BOOK REVIEW: Marie Lu “Warcross”

29385546Title: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

In this technology-driven world, Warcross is a game that everyone, young, old, rich, poor, plays. It’s a virtual reality-type game where you can log on to be strategic and competitive, or just to escape your world and life to be somewhere else for a while.

Still, you can get into a lot of trouble on Warcross with illegal gambling and such, and Emika Chen is the one who catches these guys when the police don’t have time to. She’s a bounty hunter, and even though she has the skills to do so much more, her criminal record keeps this from happening. So she scrapes by on the little bit of money she gets from the guys she catches and finds solace like so many others in the world of Warcross.

That is, until one day when Chen unintentionally glitches herself into one of the most important games of the Warcross Championship, and she’s sure that she’s going to be arrested again.

Except she isn’t. She becomes an overnight sensation and is drafted into the Championship. Still, there’s more than just the games to worry about. Hideo Tanaka, the creator of Warcross, has a special interest in Emika and her hacking abilities, and she has a special interest in him. It becomes clear that someone is trying to sabotage the games, or planning something worse than any of them have imagined, and it’s Emika’s job to stop them.

My thoughts:

I absolutely loved this.

This is the book I’ve been waiting for. The dialogue was believable and the characters were interesting, well-rounded and complex. The action was engaging and the story was unlike any other virtual-reality, video game-related story I’d ever seen or read. Don’t even get me started on the romance. It was electrifying, and I could feel it before they ever even touched each other (which wasn’t until, like, after page 200?). Marie Lu took her time building up the romance and the tension, and I absolutely loved it. I loved Emika and Hideo. I loved everything.

It was just such a fun read that I didn’t want it to end. I actually found myself trying to slow down and take more time on it, and I was so sad to read the last page. Not that we aren’t getting at least one sequel, and since Marie Lu seems to have a thing for trilogies, I’m going to guess there will be two. Still, how long am I going to have to wait to find out what happens next?

I liked that I didn’t predict who the culprit was. Yes, I love to guess and yes, I love to be right. But lately, my accurate predictions have really been ruining the experience for me, and while the end wasn’t exactly out-of-this-world shocking, I was surprised.

One thing I’ll say is that the book seemed short. I suppose I’m not complaining because I like it when it doesn’t take me two weeks to read a book, but I do wish there had been at least 50 more pages of content? However, that’s just me. I was still so pleased with this that I don’t care too much.

Ever since I read Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, I’ve admired her world-building. I noticed it there, I noticed it in her Young Elites trilogy, and I see it here. Her ability to shape and describe the world that her characters are living in is mind-blowing and I so enjoyed it here in Warcross.

I loved this book so very much and I’m going to recommend it for all of my days. Starting with my blog readers. Hey. Read this book.

 

Marie Lu: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Emily Lloyd-Jones “The Hearts We Sold”

34538054Title: The Hearts We Sold

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones

Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Dee Moreno lives a normal life, surrounded by normal people in a relatively normal world, except for one thing: the existence of demons.

Apparently, the demons have always existed and lived among humans, but in recent years, demons have come forward and revealed themselves to humanity.

Demons assure them that they don’t harm humans, but they are here to make deals and trades with them. They don’t barter with typical, material things however: they deal with wishes in exchange for body parts.

Dee doesn’t think she would ever want anything from a demon until her scholarship to the boarding school she attends is revoked. She can’t imagine going home to her two drunk parents and her previous, smothered life, so she seeks out a demon. However, this demon doesn’t want a finger or a toe; he wants her heart.

My thoughts:

I received this book in an OwlCrate box a few months ago and was very intrigued by the concept. I read some glowing reviews about it, some noting the sad nature of the ending. So I thought I was prepared for it. I really did. I went into this like, “Alright, I can handle this. I can keep myself together for this read and I’m ready for anything this book throws my way.”

I was not.

This book absolutely tore my heart out, pun intended. And not just the story and what happened, but the actual writing and the way it was written. Emily Lloyd-Jones does an amazing job of conveying emotion accurately and graphically in a way I’ve never seen. I was drawn in from the very first page and was entranced by the story and by Dee’s life.

