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

Ahisma

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Ahimsa

by Supriya Kelkar

Lee & Low’s Tu Books has bought world rights for Supriya Kelkar’s Ahimsa, a middle grade historical novel about a privileged 10-year-old girl in 1942 India whose mother joins Gandhi’s freedom movement, and who takes up her mother’s work for freedom when her mother is jailed.

2017 is the year for Middle Grade books. This book is about Anjali, a ten year old growing up and seeing the world around her for what it truly is when her mother joins Gandhi’s freedom fighters. Her mother helps Anjali see the world more clearly while the two of them learn to see past their privilege and come into the world that they’ve been blind to due to it.

This book is important today because we’re yet again facing the idea one group of people see’s their lives as more important than others, in this case the British over the Indians, and the higher castes over the lower caste of Dalits (I won’t use the slur for them here, just google if you don’t know who they are). If this sounds familiar, we’re currently living through this idea still with the fact we still need to protest for the rights of people of color. Because sadly, when we don’t know our history, it simply repeats itself again and again. In this case, freedom fighters aren’t truly fighters, but protesters that use nonviolence in hopes to free India of the British control and bring rights to all castes, much like today with Black Lives Matter protests. It’s also important due to the fact this book also deals with the Muslims in India at the time that later created the country Pakistan. We see the tensions of them and the Hindi’s heating up, the two sides rioting and fighting and watch as Anjali has to come to terms with it herself when her and her best friend are on the two sides of the religious divide. Again, this is similar to today in much of the world where Muslim’s see backlash for their religion.

The writing in this book was really well done. It went at a good pace and not once felt boring or too slow. I found myself completely hooked on this book and stayed up into the early hours reading this because it was simply addicting and too hard to put down. I found that it read simply as a book, not just for middle grade readers, but for all, but made it very clear for those middle grade readers and without too much violence and other frightening things while staying true to the history.

I highly recommend this book for everyone. I know that I personally didn’t learn much about Indian history in school and what I do know I had learned myself from reading and documentaries I had seen. This book does a good job in sharing with us an important time in India’s history and makes it easier for all readers to understand while keeping all readers also hooked on the plot and story. However, I do warn that there is violence in this book. Sadly, history like this tends to be and to tell this story without it wouldn’t tell the full story despite the fact it also teaches us about “Ahimsa”. Violence isn’t always the answer, even if that’s the easiest option.

Rating: 5 stars

Wants of the Future

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Want

by Cindy Pon

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

Want takes place in a near future where only the poor can’t afford clean air. Zhou and his friends decide to change this by targeting the maker of suits that gives the rich fresh air to make them wake up to the issues with pollution and enviroment that the rich stopped caring about ages ago. This means getting into the rich crowd in order to find a way in.

This book is probably one of my favourites of this year so far. It’s really well written and is the first dystopian/near future book I’ve been able to read after spending a whole semester reading them for a a class. I wasn’t even sure if I was able to going to be able to simply because these books can be so exhausting. But this book hooked me in the first chapter. Because it’s different from most of these books I’ve read and it’s more than those typical books. This book is also a heist book. It’s a small change that can have the biggest impact, not about leading rebellions. Zhou is honestly the hero that I personally needed to get me back reading these books after reading so many Katniss’s, just repackaged.

I found it all in all exciting. I wasn’t bored during the times Zhou was ‘Jason’. When one thing fell, another thing picked up and you’re too distracted to realize part of the plot was done and had moved to the next. The last 10% of this book I couldn’t put down that I went to bed reading it and woke up and continued to read because I needed to know what happened after falling asleep reading it.

Not only does this book speak of environmental issues, which isn’t an issue that is heavily relied on for these books, but it deals also with the growing divide of the rich and poor populations, to how big the divide becomes, and the treatment of these people in epidemics.

There’s few things I disliked about this book. But one was honestly this: Victor. I wasn’t a fan. I know that he might look like a heart throb to many girls, but to me, he reminded me of someone who couldn’t grasp the idea of someone was gay and pinned after them, making both that girl and her girlfriend feel awkward. I had a few guys that did that to me in high school and who became hostile toward me because of it. So he simply left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I found the writing really well done other than a few editing errors such as us learning Daiyu’s name before she even gave it to Zhou and before he knew it. But I’m sure that it was cleared up in future edits. Other than that, the writing was flawless in my opinion. It was vibrant in being able to get you to see everything clearly due to description, which is huge in a book where most the tech is new or different than other futuristic stories. I honestly could see everything almost as if I was living it while reading, which made me super excited. I love details in books.

