Mini Reviews: More Happy Than Not + Geekerella

MiniI’ve got another set of mini reviews for you today and it won’t be the last you see this month. I usually post one set of mini reviews per month, but in July I decided that I was going to spend more time reading and less time on reviews. This means for the majority of my July reads, I wrote mini-reviews instead of full ones. I got to say, I didn’t hate the experience. This week I have a couple of contemporary reads that could not be more different in tone. Both I believe are worth picking up, but for different reasons. I read my first Adam Silvera novel More Happy Than Not as well as picking up Ashley Poston’s fairytale retelling Geekerella. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Series: N/A
Pages: 304
Publisher: Soho Teen
Release Date: June 2nd 2015 

      “In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
      When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. 

      
Why does happiness have to be so hard?”

swirl (2)

“There’s a hole inside me too, and questions in my head I can’t ignore.”

Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not is one of the most emotionally-gripping novels I’ve read this year. Dealing with life after his father’s suicide and his own suicide attempt isn’t easy, but Aaron is taking life day by day. His girlfriend Genevieve has always been there for him and he’s got a close group friends who have his back. When Thomas comes into his life, Aaron begins to question who he really is. Does he really care about Genevieve or only wants to? The more time he spends with Thomas, the more he comes to realize that he wants more than just friendship. Admitting he’s gay to himself is one thing, but letting the people around him know is something else entirely. Silvera takes us on a roller-coaster of a journey as we follow Aaron struggling to come to terms with his sexual identity in a homophobic environment. Community plays a huge role in Aaron’s life which makes their rejection of him so much more painful. Always in the foreground is the Leteo Institute with their experimental procedure that promises to rid its clients of unwanted memories. The harder Aaron’s life gets, the more he considers this to be a better alternative than living in a world that refused to accept who he is. One of my favorite parts of this novel is how effortlessly Silvera explores both the ethical dilemma of this kind of procedure as well as asking readers to question who we are at our core. More Happy Than Not is brutally honest, gut-punching in its impact, and unforgettable at every turn.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★


Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: April 4th 2017

      “When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.
      Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

swirl (2)

“I hide the phone under my pillow. Because I’m not a princess. And this is the impossible universe, where nothing good ever happens.”

Ashley Poston’s Geekerella is at its core an ode to fandom culture and all things deemed nerdy. If you’ve ever seen any kind of modern adaption of Cinderella, you’ll be familiar with the bones of this one. Elle Wittimer is treated unfairly by her stepmother and stepsisters, who have always regarded her as more than a little weird because of her obsession with the cult science–fiction television show Starfield. For Elle, her connection to Starfield and its characters have a lot to do with the times she spent with her father geeking out over the show. In a way, being a part of the Starfield fandom helps her to feel wholly herself and gives her blog gives her an outlet to express who she is. When she comes across an old Starfield relic of her father’s, she takes it as a sign that maybe she can finally do something for herself. In these types of stories, I’m used to reader’s perspectives being limited to one protagonist, but Geekerella features a dual perspective and so we get more than just a glimpse at who our prince charming is. Darien Freeman has just landed the biggest role of his career, stepping into the shoes of Federation Prince Carmindor as a Starfield is set for a movie reboot. Die-hard fans are immediately skeptical, including one particularly harsh blogger, but Darien is determined to be the best Carmindor he can be. While Elle’s character arc revolves around her learning to take a step of faith and finally gaining control of her own life, Darien grapples with fame being a double-edged sword. Feeling trapped most of the time, Darien is always playing a part. If it isn’t the paparazzi keeping a close eye on him, then it’s his father who is much better at playing the part of manager than being a supportive parental figure for his son. Geekerella is a quick read that encourages every nerd out there to embrace who they are in a world that may not always understand their enthusiasm while also having fun a familiar fairy tale trope.

Rating: 3/5

★★★

The Friday 56: The Dark Days Pact

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

His lordship watched the door close behind the two servants, the nail of his forefinger flicking hard against his thumb. He had clearly not realized the extent of Quinn’s and Darby’s affection for one another, and it troubled him. Well, it troubled her, too. Perhaps here was the opportunity to use Delia’s ill-gotten information.

