tragic death of one of her parents or a divorce sparking some kind of character building. Her parents were together, her family spent time together, and her brother was normal. Now, this book didn’t pretend that the world was perfect as her friends have had their own parental issues. It just wasn’t one of the defining issues for Dani. In fact, everything Dani goes through is self-inflicted and she figures it out on her own.

The boy next door trope is probably the biggest cliché in this book. Thankfully, the story doesn’t completely drive this one home, and uses it merely as a spring board for the plot. You know what the best part of this one was? It was almost more of a reach for a familiar connection rather than the one next door that is suddenly confessed to.

Lastly, the friend that sets you right trope. Dani had two friends like this. She had a friend to set her right emotionally, and a friend to check her when she was drowning academically, what a lucky girl. Even though they were there for her though, it wasn’t like her friends had to knock her silly and talk sense into her; they were just there for that extra push.

Was this the next story to make your heart break into a million pieces and then soar to the moon? No, but it’s the type of book you can enjoy over a weekend, silently cheering her on and grinning and her foolheartedness

The Characters

Dani-Okay, I really liked her. I think my favorite part of her was that though she had her romantic tendencies she felt so tangible. She was realistic, straight forward, and had her weaknesses that didn’t put her in the damsel in distress category. Despite making some key choices that she has to fix, she is still fairly level headed. She doesn’t need people telling her what to do, just the usual pat on the back and reassuring words.

Luke-What can I say really? He is pretty much the perfect boy next door. What makes him so perfect? He is the boy we dream about when we’re 11 but realize that everyone has their flaws even if they sit on such a high pedestal.

Porter-Everyone needs that one friend that shakes things up. Porter is that friend that introduces you to new things without making you go buck wild crazy that your family is completely concerned. I feel like all the Porters of the world are underappreciated, and I thank Martin for helping the “gangly boy” stand out.

Zoe-This girl has got to be the best wing woman ever. Martin did such a good job of incorporating a supportive friend without her own issues becoming the plot of the story. Zoe isn’t some magical creature that doesn’t have any drama per se, but the book wasn’t about her and she did a stellar job as a supporting character by not stealing any drama thunder.

The Connection– Personally, I have always felt completely detached whenever I read about the following things in YA contemporaries who were obsessed with going to a university. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against this age old tradition of kids graduating high school and heading off to college. I loved that this book showed a little bit more of the alternative – the wonderful world of community college.

I consider my town a college town. Spokane has both Gonzaga and Whitworth, a remote campus for WSU downtown, EWU just a stone throw away in Cheney and two community colleges. I had the luxury of going to both community colleges over the course of five years, and while I missed the whole dorm/sorority bit, I don’t feel like I missed out on all that much as far as my education goes. I think one of my favorite parts of the book was really that Martin didn’t dog against community college, even though Dani’s mother was a consultant for college acceptance. It was refreshing to be reminded that while they don’t typically offer 4 year degrees, they are an amicable stepping stone for transferring to university for either catching up on requirements for a program or simply determining that maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to do.

Purchase The Big F on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

-Scrill

The Hundredth Queen

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King


No star rating due to DNF


ARC received from Netgalley for fair review


Publish date: June 1, 2017

*yes, I know I am a little late*



I. JUST. CAN’T. I hate DNFing an ARC, but no thanks. 

My overall reaction:

I gave this a solid shot, and by 73% I am baffled by the lack of romantic development, despite there being a huge romantic element. I get instant attraction, but really? instant attraction to the first man you’ve seen, and despite the ramifications of possible DEATH you risk your life and their’s for someone you hardly know? 

You also hate someone for something you have been groomed for for your entire life? I mean, I get the girls wanting some kind of personal freedom. But honestly, having had only known one kind of life..you think that they would have been a little bit more accepting and honored on how their life is leading.

I’m sorry I just feel like the romance is hurried and there for has ruined the book. I like the idea of this magical element that can essentially destroy you if it’s not properly honed. I also loved that even though said magical element is news to our character, that she’s not just like magically all powerful and bad ass. The problem for me is, I hope they get caught and are killed even if the benefactor is a little gross, and I don’t think you’re supposed to feel about the main character like that.

-Scrill

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

Fire

Fire by Kristin Cashore


3 Stars


It took me two tries to finish this book, and I am actually really glad that I gave it a second shot.

