Symptoms of Being Human – Jeff Garvin | 3.5 Stars | SST Review

Book | Symptoms of Being Human

Genre(s)| Young Adult / Contemporary / Realistic Fiction

Date of Publication| February 2nd, 2016

My Rating | 3.5 Stars

Cover:

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Review:

Book(s) – Symptoms of Being Human

Feels– For the problems the LGBTQ+ community goes through.

Tears – None

-I received a free e-ARC of this book from Edelweiss but this did not affect the review in any way-

Hey guys,

Back in October, I had requested Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin as my first ARC from Edelweiss, and amazingly, they approved my request. I read the book early in Feb, right around the time it released (goddamn exams for screwing with my schedules) and now this review is a part of the Sunday Street Team for Symptoms of Being Human.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, and a cause to believe in— or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

This is a very good, diverse, representative novel. In fact, this is one of the first 2016 reads that has made me think over things I had assumed to be fact and understand that there are several layers to every person.

SOBH is told through Riley’s perspective – Riley is a high school student and a genderfluid blogger. Riley hasn’t come out to her parents yet, or to anyone other than her therapist. A secret blog is started as a means of expression, which is a huge hit among the LGBTQ+ community. As a character, Riley is fairly complex and kept me interested in the life affairs throughout the novel.

Positives:

The novel deals with and brings to the forefront a very good representation of genderfluidity. While I’d heard of the term before, this was the first novel I picked up with an LGBTQ+ character as a protagonist, which is also a bildungsroman of sorts. I really enjoyed learning about the several types of gender identities, the way people choose to express their identities and the sheer number of sacrifices they have to make to feel at home with who they are. I have a much better understanding of genderfluidity and how it shapes an individual, much like my own gender identity.

The book is written every well – the words have been carefully chosen and beautifully constructed into sentences. There were some meaningful sentences I really thought over. One important factor of the book is how Garvin does not use any pronouns in the novel for Riley. Even as I write this review, I’m struggling not to use ‘she’ for Riley because of something that caught my attention in the novel, which means writing a full length novel without any gender pronouns, from the protagonist or from outsiders is quite an impressive feat.

Where the writing is concerned, this book is pretty damn good. It manages to convey the emotions Riley feels, the conflict between acceptance and rejection and there are some pretty neat scenes in the book that will open your eyes to the reality of the intolerant world that we live in.

Negatives:

While there are several positives, the book also contains several flaws. The non-use of pronouns, for instance, is definitely impressive, it is also confusing. I did not know which pronoun to employ for Riley and I can’t keep writing the name over and over again, which is very cumbersome to say the least. The use and the dictation of proper pronouns, of ones Riley wanted to be used with respect to (can’t use a pronoun see?) Riley’s identity should’ve been mentioned.

Riley as a character was simply too hard for me to connect to – that was another major problem I faced while reading the novel. I kept wondering why Riley didn’t come out to the parents, because they honestly seemed like nice people to me. And I get that it takes time for people to adjust to the idea, because hell, it took me a while to get a hang of the concept. I found Riley to simply make mountains out of molehills?

I can’t go into deeper detail, because that may giveaway crucial spoilers, but in my opinion, simply being honest with her parents earlier would have done the trick. It would’ve taken time, sure, but every big change does. Genderfluidity is a relatively new concept and it does take time to understand.

Controversially, I also think Riley invited trouble sometimes. I don’t know how to explain this, because this is a deeply personal opinion, but I think Riley behaved like a spoilt brat a lot of time and did judge everyone around as being bigots & as people who won’t ever understand –they weren’t even given the chance.

As for the blog, it was informative as hell, which also made it a bit of an info-dump. As I said earlier, I wanted to read about Riley, to see the character develop – only what I got was a blog that told me exactly how I should view genderfluditiy which I found very hypocritical. I was being asked to accept something without question, and when someone did dare to ask a question, they were given a public sarcastic smack down. To be honest, I had that question myself.

