Laure Eve, The Graces Review

Author: Laure Eve

Title: The Graces

Synopsis: Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on? (Source: GoodReads)

Disclaimer: These are my opinions about this book, and I mean no harm to the author or the fans of this book.

I was originally drawn into this book, because at my local Barnes & Noble’s there was a recommendation card that said that it was a mix between Mean Girls and The Craft. I’m hear to tell you that was a blatant lie.

I would consider The Graces to be more of a Twilight/ Single White Female fanfiction. That idea sounds way cooler than the actual plot of this book.

But The Graces was just so…corny. I found myself rolling my eyes all the way through.

Not only was it corny but it was confusing. Like is her dad dead or is he missing? Are they witches or is she witch? And why the hell is she single white femaling this  family? I need answers!

It took me awhile to connect with the main character, River, and when I did I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like her. She was only friends with The Graces based off of looks alone. She said they were best friends, but if they were really best friends she would have been comfortable enough to open up to them. She wanted to know everything about the Grace family yet she didn’t offer up information about herself one time. And she was only friends with Summer (the youngest Grace) just to get to her brother.

But what really disturbed me about River is that she kept saying how much she wanted to be a Grace. At one point she even said that she was a Grace. No, sweetie. You’re a stalker.

Another thing that turned me off about The Graces, was how long it took to get to the climax. At some points I would think I was there and then I wouldn’t be and then I would think I was there again and I still wouldn’t be it. And then it finally did happen, and it fell flat. With how many hints and cliffhangers there were leading up to that point I expected it to be bigger, and it just wasn’t.

I wanted to like The Graces I really did. But it just wasn’t for me. I read on GoodReads that there is a second one and a part of me wants to read it just to see if it’s any better. Don’t know if I will or not, but if I do I will definitely post a review.

Jason Rekulak, The Impossible Fortress Review

Title: The Impossible Fortress

Author: Jason Rekulak

Genre: Young Adult/ Fiction

Synopsis: The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine…The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it.

The heist will be fraught with peril: a locked building, intrepid police officers, rusty fire escapes, leaps across rooftops, electronic alarm systems, and a hyperactive Shih Tzu named Arnold Schwarzenegger. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they’ll swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary’s affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends. (All Stats from GoodReads)

When I first picked up The Impossible Fortress I didn’t think much of it. I just thought it was going to be a short, easy read, which it was, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did.

The story is told from the perspective of fifteen year old, Billy Marvin, and it took me a while to warm up to Billy. He’s young, impressionable, and all he really wants to do is create video games and see Vanna White naked. Not really my type of guy.

But I ended up enjoying his character very much. Though I found myself cringing at some of the stupid decisions he made. Billy turned out to have a good heart, and most fifteen year olds make stupid decisions. His and Mary’s relationship threw me through a loop towards the middle, I was not expecting what happened at all. I’m not going to spoil it, but Mary is not as innocent as she seems. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Overall I really enjoyed, The Impossible Fortress, it was a sweet coming of age story. It’s very short so it was easy to get through, and it took me on a journey through Wetbridge, New Jersey in the spring of 1987. And I learned a little bit of code in the process. You can find The Impossible Fortress in your local bookstore and online.

Sarah Nicole Lemon, Done Dirt Cheap Review

Title: Done Dirt Cheap

Author: Sarah Nicole Lemon

Synopsis: Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens.

Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of a local lawyer: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel. (Source for synopsis and photo: GoodReads)

Rating: 5/5

Done Dirt Cheap was exciting, dangerous, and quite heartwarming. Lemon takes you on a wild ride with characters, Tourmaline and Virginia. As they learn to grab ahold of their own destiny when they realize that the only  people they can count on is each other.

I would be lying if I said the cover of the book isn’t what drew me in. I mean look at it, it’s gorgeous, and it looks even cooler in person. But Lemon’s writing is what truly captivated me. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but it worked out pretty well for me. This book was awesome.

With a Thelma and Louise like bond Tourmaline and Virginia take on a corrupt lawyer, Tourmaline’s mom’s drug dealer ex, a state detective and forbidden romance.

