Book Review: Tarot by Marissa Kennerson

Book: Tarot By Marissa Kennerson

Published February 2019 by Razorbill|288 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Anna was never supposed to exist. Born of a forbidden union between the Queen and the tyrannical King’s archnemesis, Anna is forced to live out her days isolated in the Tower, with only her mentors and friends the Hermit, the Fool, and the Magician to keep her company. To pass the time, Anna imagines unique worlds populated by creatives and dreamers—the exact opposite of the King’s land of fixed fates and rigid rules—and weaves them into four glorious tapestries.

But on the eve of her sixteenth birthday and her promised release from the Tower, Anna discovers her true lineage: She’s the daughter of Marco, a powerful magician, and the King is worried that his magical gifts are starting to surface in Anna. Fearing for her life, Anna flees the Tower and finds herself in Cups, a lush, tropical land full of all the adventure, free-spiritedness, and creativity she imagined while weaving.

Anna thinks she’s found paradise in this world of beachside parties, endless food and drink, and exhilarating romance. But when the fabric of Cups begins to unravel, Anna discovers that her tapestries are more than just decoration. They’re the foundation for a new world that she is destined to create—as long as the terrors from the old world don’t catch up with her first.

I am a little disappointed in Tarot.  I wanted to like it, but unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

I did like the world, but I felt like I was missing a lot.  I mean, Kennerson did draw from Tarot cards, which is cool.  I do wonder if that’s why I felt like I was missing something.  I like the idea of some of the cards as worlds, and some of the cards as characters.  I really like that idea, and it’s really unique.

I’m not really familiar with the different cards and their meanings, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s why things didn’t feel as developed as they could have.

Does it feel more developed if you’re really familiar with tarot?  If that’s the case, it is a little sad, because a lot of the world won’t feel completely developed for people like me, who don’t have a lot of familiarity with it.  I’m really hoping that’s not the case, because the book was pretty short, so it’s not like a lot of time could have been devoted to explaining the world a little more.  I like the world enough that I’m hoping it’s because of the length of the book.

I’m not sure how I feel about the characters.  They were okay, but I couldn’t begin to tell you most of their names or anything about them.  Part of it is I just don’t remember a lot of the characters, even though I know they exist.  I know there’s the Fool, the Hermit and the Magician, plus the king and Anna but I couldn’t tell you who the other characters are.

It’s interesting that Kennerson didn’t give them another name, and that they were the Fool or the Magician the whole time.  It was hard to care about them, because I felt like they were just an image from a card, and weren’t important enough to have any other names.

Anna wasn’t memorable either, which is disappointing for the main character.  Other than being locked away in a tower for her whole life before escaping to Cups, I couldn’t tell you much about her.  I’m glad she got out and was able to experience life outside a tower.  I liked seeing her experience things for the first time, but it also made me really sad for her.  Other than that, though, I didn’t really know a lot about her.

1 star.  I liked that the world and characters came from tarot cards but I wanted more from the book.

Currently Obsessed With: April 2020

Hi everyone!

So, I can’t believe it’s May already!  Time is so weird, and I can’t believe I’m recapping April already.  2020 has been the longest year ever, and even though April didn’t feel as long as March, April still felt pretty long.  April was full of familiar things, and I’ve found that I’ve wanted to revisit things I haven’t listened to or read in a while.

I barely took any pictures last month, and with being at work or at home, there hasn’t been a lot of picture-taking.  But I did get a picture of some of the tea I plan on drinking.  I got it from the Literary Tea Company, and everything I have tried has been really good, so I know they will be too!

Let’s get to the highlights from April!

Inspired By:

  • The Smoothie Project.  I’ve been drinking a lot of smoothies lately, and it’s been a really easy way for me to get some extra fruit and vegetables in.  I’ve only made the Bright Green smoothie so far, and it’s really good!  Everything looks really good, and I’m pretty excited to try some new smoothies.
  • YallStayHome.  I was really sad when YallWest got cancelled, because I was really looking forward to it.  I had a great time last year, but I watched a few of the panels that they did virtually, and it was really cool/inspiring to hear a lot of authors talk about writing and life.

