Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

5 stars! 

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” 

^^^This is what stuck with me the most during this reread.

My brain was feeling like it was beginning to melt so I knew I needed a reread. I haven’t read Goblet since the movie came out and that film was such a dumpster fire it turned me off the book for a looonnnggg time. And Goblet used to be my favorite! So I fell in love with it again.

Do I need to rehash the plot? I don’t think so. But I will list what I loved and had somewhat forgotten about: Winky, SPEW, Rita Skeeter’s secret, and Dobby. Also reading this book with fresh eyes after reading the last book made me see a few subtle hints at what was to come.

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” 

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The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

2.5-3 stars 

“The Darkest Minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.” 

This is one of those reviews where I really don’t know what to say. Darkest Minds is a book I had my eye on since it published in 2012, I always meant to read it but never made the time. Fast forward to 6 years later and the movie is coming out so I finally made the time and…… meh.

Starting this book my rating was at a 4 stars, then midway in it was more a 3.5. Then by the end I was so disenchanted. I’m still wavering on my rating, it’s between a 2 and a 3 because I enjoyed parts of the book but not others.

I would relate this book to a teen X-men story, but that feels like an insult to the X-men universe. This is about a bunch of teens who suddenly develop powers during puberty and the world goes crazy and locks them up and murders some of them. Ruby has been in the equivalent of a work camp for 6 years before she gets the opportunity to break out and ends up with a group of teens with other abilities looking for a safe place.

My biggest issue with this book is it’s structured really poorly. The plot is all over the place and both romantic storylines felt so completely forced to me. This book has the potential to be a 5 star read, but it was about 200 pages too long in my opinion.

For the most part I enjoyed it, so if you are interested I say go ahead and read it. I’m just a lot picker than other people.

“We’ll just have to try to make better mistakes tomorrow.” 

Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

4 stars! 

“I hate this idea that boys are thinking about sex nonstop and girls are thinking about – what? Stationery and garden gnomes? No.” 

I attended Apollycon this year and had the pleasure of meeting Julie Murphy and listening to her talk on a YA panel. She had talked about Ramona Blue and after hearing what she had to say, I was intrigued and decided to check it out from my local library. Julie had said this book was her own personal screw you to the movie Chasing Amy (which I haven’t seen but have heard of).

Ramona Blue is about a very tall teenage girl with blue hair who has always known she was a lesbian. After a summer romance with a girl named Grace that doesn’t end well, she finds herself resigned to the fact that she will never leave her small town. Starting her senior year, a childhood friend Freddie moves back to her town and the two reconnect. Their friendship is effortless, until Ramona realizes she has feeling for him, that combined with issues at home throws her into an identity crisis.

“You’ve never dated any guys?’
I shrug. ‘Haven’t even kissed one.’ And then I add, ‘Well, in recent years.’
‘Then how do you know you don’t like guys?’
‘I don’t know, Freddie,’ I say, trying to hide my irritation. ‘How many boys did you kiss before you realized you were straight?” 

I really enjoyed reading this book. Sexuality is fluid, and I think this book did a good job of portraying that. I think it also covers how difficult it can be to be bisexual and all of the stigmas and judgments that come at it from both sides, straight or gay. I think Julie covered this topic really well and at no point did anything personally offend me.

Julie Murphy has a writing style I connect with very well, and I am excited to read more by her in the future!

Leah on the Offbeat

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

4 stars! 

This is the book that made me realize Becky Albertalli is a one click author for me! I had no clue this book was happening but the minute I found out I ordered the hardcover from Barnes and Noble so fast my head was spinning! I love being so excited about a new release that I drop EVERYTHING just to read that authors next book.

Leah on the Offbeat is a sequel to Simon Vs the Homosapien Agenda, except this book is about his best friend Leah. Leah is an artsy, sarcastic bisexual girl, she’s just not out to her friends yet. The majority of this book takes place at the end of senior year of high school, a major turning point for many teens. Leah’s group of friends finds itself at odds, and Leah ends up realizing she has stronger feelings for someone in the group and doesn’t know how to feel about it.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I liked Leah as a character, it was great to see this world from her perspective and the other characters too. I think many readers might not like Leah because she’s not a typical heroine, but I loved her because she wasn’t a typical heroine and was her own person, good parts and faults.

If you love banter filled and character driven young adult novels, this is the book for you!

Sky in the Deep

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

4 stars! 

“Honor above life.” 