The characters were very alive. I could imagine seeing any of them standing before me right now, having a conversation with each other. They were complex and breathing and interesting. Dee was broken, timid, and small in the beginning, but throughout the story learned to trust and love. James was a tortured artist, aimless and without a care in the world until he met Dee. Gremma, the roommate, was loyal, funny, unique and spirited. She was a really wonderful addition to the story, which I didn’t expect. I didn’t think she would add much but in the end, I’m glad she was there. The Daemon was mysterious, sometimes likable, sometimes creepy, sometimes scary. He was unpredictable and he kept the reading experience interesting.

The relationship between Dee and James was believable as opposed to many YA romances that seem forced and flat. I adored their interactions and the sweetness of their love.

I really enjoyed the demon aspect of the story. I’ve never seen “demons” portrayed like this in either literature or film, and I thought this was fresh and new. The air of mystery surrounding demons and the voids and the origins of both was a nice touch, keeping me intrigued throughout.

My only complaint was that any of the action scenes seemed very rushed and lacking… action. I don’t mind it too much because I tend to skim through action anyway. I don’t mean to, I just hate the suspense and the anxiety I get during fight scenes and stuff so it’s just easier for me.

It was almost as if Jones was compensating for the lack of a heart in our main character by causing the reader’s heart to bleed. I did so much feeling throughout this reading experience and I love that. I love when a book can make me feel and cry and laugh and gasp. This book was wonderful in that way.

Like I said, it also made me cry like a baby, but many might see this as a good thing. After all, this book caused me to feel and become invested. If I hadn’t cared, I wouldn’t have cried. So this made me care very, very much. Read at your own risk.

 

Emily Lloyd-Jones: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Straight Up, Just a Collection of Pretty Covers

I don’t know about you, but I have a serious case of lusting after beautiful books. Even if I buy the book and despise it, I will keep it simply because it’s a nice addition to my bookshelf.

How shallow, right? It’s true. The following are some of the prettiest books I’ve ever seen: some I loved, some I didn’t, and some I have yet to read.

1.) Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The cover is what initially drew me toward this book in the first place, but this is one instance where the cover matched the contents. This is a beautiful series, and definitely one of my favorites. In fact, all of the books in the Grisha trilogy are beautiful. Here, just look at them:

grisha-trilogy-covers

Recently, this series underwent a cover change, which I felt was completely unnecessary but oh well. As long as I own the superior covers.

2.) These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

Whoever designed this cover deserves an award. Just holy cow. I borrowed this book first from a friend, and when I ended up loving it, I immediately bought it. (Didn’t hurt that it’s one of the prettiest books I’ve ever seen in my life, right?) However, I wish the rest of this series had been as amazing as the first. This space adventure trilogy started off so strong, and then I slowly started to lose interest. I’ve shamelessly kept the books, though, and still like to take them down and gaze at them every so often.

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3.) Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Holy cow, this book. Before I opened it for the first time, I knew nothing about it. It turned out to be the best book I’ve read so far in 2017. The story, the characters, the mystery; just oh so incredible and engaging. And of course, it has one of the most amazing covers. Mine even shimmers in certain lights, and I could just stare at it all day. However, please read this book because of the amazing story and not because the cover is so beautiful you could die. You can read my review for Caraval here.

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4.) A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

I have very mixed feelings about this trilogy. On one hand, the concept and idea of the story is very interesting and showed plenty of promise. I’m all for time travel and talk of different dimensions and all that jazz. This book could have had it all, for me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t pleased with how the story was told. For a story so action-packed like this one, I shouldn’t be bored. I shouldn’t be wishing for the end like I did so often with this series. However, would you just look at those covers?

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5.) Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Long before I ever joined bookstagram or I even dreamed of blogging about books, I ran across this book while browsing Goodreads. I was immediately struck by how beautiful the cover was, and I immediately wanted it. At the time, I had no job and no money, so it went into my Amazon wish list for me to buy at another time.

Over three years later, I have finally bought this book and added it to my bookshelf, and it was one of the most glorious moments. I’ve been waiting to own this piece of art forever, and I finally have it. Have I read it yet? No. Will I soon? Maybe. If I hate it, will I get rid of it? Definitely never. In fact, I need to add the rest of this series to my wish list ASAP, and maybe purchase them in the next few months instead of waiting three years like last time.

