ARC Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone


5/5 stars

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Published by Crown Books

Synopsis: Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.


Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

First of all, this book was in all ways incredible. I had the honor of meeting the ever beautiful Nic Stone at the ALA convention this summer, and she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. This book has been on my radar for quite some time now, especially with everything going on in the world. With the hype for The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Dear Martin also hits the same serious and controversial note about police brutality and racism in America. I am by no means comparing the two books other than the facts that they’re both insightful, relevant, and highly important. But they are also both independent of each other and unique in their own ways.

When I first picked up this book to read, the plot is what interested me the most. I loved the concept of a conflicted teenager writing to a prominent idol, the influential activist Martin Luther King Jr. Another aspect I loved about this book was the simplicity of it. It was short and to the point, going through all the major events and actions never spending time on dry details. It’s a small book with a big message. Everything in this book was intriguing and fast-paced. I flew through this book in a day, which isn’t common unless I’m fully invested (and I was).

I cannot even begin to convey my appreciation and love for this book. Nic Stone has a real way of writing, she writes as if it’s really happening and what would happen in reality. It’s simple and sweet, easy to understand and empathize with. Being in a predominantly white school, I felt myself relating to what Justyce experienced. Not to say that I’ve ever faced discrimination to the same lengths as Justyce in this book, but I’ve known people to ask the same questions about race and sparking the same ignorant conversations. Every time Nic wrote about political conversations they had in class, I found myself angry at her characters and the topics mainly because I know what it’s like to be in a losing argument because the other side will never hear your side of a story.

Justyce is faced with many decisions and questions in his life. He doesn’t know if he should go after the white girl he really likes or if that betrays what he stands for. He doesn’t understand how Manny can be friends with racists or why he always listens to what they say. No one understands what he’s going through, so his only way to cope is to write to MLK as an outlet. Justyce feels like he’s growing up in a world that wants him to fail no matter how hard he tries, and he faces the question of who is he and who does he want to be.

This story is a thoughtful coming of age novel many people can relate to even if they’re not specifically black Americans, though this book tailors to them. For anyone who loved The Hate U Give, this book is a must read because it shows the side of the conversation no one wants to listen to. It tells people from the perspective of a black character written by a black woman on how she perceives the world and all its injustices. It’s sad to realize a tragedy is what took Justyce to come to his own conclusions about the world and to open a door in those refusing to listen, but it’s how the real world actually works.

Nic Stone writes Dear Martin to bring light to the topics and questions dominating our media and society. In order for the problems to be solved, people must listen to each other to better understand, which is not what many are doing. It addresses the issues and points out the flaws, yet nothing has been done to fix America’s racist customs.

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ARC Review: Brooding YA Hero by Carrie Ann DiRisio (Sunday Street Team)

3.5/5 stars

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Published by Skypony Press

Synopsis: Ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend?
Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?

Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love.

As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre,  his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed.

 

When I first heard about this book, I was extremely excited about its release. I’ve followed the @broodingyahero account on twitter and always found their tweets hilarious and extremely accurate. The book was the same way, accurate while both being funny AND it addressed some key issues in YA books as well.

The story starts with the Broody McHottiepants and his struggle trying to find a book to star in, so he decides to star in his own book. A book all about himself (not surprising, he is very arrogant). He talks plot, characters, love interests, and how to make yourself into a main character, though he reminds you frequently you’ll never be as good as him (so it’s best not to try). I found the premise interesting, and the format of the book made it even better. There are diagrams included, written letters, bullet pointed notes (I love organization). Even the evil ex Blondie DeMeani makes an appearance to give us her take on YA books and why she’s considered such a villain when she really isn’t.

It addresses not only the humorous side of the many Broodys YA writes, but it also identifies the inherent sexism and racism that can be found in them as well while still retaining it’s amusing features. It gets the point across that if even the arrogant, sulky Broody McHottiepants can understand there are some things you should and shouldn’t do in YA, then YA authors should also know.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, don’t mistake my 3.5 star rating. In my personal opinion I found it a bit sluggish, but if you’re looking for a fun quick read, this is definitely the route to go. It’s a nice change from typical YA books, as it’s written from the point of view of all our love interests in every great book. The book is comedic while also insightful giving the perfect amount of sarcasm and a few points of serious advice. It’s also something you can pick up whenever you want and enjoy a nice few chapters without having to commit to a whole book or series at one time. Also, it’s very much based on the twitter account which everyone loves.

