BOOK REVIEW: Alexandra Christo “To Kill a Kingdom”

34499221Title: To Kill a Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts: 

This is how you write a retelling, people. It doesn’t have to be the same in every way and it’s okay if it’s a looser portrayal. To Kill a Kingdom is a re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, and I have to say that I loved it even more than the original.

Now truth be told I don’t actually love the original Disney adaptation with Ariel’s insisting “but Daddy, I love him” and claiming she’s “not a child anymore” when she’s 16. (You know you’re getting old when you start to side with the adults in kid’s movies?) I also can’t say that I’m all too familiar with the original original story, except that I know it’s quite sad so I have no interest in it. Happily ever after or bust, man.

Yet Allie Christo’s adaptation was everything I need from a good story: morally grey MCs, hilarious secondary characters, a psycho villain, slow-burn romance, clever banter and action.

I had my doubts about this book considering I have no love for Ariel and Eric, but Lira and Elian are bae and I say this unironically. From the very beginning, I rooted for them both and they were such believable characters. Even though they weren’t likable right of the bat, I connected with them and in turn, grew to love them.

The world that Christo created was fascinating, both on land and in the water. I loved the world of the sirens and mermaids and also loved the different kingdoms and cultures that Elian’s crew encounters. Plus, the dynamics between Lira and Elian were amazing: Lira, siren, Princes’ Bane and Elian, pirate, prince, siren hunter. And yet throughout the book, only Lira knows both of their identities since Elian still believes that she’s human.

Also let’s talk about the writing: it was incredible.

… Oh, I thought I had more to say about that. Moving on.

In conclusion, To Kill a Kingdom was such a fun, satisfying romp and Christo has been added to my list of authors on my auto-buy list. My wallet says thanks.

 

Alexandra Christo: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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BOOK REVIEW: Ernest Cline “Ready Player One”

ready-player-one-book-GalleyCatTitle: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

*Summary provided by Goodreads.

My Thoughts:

This book was amazing. This was a treasure trove of geeky, 80’s awesomeness and I adored it from start to finish. This was National Treasure inside a vast, limitless virtual world with references to a wide range of classic games, film, music, etc. This was absolutely perfect.

I can’t say enough good things about Ready Player One. The pacing was surprisingly flawless considering the length of the book and the time range/information that this covers. It’s a rags-to-riches story about dedication, quick thinking, clue-solving, etc.

The story starts with the death of James Halliday, creator of the OASIS, a vast and ever-growing virtual world, and lover of all things from the 80’s. He describes in a video made before his passing, a competition: whoever can find the Easter egg that he’s hidden in the OASIS will win his inheritance, which is sizable to say the least. Halliday leaves for the world one clue, and for 5 years, no progress is made in the search for the egg.

Wade Watts, our main character and total underdog, has no real chance of coming out on top. He doesn’t have the money to pay transportation fees to travel through the OASIS, which means he can’t do two things: actively search for the egg or level-up his character. The only world he’s allowed on is the planet where he attends school virtually; sadly, there are no monsters there to kill for experience, and there is nothing to search. All he can do is study everything there is to learn about Halliday, his thousands of obsessions, and master all of the video games he can get his hands on.

Then, by crazy chance, Wade solves the first clue.

What follows is a wild ride through the endless OASIS in a search for the egg. Puzzles must be solved, clues must be cracked, games must be won, and now there’s competition as other players begin to catch up. After 5 years, the game has finally begun, and Wade can now put to use all the facts and knowledge that he has gathered.

It’s impressive how dedicated Wade was to this game. He spent 5 years watching all of Halliday’s favorite movies and TV shows, playing all of his favorite games, listening to all his favorite music, reading all of his favorite books, hoping to find some clue as to the location of the egg. Wade doesn’t just watch/read/play/listen to once; he’s got most of Halliday’s obsessions practically memorized to the point of concern. Like I’m worried that this may have not been super healthy.

I can’t stress enough how incredible this book was. It was interesting and engaging and I didn’t get bored once. I was hooked from beginning to end, and never once did my enjoyment of the story waver.

