Carve the Mark
Favorite Quote: “There was a hunger inside me, and there always had been. That hunger was stronger than pain, stronger than horror. It gnawed even after everything else inside me had given up. It was not hope; it did not soar; it slithered, clawed, and dragged, and it would not let me stop.
And when I finally named it, I found it was something very simple: the desire to live.”
In a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.
Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.
Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost.
Then Akos is thrust into Cyra's world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?
Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth's stunning portrayal of the power of friendship—and love—in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.
My Review Spoilers:
This is one of my favorite books of all time! I cannot recommend it enough. Before I get into the review, I will say I have seen some other comments on the book that weren’t exactly positive. First, that it has a race element, but personally, I never saw it until I read the other comments. I think Veronica Roth was just trying to differentiate between the two countries on the planet. And I don’t even remember her ever describing skin tone. (I will say, I am white so I may have just not of noticed anything.) Secondly (and this one I’m not sure on either), I saw comments that there should have been a trigger warning for self harm. In the culture of one of the countries, it is tradition that for every person you kill, you Carve the Mark (title of book, but you cut a line on your skin and dye the scar to make it stand out) out of respect. Let me know what you think.
Alright, now onto my actual review.
I will say it was slightly slow at the beginning, but it was important to help build the world and define the characters. I enjoyed the completely different dynamics of the two main characters. They seemed to be opposites in almost every way. They’re from two different world (metaphorically because they’re from the same planet, but are two different people/countries). This is one of the reasons I really liked the back and forth POVs with the two main characters. The romance is the definition of a slow burn and I am living for it! The anticipation was killing me and was the best part. Eager to see how it continues in the next book.
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Girls of Paper and Fire
Trigger Warning: Rape
Favorite Quote: “They can take and break and steal all they want, but there is one thing they have no control over. Our emotions. Our feelings. Our thoughts. None of them will ever be able to control the way we feel. Our minds and hearts are our own. That is our power, Nine. Never forget it.”
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most demeaning. This year, there's a ninth. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.
In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it's Lei they're after -- the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king's interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king's consort. There, she does the unthinkable -- she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world's entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.
My Review (Without Spoilers):
I did really, really enjoy this book. First off, I loved the whole premise of the novel. I didn’t even realize how fantasy it was until I started reading it, but it was incredible! I loved the world the author created and the time she obviously put into all the details. I think she created something very unique. As I was reading, I kept getting really suspicious... is she going to fall in love with a woman? I reread the summary several times to make sure I didn’t already know this. So it is unexpectedly gay! (Not a bad thing at all. It was very natural and flowed nicely.) It is also very dark, which again, based on the summary, I wasn’t necessarily expecting. Trigger warning: Rape.
My Review ***With Spoilers***:
The couple problems I had were minor. I had a feeling that something was missing, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it is.
The main character did a lot of back and forth, which although realistic with her in a very difficult position, but it could get somewhat annoying at times. She went from weak to strong, brave to scared, and vice versa a lot.
Lastly, I thought the romance was a bit rushed. I understand the book is supposed to take place over 6 months but I feel like the relationship goes literally 0-100 in like a chapter. Although there was obviously an underlying attraction between the two, it just went so quick from one kiss to hot and heavy to being in love. Maybe that’s just me, I am very partial to a good, long slow burn.
Favorite Quote: “You have to take things as they are, not how you hear they're supposed to be.”
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”
Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.
True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.
Great read. I liked the story, I love a good boarding school setting, and as someone with anxiety, I could definitely relate to the main character. We have the original mystery from the 1930s to solve and a new mystery occurs. I also love a good observant and deductive main character and we get to see inside her mind. I love her friends, Nate and Janelle. They’re both so relatable in their own ways, and they’re both good friends. David is annoying, but not to the point of total hatred... yet. I don’t have high hopes for his character as we continue on with the series. He has serious daddy issues and he knows it.
My biggest complaint is there are a lot of questions not answered at the end of the novel. I know it’s a series but still could have fully answered some questions instead of only introducing new ones. Then again, it did suck me in and I will be continuing on in the series.
Stalking Jack the Ripper
Favorite Quote: “Wield your assets like a blade, Cousin. No man has invented a corset for our brains. Let them think they rule the world. It’s a queen who sits on that throne. Never forget that.”
