Daughter of the Burning City

By: Amanda Foody

*ARC Review

I would recommend this book for ages 13 and up.

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear. (Goodreads)

My Review

I picked up Daughter of the Burning City at BEA this year because I knew it had something to do with circuses. I loved Caraval by Stephanie Garber and I liked The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern so I figured this would be a good one to try. It ended up being absolutely nothing similar to either of the two books I mentioned before, but that didn’t matter. Daughter of the Burning City was wonderful. Amanda Foody relied less on the lyrical and beautiful parts of a book about a circus and more on the creepy and eerie feelings. Honestly, this book was very strange but she definitely made it work.

I loved the characters and I loved reading about Sorina’s little family of illusions. There were quite a few characters in Daughter of the Burning City but with the help of names that corresponded with each illusions “ability” it was easy to keep them straight. The mystery itself was also interesting. I kept wondering when another illusion would be murdered next and which one it would be. It was very evident that Amanda put a lot of thought into the plot, setting, and her characters.

One thing I noticed while reading is that there are certain things that don’t exactly make the most sense. Some of the logistics of Sorina’s illusion work got a little muddled near the end. Maybe if there was a sequel she would be able to explain how certain things were able to happen. Lastly, the romance, while I liked it, didn’t totally make sense to me. The love interest is known throughout the circus to be uninterested in romantic relationships; he even says this himself. Then, a few pages later, he’s pursuing a romantic relationship with Sorina.

Overall I loved this book! It got me out of my reading slump and I highly recommend it. Amanda wrote a beautiful, weird, and creepy novel that definitely took a lot of imagination to write. I feel like this would be a great series to make a duology out of but I haven’t heard any news of a sequel so far.

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Violence: 3/5                          Stars: 4.5/5

Romance: 2.5/5                     Pages: 384

Language: 3/5                        Buy Book Here: Amazon

Heartless

By Marissa Meyer

*I received this book early from Macmillan at BEA

I would recommend this book for ages 13 and up.

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Summary

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans (Goodreads.)

My Review

The original Alice in Wonderland has always been one of my favorite disney stories. Marissa Meyer is one of my favorite authors, and villain origin stories are pretty much my favorite thing. Therefore, I pretty much knew that this would be amazing. I read this book in probably five or six hours and for the first time in my life, I officially have a “favorite book.” After I finished Heartless, I went and watched the original disney movie and almost everything in the movie tied into some part of the book. It was insane how even the minuscule things that don’t even matter in the movie mattered in the book. This book completely crushed me, which I knew would happen going in considering the title of this book and knowing that it is a villain origin story.

My favorite part of this book are the characters. Most of the main characters in this book are part of The Alice in Wonderland movie, with one exception. One thing that I was very impressed with was how Marissa didn’t copy the disney version of the characters but yet she tied into them. The characters through out the book were their own separate person but then closer to the end she shows how they begin to become the characters that we know them as. These characters are some of my favorite characters of all time and the romantic pairing is also my new favorite. The main character, Cath was completely realistic which I loved but that would also make her completely frustrating at the same time. While Jest was my favorite character, almost every other character was a close second. This book felt a lot like the Raven Boys in the sense that every character is so fleshed out.

The world was of course fantastic. As I was watching the movie, it was super easy to pin point the places were everything happened. Marissa put scenes in the book that happen in the movie many years later but with different characters. The way the castle, the looking glass, and even a theater were described were very easy to imagine and not in the slightest bit confusing.

Basically, I didn’t think Marissa could get better than the Lunar chronicles but she completely upstaged her previous books. It doesn’t even feel like the same person wrote the two. Heartless is now my favorite book of all time and I could not find a single thing wrong with it.

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Romance: 1/5                      Stars: 5/5

Language: 1/5                     Pages: 416

Violence: 3/5                      Author: Marissa Meyer

My Lady Jane

By: Jodie Meadows, Brodie Ashton, and Cynthia Hand

I would recommend this book for ages thirteen and up.

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Summary

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England. (Goodreads)

My Review

This book is hard to explain, because it isn’t meant to be taken seriously. I was hesitant to buy My Lady Jane, because I knew that it was written to be a comedy. I went through Goodreads reviews, and while some people said it was their favorite book of the year, others said that rather than being funny, it came off as juvenile. I can see how some people wouldn’t enjoy this type of book, but I loved it. I think the best way to read this is to look at it almost as a contemporary rather than a historical fiction/fantasy. My Lady Jane mirrors the light, fluffy, and funny feel of a contemporary.