Sky in the Deep is about Eelyn, a young Aska girl who while in battle sees her dead brother. Taking off after him, she discovers he’s been alive all this time and has joined the Riki people, her enemy. For her protection, she’s taken by her brother and hidden as a slave so no one will suspect they are related. But new danger is near and the two tribes need to see if they can work together to face the oncoming threat.

“The moon rose up over my broken home and I broke with it.” 

I think this is a really amazing debut novel from Young, it’s very compelling and I didn’t want to put it down. I found the romance to be a bit weak, which was disappointing because it could have been really great. I liked the story a lot, seeing Eelyn’s struggles which who she is and what she’s always known. Being thrown into a new environment isn’t easy and she had a lot to deal with.

I think lots of readers will love this book and with a debut like this, I am excited to see what this author will bring to us in the future!

“I was the same but I was different.” 

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Daughter of the Siren Queen

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

4.5 stars! 

It’s been so difficult lately for me to find enjoyable reads, so I put off reading this book until I was out of my book funk because I didn’t want to read it in a bad mood. So after a few good reads, this pretty thing was calling to me from my bedside table…. And I got the guts to pick it up.

Daughter of the Siren Queen picks up quickly after the end of the last book. I had no trouble falling back into this world even though it’s been a little less than a year since reading it. Levenseller is a very compelling and talented writer, I fall effortlessly into her words and her world. I also really love Alosa as a main character. I know a lot of people find her annoying, but I enjoy her confidence and cunning. It’s refreshing to see a strong female character in literature since so many heroines tend to be doormats.

I also really liked the pirate and siren aspect of the story. I’m not a huge fan of the movie franchise this is often compared to, in fact I think these books stand on their own as a pirate story. I’ve always loved siren lore, so it was fascinating for me to see Alosa explore the siren side of herself and her powers. That and I love Riden. *sigh* What an amazing love interest for Alosa. Not perfect, maybe not even perfect for her at first, but the two of them work on themselves to be ready for each other.

A very fun, exciting and adventurous duet, I highly recommend for all my YA reading friends out there.

The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

5 stars! 

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.” 

You ever read a book where you can’t stop reading into the night, then early hours in the morning, and you get to a point where it’s go big or go home and decide to lose sleep and finish the book? That was this book for me. Once I picked it up, I did not put this book back down until I was done. I DEVOURED THIS BOOK.

When Jude is seven, Madoc comes to her home and murders her parents for he is the true father of her older sister Vivi. Madoc takes Jude and her sisters to where the Fae live and assumes responsibility for their upbringing. Ten years later and Jude longs to prove herself among the fae, forever taunted and picked on because she is mortal. Jude wants to become a night for the High King and plans to compete in a tournament to prove herself.

But Jude faces an enemy every day, the youngest Prince Cardan, who has made it his mission to make Jude’s life miserable. So she does her best to defy him, and as a result she becomes entangled in the intricacies of court life.

“No matter how careful I am, eventually I’ll make another misstep. I am weak. I am fragile. I am mortal.
I hate that most of all.” 

I’ve never read Holly Black, she’s a new to me author. But after several recommendations from other readers I decided to get this one from the library and picked it up when I wasn’t sure what to read. From the first page I could tell this is a book I would love. Fae and fairies seem to be the big fad in YA right now and while I love that, there’s a lot of crap being churned out. This book isn’t like that, it’s amazing, terrifying, wonderful and heart pounding.

I loved that despite having a half fae sister the heroine of this book was an ordinary human. This so easily could have been Vivi’s book instead and while I really liked her, I think Jude was such a developed and compelling character. From the beginning I wanted to know what she would do next, how she would overcome her challenges. And while she’s not always making the best decisions or even likable, none of the characters in this book are.

This was a very fast paced and mesmerizing book. I’m already screaming for the next book and I have no clue when it’s going to be here. It’s that good.

“Most of all, I hate you because I think of you. Often. It’s disgusting, and I can’t stop.” 

Autoboyography

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

4 stars! 

“His smile ruins me.” 

This book follows Tanner, an eighteen year old bisexual Jewish kid who moves from liberal Palo Alto to the mormon town Provo, Utah when he was fifteen. His parents ask him to go back into the closet fearing the community won’t accept him. And he does, for three years. But then he meets his new TA Sebastian, the son of the local Bishop. And it doesn’t take long for him to fall completely in love.

