By Your Side by Kasie West

5By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen on January 31, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 342
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Yallfest

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3 Stars, Completed February 15, 2017

– SPOILER free –

By Your Side is a light contemporary about two teenagers that develop an unlikely friendship after they’ve been accidentally locked in the library for a weekend. Dax is the school’s loner with a bad reputation. Whereas, Autumn is a do-gooder that doesn’t notice much beyond her camera’s viewfinder and inner group of popular friends. At first, Dax and Autumn only recall the negative impressions they have  of each other and do not get along. But after a few nights of shared vending machine snacks and real talks, both realize that the other is much more than what first meets the eye. They decide to call an amiable truce and soon begin to enjoy each other’s company. And when the pair are finally found and released, the question is after all they’ve shared will they remain friends or will they ignore each other as they had before?

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Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

bone1Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Published by Thomas Dunne February 7, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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4 Stars, Completed January 28, 2017

– read bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –

It could possibly well be that the reason why this was such a delightful read for me was because I’ve never seen the greatly popular film that this book is based off of. (Actually, I hadn’t even heard of Labyrinth until I was approved of my request for this ARC. Labyrinth fans, don’t kill me.) In addition to that, I rarely read the synopses of books thoroughly. Therefore, I basically went into this blind and with zero expectations, and I believe this ended up working in my favor. I would suggest readers that haven’t seen the movie to try the same approach I did.

This was the Goblin King. The abductor of maidens, the punisher of misdeeds, the Lord of Mischief and the Underground.

Liesl has grown up hearing tales of the beautiful Goblin King, the Lord of Mischief and Ruler of the Underground. But as she’s grown older, her belief has faded since she has more practical concerns to worry about (such as looking after her siblings and taking care of the family inn). But when Käthe, her beloved sister, is taken by the goblins Liesl must travel in the mysterious realm of the Goblin King. There she meets the legendary king, and they make an exchange where she will become the maiden that is sacrificed to appease the old laws. But as time passes and the two grow closer, the contract is becoming more difficult to uphold as Liesl’s life source is obviously diminishing but the Goblin King is also falling for her. Both must learn and decide what they are willing to sacrifice.

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RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

rosebloodRoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Published by Amulet Books on January 10, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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2.5 Stars, Completed January 14, 2017

– read bold text to avoid SPOILERS –

I need to know why I’m so broken, so I can fix myself. One way or another. Maybe this place can help me do that, and then I can finally look forward to my future. Because I’m starting to realize there’s something worse than stepping up and facing your fears – and that’s living as if you’re already dead.

RoseBlood is a modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale, The Phantom of the Opera. In this YA retelling, Rune Germain is a girl with a peculiar operatic talent. In the most unexpected moments, Rune will burst into song if she hears music that speaks to her. And, unfortunately, this all consuming musical flair has also lead to some tragic events. Rune’s mother decides to enroll Rune at RoseBlood, an elite French arts conservatory that is the very opera house rumored to have ties to the original classic, in hopes that Rune will tame this musical blessing/curse. There she secretly befriends the masked Thorn, a mysterious violinist who lurks in the school’s shadows and helps guide her musical transformation but with a dark, ulterior motive. The two will uncover that they have an otherworldly, soul-deep connection, and Thorn is forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the only father he’s known, the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century.

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Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

Ever_The_Hunted_FinalEver the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1 (1/2)
Published by Harcourt Childrens Books December 27, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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2.5 Stars, Completed January 5, 2017

– read bold text only to avoid major SPOILERS –

Know how to protect yourself, Papa said. You have to be strong. Strong as the trees.

Britta Flannery has grown up tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter of Malam. But those days are over now that her father has been murdered. Britta alone and an outcast to society (because of her identity) decides to seek refuge in the Ever woods. There she’s caught by a royal guard for illegally poaching. Surprisingly, instead of putting her up to the noose, he offers her a chance to live. All she must do is complete a task using something she excels at: track her father’s killer. But, of course, it’s not that simple. The prime suspect is none other than her late father’s former apprentice and her childhood best friend, Cohen McKay. To makes matters even more complicated, Britta was also in love with Cohen-that is before he disappeared conveniently months before her father’s death. On this dangerous quest, Britta will meet many hardships-not only physical but  matters of the heart as well.

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

9780142420591-1-683x1024Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel Books on March 22, 2011
Genres: [Young Adult] Historical Fiction
Pages: 344
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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5 Stars, Completed January 14, 2017

– SPOILER free –

Between Shades of Gray sets place in early 1940s Europe. A young Lithuanian girl and her family are torn from their comfortable life and sent to a camp in Siberia and later a prison in the Arctics; at both locations and during the passages between they will witness and endure horrifying treatment from the Soviets under the rule of Stalin. This affecting novel recounts a journey that spans over several years and covers 6,500 miles. It displays one of humanity’s unfathomably darkest and most hidden parts of history.