So a minor complaint: it seemed that Wade had a way of solving clues at, like, the perfect time. He would always be conveniently listening to something or watching something that would jog his memory just the right way to make the answer become clear to him. It seemed a little too perfect, but dang I loved the story so much that I don’t even care.

Another slightly bigger complaint: Ernest Cline was such a tease with that ending! I was not satisfied by it at all; I felt like I needed so much more. I wanted him to give us a “6 months later” bit or something, but instead I felt it was abrupt. I wanted to know what happened after, so I felt let down.

Otherwise, this book is a crazy, wild ride. I’d recommend this to anyone and I think people of all ages can enjoy this, even if you’re not big into gaming or the 80’s. It’s a timeless story with some really awesome features, characters you can root for, and a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.

 

Ernest Cline: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Sarah J Maas “Crown of Midnight”

covers_244928Title: Crown of Midnight

Author: Sarah J Maas

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

*Summary provided by Goodreads.

WARNING: this review will contain spoilers for both the first and second books of the Throne of Glass series. Proceed with caution.

My thoughts:

This is it. This is the book where things start to get crazy. And we’re only at book two.

Sarah J Maas is a genius crafter and creator, her books constantly taking wild turns, revealing shocking secrets and being chock-full of action, wit, humor and feeling. I’ve said this before and I will say it again: her stories only get better and better. She one-ups herself every dang time and it is emotionally exhausting, can you please just chill, SJM?

I remember reading the book the first time around and being like, “Oh, this is cool, an assassin with a mysterious past and woah now, what’s this about summoning monsters and Wyrdmarks and what?” Then I read the second book and I was like, “Okay, cool, I know what to expect now, there’s some magical/supernatural elements and some creepy Valg things and HOLY CRAP, CELAENA IS FAE?” And it just kept getting better as the books went on. Every time I opened a new one, I’d think, “I know what’s coming, I know this world now, it’s all good,” and by the time I was finished, I was on the floor gasping for breath because wow.

Plus that huge reveal at the end? I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming, and I can’t say that lost princesses are a super original story trope. But you have to admit, that reveal was so dang satisfying. Chaol slowly putting the pieces together, the facts slowly dawning on him and the book ending with him finding out? It was brilliant.

The scenes under the library were so chilling and creepy that I quite literally had to read with my back against a wall so I could see the entire room. I don’t care that I’ve read this before and I know what happens, it’s downright terrifying.

I have to say that I docked half a star for two reasons: I thought it was sort of ridiculous that Celaena didn’t realize that Asher was playing her. It was obvious to me from the beginning that he was being shady, and so that whole part of the plot was frustrating to me. I also hated what occurred between Celaena and Chaol. Sure, should he have told her about the possible threat on Nehemia’s life? Maybe. But as the reader, I could understand Chaol’s dilemma and I never ever blamed him for Nehemia’s death. And Celaena is smart enough to realize that her newfound hatred for Chaol was pointless. Sure, it would probably have put a rift between them romantically, but she shouldn’t have wanted to kill him for what he did.

Also, where are all the Chaol-haters at? I want someone to explain to me why they don’t like him, because I honest-to-God don’t understand it. I promise not to try to sway you or change your mind, I’m simply curious about the reason for the negative feels!

This book series is incredible and I’m so excited for the new book and if I sit here and continue talking about it, I could type for days. Have a great weekend, everyone.

 

Sarah J Maas: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Cate Holahan “The Widower’s Wife”

51nKCFTyz9LTitle: The Widower’s Wife

Author: Cate Holahan

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Ana Bacon, a young housewife, tumbles off a cruise ship into the dark and deadly waters. But did she take her secrets with her?

Investigator Ryan Monahan is a numbers man. So when his company sends him the Bacon case, which could net a ten-million-dollar payout, Monahan doubts that her death is just a tragic accident. But the husband has a substantial alibi, and a number of witnesses claim to have seen Ana fall. So the official ruling seems substantiated.

Still, the more Monahan uncovers about Ana’s life, the more he realizes how many people would kill to keep her secrets hidden. And the closer he gets to the truth, the greater the odds grow that he, too, will take a fatal fall.