“Love fails for a million reasons – distance, infidelity, pride, religion, money, illness. Why is this story any more worthy?
It felt like it was. It felt important. Living in this town is suffocating in so many ways.
But if a tree falls in the woods, maybe it makes no sound.
And if a boy falls for the bishop’s closeted son, maybe it makes no story.” 

This book struck close to home. I’ve been thinking a lot before writing this review because I don’t want to offend anyone with it, so let me be clear. I am a fairly liberal person, and I am not a fan of any organized religion. While I grew up in Southern California, there is a small Mormon community in my home town. I grew up with Mormon kids who I knew were gay, that almost everyone knew were gay and yet they couldn’t admit it (and I know because they later came out after high school). I remember when Prop 8 happened, one of those kids kicking a sign his own father had put on his lawn. It’s something I’ll never forget. To me, love is love, and as long as no one is hurting anyone, everything is okay. So when reading this book, a lot of this was going through my head. Now this isn’t to say I hate Mormons or organized religion, but it’s difficult for me to accept something that doesn’t promote love.

Off my pedestal now, this was an amazing love story. Knowing up front what Tanner and Sebastian face, you can predict what challenges they would face. But this book wasn’t predictable, and I was rooting for these two boys the entire time. I think this is a book that teens need and I wish we had when I was a teen. I highly recommend this book and I hope you give it a chance.

“I don’t actually care if you break my heart, Sebastian. I went into this knowing it could happen and I gave it to you anyway. But I don’t want you to break your own. You have so much space in your heart for your church, but does it have space for you?” 

One of Us is Lying

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

4 stars! 

“She’s a princess and you’re a jock,” he says. He thrusts his chin toward Bronwyn, then at Nate. “And you’re a brain. And you’re a criminal. You’re all walking teen-movie stereotypes.” 

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars…..

Yeah, I’d actually have to agree with this assessment. One of Us Is Lying is a book I was intrigued by when it came out but didn’t make the time to read. That’s why I love the Goodreads Choice Awards, because it helps me pick up books that would have been on the tbr list forever.

Anyways, this book is about a jock, popular girl, brain, and a criminal who get detention with their school’s version of gossip girl. Except by the end of detention, Simon aka gossip monger, ends up dead. Now the four students there with him are suspected of murder, and all of them have secrets no one could ever have expected.

“I guess we’re almost friends now, or as friendly as you can get when you’re not one hundred percent sure the other person isn’t framing you for murder.” 

I ended up really enjoying this one, the murdery side of teen books don’t really appeal to me, but this book was more focused on the characters and their development than the mystery plot. Some things were fairly predictable, but they were in a way that I liked it. Does that make any sense? I liked all four main characters equally, each of them had something interesting to bring to the table. One of them had to grow on me but by the end I liked them.

I think this book is perfect for teens who love shows like Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl. Perfect for the relucant readers and those who would like a murdery John Hughes movie, if one existed.

“Things’ll get worse before they get better.” 

Warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu

4.25 stars! 

“Every locked door has a key. Every problem has a solution.” 

I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would! I was attracted by the pretty cover and the recommendation from a friend, so I got this book from the library. When my copy arrived, I read the synopsis and my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt. This book sounds like a total rip off of Ready Player One. And to be honest, it really kind of is. But somehow, knowing this, I still really enjoyed this.

Warcross is about an 18 year old bounty hunter Emika, a girl close to eviction. Out of desperation she takes a risk during the Warcross games and gets caught, resulting in her getting an offer she can’t resist. Now Emika is thrown into a new world where she wants for nothing, with a hot boss too. It’s up to her to discover a new threat and to help stop it.

“Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact.” 

I thought this was a fantastic YA novel, like I said before I was surprised by how much I liked this one. I’ve only ever read The Young Elites and I couldn’t get through that book. So I didn’t really know what to expect. I think Lu did a great job with her main character Emika, she’s a spunky, hacker, bounty hunter with rainbow hair and tattoos. I mean, how cool is that? This book was also really easy to read, I fell into it and the pacing was totally on point. I found myself inching toward the book at times when I couldn’t read it, and that’s the mark of a good book.

Why not 5 stars? I felt the romance was really lackluster and underdeveloped, even the guy said himself “perhaps I’ve been too subtle” <— um, YEAH DUDE. I thought this girl just had a weird one sided fangirl crush on the main guy until he suddenly kissed her. There were also some gaps in the game world building and moments when I was confused about how things worked. I don’t think we need an extensive lesson in it, just maybe not so many conflicting statements about the game and how it worked.