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6.) Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

I read this one on a whim and I was so glad that I did. Rebel of the Sands had a unique premise and a unique setting, and also sported some very likeable, interesting characters. My only wish is that I could find this same edition for the second book in hardcover, because so far I have had no such luck. Why are there so many different editions and various covers for the same book? Why can’t they all look the same, even if they’re covers for another country? Can’t you change the language and content of the book without changing the look of the cover? Is this so much to ask???

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7.) The Selection by Kiera Cass

Ah, yes. This infamous series. What to say about The Selection? I hate them, and I can’t get enough of them. I could talk crap about them all day, but if Cass were to release another book right now, I would go out and buy it immediately, no questions asked. Why is this? What is the magic of these books? It’s not even the beautiful covers with the girly dresses, although I love them. I just can’t stop reading them. I want to say that they bore me but they don’t. It doesn’t matter how much I despise America (the main character’s name in the series, I promise I love my country). It doesn’t matter how maddening her decisions are. I just eat these books up, and I am ashamed.

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8.) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

These books have always been a lot of fun, particularly the very first one. The premise is wonderful, and even though I have disliked certain aspects of the story, I still consider these to be good reads. While I prefer the Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy, this is still an excellent addition to Han’s repertoire. Plus, the covers are super cute, come on.

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That’s all for today folks. Just wanted to share with you some of my favorite book covers and feature them here for y’all’s enjoyment and appreciation. Sometimes I like to stare at them dreamily, and maybe that’s a little creepy. I love my books, okay? Not only do I believe they should have excellent content, I’m a firm believer in creating aesthetically pleasing cover art. What can I say, I’m a sucker. Slap a nice cover on a crappy book and I’ll totally buy it. Sue me.

BOOK REVIEW: Leila Sales “This Song Will Save Your Life”

22014863_1813506502012766_621267476_nTitle: This Song Will Save Your Life

Author: Leila Sales

Genre: Contemporary/Fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

I’ve owned the book This Song Will Save Your Life for several years, initially attracted by it’s eye-catching cover and intriguing title. It’s sat on my bookshelves for several years, waiting to be discovered, realized, and felt. I’ve heard this book calling out to me on several occasions since being bought, begging to be read. Finally, for some unknown reason,  I had the urge to pick this up a few days ago, and I am so thankful that I did.

This book was such a journey, and so heartfelt. I understood it’s main character, saw myself in her, and knew her. The story follows this main character, Elise, who’s a social outcast and does everything she can to change it. She spends an entire summer researching all the things that “cool” people do, wear, and know. She reads up on the lives of celebrities that she doesn’t care about, TV shows she doesn’t watch, and to her dismay, popular music that she hates. Then when it’s time to put this newfound knowledge to use, Elise realizes that none of it would ever make her cool. The trendy clothes that she spent a fortune on, the person she’s pretending to be… they always see through it. She can change how she appears all she wants, but she can’t change who she is. She can’t change the ill-timed questions or comments, born from a social cluelessness that she’s struggled with her whole life. Nor can she change the years of loser persona that she has perfected and her peers have come to know her as.

Somehow, Elise happens across an underground nightclub, where music rules the night and the people have no idea who she is during the day. No longer is she Elise, the loser. She’s Elise, aspiring DJ.

Elise’s story hit me so deep. While I was fortunate to be homeschooled and a part of a relatively accepting group of fellow homeschoolers, I was definitely never cool. When I was enrolled in private school for a short time, I was teased, and I absolutely know why. I was actually one of the most annoying kids ever. I liked to raise my hand in the middle of class because I had a comment or story relating to what the teacher was talking about. I picked my nose in public. I wore oversized hoodies and I never, ever, brushed my hair. I was the last of all the girls in my grade to get a training bra. I said things out loud that I probably shouldn’t have. I was a social nightmare.

When I left school and started interacting with new people, I was so excited to start over and try to be a cooler person. However, I learned the same thing that Elise did: it’s not cool to try.

