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ARC Review: Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes

Summary

Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.

Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar—aka a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.

So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.

But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process?

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Review

Hey, everyone! It’s been a while since my last review, but I’m back to talk about Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes! From the moment I read the summary, I knew I had to read this book! Not only does it include online gaming, but it also has that fake relationship I love seeing in YA books! But if you think the book met my expectations, I need to tell you something. It didn’t.

It surpassed them!

First of all, I really loved Analee’s perspective. She was honest and relatable, to the point where you could root for her in almost any given scenario, even when you can admit she’s being unreasonable. I think it’s because I knew where she’s coming from since we’re given access to her internal monologue. While she isn’t as open with everyone else, as a reader, you can see the contrast between her personality when she’s more comfortable with people versus when she isn’t as comfortable. To be honest, I liked how this book tackles social anxiety and how it affects both the socially anxious person and the people around them. The book doesn’t magically cure her in the end just because she starts hanging out with a boy, but it does show Analee’s resolve can overcome her anxiety when she really wants to accomplish something, whether it’s reading in front of children to making a toast at her dad’s wedding.

Additionally, I liked the depiction of connections Analee had in the novel, past and present. You see her older relationships through flashbacks while the newer ones are forming within the novel and become more concrete as the novel progresses. Analee doesn’t shy away from the grief she feels since her mother’s funeral, which is a big part of the novel. It did leave me teary a lot of the time, but I also wanted to read those beautiful moments between her and her mother! You could see similar flashbacks in regards to her father and friend as well since the bonds between them changed drastically within two years. It helped convey the tension between them in the present pretty well.

I could say so much more about the novel, like how it was the first RPG book I loved since Gamer Girl, or how I loved that whole fake-boyfriend ordeal, where it really reminded me of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but I’m going to leave it here for now. If anyone wants to talk about it further, feel free to leave a comment in the section below! Ultimately, I admire how Analee handles things, especially at the end of the novel. It wasn’t the ending I expected, but that’s what made it so great! And for those of you who are interested, Analee, in Real Life comes out on September 18th, 2018!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Summary

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

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Review

Hey there, fellow readers! Are you excited for the weekend? Thankful that it’s Friday? I hope so! Today, I’m part of blog tour, reviewing Somaiya Daud’s debut, Mirage. I actually heard about this book from Twitter and was totally stoked to hear about a sci-if book with Moroccan roots. I’ve never seen it done before and was really curious as to how it would turn out. Also, I did find it pretty cool that the author has the same name as me! This has honestly never happened to me before! 😀

Firstly, I really liked the two main characters, Amani and Maram. Even though the book is only in Amani’s perspective, you get a real sense of both characters through their interactions with each other. They have this kind of Prince and Pauper relationship that develops over time, affecting how Amani sees Maram and vice versa. Not only does it affect their perspectives of each other, but their own individual growth as well. I honestly preferred reading their conversations over all others, such as the ones Amani has with Idris, Maram’s fiancé. The only thing that would have loved to see from this is if Maram had her own POV, especially at the end. But maybe that’ll happen in the next book!

Secondly, I appreciated the world building that went into this novel. Even within the first few pages, the author paints us a picture of both the world Amani lives in and the past world that was lost long ago. While reading this book, I find it incorporates the struggles of diaspora and refugees as well as the Moroccan roots her novel is based on. There’s a lot of hatred between the Vathek and Andalaan people, boiling to the surface as the novel progresses. It just made me of today’s political climate and how it’s almost interchangeable with the one in Mirage, which is really scary.

But that ending! The ending both strengthens Amani as a character and gives readers an idea of the second book’s plot. I just wish that I had an explanation for spares and where they came from. Again, there might be an explanation for this all in the next few books. Until then, I’m just going to have to speculate on my own, which can be kind of fun, too! 😉

Well, that’s all I have to say about Mirage by Somaiya Daud. It was a pretty good read with an enticing ending that makes me want to read the sequel! And for those of you who don’t know, Mirage comes out on August 28th, 2018! Oh, also, feel free to comment on the book in the section below, or check out some other reviews from this blog tour!

Have a nice day, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Summary

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

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Review

Hi, everybody! I’m back with another review. But first, I’d like to apologize to anyone wanting to comment on Monday’s blog post and found that they couldn’t. I didn’t realize the Comments Section was closed until the next day. I love hearing what people think and will make sure to double-check to see if the Comments Section is open.

