Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Release Date:  September 6, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Format: e-arc
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy
Ratings: Page Turner badass I Ship It 

So I told you to put this on your TBR list back in June. Now it’s HERE. And with a kickass trailer.

If you aren’t already convinced this is a book you should read, here are things I loved about it.

  • Alex: Alex is the MC and I love her a lot. She’s witty and determined and when she makes a massive mistake (trying to get rid of her powers which makes her family disappear) she spends the book trying to make it right while she tries to figure herself out. She’s also a bisexual Latina bruja which is not exactly common in YA literature.
  • Love: This book is excellent at exploring love beyond romantic love. The primary focus of the book is Alex finding love for herself. The main conflict is because she rejects an essential part of herself, her magic, so a lot of her growth is learning to care for her own qualities. She also has tremendous love for her family that only expands as she embarks on her rescue mission.
  • Magic: I adored the magical elements in this. Everything from the in-between land Alex has to travel through to the minor spells. Córdova used inspiration from Latin American traditions and added in her own creations. The world she created within our real world (Brooklyn) is enchanting. She talks about developing the world here and it’s well worth the read.
  • The Atmosphere: This book is creepy and funny and serious and light-hearted and everything at once. I became completely immersed in a story that manages to balance so many different moods.

Go forth and read, brujas.

[EDIT]
The publisher sent over a contest to win the book as well as bookmarks so enter!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

They also sent over a coloring page I intend on printing and coloring.

 

Note: An advanced copy of this book was provided free by the publisher for review consideration. This in no way influenced my opinion.

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A Torch Against the Night

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Paperback ARC
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance
Ratings: fave2 Page Turner characters badass I Ship It Wow Factor Gut Punch

I talked a little bit about this book back when I first read it. Now that the release date is upon us, I have some more thoughts about the things I liked. In list form. Because this is my blog and I can do what I want.

  • More action: There’s a lot more going on in this second book. Boy, did I feel a lot of emotions. Sometimes multiple emotions all on one page. The main emotion being STRESS. Which shouldn’t be surprising considering how the first book ended. Elias and Laia and the Empire as a whole have problems and then even more problems and it’s a whirlwind. Brace yourself.
  • More Supernatural Elements: The first book brushes on powers and the supernatural, but Torch explores that more extensively so there’s an extra touch of fantasy to the series (! “series” because there are now going to be 2 more books. HELL YEAH.) There are some answers to a few things that showed up Ember.
  • Pure Evil: Sometimes the exploration of the grey area between good and evil is important. (There’s some of that in this book.) But there’s also a pure evil element that added some horror to the events unfolding. Some things are just completely devoid of goodness, which helps up the stakes for characters. The moral complexity when it comes to Laia and Elias is much more distinct when it’s up against the terribleness that surrounds them.
  • More Helene: I wasn’t sure I wanted more Helene before reading this, but turns out her perspective adds a lot to the story. Through her the reader learns more about how the Empire functions and how brainwashed the Martial soldiers are. While I didn’t feel much for Helene in the first book, I understand her so much better now. As well as the decisions many in the Empire are faced with.
  • Laia: Laia was a refreshing character to me from the start. In the first book she is terrified and somewhat cowardly. She isn’t instantly good at everything. She’s realistic. This gives her so much room to grow. In Torch, she still isn’t perfect and still isn’t magically great at fighting and everything else. Which is good because her character development feels natural. In Ember, I liked that her strengths were much different than Elias’s. That contrast come through even more in this book and is part of the fabric of the story.

The ending to this is satisfying as there wasn’t a promise that anything else would come next. But now we get two more books! Which is great, but now I’m in agony again because I have to wait.

 

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Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Release Date:  August 30, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: ARC
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Ratings: Gut Punch Surprised Me characters

Trigger Warning: Discussion of self-harm, abuse

My Thoughts

This was one of the hardest books ever to read. Not because it wasn’t well written, but because it was and about a difficult topic. The novel is from the perspective of Charlotte “Charlie” Davis, who ended up in a hospital because of self-harm. She cut up her arms so badly, she almost died, but friends bring her to the hospital and then she is admitted to a psych hospital for girls. So the book starts in that hospital and is instantly heavy.

The author of the book also struggled with self-harm so it’s a very raw and real telling of what it’s like to cope with a mental illness. Charlie’s story is unique, but many of her thoughts are in line with what it’s like for anyone to deal with poor mental health.

Girl In Pieces deals with a range of tough topics aside from self-harm. Domestic violence, loss, love, homelessness, and abuse are among some of the areas brushed upon. All of it made my heart ache. Not because of the nature of the topics alone, but because of how incredibly well Glasgow brings Charlie to life. Her voice is clear and it’s loud. It’s Charlie’s unfiltered thoughts as she tries to navigate a world that has mostly just hurt her. She’s lost a father and a best friend. Her mother isn’t much of a mother. She finds herself in a damaging relationship. A hospital doesn’t magically heal her and she feels broken, but she’s trying to get better. As a reader you feel her pain deeply. You also feel her joy. You feel her hope and her hopelessness.

