A Fierce and Subtle Poison

review

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 4.21.41 PM.png

 

A Fierce and Subtle Poison

Samantha Mabry

2stars

Goodreads

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl–Isabel, the one the señoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers–and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.

Divider

I was really excited when I received an ARC of this book. I’m a fan of magical realism and this one just sounded so interesting.  I don’t know much about Puerto Rico or its culture, so I was interested in learning a bit about it and the myths.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I don’t know if my expectations were too high or if it simply wasn’t the story I wanted it to be.  You ever feel like that?  It’s not so much expectations for greatness, but expectations for the story to go a certain way.  Well that’s how I felt when I was reading this and it just didn’t turn out how I wanted it to.

The pacing was way off and the mystery was solved way too quickly. And it wasn’t even that good of a mystery.  I just had this whole idea of how the plot would progress and it just didn’t do that.  I know it’s not fair of me to hold the book accountable for my desires of how it should read, but I’m going to.  Sorry. I probably could have still enjoyed it more, but the issue with the pacing was a big downer.

At the beginning I was really excited. Lucas seemed like an actual teenage boy and one that wasn’t obsessed with talking about his penis.  I thought I would really like him, but he ended up annoying me.  Isabel annoyed me as well.  In fact, the only character I liked was Marisol and you find out she dies on the 3rd page of the book.

This book was supposed to get my out of my reading slump. I did finish it within 3-4 hours, in one sitting, but I think it did more harm than good as I haven’t picked up a book since.

ARC Review: The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M Parker

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.27.26 AM

 

Thegirlwhofell

 

The Girl Who Fell

Shannon M. Parker

Publication: March 1, 2016

Source: Netgalley, e-ARC

4stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM

His obsession.
Her fall.

High school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense relationship—by the new boy in school.

Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?

But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM


I have been interested in this book since April 2015 when the only description it had was :

A YA debut in which a high school senior mistakes her boyfriend’s physical and mental manipulations for devotion, only to discover the truth when it may be too late.

That right there hooked me and I knew I had to read it.

There are a plethora of examples in YA Lit of unhealthy and borderline, if not straight up abusive relationships. And the majority of readers rarely acknowledge them. Instead the asshole love interests are lauded and adored and the relationships are set as standards of true love. And it’s bullshit.

This book is so important because it shows just how wrong relationships like these can end up.

Personally, it was an extremely hard book to read. I saw SO much of my 16-year-old self with her first boyfriend and her first love in Zephyr. Of course, my relationship wasn’t as abusive as the one presented in this one, but still. It has taken me over a decade to recognize that a lot of what happened in that relationship was incredibly unhealthy. Anyone who has experienced the all-consuming, need to spend every second with someone, type of first love that usually manifests in high school students will be able to connect with Zephyr.

It was also hard to read just because you already know how it ends. The synopsis and the opening chapter sets up how things turn out, so you go in knowing that shit is going to hit the fan and it is so hard to see Zephyr realize that for herself. The entire time I just wanted to jump into the book and shake her and make her see what was so obvious to the reader.

The writing was superb. Parker did a wonderful job of slowly building up to the climax of the book, subtly showing how unstable Alec was, but was also able to make it seem so reasonable that Zephyr didn’t recognize it for what it was. Alec’s emotional manipulation was so ingrained in the text that sometimes I had to even reread a few sections to see it myself. Honestly, the writing was the highlight of this book.

Zephyr’s friends Gregg and Lizzie were interesting characters. They weren’t nearly as developed as Zephyr or even Alec, but they added an interesting touch. 500 points for a great female friendship, and a great friend who sticks by Zephyr even when she is ditched multiple times. Gregg was a bit of a jerk at times, but he was still a good friend.

There was also the subplot with her father who walked out on her and her mother the previous summer and it was interesting and totally played into the overall plot, but I was really just here for the “romance”.

My only real complaint is that the ending seemed a tad rushed, but honestly, it’s fine. It didn’t detract from the powerful message. I read this in one sitting. I was hooked from the moment I started, and only took a few breaks when my anxiety was about to hit the roof and I just couldn’t read anymore. This book reminded me so much of a tamer Fear, the 1996 movie with Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon, minus the iconic rollercoaster scene. So if you’re a fan of the movie and you like YA, I would say that this is a must read (And you aren’t a fan of the movie, you’re wrong because it’s a cinematic masterpiece. JK. But really…NICOLE 4EVA.)

Sailing Through Time: Review of The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

review

thegirlfromeverywhere

 

The Girl From Everywhere

The Girl From Everywhere #1

Heidi Heilig

2/16/2016

Source: Netgalley

3stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…

Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.


