Shadow and Crow (Silver and Bone #3) by Claudia Cain | Book Review

Shadow and Crow by Claudia Cain

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Page Count: 492
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery
Publication Date: July 13th, 2018

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

Tick. Tock.
Jennifer Jones is no stranger to trouble. She’s been framed for murder, hunted by the government, and just stopped a sorcerer from summoning murderous entities. By now, trouble is an old friend.
But there is always something worse to come. Something smarter. Something darker.
For the first time in three hundred years, Jennifer might be outmatched.
And as shadows gather and events draw towards a cataclysmic close, she can’t ignore the curse that now plagues her – or the fact that she’s rapidly running out of time

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

Disclaimer: A huge thank you to the author for sending me a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

“Sometimes there are no good decisions. There are only decisions that aren’t as bad as others.”

What a fun and wonderful journey this has been.

Shadow and Crow was a thrilling, mysterious, very creepy and chilling finale to such a wonder trilogy.

I will admit I forgot a couple of the side characters, but I did remember our wonderful main cast: Jennifer, Ian, Oliver, Dave, Gabrielle, Cameron, and beautiful mysterious Mosi.

It had been a while since I had read the second book of the trilogy and while the third book does give a couple of recap paragraphs, I definitely recommend maybe a skim read through the ending scenes of Smoke and Mirrors to refresh your mind.

I have said this in my precious reviews, but Claudia Cain has such a nice writing style that keeps the reader engaged throughout the entire story. With a little less than 500 pages for practically all three books this series can get a bit exhausting to read.

It always takes me a bit of courage to bring myself to start an almost 500 paged story, Shadow and Crow captures your attention and pulls you into its story.

I really enjoyed unpacking the mystery of this story, and I have to admit the villain of the story as well as the descriptions of the creepy shadow creatures from across the veil that can only be seen if cursed really freaked me out.

However, while I love a good paranormal mystery, for me the heart of this trilogy lies in its amazing main character, Jennifer Jones.

“I had a family once.”
“Do you not have a family now?”

Words cannot even begin to express my love for Jennifer. She has done terrible things, things she will never truly forgive herself for, but she is so dang selfless and wonderful and badass.

“I’ve never felt self-conscious about immortality until I have to try and explain it.”

She would do anything for her friends even if it means harm upon herself. She cares so much for Ian whom she takes under her wing, for Oliver who is the closest thing to family she has, for Mosi who has been with her for so long.

Seeing the affects of the curse on her, especially when it pertained to those she cared for, honestly broke my heart.

“I’m a person. I’m your friend. The fact that I could live forever doesn’t change the fact that your death would make ever day beyond this one worse.”

Jennifer and Oliver’s familial relationship is the sweetest thing ever. They have been through so much together, would do anything for each other, and I love it so much.

“He’s walked in darkness enough times to know when there’s something in darkness with him.”

And here comes my second favorite character of the trilogy: Mosi. Ahh, beautiful mysterious Mosi. His despair and his guilt broke my heart. Cain does a great job portraying the immense guilt and grief Mosi has, for he’s ancient and has been around for a long time. His protectiveness of Jennifer was so adorable and sweet, and I really love Mosi’s character.

There’s still so much about him that we do not know.

This trilogy honestly has so much lgbt+ representation and I just love it so much? Jennifer is bi and there’s a lesbian romance that’s super sweet and it’s just great.

Heads up though, after the first book the series isn’t really big on romance. I personally did not mind and that’s coming from someone who loves to ship people.

A quick honorable mention character: I really do love Igor, he is so strange and mysterious, but helpful in his own way. I loved how he was sort of a rock for Jennifer in her darkest times.

And finally, the ending. The ending was perfect. I loved how Cain finished off the series with room open for a possible companion/continuation series, but also how it all came back full circle.

“It mattered,” I say. “It doesn’t make a difference how much or little time it was. It mattered. All of it.”

Even if I cried a little bit, even if I was desperately hoping for something else, I am satisfied with the ending and could not have seen any other outcome.

