Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Lair of Dreams - Libba Bray

Title: Lair Of Dreams
Author: Libba Bray 
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5 Stars 

The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams.

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners.

Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City.

As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city?

In this heart-stopping sequel to The Diviners, Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray takes readers deeper into the mystical underbelly of New York City.

Hey reader friends!  Let's talk dreams!  

This book is the second in The Diviners series, and while I liked The Diviners just *slightly* more than Lair of Dreams, I want you to know I did love this whole book through and through.  I rated it 4.5 stars because the beginning was a bit slow, but in my opinion is really picked up and it ended with a bang.  

While I did struggle with Evie through this book, I think that's okay because I feel like she might have a lot in store for her in the last two books of the series.  In this novel, she's basically drinking all the time, blows off her friends, ignores her obvious love interest Jericho and continues to try and pawn him off on someone he's not romantically interested in and ignores her uncle for the entire book. That being said, I do think that she showed some changes in this book. Not good changes, but I think what happened to her had to happen. I think (and I could be wrong) that Evie might have a lot of changes coming for her in the next two books.

I loved watching the development of Ling and Henry's characters, and the development of their friendship. Ling is very....blunt and while she doesn't seem very abrupt, she's abrupt enough that I could see how some people might struggle with her. Henry seems to bring out this side to her that others might not see, though, and I loved that!  I also loved watching what happened to them while dream walking, from Ling being sort of detective like in her discover of who Wei-Mei really was to watching Henry learn what really happened to his love Louis.  

There was so much build up in this book, and some twists that may be only slightly obvious - and I was really surprised by some of the things that happened.  Looking back on a few things, they make sense, but when reading, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat.  The story was well plotted and well developed and once it got started, it was fast paced and there was a lot going on.  The story follows each character and their story so well, and weaves each characters arc into a story that left me needing to finish this story NOW.

Outside of the characters I already mentioned, I also loved seeing the character arcs of Memphis, Theta, and Isaiah. Mabel and some of the other characters were important to the story, but my favorites were those I mentioned above and Memphis, his brother, and Theta.  I liked learning more about Theta and her past, and watching her relationship with Henry change as well.  I loved watching Isaiah grow and learn more about himself and what he can do. He's so young, and still has such a long way to go in his life (assuming nothing happens to him) and I can't wait to see where he does go. Memphis really seems to be in a struggle because he has some stuff going on that he hides, and I love watching him grow with that struggle and the things he hides. I love watching him and Theta develop in their relationship even if they are not sharing much about that relationship with others.  

I think there were a lot of changes for the characters at the end of the Diviners, and that led to many of the characters feeling down, and going through some emotional changes and likely some emotional trauma. And the author delves into all that so well, and is sensitive to where each character is and where they should develop to.

On the last note: Bill, the "darling" gentleman that hangs out on the street, is absolutely going to rip shit open, I can just tell. I don't want to spoil anything if you haven't read this book yet, but holy shit this guy is just causing all sorts of havoc, and I definitely have suspicions about him.  That being said, he is important to the story and moves the story along so, so well.

I am so glad that I finally got to reading this book, and if you have never read it, please please do that. The characters, their development, the changes, the story and plot, the writing - it will all draw you in and create a reading experience you will absolutely enjoy! 

Monday, July 13, 2020

All American Boys - Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Title: All American Boys
Authors: Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely 
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5 Stars 

I've tried to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, but a few things have slipped in. Read at your own caution.
Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end.

All American Boys is THE BOOK you all need to be reading right now.  Put it on your list right beside The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, because those books are both so powerful and so relevant to where we still are in the US right now.  

This book is a powerhouse of a book that will keep you hooked from the very first page. It explores the dynamics of race and the tension between black and white people, and black people and cops so, so well. 

You've read the summary above. Perhaps you've even read this book. So I won't go into more detail about what this book is about.  Let's just jump right in to my review.  

I feel like I don't even know where to start with this book. I loved every single second of this book. Every. Single. Second.  Wait - that's a small lie. I really hated that we never find out what happened to Paul at the end.  I didn't like that part.  And while I may not have loved the way that Rashad's dad treated Rashad throughout this book, I loved watching the dad's character development right up to the end where he finally, finally realized his son's were standing up for the right thing.  

I was absolutely heartbroken for Rashad reading about what Paul did to him, and I am heartbroken for every single person who has to be hurt and many times killed because of police brutality.  It breaks my heart that Rashad and his friends live a time when police brutality not only still exists but is getting worse.  It breaks my heart that these kids are surrounded by people who think that "not all cops" do this stuff, and that "not all cops" are bad cops.  Not review related at all: My thoughts on that sentiment are: If you claim to be a good cop, but you let police brutality for any reason slide, you are not a good cop.  Stand up and do the right thing!

I really loved watching the development of these characters. I feel like the authors nailed what it's like to be a black kid living in fear every single day, and to be that white kid on the other side growing and realizing that the treatment of black people at the hands of police and other people is not okay.  Rashad really seemed to struggle at the beginning with whether or not he wanted to march with his friends and brother when he got out of the hospital, but it just took a small amount of persuasion to convince him to march.  And thank goodness he did. It was just so amazing to watch him go from this uncertain kid who hated the cop but wasn't sure what to do about it, to this strong kid who stood up for himself and others in the best way!

Quinn's story as well was amazing. Quinn is a white kid that goes to Rashad's school and plays on a basketball team with a bunch of people who happen to be friends with Rashad.  Quinn's friend Guzo is also on the team and his Guzo's brother just happens to be Paul the bastard cop.  Quinn and Guzo have been friends for so long that everyone in their families considers each other part of their own families.  They do so much together, and everyone just assumes that when Paul beats the shit out of Rashad, that Quinn will stand for it.  At first Quinn think he might, but you can see little cracks in his thinking, you can see the way he looks at Paul, you can feel his anger and frustration at what Paul did.  He ends up doing the right thing. He stands up to Paul, Guzo, and everyone else supporting Paul.  I think that shows that he grew during the short time of this book and that he has incredible character.  