 

Again I should point out that time travel books are my favorite so they are probably already always guaranteed at least 3 stars.  Or maybe I just haven’t read a really bad time travel book yet.

Divider

The Good

The Storytelling

The Girl From Everywhere was a beautiful blend of history and mythology. On top of time traveling, which they call “navigating”, to the far off past, they can also go to mythical places, since it’s based on maps, and the belief that these places/things existed. That means if they found a map of Atlantis, there is a strong possibility they could actually go to Atlantis.  Kashmir, actually might even be from a mythical location that people once believed existed.   So to learn about Hawaiian mythology was really cool and I think Heilig did a wonderful job of weaving it into the story.

Plus, a lot of what happened was inspired by actual events! I definitely don’t really have a huge grasp on time travel science, but I like the theory that you can never really change the present/future.  Everything you do in the past has/will already happen in the present, simply by you going back to the past.  Does that make any sense?  Who knows if that’s a real theory, but it’s the one I like most.  So to find out that some of the events actually happened added to my favorite time travel theory.  Plus I just really love history.

The Familial Relationships

Nix’s dad is a huge jerk.  He’s obsessed with getting back to 1868 so that he can save Nix’s mother’s life, even if it includes endangering his daughter’s existence, only really cares about himself, and is an opium addict.  But I actually really enjoyed Nix and his relationships, her frustration over wanting to leave and feeling obligated to stay, and the growth their relationship undergoes.  It actually isn’t very often where a parent is a pretty prevalent secondary character in a YA novel.

The Lack of Romance

Ok, so there are not so subtle hints of romance, and even the briefest glimpses of a love triangle (although I don’t actually think it was one, but I’ll come back to that later), but this book was so much more.  The relationship between Nix and Kashmir was so perfect because that’s all it was: hints. They developed on their own and together. There is nothing better than when you can completely remove the romantic storyline and nothing changes.

Divider

The Not So Good

Nothing in this book was bad per say, but there were some issues

Backstory/Worldbuilding

While Heilig did a wonderful job bringing Hawaii to life, not so much with explaining the science/magic behind the ability to navigate.  It involves maps, which you can only use once, doesn’t have to include ships and you have to believe it, but that’s basically all we know.  While I would prefer the information to be woven throughout the storytelling, I would much prefer an massive info dump to a lack of information.  It didn’t really ruin the book for me, and maybe it’s good that it’s a bit vague because it does seem magical.

The Actual Lack of “Navigating”

Ok, for a time travel book, they stay in one place for a good like 80% of the book.  We do get to see some of 18th century Calcutta and ancient (I think) China, most of the story takes place on one island of Hawaii. And to be honest, it made the plot a bit slow.  Usually with time travel books I’m always excited for the next location, which speeds up the pace a lot.  The Girl From Everywhere is over 400 pages long, and while it was still a quick read (for me anyway), there were some times when I was a bit bored.  While it was wonderful learning about and visualizing Hawaii in 1884, I wanted more action and adventure.

The Fact that This is A Series

Honestly, this book is a perfect standalone.  While I would love to learn more about the science/magic behind the navigating and actually see more traveling, I would prefer this not to be a series.  Maybe it will be a companion novel series, which I would enjoy more, because Nix’s story just seems to have ended perfectly.  It was open and free and anything can happen, and I kind of don’t want to see that. Especially since I suspect a series would definitely involve a love triangle and I’m not here for that.  So unless it is a companion novel, I don’t think I will be reading the next one.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this book enough to look past the lack of explanation/navigating.  I will probably even reread it (probably in preparation for the sequel which I say I won’t read but totally will).  If I wasn’t on a 6 month book buying ban I might even buy it.  Check back with me in 5 months.

 

*This is a scheduled post. I am currently on vacation*

ARC Review: These Vicious Masks

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 11.27.26 AM

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 3.47.41 PM

 

These Vicious Masks

These Vicious Masks #1

Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

February 9, 2016

Source: Netgalley, e-ARC

3.5stars

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I was provided with this ARC by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.42.09 PM

Throughout reading I felt a bit removed from both the characters and the plot.  Basically, for the majority of this book I was just reading it because I had an ARC and felt as if I had an obligation to finish, since nothing was really annoying me enough to DNF.  I’m glad I finished because the ending really helped up my enjoyment of this novel and I am 85% positive I will continue with the series.

