To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

To Be Taught If Forunate by Becky Chambers
Published: 08.08.2019
Genre: Adult SciFi
Details: 153 pages – Paperbook, Kindle, Audiobook
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Series: Stand Alone

Disclaimer: This book was read voluntarily by me via HooplaDigital. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

SYNOPSIS

Ariadne is one such explorer. As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, she and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does.

Ariadne may awaken to find that support for space exploration back home has waned, or that her country of birth no longer exists, or that a cult has arisen around their cosmic findings, only to dissolve once more by the next waking. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home.

Carrying all the trademarks of her other beloved works, including brilliant writing, fantastic world-building and exceptional, diverse characters, Becky’s first audiobook outside of the Wayfarers series is sure to capture the imagination of listeners all over the world.

REVIEW

One of the things I find interesting about Becky Chambers is that I always go into the book thinking, what does this title mean to the story? I first experienced this when I read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Come to find out, the story is about a group of people who punch holes through space to make trips short! So in order to first make the punch, they have to take the long way! To Be Taught If Fortunate does not disappoint in the way that you find the title in the story. This book is about a quest for knowledge and being lucky enough to be the one to gather it.

In this thought provoking novel, we find our main explorer Ariadne in the middle of her work. Imagine if a documentary crew decided to just visit a group of scientists and record their every day duties. The goal of these people are to just explore the vastness of the universe and collect data – there isn’t a crazy adventure, there isn’t a budding war. It’s 4 racially and sexually diverse scientists who have given up their lives on the quest for knowledge only and we get a front row seat to that collection of data.

“I’m an observer, not a conqueror. I have no interest in changing other worlds to suit me. I choose the lighter touch: changing myself to suit them.”

I love this outlook on storytelling. Ariadne has no interest in finding new worlds to colonize, it’s just wanting to leave the lightest footprint possible everywhere they go as to not disturb the natural order of things. It gives me a lot of existential things to think about for our own planet – the constant harm we do, the never ending pollution and destruction.

“Because sometimes we go, and we try, and we suffer, and despite it all, we learn nothing. Sometimes we are left with more questions than when we started. Sometimes we do harm, despite our best efforts. We are human. We are fragile.”

Not every planet they went to yielded incredible results. I loved the level of anxiety and tension that brought when they went places that weren’t necessarily something they were used to or were ready to encounter. I loved the world building, it was just enough to not cover up the character driven plot.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BECKY CHAMBERS (AUTHOR)

Becky Chambers is a science fiction author based in Northern California. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series. Her books have also been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Locus Award, and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, among others. Her latest works are The Galaxy, and The Ground Within (the fourth and final Wayfarers novel), and A Psalm for the Wild-Built (the first of her Monk and Robot novellas).

Becky has a background in performing arts, and grew up in a family heavily involved in space science. She spends her free time playing video games, tabletop RPGs, and looking through her telescope. Having hopped around the world a bit, she’s now back in her home state, where she lives with her wife. She hopes to see Earth from orbit one day.


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Published: 3.1.22 by PenguinTeen/RazorBill
Genre: YA Contemporary
Details: 384 pages, Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Standalone

Disclaimer: PenguinTeen sent me this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. I accepted and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

SYNOPSIS

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

REVIEW

Where do I even begin? All My Rage made me angry but so incredibly hopeful. It was 300+ pages of pain that I didn’t know I needed. I found myself frequently crying because her writing is so powerful. This is a book that captures grief and loss, betrayal and forgiveness, rage and peace. AMR captured the essence of what the “American Dream” looked like to those who had to fight against all odds to create it. While I am not Pakistani and I am not Muslim, I connected with the racism, xenophobia, and expectations that come with children who have immigrant parents.

Watching Salahudin struggle to keep the only stability in his life from slipping through his fingers was enough to make me crack in half. Noor struggling to prove to herself that she’s worthy of a good life despite the odds filled me so deeply with pain that I just wanted to hold her through the pages. Resonating with Misbah while she made mistakes and trying so hard to fix them made me look at how I view motherhood.