“I believe Mr. Quinn and Darby are well on their way to a deep attachment,” she said carefully.

I don’t read historical fiction often, but when I do I find myself drawn to novels with fantastical elements. The Lady Helen series takes place during the Regency Era, but imagines a world where demon-like creatures roam about and a secret society of demon-hunters are determined to destroy them. You can read my mini-review of this sequel, The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman, here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen to spend the summer season in Brighton so that he can train her new Reclaimer powers. However, the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work have taken hold, and his sanity is beginning to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are even higher for Helen as she struggles to become the warrior that everyone expects her to be.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Book Recommendations for Those Who Want to Pick Up More Fantasy

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I’m so glad this meme is back from hiatus. This week’s topic is “Ten book recommendations for ______________: (Skies the limit here…examples: for Hufflepuffs, for fans of Game of Thrones, for people who don’t normally read YA, for animal lovers, for video game lovers, etc.” I feel like this week is a good opportunity to share some of my favorite fantasy series, so here is a list for those who would like to read more fantasy novels. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

 alt=  

1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Perfect for those looking for a fantasy with multiple MCs, anti-heroes, and a fast-paced heist storyline.

2. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi – Technically the second book in Star-Touched Queen series, but can be read as a standalone. Perfect for those looking for the whole package: great characters, vivid world-building, and spellbinding story.

3. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh – Perfect for those looking for an unapologetically fierce heroine and a romance that will make you weak in the knees.

4. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Perfect for those who like magical fantasy and stellar world-building.

5. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier – Perfect for those who like their fantasy with a dash of fairy tale by the Queen of fantasy. If you haven’t read this author, do it now.

6. Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Perfect for those looking for great world-building, dazzling magical battles, and an unconventional villain.

7. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin – Perfect for those looking for a multi-faceted universe where humans and gods clash.

8. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho – Perfect for those looking for a fantasy to charm them from start to finish while addressing real-world issues in a historical setting.

9. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente – Perfect for those looking for a middle grade fantasy to fall in love with where every sentence feels like magic.

10. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – Perfect for those looking for a dragon fantasy and phenomenal writing.

What is your favorite fantasy novel? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments and be sure leave a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

The Friday 56: Sorcerer to the Crown

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“She was tall and handsome, with silver-streaked black hair and a nose tending towards the beaky. She dressed in a picturesque style, with a great deal of purple and velvet. If spells could be cast by pure drama of gesture, she would have been a veritable sorceress.

I absolutely adored Zen Cho’s historical fantasy Sorcerer to the Crown. The writing was superb, the characters lovable, and the world-building multilayered. You can read my full review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
      But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…”

Mini Reviews: Three Dark Crowns + Song of the Current

MiniI decided to do something a little different in July and wrote mini reviews for all the books I read. This week I have two mini-reviews for fantasy novels, one of which I enjoyed way more than the other. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns, #1
Pages: 398
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: Septemebr 20th 2016 

      “In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
      But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

      The last queen standing gets the crown.

swirl (2)

“Looking into the mirror, she imagines her body in pieces. Bones. Skin. Not enough blood. It would not take much to break her down to nothing, to strip away scant muscles and pull the organs out to dry in the sun. She wonders often whether her sisters would break down similarly. If underneath their skin they are all the same.”

Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns starts off promising, but its muddle storylines in the end left a sour taste in my mouth. I really appreciate novels that focus on sisters because it’s a great opportunity for an author to explore these complex relationships. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly what I got with Three Dark Crowns. Every generation triplets are born to the queen and they spend their formidable years apart until their sixteen birthday when they must fight until only one of them is left standing. Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella have been raised apart under the influence of some of the most powerful players on the island of Fennbirn. Though one of them is destined to become queen, who they are and how the navigate the world has been influenced by people who have their own interests in mind. In many ways, these three girls are the least influential players in their own lives. I loved how distinct each sister is from one another and in the beginning, what held my attention was the character study of each. Katharine, though weak in many people’s eyes, is surprisingly ruthless; Arsinoe hides behind a mask of indifference, but has earned the unshakable loyalty of many; Mirabella who is one the most powerful elementals to be born has a very soft heart. About half way through the book, I began to lose interest. At times the novel spent far too much time on its minor characters and although I appreciated this scope, it was at the detriment of its main characters. There was one particular romantic relationship that really derailed this novel for me, both figuratively and literally. I’m still shaking my head at how little preamble there was and wished this novel had focused more on the relationship between the sisters.