 

Goodreads Link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34570455-brooding-ya-hero

 

Preorder Links:

Amazon- US: Brooding YA Hero

Barnes & Nobles: Brooding YA Hero

Book Depository:Brooding YA Hero

 

Author’s Social Media:

Blog: www.creativelycarrie.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/writer_carrie and https://twitter.com/broodingYAhero

Illustrator:  https://twitter.com/linneadoodles

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16277046.Carrie_Ann_DiRisio

ARC Review: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Rich In Variety Blog Tour)

5/5 stars

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Published by Simon Pulse

Synopsis: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.


But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

Disclaimer: There is mention of implied sexual assault, so please take care and caution when deciding to read this book.

I just want to start off saying I love this book. I can’t even begin to compile a review that will express how much I love this book. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it, everyone I know has glorified this book, and now I see why. Akemi tells a beautifully written story about a half Japanese-American girl trying to find her place in a world she doesn’t believe accepts her. It’s a crafted masterpiece, and one of my all time favorite books now. I love Kiko and Jamie and the journeys of self-discovery they embark on together.

Being a half Asian-American teenage girl, I related to Kiko’s thoughts and feelings on a level I didn’t even know was possible. Everything she experienced, I have also known that feeling at some time in my life (most of it at least). I cried so many times in this book, more than any other book I’ve ever read.

The story starts with Kiko and her aspirations to go to an elite art school after her senior year to which she gets rejected to. Her summer is all about making a plan B while still being happy and getting away from home. Her childhood is relived when her former best friend Jamie comes back to town and the two instantly reconnect. Not the same as she was when she was a child, Jamie and Kiko have a lot of of relearning to do about each other.

Kiko’s life is filled with big dreams, overwhelming anxiety, toxic families, and inherent racism in her school and community. She hails from a small town in Nebraska (much like me in Iowa) surrounded by mainly white people who will make racist comments about her not being good enough “girlfriend” material because she is Asian. I felt as if this story were my own, and Akemi found a perfect way to convey all my own thoughts and feelings into a book. I genuinely feel like Kiko’s story is my own, and I cried so much reading it. Kiko not only discovers herself, but I felt myself discovering the real me.

As Kiko travels to figure out what she wants to do with her life, she does out west (the holy land of diversity and new ideas) and meets new people and sees new places to help her determine where she wants to be. For the longest time, I’ve also wanted to move out of my home to get a fresh start somewhere else, somewhere I’d feel more comfortable being me. Jamie accompanies her on this adventure to escape some of his own problems as well.

This book is a must read, especially if you happen to be an Asian-American like myself. It’s inspiring, realistic, and heartbreakingly happy and sad at the same time. I love this book with all my heart as I hope to one day discover myself the way Kiko has.

Want to hear a sad playlist I made for this book? Listen here

ARC Review + Quiz: Warcross by Marie Lu

Image result for warcross

5/5 stars

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Published by Penguin Teen/G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Synopsis: For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Let me just begin this by saying EVERYONE NEEDS TO BUY THIS BOOK. I know it’s Marie Lu, so most of you will read it anyways, but it is honestly so amazing. This was the first Marie Lu book I’ve read (I know I’m behind, I’m working on it). I expected this to be nothing short of amazing because of all the glowing reviews and huge fanbase of Marie Lu’s. This book surprised me in the best (and worst) way, and it was truly a masterpiece. From the moment I began it, I was hooked and could not put it down. The futuristic spin on technology and society was so much fun to read, Marie Lu creates a vivid universe that I felt a part of reading it.

I’ll admit I was a little hesitant to start the book. Everyone I knew had been hyping it up, so I knew it was going to be good. First reading the summary, I wasn’t completely sold on the plot, so if you’re like me, please read it it’s so worth it. I physically could not put this book down, everything in it was thrilling and suspenseful and fun, I wanted to keep continuing reading. The story follows Emika Chen, a bounty hunter/hacker who gets caught hacking into a Warcross Championships and crosses paths with the successful and young billionaire Hideo Tanaka.