This book explores how vulnerable we are, even to those who are closest to us… and how even the smallest betrayal can change the course of your life forever. Salahudin, Noor, and Misbah open their souls to us through this novel and really shows us how far we are willing to go for those that we love. It shows us how even people with the best intentions make mistakes – but it’s through that love that keeps our bonds strong.

Content Warnings:
Mentioned: Child sexual assault
Described: Drug overdose, drug dealing, death of parent, financial instability, law enforcement
Graphic: Child abuse, alcoholism, bullying, racism, Islamophobia


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SABAA TAHIR (AUTHOR)

#1 New York Times bestselling author of the An Ember in the Ashes series, which has been translated into over thirty-five languages. She grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd.

A professional author since 2015 and a journalist before that, Sabaa’s books have sold more than a million copies worldwide, are New York Times and international bestsellers, and have been honored by TIME Magazine on a list of the 100 best fantasy books of all time. Her work has appeared on numerous best books of the year lists including: Amazon, Buzzfeed, The New York Public Library, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Hypable, Paste, Bustle, LA Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, TIME and Entertainment Weekly.


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld by Shannon and Dean Hale

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld by Shannon and Deal Hale, Illustrated by Asiah Fulmore
Published: 11.9.21 by DC Comics
Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Details: 156 pages, Paperback, E-Book
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Book 1

Disclaimer: DC Comics sent me this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review. I accepted and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

SYNOPSIS
Amaya, princess of House Amethyst in Gemworld, is something of a troublemaker. She and her brother have great fun together until a magical prank goes much too far and her parents ground her…to Earth! They hope a whole week in the mundane world will teach her that magic is a privilege…and maybe washing dishes by hand will help her realize the palace servants should be respected.

Three years later, Amy has settled into middle school and ordinary life. She doesn’t remember any other home. So when a prince of the realm brings her home and restores her magical destiny, how will she cope?

REVIEW

Let me begin this review by discussing the themes of this story – which includes self discovery, the dedication of friendship, standing up for what is right, and learning that privilege is power. I enjoyed this middle grade graphic novel as it was the perfect gateway into superheroes for young and/or reluctant readers! This story packed a punch right from the get go as we see Amaya growing up extremely pampered and spoiled – causing trouble wherever she goes. She gets one heck of a reality check when she is sent to earth as a punishment – sans her magic. When something goes wrong, Amaya gets stuck on Earth with her mage Aunt and they forget about magic. Amaya acclimates to her new environment relatively quickly, making friends and warding off enemies in middle school. I loved the age appropriate and modernized language (including doing the floss!), eliminating toxic masculinity through their friend Topaz, found families, and showing strong, powerful girls kicking butt!

The illustrations are fun and colorful! Sure to attract the eye of many types of readers. I found that teaching my kids to read and being excited about reading came in the form of graphic novels! They peak their interest and gives them context to the limited words and world building that comes with the territory of these types of stories. I loved the bright bold colors, I loved the diversity of the characters and I think the illustrator nailed it!

I gave this story 5 stars because 1) it’s meant for middle grade readers and 2) I don’t rate as an adult for books not targeted for me. I rate according to whether or not myself back in that age would have loved it. I truly believe that I would have enjoyed this story. My 9 year old read it in one sitting!

content warnings: bullying, threats of mild violence, divorce, amnesia


ABOUT THE AUTHORS/ILLUSTRATORS

SHANNON HALE (AUTHOR)

New York Times best selling author Shannon Hale started writing books at age ten and never stopped, eventually earning an MFA in Creative Writing. After nineteen years of writing and many rejections, she published The Goose Girl, the first in her award-winning Books of Bayern series. She has since published 30+ books for young readers including the Newbery Honor winner Princess Academy and its two sequels; multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days; and graphic novel memoirs Real Friends, Best Friends, and Friends Forever (with LeUyen Pham). With frequent collaborator LeUyen Pham, she created the adorable picture book Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn. Her novels for the adult crowd include Austenland (now a major motion picture starring Keri Russell). Shannon and her husband Dean Hale have collaborated on several projects, such as Eisner-nominee Rapunzel’s Revenge (with Nathan Hale); early chapter book series The Princess in Black (with LeUyen Pham); two novels about the unbeatable Marvel superhero, Squirrel Girl; and the DC graphic novel Diana: Princess of the Amazons (with Victoria Ying). They live with their four children and two cat overlords near Salt Lake City, Utah.