Anyways if you like YA and scifi, this is the book for you! Take it from a girl who didn’t think she would enjoy it, take the leap and give it a chance! And I am so excited for the next book!!!

“Everyone has a different way of escaping the dark stillness of their mind.” 

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

5 stars 

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.” 

Can you all believe I had never read this book until now? Yeah, neither can I. Because that is CRAZY! To be fair, I put it off a lot. In a weird way that doesn’t make sense, I didn’t want to ruin Fangirl. And this book didn’t, I still love Fangirl, I just have a different kind of love for Eleanor and Park.

This book is about two outcast teens who become friends when they are forced to sit next to each other on the bus to and from school. At first, they don’t really understand each other, but as time goes by, they want to get to know each other and develop an amazing friendship, and then romance.

“What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? The math seemed impossible.” 

This is going to be a shorter review because I think everyone has already said all the things about this book. But MY HEART. This book made me wish that men like Park existed in real life, because no man could measure up to this guy. And Eleanor, I bled for that girl. I just wanted to hug her and tell her she was beautiful and that someone cared.

Anyways, if you are stupid like me and haven’t read this book, you need to correct this giant mistake asap. You won’t regret this one!

“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”
He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.”

Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

3 stars 

As always, first off I want to reiterate that a 3 stars from me does not equate to a negative review. It means I liked/enjoyed the book, but did not really like it or love it. So please, don’t tell me sorry it didn’t work out. Thank you.

Eliza and Her Monsters is a book I was excited about when it came in my owlcrate. After sitting on the bookshelf for too long I finally picked it up. The beginning of this book started out so strong for me, and middle to end it fizzled.

This book is about a teen named Eliza who writes an online graphic novel that has become hugely popular, like millions of readers popular. Only her family knows she writes it, along with 2 trusted online friends. When a new boy at school reveals he is a popular fanfiction writer of her story, Eliza is blown away but still keeps her identity as the author a secret.

“You found me in a constellation.” 

As I said I enjoyed the beginning of this book a lot, it gave me some definite Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell vibes initially. But then something happened with the pacing/plot and it became a battle to try and work my way through this book. Not only did it slow down, the characters made actions and statements that I felt didn’t make sense and didn’t connect to the story. There were a few times where I made WTF noises out loud while reading this book.

I think teens who love fandoms and that whole community will identify and love this book. It’s also one for teens who feel like they are social outcasts. Ultimately I felt the book really could have been stronger and more developed through the entire story instead of just tidbits.

“There is a small monster in my brain that controls my doubt.
The doubt itself is a stupid thing, without sense or feeling, blind and straining at the end of a long chain. The monster though, is smart. It’s always watching, and when I am cmpletely sure of myself, it unchains the doubt and lets it run wild. even when I know it’s coming, I can’t stop it.” 

Illuminae

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

4.5 stars! 

“You have me. Until every last star in the galaxy dies.

You have me.” 

An unconventionally told story that was just so amazing!!! Illuminae is a book that has been sitting on my shelves since it came out, one I kept meaning to read but never made the time. I loved it! But I am still a bit glad I waited because I was able to run to my nearest Barnes and Noble and purchased the second book ASAP!

Told via chats, IM’s, security logs, reports and more, this is the story of two teens Kady and Ezra, who on the day they break up their colony gets invaded. Thrown together and trying to survive, when escaping their planet they end up on two different space ships. Everything seems fine, until the original attackers begin to pursue the fleeing three ships.

On top of that, Kady and Ezra begin to suspect something is wrong due to strange happenings on both of their ships. A race against time begins as Kady and Ezra attempt to save the remaining survivors on the ships from a looming larger threat.

“She is catalyst.
She is chaos.
I can see why he loves her.” 

As I kind of mentioned before, the formatting of this book is everything. You would think a story told in chats and reports would be dry and dull, but that was just not the case. Twenty pages in and I was already laughing so hard and knew I would love this book. Ezra I fell in love with purely on his personality, he brought so many light moments that the book needed without him being a goof.

Being a science fiction novel, this can easily by read by people who don’t love the genre. Yes, it takes place in space and on spaceships, but it felt more contemporary than I would have expected. So if you are on the fence because of the genre, I would recommend overlooking that and trying it anyways.

There’s more I really want to discuss, but cannot do so without SPOILERS, and as you all should know by now, I don’t give away or discuss spoilers. But I will say there was one big unexpected twist that to be completely honest, I really should have seen coming. It was a good one though. And there were aspects of the book that reminded me of Firefly (the show), but more specifically something in it, not as a whole.

