A not so Dreadful Tale

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The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

by Alexandra Bracken

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type. 

 

Remember how I said Middle Grade books win this year? Well, this book just proves this fact in Alexandra Bracken’s newest book that comes out this fall. It also happens to be my new favourite book by her, and I’ve read at least the first book of each of her series that are currently out. And here’s why: We follow the story of Prosper Redding, a bit of a sad kid who’s bullied at school and who has become distant to his once close twin sister. He doesn’t fit in with the rest of his family either. More so when he finds out his ancestor made a deal with a demon, who just happens to residing in Prosper currently. I don’t want to give much more away about it though. You’ll have to trust me that Prosper’s tale manages to become even more magical from there. Just take the warning in the first few pages of this book to heart, don’t trust a Redding. Or really anyone for that matter.

The writing in this book is just so much fun. To me, it was one of Bracken’s better crafted stories and it doesn’t get too boring, only a few moments that slowed down and left me crazy because I needed to know where the plot went past the filler section. As someone who loves witches and grew up on Harry Potter magic, this book had just the right amount of magic in it while bringing us a whole new ideas while feeling familiar. It also has the right amount of spookiness without being completely scary. I admit, I was creeped out a few times, so maybe not read this with younger readers just yet, but let them once they’re in middle school, in my personal opinion just to keep it on the safe side. As for the writing quality, it was good. Unlike in some of the past books I read from Bracken, there wasn’t as much unneeded moments in this book. There was a few that I wouldn’t mind not seeing, but most of them come with at least a small purpose behind it, which we do find out later. I think she finally found the right balance in my opinion.

Do I recommend this book? Yes. Highly. I’d seriously run to my store and preorder it now. If that isn’t an option yet, then wait for it to be, mark on all your calendars and whatever else until you can. It’s the perfect book for most ages and is perfect for fans of Hocus Pocus. It might be the only thing that ever comes as good and so purely Halloween as this movie.

Rating: 5 stars

The Upside of Adorable

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The Upside of Unrequited

by Becky Albertalli

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

 

I admit, I got accepted for this eARC ages ago. But with other hot releases I was also approved for this, this book got put on the back burner. And part of why was because I was sort of scared to read it. I had heard both good and bad about Becky’s first book. The comment about gay girls having it easier was a turn off. But Becky, the champ she is, came out and apologized for that comment and explained it wasn’t how she personally felt. For me, I was willing to give Becky’s books a chance and I kept seeing this one getting praises. So I jumped in with Unrequited. And I’m SO happy I finally did. Because I’m not kidding when I say this book is one of the sweetest stories I’ve read this year. I’m not a big romance person, but this book hit all the right notes for me.

The story follows Molly Peskin-Suso through her experiences of trying to find love and her twin sister’s determination for Molly to finally get her first kiss. Molly is chubby and full of anxiety. Basically, I related to her instantly because I’m pretty sure more than once when I was her age I had the same thoughts. Heck, I probably still do. Molly fears she’s not what boys look for, that no one would find someone big attractive. She meets Reid and slowly develops a crush on him while her sister is trying to set her up with Will, a friend of her sister’s girlfriend. Oh, did I mention most of the characters in this book are gay? Because let me tell you, as someone desperate for more gay characters in books, I loved this, even if Molly herself may not be.

This book was just magic to me. It was sweet and soft and it was just what I needed to remind that some romances are amazing. I loved reading a character like Molly who reminds me of myself a lot. She’s a sweet character who just wants love, which was me when I was younger. She’s nervous of what people will think of her and her anxiety doesn’t help. The anxiety in this book was done so well. I always fear that it’ll be made romantic like mental illness sadly has been in a lot of YA book, but this wasn’t the case. Unless you yourself don’t have anxiety, you might not know that Molly’s thoughts are caused by it. But as someone who suffers from it pretty badly, I saw it clear as day. I’m so happy it wasn’t the main focus of the book, but was done realistically.

Another aspect I loved was the relationship between Molly and Cassie as twins. I love sisters. And to me, having grown up with a sister the same age as me, I can say that the sense of a distance growing happens. This book expressed this experience well and beautifully. Sadly, sisters grow apart. They fight. But it doesn’t change that they’re sisters. They want each other to be happy and I found how Cassie was determined to set Molly up with someone as something familiar.

The writing was really good and though the story itself was simple, I loved it. For once I didn’t mind a love triangle that was sort of there. It didn’t feel like others. It was teenagers trying to find themselves and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s too heavy handed, but this wasn’t like that. I loved the sweet moments with Molly and Reid and how soft they were. Sometimes I need relationships with soft characters that are sweet and nerdy and just lovely. I loved the wedding of Molly’s moms and just the diversity of this book. It was done well. It felt like you could easily meet this family out in the world. To me, this book was just everything I needed for this moment. It was hard to put down and made me happy, left me sad, left me aching for the characters.

