Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

DISCLAIMER: this review was originally written and posted to my booklr (bookish tumblr) on MARCH 7th, 2015, and is being archived on this blog. This review contains my thoughts on the book at the time that I read it, but I have not re-read it since then, so my feelings about the content may have changed.

 

irong-king

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Date of Publication: February 1st, 2010

Dates Read: February 27th – March 7th, 2015

Description:

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My rating: ★★★☆☆

I have mixed feelings about this book. I really, really wanted to give it 4/5, but there were a couple of things holding me back.

The good: I like the idea behind the plot, especially since I haven’t really read any fey/fairy books. The writing was good (I’m a little biased because her writing style is very similar to mine), though the descriptions were a little lengthy. I also like that the Nevernever isn’t some fantasy land; it’s dark and treacherous, and not everyone is nice. I mean, I was a little annoyed that there were very few people who were actually kind and weren’t bitchy, but on the other hand it’s refreshing to see a darker side to the fairy/fey idea. Pace was pretty okay, and there were a couple of parts that had me on edge or squealing like a fangirl.

The bad: Okay, first of all, I’m sorry but Meghan was just so… reckless. Honestly, the girl needs to stop throwing out favours all willy nilly. I get that she’s not used to the way the Nevernever works, but it should not take her that long to realize that A. oaths are binding and should not be taken lightly, and B. iron hurts, stop suggesting hospitals. To me it just seemed like she never thinks.

Secondly, there were a loooooooot of cliches. Drooling over the captain of the football team, who also happens to be a jerk? The cheerleaders being the mean girls? It was all very off-putting.

Thirdly, and this is a little less important than the first two, I think, but there were many instances in which the same words were used over… and over… and over again, sometimes within the span of 3 sentences. Look, I know it’s hard to describe things – I do this all the time in first drafts. But this is a published book, and I don’t want to read “icy” every other sentence.

Overall: interesting enough for me to want to keep reading, but not outstanding.

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Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

DISCLAIMER: this review was originally written and posted to my booklr (bookish tumblr) on MARCH 18th, 2015, and is being archived on this blog. This review contains my thoughts on the book at the time that I read it, but I have not re-read it since then, so my feelings about the content may have changed.

atbp

Publisher: Knopf

Date of Publication: January 6th, 2015

Dates Read: March 16th – 18th, 2015

Description:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
 
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My rating: ★★★★★

You guys… this book…

It was beautiful. So, so beautiful, and yet so, so haunting. It was everything I was expecting it to be and so, so, so much more.

I’m sorry, this will probably end up being a short, bad review, because I can’t even find the words to describe this masterpiece.

I’ve never personally been through what either of the main characters have been through, and yet this book is written so well that I could feel every. single. emotion. that they could feel. I was heartbroken when they were, terrified when they were, and yet utterly elated when they were elated. My heart sunk when they were at their lowest and I smiled when they were the happiest.

Lately, I’ve been reading books with characters that bother me, but this time around I have no complaints. I have found nothing wrong with these flawed, broken, wonderful characters.

The plot was great, and the pacing was great. I can’t think of one thing I didn’t like about this book.

It’s like AtBP has taken my breath away, finding the words has become so hard. It was poetic and it hit me so hard.

Did I cry? No.

But it was fantastic.

Overall: Haunting and beautifully written.

Book Review: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

iron-cast

Publisher: Abrams Kids

Date of Publication: October 11th, 2016

Dates Read: October 23rd 2016 – January 24th, 2017

Description:

In 1919, Ada Navarra—the intrepid daughter of immigrants—and Corinne Wells—a spunky, devil-may-care heiress—make an unlikely pair. But at the Cast Iron nightclub in Boston, anything and everything is possible. At night, on stage together, the two best friends, whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art, weave magic under the employ of Johnny Dervish, the club’s owner and a notorious gangster. By day, Ada and Corinne use these same skills to con the city’s elite in an attempt to keep the club afloat.

When a “job” goes awry and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes they’re on the precipice of danger. Only Corinne—her partner in crime—can break her out of Haversham Asylum. But once Ada is out, they face betrayal at every turn.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Note: I received a digital copy of this book from Abrams Kids via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: ★★★★★

First, I’d like to say that I had to stop reading this book for a while because my schedule got really busy and I was overwhelmed for a while. But now I’m back on track and I’m ready to tell you all how I feel about this book.