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
My Review - No Spoilers:
I liked the book. My biggest complaint would be the writing style (which a part of me liked, so obviously not that big of a complaint.) The book almost read like any other YA book, which did help hold my focus, but I think I would have liked it to read more like a book about the early 1900s. Other than the description of the fashion, I found myself forgetting that the book took place around 100 years ago. It confused my brain.
I will also say the beginning is a bit slow, but once it catches your interest, it’s hard to put down.
Also although her cousin wasn’t in the story much, she was my favorite. She knew what it meant to be a woman in their time period and she knew how to play the system.
My Review ***SPOILERS AHEAD***
I love a good whodunit but I like a bit more clues as to who it was. It kind of came out of left field who the killer was. The only reason I suspected him was because he was a part of the story and a man.
Also the main character drove me crazy with her determination that it was her father. Instead of letting the clues fall into place, she was looking at the evidence in a way to point to her father even though the evidence was very generic and could have pointed to anyone.
Oh, they saw a tall man? My father is a tall man. Oh, there was a carriage? My father has a carriage. That was really bugging me.
I’m not sure how I feel about the Frankenstein twist. I think I would have found it more interesting and believable if the killer just killed and mutilated because he wanted to kill and mutilate. It seems to me, the only real reason for the Frankenstein twist is to explain why the killings stopped.
I know a little about Jack the Ripper and I know they had no idea who he was and no idea why he stopped. When I think of him, I think of a guy who was just evil; plain and simple.
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Friend: “The book you recommended was just about two people who hated each other at first slowly fall in love!”
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Books to #ReadWithPride
🏳️🌈 Happy Pride Month, everyone! 🏳️🌈
Seeing our identities and the world around us reflected in the books we read is vitally important. This Pride Month and all year long, we’re excited to spotlight some incredible LGBTQIA+ stories and creators.
Check out some YA books to dive into and #ReadwithPride!
You Should See Me in a Crown
A joyful book about a queer Black girl who runs for Prom Queen to win a college scholarship…but then finds herself falling in love with one of the other girls in the competition. Start reading here!
Here the Whole Time
A body-positive YA love story between two boys who must spend 15 days living with each other over school break. Start reading here!
Two teens. One bridge. Four ways their story could end. A powerful novel about mental health, identity, and how our choices shape the world around us. Start reading here!
The Ghosts We Keep
After their brother is killed, Liam faces the world without the person they loved the most. Their brother’s best friend is the only one who knows what they’re going through…for better or worse. Start reading here!
Zara Hossain is Here
Zara’s family has waited years for their visas to be finalized, but now that dream is in jeopardy. Zara seeks justice to stay with her girlfriend and in the only home she’s ever known. Start reading here!
Follow Your Arrow
When bi influencer CeCe breaks up with her famous girlfriend and starts dating a boy who is very much NOT online, she’ll find out what it means to speak her truth. Start reading here!
Girl from the Sea
After Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface. Start reading here!
Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. A sweet coming-of-age story that explores friendship, love, and coming out. Start reading here!
Where We Go From Here
A story about three boys whose lives will become intertwined in a story of HIV, friendship, love, and self-acceptance. Start reading here!
Technically, You Started It
A hilarious, snarky, and utterly addicting book that explores friendship, sexual orientation, mental health, and falling in love (even if things might be falling apart around you). Start reading here!
The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali
When Rukhsana’s conservative Muslim parents catch her with her girlfriend, Rukhsana’s carefully planned future begins to collapse around her. Start reading here!
I Wish You All the Best
After Ben comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’ll move in with their estranged older sister and find friendship, love, and acceptance along the way. Start reading here!
The Music of What Happens
Over the course of one summer, two boys will have to face their biggest fears and decide what they’re willing to risk – to get the thing they want the most. Start reading here!
Openly Straight & Honestly Ben
This heartfelt series follows two boys, Ben and Rafe, who struggle to find who they really are in the midst of falling for one another. Start reading here!
Lie to Me
A pulse-pounding novel about love, betrayal, and a serial killer that features a bisexual protagonist. Start reading here!
A riveting story of ambition, music, and innocence lost - and a deep relationship between two girls who could be something more on their quest for stardom. Start reading here!
Tarnished Are the Stars
The Lunar Chronicles meets Rook in this queer #OwnVoices science-fantasy novel that features asexual, bisexual, and lesbian characters working together to put an end to a deadly epidemic. Start reading here!
The Witch Boy
In Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches and the girls are raised to be shapeshifters. But Aster is fascinated by witchery–can he find the courage to save his family and be truly himself? Start reading here!
