Monday, June 27, 2016

Pocket Book Reviews {June 2016}

You know when you read a bunch of incredible books in a row and get that reader's high? Yeah, that happened this month. Not every book I read was a five starer, but I enjoyed reading them, especially Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here and Love Charms & Other Catastrophes

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here
♥ (5 stars)

Written by Anna Breslew; When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. 

I picked up this book on a whim, but I'm so glad I did! It features several things I like: fanfic, awkward people, writing, TV shows, humor, friendship, and romance! This book is HILARIOUS! I found myself laughing out loud (literally!) on almost every single page. I like that this book is a darker, raunchier, sassier version of Fangirl with more cursing, but set in high school. The MTV version if you will to the CW Fangirl

My favorite thing about this book is Scarlett. I LOVE how self-aware she is. Even most adults are not this knowledgeable about their place in the world and who they are. But Scarlett knows who she is. It's everyone else and life in general that she's still figuring out. And she's so fucking snarky and witty. I love it! I equally loved reading about Scarlett's life and the story she was writing. I got so invested in what was happening with real Gideon and fake Gideon. 

The other thing I love? That this book makes me want to write! It's partly because Scarlett is also a writer (she starts out writing fanfic like I did!) and partly because the writing is seriously on point (Anna Breslaw knows how to weave a snarky sentence that perfectly speaks to what's going on in Scarlet's mind). This book is a must-read for everyone, but especially for people who never felt like they fit in.

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The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2)
 (4 stars)

Written by Rick Riordan; Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn't know much more than his name. Somehow Percy manages to make it to a camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he has to keep killing monsters along the way. But the camp doesn't ring any bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth.

This book made me remember why I liked Percy so much! I like his sarcasm, dry sense of humor, loyalty, and his ability to hope that everything will turn out all right and make others believe in that hope too. While this book wasn't as exciting as The Lost Hero, I did enjoy their quest and everything they fought. I find Hazel a fascinating character. For someone so young (only 13), she's very mature and self-aware and can display confidence on the outside even when she doesn't feel it on the inside. I think her past is really interesting and I like that it helped propel the story. I also think Frank is such a sweetie! The age gap between him (16) and Hazel is a little weird, but I like their sweet relationship.

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The Woods, Vol. 4: Movie Night
 (4 stars)

Written by James Tynion IV; 437 students are light years away in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. In the wake of the election, the results have turned the students against their new-found allies. And as Karen learns more about the Aboriginal people and their control over the power of the Woods, she must chose between her friends and her destiny.  

The art is just as impressive as the previous volumes. I love how the electric violets, pinks, blues, and greens makes this world feel so alien. Not much happened in this volume, but I can see where it's leading and it's fantastic. Every volume the writers manage to add a new and exciting element and this one didn't fail to deliver!

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 (3 stars)

Written by Emma Rios; A dystopian tale that analyzes the conflict between perception and identity through the struggle of three people who consider a 'body transplant' as a solution to their lives.

The idea of transplanting your brain and soul into another body is an intriguing one. There are many reasons why someone would consider doing it, but could you actually go through with it? Could you live in an entirely new body? I enjoyed this story, but I wanted more. Noa was the best character; his reasons for wanting to switch bodies (transgendered) was believable and heart wrenching and connected to things going on in the world today. Despite the art being only in red and white, everything felt so colorful and real. I did feel that the colonization of other worlds and the rioting felt unnecessary for such a short story though. Very interesting!

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*Received a copy from NetGalley

The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3)
♥ (5 stars)

Written by Rick Riordan; The Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate in order to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea. Then they will have to sail together to the ancient land--Greece itself--to find the Doors of Death. What exactly are the Doors of Death? Too much of the prophecy remains a mystery for our heroes. 

This book was EPIC! I heard good things about this installment of the series and they were right. The dynamic and the relationships between the seven heroes are wonderful, hilarious, cute, and at times fraught with tension. Things don't go smoothly just because they're the heroes. I love the budding bromance between Percy and Jason, but my favorite part about this book is how real Percy and Annabeth's feelings for each other come across. We didn't quite see that in the Percy Jackson series, but here we get to see how much they truly care for one another. The other thing I loved was their quest. All of the pieces of it that came together at the end and it's awesome! And that ending??? Holy Zeus!

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Learning to Swear in America*
 (4 stars)

Written by Katie Kennedy; An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: antimatter. But Yuri's 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he's not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.

I wasn't sure if I would like this book. I thought it might be too mathematical and too science-y, but that's only a part of it. And the math and science bits are done in a fun and uncomplicated way. This book is mostly about Yuri learning to be a regular teenager while trying to solve the greatest problem the world has ever had: how to stop a giant asteroid. It's cheeky and funny and doesn't take itself too seriously. I wasn't a big Dovie fan at first, but she grew on me and I liked her chemistry with Yuri. Lennon is the best! He's so nonchalantly hilarious. Great read!

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*Received a copy from NetGalley
 (4 stars, maybe more like 3.75)

Written by Naomi Novik; Agnieszka loves her valley home, but the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman to serve him for ten years. And it is Agnieszka that he chooses.

Here are a few words to describe Uprooted: intense, complex, vivid, and enchanting. When I picked up this book I wasn't expecting something so deep and sure of itself; I was expecting a light-hearted, fluffy fantasy. Uprooted is neither of those things. It's hard and emotional and at times dense. It actually reminded me a bit of Lord of the Rings with its sweeping tale of someone taken from their home and thrust into something bigger than themselves. There's even an all-seeing, malevolent being, like the Eye of Sauron, that turns people into horrible beasts and scary trees in the Wood. 

Agnieszka really carried this story forward by being confident even when she wasn't, of pushing herself to protect others, of standing up for what's right. I liked her from the very beginning and I like that her goodness chipped away at the Dragon's fear and coldness and turned him into a character worth liking, even if he's still grumpy by the end. It's part of his appeal. 

I won't give away any spoilers, but the whole reason behind the Wood was fascinating to me. I wasn't expecting that to be the reason for this horrible forest to be eating away at the valley, village by village. I did find the writing to be pretty dense and the plot to drag at some points. I feel like some things could have been cut or shortened, which is why I took away a star. But overall this book is magical and feels like you're reading an old fairy tale.

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Love Charms & Other Catastrophes
♥ (5 stars)

Written by Kimberly Karalius; Aspiring love-charm maker Hijiri Kitamura was excited to come back to Grimbaud for her sophomore year—until she learned about the upcoming charm-making competition. She and her friends want to make sure she wins to the contest. That’s easier said than done, especially when Love itself has decided to meddle in Hijiri’s life. Concerned that its favorite charm maker has given up on finding a love of her own, Love delivers a very special gift—the perfect boyfriend.

I loved this book even more than the first one! While I enjoyed seeing Grimbaud from Fallon's POV in the first book, I really loved Hijiri's POV because we got to see how love charms are actually made, which I found fascinating. Every love charm-maker creates them in a different way, so I like that Hijiri used symbolism for hers. And we get to see all of the old, adorable characters, but now they have a new mission: helping Hijiri win the love charm competition.

Ken is just too cute for words and while at first I wasn't sure if his insta-love was endearing or annoying, I really grew to like him and I think he really is the perfect companion for Hijiri; and she for him. He lifts her up and she grounds him. And I really want one of his hearth charms!

I want a third novel so badly from the POV of Bram! I find his anti-love outlook so fascinating in a town obsessed with love, and I want to see him find love in the next book (maybe with a certain teacher *winky face*).

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P.S. -- Enter to win my birthday giveaway!

What books did you read this month?

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~Sara ♥

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