This book also deals with having suicidal thoughts and cutting, and while I’ve never harmed myself in that way, I’ve had thoughts of killing myself before. However, this story stresses the fact that sometimes, people aren’t driven to kill themselves because something significant and horrible happened to them. Sometimes, it can be because a group of girls forced you to clean up their mess after lunch. It’s not about cleaning up the mess, though; it’s about that and every moment leading up to it. For Elise, it had been every torturous thing that happened to her, every mean thing anyone had ever called her, all the time she had spent trying to be cooler, trying to be better, and all her work being good for nothing. For me, it was every boy I had ever cared for rejecting me. It was finally being in a relationship, and not being happy. It was being treated like crap by the only boy who had ever liked me and wondering if this was how I was going to feel for the rest of my life.

Elise found her happiness, though, and so did I. Her story is inspiring and beautiful, and it touched me in a way that few stories have. I didn’t expect to love this book so much, but now that it’s a part of my life, I’m so happy to be able to share it. Elise’s story mirrors many of our stories, and it deals with some of the same pains and heartbreaks that we have faced.

This is my favorite book I have ever read that deals with suicide. It’s an encouragement to all those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, and an anthem to all those who have overcome them.

Please read this book.

 

Leila Sales: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

PRODUCT REVIEW: OwlCrate “Mythical Creatures”

*Disclaimer: for those who are subscribed to OwlCrate and do not wish to know what the contents inside are, please do not proceed.*

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This morning, I was quite surprised to receive my September OwlCrate box, especially considering I never received my email notification. No matter, it’s here, and I was so excited to open this one. This is the third OwlCrate box that I have received, and this month’s theme was Mythical Creatures, for fans of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones.

For those who don’t know, OwlCrate is a YA book subscription box that typically contains 4-6 items relating to the theme. Each box also carries the monthly hardcover book with an OwlCrate exclusive cover, with both a signed bookplate and a letter from the author. Each box is so much fun to receive and I have loved every item that has come with them.

I was very interested to see what they were going to do with this theme, and I was pleased with it. While the box didn’t have as many items, I’m guessing this is because of the more anticipated item, the Book Beau!

21767599_1802559003107516_689884393_nBook Beau is a company that creates unique and beautiful book sleeves to protect your preciouses. The exclusive book sleeve that we received in this month’s OwlCrate box has two mythical creatures incorporated in the design, fitting perfectly with the theme. I was very excited to hear that this box would include a book sleeve because I’ve been seeing them all over Instagram and have been positively lusting after them. I love the various designs and wish that I wasn’t trying to save money, or else I would buy them all. I was disappointed that this particular size of sleeve will only fit paperbacks and small hardcovers because the majority of my books are hardcovers, but I know I will still find plenty of use for this.

21624236_1802558976440852_1650861161_nOne of the first items I pulled out of the box was this container of bath salts made by The Soap Librarian. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to use this right away because my tub is have some problems draining. However, once this problem is resolved, I’m so looking forward to using this! Inspired by Percy Jackson, these Son of Poseidon bath salts smell of chamomile, lavender, rose, hibiscus, etc. There are even cornflower petals in the mix! I’m not a huge bath salt user so I’m not sure what the benefits are to this, but it seems interesting to me and I’m definitely not opposed to it. It has a very calming fragrance to it and I think this was a very fun, creative item.

21622035_1802558999774183_1078306024_nThe next item I opened was a canvas coin purse created by OwlCrate! I think it’s so awesome that their team is making items of their own. This is such a cute little pouch and I feel I’ll definitely be using this to organize my purse. My one complaint about this item is the material used for the inside lining; it’s made of that crinkly stuff that I’m not super fond of. Still, the print itself is very pretty and again, very fitting with the theme. I’m so excited to see what else the team at OwlCrate continues to create and include in these boxes!

21754472_1802558973107519_861444953_nOne of the most beautiful products in this month’s box was the wooden bookmark from the company Ink and Wonder Designs. I’m assuming this was the Game of Thrones inspired item, and while I’m not a part of this particular fandom, this is one of the most gorgeous bookmarks I have ever beheld. Also, I’ve never seen a wooden bookmark before and when I heard that this box was going to be containing one, I was skeptical. I was concerned that it would be flimsy and easily breakable, but it’s actually quite sturdy and pliable. The work done on it is very clean, and you don’t have to worry about getting splinters if you run your fingers across the surface of it.