It. Was. So. Good.

Where do I even start?

The very idea behind this story is so creative and unique. We all already know that art has the power to make people feel and see things, but this book gave that power a whole new life. And it just fit so well in the setting of the early 1900’s!

These characters were diverse and well written. They all had their own distinct stories and personalities, and their interactions were realistic and entertaining. Particularly Ada and Corinne’s – their banter was fun, and you could see how much they love and care for each other.

That’s another thing: while there is some romance, the main focus of this book is on Ada and Corinne’s friendship, which is always lovely to read about. Friendships are powerful and can be more important than romantic love, which this book clearly and beautifully illustrates.

And, I must say, this book had my heart pounding until the very end. Just when I thought it was over, it wasn’t. Just when I thought I had the situation figured out, something happened and then my theories were thrown straight out the window. I thought I knew everything, but this book clearly proved me wrong. The use of the hemopathy throughout the plot was absolutely brilliant, manifesting in ways that I would not have imagined on my own. I must give credit where credit is due: Soria is incredibly creative!

Overall: With rich descriptions of 1919 Boston, beautiful displays of hemopathy, strong friendships, and clear diversity, this is one book I hope you do not pass on.

Book Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

DISCLAIMER: this review was originally written and posted to my booklr (bookish tumblr) on MARCH 28th, 2015, and is being archived on this blog. This review contains my thoughts on the book at the time that I read it, but I have not re-read it since then, so my feelings about the content may have changed.

assassins-blade

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Date of Publication: March 4th, 2014

Dates Read: February 19th – March 25th, 2015

Description:

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My rating: ★★★★☆

Maas has managed to rip my heart out and shred it to pieces. If you’ve seen my updates, you know I purposefully took a long time to finish this book because I knew, I knew what was going to happen. And I knew it would hurt a lot. I was delaying the inevitable, but my Goodreads Challenge was paying dearly, so I trudged on.

This is the first book in the Throne of Glass series that I read, and I must say I like what I’m reading. Celaena is definitely a strong character, but still has enough flaws to be real. I know a lot of people complain that she’s too good at everything, but we have to keep in mind that to be an assassin as strong as she is one has to be well rounded to be able to adapt to any situation. But don’t worry, you’ll see a couple of flaws eventually.

As for the stories, they were pretty interesting. The second one seemed a little out of place to me, although I guess it was a good excuse to show Celaena’s softer-ish side. And sometimes the activity was a little dull, and at these times I’d put the book down for a while before picking it back up again.

In the end, though, I did enjoy the book and I can understand why there is so much hype surrounding this series. I definitely can’t wait to read Throne of Glass, and I’m glad I read this one first. I like reading things chronologically.

Overall: A great read that will excite you for more Celaena in Throne of Glass.

Book Review: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

DISCLAIMER: this review was originally written and posted to my booklr (bookish tumblr) on APRIL 1ST, 2015, and is being archived on this blog. This review contains my thoughts on the book at the time that I read it, but I have not re-read it since then, so my feelings about the content may have changed.

solitaire

Publisher: HarperCollins UK

Date of Publication: July 31st 2014

Dates Read: March 28th – April 1st, 2015

Description:

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now, but didn’t think I’d get the chance to until it came out in North America. Luckily for me I won a giveaway, and my prize was this beautiful edition. Naturally, I had to read it right away.

And I’m so, so, so, so glad I did.

So to start off, I’m going to be perfectly honest and say that there are some bits that I’m still a little unsure about. It’s partially due to how vague and around-the-main-topic the writing could be, but mostly due to me not paying deep enough attention. I guess I’ll have to read it again to answer all my questions. Which I have no problems with at all. I’d gladly reread this, though maybe I’ll wait a couple months or a year so I can do so with a fresher perspective.

But that’s saying something, because there are only 4 books I have ever willingly reread.

Anyway, onto the more important stuff.

First of all, the character development to me was pretty much flawless. It wasn’t a sudden revelation, but it also wasn’t like there was no change. The change was so subtle that I knew the characters had changed by the end of the book, but could not place exactly when, which is very good.

I also enjoyed the characters, although I think all of them at one point had been called “psycho” in some way. Not sure if this was intentional or not. That’s probably my only critique, really.