There is clearly still so much in store for a lot of the characters and I wish them all the happiness in whatever goals they may choose.

“There is nothing in the world as definite as a total end. There is only change.”

4.5 out of 5 stars

★★★★½/5

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A Wrinkle in Time | Movie Review and Unboxing

A Wrinkle in Time

Directed by: Ava DuVernaya-wrinkle-in-time-poster
Cast: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Peña, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Childrens
Run Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Release Date: March 8th, 2018
Rated: PG

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

Disclaimer: A huge thank you to A Wrinkle in Time (@wrinkleintime) on behalf of Walt Disney Studios (@disney) for sponsoring this post and sending me a lovely package with the book and movie for me to watch, as well as the other lovely props featured. I am so completely grateful. All thoughts and opinions on the movie are my own.

Curiouser and curiouser. I honestly do not even know where to begin let alone how to explain my thoughts on this absolutely crazy movie.

A Wrinkle in Time follows Meg Murry and her little brother Charles Wallace as they brave a thrilling journey to find their scientist father, Mr Murry after he disappeared discovering a new planet.

The movie is based on Madeleine L’Engle’s young adult fiction novel, A Wrinkle in Time which is a part of the beloved Time Quintet series.

I have not read the books, this will not be a comparison and all plot points are from the movie as I watched and observed it.

Somehow A Wrinkle in Time managed to be way too fast and way too slow all at the same time.

It was very visually appealing, the outfits and the makeup were so crazy and cool! The first world they go to was absolutely stunning and magical.

The characters were interesting, but besides from Meg, quite underdeveloped. We’re introduced to a lot of them and I honestly could not tell you practically any of their names nor their motivations.

I did like Meg, Storm Reid did such an amazing job capturing this awkward and angry and sad girl who loved her dad with all her heart. She is so fierce and brave and beautiful and intelligent and strong. A wonderful role model for young children.

I do wish the bullying thing was better developed rather than just mean for the sake of being mean. But I guess that’s school for you. We learn about Veronica’a struggles and the teacher because of the “IT”; however, I was it honestly wasn’t that important. The bullying was introduced, but I feel like it was underdeveloped.

Actions have consequences and while forgiveness is important, it is not as easy as the movie made it seem.

Can we talk about Calvin?? Where did he even come from? We saw like a glimpse of him in the beginning school scene and I was like, “Oh look, probably the love interest.” But there was like zero explanation? He just popped up out of nowhere? Am I supposed to care about him all of a sudden?? Again, we learn about his problems with his demanding dad, but it wasn’t very well-developed. We do not learn about his dad and why he is the way he is.

Of course, they had to fit it all in an 100 minute movie, so it’s understandable that they couldn’t develop everything.

As for the actual plot of the movie, as someone who hasn’t read the book, I was quite confused as to what was going on. I liked the opening with little Meg and her father teaching her of the wonder of physics, but after that the beginning was kind of dry, and it took me a really long time to get into it. The pacing of the movie felt a bit uneven, some scene changes were very abrupt as well as anticlimactic.

At the end of the day I enjoyed my time watching A Wrinkle in Time, it was filled with magic and childlike wonder. There are some scary scenes that may be a bit too much for really young kids, I would say about 8 and up for an age range.

Honestly the most terrifying moment for me was the scene with the synchronized kids and mothers. Actual. Literal. Chills.

But overall, while the movie had its faults, it wasn’t particularly bad. Did it blow me away? No, it was enjoyable, and there were moments that really touched my heart. The acting was solid for such a young cast. It’s targeted toward kids and it teaches many valuable lessons in a somewhat cheesy way. The movie captures themes of believing in and loving yourself. It’s filled with lovely family moments and lovely friendships.

I loved the discovery and magic and childhood imagination. It has important messages. Unfortunately, I wonder if it can capture a child’s attention long enough for it to teach and spread those messages.

I do think I should have read the book first, but alas. Perhaps I will check it out soon.

Also, shout out to the Hamilton reference, honestly my favorite part of the entire movie. Next to that leaf scene.

