Review: Symptoms of a Heart Break by Sona Charaipotra

Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer...

Review: Symptoms of a Heart Break by Sona Charaipotra

Monday, March 18, 2019


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Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer. She’s always had to balance family and friendships with her celebrity as the Girl Genius—but she’s never had to prove herself to skeptical adult co-workers while adjusting to real life-and-death stakes. And working in the same hospital as her mother certainly isn’t making things any easier.

But life gets complicated when Saira finds herself falling in love with a patient: a cute teen boy who’s been diagnosed with cancer. And when she risks her brand new career to try to improve his chances, it could cost her everything.

It turns out “heartbreak” is the one thing she still doesn’t know how to treat.

3 Stars

(I was provided a copy of the book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)

16 year old Saira is the Girl Genius. She was in college by age 12 and by 16 has finished medical school and is a hospital resident in the children’s oncology ward, and she’s off to a rough start. She’s late her first day, her supervisor seems to hate her, and she’s beginning to develop a relationship with one of her patients.


I liked this book. I liked learning about Saira, her culture, and her family. The descriptions of food were divine! Seeing the family interact at pizza hut did a great job of painting a picture of the family dynamic quickly and easily. Although a clear picture of Saira’s family was painted for us, I wish we’d had more intimate moments with Saira and her family.


With regards to Saira’s “friends”, they were hard to read about. Saira has spent her whole life working hard toward her goals. She chose to skip high school and the socialization it teaches, she chose to spend most of her time with her family watching Bollywood movies, and of the kids she knew before she joined the gifted program, she chose to only retain two friendships, Vish and Lizzie. While I hated that Vish put Saira into a position where she was forced to life for him every day, I thought he was a great character, I don’t think we saw enough of Lizzie though. When Lizzie and Saira got into a fight, I felt like I was supposed to have some sympathy for Lizzie but I didn’t. I don’t know if it was because her character wasn’t developed enough, or what, but I didn’t feel much.


Saira’s coworkers were full of surprises, and by coworkers I mean Jose, he was my favorite character in the book. I liked Saira’s interactions with her patients and their families and although I feel like everything happened very quickly. It feels like Saira met with each patron maybe 4 times. I just didn’t feel for them the way I think I should have.

Reading this book was interesting because I thought I was going to be reading a book about doctor who happened to be a teen genius, but I think I read about a teen who happened to be a genius and a doctor.
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Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Monday, March 11, 2019


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Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

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.





4 STARS

Man did I connect with Eliza. Eliza would rather live her life through a computer screen. She has friends but she doesn't need to meet them to consider them real. Her parents mean well, but the tactics that they concoct to "connect" with Eliza seem to have more to do with their own needs and interest than hers. Her younger brothers are... younger brothers, and the kids at school treat her like she's been infected by the Black Plague. Eliza has dedicated herself to keep her head down, her mouth closed, and to pray for graduation.

Amidst her issues and avoidance's at school and at home, Eliza is the creator of one of the most popular web comics around. She has fans, merchandise, and people doing fanfics and fanart about the world and characters that she's created. And while one would think that the popularity of her web comic would drip over into real life, it doesn't, because aside from her parents, only two other people know that Eliza created Monstrous Sea (sort of).

When Wallace enters the picture, Eliza, for the first time, meets a fan of her comic in real life! She meets someone who not only connects with her through her work, but understands her goals, ambitions, and her reserved nature.

It takes a while before the book tells us but Eliza has pretty intense anxiety. She hates crowds, avoids as many conversations as possible, and the idea of the notoriety that may accompany her identity as Monstrous Sea's creator seem to be almost too much to bear.

While reading about Eliza I understood her 100%. I also grew up in a family of sports addicts, and all I wanted to do was read books, write stories, listen to show tunes, and be left alone. It hard for people to imagine because I'm so chatty and bubbly and sassy. But fun fact, that's also a "super fun" way some people handle anxiety. So even though Eliza could be obnoxious and unfair and downright mean to her family sometimes. I get it. It's an almost uncontrollable reaction sometimes and can result from feeling panicked.

