Review: “City of Saints & Thieves” by Natalie C. Anderson

29995905~o~Rating~o~
4.5 stars

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

~o~Review~o~

TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape, attempted rape, abuse

“If you’re going to be a thief, the first thing you need to know is that you don’t exist.”

Wow, this was a good book.

Tina is a refugee from eastern Democratic of the Congo. When she was five, her and her mom escaped from the Congo to Kenya because of the raging war. Tina is a strong, independent protagonist who has had to learn to survive on the streets after her mom’s murder. She will do anything to avenge her mom’s death and that’s exactly what brings her to the gang – Goondas – in the first place. She is fiercely loyal to her little sister Kiki and she takes care of her to the best of her abilities. Tina is a multi-dimensional character and I felt genuinely attached to her.

The originality of the setting is one of the qualities that sets this book apart. The setting is rich, descriptive and made me fall completely in love with Kenya. The story is set in the made-up city of Sangui, Kenya, which isn’t a real city but was inspired by Mombasa and Nairobi.

City of Saints and Thieves is a murder mystery and revenge story while being a contemporary refugee story. The author, Natalie Anderson, spent a lot of time with refugees from the Congo and a big part of this novel is based on her first-hand experiences with those women. It was a eye-opener for me. Refugee stories are heart-breaking but important and I thought the novel portrayed it respectfully.

I also loved her two sidekicks: Michael and Boyboy. Boyboy provided the much needed comic relief in the story and I love funny characters so he was a favorite of mine.

All in all, I thought how the overall story unraveled was fantastic. It was engaging and kept me turning the pages throughout the novel, beginning to end. I highly recommend!

Have you read this book? Or are you planning to?

ARC Review: “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon

28763485~o~Rating~o~
4.5 tp

~o~ Release Date: November 1st 2016 ~o~
~o~ Publisher:
Delacorte Press ~o~

I was lucky (and knowledgeable) enough to win an ARC of this book at B-Fest trivia at Barnes and Nobles a few weekends ago (as you can see, I am also great at remembering dates).

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Click here for the Goodreads page.

~o~Review~o~

The Sun is Also a Star is very unlike what I expected. Is it a cute love story? Yes. But it’s also a story about immigrating into the USA and what it means to come from an immigrant family, especially the family expectations that come with it.

Natasha’s family immigrated to the USA from Jamaica when she was eight years old so her dad could pursue a career in acting. Her story is one I can connect with at a deeper level being an immigrant myself (who also happened to move to America at eight years old. It’s actually almost scary how that happened actually). Though unfortunately in her case, Natasha is undocumented and her family is getting deported that night.

Daniel is a first generation Korean-American living with his parents’ high expectations of being a doctor and marrying a nice, Korean girl. I’m not sure why the Goodreads synopsis says “Never the poet. Or the dreamer” in his description because that’s exactly what he is: Daniel is a poet and a dreamer. While Natasha is more factual and rational, Daniel is more sensitive and optimistic.

Now usually, I LOATHE books that are love at first sight or books where the main characters fall in love after one day of knowing each other. But honestly, this was the cutest thing ever. In the span of one day, their relationship developed more than I can say for 80 percent of YA characters. You know those books where the story tells you the main characters are in love but really, you have absolutely no idea why because they’ve never even had a decent conversation? Well, that’s not this story! I felt their connection, I knew the exact moment each of them fell in love with the other and, just THE FEELS!

The book itself mostly focuses on Natasha’s and Daniel’s points of views but it also shows some brief POVs of side characters which I enjoyed immensely because you also get a glimpse of their lives.

I also like books with big themes and this one had quite a few up its sleeves. How so many things had to go right for the world to form. How the smallest of all decisions can lead to and entirely different parallel universe. How a single exchange with another person can change your life forever.

And the ending is just

giphy (1)

so BE WARNED!

Review: “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh

18798983~o~Rating~o~
4.5 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn is a sumptuous and enthralling read from beginning to end.

Click here for Goodreads link.

~o~Review~o~

“Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.”

