Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

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Title: A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

Review:

I liked this story.

I thought that 9/11 would play a bigger role in the story. The terrorist attack set the scene for the racism that Shirin experienced, but it wasn’t really part of the story.

I liked that being Muslim wasn’t the only part of Shirin that was prominent in the story. Though people around her only saw her hijab when they looked at her, she was just like any girl. She liked music and she fell in love. She fought with her brother and didn’t agree with her parents. These aspects of her personality are universal, and didn’t have anything to do with her being Muslim.

I loved the romance in the story. It was slow and apprehensive, but it was real. However, I didn’t like the ending. It was abrupt and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I still liked the rest of the story.

What to read next:

  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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Have you read A Very Large Expanse of Sea? What did you think of it?

Review: Strange the Dreamer

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Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Review:

I had never read a Laini Taylor book before this one, and I loved it! I’ll definitely be reading more of her books.

I was hooked right from the beginning. I really liked Lazlo. He was a unique character for a fantasy novel, because he was so meek. He didn’t know much beyond his books in the library. He was a dreamer, as the title suggests. However, he was able to live his dream, which changed him.

The city of Weep was so fascinating. I loved the mystery of how the name suddenly disappeared from history. The gods and godspawn were creepy, though. It took a while to get used to the dynamics of the godspawn up in the citadel. There are a few who I really didn’t like. I would love to see a backstory to the gods and their escapades before they were killed.

The ending was quite surprising. I can’t wait to continue this series with Muse of Nightmares.

What to read next:

  • Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer #2) by Laini Taylor

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  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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Have you read Strange the Dreamer? What did you think of it?

Review: The Devil’s Thief (The Last Magician #2)

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Title: The Devil’s Thief (The Last Magician #2)
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this spellbinding sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Last Magician, Esta and Harte set off on a cross-country chase through time to steal back the elemental stones they need to save the future of magic.

Hunt the Stones.
Beware the Thief.
Avenge the Past.

Esta’s parents were murdered. Her life was stolen. And everything she knew about magic was a lie. She thought the Book of Mysteries held the key to freeing the Mageus from the Order’s grasp, but the danger within its pages was greater than she ever imagined.

Now the Book’s furious power lives inside Harte. If he can’t control it, it will rip apart the world to get its revenge, and it will use Esta to do it.

To bind the power, Esta and Harte must track down four elemental stones scattered across the continent. But the world outside the city is like nothing they expected. There are Mageus beyond the Brink not willing to live in the shadows—and the Order isn’t alone in its mission to crush them.

In St. Louis, the extravagant World’s Fair hides the first stone, but an old enemy is out for revenge and a new enemy is emerging. And back in New York, Viola and Jianyu must defeat a traitor in a city on the verge of chaos.

As past and future collide, time is running out to rewrite history—even for a time-traveling thief.

Review:

I was so excited to read this book! I loved The Last Magician and this one was just as great!

There were many layers to this story. It alternated between two years, 1902 and 1904. The puzzling part was that we don’t really know what happens between those years, because some of the characters jumped forward in time. Though there was a gap in the timeline, the story flowed seamlessly. There weren’t any spoilers in either narrative as to what happened in the past or what will happen in the future.

The only thing that this story was missing was a shocking ending. The end of The Last Magician had some shocking revelations. I found some characters suspicious in this story, and that was confirmed at the end, so it wasn’t a surprise. Other than that this book was amazing! I highly recommend this series to fans of YA fantasy.

What to read next:

  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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Have you read The Devil’s Thief? What did you think of it?

 

Review: Odd One Out

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Title: Odd One Out
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martincomes this illuminating exploration of old friendships, new crushes, and the path to self-discovery.

Courtney “Coop” Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn’t mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.

Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed “new girl” would be synonymous with “pariah,” but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.

Jupiter Charity-Sanchez
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . . .

One story.
Three sides.
No easy answers.

Review:

This story was separated into three parts. Each part was narrated by a different character. This made the story very tense, while I was wondering what the other characters were thinking in the different narratives. The ending of each part was so emotional. There were major revelations each time from the different characters, which really built the tension until the next part.

I loved Courtney and Jupiter. I was rooting from them right from the beginning, even though she was gay. They were so perfect with each other, so I wanted them to be together. However, things got complicated when Rae arrived. Jupiter liked Rae and Courtney liked Jupiter, while Rae liked both of them. It was a complicated set of relationships.