Between Eliza and Wallace, who struggles to speak in front of crowds I felt like this book was necessary. I wish there were most stories like this when I was in middle school and high school. I Will say that Wallace's actions at the end of this book were very out of character and almost didn't seem to fit with this book, but aside from this few chapters at the end, I call this book a win!
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Review: The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

Monday, March 4, 2019

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Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other
After an "oops, we made a mistake" night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa's wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they're comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won't fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn't looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don't fall in love. 


2.5 STARS
 
When I read the description of this book, I was eager to read it. Because books are not just my hobby, but my job, sometimes I like to set aside the middle grade and young adult, and pick up a cozy romance read, and if the main character migrate from enemies to lovers, all the better!!

The Wedding Party had great bones. We've got two people who can't stand each other, but they share a best friend (never read a book with that particular twist). Maddie, a personal shopper, thinks that Theo is pompous and conceited. Theo knows that he didn't portray himself in the best light when he met Maddie, but doesn't think there's much he can do about it now. When Maddie and Theo end up in bed together, they're both kind of horrified. After a second "encounter" they decide that they can continue their sexual realtions, as long as they don't tell their best friend Alexa (who is the protagonist in Guillory's first book in this series The Wedding Date).

As expected, the more time Theo and Maddie spend together the more their feelings for each other grow. Then begin to spend time together as friends, not just lovers. I loved the concept, it's like... the bullet points of the this book were LOVELY. Meet at birthday party, meet at engagement party, margaritas in the backyard, wedding dress shopping for the best friend, lost keys with no one else to call, this book rang all the right bells.

My struggle with the book was the writing. And let me say I'm not a writer. I have no aspirations of publishing my own book, I'm a Librarian and that's all I want to be. But the writing was... all over the place. I felt like I was reading the first draft of a book and the author didn't do any proof reading. There were passages such as "Refill? My mom insists on doing a toast, so everyone needs some champagne to be prepared." It just doesn't roll of the tongue, it doesn't feel organic. Something like " 'Refill? My mom insist on doing a toast,' Alexa sighed rolling her eyes and reaching for another bottle of champagne."(Again, not a writer) Or how about "They kissed, and kissed, and kissed..." I mean there had to have been another way, even if we stopped after the first kiss. There's a section in the book where (spoiler) Theo gives Maddie a key to his apartment and tells her she's welcome to let herself in. Her response is "Okay, sure, I anticipate a lot of 'I need to get into Theo's apartment or else the dinosaur on the loose might capture me' emergencies." I understand what was suppose to happen here, that was suppose to be a quirky, sassy, cute comment, but it just didn't work for me.

Like I said above, I did get this book from Netgalley, so it hasn't been published, but this is the first Netgalley book I've ever gotten where I read sentences like the ones I mentioned above. There was a section of the book where a protest got out of control and someone was attacked. Maddie, our main character, has with random mental aside, amidst the chaos that immediately takes me out of the action of the scene. It didn't fit, it wasn't appropriate

I recognize that I might be one of the few people who didn't fall head over heals for this author and book series, but trust me, I wanted to.  I want nothing more than a cozy romance with two black characters. Roxanne Gay reviewed a book in this series and gave it a high star rating, so feel free to ignore this review if you want to, but I was give a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and this is what I've got.
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Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Monday, February 25, 2019

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Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
  


3 STARS

I read the Belles with my friend Ericka who runs the YouTube series Java and the Librarians on her channel Life of a Bibliophile, and we decided that we kind of liked the book... and we were kind of indifferent to it. The Belles is about a group of woman who have the power to beautify a population that is born grey, wrinkled, and "not beautiful". Belles are coveted members of Orleans society, and the most coveted is chosen by the Queen of Orleans to be the Favorite. Camillia's mother was the Favorite during her time as a Belle, and Camillia hopes to be chosen as well. It doesn't take long before we realize that being a Belle isn't all is cracked up to be, and being the Favorite is probably the worst position of all.