The plot was strong and I was never bored. Hell, I never wanted to put it down! It’s funny because it wasn’t this epic adventure or a fluffy love story, what I usually read and what I usually can’t put down, but Solitaire always held my interest anyway. It is very different from my usual read, I think, but that is totally not a bad thing.

And every little bit felt so real to me. I felt everything the characters were feeling, experienced what they were experiencing, and it was fantastic.

Overall: 10/10 would recommend.

Why I Am a Reader Tag

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today I’m going to be attempting the Why I Am a Reader Tag, which I saw Reagan from PeruseProject on YouTube do. I thought this would be a fun, kind of different tag to do to break up my usual book-recommendations and lists.

1. Choose one word that would describe you as a reader.

The first word I thought of was slow, because I am such a slow reader, especially with school and work, etc. I would love to read more of the books on my TBR, faster, but I enjoy savouring books and, let’s face it, my time management isn’t 100%.

2. What is the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

The book that stands out the most in my memory is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. I read it in the 3rd grade for class and it’s the first full-length novel that I remember really enjoying – so much so, in fact, that I borrowed my library’s copy after we’d finished reading it, lost it, bought them a new one, and found their copy much later. I still have their copy!

3. Hardcover or paperback?

I just love the durability of hardbacks, as well as the sweet designs a lot of them have. I know they’re more expensive and they’re heavier, but I’m always afraid of taking paperbacks anywhere with me because I worry they’ll get bent.

4. How has reading shaped your identity?

I’m pretty much the bookworm of my family – I’m always asking for Chapters gift cards for Christmas/my birthday, and (unless I’m in a reading slump) when I have free time I will normally spend it reading. I also think that if I didn’t love reading so much, I probably wouldn’t have the job that I do. I applied to work at a library because I wanted to work with books, and because Chapters wouldn’t hire me (xD), and 2 and a half years later I still love working there, and have gone through two promotions since I started.

5. What book do you read when you want to be comforted?

Honestly I’m not much of a rereader. I used to reread The Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong when I was a tween, but nowadays when I seek comfort I turn to my own writing. That seems pretty egotistical of me, but I really like going back and reading the trilogy that I wrote when I was 14 through to 17. I got through 2 and a half of the books before I gave up on it. It’s really fun to see how my writing has changed since then, and to see how my perspectives have changed, too. I also have a slight obsession with the main characters of those books, who I hope to eventually bring to life in another story some day.

6. Who influenced you to be a reader?

There are a lot of people in my life who read a lot: my mom, for sure, but also my grandmother, my aunts and one of my uncles, and some of my friends. I feel like I’ve just always had people in my life who liked to read, and they really helped me (and still do!) navigate the wide world of books.

7. Describe your dream reading lounge.

Ideally it’s not at ground level, at least on the second story of whatever building I’m in. There’s either a large, comfy chair with an ottoman or a chaise lounge, a small table beside me for drinks, a pillow, and a blanket. There’s a large window to let in lots of natural light, and covering the rest of the walls are bookshelves full of my books.

8. What book changed the way you saw the world?

The first book that comes to mind is The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: a Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman. As someone who was born and grew up in Canada, with a family who believes whole-heartedly in medicine and science, it was eye-opening for me to read about a way of thinking about illness not as a physical problem, but as a spiritual one. It really made me think.


Okie dokie, time to tag people! *rubs hands together*

I tag…

Hannah, Sarena and Sasha, and Adele!

If you’re reading this and want to do this tag, I welcome you to do it and say that I tagged you!

Have a wonderful Humpday, everyone! 😀

~ Becca

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

DISCLAIMER: this review was originally written and posted to my booklr (bookish tumblr) on MAY 6TH, 2015, and is being archived on this blog. This review contains my thoughts on the book at the time that I read it, but I have not re-read it since then, so my feelings about the content may have changed.

throne-of-glass

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Date of Publication: May 7th, 2013

Dates Read: May 1st – 6th, 2015

Description:

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My (initial) rating: ★★★★☆

Okay, so it’s more like 4.5, but Goodreads still hasn’t jumped onto the half star boat yet, so I settled with 4

If you’ve read all the books so far, my review will probably sound naive because as you can tell I have no idea what happens in the next books. So I will be talking about characters I like and I don’t want any of you saying “oh honey you have no idea what’s in store.” Just let me live in my little world where everyone is still alive. Thank you! (2016 edit: since then I’ve read up to Heir of Fire, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten)

So I think the reason for the .5 off is just because while I was reading it I remember some moments not being quite as interesting as others, and from all the good reviews I expected every single aspect to be knock-your-socks-off amazing. But otherwise, I look back upon this book very fondly.