I know many people don’t like reading about love triangles, but I don’t mind them. I’ve witnessed them in real life many times, so I can understand why they’re so prevalent in books. This love triangle was complex because of the different gender identities that were involved.

I just loved this story! It’s an amazing, modern coming of age story.

What to read next:

  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone

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  • Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Have you read Odd One Out? What did you think of it?

Review: The Truth About Martians

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Title: The Truth About Martians
Author: Melissa Savage
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A boy and his best friends set out to discover the aliens who crash-landed next to their Roswell, New Mexico, farm in this charming novel packed with adventure and heart, perfect for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Jennifer L. Holm’s The Fourteenth Goldfish.

Mylo never really believed in Martians, unless they had a starring role in one of his comic books. But then a flying saucer crash-lands next to his Roswell, New Mexico, ranch, and he starts to hear voices–like someone is asking for his help.

With his best friend Dibs and crush Gracie by his side, and his Cracker Jack superhero membership card, a slingshot, and a small American flag–for peace–in tow, Mylo sets out on an epic adventure to investigate the crash and find the Martians. But he and his friends end up discovering more about the universe than they ever could have imagined.

Review:

I really enjoyed this story!

At first, I didn’t realize it was about the famous Roswell spaceship. This is a cool way to teach kids history, though it is a fictional story. The historical elements of the story were great, especially the way that the kids rode horses around town.

This story was also an emotional rollercoaster. The main character lost his brother a year before, and he keeps revisiting his grave. He misses him tremendously. Though he’s excited about the alien discovery, he wishes his brother was there with him to experience it too.

This story was fast paced and exciting! I loved it!

What to read next:

  • The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

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  • Lemons by Melissa Savage

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Have you read The Truth About Martians? What did you think of it?

Review: Grim Lovelies

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Title: Grim Lovelies
Author: Megan Shepherd
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd, Grim Lovelies is an epic and glittering YA fantasy. Prepare to be spellbound by the world of Grim Lovelies, where secrets have been long buried, friends can become enemies, and everything—especially humanity—comes at a price.

Review:

I was drawn to this book because of the beautiful cover! I love the gold accents on it.

This was a good story. It has an unusual setting. It seems to be set in modern day Paris, however the witches and Royals are living in the past. They have old-fashioned, Victorian homes and customs. Some characters used cell phones, so I could tell that it is happening today. The two kinds of settings created a strange kind of dueling atmosphere in the story.

There was lots of tension in the story, especially at the end. The story was also fast paced. I read it in just a few hours, and I couldn’t put it down. I’m curious to see how the story continues.

What to read next:

  • The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

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  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Have you read Grim Lovelies? What did you think of it?

Review: Dawn and the Impossible Three (Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #5)

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Title: Dawn and the Impossible Three (Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #5)
Author: Gale Galligan
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Graphix
Source: Library
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Dawn Schafer is the newest member of The Baby-sitters Club. While she’s still adjusting to life in Stoneybrook after moving from sunny California, she’s eager to accept her first big job. But taking care of the three Barrett kids would be too much for anybaby-sitter. The house is always a mess, the kids are out of control, and Mrs. Barrett never does any of the things she promises. On top of all that, Dawn wants to fit in with the other members of the BSC, but she can’t figure out how to get along with Kristy. Was joining The Baby-sitters Club a mistake?

A graphic novel adaptation of the original story.

Review:

This fifth instalment in the Baby-Sitters Club series has a new illustrator! I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about the change because I love Raina Telgemeier. I am very pleased with how Gale Galligan put her own spin on the girls.

In this story, the girls have to deal with changing friendships. Kristy will be moving into her new stepfather’s house, so she worries that her place in the club will be jeopardized. She also gets upset when Mary Anne and Dawn seem to be getting closer because their parents are dating. She is jealous of the possibility that they could become stepsisters.

Another important issue the girls have to face is how to address problems with adults. Dawn babysits for three difficult siblings, and she can see that she steps in many times when their mother should be there instead. The mother doesn’t even tell Dawn about one child’s allergies, which could have had dangerous consequences. Eventually, Dawn must figure out a way to solve this problem.

This is a great series! I can’t wait for the next Baby-Sitter’s Club graphic novel!

What to read next:

  • Dawn and the Impossible Three (The Baby-Sitters Club #5) by Ann M. Martin

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  • Kristy’s Big Day (Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #6) by Gale Galligan
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Have you read Dawn and the Impossible Three? What did you think of it?