Fire is the sequel to, but not not about the same characters. Instead of just being graced with a special skill, there are monster creatures in the Dells. Monster cats, monster bugs, and even monster humans. The monster element makes each creature more than it’s original. In Fire’s case, she is more beautiful and enrapturing. She can control people who are unguarded with her mind, speak to them in their heads, understand their feelings, and more. The entire story is basically wrapped around the fact that her father was in fact a true monster in spirit and she does not want to use her powers in the same evil manner that he does. Circumstances change, and her skills are needed by the king, thus thrusting her into a life that she did not expect to step into, let alone like.

The Story-It is a little slow. It held a steady pace of not much happening, even when people were being shot at by arrows. I luckily was just listening to an audiobook on 1.5x speed so I was able to get through it rather quickly, I am not sure I would have gotten through with just reading the book. I think the strength in the story was mostly in the diverse characters and beautiful world building.

The World Building-I love the idea of beautiful monster creatures and even how they are extra attracted towards Fire and are more inclined to eat her just as she in inclined to eat them. The sprawling kingdom of the Dells and the conflict that was slowly building gave depth to the story of these monster creatures. The background history is interwoven well and not dumped all at once. I am assuming this is actually a prequel to before King Leck came to weasel his throne, so as a timeline with the second book, it is a little backwards.

The Characters-The complex characters were by far the best part. I loved Fire and her independence and strength, but still seeing that she wasn’t some all powerful creature. She needed help from time to time. Especially, apparently when she got her period. I have never read any book that wrote so much about a girl’s period. WTF. It didn’t even add any significant value to the story at all beside a few brief awkward encounters/conversations. Every time she had to have extra guards because she was on her period and the creatures smelled her easier just made me think of the jumbo tampon scene in Mean Girls:

Anyway, the rest of the characters were well developed and added to the issues that Fire had to face. And like the first book, Cashore writes about a society where a woman can have a baby out of wedlock without shame and still being able to live independently.

-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

NYXIA

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

ARC from Netgalley for an honest review

Publish Date: September 12, 2017

5 Stars


“Babel might have all the keys, but they don’t know what they’re keeping in the cage.” 

 

Before I get into this review, let me just say that I never read Ender’s Game, but I think I watched the flop-ish of a movie. Now while I found a few things that I didn’t particularly love about the book, it wasn’t anything that I fully disliked, they were just aspects that I just shrugged off.

Nyxia is a futuristic story about this guy named Emmett that gets recruited by a company called Babel into this space quest to a distant planet called Eden to mine for a substance called Nyxia. 9 other teens are also recruited on this mission as well. Turns out only 8 of them get to go and they must battle it out for the chance to make a lot of money and go to Eden.

The Story-What I liked most about Nyxia was that it wasn’t just about the challenges that the characters have to go through. Yes, a majority of the book is stock full of vivid accounts of the challenges, however, there is this underlying creepiness that Babel has form all the secrecy. First of all-Babel? I mean, in the Bible the story surrounding Babel is about how all the descendants of Noah started to overreach and build a tower to get to Heaven & God-at which point God was like, oh heck no let me scatter you and make you unable to understand each other. So that, and all the other biblical references in the beginning really set it up for the company to not be trustworthy. Do we ever find anything out? Not really, the men in charge openly admit that they aren’t just one wizard behind one curtain, there are many wizards behind many curtains. Quotes like this:

“But a quick glance shows that not all the kids around the table can see the writing on the wall. Translation: Walking away isn’t an option.”

just really set up the book to have a lot of twists and turns in the story, and boy are there a lot of twists and turns. (BTW, in case you don’t know “writing on the wall” is another biblical reference). Anyway, as soon as you start to think the book might plateau, BAM twist and then BAM turn. Literally, at 97% of the book another twist is thrown in.

The World Building-Let’s be real. They were on a spaceship, there wasn’t much world building. What little there was was in creation of Eden & the elements that go with it. The Adamites, the nyxia, the history behind previous travels was where any world building was. Here is one of the few things that bothered me comes in, but still was able to shrug it off. Here we are in the near distant future, Google apparently has been eaten up by this company Babel, but we are wearing these full masks for translating? There is already an ear budthat you can get that translates like 5 different languages from Waverly Labs and I would have expected a little more advancement than what was depicted in the story. 