This whole story, from the very first page, was amazing and heartbreaking. Every single second of this story flowed together and worked together to create a book that is, hands down, THE BEST BOOK I've read this year.  It beats out Scythe.  I loved this book more than Scythe.The story was amazing, the characters were so well written and well developed, and even though the book was shorter (just over 6 hours for the audiobook) it packed such a punch. Every second of this book worked well together, everything made sense, all the characters fit well with one another and each character had a very obvious place in the story. 

If the only other book you read this year is All American Boys, you won't be disappointed.  

Now, go do the important things. Spread the word about the BLM movement, stand up and be vocal against systemic racism, call out people, and READ THIS BOOK! 




Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Diviners - Libba Bray

Title: The Diviners 
Author: Libba Bray
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5 Stars 

SOMETHING DARK AND EVIL HAS AWAKENED… Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries her uncle will discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho is hiding a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened…

This is a book I have been meaning to read for a long time, and once I actually got into it, I fell in love!  This whole book just speaks to me.

There was so much to this story, from the struggle of these young people living in 1920's New York City WITH SPECIAL POWERS, to the fact that they were trying to stop a murderer, and just so much more.  

I loved the way this story was written, I loved the way each chapter flowed together so well and added so much to each other part of the book, I loved all the characters, even the ones that were a bit...dippy (Evie.)  

I admit I do agree that Evie seems a bit surface level and seems like she doesn't really care about anyone else other than herself. That's obvious. But I think she does grow toward the end, I really do, and I think she can see that she needs to start being more open and receptive to other people.  I think she starts to realize and learn that life isn't always going to revolve around her.  Also, something to keep in mind is that this girl is 17 - she's still a teenager, and it's really in a teenagers psychology to have this sort of attitude that the world is all about them. Luckily most teens grow out of that and learn to evolve and think more about others as well. 

The other characters were just - wow. I literally couldn't think of a single character in this book that I didn't like.  Well, okay, Naughty John was, you know, the literal worst, but other than that I loved every single character. I do believe my favorites were Theta and Memphis.  They were just amazing.  I loved the growth, development, and evolution of all the characters. I loved the way the characters meshed so well together and added so much to the flow of the story.  There wasn't any single character who didn't fit in here, and who didn't add their own thing to this book. 

The whole story flowed well together, each chapter adding more and more depth to what was happening throughout this book.  The writing kept me hooked and made me want to finish.  It was definitely a YA book, but the author did a good job of writing it in a way that I could easily forget that the main characters are much younger than me.  

There was also some surprise and intrigue throughout this story as well that kept me going - I was not expecting to learn what I did about Jericho, for example.  I feel like the author didn't overuse the element of surprise - there was enough surprise in the book to move the story along and keep you hooked, but not so much that it felt tired.  

I think the author did a great job if including some accuracy with the story.  She did have to take some dramatic liberties of course, but even with that, I think you can definitely get the feel of 1920's New York in this story, from the way they talked, to the places they visited, to the clothing they wore.

All in all, if you are looking for a wonderful historical mystery with plenty of flair, read this book now! 

Friday, June 26, 2020

Dating Profile Friday - Kylo Ren

Name: Kylo Ren 
Likes: Building a new death star that is far superior to the death star created by my grandfather, Rey 
Dislikes: My parents, the light side of the force, Rey 

About Me: I was raised by parents who never really cared about me as much as they cared about other people. I knew from a young age that I was more like my grandfather than anyone could possibly imagine. I don't feel shame or embarrassment about allowing myself to become like Darth Vader. I few him as one of the greatest inspirational leaders the dark side has ever had. 

I'll be on my ship if you want to find me - we're currently located near the planet Chandrila.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday - Books on My Summer 2020 TBR

Hi reader friends - it's that special time of the week: Time for another round of Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

This weeks topic is:  Books on My Summer 2020 TBR 

To be honest, I don't have more than the next couple weeks planned.  Y'all saw my book haul from the other day, and most of those books are on my summer TBR list, plus a few I haven't taken pictures of yet. To be honest, my TBR list is ridiculously long right now, so let's just say here are 10 that I am THE MOST excited to read over the summer.


* The Five - Hallie Rubenhold
* The Toll - Neal Shusterman 
* Straight on Til Morning - Liz Braswell 
* Ace of Shades - Amanda Foody
* King of Fools - Amanda Foody 
* With the Fire on High - Elizabeth Acevedo 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

May Book Haul

Hey Reader Friends!  I know it's the middle of June (GASP - where the hell has this year gone?!)  But I have a book haul for you.

I actually bought an absurd amount of books for me in May - EIGHT.  Now, I know for some of you, eight books doesn't seem like a lot. I usually get most of my books from the library though, not because I don't like to buy books, but because it's not very often that I have the finances to drop money on eight books in one month.  

So, anyway, with that being said, here are the books I bought last month.  In a few days, I'll have a library book haul for you! 

Okay, reader friends, talk to me - are there any books that you have bought recently? Any books you're really excited to read?  Talk to me in the comments and tell me about your books! 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Dating Profile Friday - Yoda

Name: Yoda
Likes: Luke Skywalker, the light side of the force, the swamps of Dagobah

About Me: Fierce Jedi Leader, Spreader of Peace, Trainer of Luke.  I spend much time training young people in the ways of the force.  I have much time to help and a love for all creatures.  Find me in the swamps of Dagobah. 

While solitude I enjoy, I like the company of aliens and humans.  You know where I am.