Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Diamond Thief, by Sharon Gosling

(3/5 stars)
(and what a lovely cover!)

No one performs on the circus trapeze like 16-year-old Rémy Brunel. But Rémy also leads another life, prowling through the backstreets of Victorian London as a jewel thief. When she is forced to steal one of the world’s most valuable diamonds, she uncovers a world of treachery and fiendish plots.

Meanwhile, young detective Thaddeus Rec is determined to find the jewel and clear his name. Will Thaddeus manage to rescue the jewel? Or is it really Rémy that he needs to save?

*I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review* 

Okay, so this book has a lot of my favorite things: Victorian circuses, thievery, diamonds, and curses. Add on an adorable all-about-the-law police officer and I'm immediately hooked. So basically, premise-wise, I loved this book from the beginning, but unfortunately, it didn't really live up to my expectations.

What I liked: The story. Like I said, many of my favorite story tropes in one book is like a dream come true. It was fast paced and action packed and I loved seeing Rémy use her circus training to beat up on the bad guys. I also really liked her hesitation to fall in love and lack of hesitation in being fiercely independent and (not in a bad way) self-centered. Now, I think my absolute favorite thing about this book was little J. Can I get a J spin-off or novela or something pretty please? He's the perfect sidekick and I'm ready for him to have his own plot now.

What I didn't like: There was something about the way The Diamond Thief was written that kind of bothered me. I can't put my finger on exactly what it was, but it was there. I wanted to see more of the circus, more of the magic and mystery and romanticism that surrounds it (or maybe The Night Circus set my expectations too high). I also thought that there were some times when the plot was confusing and seemed a bit too much. There were times when it was super unrealistic (nobody can almost die that many times and not actually die), and the plot holes distracted from an interesting story. It was like everything was a bit too convenient and solved with ease.

It's worth a read, especially if you're into steampunk, historical, or fantasy. And the setting is vivid and there's magic that shows up every once in a while. Basically, it's pretty fun and fast once you can get over all the other problems.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Beginning of Everything, by Robyn Schneider

(4.5/5 stars)

So contemporary romance is really popular in YA right now, right? And to be honest, I'm not the world's biggest contemporary fan, but I make exceptions. The Beginning of Everything is most definitely a well made exception. I hate comparing authors to John Green (mostly because you tend to get a big backlash if you do that, ugh, it's annoying) but this book had that feel to it. You know the feeling: the profound, maybe a little bit pretentious, but comical and intelligent and issue related feeling. It makes you think about life and love and friendship, and those are the contemporary books that I always end up enjoying. 

What I liked: Let me start off by saying that Ezra's friend group is full of the people I wish I was friends with in high school.  They constantly make references to Harry Potter (so many references!) and Doctor Who and I absolutely love it. They're quirky and unique without trying too hard. Basically, they seem like a lot of fun. Ezra is a great character, his tragedy and depth make him very real and relatable. He's interesting and flawed. He has tunnel vision in the extreme. But he's so human and you can't help but love him. Cassidy is something else. There's so much mystery surrounding her, and I know people are going to go ahead and call her a manic pixie dream girl (don't even get me started), but there's even a point where she calls Ezra out on it--refusing to believe in that title and character role. The writing is beautiful and makes you think, all while making me laugh out loud. To put it simply, I loved this book because it's about self-discovery at a time when Ezra has lost all his identity. He has a need to belong somewhere and he takes a fun/emotional/serendipitous journey to find that place. 

What I didn't like: The end. For as long and beautiful as the book was, the end felt a bit rushed and unsatisfying. After everything Ezra went through, I refuse to believe it just ended the way it did. There was no resolution for Cassidy' character, it was almost like Robyn Schneider wanted her to be a manic pixie dream girl--all I wanted was for this girl to get the credit she deserved as an awesomely written character. So that was a bit hypocritical considering the big speech Cassidy gave Ezra in the end about their relationship. 

This book really was everything though (no pun intended). The pop culture references were right on par, and the voice was individualistic and made you fall in love with Ezra Faulkner. It was deep without being over the top and light enough that you didn't feel like it was trying too hard. I loved this book.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

(4.5/5 stars)

This book came into my life all thanks to my lovely friend Lisa, and I never want to let go of it. When I read the synopsis, I thought to myself, "Oh, this sounds interesting but I'm not sure if I'll really be able to get into it." My thoughts lied. My thoughts are dumb. 

