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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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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Manga Review: Wolf Children

9780316401654Wolf Children (Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki) (おおかみこどもの雨と雪)
Original Story by
Mamoru Hosoda
Art by Yu
Published by Young Press, Yen Press from 2012 to 2013
Genres: [Seinen] Fantasy, Drama, Slice of Life
Volumes: 3
Chapters:
16
Status of manga:
Completed*
My rating for the anime: 7/10

*Review based on entire manga series

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4 Stars, Completed August 7, 2016

– SPOILER free –

Wolf Children essentially begins as a love story between a young university student named Hana and an enigmatic man who attends her college but isn’t exactly a student there. As they begin to fall deeply in love, he reveals that he’s not human and transforms into a wolf. Unwavering, Hana still accepts the “wolf man” into her life. They happily get married and have two healthy children: Yuki born on a snowy day and Ame during heavy rain. All is well until Hana’s husband is tragically taken away from the family (this is not a spoiler-I checked and it was in the book’s cover flap as well as Goodreads’ synopsis), and subsequently she becomes a single mother. Unable to keep her wild and expressive children away from the prying eyes of the people in a densely populated city, she soon makes the decision to move to the countryside. And there she and her family will have to face other plights but also many joys as well.

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More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Final CoverMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+
Pages: 293
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

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4.5 Stars, Completed June 23, 2016

– read the bold text to avoid SPOILERS –

[That awful moment when you realize you scheduled a post unfinished… 😮 Yup, that actually happened with this book’s review early last week. For those that follow Xingsings via email, so sorry for the confusion! I guess you guys got a special glimpse of the process I take while composing a book review. Anyway, this is the official one for More Happy Than Not.]

It’s sort of funny how bad I am at skimming my friends’ reviews, because I totally missed the crucial memo about More Happy Than Not: it is a sad book, not a happy one as the title suggests. I dived into it totally assuming it would make me laugh more than cry. (I mean there is a smile on the original cover…) But, gosh, was I wrong.

Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you get through the messier tunnels of growing up. But the pain can only help you find happiness if you can remember it.

More Happy Than Not follows Aaron Soto, a guy with a smile-shaped scar on his wrist to remind him of a period of overwhelming grief and misery. This summer his supportive girlfriend, Genevieve, leaves him for art camp and he’s left all alone. Aaron then befriends the kid on the other block, Thomas. He finds that hanging out with Thomas brings him a sense of happiness different from Genevieve and his other friends, and he soon has to face what these newfound feelings mean. Aaron then considers turning to Leteo Institute’s cutting edge memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out (quite literally in the figurative sense), even if the consequence is forgetting who he truly is.

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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

wrathThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1 (1/2)
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on May 12, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 404
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

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4 Stars, Completed July 7, 2016

– this review is very long; you can read the bold text to get the main idea and to avoid major SPOILERS –

“…the thing that I have learned above all is that no individual can reach the height of their potential without the love of others. We are not meant to be alone, Shahrzad. The more a person pushes others away, the clearer it becomes he is in need of love the most.”

The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling inspired by the classic, One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories. In the original tale, a king learns of his wife’s infidelity and executes her. Out of bitterness and distrust, he then begins a cycle where he takes a virgin bride each night and kills her the next morning before she can commit any acts of crime against him. Then one girl, Scheherazade, the daughter of the king’s vizier, breaks this horrifying routine by defying the odds. She becomes the king’s next bride, and each night she cleverly tells him a story but also just begins another. This cunning tactic ensures Scheherazade’s safety because the king becomes too intrigued to kill her the next dawn, and thus she survives for 1001 nights (and hence the birth of the compilation of stories). The Wrath and the Dawn follows this storyline loosely with its own twists along with a touch of magic. And, of course, this time the Shahrzad in the retelling finds herself falling in love with the tormented monster king.

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

me-before-you-book-cover-jan-12-p122-1Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You #1 (1/2)
Published by Viking on December 31, 2012
Genres: [Adult] Contemporary, Chick Lit, Romance
Pages: 369
Format: Audiobook –> Paperback
Source: Audible –> Purchased

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4 Stars, Completed January 21, 2016

– to avoid major SPOILERS read bold text only –

Spending my last day as a teenager crying in the corner as I finished this wasn’t quite ideal. I was sporting the unbelievably puffy panda eyes look on my 20th birthday (which proved to not be that photogenic). But, more importantly, I hadn’t anticipated that I’d become a volunteer publicist for Me Before You. This happened because I was trying to explain to people the cause of my late night distress as well as convince them to read this moving story. Nevertheless, I am so glad I chose to read this British novel because beyond the emotional ride was a touching and enlightening story.