I have so many thoughts on this book, starting with Emika. She’s a lovable character that everyone underestimates with rainbow hair and illegal tendencies. She’s one of my new favorite characters. She becomes conflicted and confused while trying to do her job, meeting new friends and Hideo and secrets she isn’t meant to find. Next up, Hideo Tanaka the love of my life. There is nothing I love more than a young, handsome, rich, handsome, intelligent, handsome boy in YA books. The minute they mentioned his name I knew I was done for. Also on the list, FRIENDSHIP! Emika meets so many new people and makes new friends, and I love a well-developed friend group. She joins the Phoenix Riders and meets some of the best fictional people I’ve read about. I love their group dynamic and every single individual on the team. I’m mostly excited for Warcross #2 because of this amazingly written friend group. I’m ready for them to kick ass in the sequel.

Sci-fi isn’t my number one choice between fiction and fantasy, but this one was incredible. I keep repeating the work amazing and incredible because it’s the only words I can think of at this moment to describe the book. There was so much action, adventures, tasks, and challenges Emika and her friends had to face during the game and outside of the competitions. I don’t think there was one point in the book where it was slow moving or boring. I can’t even begin to express in this review how much I love it, just take my word for it, promise.

I loved all aspects of this book, the virtual reality game, the handsome Hideo, the rainbow theme of Emika and Japan, the friends, the championships, the secrets, all of it consumed me. Immediately after I finished it I had to text everyone who had read it. I stayed up for an hour just texting everyone who was awake and would talk to me about it. So much happened in such a short period of time, I was shook to my core. I love almost every book I read, it’s a fact, but Warcross is honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read and one of the best books ever written, if not the best. Warcross is about to be the book of the year, it’s that good.

Curious about which team member you would be? I made a quiz here based on what qualities I thought each member possesses (this is not the most accurate quiz, it was just something fun I wanted to create).

If any of you get the chance to pick this up, please message me because it’s been a month since I’ve finished it and it’s still all I can think about.

ARC Review + Giveaway: The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin (Xpresso Book Tours)

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4/5 stars

The Big F 
by Maggie Ann Martin
Published By: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: August 29th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Synopsis:

 

Danielle effed up. Big time.

Danielle’s plans for the future were pretty easy to figure out… until she failed senior English and her single college application was denied. Suddenly she’s in hot water with very few options, because honestly who applies to a safety school when their mom is a semi-famous “college psychic”?!

Determined to get her life back on track, Danielle enrolls in her hometown community college with a plan: pass her English class and get back into Ohio State and her mother’s good graces. Romance isn’t on her radar… until she reconnects with her childhood crush and golden-boy-next-door, Luke.

Between family drama, first love and finding her own way, Danielle can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. Thankfully she has her friendship with the snarky and frustratingly attractive Porter, her coworker at the campus bookstore, to push her to experience new things and help keep her afloat.

One thing’s for sure: This time, failure’s not an option.

 

I just want to start off saying that I love this book. I’m not a huge contemporary reader, I’m trying to broaden my horizons with more contemporary books, and this one was great. The summary sounded really relatable and fun, especially because I’m a senior in high school this year. It was very entertaining and interesting to move. I read it all in a single day, I never found one part of it boring. I thought Maggie’s delivery on this book was near perfect, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The book is about a recently graduated senior, Danielle. She needs to find out what she is going to do about college after being rejected by the only school she planned for. Like me, I’m feeling the stress of applying for colleges along with acceptances and rejections. The story follows Danielle and her love interests and family dilemmas along with appearances from her best friend Zoe.

My favorite part about this book was the romance. Without spoiling anything, I was hesitant at the first indications of a love interest, but then I was totally taken aback and suddenly loving the new developing romance between Danielle and a certain special boy who is now very near and dear to my heart (I love him). Danielle is torn between two beautiful boys, the golden boy-next-door and long lost friend and old crush who radiates sunshine, and then there’s the quiet, snarky beautiful boy who takes every chance he gets to make jabs at Danielle. I was loving both of them and couldn’t pick a side. Maggie’s writing was incredible. I loved how she wrote the end game romance, it is probably one of my new favorites.

