Eliza and Her Monsters by: Francesca Zappia

Summary:

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart

The Review:

This was a sort of recommendation via Amazon, after making some book purchases and it sort of stood out to me, mainly because of the premise and how it reminded me a lot of Fangirl.  Also if you have been following my blog for a while, you should know that I rarely read contemporary.

The main premise of the book deals with Eliza, who writes a webcomic called Monstrous Sea under the screen name LadyConstellation. She is also very popular online with her webcomic. In her normal world however, she is basically seen as weird and keeps to herself most of the time. Her two friends, Mark and Emmy are basically her online friends and they mostly talk about a show called Dog Days, that they obsess over.

Even though Eliza never meet either Emmy or Mark, you still give a sense of their friendship through their IMs and chats. Especially in this day in age in which your online friends can actually be your real friends and could still from a good relationship with one another.

She also meets Wallace, who is a fanfiction writer of her Monstrous Sea webcomic and doesn’t know that she is the author. I really enjoyed following their relationship. It did start off as bonding over mutual interests, but I think their was a lot of development between them to get me invested. I also liked that Wallace was a fleshed out character rather than just you typical YA love interest.

There is a lot of comparisons one could make with Fangirl, especially how it deals with the online communities and fandom in general. But I like that it deals with the mental health aspect a lot more than Fangirl did. Eliza, throughout the book finds out that she has anxiety after she kind of fainted in school.

I also loved seeing excerpts of The Monstrous Sea, which gives us a little more background of what Eliza created. I also really loved the artwork that the author included. It makes me want to read The Monstrous Sea.

In the end, I really enjoyed Eliza and Her Monsters. It was a nice read that dealt a lot with Fandom and online communities. I really enjoyed the relationship between Eliza and Wallace, and also the relationship between Eliza and her online friends.

Grade: 4.5/5

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Children of Blood and Bone by: Tomi Adeyemi

Summary:

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy. 

The Review:

This was another of one of my anticipated reads for 2018, ever since this book was announced. You don”t really see a lot of fantasy novels set in Africa, unless you read N.K. Jemison and Nnedi Okorafor. I also believe that the hype is definitely well deserved for this book.

The books setting is mainly in West Africa in a Orisha. A place in which magic was been suppressed and the maji, has been killed by a ruthless king. Zeile, is a young maji, whose mother was killed in the raids of the king, and her death was to serve as a reminder for the maji.

The world building was extremely well done. You get a sense of the world it is set, and the history within that world. Different clans has their own maji title and deity, for example the Iku clan are reapers who deal with souls and worship the Oya. Also tied within the world building is a sense of history, learning that long ago the maji were seen as corrupt so there was a reason why the king decided to eliminate the maji. With its world building it didn’t feel like info dumping like most books does and it brought up a lot through conversations that the characters had with one another.

The book also has 3 POVs, Zeile, who is the main character, whose mother was a powerful maji. Amari, the daughter of the king who flees from her ruthless father after he does something that traumatizes her. Inan who is the prince and next in line to become king who is tasked to bring back Amari.

Inan is one my favorite of the POVs. His POV chapters deals a lot with his inner struggle of basically if he should do what he is tasked to do, especially when dealing with his father.

The story mainly deals with Zeile and Amari trying to bring back magic to Orishi by bringing an ancient scroll to the temple, and would deal with teh world around them. While it does seem like a cliche, the world is so magnificent and throughout their journey you get a good scope of the world and its magic system, along with its politics. A lot of the book could serve as a racial allegory dealing with oppression, especially dealing with a light skinned vs. dark skinned context.

There is also a romance in the book. Mainly between Zeile and Inan, and Amari and Tzain. I did like that it wasn’t the forefront of the book, and both romances I felt was actually developed. With Zeile and Inan, you constantly see Inan dealing with his inner turmoil. It did lead to a few funny moments with both of them wondering if they should actually kiss each other. It was a nice twist on the enemy to lovers trope.

In the end, this book definitely lives up to the hype. It was a great book that had an amazing story especially with a YA fantasy set in West Africa. It features a good magic system and excellent world building. The characters are extremely well developed and I cannot wait to see how this series continues, because it was that good.

Grade: 5/5

Obsidio by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Summary:

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? 

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

The Review:

If you have been following my blog, you should know that this book, Obsidio was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018.