I LOVED it. The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of the infamous A Thousand and One Nights. It’s similar to A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnson but it’s more action packed and I enjoyed it a lot more.

Shahrzad is intelligent and resourceful and witty without sounding snobby. The same could be said for countless other YA main characters but Shahrzad actually pulls it off. Her best friend was taken to be Khalid’s wife and like all his other brides, she was killed. Shahrzad volunteers to be Khalid’s bride to end his regime once and for all. I’m not usually a big fan of the whole “falling in love with the monster” trope but Ahdieh plays it off very well. Shahrzad gradually realizes all is not black and white after all as she struggles to understand how she could possibly be drawn to her best friend’s murderer.

Khalid was mysterious and alluring and too secretive for his own good. Like Shahrzad, I also gradually came to like him. He is also intelligent and observant. Not much could be said about him without spoiling.

I really enjoyed the romance in this book, it was well written and well developed. Khalid and Shahrzad are a good match and will always keep each other on their toes.

I liked most of the secondary characters though at times it felt like there were too many of them to where their personalities felt the same. If you gave me a description, I wouldn’t be able to tell you whether it was Rahim, Tariq or Jalal (or maybe it’s just because they say men are all the same :D). Feisty Despina on the other hand (Shahrzad’s maid) was my favorite secondary character and I loved the interactions between her and Shahrzad. YA often lacks female to female interaction as if a strong female MC cannot have a female best friend so it was a nice change.

Now to my favorite thing about this book: the food. No book has ever made me this hungry, not even the lavishness of the food at Hogwarts. I came as close to tasting the food as you possibly can while reading.

~o~Spoiler Alert~o~

So, I understand Ava’s father cursed Khalid and told him he had to kill the next hundred brides and all but what I don’t understand is why it had to be a secret. Surely Khalid  could have announced to the people that hey, I’m cursed and I must kill your daughters once I marry them or the kingdom will be destroyed. It would have still created problems but at least the people would know and no doubt many girls would willingly volunteer. Hasn’t keeping it a secret done more harm than good?

 

Series Review: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

17675462173473891737850817378527

I read all four books in the series in a row so I decided to do a whole series review at once.

Overall: Say hello to one of my new favorite series of all time. I cannot believe it took me two tries to get through the first book. WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING? The Raven Cycle series is wonderful and magical.

The first book hooked me when I started. I can’t decide what genre The Raven Boys would fall into: Fantasy? Sure. Paranormal? Kind of. Does it have magic and magical elements? Yes. But it feels so real!

The characters Stiefvater created are magical. I have found yet another friends circle I would love to be a part of, up there with the trio of Harry Potter and the Argo crew from Heroes of Olympus or the Black Betty gang from Darkest Minds.

The books (and characters) get better and better as the series continues. Except for Ronan who is pretty much perfect all the way through. I highly recommend this series to anyone!

Let us continue. The later books have spoilers for the previous ones so don’t read those if you have yet to read the books before it.


17675462~o~Rating~o~
4.5 tp

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”

Blue started off as my favorite character. Blue, the only non-psychic in her house full of psychic women, longed to witness the extraordinary herself. There was Gansey on his quest to find and wake a sleeping king. Ronan who is wild and angry at the world for his father’s death.  There’s quiet and shy Noah who always pops in and out of the story. And then we have Adam, who lives with his abusive father in a trailer park and works his butt off to have a better future. I quickly grew to love Ronan and Gansey. Adam, I had lots of problems with. I thought he was too prideful and ungrateful starting off; in his mind, every sign of genuine concern from his friends was pity and a helping hand was charity. I sympathize with his situation but just, his principles are annoying to say the least.

Blue has always been told that she would kill her true love if she ever kissed him. And even though this comes up in this book, it is not a main plot point. The Raven Boys is not a romance, it is a mystery and adventure and a story of a bond forged by an unlikely group of teenagers.

Click here for Goodreads link. 


~o~Rating~o~17347389
5 tp

“While I’m gone,” Gansey said, pausing, “dream me the world. Something new for every night.”