Conclusion:

Symptoms of Being Human is a very diverse novel, with bold characters like Bec & Solo, and occasionally Riley too. It educates you about genderfluidity. It is a brilliant representation of the LGBTQ+ community and how badly they can be treated in the society that we live in. If you are into books that kinda shake your world around (but in a good way) and expose you to things you haven’t thought of before, then this is book for you. But if you dislike obstinate characters, then may be try it out before you go all the way.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

 

 

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Love-A-Thon: Questionnaire | Get To Know Me

2016 Love-a-Thon

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Dates: February 20, 12AM EST – February 22, 12AM EST

Hosted by: Alexa (Alexa Loves Books), Cee (The Novel Hermit), Hazel (Stay Bookish) & Mel (The Daily Prophecy)

 

Love-A-Thon Questionnaire & My Answers

Hey guys, I’m participating in the Love-A-Thon happening from today (February 20th) to Monday (February 22nd). And this is the first in a series of posts and mini-challenges I’ll be doing. So grab something to eat, and read my asnwers to all of the below questions. Feel free to sign up at the above links (StayBookish.net) and spread the love!

1. What’s your name?

Nia Carnelio.

Profile

This is me, IRL.

2. Where in the world are you blogging from?

Mumbai, (Popularly also known as Bombay) India. (The place where Coldplay shot Hymn For The Weekend.)

3. How did you get into blogging in the first place?

I started blogging in 2013, I have a personal blog named Freedom and Inspiration and I decided to chronicle my 2015 Summer with a separate Summer Blog and later, that was converted into my Book Blog which is where you are now. Blogging started as a way to express myself, my thoughts and to work on my writing skills.

4. How did you come up with your blog name?

It took me a while to come up with Books, Feels and Tears. I tried NiaCarnelioReads but I was told and then realized it too, it’s too immature. A distant yet commonplace blog name would be better than something people wouldn’t remember or be able to pronounce.

5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?

I finally accepted my undeniable love for Young Adult books and stopped shaming myself for reading them and not the classics and that is what I primarily read and review on BFT. But I also read and review NA.

6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?

My book blog exists solely for bookish posts – favorite books, reviews, that kind of stuff. I have my personal blog (mentioned above) for all of my life stories and ramblings. I should really learn to post more here, huh?

7. Best blogging experience so far?

Oh, it’s hard to pick one. I think the wonderful Twitter chats and the blog hops people do thanks to which they end up on my blog is such a wonderful feeling. Other than that, it’s probably the time I won twenty books from Young Adult Scavenger Hunt – that was the time I started thinking about book blogging seriously and also the first time I’d heard about ARCs.

8. Favorite thing about the blogging community?

The kinship – everyone is such good friends with each other that sometimes it’s hard to weave your way in, but if the effort is made, it is so worth it. There’s so much positivity to counter any negativity and so much love that it makes you feel like part of something really amazing.

9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2016!

  • The Goal by Elle Kennedy
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
  • Beyond The Red by Ava Jae
  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

10. Name the 5 books you want to read this 2016 that you didn’t get to in previous years!

  • Vicious by V.E Schwab
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

11. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

The Mates, Dates series by Cathy Hopkins. I know this is more middle-grade than YA, but this taught me so much in my preteen years. Oh, and Animorphs too. This series introduced me to Sci-Fi and I’ve fallen in love with it. I’m rereading the entire series this year, it’s the twentieth anniversary!

12. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

Very cliché, but Hermione Granger. Although, I’m not as mental about scoring marks or high grades. But yeah, the love for reading would definitely draw us to becoming best friends. I think my sarcasm would complement her neuroticism fairly well. And she’d keep my procrastinating ass in line.

13. Which book boy or girl would be your book boyfriend/girlfriend?

James Potter. I know he belongs to Lily Evans-Potter, heck, they’re my OTP but James is also my one true love. Or I wouldn’t mind Garrett Graham from The Deal or Tarver Merendsen from These Broken Stars either.

14. Who would you recruit for your apocalypse squad (5 characters max).

  • Hermione Granger
  • Deadpool (Are non-bookish characters allowed?)
  • Kady Grant (from Illuminae)
  • Tarver Merendsen
  • Lily Potter (which means James isn’t too far behind, and therefore neither is Sirius. ALL HAIL THE MARAUDERS.)

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15. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?

Blogging & tweeting are things I enjoy immensely. Other than that, watching YouTubers such as Dan & Phil, iiSuperwomanii, Tyler Oakely, fangirling too much, crying over my dead OTPs and surfing Tumblr are things I love doing.

16. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?

Nothing – I suck at shopping. Shopping for clothes is my worst enemy, I pick up the most useless stuff. But I do enjoy shopping for fandom merch – t-shirts, badges, buttons, those sort of things.

17. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?

It changes every day. Right now it would be the Deadpool Rap.

“Sexy Motherfucker.”

18. Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.

  • Book to film: Illuminae
  • Show to Book: Supernatural

19. What would your dream library look like?

belle

Forget the fairytale, all I want is the library.

Ceiling to floor shelves filled with books, fandom merch everywhere – from Harry Potter to Supernatural to Doctor Who among many others. And maybe James and Lily & the Marauders sitting and having some tea on the several fluffy cushions from Society6 that I somehow had the money to buy.

20. Author you want to meet and sit down to tea with?

J.K. Rowling.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about me. Hope you’re having fun, and do participate in the Love-A-Thon!

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

HELLO? – Liza Wiemer | SALE

Hey guys,

I know, I know, I’ve kinda been absent after my fiery Red Queen review but I’m all done with assignments and stuff to do, so I’m back! And I bring great news with me. If you’ve been around the blogosphere, then you probably know, but in the event that you didn’t (HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK?) HELLO? by Liza Wiemer has been on SALE since 13-02 (02-13, for all you Americans).

Today, i.e. the fifteenth, is the last day you can buy HELLO? for 0.99 cents. Even I know that’s bloody cheap and you should get your hands on it right now.

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LINKS TO GET HELLO?

Still on the fence? Allow me to persuade you:

BLURB:

One HELLO can change a life. One HELLO can save a life.

Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma’s death.
Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.
Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.
Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.
Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.

Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens’ stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.

Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian).

I mean, come on. This sounds totally up your alley if you’re into Contemporary and/or YA fiction and I really do think you should give this a try. And for 0.99 cents, it’s worth it, I’d say.

Add it on Goodreads, get it on Amazon – it’s a deal you don’t want to pass up. After all, Valentine’s Day is over and you need something feel-good to cuddle with or something to read as you munch on those lovely goodies you got / bought. Read it alone, read it to your partner, read it aloud – you and I both know you want to. So go get it right now!

And here’s a giveaway to make it worth your while for buying the book:

A Rafflecopter Giveaway.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

RED QUEEN – VICTORIA AVEYARD | 1 STAR

Book | Red Queen

Genre(s)| Young Adult / Fantasy

Date of Publication| February 10th, 2015

My Rating | 1 STAR [Only because Goodreads won’t let me give it zero stars.]

Cover:

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REVIEW:

Book(s) – Red Queen

Feels– Murderous Ones.

Tears – Of Annoyance and Rage.

I don’t know how to start this review. I’m just so very pissed about this book, and it’s been a month. I think a little bit of context will help:

I won some money from a contest and decided to buy Red Queen as one of the books I wanted to get with that money. I paid around seven dollars for this book – which isn’t much if you live in the US and are used to spending dollars but when it comes to dollar to rupee conversion (68 bucks, give or take), I’d ended up spending around 475 bucks on this book. AND my friend told me she bought a copy of it two days after my book had shipped. Which means I could’ve just borrowed it from her, now couldn’t I?

Sigh.

The book had me interested in it since March last year, having just gotten started with tweeting and book blogging and what not. And the HYPE, dear god, everywhere I saw people were praising this book to the high heavens and demanding for a sequel and RQ was winning awards left, right and centre at pretty much anything.

Here’s the blurb if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t read it yet:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart  . . .

So, let’s begin.

First of all, this book is a rip-off. Of every YA Fantasy book that ever used divisions in society ever. I got some very strong Grisha Trilogy and Hunger Games vibes from this one.

A girl, suddenly discovers she has X powers and is taken to the palace to learn stuff and then quietly rebels and joins an underground rebel group. Sounds familiar? – The Grisha Trilogy in a nutshell. And already this doesn’t bode well because I found those books just average. And Mare – protagonist of Red Queen and the biggest complain box I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading about. She is so vapid, so lifeless and so whiny she puts Paris Hilton, Kanye West and Donald Trump to shame. I did not connect with her whatsoever, in fact many times I wanted to give her a nice whack and shut her up.

And let’s talk about the love quadrilateral. One girl, three boys: a prince, a villain, and a best friend. Again, a rip-off of the Grisha Trilogy. I’m not saying that’s the original, but the entire book is pretty damn similar. Amazingly, even with so many characters, not one of them could redeem the novel.

SPOILERS beyond this point:

So we have Maven – the nice prince turned villain – except I could see that twist coming from a mile away. Seriously, the way Mare kept saying “Trust no-one, blah blah blah…” you’d have to be pretty damn stupid to not realize what was happening. Quite possibly, Maven might be the only one who has any semblance of character in this entire novel.

END of SPOILERS:

There is an obnoxiously large amount of info-dump in the first few pages of the novel itself. And then it continues, in the worst way possible. Also, literally every character in the novel is from TGT. Even Baghra, the ‘stern old woman’ has a place here with another stern old woman instructor, who doesn’t have any of her good sense or likeability.

The book hasn’t only ripped off TGT, but also The Hunger Games and I think, though I can’t be sure, The Selection (I’ve not read this series, but going by blurb, it does sound similar). There are arenas for matches of power display which are a way for the government (King) to maintain control over the Red Population. Aside from the very offensive allusion to the White-Black Slavery, this book also picks up the very Cinderella trope of showing off before the Prince to be his bride (except the prince wants the poor, commoner). Even the final scene, the fight in the area is reminiscent of the Hunger Games with elemental powers.

In other aspects the book bombed – the writing. I found it choppy and very annoying. It seemed as though the writer thought all of her readers were supremely dumb and needed to be told multiple times throughout the book about things so they’d understand and remember. Talk about condescending. And there’s also the wonderful way the book was written – drab and boring until the last few chapters where literally everything turns into a shitstorm.

FUN STUFF:

So, recently Nicola from Queen of The Bookshelves tweeted that there was a mention of a ‘red-purple bruise’ on one of the Silver characters. PURPLE & RED bruise on a Silver character. Has that sunk in yet? And then she also tweeted a picture of a question someone had asked the author on Goodreads:

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Yeah. You see?

So when I mentioned this to a friend, she said, yeah, especially since she has to bleed once a month anyway.

Yep. I missed all of these, probably because of the fury I was feeling because of this book. This book is an absolute travesty. I’m officially labelling it as the worst book I’ve ever read, and I’ve read some absolute nonsense in the name of books. Also, the world -building isn’t anything good either. I couldn’t understand half the stuff happening because I couldn’t picture it and it just got real messy, real fast. Apparently it’s supposed to be old Greece? With electricity? I didn’t get that AT ALL. Of course, that might be because the world building and the fantasy aspect is pretty low on my fury radar.

In my humble opinion, the hype lies. This book is a fucking disaster and I don’t know how on earth there are four of this series coming out. Who let the first one out, I don’t know. And it certainly isn’t anything great – heck, it isn’t even average.

Here’s what I said immediately after finishing the book and I still stand by it:

I dunno how and why people like this. This book literally picks up the best bits of popular dystopian & fantasy novels and butchers them. The writing is choppy and coupled with the info-dump at the start of the novel, this really has no saving grace.

I will not recommend this to anyone. Dear god, what a travesty. Pick up something else, there are loads of better written and well plotted books out there that don’t use the same trope and destroy it so callously.

I know I’m definitely not picking up Glass Sword ever. And thankfully, from the reviews I’ve been seeing around the blogosphere that one isn’t good either.

-end of my rage rant-

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

COVER REVEAL | RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL – DAHLIA

Hey guys,

Hope you’re excited as heck, because I have the first look aka COVER REVEAL for Dahlia Adler’s Right of First Refusal happening in this post! *squeals*

Having read Just Visiting by her, I am completely in love with her writing and I cannot wait for this one. I’m not making you wait any longer, here’s the blurb:

SYNOPSIS:

On the lacrosse field, Cait Johanssen gets what she wants. Off the field is another story. Because what she wants is the school’s hot new basketball student-coach, Lawrence Mason, who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart in sports camp two years earlier.

But it’s Cait’s new roommate who’s got him.

Cait and Mase agree it’s best to keep their past a secret, but she doesn’t expect him to completely ignore their history…or how much it’ll hurt when he does. So when a friend on the basketball team asks her to pose as his girlfriend for a night, Cait can’t turn down the opportunity for distraction. (Okay, and a little spite.) But what starts as an evening of fun turns into a fake relationship with more lies than the usually drama-free Cait can handle, and it’s only keeping her from the one truth that’s nagged at her for years: Why did Mase cut her out of his life to begin with?

And is it really too late to get him back?

*

Doesn’t that sound amazing? Well, here’s the gorgeous cover to go with that blurb:

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Um, hello beauty – amirite?

Here are all the links for you to pre-order this baby as soon as you can:

Preorder links:

Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

For all your Goodreads purposes:  Goodreads

(Expected publication: March 15th, 2016)

About The Author:
DahliaAdlerPhoto_creditMaggieHall
Dahlia Adler is an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a blogger for B&N Teen Blog by night, and writes Contemporary YA and NA at every spare moment in between. She’s the author of the Daylight Falls duology, Just Visiting, and the Radleigh University series, as well as over five billion tweets as @MissDahlELama. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves.
 Cover Photo & Author Photo provided by Maggie Hall.
*
 I can tell you from personal experience that @MissDahlELama’s tweets are funny and they are almost always a rec, which is bloody amazing.
Until next time,
Nia Carnelio.

My 2016 Reading Challenges & TBR

Hey guys,

This is just a short post before college resumes tomorrow and consumes me, detailing all the challenges I’m taking part in this year.

That’s a lot of challenges, and even though I’ve signed up for them I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to adhere to them very strictly. I’m a huge mood reader and with college and assignments and all that jazz, it’s already going to be hard enough to keep track of my TBR. I’ve got my bookshelf all organized and now it’s easier to pick up books that I bought and read before I go out and buy some more. I won’t be posting any specific book lists for any of the challenges, but I’ll probably update them in my journal and on Twitter.

Some of the books / series I aim to finish this year include ones like Cinder, Throne of Glass, the standalones I received / bought all through last year including authors like Neil Gaiman and also finish series like The Raven Cycle (is it April yet?).

Other than that, in January I’ll be participating in the TBRTakedown hosted by Shannon from Leaning Lights.

The books I’ll be reading for the challenge that begins on the 4th and continues till the 10th of January are:

Most Recent Haul: Red Queen (Also a buddy-read with a lot of peeps through Sarah’s Rock My TBR.)

Outside my comfort zone: The Space between Us (Also a University Read that I should’ve finished in the holiday.)

First of a series + FIRE Colours: Cinder

Book on my TBR: The Great Gatsby (Another Uni read. I really should’ve read these in December.)

Sequel: The Visitor (More on this below.)

In addition to all this, I’m also going to be reading the entire Animorphs series over the course of the year. I just really want to read this series in completion. While growing up as a pre-teen, I devoured as many books I could find –but never the entire series. So now that I have managed to locate the book, I’m going all out. These were one of the series that I loved and fell in love with and I think these books might be why I adore Science Fiction even if some of it goes above my head. So in the best tribute, I’m reading all the books. There are about 54 and they’re relatively small so it won’t be a lot of trouble.

Here’s hoping I accomplish if not all, then most of these reading goals. May 2016 be a year filled with books and reading and knowledge of the best kind.

belle

Forget the fairytale, all I want is the library.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

BEST BOOKS OF 2015

Hey guys,

This is going to be a really quick post since I should be completing some very important chores. I’m dropping by to post of my best reads of 2015. Last year, i.e. 2014, I barely read eighteen books and that’s counting the stuff I had to read for my college literature exams and prep. This year, I set the books to be read goal at 50 but then increased it to 65 to have a healthy competition with Salonie who blogs at Whoa! (It’s only healthy now that I’ve won it).

So, in no particular order here are the best reads of 2015 (if I’ve reviewed them, I’ll add a link to the review so you can check them out).

  • Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This book has changed my life. And I’m not even exaggerating. For some reason, after reading an ARC of this book I finally realized that I like YA more than I’ve ever like classic literature. Simon’s story was fresh and I really did love it.

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

WHAT A BOOK. This one simply blew my mind. Everyone should read this. EVERYONE.

  • Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

The amazing end to The Infernal Devices trilogy and my favourite Cassandra Clare book. I don’t even remember the events of The Mortal Instruments anymore.

  • These Broken Stars (& Their Fractured Light) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

My first foray into YA Science Fiction and I loved this trilogy. TBS will always be my favourite book, but TFL did a bloody good job too. But nobody beats Tarver.

  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Finished this a couple days ago and I’m still overwhelmed with all the Sean-Puck-Horses feels. And I’ve never even ridden a horse.

  • The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Favourite Romance New Adult of the year. I must’ve read this one several times over the years.

  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Listen, any Maggie Stiefvater book is simply perfection. Period.

  • Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

A wonderfully diverse read with a beautiful, lyrical prose and a set of characters I adored.

  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Another mental health awareness book I read and enjoyed this year. We need more of these.

  • Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

JV is one of those books, that kinda stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page and you still can’t fathom how a book can make you feel such things.

Honorable mentions:

The Mistake (Elle Kennedy), The Duff (Kody Keplinger), Everything Everything (Nicola Yoon), Clockwork Prince (Cassandra Clare) and Made You Up (Francesca Zappia).

See you guys in 2016.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

 

THE GRISHA TRILOGY -Leigh Bardugo | 3.6 Stars

Series | The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Genre(s) | Fantasy / Young Adult / Romance

My Rating | 3.6 Stars (Average)

Covers:

Review:

Series– The Grisha Trilogy

Feels– ALL THE NIKOLAI FEELS

Tears – None

So, this series is probably one of the highest rated and loved series on the YA Book Blogging Community sphere. There are few, very few people who dislike this book. Unfortunately, I am one of them. I read this entire series with Rhea, from Rhea’s Neon Journal and if you search through #GrishaBuddyReads15 on Twitter, you can see our progress and our updates.

This series just wasn’t anything great for me. I mean, I read it and I did enjoy it to some extent. The world building was all cool and so was the setting, but there wasn’t so much fantasy and action as I’d been promised. I rooted for the person who ended up in peril while the one I didn’t like pretty much sailed through life.

Alina started off as very promising character, with a fierce personality but then she kinda fizzled. She needed A LOT of help from everyone around her and she was so very naïve and she depended so heavily on Mal that I was ready to hammer her head to the wall by the third book. Mal, oh my god, I haven’t seen such a Gary Stu character since Annabeth from PJO and HoO who was one of my first Mary Sue characters. He was really nice, too bloody nice when they were in the middle of a war. Self-righteous to boot, he even had a chance to redeem his playboy self in the novels and I did not like that one bit.

The Darkling wasn’t much of a villain, in fact I felt more rage towards the King, although that might have been for what he did to Genya. It’s was the quintessential Voldemort-Umbridge thing. Nikolai and his quips were the saving grace of the novels and I adored him. He brought humour and potential to the novels as did Baghra. I enjoyed the parts of the novel that involved them and actually looked forward to reading them.

Other than that, the novels were really flat. Not much in the course of action and I drew several comparisons to other novels as I read and of course, these weren’t favourable at all. Here’s my book by book mini-review:

Book | Shadow and Bone

Date of Publication| June 5th, 2012

My Rating | 4 STARS

Mini-Review:

Okay, I really did enjoy the book. It went through really quickly for some reason. Also, I think I was expecting a bit too much after hearing so many amazing things or maybe fantasy just isn’t my thing? I didn’t love it as much as I expected to.

But yeah, I did really like it. Alina is a spunky heroine and The Darkling makes for a sexy yet dangerous villain. Which is the best kind, of course. And Mal (I kept pronouncing his name is Maal, which in colloquial Hindi slang means someone very attractive or something very good). Mal as a nice character, but I kind of rooted for the Darkling until he turned full villain and then Mal had a chance to redeem his fuckboi ass.

All in all this was super fun to read and I’m hoping the next one makes me feel more stuff. Yeah. #GrishaBuddyReads15 with Rhea.

[This was literally what my thoughts were as soon as I’d finished the book and they’re still the same, except I’m considering lowering the rating. The book started out fine, the series actually had promise until the second book kinda destroyed it.]

Book | Siege and Storm

Date of Publication| June 4th, 2013

My Rating | 3.5 STARS

Mini-Review:

3.5 stars and a C. To be honest, I got very real House of Night and The Hunger Games vibes from this book. Also, not much happened. The entire middle section of the novel bored me. Sigh, I really did expect more.

I’m really losing respect for everyone except Nikolai who was probably my shining star in the entire novel. I’ll probably read the last book but I am so underwhelmed right now and it’s not cool.

Book | Ruin and Rising

Date of Publication| June 17th, 2014

My Rating | 3.5 STARS

Mini-Review:

3.5 stars and a C.

This book is just one large road trip of sorts. I kinda enjoyed it but the ending was so very convenient for me. So one could be killed and brought back but not the other? The ending remained me of The Shiva Trilogy’s Oath of the Vayuputras where literally everyone survives which is also similar to Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.

The best characters were killed for no reason while the ones I despised survived. Ugh. Though I liked the plot twist, it did come very late. I’d have preferred more action to all this talking and planning business.

I will be picking up the Six of Crows duology but I don’t really have high expectations anymore. I did enjoy Alina’s story but I wouldn’t have minded if she had a bit more spine. What wouldn’t I do to have someone like Zoya or even Genya as the protagonists.

All in all, the novel and the entire series is fairly average and to be honest, I dunno what all the hype is about. I may not have completed the series if I weren’t buddy reading it with Rhea.

So yeah, in short this supposedly above-average series was really underwhelming and bland for my taste. I would’ve preferred a lot more action for a series that talks about a war-torn country and more spunk from a heroine who shouldn’t have to rely on everyone for her powers.

I expected a bit too much and this failed to deliver in all aspects, but what irked me the most was the happy ending. When you literally bring someone back to have a happy ending, when it should’ve been otherwise, that is where I draw the line. I just don’t buy the happy ending in a war torn country with so many sacrifices to boot trope. I just don’t.

Maybe you’ll enjoy the series if you have lower expectations or love fantasy regardless of the action.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

BINGE READS #1 – THE GRISHA TRILOGY

Hey guys,

You know how sometimes, out of the blue, you realise that you haven’t read a certain book(s), and that your life can pretty much be described as a teensy bit of a failure because of that reason? You might to up Stairway To Heaven and be Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, but you’ll be sent straight down the Highway To Hell because you haven’t read a particular series of books.

Yeah. That.

And so my dear friend/ buddy person Rhea from Rhea’s Neon Journal and I decided that it was time we read The Grisha series, since everyone but us seems to have read, loved and flailed over it already. And of course, we’d like to read it before we start reading Six Of Crows! We’re going to attempt to close the year with these books, and a Mini Buddy Read seemed like the best way to go. I’ll have a series review up as soon as we’re done.

Also, I pretty much copied this from Rhea’s post and I promise to have more of my posts coming soon. Life kinda came in the way and I sincerely apologize for that. I promise, that in the New Year (and even before that) you’ll be see me writing and shizz much more frequently.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.

Find us on Twitter: | Nia | Rhea | and on Goodreads: | Nia | Rhea |

Just Visiting – Dahlia Adler | 5 Stars

Book | Just Visiting

Genre(s)|Young Adult / Contemporary

Date of Publication| November 17th, 2015

My Rating | 5 STARS

Cover:

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REVIEW:

Book(s) – Just Visiting

Feels– ALL THE BEST FRIENDSHIP FEELS.

Tears – None (Was a blissfully happy book!)

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author but this did not affect the review in any way.

Hey guys,

Apologies in advance for all the squealing and fangirling you might read in this review. Because Just Visiting is not just a good book, it is a great book. And for me it holds a special importance because I finally saw my culture and my people represented as something other than comedic relief sidekicks, nerds or weirdoes. Here’s the short synopsis of the book I took from Goodreads:

Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn’t go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won’t stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective… only to learn she’s set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they’ve sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don’t know about each other’s pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they’ll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.

So, this book. Wow.

When I started it, I thought the description about the characters and the girls’ lives and stuff was unneeded and we could’ve just jumped directly into the plot and moved forward. But I soon realized that there wasn’t any direct plot. There are two distinct types of books, I’ve come to realize: Plot & Character. This one was a Characters book.

This book explored the extensive character development of Victoria Reyes, our Mexican protagonist and best friend to Raegan Forrester, poor white girl and other protagonist and best friend to aforementioned Victoria – both of whom want to get out of Charytan, their small town. The book takes a look at the smaller journeys in life, the literal ones that shape one’s lives. Rae and Vic visit colleges, it’s their senior year and they’ve got to make hard choices and do what their heart tells them to do.

Now, here’s all the squealing and fangirling. Rae and Vic were perfectly believable as seventeen year old teenage girls and that was my favourite bit of the entire book. One of my problems is when writers portray us as calm, cool, politely-speaking people because to be honest, I’m the completely opposite. And I connected on so many levels with the two MCs, who also threw in the occasional jab at the stereotypes and the ‘normal’ way of life propagated and built by the society we live in.

“The Sun Also Rises? Spoiler alert: it’s more of Papa Reyes’s favourite genre – White Man Lit.” – Raegan, Just Visiting.

“No one ever calls the guy slutty.” – Victoria, Just Visiting.

The book is unafraid and touches upon several key issues such as poverty, education and some others I don’t want to mention as they’ll give away key plot points. But it does it very well and not in a preachy or info-dump kinda way.

Now, the Indian stuff I’m so excited about.

MUCH EXCITE

MUCH EXCITE

This book, as I mentioned, has a vast array of diverse characters but being an Indian fangirl in Mumbai, what I adored was the fact that the hero, the ‘hot’ male character wasn’t a white jock / popular kid but a nerdy American-Indian guy who was visiting colleges checking out pre-med courses. [Indian guy, had to be pre-med or engineering, you can’t stray too far from the masses.]

Devarajan Shah, or Dev as he goes by in the book is such a cutie. And very gorgeous too. I loved the fact that the book did not make fun of his interest in comic books; in fact it was his USP! From nerdy t-shirts, to him mentioning Indian food* which had me drooling when I was reading it at night, I loved every aspect of Dev. He wasn’t flawless, and that was pretty darn cool. He made mistakes and then made the effort to fix them.

There were two guys I mashed and thought of as Dev in my head. The one in the red is Ranbir Kapooor, the one in the purple is Imran Khan.

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Both are Bollywood actors and very good-looking and I imagine a mixture between the two to be Dev. Hope these pictures help you picture the brilliant being that “Dev fucking Shah” is. [I made an effort to search for pictures where they’re wearing kinda nerdy t-shirts and look like eighteen year olds, so please appreciate, thanks.]

“How do you feel about khandvi and samosas?” – Dev, Just Visiting.

*For the record, samosas are amazing and I love them. If any of you ever come to Mumbai, feel free to drop by and have some. I can’t cook for nuts but I’ll buy you some delicious ones. I thought it might go the conventional Gujju way and offer Dhoklas and Theplas, but I like the touch of diversity and culture here too.

I also loved Victoria’s interests – fashion, where I’m from, unless you’re really good, it’s not a good choice to pursue but I did relate immensely to the part where she has to make choices – to do what she wants, what her family thinks, her friend, what society thinks etc.

The book is very positive: from the stand on slut-shaming, to the diversity being brought out to the forefront, it is a wonderful book. And I think you should give it a go. If only to meet Dev. Yeah, it’s the first time I’ve seen an Indian book boyfriend and you’re gonna be hearing about it – a lot. I was so happy, and a Gujju too, one who eats the spicy food I do, watches and reads similar stuff, was probably brought up with the same values and knows the same things I do about my country.

Thank you, Dahlia Adler for creating Dev. Someone said it, we need diverse books so people like me (POC and LGBTQ+) can see ourselves represented in books. It is so important.

Five stars for this book, and a B, because I’m still under a hangover.

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.