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ARC Review – This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

23299512Title: This Savage Song

Author:  Victoria Schwab

Rating:  ★★★★ / ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.

As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.
When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books / Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Molly’s Review:

TBH this is a low 4 stars. Not quite 3.5. Idk. I liked this but at the same time I felt like I’d already experienced this story and these characters somewhere else. The closest I can get is that it’s a mix of two Japanese anime; D.Gray Man & Tokyo Ghoul. But even then I feel like I’m missing another title or movie that I’ve already seen.

The characters are cliche but enjoyable. There’s not a lot going on for the first half of the book. If you want solid explanations on the HOW and WHY you aren’t really going to get it. If you’re okay with vague ideas then you’ll be set.

This is also a super quick read despite the length (big font and short lines on the page). It is compelling, but didn’t live up to the OMG hype for me. It also didn’t disappoint but that might be because, for me, Schwab isn’t an OMG FAV, but just another author who’s work I enjoy.

Sam’s Review:
I adore Victoria Scwab’s books. They are often very imaginative and easy to get sucked into when it comes to story and characters. Here’s the thing, I LOVED This Savage Song but read it reminded me a lot of watching anime. It’s an exciting, crazy read, but it feels like something I have, admittedly, encountered before.

This Savage Song explores a world that is divided by humans and monsters. Both struggle to exist together, and this also gives us our two protagonists: Kate and August, one human and one monster, and their common goals. This idea of humans and monsters co-existing is nothing new, but I actually loved our heroes and thought they were a lot of fun to follow around, even if they were a touch cliche. Part of the issue with this book is that the world does take a long time to develop, and there’s a lot of vagueness. Sometimes I don’t mind that, but in this case, having a lot of the world be more fleshed out would have been a bit more of a benefit.

Despite the the vagueness, which sometimes made me feel a bit lost, this book was compulsively readable and it was like reading candy. I kept turning the pages, wanting to read and know more, and when I didn’t get more, I still didn’t seem to mind because I was just so glued to trying to understand anything and everything that was going on. I do hope some of the vaguer aspects of the world gets explored in the sequel, because I WANT TO KNOW MORE. The ending worked so well for me, and around the two hundred page mark, I was really glued to trying to figure out the story.

I do think there’s a lot of action and fun with This Savage Song, but for me it wasn’t perfect. In fact, it was far from perfect because even though I was so glued to the pages, there was a lot of cliches and vagueness that just felt there and needed a bit more explaination. The characters are fun, cheeky, and that ending does have me sold to see where things go. Plys the lack of romance in this novel worked insanely well to its advantage and will say that watching Kate and August’s friendship blossom was an absolute delight. I still wanted more about the monsters, more about the world, more about the Harkers.

If you are a die-hard Victoria Schwab fan, I still think you will find merit here, but it’s not a book I would recommend as a starting point. It did, inevitably leave me wanting more information, and I think if more had been explained, this would have been a slam dunk for me.

ARC Review – The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere #1) by Heidi Heilig

21979832Title:  The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere #1)

Author: Heidi Heilig

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy for review!

River’s Review:

I am afraid this book was over-hyped for me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as mind blowing as I’d been expecting.

The biggest issue I had with this book was that it felt like something was missing… like a whole other book perhaps that explained how things worked, what was going on… because a lot of this was just left up to the reader to infer and figure out. I wanted WAY more backstory (especially about Kash! Like we find out how he came to be on the ship, and a little about why he ended up there, but I wanted SO much MORE! And like how did he react when he found out that he was basically stowing away ON A TIME TRAVELING SHIP?! How was this explained to him?! To any of them?!) I felt like there were little hints dropped here and there as to how things worked, but nothing was every fully explained. And I’m not talking about info dumps. But I would have liked more mechanics. Especially when it came to the actual time traveling. I also would have liked more world building in the sense of how they GET AWAY with all the time traveling they do. There is a mention about how they dress and speak for the time, but how did they learn about that? How did they learn anything about the different times they’re going to? And just wearing the clothes and trying to talk the talk was enough to fool everyone? This stuff I felt was just kinda glossed over and I was sitting there saying I WANT MORE INFORMATION!!!