The Dream Thieves was even better than The Raven Boys. This book felt more like Ronan’s book than the others though everyone had a presence. In the end of Raven Boys, we find out that Ronan can pull things from his dreams. That’s explored more in depth in this one.

Click here for Goodreads link.

***Some spoilers ahead for this one***

I actually don’t remember most of the details since I read these all in a row. I did think this book was better than the first one, but just slightly. And a bunch of random thoughts coming:

I love how every time some creepy thing happens, everyone is automatically like, “Knock it off, Noah.” 😀 Not in those exact words.

Mr. Gray grew on me quite a bit. He is a brilliant villain and quite a sympathetic one. I though he was much better character than Whelk. By the end of the book, he really isn’t the villain anymore. I thought what he did was very noble and deserving of Maura.

We learn more about the psychic women living in 300 Fox Way and I have to say, I love the trio (Maura, Calla and Persephone). They’re a very close knit group of women who have a firm set of beliefs and isn’t afraid to show them to others.

Adam has been going through a lot but I still haven’t gotten fond of him. He’s just a little too rash in my opinion.

Ronan has earned his place as my favorite character. He’s so sweet! Well, not really. But we understand him and why he does stuff a lot more in this book.


17378508~o~Rating~o~
5 tp

“I think it’s crazy how you’re in love with all those raven boys.”

The third book to the Raven Cycle series or as I like to call it, the book where Adam finally redeems himself and earns his rightful place in this ferocious but loyal team of nutcrackers. Why nutcrackers you ask? I don’t really know.

So, Blue’s mother has disappeared down a cave. The search for Glendower continues. Adam is still Cabeswater’s hands and eyes though he is learning to understand Cabeswater more thanks to Persephone. Noah is still dead and decaying. The Gray Man had teamed up with the heroes. There’s a new villain in town – the Gray Man’s former boss and the person behind the murder of Ronan’s father – Greenmantle. And his extremely cunning wife Piper who really cares for nothing.

Ronan and Adam started teaming up more and I LOVE THEM. Same with Gansey and Blue. I wasn’t sure about them at first, but they won my heart.

And I loved the Gray Man even more in this book. You can really tell how much he cares for Maura. And him and Blue teaming up was great.

Click here for Goodreads link.


~o~Rating~o~17378527
4.5 tp

“What a strange constellation they all were.”

The Raven King was an awesome conclusion to this wonderful series! An almost perfect one. I wanted more but what I got was great. All of these characters have come such a long way, I feel like like a proud mother.

Adam especially has gone through a lot of self-reflection, A LOT, and he’s finally letting the others be his friend. *long applause*

Maura and Artemus (Blue’s dad) are now out of the cave. And so are Piper and Neeve who have woken the third sleeper (a demon) who they were NOT supposed to wake. Artemus is useless. Persephone is dead. Glendower is now or never.

Click here for Goodreads link.

***Lots of spoilers ahead***

A moment for poor Gansey who’s life’s work pretty much meant nothing. Glendower is dead and they did not get a favor. BUT he found his best friends and true love in this fantastical journey and had the adventure of a lifetime. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

All these unexpected Pynch moments!! I was squealing like a broken rubber duck! I love them! Same with Bluesy. They get a happy ending! I am joyous.

This is also the book that made me like Declan. He’s pretty good after all.

Artemus is a tree? I was honestly pretty confused about that whole thing.

The involved addition of Henry Cheng was starting to worry me because I’m too used to our exclusive band of Raven Boys but he grew on me just like he grew on Gansey and Blue. I think he would be good for the group, especially with Noah pretty much gone now.

All in all though, I couldn’t give this book five stars because there are SO MANY unanswered questions.

  1. What the heck happened to Noah? So, he’s the one who, all those years ago, spoke to Gansey and sent him on his search for Glendower. Okay… why? What’s the purpose? And what happens now? Does Noah decay completely? Is he finally put to rest? Is he finally actually dead?
  2. Whatever happened to Matthew? Did the sacrifice work? Is he okay?
  3. Is Blue’s curse gone? Does this mean she can now kiss Gansey without killing him again? I NEED ANSWERS
  4. Whatever happened to that deal Gansey made with the principal about Monmouth Manufacturing? Was Helen successful in digging some stuff up about him?
  5. Will Artemus forever be inside that tree? Does this mean Blue can also be a tree? Does that mean Blue is half tree and half human? I just don’t know anymore.