I highly recommend it. It might not be for everyone. I know some people didn’t like it or understand it. But it’s okay to admit this book wasn’t targeted for you as an audience. But if you want a story with really great characters that are gay, that come from a mixed raced family, a character with anxiety and characters that want love.

Rating: 4 stars 

Magical Alphabet

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An Alphabet of Embers (The Machineries of Empire “Calendrical Rot”)

edited by Rose Lemberg

An Alphabet of Embers is an anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose. It lives in a place between darkness and sound, between roads and breaths, its pages taut with starlight; between its covers, words talk to each other, and have an occasional cup of tea.

 

This collection of stories were as the description calls it – magical. It was unique and left you feeling like you’ve never heard stories like it before. The stories come from a diverse cast of writers from around the world, giving you a diverse collection of stories and characters. One of my favourite stories had to do with an idea of genderfluidness, which I happen to be. This was the first story I ever read with a genderfluid set of characters and I honestly can’t get enough of it. I’ll probably end up holding that story close to me for that reason, and the fact it was so well written that it made me so happy for this progress.

As I’ve mentioned before, it’s hard to really critique short stories, more so ones that are relatively short, only a page or two, which a few were. For the most part, these stories were done in a way that was prose or lyrical. Which is something I always love. However, there were a few that felt like simply words thrown together to creative something, but I couldn’t seem to see the story in it. It’s possible that when I read it, my brain was too tired to comprehend what they were about or it just went over my head, but I struggled to find stories in them, which was really disappointing in comparison to the overall beautifully done stories that were stories that were actually stories. There were also a few stories that weren’t long enough in my opinion to actually make it a full story. I felt like the plot was just shortly brushed over and it didn’t have the same impact as some of the others.

However, I HIGHLY recommend this book for people who want sci-fi/fantasy stories created by a diverse cast of writers that touch on their own cultures.

Rating: 4 stars 

Books with ALL THE BEST COVERS (part 6)

It’s been a while since I last did one of these series, but I hadn’t seen too many books lately that fit exactly what I was looking for in this. But FINALLY I have one.

As you know, I’ve read and reviewed Tash Hearts Tolstoy before it came out a bit a go and was a fan. Well, this book is back for this series. Now I loved the original cover. I’m a sucker for old images with writing on it like this.

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(English Cover)

(Brazilian Cover)

 

(Polish Cover)

Okay, so it’s only two other covers so far. But MAN. I love them. Which has me excited to see what others end up happening. They’re creative and fun and I think all of them fit the story and characters so. Another book to add to my list of books I want to buy all the covers for.

Personal

Normally, I don’t go personal on here. That’s what my twitter and tumblr are for. But I want you guys to know ahead of time about why this month I might not be posting as many reviews this month. I’ve already had one surgery and I’m having a second on the 22nd. Basically, I have a way too big kidney stone and too small holes for it to even think of moving. They put a stent in to open things up so this next one they’ll go back in and get it (hopefully) and a possible third to get out my stent.

All of this basically happened quickly that I had to cancel a planned trip to visit family in FL. I would have left yesterday, so that makes things a little worse.

If you want to help out at all, you can check out my Recovery Wish List which is basically just a bunch of cheap books that I’ve been dying to read. But with everything, I can’t buy them. But only if you can afford them too. I’d love to make a big post about each one with my thoughts when I’m better, though it probably won’t be my normal full reviews.

 

Noteworthy

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Noteworthy

by Riley Redgate

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.
In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

This book was the perfect read to go from Asian Heritage month to Pride month. The main character is first generation American and find out within this journey of this book that she’s bisexual.

I was in chorus for a good chunk of my early life. Like Jordan, I had a deep voice for a woman. I often sang tenor or alto 2. Like Jordan, it wasn’t a fan of my high school music teacher that kept trying to make me sing higher until my rang was somewhere in the middle but not as great. As you can imagine, that didn’t sit overly well with me when I had worked hard for my range. My love music sort of dried up by that time. So almost right away I related with Jordan’s situation. I admit this book did catch my interest a little, but due to my lack of interest in music drying up, it was only when I heard great reviews from others that I finally put in for this ARC and was approved rather quickly, to my joy.