The characters in this book were perfect. The authors were able to create versatile characters that fit in scenes that were serious and dramatic but would also fit in during paragraphs of cheesy jokes and comedic dialogue. I’m pretty sure that each author wrote one of the main characters which is impressive considering each character felt like they were written by the same person. It didn’t feel like three separate stories stitched together. My least favorite character was Edward, but not because of his personality. His point of view seemed to drag a little bit more than the other two and I found myself not looking forward to his portion of the story. The other two characters, Jane and Gifford’s storylines were written extremely well and I loved reading about both of them.

My Lady Jane isn’t a completely historically accurate book. The overall outcome of the story is the same as in history but many small things and character arcs are different. The authors would, at times, come into the story as “a narrator” to explain something in the story. At the beginning, it worked very well and added to the humor of the book, but near the end it became slightly annoying. There were multiple scenarios of the authors coming in at the climax of the story and it tended to take me out of the book and it felt weird and choppy. I felt like overall it was a great add in for the story but that it should have been used a little less often. This book did have some fantasy elements, and without spoiling it, I can say that while the magic element worked at times, it felt unnecessary and over used at others.

I enjoyed My Lady Jane much more than I was expecting to and I highly recommend it, especially if you are in a reading slump.

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Violence: 1/5                        Stars: 4.5/5

Romance: 2/5                      Pages: 512

Language: 1/5                      Buy Book Here: Amazon

The Unexpected Everything

By Morgan Matson

My summer hiatus is over! I’m so happy to be back to blogging and I thought I would start it off with my review of this summer book!

I would recommend this book for ages 13 and up

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Summary

Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that? (Goodreads)

My Review

I knew I would love this book, but it was so much better than I expected. The Unexpected Everything had two things that most young adult books don’t seem to have: realistic friendships and parental figures. The relationship between Bri, Toby, Palmer, and Andie was probably my favorite part of this book. In most books I’ve read “best friends” are too quick to forget about each other after an argument or never have any fights no matter what. Morgan Matson portrayed the perfect mixture of the two. I loved how even though there were four best friends, two of them were closer to each other than the rest and everyone knew that and was ok with it. That’s normally how things work. Reading about all of their summer get togethers and how everyone connected and worked really well was so much fun. The development between Andie and her dad also went along smoothly and believably. Their relationship progressed realistically.

Morgan Matson always comes up with the coolest ideas for her contemporary books. For this book, it was the scavenger hunt and the emoji bet. The scavenger hunt was a great idea, but the emoji bet was amazing. Having to read and decipher what Toby was trying to say through emojis actually printed in the book was so much fun.

I have never read a book where one of the main characters is a writer. After reading this book I feel like so many more books should have a writer as the main character because the readers can relate to that. Getting to hear about the writing process, signings, editors, and writing blocks from someone who knows what they are talking about was very interesting. I know that in the Lux series, which I still haven’t read, the main character is a blogger. Hopefully more upcoming books will have characters involved with books in one way or another.

Of course, as always Morgan Matson’s writing was beautiful. This was the largest contemporary book I have ever read and it kept my attention the entire way through. I have now read every Matson book except for Second Chance Summer, which I plan to read  in the next couple of months.

READQUEEN

Violence: 0/5                                     Stars: 5/5

Romance: 2.5/5                                   Pages: 528

Language: 1/5                                   Buy Book Here: Amazon

The Forbidden Wish

By: Jessica Khoury

Hello, I am finally back! I have been crazy busy with planning/attending BEA. Sadly it’s over, but now I can get back to posting on a regular basis!

 

I would recommend this book for ages 13 and up.

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Summary

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury. (Goodreads)

Review

I met Jessica two years ago at a book event and she mentioned that she was just coming up with the idea to do an Aladdin retelling. I was so excited because the story of Aladdin is one of my favorite things ever. It took me a while to get around to reading this book, but I had heard that this wasn’t exactly a retelling. While it definitely has aspects of Aladdin, it was a very loose retelling. I ended up enjoying the book more because of that. I absolutely loved this book and read it in under two days.The characters were fleshed out extremely well, which is usually my main complaint with stand alone books. Zahra is now easily one of my favorite female characters.

What surprised me was this book had quite a few things in it that I usually don’t like, but Jessica pulled them off really well. Two things in particular were the writing style and the abilities that the Jinni had. The writing was a mix between a poetic style and a modern style. At times the writing would be beautiful and lyrical and then it would change and the characters would be talking like “normal teenagers.” Usually I don’t like it when authors try to use an over the top modern style of writing, but it was done very well in this book. The ability that I was talking about was that Zahra can shape shift into anything she wants. Normally, this feels like it is used as an easy way out when things get too complicated for the characters. Once again, that was not the case with this book and it was pulled off beautifully.

The world building was amazing. There was a section of the book where the castle was being described and it was so easy to imagine everything that was going on. It also felt very true to the setting of the story. At one point, Jessica was describing how there were animals that wandered around in the castle, especially peacocks. It was really interesting to think about kings and queens going about their day with peacocks walking around with them.