The world needs more books with a honest portrayal of mental illness. There’s nothing beautiful about it. There isn’t a magical cure. Girl In Pieces does well to show all of that. It doesn’t glamorize something horrible. There aren’t any sudden revelations. The book is about girl who is sick, but is still a girl trying to get by like anyone else. I have a feeling I’ll be carrying Charlie’s story with me forever.

Positives/Negatives
+ Realistic portrayal of mental illness/self-harm
+ The depiction of the sheer complexity of living
– Some little things that are spoilery

In Summary
This book is one of the rawest depictions of mental illness I’ve read. It doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of it all and it’s going to crush you a bit.

Note: An advanced copy of this book was provided free by the publisher for review consideration. This in no way influenced my opinion.

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Ten Books Set Outside the US

A lot of the books I read set outside the US tend to be set in somewhere in the British Isles or a fantasy land. That made this week’s theme a tad bit difficult as I didn’t want to repeat locations. However, I managed to pick ten books that take place in ten different countries (or the rough equivalent.) I did this quickly and they aren’t necessarily favorites, but still books I enjoyed that brought me to different corners of the world.

  1. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
    Canada
  2. And I Darken by Kiersten White
    Ottoman Empire
  3. When the Crow Sings by Jacqueline Wales
    Scotland
  4. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
    Persia
  5. My Brilliant Friend By Elena Ferrante
    Italy
  6. Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French
    Ireland
  7. I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn
    France
  8. Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup
    India
  9. Saturday by Ian McEwan
    England
  10. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
    Sweden

Looking forward to reading others’ lists for this week so I can challenge myself to read more books set around the world.

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely The Broke and the Bookish.

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UK Book Haul

ukcovers

I spent a little over a week in the UK (Cheltenham and Glasgow to be exact) and whenever I’m over there I end up buying too many things I can’t get in the US. The most of what I buy are books (surprise) because there are a lot of better covers. Books also tend to be a bit cheaper (even with the exchange rate) and most go right to paperback (I’m not the biggest fan of hardcover.) So here are the books I picked up over there at Waterstone’s and WH Smith.

  1. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
    This cover is similar to the US version BUT the pages!! LOOK!!
    20160715_201815(If you missed it, I wrote a mini review of the book and made a playlist.)
  2. Would I Lie To You? (by a lot of people involved with the show)
    A thing the US doesn’t really have is quiz panel shows. Britain on the other hand has a ton and I love them. They’re kind of like game shows except with comedians and other celebrities. Would I Lie To You is one of my favorites (this explains it) and I spotted this in the airport. Apparently it doesn’t officially come out until September but airports get exclusives, which was news to me. This has 99 of the most common lies with the commentary from the showrunners and comedians regularly on the show.
  3. You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan
    I do actually like the US cover of this, but it’s currently only in hardcover and I like the UK version a tad bit more so decided to get it.
  4. Back Story by David Mitchell
    David Mitchell (not to be confused with the author) is a British comedian who is on Would I Lie To You? plus a bunch of other shows I love. This memoir is only out on ebook in the US so I grabbed the paperback.
  5. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
    The OTHER David Mitchell of Cloud Atlas fame. This is one of his I haven’t read and the cover is gorgeous. They also had a wonderful copy of Slade House with green pages, but I didn’t like that book enough to justify buying a physical copy.
  6. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    I hadn’t read this yet and love the illustration. Purple!!
  7. How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman
    Another Gaiman story I haven’t read. It’s short so wouldn’t take up much room in my luggage. There is an entire set of his books with excellent minimalist covers and I wanted them all, but then I would be broke and also couldn’t carry them all.
  8. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
    A favorite of mine and the pulp fiction covers are so much fun. This also has pink edged pages. Why doesn’t the US have more paperbacks with colored pages?
  9. For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser
    This is one I grabbed mostly because it’s pretty and I needed a second book for a buy one get one half off deal.
  10. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
    I kept seeing this pop up online, mostly from UK bloggers/vloggers. I don’t think it comes out until next year in the States and it sounds great.
  11. Paper Butterflies by  Lisa Heathfield
    This one I think is available on Amazon in the US, but perhaps not officially out here? Unsure. I had heard about it though and it was part of Waterstone’s BOGO half off deal so I picked it up.
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    They have these wonderful patterned covers for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books. I had recently bought Americanah in the US so couldn’t justify buying that even though I adore that cover, so went for Half of a Yellow Sun.
  13. The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han
    The US covers are so boring. Stock photo teens. UGH. While these UK ones are so cute. I haven’t read this series yet, but I love Jenny Han and decided I needed the set.

Actually amazing I didn’t end up getting more. I had considered buying another suitcase so I could get more, but exhibited some self control. The US of A needs to step up its cover game.  More affordable books would also be nice, but that’s another conversation.

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