Anyways, back to today’s review, which is on L.L. McKinney’s debut, A Blade So Black. It starts off with some action, setting the stage for two of the main characters and their dynamic. This relationship between Alice and her mentor, Addison, was one of the main reasons that I liked the book. They cared for one another on a really deep and emotional level. However, readers only get to see the result of spending months together, so who knows? It might have not been the best teacher-student relationship in the beginning. 😄

I also appreciated how the author adapted Alice in Wonderland to fit into her retelling. I honestly loved all the changes she made, and thought that it made the story more enriched and engaging. One of my major hang-ups on retellings is when the retelling could be exactly the same as the story, with the exception of setting or something like that. It’s always nice to see what authors add on to an older story, you know?

The only thing I that I didn’t like when reading the book was that sometimes I’d go from really invested to looking around the room in semi-boredom. Thankfully, the ending was interesting enough to redeem the novel overall, but I doesn’t erase how I fell in and out of reading at times.

Well, that’s all I have to say about A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney today. I liked what it brought to the table as a retelling, even though it had its slow moments. If you have any questions or comments about this book, though, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below! And remember, if you’re interested in reading A Blade So Black, the book comes out on September 25th, 2018!

And as always, thanks for reading everyone!

– Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Smothered by Autumn Chilkis

Summary

A humorous debut crossover young adult novel about what happens when entering the “real world” means moving back in with your mother, inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis’ real life.

Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she’s ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?

Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)

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Review

Hey, everyone! Another day, another review! Today’s review is on Smothered by Autumn Chilkis. Now, when I first heard about Smothered, I was pretty eager to read it. Not only is it more crossover than YA, it deals with what happens after college, how people attempt to become employed in today’s society, and whatnot. I’ll be honest: that was probably the main reason I wanted to read it. The smothered part was all secondary to me; I just really thought that the content would be relatable. But, in that regard, I was wrong…

First of all, it focused more on her relationship with her mother, which makes sense since the book is called Smothered. These moments were actually pretty funny, and I love how bold Lou’s mother could be at times, especially in comparison to Lou. She’s just trying to help Lou in the best way she knows how, even if it’s not exactly right for Lou. They just have to figure out a new dynamic to their relationship if Lou wants to be treated like an adult.

I also really liked the different formats of communication within the novel – such as emails, texts, Facebook messages – integrated into Lou’s POV. It made for some funny dialogue!

The only thing I didn’t like about the novel was that Lou’s privilege really shows. I think it’s intentional, since the writer has both Lou’s father and her boyfriend call her out, but it sure can be annoying at times. I get it; she’s from an upper-middle class family, living in LA, which probably means she will have a mindset geared towards that privilege and might not even realize it. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t cringe when she describes her hunger level at one point in a juice cleanse equivalent to Africa. Or when her friend Natasha goes to India to study and report about cultural violence against women. Firstly, not everyone in Africa is starving, and the fact that she thinks they are says a lot about her. That’s a whole continent of people! Obviously, there will be people who are struggling and people who aren’t, just like in any other place in the world. Secondly, it doesn’t make sense to me that her friend had to go all the way to India to study cultural violence when she cold have easily gone to a women’s shelter in her city. Maybe there’s some logical explanation for it all and I’m just overreacting. But just reading that one sentence got me ranting about how this all stems from the idea that Western countries are more civilized than Eastern countries, which is a dangerous idea to have. But I should cut this off before I start ranting even more.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Smothered by Autumn Chilkis. While I do appreciate more crossover novels in general and liked the mother-daughter dynamic, I feel as if this book could have benefited from removing assumptions about other cultures. If it’s meant to show how privileged Lou is, then readers can already get a sense of that without perpetuating these dangerous ideas and conceptualizing people in that way.

For those of you who are still interested though, Smothered hits stores this Tuesday, August 7th.

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

Summary

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

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Review

Trigger Warning: emotional abuse and molestation 

Hello, fellow readers! It’s been a while, but I’m back with another review, this one being on Sadie by Courtney Summers. While I haven’t read any of Courtney Summer’s other books, as soon as I heard about this one at the latest TeensRead event, I knew I wanted to read it. It’s kind of surprising, since I’m not a huge fan of thrillers, what with me questioning every decision the protagonist makes, but this one seemed different. Possibly because of the podcast element. And I wasn’t wrong.

First of all, I loved the chapters alternating between Sadie’s POV and the podcast transcript. There was just so much story in both. For instance, as one chapter ends, the next POV would carry on seamlessly. The podcast would fill readers in on anything Sadie might have left out in her narration and vice versa. Plus, the storytelling elements for both of these POVs were superb.

Then there were the characters. These were fleshed-out people whose story cannot be contained in a single novel, but the author did an outstanding job in giving readers a glimpse. What I’m trying to say is that the author gives us characters that aren’t good or bad – with the exception of some – but have their own story to tell alongside Sadie’s. And for most of these characters, you feel some level of empathy for them. Especially Sadie. As I’ve said before, a lot of time when I try to read thriller or mystery, I find myself constantly questioning the protagonist and their motivations. Not this time. I understood exactly why Sadie was doing what she was doing and empathized with her throughout the entire novel.

Well, that’s all I have to say about this novel for now. If you’re into true crime podcasts, Macmillan made a fake one for Sadie called The Girls (the name of the podcast in the novel). The first episode is available right now, too! As for the novel, I honestly would recommend this to anyone who likes to read thriller or mystery; it gets you questioning the sad truths about missing girls and how people shouldn’t simply fit them into a stereotype just to make it easier. Fair warning though: the ending will leave you with more questions than answers. And for those of you are interested, Sadie comes out on September 4th, 2018.

Also, after reading Sadie, I plan to read more of Courtney Summer’s novels. If anyone has read one of them and they would like to recommend it, feel free to share the title in the Comments Section below!

Thanks for reading everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Scream All Night by Derek Milman

Summary

A darkly hilarious contemporary realistic young adult novel about growing up and finding your place in the world, perfect for fans of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Running With Scissors.

Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.

But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.

With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?

Sourced from Goodreads

Review

My rating:

Hey there, fellow readers! I recently read Scream All Night by Derek Milman and I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed it! At first, I was a tiny bit skeptical that I would like it, what with it being compared to Nice Try, Jane Sinner and all. I loved Nice Try, Jane Sinner right off the bat, so when I didn’t like this one right away, I thought it was a sign that I wouldn’t like the book as well. But it’s just that Dario is definitely his own character and comparing him to Jane Sinner wasn’t really fair of me. Thankfully, I kept on reading to see what happened next and I’m glad that I did!

What did I like about this book? Where do I begin? Other than it obviously being in the realm of the entertainment industry and Moldavia Studios itself having an elusive history, I really liked the relationships represented in this book. From Dario and his family, to Hayley and Moldavia as well, this book explores all Dario has left behind when he was forced to leave home as a child. All these connections made him the person he is today, whether he wants to admit that or not. In the end, Dario has to figure out how to accept his past if he wants to start the next chapter of his life.

I really liked the pacing of the story as well. Even though a lot of time has passed, that can easily be explained away by how oddly time can move being secluded in Moldavia. This made the story more fast-paced and less involved in the details. It also contained little articles that helped push the story along, whether it was about Moldavia Studio’s founding, Dario’s parents, or Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, the movie Dario and Hayley starred in when he was young. Honestly, it was kind of hard to finish this book since that meant leaving the characters and their compelling stories.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book by Derek Milman and glad it was recommended to me. If you like reading about B-rated horror movies, the ongoings of the entertainment industry and people trying to figure out their place in the world, you should definitely check out Scream All Night. It comes out on July 24th, 2018. Also, if you have any questions about Scream All Night or any recommendations on books like Scream All Night, feel free to comment in the section below.

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from a publicity agency via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Summary

Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram’s new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?

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Review

My rating:

Hello, fellow readers! Another day, another book read! Today, I’ll be reviewing Roshani Chokshi’s Star-Touched Stories, short stories set in the same world as The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. I was so happy to get a chance to read this as I’ve loved the author’s previous books! And I’m glad to say that these short stories didn’t disappoint!

The collection is comprised of three short stories, focusing on the relationships of Night and Death, Aasha and Zahril, as well as Gauri and Vikram. These stories were pretty engaging in getting into the heads of the protagonist, describing the plight in such exquisite detail! And the romance! Oh, my! The romance between these characters was just amazing! It reminded me of old relationships within the previous books as well while also giving me a burgeoning new relationship that make my heart flutter!