The writing in this is very good. I don’t think it’s the best writing ever, but it’s not horrible. I think that Heilig can only improve and in another book or two she’ll be a force to reckon with. The characters could have used a bit more characterization, but I did enjoy Kash (he was my favorite character) and I liked the relationship that Nix had with her father. Blake was kinda okay, and I would have liked a little more from the side characters on the ship because they seemed really interesting! Also… Swag was the cutest and I am concerned about his fate at the moment…

The time travel in this was really cool for me at first! The way it’s done (with the maps) is very clever! But then we got into paradoxes and loops and I got lost and confused and I really hate that kind of time travel because then it just doesn’t make sense and makes me think too much about how it DOESN’T work and it hurts my head. I’m not a time travel fan (did I mention this yet? I guess I should have from the start). So that might have been part of what put me off a little bit. And also the lack of actual pirates (they pretend to be? But aren’t really? But they live on a pirate ship?) was a little disheartening as well.

Overall if you can get past the issues I had you’ll probably love this book. It seems to be THE book for 2016 and I know it’s going to do well despite how I feel about it… so enjoy!

ARC Review – The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett

22595271Title: The Unquiet

Author: Mikaela Everett

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis:  For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.

The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.

An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut.

Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this for review!

River’s Review:

THIS. BOOK. WAS. SO. GOOD. It’s def in my top ten for the year. I went into it not sure what was going to happen… I’d heard it was slow and didn’t do a very good job of executing what it promised.

Uh, nope and nope. This book wasn’t FAST paces but it was well paces. It moves along and draws you in. It’s… oddly quiet. There’s a lot of backstory (which is so good and so needed) a lot of present time and then when the war hits things spin out and then draw back in and it’s just so damn good. And yes, it’s a little confusing in the beginning and I guess the ONLY world building problem I had was that I didn’t know what time period it took place in. It feels a little bit 1950’s but then they talk about laptops and I think it’s modern. But then you find out some other stuff at the end and I guess it doesn’t REALLY matter but still.

So there are two Earths. There have always been two Earths. They exist in parallel universes. If you’ve ever seen Fringeimagine the other dimension. Duplicates of everyone, similar technologies, but things are off, different. And the one Earth starts to die. People start to vanish. And they get scared. And as humans do, they want to persevere themselves. So they start to send people over to kill their duplicates and take over their lives.

OH. Before I get any further, do NOT rely on the synopsis for your info. It sounds like ONE girl is being trained to kill her duplicate but it’s not only her, it’s EVERYONE. Children are taken from their parents and the streets and sent to the living Earth to train for years before they take an exam that will deem them ready to take over their duplicate’s life and then they’re sent out at ripe age of 14 to kill their alternate and assume their life. It’s not just ONE girl. That was something else that kinda made me hold off on this book because I was like wtf is so special about one girl?

This book is dark. The MC, Lira, has so much trouble doing what she was trained for. She’s good at it, but it’s hard. Not only does she live her alternate’s life (which is a MUCH better life than the one she’d been living on the dying Earth) she also has to carry out missions. She is constantly examining her morals and struggling with her sense of loyalty.

There are some of the most heartbreaking moments in this book too. People die. People suffer. People live and it’s hard. There’s betrayal and broken hearts. I was gut punched more than once.

And the writing, my god, the writing is rich and lush and anytime I would read it I just wanted to sink into the pages and live in the words they were so beautiful.

This book is also incredibly bittersweet.