King and the Dragonflies
A story about loss, grief, and finding the courage to discover one’s identity. Start reading here!
I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain
A powerful novel about navigating death and navigating life, at a time when the only map you have is the one you can draw for yourself. Start reading here!
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due to personal reasons I will need to own a library filled with, at least, all of the books and it will have a secret door that leads to even more books. please respect my wishes at this time
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Favorite Quote: “The past doesn't have to define you Leora. Your mistakes don't have to be for ever. There's redemption. There's always redemption.”
From the second you're born, every achievement, every failing, every significant moment are all immortalized on your skin. There are honorable marks that let people know you're trustworthy. And shameful tattoos that announce you as a traitor.
After her father dies, Leora finds solace in the fact that his skin tells a wonderful story. That is, until she glimpses a mark on the back of his neck...the symbol of the worst crime a person can commit in Saintstone. Leora knows it has to be a mistake, but before she can do anything about it, the horrifying secret gets out, jeopardizing her father's legacy...and Leora's life.
In her startlingly prescient debut, Alice Broadway shines a light on the dangerous lengths we go to make our world feel orderly--even when the truth refuses to stay within the lines. This rich, lyrical fantasy with echoes of Orwell is unlike anything you've ever read, a tale guaranteed to get under your skin...
I was drawn in by the world that this author created. I have always had a fascination with tattoos and have a couple myself. Unfortunately, this book fell flat.
I felt like it was a little too slow. I was finding out things at page 200 that could’ve been found out earlier so there was time to actually dig in and find out more. The first 250 pages are slow, lots of background. Then it made the last 100 pages go way too fast. Sh*t just hit the fan real quick.
Also the main character’s attitude kind of does a 180° around that point. She searches for answers to questions she’s had for a long time, but as soon as she finds it, and it’s not what she wanted to hear, she’s a brat about it.
It was just anticlimactic as well. I will consider reading the second book based on the world created and the hope that it picks up quicker than the first.
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Favorite Quote: “But after a while, searching for the answers felt like grasping around in the dark. At some point, you have to choose to live in the light.”
There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.
First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.
That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.
There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.
My Review (No Spoilers):
I found this to be a pretty good YA mystery. There were twists and turns, and I do enjoy a little amateur sleuthing. I will say I would have liked the end twist to be a little more complex, but the secondary twist was a good addition and really made me enjoy the book. It was good enough that you couldn’t really see it coming, but it was also totally plausible. Honestly, this twist bumped the rating up to 4 stars.
My Review *** With Spoilers***:
An issue I have is the author doesn’t totally address the sister’s suicide. We don’t get to see her mentality leading to the decision or, or see a note which I would’ve liked to really round out the story. I mean that’s a big reason why Monica is investigating the incidents to begin with but we don’t really get those answers. She had no idea her sister was depressed and on the verge of suicide, and we don’t really get the impression she was. I mean, other than the fact that 4 of her friends died recently. This is just a personal opinion.
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This Is Our Story
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won't say who fired the shot that killed their friend, Grant; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino's senior year internship at the District Attorney's Office isn't exactly glamorous-more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys' case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won't let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has personal reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she investigates with Stone-the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot-she realizes that nothing about the case-or the boys-is what it seems. Grant wasn't who she thought he was, and neither is Stone's prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all-and if Kate doesn't uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line including her own.
It was a solid YA mystery. There were twists and turns. None of the boys are completely innocent from the get-go. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone is hiding something.
The romance was good, not great. Think it went from 0 to 100 real quick. I am very partial to a slow-burn, which is hard to do with a standalone book.
Again, overall a solid, fun book that really puts your brain power to the test. Nothing was too obvious or way too out there.
Favorite Quote: “She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
This was a very unique story. There were many elements and plot points to remember that did get a bit messy at times, but overall I liked it. The rating was a 3.75 because the beginning was pretty slow and a little boring. I know you have to take time to create the world and introduce the characters, but for me, it was hard to get into. It took the main characters a long time to get to Caraval and none of that part really seemed all that important.
Also in the beginning the main character Scarlett annoyed me immensely. They tell her the rules of the game twice and she questions it. She makes it evident that she has always wanted to be a part of the game, always dreamed of it, and yet she questions everything multiple times. Then another big character tells her something, but she keeps questioning him about it. Just listen! I get being hesitant, but as someone who was so eager to be included, does she have to question everything?
She definitely gets better as the book goes on, but I kept shaking my book out of frustration towards the beginning.
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