Bruja Born: A Review

Hi Readers & Writers,

I was beyond fortunate to receive an ARC of Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova due to publish June 2018 from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. After reading and falling in love with Labyrinth Lost, you couldn’t imagine how excited I was to follow another one of the Mortiz sisters.

Note: There will be no spoilers so no need to click away. 

1.PNGWhereas Labyrinth Lost followed Alex Mortiz, Bruja Born follows her eldest sister Lula who is still adjusting to the fact her sister is an Encantrix and sent her along with the rest of her family to another world. Lula’s relationship with her sister is a complicated one and often met with tension. She prefers to dive into any other part of her life including school and her boyfriend Maks. When their relationship goes south, Lula is devastated, but has little time to process it when their school bus crashes leaving all of her classmates, including Maks, dead. Given the power to heal, Lula believes she can fix the damage she’s done – unprepared for the consequences.

If anyone knows my reading preferences, they’ll know I love a dark novel and Bruja Born was crafted out of shadows and darkness. I mean, it’s kind of about death (you’ve been warned in advance). Not only did it have fantastic prose, but you were able to see the desperation of Lula as she tried to save her boyfriend, the complexity between her and her family, the strength of her magic, but most importantly, her humanity. Love is a powerful emotion and when you combine that with the ability to heal, you can see where lines cross. Lula doesn’t always make the best choices, but you understand where she’s coming from.

I felt as if Bruja Born had an entirely different atmosphere than Labyrinth Lost, but it makes sense because so much has happened to this family since the first book. Though not exactly a sequel, it happens after the events of Los Lagos. You see the trauma of what Alex did ripple through the family, but also problems the family had yet to resolve in the beginning. These come out as Lula creates an even bigger conflict that throws her family, the magical community, and the world in danger.

I found Bruja Born tugging at my heart strings more often than once and it put Lula in front of beyond difficult situations. How do you fix what you’ve broken? How do you get over someone you love? How do you get past what hurt you? The world is never black and white and Zoraida does an amazing job crafting that for the reader. I devoured this book and was thrown on a roller-coaster of twists, turns, and emotions I hadn’t expected. You even get to revisit some old characters like Nova, but also learn a lot about other characters like Rose.

If you were hesitant about picking up this book, put that fear aside. You’re going to dive into a whole new story, but one that is well crafted and heartfelt.

Xx
Megan

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Ace of Shades: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody which is due to release April 10th 2018 from Harlequin Teen. I was beyond excited to have received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Note: There will be no spoilers so no need to close the tab.

Haven’t heard of this book? Well, it better be on your radar because it will blow you away. The story follows two characters, Enne Salta and Levi Glaisyer. Enne enters The City of Sin, a.k.a. New Reynes, searching for her mother who should have been home two months ago.  Immediately, the mystery and reputation of the city take her by surprise and she is forced to quickly learn the ropes or fall to its prey. Levi on the other hand, is the leader of the Irons, known for cheats and the sly of hand. A scam too far has put him in over his head and he will do anything to clear his name. Levi and Enne cross paths – both trying to fix their problems, but also growing closer the longer they stay together.

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Taken from my Instagram: Written Infinities

I am always a sucker for a gritty, get your hands dirty kind of novel and Ace of Shades proved to be beyond satisfying. Amanda crafted a unique and lifelike world that I felt I was a part of. Her small touches, descriptions, and character reactions made New Reynes a character of its own. I got similar vibes from her debut novel, Daughter of the Burning City, and after reading her second novel, I have no doubt this is where Amanda’s strengths are. Despite this connection between her two books, Ace of Shades was vastly different and I fell in love with it all the same.

You feel for Enne and Levi throughout the entirety of the story. You want them to succeed, but you also understand how they got into the messes they did. Enne is a thought provoking character as she slips deeper and deeper into the ways of her new environment. Just when you think the world may break her, she rises above it.

Then we have Levi who has a heart of gold, who is pushing to keep the Irons afloat despite knowing the group is not where it should be. We see the development of Levi’s character and the open and honest account of his sexuality. One of my favorite parts about Levi’s sexuality is there is no bat of an eye towards it. It just is. Together, these two become an unforgettable duo, but what I also love are the companions they meet along the way – both new and old. Where these characters begin and end are very different and this journey not only felt organic, but necessary.