DEAN HALE (AUTHOR)

Dean Hale is the coauthor of the award-winning graphic novels Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack and Scapegoat, his picture book debut. He lives in Utah with his wife and co-author, Shannon, and their children. 

ASIAH FULMORE (ILLUSTRATOR)

AAsiah Fulmore is a freelance illustrator who currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her two dogs, Ali and Ash. She spends her free time reading and loves to travel. If she got the chance to visit Gemworld, she’d hang with House Ruby, because they have the best food, obviously!


Rachael @rqdreads on Instagram!

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Published: 4.6.21 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Paranormal Horror
Details: 304 Pages, Print, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Standalone

REVIEW

Disclaimer: I borrowed my audiobook copy from the local library. I read and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

“I’d realized there were scarier things in the world than the monsters that lived in my nightmares.”

I wanted nothing more than to find a book that I could immerse myself into. I asked everyone for recommendations on a book that would sweep me away. I was driving home and thought, maybe I should try the audiobook. So many people have told me that the audiobook is incredible and they were not wrong. Haunting, creepy, unputdownable. The prose is captivating and intoxicating, so much so that my husband listened with me and the binged it the next day. This is a story about love, loss, heartbreak, and the bonds that people share… what someone is willing to do for the ones they love. I will think for a very long time.

Something is wrong with the Hollow sisters. Iris, Vivi, and Grey disappeared without a trace, returning a month later with no memory, hair and eyes different colors, and a half moon scar at the base of their throats. Seventeen year old Iris spends her time attending her lavish private school, trying to stay away from the public eye, while her sisters rebelled. She becomes frightened as she’s being followed by a horned man (historically having stalkers due to their unsolved disappearance as children). When Grey goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Iris and Vivi begin following the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs left for them, unraveling the past that they desperately want to forget.

I seriously could not put this book down. Once I started, I realized how dark and atmospheric this book was going to be. The narrator, Eleanor Bennett, was phenomenal. I honestly don’t know if I will ever reread the physical copy of this because it is THAT good. I immediately felt connected to the Hollow sisters. Their shared pain, their dedication to one another, their love… Iris states many times that she would be nothing without them and you can tell that they all have a strange, yet beautiful obsession with one another. I really appreciated the conversational style Sutherland used. It’s rare that I read a book and think, “this is exactly what it would sound like if this were real…” It felt like real young adults having real young adult conversations and it helped me feel connected to the story. The narrator did an incredible job at controlling the tone of the story.

Side characters were well fleshed out and felt as if they all had their own places within this story. Cate, their mother, was overbearing, protective, and sometimes cruel in conversation with the sisters. Vivi and Grey both struggled with Iris’ blind loyalty to Cate. At one point, Vivi stated, “that’s a pretty heaven burden to bear, being everything for someone,” when Iris says she wants Cate to move with her when she goes to University. The horned masked stalker/villain had such an interesting back story that honestly I did not see that coming. And Tyler – what an addition to this twisting tale. So often we find significant others, co-workers, classmate etc being used as a throwaway plot device and I did not feel this way at all.

House of Hollow is by far the most atmospheric book I’ve ever read; Sutherland deserves five stars for world building alone. Once I started listening to the details of the story, I was hooked, whisked away to this creepy town. The author loved to use descriptive words, especially about the smell of things and places to really set the tone. Scent is such a huge factor in whether or not something is “grotesque” and she really understood that concept and used it to her advantage to make you believe you too could smell the rotting decay. It definitely is not for weak stomachs.