6.5 out of 10 stars

★★★★★★½/5

Unboxing!

The media team of A Wrinkle in Time were also kind enough to send me a box filled with amazing goodies! A huge thank you to them for sponsoring my movie night!

Be sure to check it out when it releases on Blu-ray June 5th! It’s already out on digital! 👏🏼

The contents of the box included:

  1. a digital code of the movie so I could watch it for free!
  2. a copy of the A Wrinkle in Time movie tie-in book, which I am super excited to read
  3. an absolutely beautiful A Wrinkle in Time Journal, it’s so stunning!
  4. A Wrinkle in Time Mug featuring the Misses (Oprah, Reese, Mindy, my queens)
  5. A super soft A Wrinkle in Time blanket
  6. and finally a branded book light! (not pictured below)

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Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf | Book Review

Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

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Page Count: 400
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Witches
Publication Date: June 5th 2018

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.
Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.
Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.
So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.
Winner takes the loser’s heart.
Literally.

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

“I am no flower to be ravaged at your whim, angry wolf—I am your hunter, bow cocked and ready. I am a Heartless.”

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A STANDALONE.

spoiler alert: this is not a standalone

Okay not going to lie, this book was a bit cliché and predictable plot wise (you can tell from the blurb who’s probably going to get together), but honestly it was buckets of fun.

Bring Me Their Hearts is filled with killer, heart stealing witches, mischievous royalty, magic and swords and pretty dresses and so much witty and sarcastic humor.

The story follows Zera who is a Heartless, bodyguards to whatever witch cut out their heart to keep preserved in a magical jar, as she infiltrates court life in an attempt to steal the heart (literally) of the Prince in order to stop a war and obtain her freedom.

There is some nice world building with a complex history of past wars and religions and kings. It was interesting to learn the hidden world of the court with all its lies and deceits.

“Does he keep count? Does his number haunt him as my own haunts me?”

I really enjoyed Zera’s character even if she was a bit over the top and extra. She’s so hilarious, I love her dry, witty humor, and though she may be heartless she is so filled with heart and empathy.

She uses dark humor in uncomfortable and awkward situations in order to cope, which I found super relatable.

Prince Lucien and Malachite were a bit cookie-cutter, in my opinion, but honestly, I don’t even mind because they were both just so absolutely charming and hilarious.

Malachite was kind of the typical “guard-best-friend” type who treats the prince differently and tells Zera of all the ways he treats her differently from the suitors etc. etc.

“T’ragan him af-artora, af-reyun horra: As we all should be, but as we all cannot be.”

However, he was also sassy and funny as hell and I found him adorable. I really loved learning about the Beneather culture and language.

Lucien was your typical “arrogant-bored-prince-that’s-actually-a-huge-softy”, and again, it was fine. I still liked him. He has his flaws, he makes his mistakes, but he genuinely cares for his people and that’s very admirable.

Many of the characters are complex and interesting and just so charming. I loved all the friendships with all its witty banter, and the instructor-esque relationship filled with mutual respect and eventual love.

“Allow me to impart a bit of wisdom from my teacher; a blade is a blade—no matter who wields it, it can still cut.”

There’s some sexism, but there were also a ton of powerful women, some who carried swords and some who were strong in all different types of ways.

“This city is afraid. And fear turns the wisest and kindest men stupid and cruel.”

The witches are not all inherently bad, the Heartless are not only just raw flesh-eating monsters, the King is not completely a heartless villain, nor do I believe that of the Archduke even if I dislike him very much.

“Killing only makes more hate, and the world’s got enough of that right now.”

The book poses the question of monstrosity and what it means to be a monster. In this society there is so much morally grayness. It is filled with people who were wronged, and people who would do practically anything to avenge those they love even at the cost of their own humanity.

The people at court are horrid, and do horrid things to those below them and even to each other, but at the end of the day, they are all people just trying to survive.

BUT THAT FREAKING ENDING! I am so upset, I hate cliffhangers and now I’ll be forced to wait probably more than a year for the next one.