ARC Review – One by Sarah Crossan

23524610Title:  One

Author: Sarah Crossan

Rating:  ★★★★★

Synopsis: Tippi and Grace share everything—clothes, friends . . . even their body. Writing in free verse, Sarah Crossan tells the sensitive and moving story of conjoined twin sisters, which will find fans in readers of Gayle Forman, Jodi Picoult, and Jandy Nelson.

Tippi and Grace. Grace and Tippi. For them, it’s normal to step into the same skirt. To hook their arms around each other for balance. To fall asleep listening to the other breathing. To share. And to keep some things private. The two sixteen-year-old girls have two heads, two hearts, and each has two arms, but at the belly, they join. And they are happy, never wanting to risk the dangerous separation surgery.

But the girls’ body is beginning to fight against them. And soon they will have to face the impossible choice they have avoided for their entire lives.

Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me an advanced copy of this book!

River’s Review:

Soooo when you read this you might discover that you’re a horrible person and this book might make you realize that and how you should try harder to be a better person. I went into this book expecting to hate it. The subject is not something that I am familiar with or even really want to learn more about in particular. I’ve read one other book by Crossan and didn’t like it at all. And to top it all off it’s written in free verse. When it popped up on Edelwiess I didn’t download it and I only read this because it showed up in one of my bundles from Harper. So I decided to read it and get it out of the way and… I ended up reading it in two hours.

This book will suck you in and make you feel like a bad person because we are all those assholes that stare at the weird looking girls. I can’t even watch body deformities in animated medium. I think if this was a movie or TV show or documentary I wouldn’t be able to watch. I am being honest. But I also think that maybe I should keep a more open mind and try to understand more. To look past the physical. As I said, we are all those assholes who stare. It takes a very good person to move past that. There aren’t a lot of people like Tippi and Grace’s friends. And those guys were awesome.

The writing in this flows so well. It’s hard to read and easy to read. It’s hard to swallow and at times very funny. There are some gut wrenching moments and heartbreaking moments and you can’t help but cheer for the twins. You can’t help but love her family and her friends.

This is the story of two girls who are joined at the hip. They have lived their entire lives like this and it is normal for them, for their family. They deal with normal issues like their father’s struggle with alcohol and their younger sister’s body issues. They go to school and make friends and drive a car and even fall in love when they know that they shouldn’t. They don’t think their lives are wrong or unnatural or even tragic like others do. They thing normal things like cancer and world hunger are tragic. Being alive and living life with someone you love isn’t tragic to them.

This is the story of their first year at a normal school. After money dries up and the two can’t continue to be home schooled they are forced into the world. And they do well! They make friends, meet boys, go on adventures.

Only something changes.

And they have to make the ultimate choice: stay together or separate.

Read this book. Don’t be an asshole.

ARC Review – Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

17661416Title: Made You Up

Author: Francesca Zappia

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books & Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I LOVED THIS BOOK! I lived the writing style, the wacky school, Alex’s humor and sincerity and MILES! I freaking LOVED Miles! And their whole little group. It was such a colorful cast of characters.

This is a story about a girl named Alex who has paranoid schizophrenia. She often hallucinates and takes photos with her digital camera to help her understand what’s real and fake. The story starts off with her as a child trying to free the lobsters in the lobster tank at the grocery store. She meets a boy who has the bluest eyes she’s ever seen… and later learns that the whole thing was a delusion.

Years later she’s in her senior year of high school. Getting her last chance. She didn’t do so well in her last school (due to paranoia about communists and a spray paint incident) and you get the feeling that if she doesn’t prove herself this time around something bad is going to happen.

Alex is quirky and not just because of her schizophrenia. She’s just a wacky girl with a good sense of humor. I loved her voice and I loved being inside of her head. So often people are scared of schizophrenics and this really helped me to understand what it might be like for people who suffer from schizophrenia. I felt for Alex and she broke my heart more than once. Towards the end of the book we learn a very sad truth that is devastating for Alex and my heart just broke.