I found the book really interesting. I think it did a good job with keeping the audience on their toes so that the first half of the book didn’t get boring despite the lack of action to the main plot. However, I did find most of the last part of the book predictable. I knew what relationship Jordan would end up with, how her identity would end up being revealed the way it was. If anything, I don’t believe in a real situation it would have taken so long. I’m really surprised that the teachers didn’t look into the kids trying out for the Sharps before they were let into the group to make sure they’re students at the school. For me, it was the smaller things within the story that was more unpredictable than the main plot lines. I found the rivalry between them and the Minuets was very unpredictable and could have been ugly if Jordan hinted about what she knew about their leader. I would have loved if she used the fact she was a girl that was beat up to throw said leader, but that was just my own opinion. It could have gotten ugly with her threatening to reveal that she knew that the leader was gay, but I think that the book did good by not doing this, which is harmful for any gay person, much more than being beat up. I know a lot of authors would have, I’m just happy that this author learned from her first book how to better write gay characters in a less harmful way. I would have loved for some sort of plot twist though that wasn’t so obvious to see coming.

The writing itself was pretty amazing. I found it really well done and almost lyrical in it’s own right. I didn’t find much to really critique because I was too busy highlighting some of the more beautiful phrases, the end of the book even more so than the rest. I loved the diverse cast of characters, how music could be found in the writing, and the friendship between the characters. The friendship in this book was probably my favourite part. I think it would have been even better without a relationship happening and just kept a good friendship mostly because it would have made this book stand out more than others. I’m still craving a book that chooses friendships over relationships, but alas this only gave me a little of it but added a relationship that I’m only so-so about. I’m also a bit so-so with her figuring out her sexuality but it not really mean anything. She could have not and nothing would have really changed the story. If anything, she could have bonded with the other gay character, but she doesn’t do that. It’s not a coming out story, or really anything with her being bi other than a small mention of it. I think it could have been used to help patch her relationship with her friend because she never lied about not being gay when she’s bi. Instead, she sort of just buries it too. To me, it just doesn’t make sense other than trying to put diversity into a story but not think anymore about it. It might be the only thing in the writing I don’t like, just because it feels sort of half done.

Do I recommend it? I do. I think that if you like music or don’t, there’s things about it that are good and great, some things that are a bit off, but it could have easily been fixed for the final version. This is just a reminder that this is an ARC. If they did fix it and you’ve read it, let me know and I’ll add a note about that. But all in all, I did enjoy this read. It was a really fun contemporary read.

Rating: 4 stars

Love and Rebelling

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Rebel Seoul

by Axie Oh

After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

This book is often described as being based off Pacific Rim, which caught my interest. And let me say, it doesn’t disappoint. This book doesn’t read like a book. Part of me was surprised I wasn’t watching a movie or an anime. It takes place in a not so distant future where Korea has once again been divided into two parts, Neo State of Korea and Unified State of Korea. Jaewon is a student in a military school in Neo Seoul from Old Seoul on a scholarship. He is taking his placement test for where he’ll be placed for his mandatory military service. He’s placed in charge of Tera, a super solider part of a new study to help make the next weapon to win the war.

Trust me, this book doesn’t disappoint. There’s never a dull moment in this book. And I know, I say this with nearly every book I read, but this one has to be one of my favourite books I’ve read so far this year. It shows us what the future of what war could possibly be like and what future technology could entail. We watch as despite the future being bright, we see that Old Seoul is lacking in technology, made up of the poor, orphans, and gangs. It’s run by gangs and to survive at eight, Jaewon was forced into one. Old Seoul civilians are forced to leave Neo Seoul by midnight or face arrest. If these cracks weren’t bad enough, we learn how the leader of Neo Seoul is abusive to his son, you see that the system is cruel within the horrible man that runs it.

This book has things in it I’ve been craving in a book for ages and it does it well. We have strong female characters that support each other, soft boys that support each other that happen to be in a  gang, robots, the main character not being the ‘chosen one’ but connected to them. We have male friendships that are important and loving, boys who aren’t afraid to be seen soft and love their friends. We see girls unafraid of being close and weak despite being the strongest of the characters and most cunning.

 There were parts of the plot I was sure wouldn’t be resolved, but this book did come through with it. Some of it I was able to guess but other parts I was left just as surprised as they planned it to be. I wish it hadn’t ended in such a drop off. I could have used so much more, to see the aftermath a little more. It would have been nice to know for sure what happened next and what the future for Korea would be and the other Neo States around the world. But my guess is that the author wanted us to want more and wonder what would come next.

The writing was good. I felt like it was engaging and was vivid in its description of things. I could see the God Machines, I could imagine every character. The story goes fast and carries, it keeps things interesting and you aren’t left bored, even in the more domestic scenes. The only issue is that time passes fast and you aren’t sure how. Sometimes it feels like it was only a few hours or a day when weeks had gone by. I wish that was a little clearer, but that’s really it.

I highly recommend it. I’m still gushing over this story and making a pinterest aesthetic board for it. I need more of this book and to talk about it with more people. So read it, so we can both talk about it together.

Rating: 5 stars