Tag Archive | recommend

Review: All Things New by Lauren Miller

all things new -lauren millerJessa has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels.

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, where she meets Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world, perfect for fans of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.


4 Drink Me Potions


**All Things New comes out August 1, 2017**

Thank you NetGalley and Three Saints Press for this copy in exchange for an honest review

 

What if we could see how people are on the inside, the real, invisible truth, literally painted on their faces? Some people would look hideous, like Dorian (Gray). Awfulness telegraphed as ugliness in paint. But most of us would probably just look damaged. Broken in places. Bruised and cut and scarred.


Lauren Miller is a master of crafting ideas into stories that portray truths that we can all relate to. I’ve been a fan of both of her previous works, Parallel and Free to Fall. So with fairly high expectations, her latest work All Things New managed to still surprise me (in a delightful way) with the depth of the newest truth displayed in a beautiful YA story.

Jessa (what a beautiful name!) has anxiety. Not your run-of-the-mill stress. But a true anxiety disorder that affects daily living. I loved having her as the main character. I myself know what it feels like to have panic attacks, but the absolute emotion evoked in Jessa’s feelings when she was stressed gave me a glimpse of what it would be like when this kinda anxiety lived under the surface all the time. Her anxiety and fear defined her. She could try to hide all this mess inside of her as best as she could, but anything hidden deep down is going to be disastrous when they explode out into the visible light. And with her accident, now there were more problems added to her plate: hallucinating bruises and scars on other people’s faces.

The one thing that made me drop my rating a little was the little bit of slowness in the beginning. From the synopsis, we all know that the bruises and scars she sees on other people may be a representation of bruises to their inner self, to their soul. However, Jessa doesn’t get to that conclusion for a long time. It’s just another thing she’s deeply ashamed about herself, adding to the fear and another thing she has to hide from those who care about her.

But beyond this little thing, all else was AMAZING. Period.

There weren’t many secondary characters that really mattered in this story. The two people we get to know are twins, Marshall and Hannah.

Hannah wasn’t simply just Jessa’s “new friend”. She can’t be so simply defined. She wasn’t so two-dimensional. Hannah was broken inside herself. It may not have been so easily seen, as we all go through life trying to hide what we suffer on the inside, but going through this story, it wasn’t just a story of Jessa learning to deal with her mess, but the same went for Hannah. I loved that there was more focus on Hannah than other novels would put the effort into “the friend” character. Even if we didn’t relate to Jessa, maybe we could relate to Hannah’s type of problems. I know I could. Academic stress and being the twin less focused on by the parents. Different things stress different individuals, but this novel showcases the unity in learning to deal with our individual problems.

As for Marshall, he’s not just “the boyfriend”. He’s not just the twin with a physical hole in his heart. He’s good-natured and always looked at the bright side. He was one factor in pushing Jessa to deal with her problems instead of avoiding them. He’s not the only one, as life doesn’t always necessarily revolve around a magical solution in our significant others. But they can be at least one powerful motivator.

At the end of the day, All Things New demonstrated poignant ideas such as soul and mind, seeing the visible and the invisible in others’ lives, and the bruises we carry inside. Lauren Miller has done it again, and if you like stories that make you think with hints of hope and love weaved throughout, her stories are something you need to read.

Overall Recommendation:
All Things New tackles a difficult idea of symbolic bruises on our souls from the various stresses in our lives, becoming visible to our protagonist Jessa who herself has a lot of issues to deal with inside. While this story centres on this young woman’s journey in facing the scars she has – both physical and emotional – it also deals with influences of family, love and support groups for those with mental health illnesses. In the YA genre, all works of Lauren Miller’s is outstanding but All Things New is definitely recommended.


Have you read any other good books that deal with mental health in a similar way?

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices #1

lady midnight -cassandra clareIn a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.


4 Drink Me Potions


Lady Midnight is basically all that you could ever ask for from Cassandra Clare. She never seems to do any wrong after all books she’s produced in this Shadowhunter world of hers.

What can I say about this novel that could possibly be different from all the other raving reviews out there?

I guess I will keep it simple.

1) Imaginative
This world continues to grow, drawing back old and familiar characters while developing new ones that may not have been all that well known. The characters are still so unique, particularly our main protagonist pairing, Julian and Emma. They’re not Jace and Clary, or Will and Tessa. They’re as real as they are, and getting to know them has been so much fun within these 700 pages.

2) Keeps-you-on-your-toes
Clare is amazing at bringing in all these plot elements together in such a beautiful manner that you can’t help but be enthralled as it all unravels and we discover the crazy things happening along with the protagonists. I honestly did not guess who the main “villain” was until quite near the end, and the minor red herrings deliciously threw me off for a bit.

3) Magical-with-a-hint-of-fairy
What’s a world without some magic? With warlocks and the return of Mark Blackthorn, there is no limits on the magical elements within this book.

4) Romantic
The gorgeous build up to a different kinda of relationship between parabatai Emma and Julian was amazing. I always feel like there are no words to describe them. It’s not some instalove, as they’ve known each other forever literally. But it’s also rediscovering each other in this sense as well. I’ve always been a lover of forbidden love stories (as long as no one dies – yes, I’m looking at you, Romeo & Juliet).