I loved the complexity of nyxia and what it was capable of, and I can’t wait to read the next installment so that I can learn more about what it really is, what’s Babel up to, and what has really happened down on Eden. I really hope Reintgen really spends a little more time on the background than the day to day in the next book.

The Characters-Oh my little children. I wanted to scoop each of these kids up and hug them till their worries went away. Firstly, people can stop complaining, because, drum roll please, we have a narrator that is a POC. Emmett is a kid from a hoodrat neighborhood in Detroit. What I love about him is that he doesn’t let it define him. It’s where he’s from, but not who he is or where he is going. Aside from Emmett we have a smörgåsbord of ethnicity. Each character had their own history and skill to bring to the table. I really look forward to learn more about each character as their adventure continues on Eden.

The small bit of romance felt rather shallow. With the kids pitted against each other, it was hard to even imagine something romantic sparking, but I did appreciate all the camaraderie that was built. I did find the romance to be a little bit of a reach, because how does one chose one person over the rest of the kids scrambling to go when they really didn’t have much time to get to know each other. Still, they’re kids, they have hormones so and a limited variety of other people so…

Anyway, I loved it. It was exciting from start to finish. I felt connected with the characters and wanted rooted them on.

-Scrill

Rosemarked

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

3 stars
Published date: November 7, 2017

ARC received from Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion for an honest review

“And I can’t help but think how easy it is for a thing of this world to be destroyed, and how quickly something beautiful can disappear.”

Rosemarked is told from alternating views and tells the story of a young healer that catches a disease that she cannot cure and a man who has overcome the disease and must go on a mission with the healer to infiltrate the capital city as spies.

The Story-The pacing of this book was slow but steady. There weren’t many climactic points that had me at the edge of my seat, and when there was one, it was somewhat short lived. I had hoped with the espionage and a trained soldier there would have been a little bit more nail-biting time. Regardless, I was still entertained the entire time. The story was not very complicated which gave more time for character development. 

The World Building-I liked the idea of a country that has been ravaged by an empire overtaking it. Either lay down and let them control you and occupy your land or rebel and be slaughtered. Our characters were found from both sides-the healer catching the plague from the men that have occupied her country and a soldier that has history from the empire that haunts him. Since the characters do travel throughout the book I was hoping there would be a little more time spent in some sweeping landscape. I also would have liked to read a little bit more on the culture of the people and what life was like in the country before the invasion maybe. I appreciated the inventiveness of the plague and the stages that go with it.

The Characters-Our two main characters were definitely the most complex things about this book. The fact that Zivah is a healer but has an incurable disease is something that she has to grow and accept. I feel like it helps her transform from her naïve self to someone with a little more purpose with her life. There is something about a person’s impeding death that has them questioning how they will spend their remaining time: Sit in a cottage and slowly dieor use my knowledge for something good, something meaningful.

Dineas on the other hand has a second chance at life and somehow finds himself on a mission back to where he managed to escape from. It was really interesting to see his personality bounce back and forth throughout his mission to the point where he finally becomes whole by the end, accepting all parts of himself. 

Overall, it seemed like a decent start to a series, and I am curious to see how their mission affects their world and how the characters continue to grow. I really hope to see a little more action or suspense in the next installment. There is a lot at risk, and I really want to feel the anxiety that these characters must be feeling.

-Scrill

The Black Witch

25740412The Black Witch by Laurie Frost

5 Stars

“Real education doesn’t make your life easy. It complicates things and makes everything messy and disturbing. But the alternative, Elloren Gardner, is to live your life based on injustice and lies.” 

Okay, so here’s the deal. There are a plethora of long reviews (both bad & good) going over this book. So, I have decided to make this as to the point as possible. Before I start, let me just say one thing. I am incredibly glad that I read the book instead of heeding the reviews imploring people to stop supporting the writer & publisher.

The Story-Elloren Gardner comes a family that is descendant of a famous mage that essentially lead a revolution against the races that were controlling and killing their kind. She is now at the age where she can either be wandfasted (married) or go off to university. Her uncle is steadfast in having her wait to be wandfasted and has her go to university. Throughout the book she has to deal with the pleasures and ramifications of her genial history. The major conflict she must deal with is the prejudice that has been ingrained into her society against every other race.

