The Hate U Give

Starr Carter lives a double life. On one hand, she attends the prestigious Williamson school and is one of only a handful of black students at the almost exclusively white school. She is on the basketball team and – secretly – has a white boyfriend. On the other hand, Starr was born, raised, and still lives in Garden Heights, a mostly black neighborhood that has to deal with gangs and their violence.  She tries to keep her lives as separate as possible.


At a party during spring break, Starr is reunited with Khalil, a childhood friend and old crush. They get to talking but when gunshots break out at the party, they leave with haste. On the way home, their car is stopped by a police officer. Starr urges Khalil to cooperate, which he does grudgingly but events unfold quickly and soon Khalil is shot dead by the cop – and his gun is quickly turned to Starr.

As the sole witness to the events of Khalil’s shooting, Starr has to deal with some PTSD along with the emerging misconceptions and stereotypes her peers at Williamson respond to the shooting with. She will soon learn who her friends really are as she confronts issues she initially brushed aside.

The Hate U Give has been one of those books that everyone has talked about from day one. Some might think it to be overhyped, but the thing about THUG is it is REAL. The way Angie Thomas writes the story makes the reader realize that it can happen anywhere to anyone; it has happened and it can continue to happen. THUG is not just a story, it is real life and you feel that as you read.

No matter who you are, you empathize with Starr. I acknowledge that I grew up somewhat privileged, but I am not black (I am a person of color, however). I also have had to confront stereotypes and misconceptions, but I know it has never been as bad off as others. Even so, I felt for Starr; I cried with her, smiled with her, raged with her. This book gave me insight into a world I did not know, admittedly did not understand, and now I’ve come away a better person.

Angie Thomas did an amazing job in her debut novel. I’m not a huge fan of contemporary novels but I absolutely loved THUG and I cannot wait to read what she’s writing up next.

My rating: 5/5

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A Crown of Wishes

Vikram is the prince of Ujijain. Problem is, he isn’t blood related to the king; adopted into the royal family, Vikram is royalty in all ways but name. The council have yet to approve of his claim to the throne even though Vikram has completed each task they set before him. But his chance comes in the form of an invitation to the Tournament of Wishes. However, Vikram cannot enter alone but must choose a partner. Who will he choose?


Gauri is the beloved princess of Bharata, but ever since she tried to raise a coup against her brother she has been cast out. Now a prisoner of Ujijain, she is to be executed publicly as a statement. She is saved in the form of Vikram’s invitation to join him in the Tournament of Wishes. But first they have to find their way into another, more mystical world, full of strange dangers and magic. But Gauri doesn’t believe in magic, not since magic stole her sister Maya from her.The pair must reconcile their differences and work together to win the Tournament of Wishes. But to do so they will need to overcome demon fruit, their own fears, desires, a serpent king, and sirens who want to steal their souls. If they win, Vikram can finally claim his right to the throne and Gauri can overthrow her brother. But there are prices to be paid…are they willing to pay them? And will they come out the same as they went into the tournament?

A Crown of Wishes is both a sequel and a separate story from Roshani Chokshi’s previous novel, The Star-Touched Queen. While there are references and mentions that relate to it’s predecessor, A Crown of Wishes is it’s own story, but still rich in the magic and details of Chokshi’s previous work. The prose remains as poetic as ever, but the story is different enough to make the reader believe it is altogether a different tale.

The only thing that truly bothered me about the novel was the switching of perspectives. I believe I’ve mentioned before my dislike of first person told stories. While each chapter switches perspective between characters, Gauri’s chapters are told in first person while Vikram’s are in third. I cannot reason why this is the case, but I personally found it detracts from the story; I would much rather it be all first or all third. Other than that, it is still a lovely story and I recommend it for those that loved The Star-Touched Queen.

My rating: 4/5

Wonder Woman Movie Novelization

Diana is a daughter of the island paradise of Themyscira. She is the princess being the daughter of the island’s queen, Hippolyta. Diana spends her young days in peace, being tutored in the history of her people. But all she wants is to join her fellow Amazon sisters in their combat training under the watchful eye of her aunt, General Antiope. And she would but her mother forbids her training, stating it is unnecessary in their time of peace.


General Antiope disagrees with her sister and queen and begins training Diana in secret. Soon, however, they are discovered; Hippolyta grudgingly allows Antiope to train Diana in preparation for the return of Ares – though she hopes that day never comes.Before long, Diana becomes the strongest amongst the Amazons. It is also at this time that the spy Steve Trevor somehow makes his way to Themyscira (no easy feat considering the island is hidden) and informs the Amazons of the Great War that is occurring in the world. Diana believes it is the Amazons’ duty to fight in the war, a war that she believes is the work of Ares. Hippolyta refuses to engage her Amazons in combat and soon Diana is disobeying her queen and mother, leaving Themyscira alone to aid Steve.

But the outside world isn’t the same as Themyscira. Diana will soon discover that women are not equal to men, and that the war’s end may not be as easy as she thinks.

Like many people, I loved the Wonder Woman movie. As of late, I also enjoy reading the novel version that often accompanies the book. Oftentimes the novel goes into a bit more detail than the movie, and it often allows you into the mind of the characters; you learn what they are thinking when they don’t vocalize it on screen. This novel was quite short – clocking in at just over 200 pages – and I would have liked it to be longer and go into a bit more detail. But overall it is a nice companion novel, I think.

My rating: 3.5/5

The Castle in the Mist

Tess isn’t too fond of the English countryside. She and her brother Max are spending the summer with their aunt while their parents take some time to themselves (their mother is ill and recovering, but Tess doesn’t let on that she knows). The days are a bit monotonous, especially with the lack of technology and internet, but Tess and Max try to make the most of it.

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One day, angry with Max over a game, Tess ventures out into the back yard and beyond; she finds herself at a mysterious gate set into a fence and a rusted key at opens the lock. Once the gate is open, the scene is different and Tess meets a mysterious boy named William. He invites Tess to lunch and they spending the afternoon playing. Tess enjoys William’s company and the day, but is warned not to approach the hawthorne trees.

At her next outing, Tess brings along Max, and the two become fast friends with William. One night, William invites Tess and Max to dinner. There, they were entertained with a mysterious carnival that runs on wishes and hopes. But then, something mysterious happens and Max is taken by the hawthornes. Though warned against it, Tess goes after him…and her life is changed.

The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron is a spellbinding middle-grade adventure novel. It is short (for an adult) but rich with the imaginative world Ephron dreams up. But is it a dream? Or is it real? It’s difficult to say, even with the twist at the end. But it’s a fabulous read all the same. I find myself begin drawn to middle-grade novels as I advance through my library studies and The Castle in the Mist is a story I would not hesitate to recommend to my future patrons.

My rating: 3.5/5

A Court of Wings and Ruin

Here we are, at the end of another series.

Or is it?


It’s been a few weeks since Feyre returned to the Spring Court, pretending to have broken through Rhysand’s influence and back to Tamlin. She has spent her time playing the obedient yet traumatized lady in an effort to get into both Tamlin and Hybern’s good graces. She attempts to gather as much information as possible to send to the Night Court about what the King of Hybern is planning while simultaneously dismantling the Spring Court from the inside.Plans, even the best laid ones, don’t always go right and Feyre soon finds herself journeying back north and to her family – only this time with an unexpected ally in tow. Feyre, once reunited with her family, combines her information with that Rhys and the others have gathered to find Hybern’s true plan: to take over the human lands.

It becomes a race to gather as many allies as possible, which is difficult to do considering the Night Court’s reputation in Prythian. Will all of the High Lords side with the Night Court against Hybern? Or will they side with the Spring Court instead? Even if the High Lords rally together, their numbers might not be enough. Perhaps they will have the strength to defeat Hybern if they can find the missing human queen and convince her to side with them – along with the entire race of fae that disappeared after the last war. Even then, Hybern has the Cauldron; unless Feyre’s sisters can master their own mysterious gifts, but would that even be enough?

I really enjoyed A Court of Wings and Ruin. Being the concluding volume of this particular story, there were a lot of characters introduced. If you were waiting to finally meet all of the other High Lords, this is the book for you. A lot of action goes on, but I felt unsatisfied with some of the story. There were times I felt certain scenes dragged a bit or were truncated before their time. I think this is largely due to the huge cast and it being difficult to devote enough time to each group without having a book become too large (I wouldn’t have minded an extra 200 pages to flesh out certain scenes, but that’s just me).