Totally recommended if you’re looking for a super young adult fantasy read! It had a semi-predictable plot, and I wouldn’t go into it expecting anything new or particularly mind-blowing, but the characters are lovely and their relationships are complex and wonderful.

It’s entertaining and filled with humor, and I had a lot of fun reading it. I am so excited to see how the series progresses!

“What’s worse, Reginall—to be a monster, or to make monsters?”

Disclaimer: A huge thank you to the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and all quotes used are from the ARC copy and might change in the final version.

4 out of 5 stars

★★★★/5

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In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra Bracken | Book Review

In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken

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Page Count: 535
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult
Publication Date: October 28, 2014

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

Ruby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds. 
They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America’s children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the “rehabilitation camps” housing thousands of other Psi kids.
Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

“The darkest minds never fade in the afterlight.”

Not going to lie, I love how the titles of the books form a sentence.

Actual. Literal. Chills.

I love it.

*deep breath*

Gosh darn it, this series has been a giant rollercoaster of emotions.

I definitely think I prefer third person point of view when it comes to books that are not contemporary, but damn, first person point of view, and just being so intimately connected with the main character’s thoughts and feelings, really hits you right in the feels.

I honestly have not cried this much because of a book series in a really long time.

There is just something about children being treated so horribly that turns me into a giant puddle of tears.

I was a mess at the ending of Never Fade.

I was a mess during that scene between Vida and Ruby.

I am a mess over that ending.

Which I guess isn’t an ending since there’s another book coming out, but still.

My heart is in pain.

“They don’t burn, do they? Not like us.”

I know some people found Ruby annoying, but I connected with her so much. Even though she makes mistakes, I loved her. I love how protective and strong she is. She is such an amazing character and it has been a pleasure going on this journey with her.

Liam is such a precious soul. He is so sweet and selfless and kind. His heart and his soul is so inherently good. He makes me want to hope, he makes me believe in happiness.

Vida is my hero, I love her friendship with Ruby and how they always have each other’s backs. I loved how helpful she was with Zu and her interactions with Chubs. Despite all the awful things that’s happened to her Vida is strong and brave and beautiful.

Chubs is this best, he is honestly such a mom friend and I love him with all my heart.

Jude and Zu and are giant balls of sunshine that must be protected at all cost.

Nico, poor baby Nico. He deserves love and happiness after everything he has had to deal with. He deserves people who love him for who he is instead of manipulating him.

“What they don’t tell you about forgiveness is this—you don’t give it for the other person’s sake, but your own.”

I am not going to lie I did feel a little bad for Clancy especially toward the end, but I can never forgive him for what he did to Nico.

It is awful. I hate people who play with other’s emotions like that.

All of these kids deserve so much better.

All of the characters are so wonderful and I am so happy to have gotten to know them. To see their relationships, to know their struggles and their flaws, their pain and their sadness.

I love them. I love them. I love them.

They will never fade in the afterlight.

In the Afterlight was an amazing finale that wrapped up a lot the loose ends.

The future is still uncertain, but like Jude said, the future is like an open road, and I am hopeful that whatever life throws at these kids they will be able to get through it.

For their friendship is a bond that can never be broken.

I do hope some of my questions are answered in the novellas though!

“It rained the day they brought us to Thurmond.
And it rained the day I walked out.”

4.5 out of 5 stars

★★★★½/5

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Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor | Book Review

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

12812550

Page Count: 517
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication Date: November 6th, 2012

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world.
Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.
While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

“A dream dirty and bruised is better than no dream at all.” 

This book may have broken me. I sure feel a little broken, a little changed and a little different.

It took me a while to get into it, and honestly for the longest time, I was kind of dreading reading it.

Anyone who’s read the first book will know why. I didn’t want to get hurt. I didn’t want to feel the pain I knew for sure was coming if I flipped those pages.

“It was interesting the way a small hate could grow inside a big hate and take it over.” 