Obsidio, sort of picks up right where Gemina ended, in which Nik and Hannah escape the Heimdall and meet up with Ezra and Kady on the Mao with the refugees. From the beginning I love the interactions between those characters , especially with how Gemina ended seeing them all come together and work together has a definite highlight of the book. Even with some new characters introduced they still were able to have some great development.

Than we are introduced To Asha (Kady’s cousin) and Rhys, a soldier for BeiTech. I was a little concerned that we are introduced to new characters especially for this being the final book. But they are fully fleshed with the time they have in the book. With the character of Rhys, we get a lot of background with the Beitech soldiers and their operations. Asha just sort of got caught up during her internship in the conflict with Beitech. Even though she does not have the skills that Kady and Hannah had, she does have a good heart which helped on Kerenza.

Than there is AIDAN. Oh, AIDAN, never have I seen such great character development for an AI. You really get a sense of his moral conflict and wondering if what he is doing is right.

The book still has the format of being seen through IMs and chats. But I still love the surveillance summary, The narrator is always just so snarky and kind of breaks the forth wall.

Obsidio, as a final book of a trilogy, and really lets it be known that. For a final book, everything is going down and it sort of ends in a nice giant space battle, perfect for an ending.

In the end, Obsidio is everything I wanted a final book to be. It was paced really well, action packed and managed to give us a great ending. I am very sad to let these characters go, but I am glad that I read it.

Grade: 5/5

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Summary:
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

The Review:

So this was a TBR from years back and I remember buying the book, but never actually reading it until recently and I am glad I did.

This book mainly deals with witchcraft with a Latin American family, which I really enjoyed that aspect of that book. She really did a good job at explaining the world of the brujas.

Alex, or Alejandra, is a great main protagonist. While having her want to give up her powers on her death day was pretty selfish, she does care a lot about her family. I like the fact that the first few chapters had an opportunity to flesh out her family members, mainly her mother and her sisters. It also fleshed out their relationship as well and why she needs to go back for them. The theme of family is present throughout the entire book, which is not a theme most associated with YA

Los Lagos, was a very cool place. I would describe it sort of like Alice in Wonderland with the dead. But not in that scary aspect of the dead. Los Lagos was very descriptive and I felt as if I was immersed in that world. The journey through Los Lagos was mainly a journey that Alex had to go through, and the majority of the story is mainly a story through her self reflection.

Nova, a is brujo, who lives in the neighborhood, and helps Alex on her quest through Los Lagos. I did like their sort of relationship they had in the book, while it did have a few cliches, Nova was still a well rounded character

The Devourer, is the main villain. While she was brought on mainly in the third act, but it surprised me how well fleshed out she was, and it provides a lot of bits to her back story.

In the end, I enjoyed Labyrinth Lost. It was very well paced, with an engaging world and characters. The theme of family is also very good as well.

Grade: 4.3/5

 

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.
When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves? 

The Review:

This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018, mainly because I really loved Geekerella so much, and also the possibility of an Anastasia retelling in SPAACEEE, would also get me excited.

Yes, the story is an Anastasia retelling set in space, and it almost follows some of the same beats as the story of Anastasia, mainly about a lost princess, who is of course our main protagonist, but she doesn’t know it yet.

Ana is a great protagonist, she spent most of her life living in space with her Captain who found her, while in space. She is someone that always wants to know about her past, and where she came from.

Than there is D09, or Di who is a robot, and is honestly one of my favorite robot characters that I have read. While yes, he is a robot, he does have a lot of personality. It also helps that there is a lot of chapters, told through his point of view. The relationship between Ana and Di was amazing, and was shipping them the whole way through.

There is also Robb, who is another POV character. He is an heir, or rather the youngest heir to the throne. He is trying to figure out what happened to his father who was supposedly killed during the rebellion, and he trying to find out what really happened. He is a great prince-like character, and a lot of his POV chapters dealt a lot with his family and making sure that his brothers don’t take over and become ruler.

Jax, is the ships main pilot, and he comes from a race, who can see the future with the stars. He is also one of my favorite characters. I love his cooky attitude, and it reminded me a lot of Joker from the Mass Effect series. There is also a romance between Robb and Jax and while it does feature some aspects of insta-love with Robb from the first sight of Jax, wants to kiss him. But they also develop into a couple I would love to root for.

The plot, is basically a retelling of Anastasia, with Ana being delivered to the Grand Duchess, it also involves a semi prophecy that she is a Goddess, who it set to rule.