Rating: 2/5

★★


Title: Song of the Current
Author: Sarah Tolcser
Series: Song of the Current, #1
Pages: 373
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Release Date: June 6th 2017

      “Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.
      Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

swirl (2)

“Once we reached the murky dark of the opposing riverbank, I didn’t stop. I rowed so hard it sent up a swirling wake behind our stern. My heart pounded and my blood rang hot. The rain fell in torrents, trickling down the collar of my jacket and into my sleeves. The knit cap kept my ears warm, but my fingers were clammy and half-numb.”

Sarah Tolcser’s debut novel Song of the Current is a swashbucking adventure where a young woman discovers that fate has more in store for her than she ever imagined. Caro Oresteia grew up on the water. The Cormorant isn’t just a wherry, it’s her home and her destiny to take over for her father as captain one day. Her life takes a unexpected turn when her father is taken captive and Caro agrees to deliver a mysterious box in exchange for his release. Caro’s resolve is tested throughout her journey. She discovers more about herself and what she is willing to sacrifice for the people she cares about. I really enjoyed Caro as a character and loved that so much of the novel focused on who she was, her complicated feelings when it came to her mother and heritage, and the internal struggle she has with accepting her fate. I don’t want to give too much away when it comes to her romantic interest, but I loved that although the two characters immediately clash, they eventually develop a mutual respect for one another and they both challenge the other to see the world differently. I was really impressed by Tolcser’s writing considering this is a debut, her descriptions really brought this one to life. The minor characters were also really interesting and I’m particularly curious to learn more about Caro’s cousin Kenté. Song of the Current is a fun fantasy with a touch of romance and magic that’s sure to intrigue fans of the genre.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

July ’17 Reading Challenges Recap

Once again I am posting an update of my reading challenges apart from my wrap-up post. This past month I made a lot of headway in a couple of the challenges I am taking part in and am feeling extra confident when it comes to completing them.

1. The 2017 Debut Author Challenge is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I added two more debut books (Ashley Poston’s Geekerella & Sarah Tolcser’s Song of the Current) to my current count regarding this challenge. Let’s be real, this challenge’s goal is basically in the bag.

  • Challenge Goal: 12 books; Current Count: 11 books

2. Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2017 is hosted by Alexa Loves Books and Hello, Cherry. Hey now, I actually read a few books this past month toward this challenge which makes me feel loads better about reaching my goal. In July I read the following fantasy novels: Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns, and Sarah Tolcser’s Song of the Current.

  • Challenge Goal: 20 books; Current Count: 12 books

3. Summer 2017 Bookish Bingo is hosted by Pretty Deadly Reviews and runs June through August. The goal of this challenge is to get as many BINGOs as you can using the Bingo card below. I did better than expected with regard to reading books for this challenge. My Bingo card is looking so much better compared to last month and hey, I got a couple of bingos this month! I’m aiming for three more bingos by the end of August.

Books Read Toward This Challenge in July:

  • Matilda by Roald Dahl (over 5 years old)
  • The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (thriller)
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (Latinx MC)
  • Geekerella by Ashley Poston (book about fandom)
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (LGBT+)
  • Lucky in Love by Kasie West (summer release)
  • Three Dark Crown by Kendare Blake (royalty)
  • Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (book with a map)
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (author from another continent)

My August TBR for this challenge includes:

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  • The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

How did you do with your reading challenges in July? Any challenges that you’re struggling with? Leave me a link to any reading challenges wrap-up post you do for July.