As far as horrors go, this wasn’t a book that made me feel like I couldn’t sleep but it was chilling enough to make me look over my shoulder when I was alone in the kitchen. This standalone YA paranormal horror really does mess with you mentally as you never are quite sure if the narrator is is reliable or not. If you are a fan of Stranger Things, a deep and rich prose, and world building that will make you question your own reality, then this book is for you.

Content Warnings: suicide and suicidal ideations, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, child death, parental death, self harm, stalking, violence, attempted rape, murder, gore


SPOILERS

Let’s talk about Cate for a second. At first, I thought – how could she be so cold to her children. How could a mother deny comfort and love. It broke me to pieces when she told Iris not to call her “mama” and to refer to her only as her first name… but you soon begin to understand why. I really appreciated the fact that she understood that her daughters were gone but she would rather have something rather than nothing, and she did remain dedicated to them (except for Grey 🌚)

The scene with Tyler reuniting with my sister was possibly the saddest scene in the entire story. I have to give mad props to Sutherland for making me feel this gut wrenching feeling about a side character and leaving it as one of the most memorable scenes. I also loved that Tyler was a Korean supermodel. I’m not biased or anything (okay I am because I am Korean), but the representation felt nice and not forced.

Speaking of representation, QUEER CHARACTERS! It was such an amazing surprise for me to find out that Iris was Bi and Vivi was a lesbian. I also loved that that was normalized and not used as a plot device or some part of a painful story regarding their sexuality.

The ambiguous ending leaves me BEGGING for more. It reminds me of the end of Stranger Things at each seasons end. You can close that book forever always wondering where your beloved characters go, or you can pick up with the little snippets left behind and write more stories. I want Tyler to come back!!!


Rachael

Small Favors By Erin A. Craig

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig
Published: 7.27.21 by Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, Rumpelstiltskin Retelling
Details: 480 Pages, Print, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Series: Standalone

REVIEW

Disclaimer: First and foremost, I would like to thank Penguin Random House Audio for providing me a complimentary audiobook of Small Favors in exchange for an honest review! Content warnings at the end of the review.

Ellerie Downing, a beekeepers daughter, lives in the quiet, isolated town of Amity Falls, where the townsfolk work hard at making sure everyone succeeds after early settlers fought off devilish creatures that lived in the woods. This dark, atmospheric, young adult horror opens up to a bloody end to a failed supply run, making everyone question the motives of the neighbors they’ve vowed to protect. Soon after, bad omens plague them; animals are maimed and deformed, crops are destroyed, and a catastrophic event sows mistrust within this community. Fearing starvation through the winter, lack of medical supplies, low ammunition, and a stranger appearing from the woods draws concerned feelings from the town. Being stuck within the borders of this creepy forest, with visitors being rare, makes the arrival of a strange boy all the more concerning. This book provides a very claustrophobic atmosphere which adds to the intensity of the plot. It also added psychological thrill which kept me listening until late into the night!

That being said, the character development and overall plot had some holes which made me lose some interest in the story. The behavior of Ellerie’s 8 year old sister was unconvincing, the narrator made her sound like she was 4 which frustrated me a bit as I always have trouble with authors/narrators not understand the tone of children they add to their stories. This being a Rumpelstiltskin retelling held true, with mystical creatures offering small favors in exchange for a little mayhem within the town, though we don’t learn much about the monsters until the very end, and even then it was slightly anticlimactic.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. My teenage self would give this a 3.5 star and would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows, The Hollow Places, Rules for Vanishing, and other YA horror!

Content Warnings: pet/animal euthanasia, farm animal death, familial death, self harm/blood magic, fear of starvation, fire/severe burns


SPOILERS

Sam, Ellerie’s brother, was a throwaway character. He was extremely under developed and used as a plot device, even at the end. There was zero closure for his motives, leaving you with many questions about why he made the choices that he did. It frustrated me that there wasn’t much clarity for Ellerie and she was just okay with her brother being a jerk even until his death. Essentially going 🤷🏻‍♀️ immediately after his death scene (this was the same reaction Rebecca, his pregnant ex girlfriend had after learning that he’s dead). This frustrated me because it was completely for shock and it felt like having no emotional resolution for him (whether that be good or bad) was cheap. He was a character that the author could abuse and then forget about and critically, it just doesn’t sit well for character development.

