Monday, June 12, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. Here is what we Finished, Currently Reading, and what is Next In line. How about you? These were some fantastic reads and we are so excited to share what we think with you! So make sure you keep your eyes out for our reviews!

Happy Reading! 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Title: The Library of Fates 
Author: Aditi Khorana
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill  
Source: ALA Midwinter  
Format: ARC
Age Group: Teens
Genre: Fantasy/Indian Folklore 

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough.The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them. Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

I have to admit that I am a person who judges a book by its cover but for this particular book that wasn't the only deciding factor on why I picked it up. The cover was the main factor but I was just intrigued by the synopsis. I am not at all familiar with Indian Folklore but the idea of learning about another culture through reading always fascinates me. 

I was somewhat surprised at how fast I read through this book. With fantasy novels, I feel like I have more of a tendency to pace myself for the reason being of how much is going on throughout the novel. The amount of characters, the places they travel, the tidbits of information thrown here and there but this novel everything clicked for me. I do feel that this is going to be a novel that some people may really like or really dislike. For me I liked it. 

I do have to say that my favorite character was Thala. I thought her character was so well written that there were some tears shed at the end when she made her decision to go back. Also, there were moments where I did wish she was the main character but then I thought, nah I love where she was in the story. Amrita had her ups and downs for me. I couldn't quite connect with her as much as I would want to for a main character but I was overall pleased. Arjun, I was glad he got dropped from the story. Yes I understand you have to keep your family safe but come on dude. 

The story pulled me from the very beginning with the parable and I liked how all these stories soon became a reality for the characters and everything fell together in place. I do wish I could have had more of the "Library of All Things" but I wonder if the novel would have dragged on then. I am surprise, though, that this is a stand alone novel even though it did on a good note. Curious to see if there could be a possible novella. 

Overall I was throughly pleased with this novel as a whole. I am interested in checking out Khorana's debut novel. If you are looking for a different type of fantasy with a fast paced plot, emotionally driven characters and a tear jerking ending then check this out. 

I give this book 4 souls!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi 
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: SimonPulse  
Source: Publisher
Format: e-ARC
Age Group: Teens
Genre:Contemporary Romance 

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

I can honestly say that this has been one of the best contemporaries I have read all year. I do not know if I can exactly put my finger on it, or say the right words but I will do my best. However, I do know that Sandhya delivered a brilliant debut! 

Following the characters Dimple and Rishi, both are attending the same summer program but both for different reasons. Dimple was the perfect girl and I loved from the moment she threw her coffee at a boy that would steal her heart. She is intelligent, she is passionate, and her heart is gold. Rishi is the guy who likes to follow the status quo. He doesn't want to cause problems but there is a different side to him wanting to be set free. 

This novel is the perfect novel to read. It is so timely that we have a novel with a story like this. It introduces a different culture and shows every side of it in a light-hearted way that will capture the reader from the start. It seemed like this novel was the novel I have been waiting for, everything thing, every scene, was placed perfectly to create this fantastic story. 

I know that there were tears that were shed at the end. There was even a point where I almost wanted to scream but then everything looped back. I was happy again. I think I almost cheered. Yes I am weird!

Overall I fell in love in the moment when Dimple met Rishi and I fell even more in love by the last page. If you are looking for a fantastic summer read, don't pass this one up. 

I give this book 5 souls!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

Title: The Sandcastle Empire
Author: Kayla Olson
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen  
Source: ALA Midwinter  
Format: ARC
Age Group: Teens
Genre: Dystopian 

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed. Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores. Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected. This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.

I do not know how long it has been since I have read a dystopian novel. I could easily go through my Goodreads account, but I am going to say months to make it easy for both of us. Holy snapchat, did I miss this. The exhilaration, the nail biting scenes and of course the longing for a good ending are the things that readers pray for and this book delivered. 

From the first page we are immersed in a world that has been taken over  by a group known as the Wolfpack. Friends, families, and communities have been utterly changed by this group and the only chance of surviving is to escape. But where will you go? How will you make it? Is there even a resistance? For Eden she is about to find out. 

Eden has lost everything, so when a chance to finally escape she grabs at it. I think this is what I liked most about her. She is this strong, fearless young teenage girl that is not afraid to fight for not only herself but those she cares about. Yes, there are times she does get scared but instinct cuts in and she becomes a leader. It does help that she has other girls to look to for guidance and support. 

The storyline was great. There was scene with these beetles that reminded me of a scene from "The Mummy," and I had a little flashback to the first time I watched that movie and the dreams that followed, but I was intrigued to keep reading. I am interested to see if there is a sequel, no info yet that I know of, and continue this adventure of the resistance to the end. 

Kayla Olson has written a novel to remind of the love for the dystopian genre. This novel is set to take the world by storm. Are you ready to join the pack or will you be brave and resist? 