My only complaint with this book is that I got bored at the climactic section of this book and I felt like it dragged on a little bit.

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Romance: 1.5/5                       Stars: 5/5

Language: 0/5                      Pages: 340

Violence: 2/5                        Buy Book Here: Amazon 

Destined For Doon

I would recommend this book for ages thirteen and up.

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Summary

In this sequel to Doon, Kenna Reid realizes she made a horrible mistake-choosing to follow her dreams of Broadway instead of staying in the enchanted land of Doon. Worse, she’s received proof she and Duncan are meant to be, along with torturous visions of the prince she left behind. So when Duncan shows up and informs Kenna that Doon needs her, she doesn’t need to think twice. But even if Kenna can save the enchanted kingdom, her happily ever after may still be in peril. (Goodreads)

My Review


I still am not completely sure how I feel about this series. I enjoyed this book more than the first one, but a big part of that is because I liked Mackenna’s perspective more than Veronica’s. The love story between Mackenna and Duncan is so much more  developed than that of Veronica and Jamie. Since the romance is a large part of this series, it needed to be made more believable, and it definitely was. The pace of this book was better, and made a little more sense. In the first book things seemed to be overlooked and the reader just had to go along with it. Overall, this book was much better, but I still had issues with it.

The dialogue, yet again was extremely cheesy and childish. Reading this series reminds me of watching a TV show with bad acting. Although you are interested in the story, you can’t help but cringe the whole way through. The end of the first book was incredible and made you want to read the next book. I can’t say the same for this one. The chapter before the epilogue all came together too easily and it all worked out too fast while the epilogue felt like it was cut off mid sentence in a desperate attempt to create a cliffhanger.

Yet again, the world building was just as fantastic as the first book, and is probably the strongest point of these books. Overall, I don’t know how to rate this book. It wasn’t a five star, but it was better than the first book, (which I gave four stars.) I think I will just give this one a higher four star.

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This book had no swearing and medium romance. The romance was on the same level as the first book. Throughout most of the book, there was minor violence, except for one detailed description of a half dead zombie type creature.

Four out of five stars

pages: 342

Authors: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Buy Book Here: Amazon

Finding Audrey

I would recommend this book for ages twelve to thirteen.

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Summary

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family. (goodreads)

My Review

I picked this book up for two reasons: It was the book chosen for a monthly read along (booksplosion) and because it was about an anxiety disorder. This is the first book I have ever read about a mental disorder and it was easily one of my favorite books that I have read this year. I have never read a Sophie Kinsella book and all I knew about her is that she’s supposed to be funny. I wasn’t sure how a book about a mental illness could be funny, but it was also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Sophie Kinsella can seamlessly interweave the seriousness of this book’s topic and absolute comedy together.

The characters in this book all seemed to be extremes of one stereotypical personality, which I really enjoyed. Two that come to mind is Audrey’s older brother Frank, who does nothing but play or talk about video games, and her mom who is obsessed with reading magazines on how to improve her family. All of the characters were equally funny, but yet equally sensitive towards Audrey and what she is dealing with.

My only minor complaint with this book was that I didn’t think that the characters acted like the ages that they were supposed to be. If I had to guess Frank’s age I would say 17, not 15. I felt that Audrey acted more like a 16 year old rather than a 14 year old.

When it comes to writing books about mental disorders, people tend to judge the book harder and more unfairly than usual. I didn’t feel like Audrey’s anxiety just disappeared randomly. I thought that Sophie Kinsella did a great job slowly showing Audrey get better and grow more confident in herself.

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This book had heavy language, no violence, and minor romance.

Other Notables: There are some details about anxiety attacks and what they feel like.

Five Out of Five Stars

Pages:286

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Buy Book Here: Amazon 

Doon

I would recommend this book for ages 12 to 13 and up.

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Veronica and Mackenna have been best friends their entire life, so when Mackenna buys them both tickets to visit Scotland for the summer, Veronica doesn’t hesitate to agree. Now, she can get away from her terrible life at home and spend the whole summer alone with Mackenna. Then, Veronica starts to have visions of a kingdom called Doon, and one of the princes, named Jamie, that rules the kingdom.  The girls uncover two rings left by Mackenna’s great aunt along with a letter with instructions that transports them to Doon. Veronica and Mackenna’s excitement soon dies down when the whole kingdom, including Jamie, believe that they are witches sent to destroy Doon. Now the girls are stuck in a world they don’t know and have to convince everyone around them that they are not the witches of Doon.