Watching:

  • How To Get Away With Murder.  This was more of a rewatch of the first 5 seasons, but I was in the mood for a lot of drama…and murder.
  • October Faction.  I started watching this at the end of April so I’m not that far into it.  But I really like the couple of episodes I’ve seen, so I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about once I’ve seen more.

Reading:

  • Shatter Me.  After finishing Imagine Me, I decided I needed to read the whole series again.  It’s nice to read something familiar but also awesome.
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.  I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, and I’m taking my time with this one.  But I love the tips I’ve seen so far, and it seems like it is a great resource.
  • Jubilee.  I love the history in it!  I’ve only made the chicken and dumplings (which were amazing) but it’s equal parts cookbook and cooking history, which is cool and different.

Thinking About:

  • Joining a CSA.  Most of my grocery shopping lately has been for produce but it would be cool to support a local farm.  I’ve actually thought about it off and on for quite a while, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot more lately.

Listening To:

  • The Black Tapes.  I don’t know why but I just really wanted to listen to this podcast again.  I really like story and how it went in a completely different direction than I thought it would.
  • Welcome To Night Vale.  After listening to The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home, I immediately starting listening to Night Vale from the beginning.  I forgot how many of the really early episodes are really cool (and quote worthy).

Dreamlife:

  • The San Diego Zoo!  I’ve dreaming about going to the Zoo a lot lately, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m following a few aquariums and zoos on Twitter, or if I just really need to get out of the house.  Once things settle, and the Zoo opens up, I’m definitely going!

Researching:

  • Label Makers.  I have some things I need to label, and I just want it to look pretty and organized.
  • Body Pillows.  I’ve been sleeping good but in really weird positions, and I just need something to help out with that.
  • Weighted blankets.  I’ve had a hard time falling asleep, and I’ve heard weighted blankets can help with that.  I feel overwhelmed by the options, and I don’t know if I should go with both a body pillow and a weight blanket, or one of them.  Does anyone have a recommendation of one they really like?

Eating And Drinking:

  • Smoothies.  I’ve talked about being on a smoothie kick already, and though I love this Basic Blueberry Smoothie, it’s also time to try something different.
  • Chili.  Mostly because I’m using up stuff from my pantry that I wanted to get rid of, but chili is always good.
  • Chocolate.  I’ve been on a chocolate kick this month.  Normally, I’m not big on sweets, which is weird, because I love to bake.  But if I want chocolate, I’m going to eat it!
  • Breakfast.  I’m not usually hungry in the morning, but lately, I’ve been pretty hungry by the time I get to work.  I started keeping stuff in the freezer that I can heat up.
  • Tea!  I have quite a bit of tea, and I’m excited about some of the tea I shared above.

Grateful For:

  • Having a job.  I still feel lucky that I have a job to go to, and I’m glad I can keep a routine going.
  • Virtual YALLWEST.  Even though the in-person YALLWEST was cancelled, I’m glad a virtual one was put together.
  • Just being okay.  Oddly enough, I’ve been a lot happier than I have been in a while, and I’m glad I’m doing okay.

Good Things:

  • Getting the stimulus check.  It actually came at the perfect time, because I had to get a new car.  The reason for the new car was not great- there were a few days where it was raining pretty bad, and I hydroplaned, spun around, and proceeded to total my car.  It was terrifying, because I was driving, and the next thing I knew, I was spinning around.  I’m okay, though, and as long as I’m okay, that’s all that matters.
  • I had some time off which was great- I had a four-day weekend followed by a three-day weekend.  I had originally requested the time off for the LA Times Festival Of Books (postponed) and YALLWEST, which was cancelled, but done virtually.  It worked out really well, though, because I ended up using some of the time off to go car shopping and do other car-related stuff.
  • I’ve been cooking up a storm, and I can’t remember the last time I cooked so much!  Months, for sure.  I’ve cooked, of course, but I’ve cooked stuff to keep in the freezer.  And I’m enjoying being in the kitchen again.  For a while, I wasn’t super into cooking, and it’s nice to be interested in it again.  A lot of it has gone into the freezer to use later, but it’s nice knowing that I can pull something out of the freezer if I don’t want to make anything.

And that wraps up April!

Stay safe out there,

Book Review: Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Book: Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Published February 2020 by Balzer + Bray|560 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Dread Nation #2

Genre: YA Alternate History

The sequel to Dread Nation is a journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.

After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.

But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodermus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880’s America.

What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears – as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.

But she won’t be in it alone.

Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by – and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.

Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive – even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.

I liked Deathless Divide, but not as much as Dread Nation.

So, this book picks up where Dread Nation left off, and we follow Jane and Katherine after leaving Summerland.  Both Jane and Katherine narrate, which was a good thing, because they do get separated.  But I didn’t care for Katherine’s half of the book, and I spent her chapters wishing we could get back to Jane’s story.

I was a lot more interested in Jane’s story, and I think it’s because we follow her in the first book.  I didn’t particularly care about Katherine, or what happened to her.

The two narrators are a big reason why I didn’t love this book.  It was hard to stay interesting when I only cared about reading one of the characters.  Not only that, but I thought the first book was pretty well resolved, and I didn’t particularly care about what happened after.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I read this book, and I’m glad that I got to see what happened after the first book ended.  I just didn’t care as much as I thought I would.

I struggled to get through this book.  I was bored for a lot of it, and it was really hard to concentrate on this book.  I haven’t been in a reading mood lately, so that’s part of it.  I wanted more action, and I didn’t really get it in this book.

I really like the premise, and how zombies blend with U.S. history.  I’m glad we got to see more of the world Jane and Katherine live in, because it is one I would not want to live in.  I’m not sure if I’d read another book in this series, if there is going to be another one.  Maybe one day, but I also wouldn’t be rushing out to get it.

3 stars.  I liked Deathless Divide, but I had a hard time getting into it.

Book Review: Harley In The Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Book: Harley In The Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Published March 2020 by Simon Pulse|416 Pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The Greatest Showman meets This Is Us by way of Sarah Dessen in this heart-wrenching, hopeful contemporary novel about a multiracial teen who risks it all to follow her dreams by joining the circus, from the critically acclaimed author of Starfish.

Harley Milano has dreamed of becoming a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her heart and soul that she would be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family, and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion, and collaboration. At the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.

From award-winning author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, unforgettable examination of love, loyalty, and the hard choices we must make to find where we truly belong.

I loved Harley In The Sky!  It’s such a beautiful book, and I loved it so much I ended up buying a copy to keep on my shelf.

I really loved Harley, who has to deal with a lot.  She left her family and friends behind, and hardly talks to them.  I loved the emails from her mom, though, and I really felt for her mom.  It seemed like her mom really loved her and wanted the best for her, even though Harley didn’t see it.  I also really felt like her mom regretted some of the things she did, in terms of how she dealt with Harley.

I understood why her mom acted the way she did.  It made a lot of sense, and once I read that part of the book, everything really fell into place for her mom.  Okay, this isn’t about Harley’s mom, but what Harley wants and what her parents want for her lead Harley to leave the family circus to join another one.  She betrays her family to follow her dream of being a trapeze artist, and while I love that she wants to follow her dream, I also hate how she does it.

Things aren’t easy for her at this new circus, but I also feel like Harley learns a lot.  Not just about being a trapeze artist but who she is.  She learns some very hard lessons along the way, and the guy running Maison is a horrible, horrible person.  I really hated that guy, and I felt really bad that Harley was taken advantage of.  He is not a good guy, and even though Harley made some friends at Maison, I was also glad when she realized she wanted to go home.

I was crying by the end, and I was glad Harley was able to work things out with her parents.  Things aren’t going to be easy for them- and for Harley especially- but it seems like they’re headed to a better place.  It seems like Harley may have some mental health stuff going on as well.  It wasn’t directly mentioned, but it was hinted at, and I hope that is something she works on and gets help for.

5 stars.  I LOVED Harley In The Sky, and it was worth reading.

Book Review: Girls Of Storm And Shadow by Natasha Ngan

Book: Girls Of Storm And Shadow by Natasha Ngan

Published November 2019 by Jimmy Patterson Books|403 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Girls Of Paper And Fire #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

In this mesmerizing sequel to the New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire, Lei and Wren have escaped their oppressive lives in the Hidden Palace, but soon learn that freedom comes with a terrible cost.

Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel Demon King wasn’t the end of the plan—it’s just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei’s head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.

Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy and protect her love for Wren, or will she fall victim to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her?

I loved Girls Of Storm And Shadow!  I loved the first book when I read it, and this book didn’t disappoint!  This series is definitely worth reading, and I’m really looking forward to reading the next book.

I really liked Lei in this book.  While the first book was more of the direct aftermath of everything Lei had to deal with, this book is more about dealing with it long-term.  Lei is still dealing with everything that happened, and you really see how it affects her.

I don’t have strong feelings about Wren one way or another, though some of the things we find out towards the end of the book…I don’t know how I feel about it.  I definitely don’t see her the same way, but I can understand why she thought what she was doing was right.

The writing is absolutely beautiful!  There were quite a few times that I paused at her descriptions, and let in sink in.  I loved how she described things, and there were some things that sounded so pretty!  I also feel like there’s a lot of care with how Lei is dealing with everything.

Everything is explained and described so well, and it’s so easy to see why Lei is dealing with things the way she does.  Ngan does such a great job with making the reader care about Lei and what happens to her.  I just want Lei to be both happy and living in a world where she has her own agency, and hopefully, we’ll see that in the next book.

I’m always hesitant with sequels, because they feel like filler before we get to the last book.  This is not one of those books- there’s a lot going on, and it picks up where the first book left off.  Even though this is fantasy, there were parts of the book that felt very real, and there were things that I could totally see happening in our world.  Things were very ground in reality, and yet, I loved the world and how different but similar it is to our own world.

5 stars.  I loved Girls Of Storm And Shadow, and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Book Review: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Book: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

Published March 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books|240 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The world is not tame.

Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she’s alone – and far off trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg.

I am glad I picked up Be Not Far From Me!  I really liked Ashley’s story, and I really liked this book!

If you like survival stories, this is the book for you!  I’m amazed Ashley managed to stay alive, but if anyone could, I think it would be her.  She seemed pretty equipped to stay alive, and definitely spent enough time both hiking in the woods and being outdoors to know how to stay alive long enough to get find someone who could get her help.

I knew she’d survive- this is YA after all, but I really liked seeing how she survived, alone in the forest, with an infection creeping up her leg.  I’m pretty impressed she got out of the forest relatively okay.  She has a long road to recovery ahead of her.

The fact that she went through a lot trying to get out of there…I don’t know know that I would have been able to do what she did in order to save herself.  Her recovery isn’t going to be just a physical recovery, but an emotional/mental one as well.

The writing was beautiful and you could tell in the way Ashley thought about the forest.  It was clear she had a lot of respect for the forest and nature and the circle of life.  It was clear she understood nature does what it does, and that the world is not a tame place to live.

The great outdoors is her home away from home, but in her time trying to get back home, she does realize that home is a pretty important place to be.  She realizes a lot, because she has a lot of time to think and appreciate what she has back at home.  I’d probably feel the same way if I were her.

Ashley was pretty easy to relate to, and I thought she handled everything pretty well.  I’m not sure I would have handled it that well, but I’m also not the hiking in the woods type.  I did like that about her, though.  It seems to fit her pretty well, and I think it’s pretty cool she’s into hiking.

I also really admire that she wanted to go back and find her former camp counselor.  I’d like to think I’d go back and get him, just so his family has closure but I think it would also terrify me after going through what she went through.  Ashley is pretty awesome, and she is most definitely a survivor.

4 stars.  I really liked Be Not Far From Me, and I especially liked the moment the title made sense.  It really fits what Ashley went through to survive.

 

Book Review: The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Book: The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Published February 2020 by Bloomsbury UK|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

In this smart, heart-warming YA debut perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, two teens find love when their lives are uprooted for their parents’ involvement in a NASA mission to Mars.

Cal wants to be a journalist, and he’s already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston.

With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the “perfect American family.”

And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels–and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

I really liked The Gravity Of Us!  I was intrigued, of course, but also not sure if I would like it.  I am so glad I picked this book up!

I really liked Cal, and what I felt for him.  Especially with everything that happened with Kiera, who seemed so cool at first.  But she ended up not being as cool as I thought she would be, and what she did was pretty horrible.  And his life changed because of his dad’s desire to be an astronaut.  Who didn’t want to be an astronaut as a kid, though?

Life definitely wasn’t perfect in Houston, and not how reality t.v. made it seem.  He made fast friends with Leo and Kat, and overall, I liked seeing how the whole community came together to make the Mars mission happen.  There were a lot of ups and downs, of course, and Star Watch really took things out of context.  That wasn’t surprising at all, and it felt very realistic.  I loved how Cal stood up for Mrs. Bannon, and that overall, he wanted people to see things how they really were.  I’d definitely follow Cal, if he were a real person.

I loved that it was about keeping NASA funded and getting to Mars!  I don’t pay attention to NASA enough, but with reading this book, I felt really excited that they got to see people travel to Mars!  I can’t help but wonder if that’s what it was like when we went to the moon decades ago.

I really liked seeing that Cal’s family wasn’t perfect.  Leo’s family wasn’t perfect either, but I felt like this book really highlighted that things aren’t what they seem, and that we put people on a pedestal only to tear them down.  It was sad that this mission almost lost funding because of some things that came out about this particular mission.

Cal worked so hard to make things right, and it really made me believe in this mission and what they were trying to do.  There were so many people involved in making this happen, and I didn’t want anyone to lose their dream or their job because of some pretty terrible people.

I thought the romance was really cute, and I like Leo and Cal together.  I really hope it works out for them and that Leo figures out what he wants to do.  I’m also hoping things work for Cal, and that he gets to be the journalist he wants to be.

4 stars.  I really liked The Gravity Of Us, and I really recommend it, especially if you like cute romances or space!

Book Review: Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez

Book: Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez

Published January 2020 by Page Street Kids|384 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Woven In Moonlight #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

I liked Woven In Moonlight!  The description and the cover caught my attention, and I’m glad I read it!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like arranged marriage is starting to become a thing in YA fantasy.  Granted, characters aren’t actually getting married.  I can definitely think of a few books where characters are sent to the court of someone they’re supposed to marry.  For the most part, it’s not being demanded that they come to court to get married or their people will be destroyed.  This book is not as subtle where that is concerned.

The decoy Condesa concept was interesting.  I don’t get how Ximena’s people don’t know that she’s not the real Condesa.  Was she hidden away her whole life and no one knew what she looked like?  That was a little strange to me, but there’s nothing I could do about it.

I did like seeing how Ximena went from wanting the real Condesa on the throne to Atoc’s sister being on the throne.  The real Condesa didn’t make a big impression on me, to the point that I can’t remember her name. I do get why she felt betrayed by Ximena but I also get why Ximena acted the way she did.  Things aren’t what Ximena thought, and what she grew up knowing and experiencing as an Illustrian were completely different than Atoc’s people experienced.  Though I didn’t like Atoc, or agree with how he did things, something about how his people were treated seemed very familiar.

I liked how Ximena’s weaving came to life, and how the moonlight changed things in her pieces.  I crochet, so I definitely appreciated the work Ximena put into her craft.  I loved seeing the different animals from her tapestries on the cover, which is really beautiful.  It makes me wish I could see the tapestries in person.  The cover is partly why I picked this book up- the colors are pretty and bold but also muted.

Things felt very resolved, but it also felt like there is the possibility of a sequel.  I’d be interested to see where a sequel would go and the story it would be.  I could definitely think of a few directions it could go and I’m curious to see what life is going to be like for all of the characters.

3 stars.  I liked Woven In Moonlight, though I couldn’t begin to tell you why I didn’t love it.  Still, I can’t wait to read what Ibanez writes next!

Book Review: Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Book: Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Published January 2020 by Crown Books For Young Readers|352 pages

Where I Got: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

One girl must make a name for herself–or die trying –in this royal fantasy where an unknown peasant becomes the ultimate ruler. But how long can she keep the crown if everyone wants her dead? Perfect for fans of Furyborn, Red Queen, and Everless.