5) About-a-family
At the heart of this novel (and I’m sure the whole series) is the Blackthorn family. Whether you’re born by blood as a Blackthorn or not, Clare has demonstrated what the bonds of love would do (or rather, how far it would go for someone you consider family). It’s not some cheesy Vin Diesel voice saying “we’re family” kinda moments, but it’s implied in there, especially in all that Julian does.

There really isn’t much more I can say to sum this up. It’s been an experience reading this book – albeit slowly due to work – but it allowed me to savour it more. Cassandra Clare’s world honestly has attracted so many people all over the world for a reason. Join in if you haven’t already.

Overall Recommendation:
Well, whoop, what can I say that most people don’t feel already? 5 words. Imaginative, suspenseful, magical, romantic and family. That is what you get in any Cassandra Clare book, but particularly highlighted in Lady Midnight. Go out and get your copy if you haven’t already. As the back cover blurb keeps reminding me, “find out what 50 million readers are raving about”.


What’s your favourite Cassandra Clare book/series? Fan or foe of her works?

Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

geekerella -ashley postonAnything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.


 

4.5 Drink Me Potions


Geekerella is the best combination of fairy tale retelling and tribute to geeky fandom culture. What more could a girl ask for?

To make quick of the synopsis, this is the kind of story that I would dream of writing yet I feel Poston does it in a way I could never do justice. Elle is our heroine (aka Cinderella) with her awful stepmother who berates her for her love of Starfield, this world’s version of *enter your own favourite sci-fi/fantasy show/movie that you love/cosplay*. Her stepsisters Chloe and Calliope are not much better, particularly Chloe who constantly points out to the rest of their mutual classmates that Elle’s nothing.

Our dear prince charming is none other than an up and coming movie star, set to play the hero of Starfield’s movie remake. Darien is everything a girl can dream of in a prince, yet he also has his own unique character besides the prince-fitting mold. First, he’s a person of colour, and second, he’s not someone who’s so confident about himself. That’s not to say it was to the point that he was unattractively insecure of his own abilities and person, but it was refreshing to see that inside even Prince Charming’s head, he’s not so much godlike as he is still a human being with those insecurities. I suppose that it helps that Poston made it into 2 POVs so we could see into Darien’s head. Not many Cinderella retellings allow that so it’s good to see that inside such a perfect character, he still had flaws that were relatable and made the match with “Cinderella” understandable and more equal instead of being an image of Prince Charming sweeping down to save the poor, pitiful girl from her family.

Anyway, there are so many things to rave about this novel. I will try to keep this succinct and readable.

1) If you know me, then you’ll know that Cinderella is hands down my favourite fairy tale. I love how the happily-ever-after feels all the more satisfying because the transformation in Cinderella’s life is so great. And this book keeps to the essence of Cinderella so well, it basically pays tribute to the “original” tale as well. (By original, I don’t mean you, Grimm Brothers).

2) I know not everyone counts themselves as sci-fi geeks, and frankly neither do I, but I couldn’t help but smile every time a little popular culture reference made its way into the novel. A shoutout to Firefly fans – gosh, I love Nathan Fillion – and Star Wars (which is totally making a comeback with all the recent movies) and Lord of the Rings (honestly, please tell me someone else LOL’d when the entire Fellowship of the Ring was mentioned – or joking about Boromir – anyone???), I was fangirling myself.

I don’t know about you, but these little things connect us all, whether we were the hugest fans who cosplayed these characters to conventions (I will admit, I did cosplay once, but as Alice of course) or just appreciated the stories that went with them at one point our lives, I think this story paid tribute to so many greats that traversed the years and to the ones that only blew through the skies for too short a period yet still left an afterimage in some people’s eyes.

3) Lastly, Geekerella may have followed the traditional Cinderella route in plot, but I love the kinda story where the characters don’t know who’s on the other end of the line – whether it be through texts, emails, or notes – yet can’t help but fall for that person. I was rooting for these two for so long. The romance is just right. Not too much that it becomes unbelievable, but not too little that it feels unsatisfactory.

Everything about this book honestly can be summed into two words: just right .

Overall Recommendation:
Geekerella blew my mind beyond the stars. I’ve never truly considered myself a hardcore geek or part of any specific fandom, but I do appreciate the shows/movies that were referenced. This is a novel that does both a Cinderella retelling and introduction to sci-fi fandom justice in a beautiful blend within today’s world. It’s the perfect balance of both, while showcasing themes of personal growth and friendship. Honestly, whether you’re a fan of fairy tale retellings or geeky fandoms or not, this is one book that could honestly surprise you beyond the stars. And if you’re a fan of both elements… then what are you waiting for ? Go out and find a copy.


Question for you (aka the reader):

Part of a fandom? What is your favourite sci-fi/fantasy show/movie? Ever been to a convention? If yes, did you cosplay as someone as I did? 😉 Let me know in the comments below! (I’m genuinely curious!)