Book Review || Devil and the Bluebird

Bonjour loves! How have you all been? Life has been absolutely wild lately and I’ve been away for a bit, but I’ve managed to get some good book reading squeezed in between, despite the hours slipping through my fingers like sand. It’s also officially autumn, so expect to see some enthusiastic flailing! (Let’s not mention the fact that it is absolutely boiling where I live; if the pumpkin candles and lattes are out, it’s autumn.)

Here’s a book that I picked up for the cover, bought for the synopsis, and loved for the story. Hope you enjoy!


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Author: Jennifer Mason-Black

Publishing Company: Amulet Books

Release Year: 2016

Genre(s): YA, magical realism

My Synopsis

Blue Riley has made a deal with the devil.db-jpg

After her mother, who was a musician, died of cancer, it’s just been her and her sister living together with their aunt–but her sister has run away, leaving Blue alone with nothing but her mother’s old guitar. Determined not to lose her sister forever, Blue meets the Devil at a crossroads, and she (yes, she) offers Blue a deal: her voice, safety, and possibly sanity in exchange for enchanted boots and the scavenger hunt of a lifetime. With her mother’s guitar and a bag slung over her back, Blue sets out on her journey.

She bounces from city to city, hitchhiking with people she’s never met and will never see again. If her mission wasn’t hard enough already, the stakes suddenly get higher: she cannot stay with anyone for more than three days, and no one–under any circumstances–can know her real name. Along the way, she runs into many others who are trying to find their way in life too and discovers that life is unpredictable, and so are people. Through dangerous encounters and leaving behind friends, with the devil appearing at every corner and time whizzing past her, all Blue can do is trust her boots and learn to love life, people, and let music work its magic on the world.

My Review

I read this book while I was on a roadtrip–rather fitting, I’d say, for a book that takes place in cars so much. With the trees flitting by outside my window, I finished Devil and the Bluebird in one sitting and spent the rest of the ride staring outside and just thinking about it all: about people, and how they’re never what you expect.

I adored the characters. Mason-Black crafts the cast so well that all the characters that appear–regardless of the brevity of their roles–are so realistically created that you can imagine their lives and appreciate the small taste of their complexity that you’ve gotten to read. (There’s also so much diversity among the characters in many aspects, which makes me quite happy!) Blue is also such a believable, lovely main character: she’s quirky and she’s smart, and she’s also confused and afraid. Her strife, her determination, her self-guessing, and subtle humour all resonated with me in so many ways.

This novel tackles a lot of heavier subjects: running away, religion, drug abuse, and homelessness, but ties it all together deftly with words that leave you reeling in their lyrical boldness. Devil and the Bluebird is also very much centred around music; music has played a large part in Blue’s life and shows up in the story very often. Even the way this book itself is written and just the overall feel of it felt rather like music to me. It’s the book equivalent of a good acoustic folk-rock song, sung with a rich, bold voice and deft fingers picking at a guitar, the kind you’d listen to while watching trees whiz by on an empty freeway at sunset… I’m not sure what else to say besides “This book was gorgeous.”

In other words: With the passion found in David Arnold’s Mosquitoland, a uniquely haunting voice, and just the perfect amount of magical realism, this Devil and the Bluebird is a novel that will have you thinking about it for days after you read the last page. It’s a story of loss, of grief, of anger. But mostly, it’s a story of hope.

❤ Yasimone

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Book Review (ARC) || The Sun is Also a Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Publishing Company: Delacorte Press

Release Year: (ARC) To be published November 1, 2016

Genre(s): YA, realistic fiction

(Shout out to the Barnes and Noble B-Fest, where I won this ARC!)


My Synopsis

Natasha lives in New York City. Her family is Jamaican. She is cynical and practical. And she’s got a problem–her family is twelve hours away from being deported back to Jamaica. A place she remembers through fuzzy childhood memories. To be clear: She definitely doesn’t believe in fate, but it will take nothing short of a miracle for her to find  a way to stay in America, where she belongs.

Daniel lives in New York City too. His family is Korean. He is poetic and sentimental. He’s also got a problem–he has to apply to Yale and be the Good Son™ his parents want and become a doctor. But that’s not at all what he wants. To be clear: He definitely does believes in fate, and it is not in his to follow his parents’ dreams for him.

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Did I mention I’m a sucker for pretty covers?

Now, under any other circumstances, they never would have met. If Natasha hadn’t been listening to music while walking away from the immigration services building and almost gotten run over, and if Daniel hadn’t skipped his college interview and been there to save her, their paths would never have crossed. But it’s funny how life works. What ensues is a journey across New York, and over the course of one day, two teenagers that began as complete and total strangers get to know each other and share in each other’s pain and happiness. And as unlikely as it seem, they each learn from each other from their differences and unexpectedly fall in love. Love at first sight is a tricky business, however. Natasha is still about to be deported. Daniel still messes things up. Will this sudden, beautiful spark burn on or fizzle out from unfortunate futures?

My Thoughts

The Sun is Also a Star absolutely blew my mind. ❤

I’m going to organise this review bit differently because if I don’t, this post will end up being a flailing mess. 😉

Writing Style

Nicola Yoon definitely writes from her heart and it really shows! I found the writing in this book to be so touching; just like the characters, it’s ever-changing. It’s a bit of soft, poetic narration that makes you feel fluttery mixed with logical philosophy and hard facts, all penned in with descriptive chapters that shake you to the core. I absolutely loved it and there were so many quote-able moments.

Format

Okay, we need to talk about how this book was set up. This book is written in multiple point-of-views, with Natasha and Daniel as the main narrators. However, some chapters are written through the perspective of side characters that briefly enter the story, while other chapters are written like the omniscient universe’s explanation of history, of fate, of incidents. It’s kind of limitless perspective that describe backstories that all connect. It’s a different reading experience but one that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Characters + Relationships

Natasha and Daniel were amazing characters! At the end of this book I almost felt as though they were real people I knew, albeit distantly. They’re both so flawed and so real, just two teens who (rather fittingly) fall in love too fast in the fastest-paced city in the work: New York City.

I generally tend not to be the biggest fan of instalove–it mostly feels too contrived to me–but this was one of the rare instances in which I was all for it. While Natasha and Daniel only knew each other for a day, the way their relationship progressed was so natural! Their dynamic was so interesting to follow along. Natasha, guarded, realist, and strictly scientific versus Daniel, an open book who tended to romanticise everything. Reading their  character development and watching the two teach and balance each other out, especially as they got closer, was deeply satisfying.

Thematic Elements

The Sun is Also a Star explores themes like fate, logos versus pathos, multiverses, the theory that all things happen for a reason, rebelling against what other people want for you versus what you want, family issues, and even some scientific knowledge smudged in. (Not to mention the whole immigration issue that Natasha was experiencing, in which she was being deported to a home she didn’t know and the bureaucracy did nothing to help.) This wasn’t a fast, fluffy romance; it wanted you to sit down and think about these things, which I respected a ton.

Another aspect I really appreciated was the racial diversity and addressing of the trials of each group. Not only were Natasha and Daniel aware of their cultures, their families were also introduced and their histories and dreams and familial struggles told. As Yoon herself is Jamaican-American and her husband Korean-America, you could tell that a lot of love and had been put into these characters and their cultures. So so so nice to see books like this. ❤

All in all: The Sun is Also a Star made me feel all the feelings. You need to get your hands on this book once it’s out. If you’re looking for a smart, dazzling romance that will leave you reeling with an overflowing heart when you’re done, this is the one!

❤ Yasimone

(Boy, this was a long review!) (Also, I’ve noticed I’ve gotten some new followers! Welcome, you guys!)

Barnes & Noble Teen Book Festival

Hello friends!

So, let’s pretend I didn’t just disappear for two months. *laughs nervously*

I’m coming tomorrow with a full post complete with a very special book haul, but I just had a great evening at my local Barnes & Noble (shoutout to my favourite book store!) at their “B-Fest: Teen Book Festival,” which is a YA book fest that last throughout this weekend. It’s the first of its kind and I had a lot of fun only on the first night, so I would highly recommend paying a visit to a nearby B&N if you’d care to do so. There are author meetings and trivia contests and prize winning too!

Stay tuned for my book haul–which, by the way, is going to be an overview of the lovely bookish goodies I won in a trivia contest this evening–and I hope you all are having a great week!

❤ Yasimone

(who is finally back and here to stay)

Book Review || The Young Elites

Hello friends! How is your 2016 going so far? Mine has been insanely busy, which is why I haven’t been able to post as much as I would have liked to. I’ve finally been able to snatch some time to sit down and blog a bit, and hopefully I’ll be able to get some more posts up this month.

It seems that I haven’t reviewed any books in ages, so here I am with one of my absolute favourite recent reads!

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Author: Marie Lu

Publishing Company: The Penguin Group

Release Year: 2014

Genre(s): YA, Fantasy

Series: The Young Elites Series (Book One)


My Synopsis

Adelina Amouteru is a malfetto. As a child, she was ill with the blood fever that ravaged the nation of Kenettra. She was left, like all others who survived the deadly disease, with strange, otherworldly markings–shining silver hair, pale lashes, and a long scar where one of her eyes used to be. After Adelina runs away one night, away from her cruel father who never hesitates to remind her that she is an abomination and meek, naïve sister, life twists upon its head; she is imprisoned by the Inquisitors with her father’s blood on her hands, about to be executed. And then, again, the inexplicable happens. She is rescued by an organisation of malfettos called the Daggers—but they’re no ordinary malfettos. They have incredible powers that people say are either a blessing or a curse, and Adelina discovers her own too.  Enzo, who heads the Daggers, is the estranged crown prince of Kenettra, and he and the other Young Elites are determined to take back the throne from his corrupt sister. As she trains to control her power and direct it to the cause, she is approached by the head Inquisitor to join their cause. The only problem is that Adelina is caught between the Daggers and the Inquisition, which works against the malfettos. Will Adelina be caught as a traitor…and which side will catch her first? Or how long can she go on in this mess of loyalties and spilled blood?

My Thoughts

This book was fantastic! I’ve always been a fan of Marie Lu (check out her dystopian novels, the Legend trilogy), but The Young Elites really flaunts her skill. I could go on for quite a while about this book, so here are my ramblings in condensed form. 😀

First of all, the writing was just wonderful. Lu really thought out every little detail. Not only did she set up Kenettra, she  wrote in such a way that you could feel the culture of the country—the people, the region itself, the buildings in the cities, the landscapes. Besides the world-building, the novel was written lyrically and with such feeling. There were instances that I had to pause and just admire the way a particular sentence was worded. That’s when you know a book is good. 😉young elites cover.jpg

The characters are also well-written. All of them are different and incredibly real despite their powers. They have their faults but you can’t help but feel sympathetic towards them. Adelina was such a great main character because the thing is, she isn’t exactly your typical protagonist. She has a multi-faceted personality and plenty of dark moments. The relationships between the characters are complex, especially when Adelina is caught between two powerful groups and has way of looking at things in a slightly twisted mindset. The Young Elites blurs the lines between “hero” and “villain” in a beautifully deft way that will leave you wanting more.

The plot was so suspenseful and captivating that I immediately had to go and pick up the sequel, The Rose Society, when I finished it, which, by the way, is just as good. (A review will be coming soon for that as well!)

In short: The Young Elites just blew me away. Definitely check it out if you’re interested in dark high fantasy mixed in with a bit of magic! (Actually, check it out even if you aren’t.) 🙂

❤ Yasimone

Book Review || The Sword of Summer

Hi everyone! I’m finally back! 🙂

It’s been three long weeks since you all heard a peep out of me, but I’ve been insanely busy lately; so much so that I haven’t been able to properly sit down at my laptop and type up anything. :/ Sorry about that! Here’s the long-awaited review of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer. I finished it a while ago but never found the time to review it—I hope you enjoy it!


Author: Rick Riordan

Publishing Company: Disney Hyperion

Release Year: 2015

Genre(s): YA, Contemporary Fiction, Mythology

Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (Book One)

My Summary

Magnus Chase is… an unconventional teen. He’s lived on the streets of Boston after his mother was killed a few years ago. His life is certainly not normal—but even he didn’t expect to be told by his estranged uncle that he’s the son of a Norse god and fight a demon with an ancient sword he retrieves from the bottom of the Charles River. Oh, and he definitely didn’t expect to die…

And yet, it’s the furthest thing possible from the end of his adventure. After landing in an afterlife for the brave who are being trained to fight in Ragnarok, the battle of the apocalypse, Magnus realizes that everything in his life has changed. Teaming up with a teenage warrior, a fashionable dwarf, and an elf who is learning magic, Magnus must find out his family history, what to do with the ancient Sword of Summer, and how to stop the Seven Worlds—especially Midgard, the human world—from being taken over by evil forces while trying to stay alive at the same time.

My Thoughts

Rick Riordan is back at it again! (By that I mean that he is writing books that cause me to go completely fangirl-crazy over and hand my money over to bookstores without a single coherent thought.) 🙂 In all seriousness, however, this book was so good! Ugh, where to begin…?

Since I’m not sure how else to review this book without going on a long rant, I’ve organized everything into bullet points.

+ First of all: Norse mythology! It’s pretty new for me—I’m a nut for Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology but I’ve never really delved into the world of Odin, Thor, and the others. Can’t wait to learn more!image

+ When I was first starting the book, I’ll admit that I was rather scared that Magnus Chase would be a clone of Percy Jackson, personality-wise. Luckily, he’s his own person—and that definitely pleases me. 🙂 However, it does seem that the two have the same snarky, witty sense of humour. While I did quite enjoy Magnus’s amusing observations of the situations he lands in and the people he meets, it was a bit too reminiscent of the Percy Jackson novels.

+ The cast of The Sword of Summer is very diverse, and I think that’s wonderful! 🙂 You’ve got Magnus, who happened to be homeless, Blitzen, an African-American dwarf, Hearthstone, a deaf elf, Samirah Al-Abbas, a Muslim teen girl who just happens to be a warrior for the Norse gods, and a ton of great characters. It makes me happy to see minorities represented in literature.

+ The plot was compelling and exciting for the most part. The ending dragged a bit and was rather predictable, to be honest, but overall, it was an action-packed and suspenseful novel. I still found myself liking Riordan’s previous books better, but I still really enjoyed The Sword of Summer, which was a relief.

+ I loved the chapter names! Rick Riordan is hilarious. Some of them included:

“13. Phil the Potato Meets His Doom”

“20. Come to the Dark Side. We Have Pop-Tarts”

“23. I Recycle Myself”

“39. Freya is Pretty! She Has Cats!”

“48. Hearthstone Passes Out Even More than Jason Grace (Though I Have No Idea Who That Is)”

The one above is my favourite— a sneaky reference to the Heroes of Olympus series. 😉 And finally…

“53. How to Kill Giants Politely”

+ All in all, a must read for Rick Riordan fans, mythology lovers, and anyone interested in an exhilarating, well-written novel that combines the modern and ancient worlds. 🙂


Well, that’s it for today, everyone! See you soon, and happy November! (How are we almost at the end of the year?)

❤ Yasimone

Book Review || Mosquitoland

Author: David Arnold

Publishing Company: Viking (Penguin Group)

Release Year: 2015

Genre(s): YA, Contemporary Fiction

Series: N/A

My Summary

Mary Iris Malone—or Mim—is living in Mosquitoland. (Also known as the lovely state of Mississippi.) She’s going through a difficult adjustment period, living with her recently-married dad and stepmother Kathy, while her mum, Eve, is back in Ohio where Mim believes she belongs.

And did I mention how pretty the cover is? Look at that gorgeous book!
And did I mention how pretty the cover is? Look at that gorgeous book!

When her dad and Kathy are at a principal conference discussing her erratic behaviour, she happens to over hear a little something—a little something about her poor, dear mother in Cleveland battling a disease. That’s it. That’s her breaking point. She runs to her house-not-home, grabs Kathy’s “secret” coffee can of cash, and catches a Greyhound, vowing to not turn back until she reaches her mother. And so begins the journey of a lifetime. As she makes her way from Mississippi back to Ohio, she encounters so many different people: a lovely, elderly lady who she immediately befriends, a dashing young lad with whom she teams up with, a Carl, who is just as good as any Carl she’s ever met (maybe even better), and a homeless teen with Down Syndrome who she takes under her wings, to name a few. And when this winding journey is finally over, nothing is as expected, but everything is just right.

My Thoughts

Wow. Where do I even start?

Mosquitoland, told in two voices, Mim’s own point of view and letters that she writes to a relative named Iz—you’ll find out exactly who Iz is at the end of the book—is such a heartfelt, quirky, strange, laugh-out-loud-funny, un-put-down-able novel. (Notice my last adjective. XD It wasn’t a word five minutes ago, but it is now!) David Arnold brings to life so many characters, each more eccentric than the other, and somehow, he makes it work. Everything about Mosquitoland is over-the-top, and yet, everything seems so lifelike, so possible, so real. It’s a book about determination, loss, anger, friendship, fear, grief, and facing one’s self in trying to find someone else. Mim is such a great narrator—she’s witty and believable. She can be so rational sometimes, and then all of a sudden, she’s just another teen, acting on her heart and trying to navigate the crazy journey we call life. Another thing I absolutely loved was David Arnold’s style of writing. It’s so lyrical and it just captivates you so that you can’t put the book down. Can’t wait to see what’s next from him, and I couldn’t believe it was only his first book! I think that using two forms of narration was a great idea for this book; in some novels, it seems unneccesary but in Mosquitoland, it just made everything more three-dimensional. The one thing that gave me a tiny nagging feeling throughout the book was Mim’s use of “warpaint.” She draws tribal patterns on her face with her mother’s lipstick as a way of coping and giving herself strength. While her mother is part Cherokee, what Mim does isn’t exactly justified. At least Mim notes throughout the book that she know what she does may not be completely politically correct; please don’t let this discourage you from reading the novel, it’s a very minor thing. 🙂

I’ve always loved books about life-changing roadtrip, and Mosquitoland was no exception.  All in all, I found it to be a vibrant, tongue-in-cheek journey about, simply, a small girl and the big journey she takes to find home, her mother, friends, and ultimately, herself. ❤

Signing off,

Yasimone

Book blogger and Mosquitoland fan

(Oh, and happy October, you guys! Hopefully more fall-themed posts to come!)