I give this book 5 souls!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Title: We Are Okay
Author: Nina LaCour
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers  
Source: ALA Midwinter   
Format: ARC
Age Group: Teens
Genre: GLBTQ Contemporary 

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

I wonder if it is easier to just run and not face the truth. To hide behind a new life and forget everything and everyone from your past. But what will you do when your past pays you a visit. For Marin, is this possible? Can she confront her new life and go back to find the girl she gave up? 

This is a novel that can be read in a matter of hours but if read properly can make it feel like days have past. LaCour gives us these beautiful and intricately written scenes that play with our emotions like a violin. And the great thing about them is how the simplicity of them make it a potential reality for some. 

Marin is the perfect character that authors must strive to write. There was this complexity yet ease of a person that by end bared her hidden vulnerability and made her feel real. There were some flaws that I did question but who doesn't have flaws. We are all human, aren't we? 

I think LaCour's take on the relationship between Marin and Mabel is something we have all faced. There is this awkwardness of seeing someone for the first time in a while, to those emotional moments of realizing how important it is to keep close those you love and those who love you. This relationship made the book, and it is what gave me hope. 

I am glad I waited to read this book but most importantly I am glad to have read it when it I did. Whenever I am going through tough times, I lean towards my books in hopes of finding an escape and/or even answers. LaCour was that light that I needed and she can be yours as well. So if you are looking for a book to know you are okay, don't pass this up. 

I give this book 4 souls!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: Antisocial by Jillian Blake

Title: Antisocial
Author: Jillian Blake
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press 
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Age Group: Teens

Senior spring at Alexandria Prep was supposed to be for sleeping through class and partying with friends. But for Anna Soler, it’s going to be a lonely road. She’s just been dumped by her gorgeous basketball star boyfriend—with no explanation. Anna’s closest friends, the real ones she abandoned while dating him, are ignoring her. The endearing boy she’s always had a complicated friendship with is almost too sympathetic. But suddenly Anna isn’t the only one whose life has been upended. Someone is determined to knock the kings and queens of the school off their thrones: one by one, their phones get hacked and their personal messages and photos are leaked. At first it’s funny—people love watching the dirty private lives of those they envy become all too public. Then the hacks escalate. Dark secrets are exposed, and lives are shattered. Chaos erupts at school. As Anna tries to save those she cares about most and to protect her own secrets, she begins to understand the reality of our always-connected lives: 

I have to admit, seeing all the popular kids secrets get exposed would be kind of a good way. Although, I can't fully remember if I was popular...nah. However, where is the line to saying enough is enough? Is there one? Because sometimes there are secrets that are best kept secret. 

Blake writes a mash up of Pretty Little Liars and Mean Girls to bring us a novel where our secrets can be our biggest downfall. Wonderfully written, this novel speaks on the topics that teens today face in their high school lives. However, there was something missing that allowed the book to grasp the seriousness and instead made it a little more comical. 

Anna was interesting for me. I wasn't fully sure if I liked her or not but I wanted to. I loved how, even though some secrets were meant to come out, she didn't stop trying to make sure the lives of those around her weren't fully damaged. This showed a different side to her that I think we can all hope for in a girl on the popular side. 

Overall, Blake writes a novel that brings a sense of importance to readers in this technology centered world. She incorporates a diverse cast of characters with their own backgrounds and stories but most importantly their own secrets. Is one truly ever antisocial? All it takes is one secret to break free. 

I give this book 3 souls! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review: Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitune

Title: Samuri Rising; The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitune
Author: Pamela S. Turner
Illustrator: Gareth Hinds
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Charlesbridge  
Source: Bought   
Format: Hardcover
Age Group: Teens
Genre: Nonfiction-History

Minamoto Yoshitsune should not have been a samurai. But his story is legend in this real-life saga. This epic warrior tale reads like a novel, but this is the true story of the greatest samurai in Japanese history. When Yoshitsune was just a baby, his father went to war with a rival samurai family—and lost. His father was killed, his mother captured, and his surviving half-brother banished. Yoshitsune was sent away to live in a monastery. Skinny, small, and unskilled in the warrior arts, he nevertheless escaped and learned the ways of the samurai. When the time came for the Minamoto clan to rise up against their enemies, Yoshitsune answered the call. His daring feats and impossible bravery earned him immortality.

I picked up this book at the American Library Association Conference and didn't realize at first that this was going to be a required read. After learning this, my interest level did pick up a bit more. I was excited to dive into a book and learn about the story of a Samurai legend in the making. 

Did I particulary like this book? Not really. However, that does not mean you should not check it out. Turner does a fantastic job of weaving together the story of a boy's broken family and his uprising with cultural facts of the samurai's history. 

This story does a marvelous job in showcasing the war, politics, family life views in Japan during the 12th century. I do believe that writing a non-fiction book readable and appealing to teens can be a daunting task as the author wants to make sure they keep as close to the events as accurately as they can. The one thing that hurt the novel for me was I felt that this felt more of a bullet point timeline versus a story that followed a timeline. 

Overall, Turner does a marvelous job in telling the story of samurai warrior who has gone down in history till the end. With a history lesson morphed into a literary masterpiece, this a book not worth skipping. 

I give this book 4 souls!