There are great quotes and contemplations about fighting against evil, fighting for those you love, and fighting against men whose only goal in life is to take advantage of those weaker than them.  Ace of Shades sucks you in and doesn’t let go. It is a dark YA novel, but one that has a lot of lessons to take from it and characters who force themselves into your heart.

I am so excited for the next installment of this series.

It gets 5/5 cards from me.

Xx

Megan

Time Bomb: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau which is due out March 13th, 2018 from HMH Books for Young Readers. I was sent a galley in exchange for an honest review.

It is important for readers to know that this book contains mentions of: terrorism, Islamophobia, death, cancer, suicide along with suicide ideation, and blood.

This book has been circulating around my twitter for quite some time and I was immediately drawn in by the promise of a multi-faceted, thrilling young adult novel. After having devoured this in a day, I can say that Joelle does not disappoint. Time Bomb is fast paced and doesn’t leave you waiting long to launch into the story. We are given six points of views, each a different character who we wind up following as a bomb rips through their school. Joelle gives everyone a questionable motive to be at the school and while I figured out who caused the destruction early on, it is not an easy task. There are a lot of curve-balls and distractions that are meant to push the blame onto someone else and distract you from looking at the real culprit.

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However, this book is more than just a guessing game as to who set off a bomb. Time Bomb forces a reader to confront stereotypes, racism, and the political dialogue behind these kinds of attacks. For example, Rashid, despite having conflicts with his faith, is a practicing Muslim and a lot of his story arc is dealing with Islamophobia and how he wishes people would separate him from his religion. On the other hand, he also wishes more people would take the time to understand what his religion teaches. He pushes back against harmful accusations and ridicule and is one of the more compelling characters. We also have Diana, the daughter of a senator, who brutally points out that rescuers and the media will be talking about her and the group she’s with because of her relation to politics.

Joelle does her best to examine the framework of the media with these kinds of attacks and does not handle the material lightly. This is a book that will stick with you because of the honesty that is unraveled at your feet. She forces not only the reader, but her characters to confront what they may know about people and what comes from society’s expectation of people: what they should be like, how they should present themselves, and how we need to untangle our discourse from our prejudices and in some cases, blatant racism.

My only main critique of this book was I felt as if some of the points of view were not as developed as others and some motives may not have been as clear as they could have been, but overall, Time Bomb is a book that will stick with me. It could open up some important conversations that need to be had.

This gets 4/5 stars from me!

Till Next Time,

Xx

Megan

Chainbreaker: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Chainbreaker by Tara Sim which is due out January 2nd, 2018 from Sky Pony Press. I was sent a galley in exchange for an honest review.

CaptureThe first thing I noticed about Chainbreaker was it had a very different feel than Timekeeper and I don’t mean this in a bad way. Timekeeper focused strictly on Danny as a main character and we got to follow his journey as he learned about what was happening with the clock towers, as he fell in love, as he fought to save his home town and his father. Chainbreaker expands the world that Tara built in the first installment. Not only do we get several more POVs, but we are taken to India, learn more about time, the clock towers, and their existence in the world. We’re even given a chunk of history.  While for some books, expanding the world this sharply could be a problem, Tara handled it flawlessly. To put my enthusiasm into perspective, I read two-thirds of the book in one sitting. Why did I stop? I had to be an adult. Gross, I know.

The main premise of Chainbreaker is clock towers are being destroyed in India, but time isn’t stopping as it’s prone to do. Danny and Daphne are sent from England to India in order to investigate the strange occurrences, but get way more than they bargained for.

There were tons of things that stood out to me about Chainbreaker. Getting Colton’s POV was a delight as we were able to see how he thought and snippets into his past. (No spoilers, I promise. You just have to read the book.) We got another round of Danny who was once again, a great character to follow, with strong morals and a fighting spirit. Then, perhaps my favorite of the bunch, was Daphne. Like Daphne, I’m biracial. Though I don’t share an Indian heritage with her, I have struggled with similar thoughts of what culture I belong to and what it means to not look like where you come from.  Daphne’s journey and thoughts resonated with me in a way I wasn’t expecting, but welcomed all the same.