But god damn, Laini Taylor is such an amazing writer. Once I actually sat down and made myself read more than a few pages at a time, all just because I was scared of getting hurt, I literally could not stop reading.

I was enamored. I was captivated by the words on the page, by the world that became so much more developed and real, by the characters that were even more filled with life, and whom I just wanted to be okay.

I was hoping despite all the pain that maybe happiness could still spread.

“I am one of billions. I am stardust gathered fleetingly into form. I will be ungathered. The stardust will go on to be other things someday and I will be free.” 

Her writing makes me want to believe in magic, in the impossible. I want to drown in the words she writes until I’m filled with magic.

Her world building, her character development, her ability to paint the gruesomeness of war. To fill her readers with the anxiousness of never knowing who you can trust, or who will stab you in the back. Of never knowing if you’re truly safe.

Her writing makes readers feel unbelievable dread and fear. It also makes them feel warm and filled with hope that perhaps maybe happiness is an attainable thing. That maybe love and light can exist in even the darkest of worlds painted in blood and starlight.

“Your heart is not wrong. Your heart is your strength. You don’t have to be ashamed.” 

Karou is so strong. Even when she was being submissive to atone for what she believed were her sins, she remains so strong in her convictions and her hopes. She gets lost, but she knows what’s in her heart, and there is just something so beautiful in that.

“You have only to begin, Lir. Mercy breeds mercy as slaughter breeds slaughter. We can’t expect the world to be better than we make it.” 

Akiva is my hero. He’s done bad things, but he tries so hard to atone for those bad deeds, and I truly believe that he is so inherently good. He deserves so much better, he deserves love and happiness and the world. He deserves the world. I want him to be freed from his pain and his sadness so he can finally be happy.

“She had said she didn’t feel fear, but it was a lie; this was her fear: being left alone.”

Liraz is a queen. At the start I didn’t really know where her loyalties lay, and now I just feel bad for ever questioning her. She is so loyal to those she loves. One looks at her and all one sees is bravery and undeniable strength. Even in the face of death and fear and hopelessness, Liraz is brave.

Hazael is such a sweetheart, so positive and kind. The Misbegotten are treated like trash, but he is the light that shines so brightly in the darkness. He may be a trained killer, but one cannot but help to see how bright he shines.

“I am a link in a chain, she thought. Their badge had it right—not in bondage but in strength.”

Together the three of them are family, through blood, through pain and death, through trust, and through unconditional love and understanding. It is a type of bond that one can only dream and hope to form.

“I know who you are,” she said in a fierce sweet whisper. “I know. And I’m with you. Ziri, Ziri. I see you.”

Ziri is so pure and wholesome. I love everything about him. He is selfless and such a good friend to Karou. He captured my heart from the beginning, and I wish for him all of the happiness and love.

And I could never forget beautiful Zuzana and Mik, they are so adorable and lovable and supportive. I love how sassy and wonderful Zuzana is. Her relationship with Mik is so pure and innocent and lovely. Their friendship with Karou is deeper than blood, their love and support is magic in and of itself.

I love how morally grey this series is. Like in real like, no one is fully good, nor are they fully bad. The chimaera, the seraphim, they are all somewhere in between.

Reading this book was honestly so emotionally exhausting, especially because of how long it is. But even so, I am so excited to read how this all ends! I just know Laini Taylor will make it oh so bittersweet and wonderful.

“Dead souls dream only of death. Small dreams for small men. It is life that expands to fill worlds. Life is your master, or death is.” 

4.5 out of 5 stars

★★★★½/5

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The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon | Book Review

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Page Count: 348
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

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?

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

“The thing about falling is you don’t have any control on your way down.”

Okay wow. When I imagined writing this review I did not expect it to go like this, but I finished the Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and I actually really enjoyed it.

Now I’m going to be 100% real with you, the romance? It was alright.

I like my romance to be the slowest of slow burns, I want to be tortured by how slow it is, I want to melt by the time it finally happens.

And this book is the opposite of slow burn, but despite that I really liked it anyway.

