Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve TucholkeWink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Published by Penguin on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 256
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain. Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened? Someone knows. Someone is lying.
For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Virgin Suicides, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.

“We were like the three Fates, weaving the story together, threads of gold, red, and midnight blue. There would be wolves and tricks and lies and cunning and vengeance in our story. I would make sure of it.”

One StarOne Star

A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan RhodesA Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes
Published by Penguin on June 23rd 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

The lives of Toronto teens Crystal and Becca Hatcher revolve around helping their mother out at the family's used bookstore, The Speckled Muse. It's a relatively uneventful after-school job, until an package arrives addressed to her mother, Julia. Thinking it's nothing more than run-of-the-mill inventory, Becca opens it and removes the book inside, unwittingly triggering an ancient magic and intertwining their fates with the powers that flow from the mysterious leather-bound book. Two parallel worlds collide and Becca is left in a catatonic state after her spirit is snatched from modern-day Toronto back to the ancient world of Mytica. Crys is guilt-ridden, having witnessed the entire event, and vows to do whatever is necessary to save her… but from what? Nothing has prepared them for what’s in store.
Written in alternating perspectives that shift between modern-day Toronto and the ancient kingdoms of Mytica, Rhodes delivers a rich and suspenseful series opener that will leave readers breathless.

“My name is Becca Hatcher. I don’t know what’s happened to me, where I am, or how I got here, but I know one thing. You’re going to help me get back home.”

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer

I received this book for free from Penguin, Speak in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Once Upon a Kiss by Robin PalmerOnce Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Published by Speak on January 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, print ARC
Source: Penguin, Speak
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

So much has happened since 1986, and Zoe Brenner is about to find out just how much.
From the author of the book that inspired the Disney original movie Geek Charming!

It's 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner's world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn't associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to?

A Review Told in Reaction Images: Once Upon a Kiss
(aka Sometimes I Write Short, Harsh Reviews)

#1: The Plot

Once Upon a Kiss is filled with nothing but filler, filler, filler. And plot holes. Lots and lots of plot holes. (Basically NOTHING that happens is ever explained.)

#2: The Heroine

Zoe is a judgemental “special snowflake” character with absolutely no redeeming qualities. The sad part is, she THINKS she’s totally nice and open-minded, when in fact she’s the quickest one to stereotype and judge. The girl-on-girl hate was just… ugh.

#3: The Writing

This book was so full of pop culture references that it was going to explode. Dude, I get it. Some part of the book’s set in the 80’s–I got that from the 231287 you reminded me so. And by that, I mean the heroine takes every opportunity to TELL us it’s the 80’s.

#4: The Characterization

EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER. IN. THIS. BOOK. IS. BASED. ON. A. STEREOTYPE. They’re basically just cardboard cutouts with no depth to them whatsoever.

#5: The Romance

This is the only saving grace of the entire novel for me. Again, it was your typical high school romance, but you guys know how much I love best-friends-to-lovers stories.

Overall, way too shallow and full of teenage drama for my tastes. With annoying language and one-dimensional characters, Once Upon a Kiss was just not the read for me.

One Star

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. JohnstonExit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Published by Penguin on March 15th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.
In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

“I’m not going to quit, Florry.” I look up and see that Polly has turned around again, and that Caledon is looking at me in the mirror. “I am not going to quit.”

TRIGGER WARNING – RAPE.

I think some people will have issues with this book. I get that. I really do. But I also think the ultimate strength of Exit, Pursued by a Bear is that it is not a typical story about a girl who gets raped and is consumed by it. Those stories absolutely matter and they are oh so very important, but there are many different experiences out there and I’m glad this one is being told.
In my experience, stories about rape survivors fall into one of two categories: 1) a girl (occasionally, a boy) falling apart in the aftermath of rape, or 2) a mystery about the rapist’s identity. This is neither. Hermione is sad, confused and angry, but this is predominantly a book about strength.
Rape is a crime often about power and weakness – the rapist makes the victim powerless by taking away their choice – but here Hermione does something unusual. She reclaims the power stolen from her. She has a strong support system. She doesn’t become defined by what happened.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Ten Books I May Have Forgotten to Rave About

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.
For today’s Top Ten Tuesday, the topic is, “Ten Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven’t Talked About Enough.” Okay, it was kindaaa hard to come up with 10 titles because when I love a book, I rave like a maniac. BUT I MANAGED TO. And now you have to make sure you read all the books in this list, m’kay?

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Glass Sword by Victoria AveyardRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Published by HarperCollins on June 7th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Victoria Aveyard’s internationally beloved #1 New York Times bestseller is now in paperback!
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. There, before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess, and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays the only certainty is betrayal.
This sweeping story of palace intrigue, class hierarchy, and deception will keep readers hurtling along, desperate to find out Mare’s fate. Her honesty and determination, quick wit, and no-holds-barred attitude will surely make readers fall in love with her.