Anyways, this is one of the few teen books I’ve read and LOVED in a while. I think everyone should give this book a chance, and I will for sure being reading more from these two authors in the future.

“You deserve every star in the galaxy laid out at your feet and a thousand diamonds in your hair. You deserve someone who’ll run with you as far and as fast as you want to. Holding your hand, not holding you back.” 

If There’s No Tomorrow

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout

5 stars!!! 

“I should’ve listened to that little voice in my head and that feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I hadn’t. If I had, today would’ve been different. Tomorrow would be like all the better yesterdays.” 

Gosh I love JLA books, she never fails to pull me out of a book rut and brighten my day!

Lena Wise is about to start her senior year of high school, and her biggest concerns are getting into her college of choice and having a crush on her best friend Sebastian, the boy next door. But very quickly, something changes her life, a choice. The wrong choice. Now Lena’s entire life has changed leaving her in turmoil and completely turned around.

Lena’s friends try to be supportive, but more and more she pushes them away, including Sebastian. But Lena falls deeper and deeper into a spiral of guilt, and she needs to find the strength within herself to move on from what happened.

“Actions and inactions have consequences. If we did not accept responsibility or blame for them, then we’d be at risk of repeating those actions.” 

It’s no secret that Jennifer Armentrout is one of my top favorite authors, I can open 99% of her books and fall in love with them in a couple of words or pages. If There’s No Tomorrow follows in the same vein, I was completely sucked in by JLA’s writing and Lena’s story from the very beginning and stayed up late into the night to keep reading. She also writes the best male love interests that make you swoon and want to date the good guy.

The themes most present in this book are consequences and forgiveness. I won’t say exactly what happens with Lena as it’s a spoiler, but what happened to her could happen to anyone, teen or adult. My heart bled for this girl, and all of the other people in the world who had been through what she had. It may be a story we’ve heard before, but I think it’s one that merits repeating.

A beautiful story, and one that will stay with you for a long time. If There’s No Tomorrow is a book worth driving to the bookstore to buy on release day!

“You do deserve happiness and a future and everything you’ve ever wanted. That one night is not going to define your whole life.” 

ARC provided by the author. All quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

4.5 stars!! 

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.” 

This was my favorite book as a child, in fact I devoured the entire quintet throughout my tween awkward years. I remembered I had loved the book, but aside from a few random details, I found I barely remembered what happened. In fact, I read it so long ago, this was my copy:

Okay, so I’m not THAT old, my mom just bought a lot of books from the local used book store. I read too fast for her to keep up with me, normally it was just library books growing up. Anyways, I digress.

A Wrinkle in Time is about a young girl named Meg, she’s very awkward, has many faults (according to herself) and feels like an outcast. The only people she really finds a comfort with are her scientist mother, and her odd brother Charles Wallace. Meg’s father had also gone missing about two years ago, and while the town suspects he ran off with another woman, Meg and her family know this not to be true.

On a stormy evening, Meg and Charles Wallace receive a visitor, the peculiar Mrs. Whatsit. From there, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with a boy named Calvin, get whisked away in a journey to rescue their father. But they must travel through time and space to do so, and face a terrifying darkness to get him back.

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.” 

First off, I have to say, with the few exceptions this book really stands the test of time. It’s not dated at all, and except for the mention of a typewriter, this book could take place during any decade. It’s so rare to read a book written in the 1960’s that’s like that, so a solid kudos to the author.

One thing I’ve always loved about the story is Meg, and the idea that she’s not a perfect heroine, and that’s what makes her the hero of the story. It portrays that even though we have faults, sometimes our faults can be our advantage, and that fitting in with everyone else isn’t always the best thing for a society. I love that we have an “ordinary” heroine, who is expected to do extraordinary things, even though she’s not the smartest of the bunch.

It’s a bit obvious, being when this book is written, there are some subtext about the dangers of communism. The evil IT and how it makes everyone and everything the same, or else. I think with this subtext, it also portrays how important it is to be an individual and to make up one’s own mind. In a way, this book is very relevant even present day. To fight against what’s wrong and not succumb to forces who want their definition of perfection.

Once I was able to put my mind to it, I was able to devour this book in a matter of hours. It’s a very fast read and one I believe all ages can and will enjoy.

“Like and equal are not the same thing at all.”