The underlying story about family and friendship, and racism and the struggles of being an immigrant really connected with me.

“I wonder if she realizes how passionate she is about not being passionate.”

I really liked Natasha’s character, we are so similar in so many ways, realists (*cough* cynics) through and through. I loved how passionate she was about physics.

“Because it doesn’t matter what I say. People take one look at me and believe what they want.”

Daniel’s struggle with his family’s racism and his struggle with identity reminded me so much of myself. That being said, my family isn’t quite as bad as him, no one is forcing my to be a doctor, but the whole section of “you should marry a Asian American girl/boy”. Oh yes. That is my family.

Daniel and I are honestly nothing alike, not like me and Natasha, but when he was talking about his struggle with identifying himself to others my heart went out to him.

“My parents think I’m not Korean enough. Everybody thinks I’m not American enough.”

He is a Korean born in America. You try to be both and you can never be enough of either. You try to be one, but you can never change how others perceive you.

Nicola Yoon captured that feeling, that helplessness so well, for one can never change what others think of you, especially if it has to do with something superficial like your race.

“I don’t believe in love.”
“It’s not a religion,” he says. “It exists whether you believe in it or not.”

Natasha and Daniel really connected with me. Maybe not their relationship and their love, but definitely their characters.

The Sun is Also a Star is a perfect young adult novel for people who want to know what it’s like to be an immigrant in America. To any Asian American you will find a small part of yourself in Daniel.

I loved the “A History” chapters, Irie and Half-Life being my favorites. I loved reading side character point of views, those were really fun.

I do think a much more romantic person than me would have enjoyed this book even more than me, but I am so happy to say I quite liked it.

A whole lot more than Everything, Everything at least.

Her romances aren’t really for me, but I cannot deny that Nicola Yoon’s writing is just so lovely and wonderful.

I think this just goes to show how not liking one book by an author doesn’t mean you can’t like another! I am happy I gave this book a shot because I was really pleasantly surprised, which is nice.

“We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing? We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.”

Overall, this was a really cute and fun novel that touched on some really tough topics. I loved the diversity, and I still cannot believe most of the book takes place over the course of a day.

If you’re a romantic you’ll definitely enjoy it, and even if you’re not, the story is also one that deals with family, identity, and morality, which I personally really enjoyed.

Also, can I just say I love the title for this book? So fitting and perfect.

Most poems I’ve seen are about love or sex or the stars. You poets are obsessed with stars. Falling stars. Shooting stars. Dying stars.”
“Stars are important,” I say, laughing.
“Sure, but why not more poems about the sun? The sun is also a star, and it’s our most important one. That alone should be worth a poem or two.”

4 out of 5 stars

★★★★/5

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Underneath It All by Patricia Vanasse | Book Review

Underneath It All by Patricia Vanasse

37653707

Page Count: 300
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018

Synopsis:
(from Goodreads)

Gossip Girl meets The Great Gatsby in this competitive prep school drama that tackles issues of class, diversity, peer pressure, addiction, and first love.
Seventeen-year-old London Mendes is the son of a Cuban mother and Seattle-native bookseller, and he knows exactly what he wants: to be the first in his middle class family to reach the Ivy Leagues. Specifically Princeton, alma mater of his favorite author Mia Merkley, a local mystery writer whose national fame and recent suicide have put her in the news again. Luckily for London, his own fiction and high grades put him on the radar of Birmingham Academy, a prep school that offers him a scholarship to leave public school and study with the richest students in the country.
There London meets Aria: the captivating, mysterious daughter of Mia Merkley. Her grief and darkness draw him in further than any of her mother’s novels. But soon, London learns that Aria is off limits—her blueblood boyfriend Dillon Astor is London’s newest friend and the one who decides London’s acceptance into the academy’s elite. When Aria and London become partners in a creative writing class, their friendship grows and an undeniable attraction threatens to blow London off course. 
London knows he has to work harder than ever for a shot at Princeton. He knows he should stay away from drugs, parties, and Dillon’s girlfriend. But as Dillon slowly reveals his true nature and Aria’s secrets, London fails to see what is underneath it all. Now London can’t help playing hero, and he’ll have to decide what he loves more: Aria, or his own dreams.