I felt a lot of feeling around this book. At first I wasn't super exited to read it. I struggle to read book that center around appearance. It's just so darn exhausting to think about. When I started reading the book, I realized that it wasn't as shallow as I'd portrayed it to be in my mind, and then when I read Clayton's authors note, the book took on a whole different view. I almost wish the authors note was in the beginning to the book because I think I would have read it differently.

If you choose to sit through at least half of the hour and forty-five minute video that Erick and I recorded on Saturday, you'll learn that characters in the book are pretty one dimensional. Strangely enough, aside from the crazy princess who we watch slow boil into one of the craziest maniacs I've read about in a while, everyone basically is the same at the end as they were in the beginning, our exception might be Remy the bodyguard, but we don't see enough of him for that to have a huge impact, although I do hold out a lot of hope for him in book two.

Overall I liked this book, there are so many questions and so much intrigue that I think it would be a great read for reluctant readers. Princess Sophie, is CRAZY, and such an interesting character to read about, and the secretes that are revealed about the Belles are pretty off the wall, and clearly just the beginning

While this wasn't my favorite read, and, if you watched the video, I predict an unnecessary love triangle for book too, I do plan to read it.
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Chapter Break Bingo! January 2019

Monday, February 4, 2019

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This challenge sounds like so much fun and suuuuuuuuper simple. Chapter Break Bingo is hosted by Lynn and Julie of Chapter Break Book Blog

Here's how it goes.
"Welcome to the easiest challenge you’ll find all year! Read books. Mark off squares. That’s all it takes to participate in Bookish Bingo! Play along with us!