I liked that Lemon decided to make this book girl power driven, instead of making Tourmaline and Virginia damsels in distress who just waited for someone to come and save them. Don’t get me wrong I love me some romance, which there is some in this book, but sometimes I just want to see some kick ass female characters who can do it by themselves.

It took them a few tries, but at the end of the day they saved themselves. And Tourmaline and Virginia’s friendship is actual friendship goals.

They went from mowing lawns together one second to climbing up a mountain to plant a gun in an ex-cons house together, and neither one of them abandoned the other. Talk about ride or die.

If I would have had the time I’m sure I could have finished this in a day or two, but with school and work it took me about a week and a half (only two more weeks of school and I’m finally free). The chapters are very short, and Lemon’s not very wordy with her writing, she’s straight to the point, an ability that I wish I possessed.  I still can’t believe this is Lemon’s first novel, I hope she comes out with more books.

Done Dirt Cheap is a phenomenal coming of age story about friendship and taking life into your own hands. This would make a great summer read, it’s fairly short and action packed, I highly recommend picking it up at your local bookstore.

 

Phoebe Robinson, You Can’t Touch My Hair Review

Title: You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain

Author: Phoebe Robinson

Genre: Humor/Non-fiction

Synopsis: Phoebe Robinson offers a hilariously smart narrative on being a black woman. Filled with Phoebe’s life experiences and her struggles of being a black woman in comedy and of being deemed the “black friend.” Robinson’s, You Can’t Touch My Hair, breaks down the many struggles that black women, and just women in general, have to face in society in an honest and funny way. (Source: Me( Surprise!! I wrote this all by myself) )

I have never related to a book so much in my life. I may have said that about, Alida Nugent’s You Don’t Have to Like Me, but Phoebe Robinson took the thoughts write out of my brain and put them in a book.

For example my favorite chapter, How to Avoid Being the Black Friend, Robinson tells her experiences with being the black friend and what to look for to know that you are the “black friend.” As someone who has been the black friend my entire life, it’s nice to read that I’m not the only one who has had this experience. If I had a quarter for every time I sat in a classroom and I was the only black person in the class, I would have a hefty savings account.

Robinson hit all the points for me to give You Can’t Touch My Hair a 10 out of 10. Relatability, humor, a unique voice, and honesty. I want everyone I know to read this, even my white girlfriends who will never know what it’s like to have black hair or to be the black friend. But luckily for them Phoebe Robinson wrote a whole book about it, so they can learn.

I hope that Phoebe Robinson is able to write more books in the future, and that she can continue to produce amazing content for her podcasts.

You can find check out more of Phoebe Robinson in the links below:

Alida Nugent, You Don’t Have to Like Me Review

 

Title: You Don’t Have To Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism

Author: Alida Nugent

Genre: Nonfiction

Synopsis: “Feminist” is not a four-letter word, but Alida Nugent resisted it for a long time. She feared the “scarlet F” being thrust upon her for refusing to laugh at misogynistic jokes at parties; she withered under the judgmental gaze of store clerks when buying Plan B, and she swore that she was “not like other girls.” But eventually, like so many of us, she discovered that feminism is an empowering identity to take on. It’s okay to criticize beauty standards but still love dark lipstick, investing in female friendships is the most rewarding thing ever, and no one should feel pressured to eat an “unseasoned chicken breast the size of a deck of playing cards” as every sad dinner for the rest of eternity.
 
With sincerity, intelligence, and wit, Nugent invites readers in to her most private moments of personal growth. From struggling with an eating disorder for most of her teen years to embracing all aspects of her biracial identity, she tackles tough topics with honest vulnerability. Smartly-written, unapologetic, and laugh-out-loud funny, You Don’t Have to Like Me is perfect for readers of Roxane Gay, Rebecca Skolnit, and Sloane Crosley. (Source: Barnes & Noble)

I was only two pages into, You Don’t Have To Like Me, and I already knew I was going to love this book.

Alida Nugent writes a group of smart, funny essays about growing up and her journey to find feminism. You Don’t Have to Like me spoke on a variety of women’s issues such as safety, the pressures of  dieting, sex education, and feminism as a whole.