21744690_1802558959774187_1919960114_nPerhaps one of the cutest items OwlCrate featured this month was this Hagrid sticker designed by Susanne Draws. My husband was curious and wanted to watch me unbox this, and funny enough, he and I were just watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban yesterday. However, we hadn’t quite finished it before he had to go back to work, and we had just finished the part where Buckbeak *spoilers* “dies”. This is his first time watching the movies so of course, he’s a little sad. He is not an emotional person in the slightest, but the sight of this sticker produced the smallest of pouts. “Well that’s cruel,” he proclaimed, crossing his arms over his chest, pretending to not care even though he totally does. I’m going to make a Harry Potter nerd out of him, yet.

The last item before the book was this month’s pin. Each box has a pin, always something that matches the artwork on the spoiler card, both pictured below. On the backside of the spoiler card, you’ll find the names of all the items included in the box and the company’s that provided each item. It also has a synopsis for the book, which I will talk about next.

Keeping with the theme of Mythical Creatures, this month’s book is promised to include many, many dragons. Without further ado, the book is: Before She Ignites, the first book in the Fallen Isles Trilogy by Jodi Meadows. I just want to say that I totally guessed the book; trying to predict each month’s book is one of my favorite things. I love to just browse through upcoming or recent releases on Goodreads and look for books matching the short synopsis provided for us by OwlCrate. I guessed last month’s box, The Hearts We Sold, and I guessed this month’s box. I’m 2/3, y/all.

Also included with this box is something that I haven’t seen from them before: a short little pamphlet with an interview with Jodi Meadows, an interview with the creator of Book Beau, Benita Botello, as well as a sneak peak for next month’s box, themed Find Me in the Forest. As seen in the picture below, they also compare the original cover to the OwlCrate exclusive, which for this particular month was a subtle swapping of silver to gold print.

In conclusion, I’m quite pleased with this month’s box. I believe it’s an excellent value for the money, which is $29.99 for all. I’ve loved this box, even before I was subscribed to it; I used to watch unboxing videos and pictures longingly, wishing that I could order one of my own. Now I finally have, and it’s such a fun thing to anticipate each box every month. You can find links to all stores, shops, and socials below; thank you for reading!

 

OwlCrate: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Beau: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The Soap Librarian: Website

Ink and Wonder Designs: Website | Facebook | Instagram

Susanne Draws: Tumblr | Etsy | Instagram | Twitter

Jodi Meadows: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

What is “Bookstagram”?

For someone who might not be in on the fads and trends, this might be a difficult question to answer. In the last decade, pop culture has been exploding with the birth of fandoms and the people who are apart of those fandoms, typically called “fangirls” or “fanboys”. While comic conventions have been a thing for over 40 years (the first San Diego comic con occurring in 1970), attendance has been growing steadily in recent years.

Now more specifically to books, there are many platforms in which book fangirls and fanboys can express their loves and passions. Fans who choose to post YouTube videos about their love of books are called “booktubers”, so naturally, the people who post pictures relating to books on Instagram have been lovingly dubbed “bookstagrammers”.

As a semi-recent addition to the bookstagram community, I can confidently say that the community is one of the most positive that I’ve been a part of. Many fandoms, while fun and full of lively debates, can become aggressive where disagreements and arguments are concerned. I’ve found that on bookstagram, most individuals are very accepting of other’s opinions and are generally respectful and friendly to one another. Seeing as I only launched my bookstagram account about 2 months ago and already have made connections and friendships with several lovely people speaks volumes for the love this community has for each other.

While browsing through bookstagram, you’ll find plenty of beautiful pictures of books. We here in this community find the sight of books very aesthetically pleasing. Many bookstagrammer also run their own blogs as well as booktubes.

Another fun perk to being a part of the bookstagram community is seeing the amazing bookish merchandise! You may not have known this, but you can buy book related products of all kinds: candles, prints, themed-bookmarks, pillows, coffee, tea, t-shirts, accessories, jewelry, blankets, pins, stickers, mugs, etc, etc, etc. When I joined this bookish community, I was stunned by the hundreds of Etsy shops and online businesses selling beautiful products. If you become a rep for any of these numerous shops, they will typically send you free items as long as you feature them in 3-4 of your photos each months as a way to promote their company.

All in all, bookstagram is a lovely community filled with wonderful people that I’ve been so lucky to become connected with, and I’m so excited to meet more fellow book lovers through it. You can follow my bookstagram account @spineless_bookwyrm!