What I liked:

Evelyn

I really enjoyed that she was constantly rebelling against society’s restrictions, but at the same time acknowledged that deep down it still mattered to her.  I feel like whenever I read about a heroine who wants nothing to do with Society they often don’t recognize how difficult life would actually be if they were to truly spurn it.  She was sassy and outspoken, and she was always ready to save not only her sister, but herself.  Yes she got help from 2 men, but she wasn’t about to be left behind while they played hero.

I also really liked that even though she is told that she has special “powers” she doesn’t actually believe it until she sees it.  I am so sick of instant acceptance.  Oh, I can heal people with my touch? OK awesome. No need for proof.  Nope. Not Evelyn.

The “X-Men” aspect

I LOVE X-Men.  When I was in high school I used to watch those movies over and over again.  Until I saw Captain America, they were in fact my favorite superhero group. So I really enjoyed this part of the novel.  I’m really looking forward to the sequels to learn more about them and what other people can do.  There actually wasn’t much information about the powers in this book, as it was more Evelyn’s searching for her sister and her introduction into this new world, but I’m ok with that.

The Romance (or lack thereof)

Ok, this one is kind of misleading, because I wasn’t in fact the biggest fan of the love-triangle, as you will see, but I will mention that I did appreciate that you could remove the romance entirely and the book would survive and still be pretty awesome.

The Ending

I have to say that I saw it coming, and I’m totally OK with it.  It just had to happen, in my opinion.  It opens up so many possibilities for the sequel, but it also doesn’t exactly end on a cliff hanger.  It would have been totally possible to end the book with the first one, but I’m glad there will be more.

What I didn’t like:

The Love Triangle/Square

I have to admit that I don’t automatically hate love triangles.  I can enjoy them well enough, but usually only if the girl (who is usually the top of the triangle) has enough redeeming qualities for me to see why even one guy would be interested in her.  And it works because Evelyn is pretty damn awesome, but I just didn’t really like either of the male love interests.  Sebastian Braddock was dark and broody, and they had some nice scenes, but I just didn’t see any chemistry between them.  Added to the fact that there is also another lady who is interested in him, and things are getting a bit crowded.  I did like Nicholas Kent more, but there was just something about him.  He always seemed a bit shady.


That’s pretty much all that I really didn’t enjoy, and even that didn’t take too much away.  The plot was fast paced and non-stop action and it kept me engaged for the majority of the time.  And there is nothing quite like reading a historical novel (even a supernatural/paranormal/sci-fi one) to make me thankful I live in the 21st Century.

2016 Debut Author Challenge

Well keeping in the spirit of 2016 Debut Authors I’m excited for, here’s another challenge I’ll be participating in!

DAC2016

I’m joining the 2016 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Challenge Objectives:

  • To introduce readers to this year’s wonderful group of debut authors.
  • To challenge readers to read 12 or more (or less! It’s up to you!) middle grade, young adult, and new adult debuts this year.

Challenge Rules:

  • You must post your thoughts on each debut book you read in order for it to count towards the challenge. You can post anywhere: your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, YouTube, Tumblr, etc.
  • You can join the challenge whenever you want.
  • The debuts must have a publishing date in 2016 and must have been read between January 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017 (this extra month allows readers adequate time to read December debuts) in order to count.
  • Each review gives you an entry into the monthly prize pack drawings. Make sure you post the links to my monthly link-ups. I always post these link-ups on the first day of the month.
  • This challenge is open internationally, as are the monthly prize packs.
  • I don’t care what language you write your reviews in, I just need to know which book you have reviewed so I can verify your entry. When you post your link, please include the title in English.
  • Use the hashtag #2016DebAuthC so we can all see what everyone’s up to!

Which Books Count:

  • The book must be classified as a middle grade, young adult, or new adult title.
  • The book must be a full-length novel. Novellas do not count.
  • The book must be the author’s MG/YA/NA 2016 debut. (If the author has published adult fiction before, but this is their first MG/YA/NA book EVER it still counts. If the author has published a YA book before and this is their first MG or NA book, it does not count. We are reading the author’s first book for young people, excluding picture books.)
  • Self-published books do not count, so if the author has self-published a MG/YA/NA book before and this is their first book published by a traditional publisher it counts toward the challenge.
  • ARCs are fine, but only if you read them the year they are published. (If you read a 2016 debut in 2015, it does not count. If you read a 2017 debut in 2016, it does not count. This way, participants who do not have access to ARCs are not at a disadvantage.)
  • Since this challenge is International, some books will be debuts in some countries and not in others. This can be tricky and put some books into a gray area, so here’s what we will do. If the book came out this year in your country for the first time, even though it was available elsewhere, then you can count it.
  • Please feel free to tweet, email, etc. me if you do not know if a book counts or not. I am happy to help you.

Helpful Links: