Blog Tour: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter // A Fantasy Novel That Many YA Readers Will Adore

Monday, 26 September 2016 0 comments
Vassa in the Night, by Sarah Porter
Publication: September 20, 2016, by Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.
In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.
But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .
Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.

My Thoughts:

Sarah Porter’s Vassa in the Night is one of the books that many of us book bloggers, especially us YA ones, would adore. It’s unique, carries a plot in a setting rarely explored—a city that we all love and find enchanting beyond its billboards, New York City. In fact, Porter explores the city of Brooklyn, a city that still holds the glitz and glamour beyond Times Square. I ached to purchase this one—I ached to buy it and fall in love with it after BookExpo America this year. I was one of the unfortunate ones who wasn't able to grab a copy, but I was so happy to have been offered a spot on this blog tour. Vassa in the Night originally seemed that it would stun us readers so incredibly that it would pop up on many Top 10 lists this December. I was a little bummed, expecting a five star read, though, nevertheless, I would definitely recommend it.

We immediately are thrown into this day-and-night imagery cycle, really reminding me of something that Shakespeare would write about. Sarah Porter uses Night as the most enchanting part of the day in the world we’re reading about. The characters, especially Vassa, seem so much more intriguing when they are described side by side in accordance with Night. We never hear much about “Day,” which could be some kind of religious reference or allusion, but we usually read about Night. Everything, everything that was written about in the story has meaning to it. No matter if you look at this book as a page, or as a chapter, everything had extreme imagery and meaning. Thank you, Sarah Porter, for that. 

One of the issues I had with this all was the pacing and concept. Fantasy is a hit or miss for me, as I constantly mention, and I do have to say that this was more of a miss from my perspective. Something that bothered me was the fact that I got constantly bored with the story. I didn’t get some of the plot points and all of that. I did get extremely emotionally attached to the characters, if I do say so myself.

ERG. VASSA. EVERYONE. Can I just cry right now? (I feel like I need them in my life and I do not want to spoil anything about them because they’re mine. Okay? *giggles*) Is there romance? Heck, yes. THE SHIPS ARE REAL. 

I just adored reading the story and it was so enjoyable. I don't know if I would a hundred percent want to go ahead and read a sequel, but I must say that Porter is a talented author who keeps on impressing readers again and again. I have read the first book of her Lost Voices trilogy, which hadn't gone well for me, but many have adored it so… *twiddles eyebrows* This definitely can go perfectly well for many people. I was somewhere in the middle.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*


  I pick her up between my thumb and forefinger and wrap her in a hand towel. She’s a pretty thing with her swooping violet eyelids and tiny ruby mouth, her thin arched black brows and perfect curls. She has a carved wooden dress, sky blue with white painted loops standing in for lace at the collar and cuffs. Her exposed skin is just varnished pale wood, then her legs end in white socks with more of that curly trim and black Mary Janes, all painted. Her knees, elbows, and waist are jointed and she can pivot her head. Nice workmanship. Too bad they didn’t spend more time on her personality.In spite of myself, I kiss the top of her shiny head. She tries to bite my lip, but I yank her back in time and her little wooden jaws snap on empty air. 
  When I said that magical things in Brooklyn should be shunned like the plague? I’m sorry to say that’s not always an option. I was leaving Erg out of the equation although, with her being a talking doll and everything, she’d be magic by anyone’s standards. I don’t have much chance of avoiding her, since we’re bound to each other for life. And no, I didn’t name her that. It’s what she calls herself. When I was younger I tried to get her to accept names like Jasmine or Clarissa but she wasn’t having it. 
  I plonk Erg down on my lap and get out the bottle of lemon oil from under the sink. It’s her favorite and I always try to keep some around. Dab the oil on some toilet paper and give her a nice rubdown, working it up and down her limbs while she makes little purring sounds. Getting oiled makes her sleepy and she rolls on my black flannel pajamas and rubs her face against me like a kitten. She can be cute sometimes. She’d better be cute, really, considering all the trouble she causes.

What is your newest favourite fantasy read? What are some good books featured in NYC?

Soundless by Richelle Mead // Boring and Not My Type!

Friday, 23 September 2016 0 comments
Soundless, by Richelle Mead
Publication: November 10, 2015, by Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 266
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

In a village without sound… For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.
When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation. One girl hears a call to action… Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon. She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever… And unlocks a power that will save her people.

My Thoughts:

I've officially almost read all of Richelle Mead's books, guys! Soundless is a very interesting take on a diverse fantasy novel taken place a mystery faraway kingdom called Beiguo, which features Chinese (supposed) characters who live in this kingdom and they're all basically suffering. I never got why. Or understood why. Anyways, Richelle Mead for the first time (from what I have read) has created a standalone novel that features myths, creatures and searing noises. *laughs* I didn't really enjoy this one, and I must say that it's one of Richelle's worst books, in my opinion. WHERE WAS THE EXPLANATION BEHIND ALL OF THE DIVERSITY AND THE COOL FIGHTS? This was just hideously boring and I almost DNFed it because I was bored out of my mind and didn't have the patience to read more about Fei.

Richelle Mead never has created a snoozefest for me in the past. I'm surprised, because she is one of the only fantasy authors who I could read, and actually enjoy. Vampire Academy and The Glittering Court were both great. Hmmph. Khanh explained her worries about this book perfectly in her review. I totally agree with her, though I saw a tiny bit more light than she did. I liked Fei and her wicked Mulan-like mentality. I read this a few weeks ago, and I cannot remember anything about this book, though. I am pretty sure that's a bad sign. I won't change the rating of this, because I have no classified information into why I didn't like it so much. Oh, well. 

I've never read anything like this before, so that was a highlight for me. I unfortunately missed out on a copy of this at BEA in 2015, and my life was ruined from that moment on. I didn't purchase a copy of this because (a) hardcovers are too expensive, and this is only 266 pages, really short compared to Richelle's other big, chunky books. Thank goodness I didn't buy it. I did want to meet Richelle last year, though. *cries* Soundless seems to be a hit or miss for many reviewers out there, especially on Goodreads. I see a mixed of positive and negative reviews, and I'm more in the negative crowd, I feel. I wanted action, I wanted explanations, though not too many explanations that I would call "info dumping." I just wanted to know the reason why behind the starvation of the citizens of Beiguo, and why Fei herself is put in the situation she was.

Richelle Mead always writes with passion in her books. It always seems that she researches a whole lot before she actually writes a particular story. Soundless had that rich culture in it, but it was too boring and eventless for my liking. 

AND GUYS. This book was about deaf villagers. THAT'S NEW, RIGHT? But it was just a minor thing, and Richelle confused us a whole lot because there was a mix of weird dialogue. I'm still confused. That was a weird addition to the plot, for sure.

Soundless is a weak telling of a diverse fantasy that has such an unique interesting twist: a community of deaf people, but it turned out to disappoint than please. I liked our protagonist, Fei, but this was a snoozefest as well. Thank goodness I liked the idea, though, or the fact that I was initially interested, but would I reread this ever? Nah. Thanks fate, for not making me waste my time for a review copy when someone else could enjoy this more.

What is your favourite Richelle Mead novel? Do you like Vampire Academy? What is a book that's fantasy and has been written so well unlike others?

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware // Ruth Has Done It Again!

Saturday, 17 September 2016 2 comments
The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware
Publication: July 19, 2016, by Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.
In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

My Thoughts:

A year ago, I was fortunate to read Ruth Ware's debut novel that changed the way I currently look at psychological thrillers. In a Dark, Dark Wood was absolutely gorgeous, stunning and life-changing. I read it in a matter of sittings, adored it and couldn't stop reading once I began. A few months later, I heard about this upcoming thriller by her, taking place on a cruise ship—we certainly don't see that often. In fact, I don't think I have ever heard about a thriller taken place on a cruise ship or plane or anything that's not land. Obviously, things like this occur in reality, but in fiction? I truly appreciate Ruth Ware's smart idea to attract readers to her writing from this setting, and having characters like Lo in store for us to read about. The Woman in Cabin 10 initially had me expecting the woman to be our protagonist, Lo, but as I kept reading, I discovered that this is a mystery/murder/thriller novel being told about someone else on the cruise ship that our travel writer protagonist is staying on... someone we don't know anything about and someone we can just rely one appearance on to start making a mystery.

You see, with Ruth Ware's writing, we don't know the truth to the mystery until the end. I seriously did not know what the truth behind the mystery of the body that was thrown overboard until the last chapter or so. I wouldn't call this as good as Ware's debut novel, but it seriously comes as another amazing addition to her accomplishments that I seriously recommend. We have yet again another protagonist who, to some, can look bratty and absolutely selfish, but does act completely independent in terms of how she tries to find out the truth to everything she does not know about the setting around her. Why I love Ware's writing in her psychological thrillers is because we are on the same basis as her protagonists. If her protagonists do not know something, we don't know it, either. And there's no way that a reader would be able to predict the truth behind it all. I believe that it's mentally impossible to guess the truth. I had no idea, and I had no idea that the people who were involved were going to be involved prior the truth being revealed.

Before I go off about the synopsis and what Ware actually wrote about, I must say that the cover is spectacularly beautiful. It's stunning, and suits the book so well. Now I'm actually fearing to ever go on a cruise again. And never to Finland/Norway and North Europe. As much as I would like to see the Aurora Borealis, I'll jet off to see that on my own. That's something on my bucket list. (Not the cruise thing, though.) We immediately meet Lo Blacklock, our protagonist, who freaks out in the beginning of the book because she gets an intruder in her home... when she was home alone. Her boyfriend, Judah, was off on a trip the night when Lo suddenly woke up and found an unwanted man in her bedroom, who later attempted to hurt her. Flash forward a few days, and this travel journalist is on a cruise ship, a luxurious one, in fact, setting sail to the Northern Baltic Sea. Lo gets her own private cabin, and things seem swell until one night, she spots a body being thrown overboard from the room next door. She borrowed mascara from a girl who stayed there, and Lo freaks out right away, thinking that she was dead. No one believes Lo's accusations, because no one is supposed to be staying in the room next door.

Dun, dun, dun. I freaked out from the beginning of the story, especially after Lo had an intruder in her house. I just felt tension throughout the story and didn't want nothing to happen to her. I've always thought about being a writer and traveling the world, but this has made me absolutely traumatized. I felt that Lo had no one to trust, not even her boyfriend, Judah. I felt attached to Lo and was addicted to her story, though I did see parts of her that made me want to roll my eyes. You know how independence is good, right? Lo took it to another level and seemed to complain about everyone around her. We never were able to get the opportunity to read about why she previously had depression in the past and why she needs those pills. It's just something about her that's placed into the book that was just for filling, to step up the actual mystery's truth. And I would have loved to see more of Ben as a character, find out more about their past together. Occasionally, a book shouldn't only focus on the main point, you know?

The Woman in Cabin 10 is a novel that is so different than others out there. I don't see it as a copy of anything else we've ever read recently—instead, it has its own flair that will probably make other authors look at Ruth Ware as an inspiration. THE ENDING IS THE BEST PART OF THE BOOK. If you're crazy and feel like you need to stop reading the book, DON'T. You can stop once you finish reading it. *winks*

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is your favourite 2016 mystery-thriller? What have you heard about Ruth Ware's writing?

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon // A Real Shocker Rating, That's For Sure

Friday, 16 September 2016 2 comments
The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon
Publication: November 1, 2016, by Delacorte
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 344
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My Thoughts:

I'm kind of dreading to put this review up into the big, scary world right now. Every review I have read for this book, Nicola Yoon's newest contemporary romance that was supposed to be better than her debut, Everything, Everything, which completely stole my heart last year and made it onto my top ten favourite books of 2015, The Sun is Also a Star, was positive. Everyone is giving this a big fat five star rating, but to be honest, I'm just not feeling all of this "diverse romance." I appreciate it so much, though. Seeing two beautiful characters who each have their flaws and who each have struggled in different ways in the second biggest city in the world, New York City, seeing them fall in love is gorgeous. I love how Nicola Yoon based the romance of Daniel and Natasha off her own marriage with her husband. I love how much potential this book had. But now, I was completely disappointed with the outcome of this one. The Sun is Also a Star has proved that the sun is also a star, but nothing more, to be quite clear. 

Nicola Yoon is a talented author and I adore her writing completely. Something just fell apart when I read The Sun is Also a Star. I found the romance to be too good to be true, too much relied on fate (especially on those random appearances where they would find each other in the middle of a huge city) and I just didn't feel like fangirling or shipping Daniel and Natasha, because obviously, this is a contemporary romance, and they are bound to end up together. Bound to be together. This might have been my reaction because (A) I have been reading better contemporary-romances lately and (B) when I picked this up, I was on the plane heading on vacation. I might have been too distracted and excited that this ended up seeming... well, bland. I'm hoping that that was not the case at all, because I don't want to pick this one up again.