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

whenbreathbecomesair_0When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Published by Random House on January 12, 2016
Genres: [Adult] Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir
Pages: 208
Format: Hardcover –> eBook
Source: Purchased –> Borrowed

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5 Stars, Completed January 8, 2017

– SPOILER free –

When Breath Becomes Air shares the story of Paul Kalanithi, an exceptional and gifted neurosurgeon that found his life upended while in his last year of residency when signs of illness started to appear. After medical tests, it was discovered that he, in fact, had stage IV metastatic lung cancer. With his life no different from a ticking clock, he began to ask questions that would confront his mortality. What should he do with the remaining time he has left? Should he return to neurosurgery, or should he write? Should he and his wife, Lucy, have children? In this memoir, Kalanithi answers these questions (and provides responses to many more) by taking readers along his trek of leading a life as (some days) a doctor, (most days) a patient, and (everyday) a human desperate to stay alive.

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Blue Spring Ride

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0072Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) (アオハライド)
Original Story by
 Io Sakisaka
Art by Io Sakisaka
Published by Bessatsu Margar from 2011 to 2015
Genres: [Shoujo] Romance, School, Slice of Life
Volumes: 13
Chapters:
53
Status of manga:
 Completed*
My rating for the anime: 8/10
My rating for the live action film: 6.5/10

*Review based on entire manga series

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Purchase links are not available because, as of when this review is published, this manga has yet to be officially serialized in English. However, you can still read this online with fan-subs.

3.5 Stars, Reread January 1, 2017

– read the bold text to avoid minor SPOILERS –

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Gif credits to wordstuck

If I had to choose one word to describe this manga series, it would be the Japanese adjective, “懐かしい” (natsukashii). This term is difficult to translate into English accurately and completely, but it is often used to express a yearning for something, or a slightly nostalgic feeling of missing. As a non-native and amateur learning the foreign language for my own fun, how I’ve personally interpret natsukashii is the feeling you get when you’re reminded of the past. And Blue Spring Ride made me feel just that.

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The story begins with two middle schoolers, Futaba Yoshioka and Kou Tanaka, that like each other making plans to attend a festival together during their school break. However, misunderstandings arise after Futaba accidentally blurts that she hates boys because of their obnoxious behavior. Kou hears her exclamation, and doesn’t meet up with Futaba the day of the event. Futaba believes that he stood her up for the outburst that he overheard, but really he couldn’t make it because of family issues. So she decides to address this misunderstanding when they return to school. But on the day of the new semester, Futaba discovers that Kou has already transferred schools to another town. With a lot of loose ends left and the strength of first love, the two never forget each other in spite of the distance. And then years later, fate makes them enrolled in the same high school. Will they finally face each other after all this time? And will the attraction they shared from the past be rekindled?

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Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

bloodforblood_coverBlood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #2 (2/2)
Published by  Little, Brown Books on November 1, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 481
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

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3.5 Stars, Completed November 8, 2016

– read only the bold text to avoid major SPOILERS  –

Blood for Blood is the second and final installment to the Wolf by Wolf duology. It begins with Yael on the run after having just assassinated Adolf Hitler on live television. But it seems like the truth of what happened at the Victors’ ball is much more complicated than what the world saw. The man Yael shot was only another skinshifter, like herself, that took up Hitler’s face as a guise. The consequences for treason and murder is inescapable, and the Resistance is unable to recover after having started Operation Valkyrie too soon. The only way in saving the few people Yael has left in her life is for her to travel across enemy territory in hope of reversing the New Order and completing this last mission without fail.

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The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

9780399171611_WrathAndDawn_JK.inddThe Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2 (2/2)
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on April 26, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

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3.5 Stars, Completed July 7, 2016

– read the bold text to avoid minor SPOILERS –

It took me long enough (four months, omg), but I’m finally ready to sit down and put my thoughts into text about this captivating sequel.

The Rose and the Dagger begins where nearly book one ends. Shahrzad is reunited with her family and taking refuge in the desert. While his queen is away, Khalid, in disguise, is wandering around the broken kingdom of Rey trying to aid his people as much as he can and working on diplomatic negotiations that can stave off any bloodshed. With the help of others, Shazi decides she must learn to hone the magical abilities within herself to rid Khalid and Rey of the dark curse and end the impending war once and for all.

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The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

thesunisalsoastar-680x1024The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 349
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Publisher

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4 Stars, Completed November 6, 2016

– SPOILER free –

Gosh, I adored this book so much.

The Sun is Also a Star is a story about two teenagers, living very different lives, that happen to meet. Natasha is a girl that has solely relied on her knowledge of science and facts. When her father carelessly exposes their family of being undocumented immigrants, Natasha finds that she has to leave the “land of opportunity” and return back to the place she was born, Jamaica. But she can hardly view the island as her home since she hasn’t lived there since she was a young girl. She feels more American than anything. Then there’s Daniel. He has always been the good son-the one that has made the good grades, proudly kept his Korean roots, and met his parents expectations. So when his brother receives a suspension from an ivy league college, all the more pressure is put onto Daniel to redeem and save face for the family. However, deep down, Daniel knows he doesn’t really want to be a doctor but rather a poet. So when Natasha and Daniel encounter each other to say that they have an instant connection is too unrealistic.  But both find that this serendipitous meeting and the company of the other is exactly the distraction they need in their lives at that moment.

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