I felt that the Dossier crew, could have also been a bit more fleshed out, mainly because it has a ton of diverse characters to them, and I always love a sort ragtag crew set in space.

I liked learning about how the Iron Kingdom is set up, especially with how they deal with Metals, or robots, who are seen as inferior with the HIVE threat.

I also thought the villain reveal was a bit too obvious, especially as someone who has watched the movie Anastasia could figure out, but I did like how his motivation was revealed.

In the end, Heart of Iron was a great read and a real page turner. While it was a retelling, Ashley Poston did add a lot of new twists to the story. The characters were all very engaging and I want to see what happens next for our characters.

Grade: 4/5

Gunslinger Girl by: Lyndsay Ely

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….

In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.

Review:

This was a book that sort of suprised me because I am a huge fan of the Western genre and I was always hoping for a YA book set in the Old West. well this book is technically set in the New West after the Second American Civil War, with a sort of dystopion setting.

The story starts with Serendipity or Pity, is trying to escape her father who wants to sell her to a Commune, which forces woman to basically become Handmaidens to produce children. She deals also mostly with the also the death of her mother who was a Patriot during the Second Civil War.

Pity is basically Katniss Everdeeen if she traded her bow and arrow for two revolvers, and she is a great shot with those revolvers. During her journey she heads to Cessation, which is a lawless town and there she is recruited to become a performer in the Theatre Vespertine.

The setting of Cessation feels sort of like a Law Vegas, where the only law is Selene’s law and you do not dare cross Selene or else you maybe put in her Finale of her show. Selene is basically the person that runs Cessation, and she runs it with an iron fist, while she may be corrupt, you kinda see a reason for her corruption.

There is also a romance in the book, with a boy named Max, who saved Pity’s life while trying to escape and introduces her to the Theatre. The romance was bestially a sort of hot-or-cold with neither one trying to let their feelings. While the romance was very basic I did feel that it took away from the plot and it also introduces a man named Sheridan who basically makes it a love triangle.

I also felt like the ending was a bit rushed, and I would have liked it to be a bit more fleshed out especially when the book takes a few good twists and turns which really makes it feel like a real western.

In the end, Gunslinger Girl was a good book. I really enjoyed the western setting, and while I heard it maybe stand alone, I would like to see where the characters go from here.

Grade: 3.8/5

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

Summary:

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

The Review:

This was another anticipated read of mine. I have been following Sasha’s journey with the book for quite a few years, with her drafting and editing this book along with Lindsay Cummings.

I really liked the setting of this book, how it is set in the far reaches of the galaxy, with a ton of different species living within the galaxy. It really reminded me a lot of Mass Effect in a way, in which the crew of the Normandy are a diverse set of people and aliens.

Androma or Andi, is a mercenary and basically a hired gun. She made a reputation of being one across the galaxy. She reminded me a lot of Cealena from Throne of Glass, except that she is in space. She also has an all female crew, who also remind me a bit of Mass Effect, and also the crew of Serenity. I like that each of the crew members all were very distinct in their own way.

Among the travels of the crew of the Marauder, they come across Dex, a bounty hunter who had a past with Andi. While the Dex and Andi relationship if you can call it that, was kinda of the cliched, lovers to enemies back to lovers again. But I think the way that the characters were framed, it was able to sort of overcome that trope. Dex is almost the Captain Reynolds type, who is very cocky in what he does and also the banter between Dex and Andi was always fun to read.

Lira, was another character from the Marauder crew, who had some chapters with her POV.  I though she was one of my favorite characters. and I thought she had a really good arc in the book. While I won’t give too much away, it has a lot to do with her past and present.

The main plot of this book, is sort of a redemption arc for Andi. She was a former Spectre for the Unified Systems, but after something happens she is forced to space piracy. Her main mission is to break the son, of a general out of prison. It feels straight out of Mass Effect, with sometimes Andi and Dex choosing the Renegade option.

The mission also ties into a lot into a conflict that affects the galaxy. This is also one of the few books I read that sort of has a villain POV chapter, along with a few origin chapters tied within the novel, which while it may feel like the Manon chapters in the Throne of Glass series it does lead into something.

In the end, Zenith was a great book. It had everything I wanted in a nice space opera, with great characters and a nice story. It also has a pretty good twist, that I will dare give away. I am very excited to see how this ends.

Grade: 4/5