The World BuildingLaurie Forest did an amazing with the world building. She has taken quite a few of paranormal creatures and molded them into a new world rich with history, violence, and hatred. From elves, werewolves, mages, to some adapted creatures such as Kelts, Urisk, etc. I found it incredibly fascinating to find so many types of races and being who I am, I took a great interest in trying to find out where some origins came from. I question things like are the Kelts supposed to be Celtic? The Elves have several races within the race, such as a Smaragdalfar, a green scaled elf, is that rooted from smaragdnine which basically means emerald in color? Are Icarals rooted from the winged God Icarus? Forest did such a wonderful job integrating all these races and creating history for each of them. She really made it plausible as to why the Gardnerians are SO racist. From the history they are taught, to religious aspects, to even their toys, they are raised to hate everyone and put themselves on pedestals. The fact the Elloren changes at all is a miracle since every other race is pretty much super awful to her. Why would she want to be more accepting of them? 

The Characters-This is the one place that I felt the book lacked, but it wasn’t enough to dock even a half star for me. I mean, I adored Elloren for the most part, but really, is Lukas Grey really worth all the torment she’s getting? I was really proud of reading her transform her opinions, even if it does take almost the entire book for her to drop most of her prejudices. But honestly, she’s 18 years old and her environment is not exactly promoting the change, so lets give her the benefit of the doubt and appreciate the fact that she even does get past how she was raised. Also, could Fallon Bane be any more of Regina George?

I mean I was really expected a little bit more than teen drama when it came to boys…

Anyway, I loved the book, and I can’t wait to read the next installment and see what other secrets we can discover about the world.

-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

Our Dark Duet

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

5 stars

 

“How much does a soul weigh? he wondered.
Less than a body.”
 

Okay, so it’s been a few days and I think I have had sufficient amount of time to adjust to life after reading this book. Just a fair warning that I do not even know how to begin reviewing this book, but I will do my best. Let me just start off stating that I listened to the audiobook on this because that was the first version I could get my hands on from the library. I listened to most of it at 1.75x or 2x speed because I could not get through it fast enough to find out what was happening. With that being said, the audiobook version was excellent and Therese Plummer is amazing.

ODD picks up 6 months later with Kate in Prosperity. She’s being her usual bad assness kicking butt, taking names, and slaughtering monsters. Unfortunately, she’s skirting her responsibility in her own city. August is still in Verity and is smothering out the small amount of humanity that he has learned to harbor within himself. Both are haunted by the demons of their past (quite literally) and it takes a new monster that feeds on chaos that brings them together where they both confront each other and said demons. 

The World building
Let’s face it, there really isn’t much word building aside from the monsters in these books. I mean, there really isn’t any need for it. We get it, it’s a city seized by monsters. So where Schwab spends most of her world building is within the cruelty of each monster race and the desperation of the people still residing in the city. It is a newly accepted culture of fight with the FTF or be fodder to the Corsai and Sunai.

The Characters
Let’s start with Kate, just because she is a little easier. The entire first half I was pretty mad at how she could sit in Prosperity trying to pretend she’s not selfishly in a safer city while her home essentially rots from the inside. In the meantime she is trying to make up for it by protecting some other city. Screw those guys. However, I was honestly a little disappointed not to see anymore of her friends from there after she left. Schwab spent a little time introducing them, but we didn’t really get much out of it.

August is just as sweet and tender as the first book. He may not believe it, but he is the more human than the humans. His ability to have empathy about the souls that he is reaping is just mind blowing since the other Sunai don’t seem to grasp it. He is no monster. He is a tiny little kitty, with hidden claws that come out in the form of his violin and bow that slash through the corsair. I just love how conscious he is of all his actions. The moment I most loved about August was when he realizes just how much power he has through his music on people. 

To keep this review spoiler free, let’s just group all the other monsters together. They are creepy AF. I feel like we get a little more of a taste of the Corsai & Sunai, and their mentalities are so twisted. The flesh and torture that they obsess over just might be what helps us put August on such a high pedestal. 

The Story
Guys, this book was flawless. Schwab has created a monster that we love, a damaged girl who is the one person who keeps him human, and a monster so scary I was thankful that I didn’t do the book at night time. This book made me appreciate the nightlight in my room. The way the story plays out really isn’t so much about the war that is going on between the humans and the monsters as much as the war each of our characters has with themselves and what they have to do. We are left wondering, are we who we are based on our actions, or do our souls way more than that? 
Despite how beautiful the book ends it will leave you broken.

-Scrill