Also, I’ve got to say that I’m a big fan of Roshani Chokshi’s writing style. It’s beautifully descriptive, with imagery that gets you right inside the stories. Even when nothing’s going on at that specific moment, I couldn’t help but enjoy the story because of the writing.

Overall, I really liked reading these short stories, with the only thing I can comment on is the fact that they’re way too short for my liking! 😉 But such is the way of a lot of the stories I’ve been reading and loving lately. I just hope to see more stories from this series! If anyone is a fan of this author’s work or would like a taste of her writing, I would definitely recommend reading Star-Touched Stories. And to those who are interested, the book comes out on August 7th, 2018!

That’s all for now! Have a wonderful day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

ARC Review: Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley

Summary

Debut author Alex Evansley delivers a sweet summer romance in this inventive novel about a young heartthrob and teen author falling in love.

Teddy Sharpe is kind of famous. He might actually be on his way to being really famous, especially if he’d nailed an audition for the lead role in the movie adaption of the newest bestselling young adult book series. There’s just one problem: He totally blew the audition. And he’s stuck in a tiny North Carolina airport. And his maybe-ex-girlfriend kind of just broke up with him.

The weekend isn’t exactly looking good until Bennett Caldwell, author of the very book series he just auditioned for, takes pity on him and invites him to her family’s lake house. Away from the glitz and glam of Hollywood for a few days, Teddy starts to relax . . . and somehow he and Bennett just click. But dating is hard enough when you aren’t the subject of several dozen fanblogs, and the Internet is full of juicy gossip about Teddy and Bennett . . . gossip that Bennett might not be prepared to handle.

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Review

My rating:

blue3

Hello, fellow readers! I’m back with another review! Today’s review is on Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley. From the blurb alone, I knew I wanted to read the book. It had all the things I liked: movies, acting, writing, YA novels, a romantic relationship between the actor and writer. But even with all these factors going for the book, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

Don’t get me wrong; the beginning was pretty great. I loved reading Teddy’s perspective and seeing how nervous he was with things that mattered to him. Also, it allowed readers to delve a bit more into his character to understand the motivations behind his actions. And yeah, I didn’t always agree with his choices, but most of the time, I understood where he was coming from (except this one part where, for the life of me, I can’t wrap my head around).

And then the POV switch happened and Bennet became the protagonist. This is when things started to go downhill for me. I just felt as if Bennett’s POV was too much for me sometimes, because I didn’t understand the reason why she pushed Teddy away. Maybe it was because of trust issues or just because she’s a private person. Either way, it doesn’t explain why acted the way she did after knowing someone for two days! And what’s worse is that we know she can be witty and a joy to talk to, seeing how she was in the first half of the novel through Teddy’s POV, but by the second half, she’s pretty reclusive and is prone to biting people’s heads off. I’m not saying that protagonists shouldn’t have an off day or feel angry or lash out, because that’s the whole point to them being relatable. What I don’t like is the fact that her feelings seem too strong for barely knowing someone. But that’s just my opinion; feel free to disagree!

Well, that’s all I have to say about Love Scene, Take Two by Alex Evansley. It wasn’t as great as I thought it would be, but overall, it was okay. If anyone wants to read it though, the book is coming out this Tuesday June 12th!

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway Time!

Hi, everyone! As I said in one of my previous posts, to celebrate reaching the milestone of 1000 followers, I am hosting a giveaway! In this giveaway, the lucky winner will receive four ARCs of the following titles: In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira, Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy, The Foreseeable Future by Emily Adrian, and My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma. Here are the rules:

1. The giveaway runs from February 9th to February 23rd, 12 am (EST)

2. The giveaway is for Canadian and US residents only.

3. Participants must fill in all the required entries.

4. Any participants who are under 18 must have parental/guardian permission before entering the giveaway in case they win later on and I need their mailing address. It is understood that once the participant enters the giveaway that they have parental permissions.

5. The winner will be notified a day after the giveaway closes, but if they do not respond within 48 hours, someone else will be picked as the winner.

To enter, just visit in the rafflecopter giveaway link here.

Take care, everyone! And keep reading!

–  Sumaya

 

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