Now as for plot, there were only two things that were sort of left hanging to me. So skip this part if you don’t want spoilers: What happened to Daiyu’s friend and his family after they got sick? It might have been hinted that he died and it was covered up, but Daiyu had said that he was still getting treatment. So it’s not completely clear as to what happened. Next: Zhou’s mother’s family. They were brought up and recognized by Zhou for a reason, making it seem like they would become bigger parts of the story but they don’t come back up again. Luckily, Cindy has just recently announced that she’s currently travelling for research for the sequel to this. I’m hoping that this will give us more answers on these subjects.

I highly recommend this book. It’s fresh and exciting in a world that feels like all ideas have been hashed out already. The characters are well written and has honestly left me missing them. I even slowed down my progress of reading this book so I could continue to have them for a day longer. But my curiosity won out in the end.

Rating: 4.5 stars or 5 stars on goodreads

This Gentleman Has My Heart

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

by Mackenzi Lee

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

 

A queer playboy, a biracial chronically ill man, and a feminist wanna be doctor go on an adventure. No, this isn’t Lin-Manuel Miranda’s next musical (Okay, I kinda wish it was), but probably one of my favourite reads so far this year, but also the book I needed after having had read the Black Witch (which there is no review here because I only got three chapters done and the disgust was too great for me to go any further. See my Goodreads for that mess) because this does everything that book tried to do, but did it well.

What I mean about this is, this book is filled with characters that were biased. It takes place in the 18th century. AKA this book had characters that were racist, sexist, ableist, and homophobic. How this was done was the fact that characters that spoke those things were quickly shut down. That’s how you keep a book from becoming biggoted, and it’s part of why I really needed this book and why I love it. It was able to stay true to the time and the fact that such things happened, but also called it out as wrong and then gave proof to why. More than once it was the women that came to the rescue of the men, the women played roles that changed everything and wasn’t just going along with the adventure. I admit, I feared that this book would become a ‘magic cure’ story when it came to the illness that one of characters has. I’ve read so many of those and so many stories where people are simply their illness and disabilities. I’ve read stories where its a changeable as clothes. As someone with a disability and a chronic illness, it’s not that simply. Those stories hurt and are ridiculously harmful. So it was a relief that this book didn’t fallow that path. I was ridiculously grateful for it.

Honestly, this book was of course more than well written for all parties without being insulting, but there was adventure. That adventure truly was fun. It wasn’t just a story of overcoming, of love and becoming a better person, it’s a real adventure. Nothing goes as plan, everything is chaos and it was a lot of fun to read. I don’t think I’ve read a book that focuses on the adventure like it does other aspects this well. The author balanced the two perfectly.

The writing of this book was really well done. I honestly didn’t feel like there was any section that got boring or dull that often. If I did, it didn’t last long, thankfully. I really felt like it was a joy to just read and even got my creative juices going. It was one of those reads that makes you want to write yourself or at least dream of it.

Like I said, this book was one of my favourites. I really do recommend it for readers. My only warning is this book does talk about abuse. It’s a theme that comes up a bit and effects the main character a lot in his story arch. So here’s a warning about that. I also want to mention that yes, this book does have characters that are racist, sexist, ableist, and homophobic. This book DOES correct that, but if you don’t want to read about those themes, that’s understandable.

Rating: 5 stars

My favourites I read in 2016

These are the books I gave 5 stars to on Goodreads. I read a lot of books I didn’t like, but I want to share the good with you guys and why.

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Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

If you don’t know, I’m a HUGE fan of Jenny after I read her first book. I follow her blog and love to community. But this book, this book helped me in a time I needed it most. I had relapsed into depression and I read this and cried because she wrote of depression in a way I’ve never felt so true before. It helped me figure out other options and it made me laugh and smile when I needed it most. I also got two copies of this from the amazing community members so I could always have it with me when I needed Jenny’s amazing voice to help me through the tough times or if I just need a laugh.