I wish I would I would have had this book in high school when I thought feminist were some radical group that went around burning bras and yelling at men for existing. Nugent’s book broke feminism down in a way that was easy to understand, and proves that anyone can be a feminist. You don’t have to hate men to be a feminist, you don’t have to hate Kim Kardashian to be a feminist, you don’t have to get an abortion to be a feminist, you can shave your entire body and still be a feminist. All you have to do is believe that women and men should be treated equally, and let women make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives.

It’s important to have books like this, because there are still so many people that are confused on what feminism is or are too scared to admit that they are a feminist because of the backlash they may receive. Being a feminist isn’t a bad thing, it’s a great thing. Wanting women to feel safe, and confident, and make equal pay, is a great thing.

I want to give a copy of this book to every person that I come in contact with that rolls their eyes when feminism or Women’s Marches are brought up. It’s a light entertaining read, and I highly recommend it. I’m excited to check out Alida Nugent’s first book Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse.

My next review will be Phoebe Robinson’s, You Can’t Touch My Hair, and after that I will be back to reading fiction for a little while.

Until Next Time,

Jay Reads

Veronica Roth, Carve The Mark Review

 

Author: Veronica Roth

Title: Carve The Mark

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)

Synopsis:
Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?
Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts. (Source: GoodReads)

Before I start this review I just want to say that I like Veronica Roth and I loved the Divergent series (still haven’t seen any of the movies), but I cannot and will not base my opinions of Carve The Mark on the simple fact that it was written by Veronica Roth.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, when I first started Carve The Mark; I did not like it. It didn’t grab me, I thought it was slow, and something about it didn’t flow right to me. I also had a problem with the self-harm aspect.

When the Shotet, the people from the enemy lands, kill someone they mark their kills by cutting themselves, hence the title Carve the Mark. Even though I have never struggled with self-harm myself, I know that there are plenty of people that have and I would never want anyone to be triggered by that.

But once I got passed the beginning, thankfully they don’t have to “carve the mark” too many times, I did begin to like the book. Specifically, the character interaction. The story alternates perspectives between Cyra and Akos, and the scenes between Cyra and Akos were my absolute favorites. I have to admit I am a sucker for romance, I can’t help it’s just so sweet.

I also liked all of the action in it, it was enough but not too much. There were twist and turns, and romance, and space. I mean what more could you want, romance and space, I’m hooked.

There were a lot of unanswered questions, so I’m thinking there’s going to be a second book. I hope there’s going to be a second book, because after that ending I need answers. But I pray that it comes to a natural end, and it doesn’t get dragged out into a long series. Because that would be extremely disappointing.

For anyone that starts reading this and wants to stop I suggest pushing through because it does get better. I will be checking out any additions to this series that Veronica Roth may come out with.

After this I’m going to be taking a little break from fantasy novels and will be diving into nonfiction for my next review with Alida Nugent’s, You Don’t Have to Like Me. I’m excited to begin reading this, and I can’t wait to get back to you guys with a review.

 

Sabaa Tahir, An Ember In The Ashes Review

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Title: An Ember In The Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Series: Ember in The Ashes Series (Book #1)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Synopsis: Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself. Source: Sabaa Tahir

I love, love, loved this book. It’s been a minute since I’ve read a fantasy novel, I’m not even sure the name of the last fantasy book I read. But I couldn’t have picked a better book to jump back into the genre with.

Sabaa Tahir gave me everything I needed with An Ember In The Ashes.

It was action packed, touching, and it had just the right amount of romance. There was something going on from beginning to end. I was on the edge of my seat from the beginning. I didn’t want to put this book down, I couldn’t wait to see what was next.

I didn’t know how I was going to feel about the different point-of-views, but I found myself enjoying it. As far as characters go, I did not like Laia at first. I thought she was whiny and weak and annoying, but she grew on me. Throughout the book she got strong and she become more sure of herself, and I started to warm up to her.

Elias…ugh, I have such a soft spot for him. He grew so much throughout the book. I found him to be relatable, we’ve all had that moment where we had to make the decision to go against the things we were taught in order the person the we want be.

I loved this book from beginning to end, and I can’t wait until I can start A Torch In The Night. I want to thank the girl at Barnes & Noble who reccomended this series to me, she has no idea how much she has blessed my life.