If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published by: Scholastic Press
Publication date: October 18, 2011
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Synopsis:
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

Goodreads Amazon / Barnes & Noble Book Depository


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How did I go six years without reading this book? HOW?! You guys, I loved every page of The Scorpio Races. I love the story. I love the family dynamics. I love the conflicts. And most of all, I love Puck and Sean. 

To me, The Scorpio Races was mainly focused on the importance of family and sacrifice. Puck, the main character, is not trying prove a feminist stance that girls should be allowed to compete in her island’s highly praised and traditional, dangerous water horse race. Yes, it does help that she is a woman defying the odds in her misogynist  community, but she is racing to keep her and her brothers under one roof. I won’t give too much away about the plot, but Puck is one of the fiercest female characters I have read, and she had me rooting for her cause throughout the novel. 

And, ohhh, do not get me started on the swoony chemistry that develops between Puck and one of her fellow competitors, Sean. Sean’s situation made my heart ache throughout the novel. I loved every page that allowed a friendship to develop between him and Puck. Both of these characters have a heartbreaking past; however, they are both bold and willing to do anything to change their future. And one of my favorite aspects of each of these characters is their understanding that nature is not something to be reckoned with. They respect their horses and only want the best for them. 

Will I ever read The Scorpio Races again? You bet I will. I don’t know if I will wait until next autumn to read it again (the book takes place in October/November), but you better believe I want to gallop back into this book so I can be captivated once again with the slow burn romance and heartfelt story about sacrifice and love. I cannot rave enough about this book, and if you have not read The Scorpio Races yet, stop what you are doing and pick up this book now. 

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

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If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

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Title:
Moxie
Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Publication date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Feminism

About the Book:

An unlikely teenager starts a feminist revolution at a small-town Texan high school in the new novel from Jennifer Matheiu, author of The Truth About Alice.

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


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WHOA! You guys, Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu is so powerful, straight-forward, and the type of book we need in this fist-gripping-teeth-clenching year that we call 2017. I’m not going to lie, I came into this book for a feminist read AND I left the book invigorated, energized, and ready to take on the world. 

Moxie‘s main character, Viv is relate-able on so many levels. She is a good student that never falls out of line and always does what she is told. But she also has a knack for being an alert listener and keen observer. I love that she turns to music for escapism and courage. I love that her mom is her role model. And what I really liked about Viv’s character is how determined and courageous she is, even if she is cautious and over-analyzes all her choices and decisions (because who does not do this?). Viv is stealthy, determined, fiesty, funny, and overall, a kickass character.

And I cannot forget about one of my favorite Moxie characters, Seth. As Viv’s crush and a guy that treats her with respect, I was silently shouting in my head, “this is what a male feminist looks like.” His actions and words never fail to positively impact the book and Viv, herself. Seth is still trying to understand the world around him and he knows he has a lot to learn when it comes to feminism. I love that he opens up his mind and world to question authority, male privilege, and social viewpoints. Seth is not perfect but he never fails to take the steps to understand social injustices–he observes, questions, and reacts. 

In Moxie, Mathieu’s words not only heighten the awareness of sexism, sexual harassment, and rape in a high school setting, but she also provides a outlet for her female characters to  speak out about injustice, take charge, and push against those who downplay equality and social rights. Moxie is more than a “feminist” book. It is a story about maturity, making hard choices, and discovering who you and how you would act in certain situations. This book is equal parts funny and inspiring and awesome and empowering. It is definitely a book that you do not want to pass over this year (or ever).

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

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Title:
 Daughter of the Pirate King
Author:
 Tricia Levenseller 

Publication date: February 28, 2017
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

About the Book:

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


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HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL…I can not get over how amazing Daughter of the Pirate King is. I am not a huge pirate-themed book reader (although, Cutthroat Island is one of my favorite pirate movies), but one weekend I decided to binge read three pirate-y books, and Daughter of the Pirate King was by far my favorite out of the three. AND OHMYGOD I WANT MORE! I loved how quick-paced but steady the book read. I adored the swashbuckling characters, the surprising twists and turns, and yes, I swooned over the romance that is filled with playful bickering, irresistible kissage, and sacrifice. 

I love books that turn the tables on stereotypes, so of course, I loved that Daughter of the Pirate King portrayed a well-developed female pirate that was not a “damsel in distress.”  What can I say about Alosa–one of the best female pirates I have ever read. She has all the best qualities that will make you laugh, cringe, and surprise you. She’s snarky, feisty, a badass, a crafty trickster, and ignites ever page with the fire of a thousand suns. And one of the best qualities about Alosa is that she is not stagnant–instead, as her journey throws her into a whirlwind on the sea, she rolls with the punches and allows herself to analyze every situation with a new perspective. Alosa is definitely a person I would want as a pirate captain and a friend. 