Everyone expected the king’s daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me.

It shouldn’t even be possible. I’m Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don’t even get names. Heck, dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.

But there’s no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don’t?

I thought Nameless Queen was okay.  I really wanted to like it more because I really liked the idea.  I definitely had my issues with it.

One of the things I didn’t like was how fast the book moved.  It looks like this is a stand-alone, and I felt like there was too much going on for it to be a stand-alone.  You definitely get an idea of the history and what Coin’s world is like but there’s so much that could be explored.  Like the divides between the Nameless, the Legals and the Royals.  There’s so much more that could have be described and focused on, and I really felt like we were getting the Cliff Notes version.

The book was just so short, and just when I really started to get into it, the book was over.  I really did assume it would be a series, because most fantasy series are in YA, and this book was too short for me.  I wish Nameless Queen was a little longer, just because there were things I wanted to know more about.

I am curious about Esther and why she didn’t say anything about her tattoo when her father died.  I know she knew a lot more than Coin, who didn’t get why or how she was chosen when she didn’t know her name.  And even though everything becomes clear later on in the book, it was still strange that she didn’t speak up about it.  I get why she didn’t but I still thought it was weird.

I did like Coin, but I especially liked her relationship with Hat.  I don’t know why, but it reminded me of Katniss and Rue.  I love what she represented, and how she was a voice for all of the Nameless- those on the outskirts of society, who didn’t have rights or say in things.  She was definitely aware of it too, and how much leverage she had.

I also wanted to know more about the magic in this world, and how it worked.  I could not tell you how it worked, or why it needed to be restrained.

Basically, the theme of this review is that I wanted more information than what we got.  It’s sad, because there are some really good ideas and something longer would have helped expand on those cool ideas.

2 stars.  Nameless Queen was okay and I really wanted more from it.

Book Review: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Book: The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord

Published January 2020 by Bloomsbury YA|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Start Of Me And You #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

Acclaimed author Emery Lord crafts a gorgeous story of friendship and identity, daring to ask: What happens after happily ever after?

It’s senior year, and Paige Hancock is finally living her best life. She has a fun summer job, great friends, and a super charming boyfriend who totally gets her. But senior year also means big decisions. Weighing “the rest of her life,” Paige feels her anxiety begin to pervade every decision she makes. Everything is exactly how she always wanted it to be–how can she leave it all behind next year? In her head, she knows there is so much more to experience after high school. But in her heart, is it so terrible to want everything to stay the same forever?

Emery Lord’s award-winning storytelling shines with lovable characters and heartfelt exploration of life’s most important questions.

I loved The Map From Here To There!  Her books always get me emotionally, and this book was no exception.  I’m definitely glad I read this book!

I loved seeing Paige and Max deal with things.  And they deal with a lot of things in this book.  There’s a lot of ups and downs for them, and things did not go how I expected them to.  I really hope that things are okay for them, if not now, then in the future.

Paige had so many big choices to make- it’s her senior year, and college is looming over her.  Deciding which school she wants to go to, and which degree she wants to get.  Max is a pretty big factor in her decision, and I think it’s a big reason why there are so many ups and downs for them.

It really did bring me back to my senior year, and wondering what was going to happen.  There’s a lot going on for Paige- personally, with Max, with her friends…it felt very real, and me being me, I couldn’t help but cry my heart out, especially towards the end.  I really felt for Paige, and I loved being there for every part of her journey.  I could definitely relate to the anxiety she felt, and Emery Lord did a great job at showing what Paige was thinking and how she dealt with it.

Even though this book is a sequel, you can read it without reading The Start Of Me And You.  I hadn’t re-read it prior to reading this one, and I can honestly say that you know what happened before but you can still follow the story.  It’s a great book, and I do recommend reading it first.  I think Paige will make a lot more sense and have a greater impact if you read The Start Of Me And You first.

Part of me wishes I had re-read it first but I can’t do anything about that know.  Either way, I loved this book, and it’s worth reading, especially if you like contemporary!

5 stars.  I loved this book, and I can’t wait to see what Lord writes next!