And I am revealed for exactly what I am – a particularly stupid fish, moving from hook to hook, never learning my lesson.

^This is a pretty good summary of the whole book.

One Star

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Kiss by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Straus and Giroux on March 29th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

Are you really a boy, like Xash says? the god asked Arin. You’ve been mine for twenty years. I raised you.
The Valorian signed the scrap of paper.
Cared for you.
The message was rolled, sealed, and pushed into a tiny leather tube.
Watched over you when you thought you were alone.
The captain tied the tube to hawk’s leg. The bird was too large to be a kestrel. It didn’t have a kestrel’s markings. It cocked its head, turning its glass-bead eyes on Arin.
No, not a boy. A man made in my image…one who knows he can’t afford to be seen as weak.
The hawk launched into the sky.
You’re mine, Arin. You know what you must do.
Arin cut the Valorian’s throat.

I’m speechless.
This book was the perfect ending to one of my all-time favourite series. I can’t believe it’s over. But it was a beautiful ride, Marie Rutkoski, a truly beautiful ride.
Let’s do some reminiscing. When I first picked up The Winner’s Curse my expectations were pretty low. Books with girls in dresses on the cover? Focused primarily on romance? Not really my thing. However, as soon as I started the novel two things became very clear.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica KhouryThe Forbidden Wish Published by Penguin on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...    When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes. 

   But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?   As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

“Wishes have a way of twisting themselves, and there is nothing more dangerous than getting your heart’s desire. The question is, are you willing to gamble? How much are you willing to lose? What are you willing to risk everything for?”

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy MoldavskyKill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Published by Pan Macmillan on May 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.
We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.
We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.
How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

Boy band fangirls are a species that are more focused, determined, and powerful in large numbers than just about any other group of people I can think of.

I thought this was awesome. It’s the kind of book you have to be in the right mood for – a dark, sadistic sense of humour kind of mood – but it’s a diverse, murderous and hilarious comedy about fangirls in the age of social media.

Kill the Boy Band has many laugh-out-loud moments that come with a side order of guilt because you know you really shouldn’t be laughing. But, despite it’s implausible plot and ludicrous characters, there are many underlying truths laid bare in this book. And the funniest things of all are the sad truths you have to begrudgingly admit to.
I must confess: I related to parts of this book, which may have affected my experience. I’m in my early twenties now, but I grew up when the digital age was just finding its feet. At age thirteen, most people I knew had some form of social media – usually myspace or bebo – and I witnessed the emerging culture of celeb stalking that redefined what it meant to be a fan.
My personal obsession (well, the main one) was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and James Marsters (Spike) in particular. I would watch his interviews on Youtube, read every post on his website and, later, follow his movements on Twitter. In other circumstances, this level of stalkery would be illegal. In my early to mid teens, I felt attached to him on a weird level. I’d followed his life so closely that I felt like I knew him, something those of my parents generation simply couldn’t understand. Being his fan made me happy. Loving him made me feel good about myself. It sounds so silly now, but I think I truly believed that a) we were meant to be together, and b) this could eventually happen if I just attended enough signings and concerts.
Thankfully, I was too shy to do anything. I couldn’t tackle him because I melted into a puddle of emotions every time he was in the same room. But I can understand how crazy it could get if someone with my mindset *did* have the will and ability to take it to the next level.
That’s what this book is about. It’s about four teenage girls who are devoted to a boy band called “The Ruperts” – hilariously based on One Direction – and how their devotion escalates into something more sinister. The book makes fun of teen girl crushes on celebrities (lots of great parodies of real life, pop culture references, and some surprisingly graphic sex jokes), but it also has an anti-slut-shaming, feminist spin and, in a way, defends the girls’ right to their crushes and silly desires.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

The Great Hunt by Wendy HigginsThe Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
Published by HarperCollins on March 8th 2016
Genres: Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Wendy Higgins, the author of the New York Times bestselling Sweet Evil series, reimagines a classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale with The Great Hunt, a dramatic, romance-filled fantasy with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.
When a monstrous beast attacks in Eurona, desperate measures must be taken. The king sends a proclamation to the best and bravest hunters: whoever kills the creature will win the hand of his daughter Princess Aerity as a reward. The princess recognizes her duty but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger—she was meant to marry for love—until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. And while there’s no denying the fiery chemistry between them, Princess Aerity feels that Paxton’s mysteriousness is foreboding, maybe even dangerous.
Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He is determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the secrets he’s buried begin to surface against his wishes.

“Everything will be all right, Mama. Father will figure something out.”

One Star