I loved the characters. Love-loved them. There’s this complexity to Celaena that draws me to her. And there’s something very badass yet classy about Nehemia that I can’t get enough of. And for the love of God, nobody ask me if I like Dorian or Chaol more. I’m still deciding. I think I’m leading towards Chaol at the moment, but my opinion is subject to change. Anyway, the fact is the characters are all enjoyable and are not exact clones of each other with just little things changed. Each character has a story of their own, and could stand on their own if the need should arise.

The pacing was very good, and while certain parts were predictable, others I could not figure out or did not see coming. It always kept me on the edge of my seat, and has left me wanting more!

The world is interesting and built well, especially with that handy dandy map. And I am starting to like Sarah’s writing style more after reading this.

As for those of you wondering whether to read The Assassin’s Blade or Throne of Glass first, I find that I understand Celaena as a character a lot better because I read Blade first. But I know that ToG is better at introducing the world, so it really depends on which you care about more.

Overall: A really great book that lives up to the hype!

Book Review: Reboot by Amy Tintera

DISCLAIMER: this review was originally written and posted to my booklr (bookish tumblr) on APRIL 18TH, 2015, and is being archived on this blog. This review contains my thoughts on the book at the time that I read it, but I have not re-read it since then, so my feelings about the content may have changed.

reboot-cover

Publisher: HarperTeen

Date of Publication: May 7th, 2013

Dates Read: April 3rd – 28th, 2015

Description:

Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My rating: ★★★★★

Reboot is a brilliant, action packed read, and quite different from anything else I’ve ever read. It’s been on my bookshelf since Christmas, but there’d always been something else to read. The only reason why I started reading it when I did is because I forgot to bring a book with me when I went out with a friend, and we ended up at the library. I wanted to pick up a book that I knew I had at home so I could continue it later, and Reboot was the first one that came to mind.

Wow, I’m very glad I did that.

The plot was full, exciting, and fast-paced. There were a couple of slow areas, but they were short and before I knew it I was dragged right back into action. It was an interesting storyline, and had it not been for my exams I imagine I would have finished this book a lot sooner. But alas, school work tends to put me in a reading slump.

As for the characters, I really enjoyed them, too. Addie is my favourite, I think, but even Wren and Callum’s dynamic is adorable. I like how Wren’s change from a heartless Reboot to more-human-like emotions is a smooth transition, so smooth that I cannot exactly pinpoint where she changed. Smooth character development is really important to me, and I think Tintera pulled this off very well.

Overall: Intense, interesting read that I thoroughly enjoyed much more than I thought I would. 

Top 5 Favourite Reads of 2016

Good morning friends, and welcome to the middle of week 2 of 2017! How was the first week for you guys? I went back to school/work in the 2nd, which was pretty annoying, but c’est la guerre, I guess!

Today I’ve challenged myself to narrow my favourite reads of 2016 down to a top 5. I didn’t read too much last year, but there were a few books that really stood out to me. Breaking it down into a top 5 was pretty tricky, and even putting it in order of preference was difficult, so just take this as a loose list – except for the #1 spot, of course, because I feel very strongly about that choice.

(Note: Links to my reviews of each book will be attached to the headers!)

But first the honourable mentions!

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

lab-lost

Description:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

With vivid descriptions, carefully crafted chapters, and the focus on family dynamics, Labyrinth Lost was a refreshing and fun read. The world building was strong and the magic was enthralling. If you’re looking for interesting stories with family and magical women, then you should definitely check this out!

 

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: a Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

catches

Description:

Lia Lee was born in 1981 to a family of recent Hmong immigrants, and soon developed symptoms of epilepsy. By 1988 she was living at home but was brain dead after a tragic cycle of misunderstanding, over-medication, and culture clash: “What the doctors viewed as clinical efficiency the Hmong viewed as frosty arrogance.” 