I also loved how Maggie wrote about realistic and relatable aspects of life. She talks about family and how “perfect” families have their flaws and overcome obstacles. She deals with the college application processes, and coming from a midwest town where I’ve basically had my college decided since I was born, I understand the pressure of following through with plans. Community college is always seen as a step-back for most people, but it could change the course of someone’s life for the better. The parties and drinking and sex mentioned in the book I found very relatable. It’s nice to see contemporary YA books that mention sex and virginity as a casual thing. Everywhere I read people lose their virginities to their main love interest and continue to stay with that person for the remainder of their lives (or the book/series at least), but that’s literally never the case. First times can be meaningful and serious, but it’s also not the end of the world after losing them. I just appreciated how everything was just so me, I am patiently waiting for the time within the next year that I will meet a cute boy like the one in the book.

There was slow-burn, romance, failure, big decisions, family problems, fun adventures and outings, internships, school, jobs, and everything about teenage life and college. I know it doesn’t sound like the most exciting book, but I loved it. Everything about it was real and fun and cute and hilarious. Seriously, go buy this book now.

Failure is part of life, though it may seem like the end of the world, it can alter it for the better. There’s a path for everyone, it just takes some longer to find it, but it’s worth it in the end.

 

BUY THE BIG F ON Amazon / B&N / Kobo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maggie Ann Martin hails from Des Moines, Iowa but moonlights as a New Yorker. She has a shiny new BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa, the most welcoming literary community in the world. When she is not writing, you can find her binge watching TV shows or passionately fangirling over fictional characters on the Internet. The Big F is her debut novel.

Maggie’s links: website / goodreads / twitter / facebook

 

WANT TO WIN THIS AMAZING BOOK? (YES YOU DO)

ENTER HERE (US/CAN only)

Check out the rest of the blog tour schedule!

ALSO! If any of you happen to pick up this book and read it (I recommend you do) please comment on this post or message me on twitter!

ARC Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Image result for they both die at the end

4.5/5 stars

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Published by HarperTeen

Synopsis: On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

I have been anticipating this book for God knows how long. I had the opportunity of snagging myself a copy at ALA this year (I circled so many times and no one would give one to me I almost went out of my mind), but luckily, I grabbed myself one of the last copies on the last day. Going into this book, I knew it would most likely hurt and make me cry (I was right, I shed SO many tears). The title is called They Both Die at the End, I don’t know what I expected. Anyways, this book hurt me in more ways than one, but I loved every minute of it. I’m not a huge contemporary romance reader, but this book was beautiful, heartbreaking, and inspirational all wrapped up in one. Adam Silvera did an amazing job with this book and it being my first book of his that I’ve read, it didn’t disappoint.

In the very beginning of the book, Adam writes an author’s note and once I started crying reading his note, I knew I was done for. The story launches into Mateo and Rufus whose two lives collide and they experience the best last day alive. The story also alternates between other POV’s from other people they run into or are associated with. You really experience everyone’s perspectives and how everyone else goes about their days, whether they are dying today or not.

Their adventures begin and take place on September 5, 2017 when they finally meet each other through the Last Friend app and begin their day long journey to their deaths. They roam the city and do random things to fulfill their last day together. Rufus and Mateo compliment each other in every way possible, Mateo, the shy and cautious boy who checks every corner they turn, and Rufus, the one who helps Mateo break out of his shell and live fully. Not knowing when they are going to die, the whole book is suspenseful, keeping you on your toes wondering when their time will run out.

As many of you have probably guessed, this Last Friend friendship evolves into a heartbreaking love story that leaves you sad and happy all at once. The beautiful story of Rufus and Mateo living their whole lives apart from each other only to find love with each other in their last 24 hours is so tragic and painful, but it also makes you appreciate things taken for granted. The two try and make the most of their day together because it’s all they have, and somehow it’s enough yet not.