*Summary supplied by the back of the book*

My thoughts:

I definitely struggled with this book. Typically, I love mysteries and thrillers, yet I found nothing intriguing or thrilling about this story. The characters were all flat, and while I sympathized with Ana throughout, it wasn’t enough to carry the plot. The writing was sub-par and the mystery itself wasn’t surprising.

The book alternates between two different points of views in two different timelines: Ana Bacon before her mysterious disappearance and Ryan Monahan a few months after. If done wrong, this could have become confusing. Fortunately, each POV gave up just enough information for the reader to get by.

Monahan’s job is to investigate Ana’s death for signs pointing to suicide. According to their insurance, they don’t have to pay the 5-million-dollar payout if it turns out that she killed herself. So Monahan interviews several people in Ana’s life, looking for signs of depression or any indication that she may commit suicide. Instead, he finds a string a secrets and strange behaviors, and it seems that the case is much more than he bargained for.

The last 50 or so pages were definitely more interesting than the rest of the book (which was a drag) and ultimately saved this from being a total dud. I still didn’t love the big reveal and found it to be a disappointment, but overall was happy about the way things ended up. Justice was served and good won over evil, which is always something I love. Still, I don’t see myself reading anything else from this author in the future.

 

Cate Holahan: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Nicola Yoon “The Sun Is Also a Star”

9780552574242Title: The Sun is Also a Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 1.5/5 stars

 

Natasha and her family are Jamaican immigrants that are about to be deported, but not if she can help it. On her last day in America, she’s determined to do everything she can to stay. Natasha snags an appointment with the top immigration lawyer in the city, but not before she meets Daniel.

Daniel was born in America to Korean parents who want only the best for him. They want him to go to Yale, become a doctor, marry a nice Korean girl and live the American dream. Unfortunately, that’s not what Daniel wants.

When Natasha walks into his life, he’s convinced it’s love at first sight, but she doesn’t believe in love. It’s all a series of chemicals and imbalances and such she assures him, but Daniel isn’t convinced. He believes she’s a sign, a miracle; so he’s determined to convince her, with science, that love is real.

My thoughts: 

This book reminded me of When Dimple Met Rishi in some ways; for instance the sense of familial obligation, cultural backgrounds, the charming male character and the mean, cold female MC. Why is it so hard to find good, likeable female characters in YA? And why does it seem that all the horrible ones are written by women? Why? Natasha was annoying, pretentious and mean, and I didn’t like anything about her.

The story takes place in the span of one day. This means that Natasha and Daniel meet and “fall in love” in less than 15 hours.

I’m the last person to tell you someone is moving too fast in a relationship. I started dating my husband in November of 2015 and we were engaged before our one-year anniversary. We knew that we wanted to get married like 3 months after we started dating; we were hopelessly in love and desperate to begin our lives together.

But I’m sorry, if you’re trying to tell me that two people fell in love (the real, sacrificial, all-consuming love that these teenagers claimed to have) in less than a day, I wouldn’t believe you.

Don’t even get me started on the way Daniel reacted when Natasha admitted she was getting deported. He had postponed an interview with a Yale alumni to hang out with Natasha more, and when he finds out that she’s leaving, he gets butt-hurt. He blames her for the cancellation and accuses her of leading him on. I’m sorry, you’ve known her for exactly 5-6 hours at this point, what right do you have? You’re not her boyfriend, you’re not her friend. Heck, he’s hardly an acquaintance, but he’s already acting possessive and honestly, the whole scene was ridiculous.

So no, I didn’t like their relationship. I don’t think it was love. Attraction, yes. Did they have feelings for each other? Sure. But they did not love each other.

If the entire book hadn’t focused on their relationship being “love at first sight” or “meant to be”, I might have gotten on board with their meet-cute, their romance. It would have been sweet, but Daniel blows the whole thing out of proportion.

I liked other things about the book. The book mainly follows Natasha and Daniel and their POVs, but occasionally it would show us what was going on in the head of someone close by, like a waitress or a bus driver. I thought this was a really interesting and special touch. The whole story is based on the idea that every little thing that happens and every decision you make can alter the future. So if one thing happens then something else will, and something else won’t. If Natasha hadn’t met Daniel in a record store then she would have gotten hit by a car and either been killed or mortally wounded, but of course ultimately, she wouldn’t have met Daniel. That kind of thing. I thought this was a really nice aspect to the story and saved this from being a 0 star read.