This cast of characters and the world building create an engaging read in the Steampunk genre. You root for them. You get to know them and by the end, you want to solve the mystery as much as they do.

Though I’m still freaking out about the ending, (Tara, how could you?), I am beyond excited for book three. I need to know where these characters wind up and hopefully, I won’t have my heart broken.

This book gets 5/5 cogs from me.

Xx

Megan

These Things I’ve Done: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips which published August 2017 from Harper Teen. I received this title from Eric Smith, (thanks so much again!) as a review copy. There will be no spoilers so don’t click away. Though I will warn you that:

  1. This book surrounds the theme of death. Please take caution while reading.
  2. There is an incident of sexual harassment and it is talked about through some parts of the story.

These Things I’ve Done will punch you in the gut as it deals heavily with grief and its different stages: anger, guilt, understanding, etc. It has been on my list to read for the longest time and it did not disappoint.

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It is told in two alternating time periods, before and after the death of Dara’s best friend, Aubrey. These tales do eventually weave together in order to create a cohesive past as well as help the reader understand Dara’s relationship with Aubrey, and who Dara was before the incident. After reading both the first chapter of before and the first chapter of after, it broke my heart to see the stark contrast in Dara’s personality. Phillips did an amazing job at depicting a believable stage of grief, but it didn’t stop there. She dug into the layers of Dara’s psyche to show a teenage girl who was suffering, who didn’t know how to find forgiveness within herself.

The main premise is Dara returns to her hometown over a year after the death of Aubrey. She believes it is time to face the consequences of her horrible action and drown in the suffering she thinks she deserves. Her parents are unsteady around her and her little brother who she was once so close with is afraid of her. All of her former friends want nothing to do with her.  None of this compares to seeing Aubrey’s little brother, Ethan, someone who had been a huge part of her life prior to Aubrey’s death. Reacquainting with him leads to a roller coaster of emotions, unresolved problems, and finding acceptance. It also allows us as readers to gain a better sense of who Audrey was, both as a friend, and as a sister.

The story doesn’t leave you with a bleak outlook on life. It does have some sad bits and a lot of lines that will cling to your heart and not let you go, but it offers hope. It shows a way out of the darkness especially when you believe choices and actions cannot be undone. It shows that there will always be people to accept you and pick you up during the most difficult moments of your life.

Overall, it gets 4/5 stars from me and I will definitely be keeping an eye on whatever Rebecca Phillips has in store next.

Xx

Megan

Girl Made of Stars: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the wonderful honor of receiving a copy of Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Blake from HMH Teen. This book is due out in May 2018.

Before I start this review, there are two things to note:

  • This review will contain minimal spoilers so no need to click away.
  • If you are triggered by sexual assault, please take caution reading this book. Sexual Assault is the plot and deals not only with this, but with consent, slut-shaming, victim blaming, and how sexual assault is handled by the criminal justice system.

With that being said, let’s dive in.

Girl Made of Stars is one of the most powerful, heartbreaking, and hopeful books I’ve ever read. I will not say it is an easy read, because the subject matter is heavy and an overwhelming problem in society, but this book puts it all on the table. Ashley Blake challenges the notion of choosing the easy way out, of being complacent, of what happens when trust is obliterated.

31351689The story opens up with a glimpse into Mara and Owen’s lives. They are twins and they are as close as expected, a pair that has always found comfort in storytelling and constellations. You immediately feel their genuine bond and their unwavering security in one another. You also get a glimpse into their family and social circles. For being teenagers, their lives have a solid foundation.

But all of this unravels quickly as Hannah, one of Mara’s closest friends, doesn’t show up to school and a phone call to her parents reveals Hannah’s family wants to sue for what Owen did to her. It doesn’t click in Mara’s head at first. Her brother wouldn’t rape anybody, let alone Hannah. On the opposite end, Hannah wouldn’t lie about being raped. Quickly, Mara is thrown into a whirlwind of not only deciphering what’s real and what’s not, but memories of her own past she hasn’t allowed herself to discuss. She is also dealing with breaking up with her girlfriend Charlie, as she doesn’t want their friendship ruined by dating.