This book really makes you look at life in a different way. Some of us live in fear everyday of certain things, never willing to take the first step. Adam Silvera really stresses the point of going after what you want, taking risks, and living life because it’s short and you never know what you have until it’s gone. It’s better to take risks now than to regret the time lost when you didn’t want to try anything. It’s sad to think about all the time Rufus and Mateo could’ve had, but also warming to know they would’ve never found each other had it not been for their tragic perils. So many tears were shed reading this. It wasn’t just about the relationship between Rufus and Mateo but also the relationships between friends and family and strangers you’ve briefly met and how your life impacts everyone else’s.

After reading this, it reminded me to take chances and do things I normally wouldn’t do or feel comfortable doing. Like they all say, you only have one life, but if you live it right one is enough. I don’t know if I fully believe that, there’s things I’ll never get to do, but I can make that list a lot shorter by just living and not holding back.

I was in love with this book, and I couldn’t have read a better book to introduce me to Adam Silvera. I’m looking forward to all his other books I haven’t gotten around to, which I will be starting as soon as possible.

I even made a special playlist for this book (it had some really amazing songs mentioned). It includes some of the songs listed in the book and a few of my own suggestions that I felt related to it (warning: it’s sad).

ARC Review: The Lady of Royale Street by Thea de Salle

4/5 stars

Release Date: August 21, 2017

Published by Pocket Star

Synopsis: Alex DuMont is everything his brother Sol isn’t: regimented, serious, and devout. Between twelve-hour workdays, service to the church, punishing daily workouts, and bi-weekly therapy sessions, Alex is, as Sol once put it, “a kettle perpetually whistling as it boils itself to death.” So when Sol announces his marriage to Arianna Barrington, heiress and society sweetheart, Alex is the absolute worst choice to be his best man. Sol asks anyway and Alex reluctantly agrees. It’s only a week, after all, and Alex should be able to stop himself from throttling his big brother for a meager seven days. Probably. Maybe.

Theresa Ivarson is Arianna’s best friend and the maid of honor. A decorated photojournalist who interrupts her globetrotting to stand beside her friend, Theresa is beautiful, witty, and unafraid to speak her mind. So when she is faced with working with the best man from Hell, a Viking who doesn’t know how to smile, is bossy, and about as pleasant as a cactus, the sparks are bound to fly—and not in the good way. To make matters worse, Sol and Rain’s wedding planner was hit by a bus the week before their special day, and Alex and Theresa find themselves at the center of a list-ditch effort to pull the wedding together. But when you can’t decide if you want to kiss or kill someone, something’s bound to break.

I received an ARC on NetGalley in trade for an honest review.

I LOVED this book! I was a huge fan of THE KING OF BOURBON STREET, so I was highly anticipating this third book. The chemistry between Alex and Theresa was incredible, reading it was like finding one person in two different bodies. They were both stubborn characters and avid Christians. The rocky start they had built the tension up, I was dying waiting for them to finally get together. I loved Alex’s burly, stoic, and stubborn character. His constant foot-in-mouth and troubles apologizing were adorable and hilarious, Theresa brought out the best (and the worst) in him. The two complimented each other so well, I loved this couple.

Along with the two characters, I also loved the plot. It took place at The Seaside kind of like a continuation of the first book with Rain and Sol’s relationship. In midst of planning for their wedding, best man, Alex, and maid of honor, Theresa, fall for each other (how fricking cute). If there’s anything I love more than a hate to love, it’s a hate to love WITH A WEDDING. There was so much back and forth between Theresa and Alex, and they were also given so much bonding time (spoiler alert: they share a hotel room together). This couple was so perfectly made, I loved them.

I don’t have a real big complaint or issue with the book, but I do wish there were more private scenes (if you know what I mean). Personally, I’m not a very religious person, so all the discussions of faith they had didn’t really interest me, but I did enjoy how problems with being a very religious person could affect personal lives and the compromises people could make. Overall, I was extremely happy with the book for it involving religion. I thought the love story was very well written and developed (just like her other books, she does not disappoint). While I did love the book, I wasn’t in love with it. However, I did thoroughly enjoy it, and whenever anyone asks me for new adult recommendations, NOLA Nights is always a series I tell people to check out.