The thing is that I just didn't feel the romance. It didn't seem powerful, or rooted by something or a relationship that has been sewn together for a longer period of time. Daniel and Natasha meet, Natasha initially thinks that she's not ready for a relationship, and they end up making out and throw away all of their life's desires. It happened so suddenly, and I just don't get why anyone isn't commenting on the fact that this kind of was an instant romance, in a way. I love Yoon's writing most definitely because she easily transports readers into another world for a few hours, or at least, until we finish the book or decide to give reading a rest.

"Rob says I don't believe in true love. And he's right. I don't. But I might want to."

I adored Daniel and Natasha both as separate characters. They are so similar in so many ways and I loved how Yoon compared their struggles and made them stick together during their hardships. Daniel is used to be the son of Korean parents who has to be perfect, who has to go to an Ivy League school, who has to be a doctor, who will not disappoint his harsh parents, and remind them of his Harvard-dropout brother. Natasha, on the other hand, also has family struggles, but different ones. Her family is on the urge of possibility of being deported back to Jamaica, where they came from, and Natasha doesn't want anything to do with her father, who ruined their family. 

The setting of this book couldn't be in a better place: NYC. I have such a huge connection to NYC, after visiting it twice and adoring everything about the busy life. There are so many landmarks included here where I have personally visited, and I loved the city lifestyle incorporated into these characters' lives. It's so... personal. I feel like comparing this whole book to Everything, Everything, and if I seriously did that—everything would change here. Everything, Everything had things that this surely did not have. We had a real story that we have never read about before. This is nothing special, though I did fairly enjoy it either way because I like romance. We had a believable romance that makes me jealous because I'm nearly the same age as the characters in Yoon's books.

For some positives, I adored the ending and Natasha's obsession with science and stars. It makes us think, you know, that the title has so much meaning to it, unlike some books we read today, those books that make us sit and wonder why the title even exists.

One word I would use to describe The Sun is Also a Star is "meh." It was interesting enough to make me want to read and discover what is going to happen to the characters by the end of it (because we all know that relationships don't always last), but it lacked a lot of things that the author's debut definitely had (and had an overdose of). That gorgeous cover just wants to make me cry. I WANTED THIS TO BE 1000 STARS AMAZING. 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What did you think of Everything, Everything? What do you think of books just focused on romance? Do you support instalove?

Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall // The Fluffiest (And Cutest) Book You'll Ever Read

Thursday, 15 September 2016 0 comments
Signs Point to Yes, by Sandy Hall
Publication: October 20, 2015, by Swoon Reads
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Rating: ½

If only Jane’s Magic 8 Ball could tell her how to get through the summer. With her “perfect” sister, Margo, home for her “perfect” internship, Jane is not going to be able to spend the summer writing fan fiction, as she had planned. And her emergency babysitting job requires Jane to spend the whole summer in awkward proximity to her new crush, Teo, a nerdy-hot lifeguard with problems of his own. With his best friend out of town, Teo finds himself without anyone to confide in…except Jane. Will Jane and Teo be able to salvage each other’s summer? Even the Magic 8 Ball doesn’t have an answer…but signs point to yes.

My Thoughts:

Signs Point to Yes is like a batch of pink, fluffy cotton candy. Sometimes it only works to compare books to food, haha. This is such a fluffy, adorable story by Sandy Hall, an author who I really look up to, because she writes so magnificently, and with a concept that is easy to think of, she just mastered this grand story. This is even better than A Little Something Different, her first novel that was written in many perspectives—even that of a squirrel. Believe it. If you have never heard of Sandy Hall and her books, what are you doing here reading this review? Go out and purchase her beautiful stories, because when I read this one especially, I felt that love exists, even with teenagers. I read this in a jiffy (literally)—I read it in a sitting because I was too obsessed with it and after reading some hardcore HUGE books (some were even disappointing), I needed a quick read that carried fluff, instead of science-fiction that I have to deal with frequently. This is the perfect read for anyone at any time of the year. Agh.