Throughout the story, we see Mara break apart and the strings connecting her to her family and to her twin snap. We see her trying to deal with a past that has been weighing her down for so long. We see her trying to reconcile with Hannah, if there is anything she can say that will fix what her brother has done. We see her trying to figure out if she is immediately a bad person because of her brother’s actions and if there is any way to mend that relationship. We see her trying to understand love. Ashley Blake tosses us into a whirlwind as Mara breaks apart and it is up to her how she chooses to piece herself back together.  There is no easy way to deal with rape, to have the image of someone you’ve known all your life be destroyed. She is pulled in two directions: needing to be what her family wants her to be and doing what she knows is right.

This book made me angry for all the stories that get swept under the rug, for everyone this happens to without any justice.

This book made me sad because my heart broke for Mara and for Hannah and for anyone who has suffered this.

This book made me hope because Ashley Blake doesn’t leave her readers drowning in darkness and confusion and pain. She offers stepping stones, small bits of light to cling to, to pull yourself up.  She in no way makes it sound as if dealing with sexual assault is easy.

You will not forget this book. I know I won’t. It is thought provoking, emotionally challenging, and leaves you speechless. It takes a close look at sexual assault and how many people it truly affects.  It pulls at your heart strings and it is so well done.

When this book comes out – if you’re able to – pick it up and prepare yourself for a powerful narrative that needs to be read.

Xx

Megan

The Hazel Wood: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, publishing late January 2018. I received this title from Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. There will be no spoilers so don’t click away.

I heard so much going into this read and I can say this book did not disappoint. As children, fairy-tales are supposed to be comforting stories that we read, that are passed down from generation to generation. It is usually when we’re older we discover the truth behind the stories and how not everything is as perfect as we thought. Reading The Hazel Wood was very similar to this experience. It took traditional fairy-tale elements, spun them on their head, and spat out creepy, alternative versions. Needless to say, that is no reason to not read it. If anything, that is the reason you should.

35390838The book follows a teenager named Alice who hasn’t had the most stable life. Her and her mother, Ella, constantly move locations when bad luck shows itself. Alice has never known the feeling of a permanent home, but she has accepted this lifestyle. If anything, she is simply happy to have her mother around.

We learn that Alice is the granddaughter of Althea Proserpine, a woman who wrote a successful collection of fairytales, and received a cult like fame. Alice however has never met or seen the woman before. So when Alice receives news that Althea is dead, it is both a shocking and unexpected realization. She’ll never get to meet her grandmother, but she also has to wonder if her grandmother ever cared about her in the first place. Ella’s reaction is entirely different, one of relief almost. Alice doesn’t understand why, but she is given little time to process her mom’s reaction for she goes missing. Her only clue is a note that says to stay away from Hazel Wood.

It is after Alice receives the note that we plunge into a world of fantasy, darkness, and mystery. I found myself wanting to know more about Althea, but also the fairy-tales she created that took on such a following. We are given two major ones in the novel and I wanted to know them all after reading. They stick with you and you understand how Althea derived the following that she did. You can see where the seeds of obsession can grow. 

Aside from the tales, we get vivid descriptions of scenery, delicious prose, and an overall haunting vibe that paints every word you read. You also get a teenager who wants to fight for the only person she has ever had. The motivations made me sympathize greatly with Alice as well as made me root for her to succeed no matter the obstacle, no matter what awaited her.

The biggest selling point of this book is the world that Melissa Albert creates and the subversion of a typical fairy-tale. She doesn’t guarantee a happy ending nor does she guarantee a predictable read from start to finish. What she does guarantee is stepping into a world very different from our own and one that plays on how much we can trust our reality. The noise you heard, the shadow you saw, the person that looks just the slightest bit odd – are they real or are they your imagination or are they something else entirely? Overall, I could barely put this book down and if you’re into a dark fantasy read with tropes that get squashed and moved around, this is it.

The Hazel Wood gets 5/5 icicles from me. You’ll understand this reference once you dive in and read.

Do it. Do it now.

Xx
Megan