It’s disappointing, really, because I enjoyed Everything, Everything by this author and I had expectations for this. The Sun is Also a Star just didn’t live up.

Nicola Yoon: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Nicola Yoon “Everything, Everything”

22053372_1813520378678045_2121720862_nTitle: Everything, Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Madeline has a rare disease which makes it impossible for her to go outside. Basically, she is allergic to the world. So she lives a confined life with little-to-no social interaction, which she is satisfied with. That is, until the new neighbors move in.

She watches the family next door and memorizes their daily schedules. Madeline watches the wife garden in the morning, the husband come home every day with anger in his eyes, looking for a reason to attack his family. She watches the daughter leave cigarettes in the front yard, and then watches the son. His comings and goings. His lack of routine. She watches him climb onto the room, where she’s unable to see him anymore. And occasionally, she watches him watch her.

Madeline and Oliver eventually connect via email, typing IMs to each other. A special relationship blossoms between them, and suddenly, Madeline is no longer satisfied with her life indoors. She decides she wants more.

This was a sweet story, and I loved seeing Madeline and Oliver’s initial interactions via IM. I loved it when they met for the first time, the nervousness and the flirting.

Oliver’s character was well-developed, and I was so glad that there was more to him than “bad boy next door neighbor, likes to wear black”. I love that he never gave up on Madeline and his genuine love and concern for her wellbeing. He was more worried about her being healthy than being able to have a normal relationship with her. He was willing to settle for zero physical contact and 30 minute visits if it meant that she would be alright, so he was selfless and caring.

Madeline was also an easy character to like. She wasn’t totally pleased with her health situation, but she was living with it, which is a lot better than I would be doing. But she was also strong and when she finally started thinking for herself, she stuck to her guns and she did what she needed to.

Unfortunately, I predicted the ending, but was still relatively satisfied with it. This was a quick, adorable read, and I can’t wait to see the movie now!

 

Nicola Yoon: Website | Tumblr | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Introducing Myself

Good morning from Hawaii! My name is Devyn Guerra, and this is blog number 5 or 6 that I’ve started now? I’m the absolute worst about remaining focused on one topic; sometimes I’d love to write about my life. Sometimes I’d love to write fantasy. Sometimes I write fan fiction. And sometimes I like to post my bookish opinions on the internet.

So here I am.

I was born in South Carolina 21 years ago and I lived there for 9 years. Still, those were never really the formative years from me, and so I’ve always considered Texas my home. I lived there non-consecutively for about 8 years total, but they were some of my most important. Sure, I moved away junior year to live in Nevada for three years, but I eventually ended up back in the Lone Star State.

Unfortunately, I didn’t live in a very pretty part of Texas. While I would absolutely love to live somewhere like San Antonio, my dream city, I ended up in a dumb town called Harlingen, and I love it. It’s where I’ve made some of my most important friendships, suffered my greatest losses, and where I met the love of my life.

I’m grateful for all the moving around I’ve done in my life because it has prepared me for a lifestyle I never saw myself living: the military life. A little less than a year ago, my boyfriend proposed to me, enlisted in the Army, and shipped off for basic training, all in the matter of about one month. It was all very fast, but we decided it was the quickest way for us to be married and to start receiving a steady income. So far, the long separations have been very difficult, especially considering I am probably the clingiest person alive and require constant reassurance, but we’ve made it work and are now happily married and stationed in Oahu.

Now, I find myself with loads of time on my hands. I’m not in school (yet), and I’m not working. So what does that leave me to do? I hope to begin building up a legitimate internet presence with my newfound time and to actually use this opportunity to write. I find that I always run out of steam about a month into a new blog, but it’s always been because I’m so tired from work or school. I would come home after a long day and find that it was easier to relax in front of Netflix than to actually write anything. So all my blogs before have fizzled out. So this is my chance to finally do something I love.

I hope that you’ll follow me and that you’ll enjoy future blog posts. Comment with any questions that you have for me, and contact me if there is a specific book that you’d like for me to review. Mahalo!