This book seems pretty out of place here, and that’s because this isn’t a fictional book – this is an ethnography that I read for my sociocultural anthropology class, one that was a complete joy to read and write an essay on. Fadiman’s writing was humorous when it could be afforded, serious when it needed to be, but always engaging. It’s probably one of the best, most eye-opening class readings I’ve ever had.

 

And now onto the main attraction!

 

5. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen

Description:

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

This book contains gorgeous prose, expansive world building, and a ton of mystery that kept me reading to find out what was going on. Maya and Amar’s story had me swooning, although even Maya on her own was an absolute delight to read about. So yeah, please read this!

4. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows

Description:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book was a thrill and a half, and I 100% understand the hype. In fact, I myself was so hyped when I finished it that I begged my cousin to read it. It’s adventurous and intense and you never really know what’s going to happen next or how they’re going to pull off this job. It’s definitely an edge-of-your-seat read!

3. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

radio-silence

Description:

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

I was thinking about this book long after I finished it. I could personally relate to a couple of the characters in Radio Silence, so it hit me pretty hard in that regard. This could totally be a book that high schools make their 12th graders read here, but at the very least I hope a lot of high school students get to read this and know that university is not the be-all and end-all – but, like the rest of the books in this list, all of my thoughts can be found in my reviews!

2. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston

Exit Pursued

Description:

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Let’s be real: Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a contemporary, but unfortunately it is not realistic to how life works. But, as E. K. Johnston has said before, it could be. It should be. This is a story of triumph when everyone expects the main character to fall down and fail. Hermione must take her destiny and reputation into her own hands after someone briefly rips that control from her grasp. This book wrenches your gut in all different directions and is the book that has brought me closest to tears. I didn’t expect to love it so much, but here I am, raving about it.

And now, the best book that I read in 2016 was…

Drumroll, please!

1. The Wrath and the Dawn / The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

Wrath Description:

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?

Okay, so I’m totally cheating by putting this duology in the place of just one book, but for those who have read it: can you really blame me? I don’t know if I can say enough good things about these books! The writing was gorgeous and vibrant, the love was swoon-worthy and heart-melting, the action was intense, the characters were wonderful. Honestly, I was screaming at the first book’s cliffhanger when I finished reading it and could not wait to get my hands on the sequel. I don’t think I’ve felt this many emotions, this strongly with any other books. If you haven’t read these books yet, I plead that you do – you (probably) won’t regret it.


There you have it, my favourite books of 2016! Did you enjoy any of these books? What were your favourites of the last year? Let me know in the comments!

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day, everyone! ❤

~Becca

 

Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

DISCLAIMER: this review was originally written and posted to my booklr (bookish tumblr) on MAY 9TH, 2015, and is being archived on this blog. This review contains my thoughts on the book at the time that I read it, but I have not re-read it since then, so my feelings about the content may have changed.

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Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Date of Publication: April 15th, 2014

Dates Read: May 6th – 9th, 2015

Description:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My (initial) rating: ★★★★☆

I actually liked this book. I had just read a thrilling, action packed book that had tired me out, so I picked this book up hoping for a nice, cute, soft, fluffy read. And that’s pretty much what I got. But it’s not without its flaws.

I knew I would like the book as soon as I read the description. I’ve been in Lara Jean’s shoes before (liking a lot of guys and having them all find out, although my crushes didn’t find out all at the same time), so I figured I would relate to her relatively well. I found a lot of similarities between us, actually; half asian half white, better at baking than cooking, overlapping elementary school crushes, a little whiney and annoying… maybe my review is biased because I see so much of myself in Lara Jean.

Anyway, aside from my fictional twin, I really enjoyed the cast of characters. They were all different and interesting and meshed well. The dialogue was smooth and realistic, the family dynamic imperfect and therefore perfect. Emotions were portrayed very well, almost making my eyes well up at one point. Really, the plot was good and I finished it relatively quickly. I kept wanting to read it, which to me is a sign of a good book.

One of my only complaints is that it was a little cliche sometimes.

Oh yeah, and I hate the ending.

When I got to the last page I turned it thinking there was another chapter. But there wasn’t, just the Acknowledgement. And I was confused. And really frustrated. Why did Han end it like that? I was left with more questions than answers. I remembered after that the sequel’s coming out soon, but I still hate the ending.

Overall: Lovely read with a frustrating ending.