–Possible Spoilers! Read at your own risk!–

Disclaimer: A huge thank you to the author for sending me a free ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. All quotes could be subject to changes in the final product.

“Dysfunction is the only entertainment when it’s fiction. In reality it would be a whole different story.”

When the first few pages of the book began with a discussion between two book nerds about literature, I already knew that the main character London and I were going to get along just fine.

At it’s heart Underneath It All is a contemporary novel about unexpected friendships that turn into unexpected attraction and relationships.

The story deals with addiction and unhealthy relationships, and about how the choices we make in life for ourselves and those we love can be difficult, especially when school drama and peer pressure is added into the mix.

“I’m not sure a person can simply stop wanting, or thinking about another person, even if it’s for the best.”

I liked London, we did not have much in common besides our mutual love of books. He is much more of a romantic than I am, but even so, London is so sweet and nice and kind, which I think is so undervalued. His character is kind and supportive, and he is such a great friend to Aria.

“One thing was clear—Aria wasn’t the kind of girl who bent rules—she broke them as a matter of principle.”

Aria was a deeply emotionally broken and mysterious character. She is withdrawn and closed off, and often time no one really knows what truly going on in her head, not even her friends.

Her poems at the beginning of most of the chapters gives the reader glimpses of her problems. They were all so heartbreaking and sad, I didn’t love Aria, but I really felt for her.

Her relationship with London was so unbelievably charming. I found myself smiling at their interactions and their antics, and they were just so adorable.

‘“Music is very important because year from now, when you listen to this song, you’ll remember this moment, what you were thinking, what it felt like, everything’”

I guess my main issue with their relationship was I didn’t really get it? I mean, they were adorable together yes, and they clearly got each other in a way that both of them needed.

But she was clearly in a relationship. Did I particularly like Dillon? Not really. Did I like his relationship with Aria? No way.

I just didn’t understand why London was so captivated by her that he would risk everything for her. There were some lines in his narration that made me uncomfortable because it just seemed like London was in love with the mystery of her.

“The more trouble I had figuring her out, the stronger my attraction.”

That may just be a me thing though. I am really not good with understanding romance. He makes so many mistakes, but it’s undeniable that he grows a lot from his experiences.

That being said the story definitely gets darker and more depressing the more London gets entangled into the complex relationship of the Golden Clique.

“They are envied for their mutual devotion, for their bond, for the way they love and protect one another. A friendship written in the stars, forged in fire, bright like gold.”

The friendship between the Golden Clique was so messed up, and yet there is such a strong loyalty there that is slightly unhealthy and toxic.

They were all so real. Did I like them all or always agree with their actions? No, not at all. But they were all so human in the sense of not wanting to admit their mistakes. It was not all happiness and luxury from being wealthy, they all had their problems and their issues.

I really do not know how I feel about them. I cannot say I really liked any of the clique members, they were all pretty mean, and I will never be okay with bullying.

I did enjoyed Jason and Annalisa as secondary characters. I had a lot of fun learning more about them.

There is betrayal and there is heartbreak and mean bullying, there are secrets and there are lies, but the ending, while bittersweet (and made me a tad bit angry) was satisfying to me. I will be okay with how it ended. I am okay.

“I think love is an embellished idea that compels people to turn it into a set of high expectations. No one can live up to that. One way or another, all loves ends in disappointment.”

Overall, Underneath It All was a lovely, emotional, and beautiful book. The author’s writing was poetic and fun to read, I especially enjoyed all of the literature analogies and metaphors. I loved London’s voice, you could practically feel his love for literature.

It is a character driven story with a wonderful cast of flawed characters. Any fellow book lover will find a small piece of themselves in London.

“Aria looked back at me and smiled. ‘Don’t worry, it’s a good kind of pain.’”

3.5 out of 5 stars

★★★½/5

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