I mean, I really enjoyed this book so I don’t want to bump the book down to four stars but more closure would’ve been nice.

Review: “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

12000020~o~Rating~o~
4.5 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

This Printz Honor Book is a “tender, honest exploration of identity” (Publishers Weekly) that distills lyrical truths about family and friendship.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

~o~Review~o~

“Do you think we’ll ever discover all the secrets of the universe?”

I’m a mess right now. This was so good! (That’s my new favorite phrase, I’ve been using it too much lately. That’s not a bad thing though). I am in the middle of a crisis guys. I think I’m falling in love… with contemporaries. It just happened, okay? It happened because of books like this.

I loved the writing style of this book. It was simple in a good way. No extra description, not filled with metaphors and imagery, nothing too complicated but it felt real.

Both Ari and Dante are wonderful characters. They’re both kind of a loner but in different ways.

Ari was constantly plagued by thoughts of his older brother who was in prison. His parents never talked about him. Ari’s father is a war veteran of the Vietnam war and he is a secluded person who doesn’t like to talk about his life. Ari’s relationship with his mother is one of the best parts of the book though. She understands him and she knows how to get him to talk even though Ari would love to do anything but.

“I’m crazy about my mom and dad.”

Dante’s parents were another high point of the books. That is about the sweetest thing anyone could ever say. How many teenagers would ever admit that they’re crazy about their parents?  His parents are very sweet and they’re both hilarious (his dad especially).

I LOVED this book and the only reason I’m not giving it five stars is because I found a few typos that bothered me. Other than that, it’s definitely five stars worthy.

~o~Spoiler Alert~o~

I’m just going to put a bunch of my favorite quotes from the book down here because some of the lines were just fantastic.

“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”

“To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.”

“This is my problem. I want other people to tell me how they feel. But I’m not so sure I want to return the favor.”  (<— it’s scary how much I could relate to Ari at certain points).

“One of the secrets of the universe was that our instincts were sometimes stronger than our minds.”

“You can’t make anyone be an adult. Especially an adult.”

“Words were not things you could control. Not always.”

“Talking to myself in my journal qualified as talking to someone my own age.”  (<— my point exactly).

“I’m not into all this academic stuff. Too much analysis. What ever happened to reading a book because you liked it?” (<– agree completely).

Review: "These Broken Stars" by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

What's Left of Me~o~Rating~o~
4.5 tp

~o~Goodreads Synopsis~o~

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

~o~Review~o~

These Broken Stars takes place in a future society where inter-dimensional travel is common and humans have “terraformed” quite a few planets already. The beginning of this book has a very Titanic feel to it. Lilac Rose LaRoux is the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy and Tarver Menrendsen is a decorated soldier from a humble background. The story starts with them atop the newly built Icarus, the largest inter-dimensional ship (I think that’s what it’s called) in the world. The ship is somehow pulled from hyperspace and “sinks”. The two main characters escape on one of the escape pods and are stranded on a strange planet that appears to be terraformed but has no signs of life.

One of the main reasons I picked this book up is the writing. I started reading the first chapter in the library because I was bored and I was hooked instantly with the picturesque descriptions and the amount of details the two authors put into this world they created. Unfortunately for me, the descriptions seemed to get less detailed as the book goes on.

The romantic aspect of the book bothered me. I was already expecting it to be more romance than sci-fi but it just seemed very out of place considering their situation.

All in all though, it was a good read.

~o~SPOILER ALERT~o~

I didn’t get attached to either of the characters which is strange for me. Maybe subconsciously I expected something to go wrong so I just didn’t open up to either of them. Honestly when Lilac “died”, I was more happy then sad. And I really don’t understand how the “whispers” brought her back to life. Not quite sure on what the “whispers” are either. I guess I’m obligated to read the next book then to get my answers.