I do not want to give too much away, but The Daughter of the Pirate King is filled with mysteries, twists, disguises, secrets, and the best pirate fight scenes. From beginning to end, Tricia Levenseller’s book will have you enchanted and hooked. Every page is something new, something exciting, and a pure adrenaline rush of adventure, swoons, and quick-witted banter. The ending is a nail-biter, and trust me, after reading the last sentence, you will be begging for the sequel. (PLEASE, SOMEONE, GIVE ME THE SEQUEL NOW…). 


NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

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Title:
A Million Junes

Author: Emily Henry
Publication date: May 16, 2017
Publisher:  Razorbill
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy 
Format: e-ARC from Penguin’s First to Read site

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of A Million Junes

Last year, Emily Henry’s debut novel, The Love That Split the World, won me over. It was beautifully written, the story was intense and intriguing, and honestly that book still sits well in my heart. And you guys, Henry’s new novel, A Million Junes, is just as impeccable. The novel is a meshing of generational curses, smart and quick-witted dialogue, and eccentric magic.

In A Million Junes, Emily Henry’s words are lyrical. She writes at such an elegant and wistful pace that I often forgot I was reading a book. Not only do her words melodically carry you through a world that merges reality and fantasy, but her writing transcends you into alternate worlds where memories exist by the seed of a dandelion. Henry’s storytelling took me on a collision course of in-between worlds that carry the reminisced emotions of comfort, laughter, heartache, and sorrow. A Million Junes is mesmerizing and thought-provoking and truly a gem to read. 

In reference to the main character, Jack “June” O’Donnell IV often wears her heart on her sleeve. Her sarcasm and wit have no filter, which carries well-needed humor in a story that is filled with grief and haunting despair. June’s attitude and opinions change as the story progresses, and I like that her growth is driven by both emotion and reason. And when this sassy, passionate teenager meets Saul, an enemy to her family, I love that June’s world is set into a whirlwind of challenges and transformation. 

The friendship that develops between June and Saul is beautifully weaved through white lies, snarky jokes, and good rapport. Their chemistry and fast-paced repartee are both heartwarming and hilarious. After their first encounter with one another, I wanted every page dedicated to their conversations. EVERY! SINGLE! PAGE! 

After reading A Million Junes, I hugged the book to my heart. I am 100% sure that this book will be one of those novels that I reread, because I will forever want that enchanting feeling back in my soul. I truly think A Million Junes will be my cure for future reading slumps. I love that this book exists and I love what it stands for. A Million Junes carefully situates two characters in a familial feud that darkens the pages with curses and haunting memories, but, in the end, it manifests that sorrow into experiences of forgiveness and moving forward.

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NOTE: Thank you to Penguin’s First to Read program for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: ARC Review of Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Format: ARC, gifted from friend

About the book:

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

A mesmerising, magical and stunningly imaginative debut novel for anyone who loved The Night Circus and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Rants and Raves of Caraval

Hello, my name is Cassie, and I am a Caraval addict…I mean fanatic. I have read Caraval by Stephanie Garber twice, and I’m utterly, unbelievably in love with the characters, the story, and the world–anything and everything Caraval. I honestly feel like I was bewitched by this book; Garber uniquely captivates her reader with gritty emotions, enchanting sentences, and the most vivid images of luster and love.

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Caraval is a book that will charm you from the first page. Along with a collection of letters to and from a game-master named Legend, Scarlett and Tella’s story starts off as weary and cautious, but blooms into a world where darkness hides mischief, and magic awaits every corner. Throughout my reading experience, my mind was whirled with thoughts of endless enchantment and ominous whispers. There were so many unexpected twists and turns that I honestly did not see coming. If you are a fan of surprises and mystery, you will love this book.

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From the well-paced storyline to the dynamic characters to the setting that I’m dying to visit, Caraval is a strange, bewitching, and fantastical read. Caraval is about magic, but more importantly, this book emanates and breathes magic while you’re reading it. Garber’s storytelling transfixed me in a carnival game filled with wishes and desires, and I personally dream to be a player in Legend’s carnival game depicted in this thrilling, haunting, and overall mesmerizing world.

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I loved Caraval most of all because it’s a story with limitless possibilities. It is a story about sisters. A tale of escapism. A nose-dive adventure into forming new friendships, finding trust, and understanding love. And, it is a story about conquering dares, taking chances, and fully living. Overall, I cannot rave enough about how much I enjoyed Caraval. This book may end up being one of my favorite reads of 2017, and I very much look forward to revisiting this world in the sequel. 

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NOTE:  I received this ARC from a friend. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review; I reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

REVIEW: Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius

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Title: Love Fortunes and Other Disasters
By:  Kimberly Karalius 
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Pages: 368 (Paperback)
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Contemporary, Magical Realism

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, one girl chooses to change her fortune and her fate by falling in love.

Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.

Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.

Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?


MY RANTS AND RAVES OF LOVE FORTUNES AND OTHER DISASTERS

INITIAL RAVES: Magic realism. Fate. Charms. A quirky heroine. A town infatuated with the fortunes of love. And a love to die for. So much goodness!!!

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters left me giddy and wanting more shenanigans in the town of Grimbaud. For a while, my thoughts of Kimberly Karalius’s novel could only be described in short phrases and words, and I still do not think I can do the book justice in sentence form, but I am going to try.

As a person seeking out contemporary reads but in love with fantasy/magic realism, Love Fortunes is the perfect book that interweaves both of these genres. Karalius somehow discovered an elaborate formula to perfectly combine elements of Pushing Daisies, The Night Circus, and Francesca Lia Block’s modern spin on mythical entities into one–and alas Love Fortunes and Other Disasters was constructed.

As a novel in the Swoon Reads publishing company, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters entwines different snapshots of swoon-worthy moments and memorable characters. The heroine, Fallon, is willing to fight against a love fortune that fate has given her, and change her destiny in the realm of love. As she commits to changing her own destiny, she also begins to help her friends and other people in town who are fated hopelessness and ill fortunes in their “love” lives, including the swoony, “I’m-too-good-to-fall-in-love” classmate, Sebastian.

If you are in the mood for a fun, fast-paced story about a quirky and determined female, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters is the book you are destined to read.

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My Rating: 5 out 5 Stars

PURCHASE THIS BOOK FROM YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER/RETAILER 

Amazon        Barnes and Noble         Book Depository 

NOTE:          This review was previously posted on my Goodreads account in April 11, 2015, and has been updated for my blog. I received an Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) through the publisher in a Goodreads giveaway.  All statements and honest opinions are mine.

 

ARC REVIEW: WHEN WE COLLIDED

ARC REVIEW of When We Collided by Emery Lord

Title: When We Collided
By: Emery Lord
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Pages:
352 (Hardcover)
Publisher:
Bloomsbury

Format: Print ARC
Source: Blogger book exchange

GOODREADS SUMMARY:

When We CollidedMeet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn’t be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi’s zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there’s something important Vivi hasn’t told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.


 

MY REVIEW: 

 Poetic. Truthful. Heartbreaking

When We Collided is a very poetic and realistic, young adult contemporary that approaches many topics: fractured families, loss, jealousy, adulthood, mental illness, and the difficulty to dive into new friendships and hold on to old ones. 

When We Collided encompasses alternating perspectives between Vivi and Jonah. Both teenagers use their summer to explore the realities of life’s adventurous embraces, but also its severe punches. 

Vivi is full of life and is rambunctious at times. Her high-spirited soul and vintage-clothing-wearing lifestyle sways the reader through a pendulum of emotions—you will love her and her positive attitude—but sometimes her danger-seeking self becomes too much for both Jonah and the reader to endure. Do you ever stick your arms out and start spinning as fast as can, and in the end you’re restlessly dizzy? Vivi is that fun-loving girl that dares herself to spin and spin and spin as fast as she can. But Vivi is also that unwanted dizziness—that chaotic loss of control that you experience as you try to regain your balance and quickly make the world stand still again. 

The author, Emery Lord, strategically balances Vivi’s rollicking actions with Jonah’s maturity and endearing nature to take care of his family, friends, and neighbors. Jonah’s life is fractured. He has suffered unbearable loss, which is barely comforted but layered with responsibilities that are beyond his years to control. Jonah is cute, lovable, and the friend that everyone wants a good hug from. Even I want to hug him and state, “that hole in your life…that hole in your heart…will always hurt, but over time that hurt will just be an ache, a constant reminder that loss can never be forgotten. But don’t forget, you still have permission to laugh, cry, and live.” 

I’m not going to spoil the secrets and stories that the main characters withhold from each other, but in the end, the truth is leaked and hearts are meddled with. In When We Collided, Emery Lord reminds her readers that life does not always have a happy ending, a happy beginning, or even a happy in-between; however, sometimes we are lucky to have people that insert slits of laughter and joy into our existence, and in those times, we are truly alive. 

RANTS:         I know that all books have an ending, but I honestly did not want this book to end–it was that good. When We Collided will most definitely be a re-read for me when the hardcover is released.

RAVES:          Emery Lord eloquently sets up a very well-paced, heartfelt, and lyrical story for her readers. I also enjoyed the familial interactions that Vivi experiences with Jonah’s family, especially with his little sister. More importantly, I appreciated and loved how Emery effectively approaches the topics of parental loss and mental illness in a very truthful and honest manner.

NOTE:           I received this ARC through a book exchange with a fellow blogger/booklover. All statements and opinions are mine.

 

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MY RATING