What I liked: Where do I start? I like that the book didn't start with Ben's (Mac's ten year old little brother) death. If it had, it might have turned me off and distracted from the overall story. I like that the book takes place between two separate but equally majestic worlds--one being the old fashioned hotel where Mac's family moves into and the second being the world of the Archive. I love the idea of Histories (big 'h'), of people's souls and lives not truly being gone when they die but asleep (it's not that simple, but it's the best description I can come up with). The world of the Archives is complex but fascinating, and I crave more information about them and the people that are involved--i.e. the Keepers, Crew, and Librarians.

Now, to move on to the characters. Mac (Mackenzie) is an awesome protagonist. She's flawed and makes mistakes but owns up to them--she's so incredibly real. Attitude-wise (and job-wise to a certain extent), she really reminded me of Suze Simon from Meg Cabot's Mediator series (one of my favorite series of all time). I'm a super big fan of Wesley, the adorable guyliner wearing boy with big brown eyes and a cute sense of humor, who will hopefully maybe (fingers crossed) become a serious love interest in the next book. 

What I didn't like: At first, I was really confused about who Da was because I thought he was her dad. He's not, he's Mac's grandfather but it would have been nice if that was a teeny bit more clear. I also thought the beginning was a little bit slow and confusing--there's a lot to wrap your brain around world-building wise--and it took me a couple chapters to get really into it, but once I was, I couldn't stop. It was also just a little bit predictable, but I wasn't upset about it. In fact, I got over the predictability real quick. That's where my complaints end, though. 

A beautiful story with a creepy feel to it, this is a book worth reading. As long as you can get through the first couple chapters, you'll be hooked and drawn into this world like no other. It's unlike anything else I've seen (world-wise) and has great characters and an intriguing plot to boot.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Masque of the Red Death, by Bethany Griffin

(3/5 stars)

I LOVED this book and I HATED this book and I was literally flip flopping every other sentence. I hadn't planned on writing a review for this one, but after not being able to sleep for multiple hours, I decided that I had to talk to someone about it! Lucky, you guys. 

What I liked: This is a really interesting world. The premise is really cool. Now, I've never read Poe's story, but I think I'm going to have to. I like the idea of an airborne illness that kills anyone that comes in contact with it. It's not a world that I personally want to live in, but it totally works for the story! The Debauchery Club is scary but intriguing--I would definitely hang out there...maybe once and then be done (unless I was guaranteed my own Will).  Oh, Will. My sweet, darling Will. I am Team Will and I'm not even sorry about it--Elliott was very sociopathic in my opinion. Yes, Will is involved in a *super big time plot twist that I'm not going to spoil* but I don't even care. Maybe it's because I got way to emotionally attached to his little sister and brother, Elise and Henry. Those kids have my heart, probably because they reminded me so much of my little cousins that I used to nanny for, but they were my favorites and the main characters that I held dear to me while reading. I also really liked that Araby was an alcoholic/drug abuser because it added some depth to her (kinda sorta lackluster-more on that later) personality. That and the death of her brother caused me to sympathize with her, and she seemed more realistic with those qualities.

What I didn't like: Remember, I HATED this book. Mostly, I hated the character motivations (or lack there of). What were the Princes's motivations for being evil? I get that he wanted power, but there has to be something more than just that. Next. Why did Araby just instantly betray her father and trust Elliott? I get he's cute, girl, I get it. But she didn't even hesitate. "Hi cute boy, you want my family secrets? Here you go!". Next. What the heck is up with Elliott? Sure, he's passionate about the rebellion, and smart and stuff, but he's a grade A jerk. There were a few moments when I kind of liked him, but they were rare and short lived. I just don't see the appeal. But really, when I all comes down to it, I think my main problem was with Araby and her lack of self. She was confused at the unimportant things and then didn't even think of hesitating at the important stuff. Example: Her emotions were all over the place for a lack-luster love triangle that she didn't seem committed to, herself, while she has no problem betraying her family or hating her mother without reason. 

But also don't forget, I LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down and I wanted to talk about it with everyone I saw. I'm emotionally conflicted over it, therapy will probably cost me thousands. I haven't decided if I want to read the sequel yet. Do I dare put myself through even more of this turmoil? Decisions, decisions.