The plot revolves around the townsfolk and how everyone works so hard to make sure they all succeed through the harsh winter, so when the town goes up in flames, Ellerie turns her back to the mayhem and then rides off to find her parents which were also used as a plot device and forgotten about as well.

The main villain was easily defeated, in a very unrealistic way (yes I know this is fantasy but there are certain things that you just shake your head at) and didn’t provide many answers to Ellerie’s desperate questions. Ellerie also makes choices that are completely useless and just made the book seem to drag. The paranormal elements of the book seemed disjointed within the story and was more-so confusing than it was revealing. The “small favors” parts of the book were not explored, just explained quickly – we don’t really get to see/read about WHAT the small favors actually were or why, just that it was happening. There were little instances like this that turned me off a bit when it started off with great potential.


Rachael

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles Blog Tour


Blog Tour Banner_Use before 8.25

Welcome to my blog tour stop for Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

This fantastic YA Fantasy is published by Wednesday Books. It is available for purchase on 8.25.20 but can be pre-ordered now! You can purchase this book HERE or at any participating retailers in store or online!


SYNOPSIS:

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.


DISCLAIMER: This book was gifted to me by Wednesday Books and St. Martin’s Press to read and review. This in no way impacts my review as all thoughts and opinions are my own.


REVIEW

This book is captivating. I read and listened to this book via audio and I absolutely adored the narration! I truly brought the characters to life for me. Where Dreams Descend is such a mix of magic, suspense, mystery, slow burn romance, thrill… I think this book does an excellent job of blending fantasy and reality, so much so that it’s difficult to put down. There’s so much wonder when you’re reading, so many questions left unanswered. Where Dreams Descend is the first book in the Kingdom of Cards duology and I cannot wait for book 2.

The descriptions written by Janella Angeles are so enticing and sometimes creepy (eek!) It makes me want to step into this book and live it with the characters so I can explore this world too. I feel that the characters are well rounded, complicated, some likable, some not (but in a good way), with a level of suspicion of who the good guys and bad guys truly are. I was extremely invested in the character’s story arcs by the end and was devastated with that ending! I appreciated the fact that it explores social issues such as gender inequality and breaking down social norms/barriers.

The writing style is very intoxicating. It reminds me of The Night Circus with the excitement of Caraval, but is different enough that it stands out on it’s own. Comparing it doesn’t necessarily seem fair. It was so easy to get swept away. I don’t want to reveal too much, I feel like even explaining who the characters are will give things away as this book deserves a full reading experience without spoilers. It starts off slow (much like that slow burn romance) and the pace picks up when the mystery unfolds and you will not want to stop.

Thank you so much to Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio for providing me the audio access early so I could read and ENJOY. This book was 5 STARS for me I am already begging for the next installment!


Mei Lin Barral Photography_Janella AngelesJANELLA ANGELES is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age—which eventually led to openning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she’s lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she’s most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.

Social LinksTwitter: @Janella_Angeles // Instagram: @Janella_Angeles

Early Praise:
“Janella Angeles steals the 2020 show with her fiercely imagined debut starring larger than life characters, a dangerous world alive with magic, and a dizzying dose of grab-a-fainting-couch-and-swoon-away romance!” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves

Where Dreams Descend is a glamorous dark gem of a tale, sparkling with romance, magic, and intrigue. Readers will be captivated by prima donna Kallia as the mystery is slowly unmasked. Bravissima!” – Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

“Lavish and opulent in a way that feels warmly familiar yet demands your attention. There are secrets upon secrets, a girl who’s boldly ambitious, and truly riveting stage magic. I didn’t want the show to stop.” – Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints

“Vibrant imagery, jaw-dropping set pieces, sizzling romantic tension, and unstoppable heroine Kallia bring this ambitious debut novel to spectacular life. Fans of Caraval and The Night Circus will be delighted!” – Claire Legrand, New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn  