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

Lou Clark has led an ordinary and uneventful life until the moment she loses her job at the tea shop. From there, she seeks new work and she stumbles upon the opportunity of taking care of young, handsome and successful Will Traynor, who has become a quadriplegic after a recent motorcycle accident. Little does she know that this job, though sometimes unpleasant but often times rewarding, will forever change her view on life and how she plans to live it.

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The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

TheWinnersCrimeThe Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #2 (2/3)
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux on March 3, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: eBook
Source: Borrowed

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4 Stars, Completed March 10, 2016

– SPOILER free –

Right now a part of me feels inclined to rebel and give this book 1 star because of all the heartache it caused me. But nah, I’ll remain sensible and fair.

You can’t see both sides of one coin at once, can you, child? The god of money always keeps a secret.
The god of money was also the god of spies.

Naturally The Winner’s Crime takes place after the events of the first installment. Kestrel is busy preparing all the events and celebrations that follow her engagement to the Valorian prince. While adjusting to palace life she’s beginning to realize that all the intricate lies she’s woven and promised have led her to her own cage in the Capital. Meanwhile, Arin is seas away seeking allies in the East to help his people gain their freedom. Unknown to Arin, Kestrel’s also aiding his cause by being the anonymous informant helping Herrani efforts. When they do meet, more lies and misunderstandings ensues between the two-and some that may create irreparable wounds in their relationship. On top of all this, despite all the wishful thinking, they recognize that they soon will have to pay a price for the dangerous crimes they have committed.

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The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The-Winners-CurseThe Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #1 (1/3)
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux on March 4, 2014
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy
Pages: 355
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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4.5 Stars, Completed March 8, 2016

– SPOILER free –

To be honest, despite everyone’s insistence with me reading this, I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did. There was so much that could have gone wrong with The Winner’s Curse for me (the love triangle, forbidden romance, seemingly privileged/spoiled rich protagonist, possible offensive execution with slavery, high expectations due to the hype, etc) but somehow everything ended up being so right to my utter surprise and relief.

In fact, I read The Winner’s Curse in a mere few hours. For those of you that know my reading habits well, this is a major accomplishment for me. Rarely do I ever finish a book in a day much less in a couple of hours. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m growing out of the targeted age group or what, but it’s been a really long time since I’ve been this engrossed in a young adult story for me to speed through it so quickly.

The Winner’s Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.

The Winner’s Curse focuses on the unlikely romance that buds between an owner and a slave when she bids for him at a ridiculously high price at a slave auction. After the purchase, they begin to spend time together and realize that they are much alike as they are different. And as their attachment for each other deepens unexpected but inevitable consequences come into view.

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In Real Life by Jessica Love

in real life_quote top (1)In Real Life by Jessica Love
Published by St. Martin’s Press on March 1, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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4 Stars, Completed February 28, 2016

– SPOILER free  –

My best friend and I have never met.
We talk every day, on the phone or online, and he knows more about me than anyone. Like, deep into my soul. But we’ve never actually seen each other in real life.

This is the type of book that makes me wish I didn’t use a rating system with definitive stars. In Real Life can be a 3 star read for its noticeable flaws, yet it hits the spot so perfectly that it easily has become one of my favorite contemporary reads of all time.  So it looks like this review will be a battle between choosing to be the objective or subjective reviewer.

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends ever since Hannah’s older sister met Nick’s older brother at a concert. They talk everyday, give each other presents, and share everything. But they’ve actually never met. Hannah, being the model student and daughter, has never done anything she’s not supposed to do. After some frustrating news she receives, she decides to take an impulsive trip to Las Vegas to break some rules and surprise Nick-and, perhaps, figure out what Nick truly means to her. But the plan utterly backfires when it appears Nick has been keeping secrets. Hannah begins to think maybe their online relationship was too good to be true.

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #1 (1/2)
Published by  Little, Brown Books on October 20, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 382
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: NOVL

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4.5 Stars, Completed January 7, 2016

– SPOILER free  –

Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them-made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.

Her story begins on a train.

Absolutely stunning. Wolf by Wolf is one of those rare historical fiction novels where we all know how it ends because of history. Yet, Ryan Graudin still manages to weave a story that is ultimately gripping and unpredictable through using creative liberties to answer what-ifs and would-bes all the while adding a dash of some science fiction flavors of her own.

Graudin poses several possible scenarios in which the Second World War could have ended. What if Hitler and the Axis powers won the war instead? What if the unethical, medical experiments tested within the camps actually worked? Or what if a genetic fluke from said experiments backfired but was the prime solution to end this horrific period?

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