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Salt to The Sea by Ruta Sepetys

If you guys haven’t figured out yet, I’m a huge historical fiction fan and it’s why I love Ruta’s books so much. She writes events in history wonderfully and beautifully. I truly enjoyed this book and this story and the characters. It was interesting and about an event I hadn’t even known about at the time. If you like historical fiction, read this, even if you don’t like YA (not sure why your on my blog then. That’s most of the books I read and review, but hey, what floats your boat).

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I was slow to up take of this book. I saw a lot of love for it, but I feared that I wouldn’t like it. Because yeah, I get burned a lot with it. And it’s romance. I’m not always a fan. But this book. It’s beautiful. It’s well written. I never pick up sequels right away after reading the first book, some times never because second books are huge disappointments more than not. But I did for this. And I loved that too, but it came to a 4-star rating in my opinion. Which never happens for second books for me.

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Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

I ordered this book from Book Depository because I couldn’t wait for it to come to the U.S. That and that lovely cover. I love Alice’s writing. Her books are unique and different and don’t focus on romance like is common in most YA books, even when they don’t fall into that category. This book was the first book that had a character that is Demisexual like myself and helped me along with other things realize that I was demi. This book does have abuse in it, but Alice does it in a way that it isn’t seen as ‘romantic’ to make a character learn to love themselves thanks to the love of others or whatever.

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Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

I love retellings and this book was one of the most unique and interesting retelling I’ve read yet. It was so beautifully written and fascinating. I honestly now want to read everything Helen has written because it’s so magical and yet so realistic and pointed to subjects that we still have to deal with today.

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Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Another book I was afraid to read for fear of disappointment. Because so many people LOVE this series. But I got it from a huge sale on comics and I got this as a full volume and I fell deeply in love with all of the characters. It reminds me of games I wanted to play growing up with strong women and books that I crave now. All of these characters I love and need more of. I’m so happy I finally picked up.

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

This was the first book I read by Schwab with either name she uses for her writing and it was pure magic. I did pick it up and put it down simply because I wasn’t in a fantasy mood. But once I was, the small sample I had wasn’t enough. I bought it and read it nonstop because I needed more, loved the characters and idea so much for how brilliant it was. I ended up buying the second book actually knowing I will read it, unlike so many other second books because I desperately need more.

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Yes, another fantasy book. I got this for Christmas last year and read it with a read-a-long a friend was doing online and I ended up starting and finishing it early because I couldn’t put it down. The magic and the story was just brilliant. I was so obsessed with it that I ended up drawing art based on it. Even now, this might be one of my all time favorite books and how it defied the typical expectations of fairy tales.

The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

The Princess Save Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

The author is a good friend of mine, so is this biased? Maybe. But probably not because I went into this book like it was any other book. And this book reminded me why I love poetry after reading so much modern poetry that was simply disappointing. But this book was far from. It was magical and so true I might have highlighted my whole ebook version of it because so much applied and related to my own life that I never felt so connected to someone before. It was like someone wrote events of my life into poetry. My most treasured item of all time? My personalized signed copy from her. I can’t wait to buy the mass market version of this. And gush to everyone I know the author and how I cry from how proud I am of her.

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Wonder Women by Sam Maggs

This is a popular book idea right now – lists of women who have changed the world. I’ve read and reviewed about three or four but this was my favourite one. First, the art is adorable, but this book covers women you might not have heard of for once instead of the same women again and again. But the most amazing part is this author didn’t erase these women’s sexuality like most do. They admit that some might be bi or gay or are for sure. The other books I’ve read for the most part did erase that or just didn’t mention it because they wanted to keep that erasure of sexuality.

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Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Another popularly known books of poetry that was actually really well done. I loved this book and loved the small drawings. It really was well done and another book that left like it touched my inner being a bit more. It was another book that reminded me of good poetry and love it a lot.

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Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

I got this book as an ARC but for whatever reason, it was one of the few I put off. But then, I saw people loving this book. I saw posts about it constantly and I was suddenly terrified that it would suck. I put it off longer until just recently. And let me say, it did NOT suck. I loved it. I kept falling asleep while reading it into the early hours, unable to put it down. It was dark and mean girls like and well done. I’m craving the second book really bad. So look for that review coming soon because I know I’ll be reading it ASAP.