Thursday, 29 September 2016

Book Review: Dancing in the Rain by Lynn Joseph

Read: September 27-28  Verdict: 4 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

This middle-grade book is set during the events of the September 11 attacks in New York and focuses on two different families and how they deal with the effect the attacks have on their families.

Elizabeth’s father and Brandt and Jared’s mother both work in the attacks and they end up meeting together in the Dominican Republic and realising they can help each other heal their families. This book is whimsical and a bit magical in places with dreamy writing and a childlike optimism that really seems to beam from the pages. I really enjoyed it. It was avery quick read and I read it in two short sittings but I was really invested in the story and I really connected with Elizabeth and Brandt in particular and just how lovely they were. I really wanted to hug them. Brandt’s reactions to his mom and brother Jared (who appears to be slightly on the autistic spectrum possibly) was really wonderful and it made me think of all the things children can probably see and understand around them that adults can’t.

I really loved the very last scene in the book. It really came alive for me and I actually felt a bit emotional at imagining everyone together, and beginning to heal and realising there were so many things life had to offer when you’re able to look past that grief. This book is about loss, grief, companionship and support and it’s really lovely and I definitely recommend it to everyone to read.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Book Review: Something in Between by Melissa De La Cruz

Read: September 22-24  Verdict: 4.5 Stars

Jasmine De Los Santos is the All-American girl. She’s cheer captain, a shoe-in for valedictorian and a top-class student who has just won the prestigious National Scholar award but then Jasmine’s world crumbles when she finds out she is undocumented.

“I love my country. I love America. Being American is as much a part of me as breathing.”
This was a really great book and really gave me a look into the struggles and fears of being being an undocumented immigrant in the States, or indeed in any country in the world. Jasmine is perfect - almost too perfect. She is cheer captain, valedictorian, popular, beautiful, really, really clever but she definitely goes through a momentous journey of self-discovery once she finds out she’s an “illegal alien”. Jasmine’s identity crumbles and we are really with her along the way as she has to pick up piece by piece of herself and figure out who she is now.

“'I don’t even know who I am anymore.’I really don’t. I feel like a ghost in my own country. No matter what I do, I feel like I’m fading, like I’m becoming a shadow.”
I liked Jasmine’s strong roots with her Filipino background and family. A lot of her experiences with her family seem very close to what I would expect of families from different cultures. She’s encouraged to be American and strive for the American dream but she still needs to be a good Filipino girl who doesn’t go to parties and kiss boys, etc. She loves the Philippines and misses her family vacations to Manila. But that doesn’t mean she wants to live there. Jasmine is torn in a lot of way, she’s not Filipino, but suddenly she’s not American either. Who is she?

I really loved Jasmine’s relationship with Royce. I liked that it was going all sorts of ways at first because it was a text communication and it felt very real. They were just so super cute and I really enjoyed all of their best moments and when they weren’t at their best, I wanted them to make-up. I like that,because this book spans almost an entire year, we see a lot of the ups and downs of their very real relationships. They fight with each other and almost break up a few times over silly things like everyone has done with their partner but eventually they both come around, meet up and apologise They actually talked a lot of stuff out with each other all the time which was refreshing for a YA romance where we normally see things being bottled up for way too long. Their romance just seemed like the real deal to me - plus, I can totally see them being a power couple when they’re older.

“Most of all, I like how he looks into my eyes like he’s seeing past the image everyone else sees into who I really am beyond all the things that I do. And he thinks I’m beautiful.”
I do think this book got a little bit long-winded at times and there were times I wanted Jasmine to stop waffling on and get to the point of things or let me know what was going on with the stuff that was actually important to the plot of the story. This story does take place over the course of the year so a lot of stuff happens, I just don’t think Jasmine needed to describe every single thing. I also wasn’t mad for the side-plot that was Mason. It was a bit predictive and boring, and there were parts I didn’t think made that much sense about him.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I loved the story but I also enjoyed that it was a diverse book that opened my eyes into how some things around undocumented immigrants are handled in the States and how unfair some of the cases can be. i also liked the brief forays in the Filipino traditions and food, etc that Jasmine’s family indulged in.

“I’ve come to think of America as an open window - open to new possibilities, to the new life promised to those who journey from far away to reach its shores."

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Book Review: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

Read: September 7-8  Verdict: 4.5 Stars

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback. 

Ada and Corianne are living in Boston in 1919 and are extremely skilled hemopaths. Hemopathy is a form of magic where the people with the power of hemopathy can create illusions through art whether it be a wordsmith, a songsmith or an artist. The Hemopathy Protection Agency (HPA) is closing in on Ada and Corianne’s tails and they are at risk at being thrown into an asylum and losing everything and everyone they love.

I loved this - the setting, the AMAZING female friendships, the magic system. It was great. At the start of the book, I felt like as a reader i had been thrown into the quick of it and it took me a while to really gather the details of the story around me and get into it but soon it wasn’t long before I was devouring each chapter.

Ada and Corinne are amazing characters - strong in themselves, their powers, their opinions. They’ve been allowed blossom into amazing women by their protector Johnny Dervish who looks after them by running a club where hemopaths perform. The brief romances the girls have are very much in the background and the main relationship focused on in the book is the girl’s friendship which I loved.This book contains characters of colour and different sexuality and no fuss is made of either (except some of the racism Ada experiences as a black woman in 1919 America).

The story was engaging and really kept me on my toes as the girls showed more of their powers (I really loved their way of practising their illusions against each other as a game) and then as they tried to solve the mystery of the asylum’s basement. There were twists and turns, especially in the second half and it left me gasping and not knowing what would come next. 

And can I say how beautiful it is that at someone's last moments, Corianne has the power to send them anywhere in the world for their dying breath. So emotional and beautiful

I really loved the end, and I hope this isn’t the last of Ada and Corinne cause I'd love more.