Here are the rules:
Each month we will upload a new bingo card. You download the bingo card and mark off squares as you read books each month. At the end of the month, we will post our own bingo cards. Link up your post or post your own bingo card in the comments.
The monthly winner will be the person with the most marked squares. None of that across, diagonal, up and down, corners stuff. Just the number of squares. Be sure to include the books you’ve read for each of the squares. Only books read during the current month count. You may use the same book to fill multiple squares. We’ll announce the winner the following month to allow everyone time to link up their posts."
Here's what the bingo board looks like click here to see the January post, and download the board yourself. 
~~~~~
I've already finished two books this year so here we go:
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander- Siblings, Competition, Read a physical book, Diet/ Fitness, Library book,
A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney- Superhero/ Powers, YA/NA, In a Series, Read a Physical Book, Start a Series, Magic, New to You ( and everyone I think) Author, Library Book, Multi-word Title

Don't Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno- Library Book, Not in a Series, Multi-Word Title,  Free Book,

Total squares=17 including free space
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Review: For Blood & Glory by Cassandra A. Hendricks

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Sefira Carrington is no stranger to tragedy. The death of her father as well as the curious mental decline and subsequent imprisonment of her mother, have left her truly and utterly alone. Despite her misfortune, she has managed to carve out a decent life for herself. She’s found a good family, friends and at sixteen, she’s finally realizing a semblance of normalcy.

That is, until she moves to Southern California. Strange things begin to happen. Things that become increasingly difficult for her to ignore. Suddenly, she finds herself thrust into a supernatural underworld that defies human comprehension. In this new world, a war is raging and in a cruel twist of fate, Sefira is somehow at the center of it. Something’s coming, and it will force her to reevaluate everything she’s ever been told and unearth the demons she thought she’d left behind.

Once she travels down this road, there’s no turning back….




 
*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

For Blood and Glory, was a roller coaster of a book. The story begins with a group of people finding a woman adrift in the middle of a large body of water. Shortly thereafter, our character Lyrica wakes up in the hospital and this book really begins to draw our attention. There are new born babies, secrets, deception, and displays of power normally reserved for the X-Men. Our story then flashes forward and we see a bit more into the mystery of Lyrica's life.

Our story then takes a quick turn and we no longer follow Lyrica's story, but her daughter Sefira. The switch was pretty abrupt and at first I was confused, but as we dove deeper in Sefira (love that name by the way) and her past, we were able to glean more into Lyrica's story and the journey that the first few chapters began for us. We follow Sefira as she makes new friends who were an interesting squad that I would have loved to see more of. Sefira even meets, a boy who takes her FISHING!! It's a small spoiler but it is now by dream date idea and I had to share it. While we spent a lot of time with Sefira's friends, high school enemies, and love interested Kaetano (our fisheman!), we also get to know Sefira's new family. I really love Sefira's relationship with her mom and sister, but man that brother of hers. I do wish we, as readers, could have spent a bit more time with Sefira's family, the relationship between Sefira and her mother was pretty solid, but I wish we could have had flashbacks or something to help us understand the hatred her brother had for her and how she came to bond with her sister.

One of the biggest characters that come in to play is Blythe. What a handful, and I say this knowing that I would probably act a lot like her. Like Sefira, Blythe is also going through some strange developments, but she's come to understand them better than Sefira has. It's almost a slight stretch of the imagination how well shes come to adapt to these changes with so little knowledge, but it didn't bother me too much. Sefira was definitely the protagonist of this story but I would kill for Blythe's backstory. I don't even feel like I can tell you why without revealing some truths that are better left read about in the book.  But I have a feeling we'll read more about her past in the sequel.

I liked this book. I'm a fan of urban fantasy so this was right up my alley. One of my favorite aspects of this book is that it's appropriate for younger teens, something that's been an important topic in the Teen Librarian world.

For more information on the author Cassandra A. Hendricks:
Website: https://www.cassandrahendricks.com/
Twitter: @casstheauthor  
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Review: A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

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The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she's trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn't always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice's handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she'll need to use everything she's learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.
 

3.5/4 stars




Guys, I'm not going to lie to you. The cover got me 100% and I'm currently saving up to by a red leather (pleather) jacket, and I am not ashamed that my clothing choices are dictated by fictional characters in a book. If I could get my hair that big, I might consider that too.

So A Blade so Black is a fairytale retelling of Alice in Wonderland. I’ve read a few Alice in Wonderland retellings and typically I’m underwhelmed. I loved this book from the very beginning. Alice has what could be a fatal encounter on what was already the worst day of her life. When the boy who saves Alice (his name is Hatta… get it!!) realizes that she can see him, he takes her on as an apprentice.

Hatta teachers Alice about Wonderland, the Nightmares (the cross over to the human world and destroy things), and how to defeat them.

So first, I loved that Alice was a HUGE nerd. She said Moon Crystal Power when she needed a boost of confidence, made her own cosplay, and was authentically herself. That being said some of her code switching was a little weird. She was slip into this dialect that didn’t fit and felt a bit unnatural.
What I liked about this book that I wasn’t a huge fan of in other retellings such as, Heartless (sorry friends) was that the ties between this contemporary novel and the fairytale weren’t so on the nose. Our sleepy mouse wasn’t a mouse but a bartender who could whip up a potion to cure darn near everything. There were no talking cats. The Tweedles, were weird ball looking guys that were probably too “stranger danger-y” for young children. They were twin Russians who also fought Nightmares, and our Princess was (Spoiler alert)
















LGBT which we KNOW Disney wouldn’t have done.

I liked this book, although it wasn’t perfect, it’s the best Alice in Wonderland retelling I’ve read so far, and I will read the second one. I’m hoping that the second book will go deeper into building Wonderland. I want to know what happened to Chess because I’m going to be honest I was a little confused. I want to hear more about Brionne’s and how her story plays out. I thought this book was an appropriate blend of the social issues of 2018 and the fairytale retellings many of us enjoy.


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