“[A] spellbinding melody of a book, and the true magic is how Angeles puts all the best parts of an enrapturing theatrical performance onto paper and ink. From the gripping twists in the first pages all the way to the final, heartbreaking crescendo, Where Dreams Descend will surge you to your feet in a standing ovation.” – Sara Raasch, New York Times bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy


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Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson

Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson, Illustrated by Leila Del Duca

Cover Image

Genre: YA Graphic Novel
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2020
Rating: 5 Stars


Synopsis:

Princess Diana believes that her 16th birthday will be one of new beginnings–namely acceptance into the warrior tribe of Amazons. The celebrations are cut short, however, when rafts of refugees break through the Themysciran barrier. Diana tries to help them, but she is swept away by the sea–and from her home–thus becoming a refugee herself.

Now Diana must survive in the world outside of Themyscira for the first time; the world that is filled with danger and injustice. She must redefine what it means to belong, to be an Amazon, and to make a difference.

Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed is a story about growing into your strength, battling for justice, and the power of friendship.


Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank DC Comics for providing me with an e-copy to voluntarily read and review. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

WOW. This graphic novel was truly something else. Graphic novels have been doing an amazing job for YEARS tackling societal issues. This one specifically brought awareness to child trafficking, which is still prevalent in the world today. Although this book was geared towards children,  do feel that this serious world issue would make an age appropriate impact on the reader. This book also has LGBTQIAP+ rep, issues surrounding bullying, culture, homelessness and loss of family, sexual harassment, and foster care.

This new origin story was definitely a 5 star read for me. I really connected with this version of Wonder Woman. I love that she feels alienated and lonely, but she still does what’s right for other children in the community. Laurie Anderson did an amazing job creating a character that shows determination to make this world better, despite challenges.

The illustrations were beautiful. I loved the way the illustrator depicted the scenes. Often times I feel like I’m not getting the full story with such a short dialog and with this, I definitely felt connected to the story.

I appreciate that this version of WW tackles the themes of immigrant life in our society, and the extreme weaknesses we have in our availability of social services. I think that discussing issues like this with children of all ages is important. We are never too young to understand our privilege and it’s role it has on shaping the world around us. This brings to light people who do not have those same privileges and how we can learn to become activists just by caring about other people.

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TRUEL1F3 by Jay Kristoff

TRUEL1F3 (LIFEL1K3 #3) by Jay Kristoff
Genre:
 Young Adult SciFi
TRUEL1F3 (Lifelike, #3)Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
Publication Date: 
June 30th, 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis:

Best friends have become enemies. Lovers have become strangers. And deciding whose side you’re on could be the difference between life and death. For Eve and Lemon, discovering the truth about themselves–and each other–was too much for their friendship to take. But with the country on the brink of a new world war–this time between the BioMaas swarm at CityHive and Daedalus’s army at Megopolis, loyalties will be pushed to the brink, unlikely alliances will form and with them, betrayals. But the threat doesn’t stop there, because the lifelikes are determined to access the program that will set every robot free, a task requiring both Eve and Ana, the girl she was created to replace. In the end, violent clashes and heartbreaking choices reveal the true heroes . . . and they may not be who you think they are. 


Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank Jay Kristoff, Penguin Random House, and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

TRUEL1F3 was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it did not disappoint! After the heart stopping cliff hanger in DEV1AT3, I anxiously waited an entire year to feel closure and I truly felt we got it. There are some things I wish that were expanded on but it left it in a way that if he ever wanted to write more, there would be meat left for that to happen. As far as I know this is a trilogy only, though!

I loved the multiple points of view, I loved Lemon Fresh and her character ARC. Honestly when I started LIFEL1K3 I thought Eve would be the star but Lemon emerged from the scrap and stole my heart. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything! Once the series is out and people have had time to read it, I will expand more  on my thoughts about this book and the characters. The love, the betrayals, the romance… I loved (and hated LOL) it all!

Just know that this book was an excellent conclusion to the series. It had action, adventure, so much laughter, heart warming moments… it does have a few triggering moments so if you are sensitive to some triggers please let me know and I can tell you so you can prepare. They aren’t graphic but it does add a layer of sensitivity to the issue.

Just like DEV1AT3 I have a hard time conceptualizing the time frame in which all of this takes place.. a matter of days.. a matter of weeks. It’s so hard for me to imagine Eve and her story ARC coming full circle in this time but again, it ramped up the intensity!

True Cert, this book was just what I needed to get out of my slump! I enjoyed seeing the direction the characters went! Jay Kristoff is a forever favorite author of mine.

Thank you so much for allowing me to read an advanced copy and for leaving this burning hole in my chest. This book goes on Sale 6/30/20 and is up for PREORDER now!

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Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Publisher:Knopf Books For Young Readers
ISBN: 9781524720926
Genre: 
YA SCIFI
Rating: 
5 Stars
Audio Rating: N/A

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DISCLAIMER:
This e-book was sent to me for free by Penguin Random House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacts my rating, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


[SYNOPSIS]
This synopsis contains spoilers for Aurora Rising, Book 1 in The Aurora Cycle

Our heroes are back… kind of. From the bestselling co-authors of the Illuminae Files comes the second book in the epic series about a squad of misfits, losers, and discipline cases who just might be the galaxy’s best hope for survival.

First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.

Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces. And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri. Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.

When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.

Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.


NON SPOILERY REVIEW

“I’m the girl who’s going to save the damn galaxy…”

Where do I even begin? It’s so hard for me to review this book without leaving spoilers so I’m going to have to keep this pretty simple. This book will make you laugh, cry, it will emotionally break you… and I can’t thank Jay and Amie enough. To be able to feel all of these emotions and to connect to characters so deeply — characters who stay with you once the book is long over, that’s truly an amazing reading experience. I haven’t stopped thinking about Squad 312 since I finished the book and I am already itching to re-read it because I’m not ready to let them go.

This book was truly explosive, action packed from beginning to end. There were so many times were I actually laughed out loud and times were I had real tears streaking my face. This book is more mature than Aurora Rising, but due to the nature of their circumstance it makes sense. All of the characters grew in their own way and I loved seeing their personalities shine. I loved the twists and turns — I just couldn’t get enough.

“I am not feeling nothing.”

Thank you so much for allowing me to read an advanced copy and for leaving this burning hole in my chest. This book goes on Sale 5/5/20 and is up for PREORDER now!

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Lobizona by Romina Garber

Lobizona by Romina Garber
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press
Genre:
YA Urban Fantasy
Rating:
5 Stars
Audio Rating: N/A

Lobizona (Wolves of No World, #1)

—–[SYNOPSIS]—–

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.


DISCLAIMER:
This e-book was sent to me for free by St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review. This in now way impacts my rating, all thoughts are my own.


NON SPOILERY REVIEW

Wow. This book was heartbreaking, raw, and powerful. I am so impressed with Romina Garber and her writing style. This YA Urban Fantasy was gripping right until the end. I am 100% here for the Argentinean folklore and the female empowered heroes journey.

Lobizona begins with Manu, an undocumented immigrant from Argentina who is in hiding due to her immigrant status and due to the unusual look to her eyes. She is a very thoughtful, caring, and intelligent young woman who is put in impossible situations due to her mother’s choices. This book explores the very much real immigrant experience. My heart was pounding during the very first section of the book. I appreciated how heavily the Spanish was used, as it made Manu’s life feel real to me.

Finding a hidden school and the secrets about her father (whom she has been on the run from her entire life) also intrigued me, considering that those two things were tied together. I also appreciated the queer representation within this novel. I think that it’s so important to represent all types of people and this book really took it to the next level without making it seem forced. Manu’s life is a strange yet powerful one and I cannot wait to see what Romina does next.

Thank you so much for allowing me to read an advanced copy. I loved everything about it. This book goes on Sale 5/5/20 and is up for preorder now!

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