I really can’t say much about this book without spoiling any of it. I will say that Azriel has always been a favorite, but he definitely outpaced everyone. He gets more screen time in this volume. I’ve also really grown to love Nesta and the complexity of her character.

I’m sad that this particular story in Prythian has ended. But Sarah has promised 3 more volumes so I’m eager to see what she has planned next.

My rating: 4.5/5

Siege and Storm

The second of the Grisha series, Siege and Storm continues the story of Alina Starkov, the Grisha known as the Sun Summoner. She and Mal Osterev have gotten away from the Darkling and made their way Noyvi Zem to restart their lives, although Alina is constantly looking over her shoulder. After all, she still wears the amplifier from Morozova and there is no news of the Darkling’s death.


Soon, the Darkling catches up with them and he has a new, terrifying power. Weakened from non-use of her powers, Alina and Mal are soon captured and on their way back across the sea. Before they return to Ravka, the Darkling commands Mal to track the legendary Sea Whip, a creature of Morozova’s making that may be another powerful amplifier – but for whom? To aid in the tracking, the Darkling has employed the privateer Sturmhond. Much to his surprise, the privateer betrays the Darkling and steals Alina, Mal, and the sea whip from the Grisha.

Eventually Alina returns to Ravka and, through a series of events, is given command of the remaining Grisha in the Second Army. Together with the royal family they prepare to face the Darkling while attempting to rebuild Ravka. At the same time, Alina discovers the presence of a possible third of Morozova’s amplifiers and is determined to find it before the Darkling does. While commanding an army of magic users is no walk in the park, Alina does her best to bring the different factions together.But the more Alina leads the Second Army, the more she finds herself changing and a rift forming between her and Mal. Is she changing for the better…or the worst? And will it help her against the Darkling as his terrifying new power?

I felt lukewarm regarding Shadow and Bone. I absolutely adore Leigh Bardugo’s work, but Shadow and Bone didn’t stick with me. However, Siege and Storm was a delight – and I think that was mostly because I really liked Sturmhond’s character. Not only that, I feel like the story has really progressed; Shadow and Bone introduced the story and characters, but Siege and Storm really took off. I can’t wait to see what Ruin and Rising has in store.

My rating: 4/5

Uprooted

Uprooted is a book I’ve wanted to read for a while. I had heard so many good things about it but had other books I wanted to read. Since it is a stand alone, I didn’t have to worry about playing catch up with a series. Since I promised myself this year I would stop buying books and read the huge pile I was accumulating, it was time to pull this book out.


Agnieszka lives in the village of Dvernik, in a valley deep in the heart of Polyna. Her home borders the Wood, a place filled with ill magic that takes people and changes them – if they return at all. The people of Dvernik and the other villages are protected by a court magician known only as the Dragon. Every ten years, the Dragon chooses a girl of seventeen from the villages to serve him. This year, as they have for the last seventeen years, everyone thinks the girl the Dragon will choose is Kasia; Agnieszka can’t help but agree as Kasia is beautiful and good at everything. But when the Dragon arrives, he chooses Agnieszka instead.

Finding herself suddenly trapped in a tower and fulfilling the Dragon’s whim, Agnieszka’s only comfort is in the little notes left by previous girls and the library. One day, she reads a book that she can’t seem to remember once her eyes stray from the page. The Dragon bursts into her room and they both discover that Agnieszka may have a power all of her own – if only they could figure it out and harness it.All the while, the Wood is growing more bold, stealing away more people. Even stealing Kasia. Agnieszka is determined to get her best friend back, but the results lead to the capital and the royal family. Soon, Agnieszka finds herself pulled into a war between two countries and the Wood itself. Will her unknown powers be what is needed to save her people? Or will it cause the Wood to consume everything?

Uprooted is – there is no other word for it – spellbinding. Naomi Novik has woven a spectacular story full of intrigue and mystery and, above all, magic. The story is rich in Polish mythos; the characters are unique and complex. I just loved it from page one. It’s full of everything I love about fantasy stories and then some. Best of all, especially for those of you who don’t like series, it is a one-shot novel (though I think there is enough story for at least one more novel). A definite must-read and one of my top favorites for this year.

My rating: 5/5