I LOVED THE CONCEPT OF A MAGIC 8 BALL. Romance can be romance, love can be love and fluff, but adding some extra thing in is literally the best. Jane, our heroine, spends a big chunk of the novel wondering about her future and how things will end up to be, and for starters, she uses her Magic 8 ball to make these decisions initially. Afterwards, once her connection with Teo blooms and they start having feelings for each other (it's a no-brainer!), she realizes that she doesn't need the Magic 8 ball anymore and that she should just let life flow like water. That's inspiring and adorable. I LOVE WHEN BOOKS HAVE SPECIAL MESSAGES LIKE THAT. There are honestly some contemporaries in the world that are just so cheesy and the author spends the three hundred or so pages writing about making out. I swear, I have seen that before. This? Never. There is also a huge focus on superstitions and fear—Jane has a fear of thunderstorms, which I could really relate to because I'm downright terrified of them. FOR ONCE. FOR ONCE I CAN RELATE TO A CHARACTER IN TERMS OF FEAR.

I was afraid to read this one because I didn't want this to be a love-fest that is so cheesy that my throat will hurt as if I ate ten chocolate bars. I read many negative reviews prior to, and I was a little more scared than I should have been. Sandy Hall, you wrote this magnificently. I loved the simplistic writing, the fact that this takes place during the summer (which it is here in Canada) and how there wasn't insta-love. I swear, if there was an instant romance between Teo and Jane, I would've thrown this book out of the window. They have known each other since they were kids, which I always love to read about since the guys I was friends with when I was young go to a different school than me currently. THANK GOODNESS.

There is a big influence on perfection throughout Signs Point to Yes. For once, we have a protagonist who is in no ways perfect. Jane struggles with the subject of stupidity and perfection so much that I just felt so bad for her. She has to live with her "perfect" older sister, Margo, who actually has some secrets of her own that could change how other people look at her. Jane feels stupid and that she has no potential, no reason to go to college because she feels that she'll end up achieving straight C's. Even Teo's as*hole friend, Ravi (who I HATED), thought she was stupid and basically said it to her face. But Jane was like so many other characters I have read about: she was so intelligent and I admired the decisions that she made. Although I am not planning on doing the same things that she wants to do in terms of college and her future, it's a change from your ordinary perfect Harvard/Brown protagonist who still gets into so much trouble and is a character who is never doing schoolwork in the actual novel. Those books are seriously unrealistic, while this one absolutely is. 

I began enjoying it from the first page where Jane speaks of being antisocial over the summer. This is such a hilarious, realistic story that could honestly happen to anyone. Honestly, I'm thinking of seeking a babysitting job so I could find someone like Teo along the way, because hot damn, HE'S HOT. I loved Teo and his sweet, playful personality and aw. He has my heart. I say that with every male character I meet in books, but this is serious. JANE AND TEO ARE ADORABLE. I loved their shy personalities and how those two personalities mingled. They are legitimately perfect for each other. *heart skips a beat*

What made me not want to give this a perfect 5 star rating was Jane's (dumb) incident having to do with Teo's father. I would have never done what she did in this situation: snooped around in Teo's home, discovered that he was looking for his father, found his birth certificate, found his father's name, and tried to find him. I would've never done that. I was frustrated for about twenty pages, including during the fight that she and Teo had when she revealed all that she discovered to him. OF COURSE HE SHOULD BE UPSET, YOU WEIRDO. Hah, but I got over it. That was just a minor plot detail that could have been presented differently, in my opinion. I really did admire the whole theme of discovery, though. Teo seeking his father is something that is rarely written about in YA (or in books at all), and it gives us readers a first look at how life can be when you don't know anything about your family. 

We also see a SISTERLY RELATIONSHIP between Margo and Jane. AW. They eventually head on a road trip together (alongside Ravi, ew) and they are goals. I always admire sibling/parent relationships in books, and this was just another great one. Yay for diversity of Teo (Spanish) and Ravi (Sri Lankan) as well as the fact that JANE WRITES FANFICTION. Okay, so I'm not a fan of Doctor Who, but it was a great addition for the crazy fangirl audience we reviewers are these days. Yay for that, and yay for the whole book!

This is just a book for a teenager, you know? I sought that, and that's what I ended up getting. It's fluffy, cute, has a swoon-worthy romance (perfect since the publisher is Swoon Reads) and will make your heart flutter because it's so addicting, raw and real. It's more than just the relationship between Teo and Jane—it has so many messages that it would take me a year to explain.

Signs Point to Yes is perhaps one of the brightest, best contemporary-romance/chick-lit novels I have read this year. It's not for everyone, but if you were/are in the depressed sci-fi mood as I was before reading, this will be the uttermost perfect read for you. Now, if you excuse me, I'll be jetting off to find my own Teo and swoon over him. At least, I'll be doing that in my dreams. Currently, I'll be binge-reading Sandy Hall's next book, arriving in bookstores in August, Been Here All Along. Woo!

What is the best contemporary-romance book you read this year? What do you seek when reading chick-lit?

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff // Just As Good As Illuminae!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016 0 comments
Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2), by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publication: October 18, 2016, by Knopf BFYR
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Romance
Pages: 659
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.
Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.
When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

My Thoughts:

HECK YEAH. Gemina by the fabulous best sci-fi-author-duo, Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, is just as GOOD AS Illuminae. THAT IS A WONDERFUL HONOUR. Listen, folks: I am not the kind of person who admires high science-fiction with blasts of spaceships, weird technical terms, intergalactic fighting and communicating between different planets and ships. A few years ago before the idea of this series ever existed, I would have never wanted to pick this one up. NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS. Now? I admire these authors so much for putting so much difficult work into writing this series, and how they so intelligently mastered the format and characters. The Illuminae Files is one of my favourite series to read because of its super-awesome format and how every time, we are introduced to another batch of characters (who always do fall in love), emails, IMs and the coolest classified files that will make you feel as if you were a chief on the Hypatia or whatever space shuttle is flying through space, carrying a huge population of people whose lives are on the stake and in the hands of teenagers.

THIS SERIES IS SO DAMN COOL AND KICK-ASS AND *INSERT FIFTY THOUSAND ADJECTIVES HERE* I cannot help but fangirl. I have been waiting a year to read Gemina after Illuminae ruined my life (in a good way, obviously), and after waiting in that mega-huge line at BEA this year, filled with ecstatic fangirls such as myself, feeling doubtful that I would end up getting a copy, I HAVE IT IN MY HANDS. I honestly recommend this series to every sci-fi fan out there, even if you're sick and tired of the usual dystopian phase that many YA authors are still stuck in, even though the best, like Ally Condie, are done writing books like that. THIS IS JUST AWESOMENESS. I rather read the third book of this series than have pizza for a year. It's that big of a sacrifice for me. This is waaay better than many contemporaries that seemed promising, but ended up letting me down in the end.

For this sequel, things are better and badder when we are thrown into a new ship, called the Hypatia, where our previous protagonist (Kady)'s dad (Issac Grant) is on and is a chief. THANKFULLY WE GET TO HEAR FROM KADY AND EZRA AGAIN. This time around, we are introduced to a set of protagonists, Nik and Hanna, who, just like Kady and Ezra initially, have issues. In this case, Nik has this mega-crush on Hanna, who is the rich daughter of the station commander. Whenever Hanna wants something, she basically gets it. Nik, on the other hand, is orphaned, and the only family he knows of is his cousin, Ella. Their family is known for their previous crimes, and Nik is doing whatever it takes to clear that image of himself from the world, and especially from Hanna, whose attention he would like to catch. The thing is, Hanna is already dating someone, Jackson, who already has some secrets of his own. The romance isn't the worst issue of them all, though: THE HYPATIA IS INVADED.




Seriously, it gets chaotic from there. The BeiTech strike team is the most outrageous horrible team on the face of the universe. I hated every member with all the hate that I have inside of me. But don't fret, it was healthy hate. Hopefully. You guessed what happens from there—Hanna and Nik ought to join forces and save their home, alongside other characters who stunned me appearance after appearance, including Ella.

"Hurting she might be, but Hanna Donnelly was raised by a man who thought talking military tactics was a fun way to spend daddy-daughter time. And judging by the set of her jaw, she's ready to change the rules of the game" (161).

There is no way that someone could classify Gemina as a quick read. IT'S FREAKING HUGE. I never wanted Hanna and Nik's story to end, even after those 600+ pages of details and encryption. Although there was a mix of formats, many documents that I still am wondering how Kaufman and Kristoff were able to create, so much was happening all of the time. I occasionally get a little antsy when I realize that an author (or authors) is taking a long time to write a novel, but the wait is well worth it for this sequel. But seriously: HOW ARE KAUFMAN AND KRISTOFF ABLE TO WRITE THIS HUGE BOOK IN LESS THAN A YEAR? It is released in October, and I received a copy of it in early May. That means that it was probably written so quickly. I am shocked.

The best thing in this novel are the characters. Every character has a strong role in the story, and although Hanna and Nik are really the heroes, I would call everyone's addition something. I loved Hanna even more than I loved Kady in the first book, and guess what? We even get to see the two kick-ass girls communicate with one another as Kady tries to contact her father, who is with Hanna occasionally as they try to fight BeiTech. I really felt for Hanna and Nik, especially during the moments after page 505. THE PAGE 505. I THOUGHT... well, I won't spoil it, but your jaws will literally drop to the ground. What you think happened... well, it didn't, and the whole outcome of this book has to do with its title.

When Kaufman and Kristoff info-dump, it's not that they do it horribly. They do it wonderfully. I often get worried when reading sci-fi because I expect a ton of info-dumping in terms of the world that the characters live in and so on. Without the information given to us in this novel, I would have been so confused, because honestly? You need a huge attention span to read this story, as well as the first novel in The Illuminae Files. This isn't an easy book to read. I began reading it last week, but decided that it wasn't the right day for it because I would need a nice, quiet setting to binge-read it all, not small bits where I won't be connected to the characters and world-setting. We kept being introduced to new characters, new ideas that our intelligent "squad" came up with in order to save themselves, but it felt natural. I never was confused. I would seriously like to give Kaufman and Kristoff an enormous round of applause, because damn—it's so difficult to perfect information in science-fiction these days.

Just like Illuminae, I have to rate Gemina four stars for the same reason: occasional boringness. This was a heart-pounding novel, but the first hundred-fifty pages of the story were action-less. We quickly are introduced to characters who will play big roles in this story, like the BeiTech team, but it was all filler. I needed the deaths (sadly), I needed the heart-pounding moments where I began to wonder if I would even survive after finishing the book. It came, only after a few shockers splatted out at us. I still loved this, either way. We needed a good beginning, because Hanna and Nik are characters who did not have a place in Illuminae. Oh! And I wish The House of Knives (and everything about Nik) was explained better. *tear rolls down cheek*

"There's this moment, this tiny moment, in between the time you decide to pull a trigger and the time the death arrives, there's just you and it and everything you're about to take away. It's too big. It goes forever" (248, extracted from IM messages).

I just want to stroke the cover for the rest of my life, buy fifty copies of this series and send them to all of my friends who are non-book-nerds. Anyone could find something to love in this whole series. It is best that you read Illuminae first, but I loved how this is a continuation and not a direct sequel to Kady and Ezra's story slash romance. Thank goodness they got an appearance, or else I would have began to freak out. Literally. 

WHEN WE DISCOVERED WHAT GEMINA REALLY IS, I FREAKED OUT. It's so intelligent, so imaginative and seems so real. Brace yourself for parallel universes, interesting calculations that are not random in any way, MEANINGFUL ILLUSTRATIONS THAT ARE ACTUALLY PUT THERE FOR A REASON AND NOT FOR OUR ENTERTAINMENT AND COOL ALIEN PREDATORS. If my parents really knew what this series is about, they would think that I'm nuts because I always refuse to watch sci-fi films like Star Wars or Star Trek, that have similar concepts. BOOKS ARE ALWAYS BETTER, WHOOPS. 

Hanna and Nik are destined to be the world's best fictional couple. I LOVE THEM TOGETHER SO MUCH. I have noticed that with this series, romance is not everything, thankfully, though it is a big part that makes the teaming-up-together work well for the characters. We see a romance bloom in the later part of the book, where things don't end well with Jackson and Hanna and she realizes the truth behind everything he has ever told her. I wanted to punch that guy in the face ever since we were introduced to him.

Gemina is seriously a beautiful addition to the YA fiction world. It's just as good as Illuminae, and although there is a minor bit of boringness in the plot itself, I would just fade that away and look at the bright side of things: everything else! Hanna and Nik had the most adorable relationship, and everything else was perfect. This is the most intelligent book you'll read this year. Pre-order it, enjoy it and let's make a club and wait for the third book all together! But most importantly, thank you Amie and Jay for this beauty. I STRONGLY APPRECIATE IT. 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What have you heard about The Illuminae Files? What is your uttermost favourite sci-fi read?