I originally read this book two years ago, right when it came out. I could not get into it, and I eventually gave up. Now, this book has become extremely popular along with the whole theme of Scotland, thanks to Outlander. I decided to pick Doon up and give it another try. While many of my opinions are the same, some have changed. I enjoyed this book, and have already picked up the second one.

My biggest complaint with this book is still the same as before; the writing style. I feel like the dialogue was extremely cheesy and juvenile. Since the dialogue was cheesy, it made the characters seem younger and overall unlikeable. Most importantly, it didn’t make the story feel serious. The characters kept saying how dangerous things were, but it never felt life threatening. Each of the characters fell into a different YA cliche, but I was able to over look that.  My last complaint with this book, was the romance. This books main focus is the romance, which isn’t a bad thing, but I felt like the story kept getting lost because of it. Also this book suffers from insta-love which makes the driving force of this book feel unbelievable.

With all of that said, I still really enjoyed this book. My favorite thing about it was the world building. It was obvious that the authors knew exactly what they were talking about when it came to Scotland. To make the world even more believable, the authors wrote in a Scottish accent. For example, “lord” was written as “laird.” It felt like I was in Scotland.  I always enjoy when an author puts a lot into the world building. The thing I loved most about this book was that I wanted to keep reading it. Even though it was not the most well written book in the world, I still wanted to keep reading, and I immediately picked up the sequel. The ending was great, and gave me high hopes for book two.

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This book had almost no swearing, but I caught one minor curse word near the end of the it. The violence was also extremely mild. I would say the romance was medium, but some people will still say it was minor. While there was only some minor kissing, there was still lots of thinking about romance.

Four out of Five Stars

pages: 395

authors: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Buy Book Here: Amazon 

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

I would recommend this book for readers ages thirteen and up.

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Jacob is a sixteen year old boy, who grew up listening to crazy stories from his grandfather’s time in an orphanage full of “peculiar children.” Stories such as a girl who can fly, a boy with bees living inside of him, and many more, but the older Jacob gets, the more he begins to question the truth behind his grandfather’s stories. After Jacob witnesses a tragedy, involving someone close to him, he travels to an island off the coast of Wales along with his dad. Jacob begins to uncover strange vintage photos that depict his grandfather’s stories perfectly. The bed time stories that his grandfather once told, could they be real?  If so, what of the peculiar children?  Were still alive?

What interested me most about this novel was the author used actual photographs to enhance the stories that Jacob grew up with. Every character introduced in the book had a creepy antique photo to go with them. These photos made the story even creepier than it already was, and it helped you visualize some of the peculiar abilities that were showcased.

The world building in this book is amazing, and I found the setting to be even more incredible. Wales is not a place that you here about too often in books, and the description that Ransom Riggs put into his novel makes it seem even more life like.

My only complaint is that near the middle, there was a point where the story seemed to drag a bit. I had to push myself to get through that certain part, and I’m glad I did, because the ending is great.

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My favorite character in this book was Miss Peregrine, because she truly cared about all the children that she took care of, and wanted to give them good and fun lives.

This book had medium language, mild to medium romance, and medium violence

Four Out of Five Star

Author: Ransom Riggs

Pages: 352

Buy Book Here: Amazon 

 

Throne of Glass

I would recommend this book for ages thirteen and up.

This book follows a girl named Celaena who is the worlds top assassin; that is until she gets caught and put into a death camp. After a year in the camp, Prince Dorian comes and presents a proposition to her. If she enters a competition against 23 other assassins and wins, then she can become the kings personal assassin and be released from prison. If she declines she will have to stay in the camp until she dies. Celaena accepts the proposition  and is given a personal trainer named Chaol in order to prepare for the competition. Celaena begins to get nervous when one by one her other competitors are being killed in the middle of the night.What power can be so strong that it can easily kill these assassins, and when will it come for her?

This book was exactly what I was expecting, but completely different at the same time. My biggest issue with this book was that I didn’t find the love triangle believable. One of the guys was very nice while the other was extremely short tempered and rude, but she was still in love with them both. It seemed like there shouldn’t have been any competition. I have heard that this gets better in the second book, so I am excited to see if that is true. The other part that I wasn’t too excited about was the supernatural element of it. I thought that this book was going to be completely focused on assassins with a medieval times setting which it was until the supernatural element appeared. Once again I have been told that the supernatural element comes together more in the next books.

Even with those few things, I loved this book overall and highly recommend it. The action and mystery were amazing and it made me second guess myself continuously. Celaena’s character development throughout the book was amazing and seemed very realistic, which is very rarely accomplished. I can’t wait to continue on with this series and see how everything plays out.

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My favorite character was Dorian because one of his favorite things to do was read and I could relate to him.

This book had medium swearing, medium violence, and minor romance.

Pages: 404

Author: Sarah J. Mass

Buy Book Here: Amazon