Mile’s is an incredibly interesting character. He’s a genius, he’s a jerk, he’s king of the school. He does ‘jobs’ for people who pay him money to get revenge, get them out of tests, and other odd ball things. He does this because it gives him power. Without that he’s just a nerd from a bad home who gets bullied. And he faces off with Alex, pulling pranks on her, and her pulling them back on him. They slowly form a bond thought and he later figures out that she’s schizophrenic. But he’s very good about it, and takes care of her. There are some of THE sweetest moments between the two of them. And I just loved him. And I also loved how she took care of him when he needed help.

The school they go to is almost it’s own character. There’s a lot of weird stuff going on and I just loved how it added to the story as an almost living background.

Pick this book up guys. It’s brilliant and amazing!


ARC Review – Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

22840398Title: Illusionarium

Author:  Heather Dixon

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he’s a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path.

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen because the first few pages were a bit heavy for me and then things started to spin out of control and I had a vague image of what this was supposed to be about but wow.

This book takes place in an alternate version of London in the 1800’s. There are airships powered by a fuel that gives off a drug called Fantillium. Fantillium creates mass hallucinations but only with an Illusionist leading the illusion. Illusionists are usually scientists or mathematicians who understand complex chemical structures and mathematical formulas. They essentially ‘build’ the illusions.

Jonathan is an apprentice to his father who is a doctor, and they get word that in their capital (basically London) has fallen under a plague that only effects women. The women fall ill and die within six days. There is no cure. So of course the King flys to Fata Morgana, where Jonathan and his family live (and his father works) to beg for a cure. And of course he brings the dying Queen who then spreads the disease to all of the females (including Jonathan’s mother and sister) thus prompting Jonathan to do whatever he can to find the cure… which means working with Lady Florel, the top medical scientist in London, who insists on using Fantillium during their research. Jonathan’s father is disgusted with Fantillium and refuses, but Jonathan meets Lady Florel in secret and after a Fantillium fueled fight, she disappears into another dimension where she claims the cure is located.

Jonathan and his new frienmy Lockwood (a Kings airshipman and Lady Florel’s prison guard) take off into this other dimension after her, and find themselves in Nod’ol. Nod’ol is a parallel London that has split off into another dimension. The people and land have been devastated by the over use of Fantillium which has some very… unpleasant (to say the very very least) side effects. Lady Florel revels that she’s the Queen of this land and that Jonathan is now to take part in their yearly festival where he must Illusion for her and a bunch of the workers who produce the drug. Jonathan, hell bent on getting the cure and getting back in time to save his family, and Lockwood, who has no idea what is going on and wants no part of it, are both angry and scared. Lockwood runs off into the new world and Jonathan is forced to Illusion. He is promised that if he does well that he’ll get the cure and be home in moments.

Only that doesn’t happen…

First off I LOVED the story. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be about from the synopsis and when I started it I still wasn’t sure until the Illusioning started. And even then I was like ‘this is so beautiful but what’s the story?!’ and then when it hit it HIT. This flowed so well and was fast paced and I couldn’t put it down! I loved the unique alternate setting and the different worlds and the magic of it all. The writing was gorgeous and lyrical and the characters were perfection. Jonathan didn’t always do the right thing, but he did it for the right reasons. He’s young and his mother and sister were dying! Of course he went against his father’s wishes! And Lockwood hahaha I LOVED him. He was such an ass and it was great. We also saw a sweet side of him when he fell madly in head-over-heals-love-at-first-sight with Jonathan’s alternate-universe sister. I wouldn’t call it Instalove or anything, and if the MC would have done it I probably would have, but the way that Lockwood and Anna were smitten with each other was ADORBS.

I also really enjoyed how unpredictable this book was. There were two times when it looked like we were going to wrap things up nicely and head home and save the world, but then horrific things would happen and nope. No nice wrapping at all!

I hope everyone will check this out, it’s perfect for fans of fantasy, contemporary and even a little dystopian!