Review of ‘Song of the Current’ by Sarah Tolcser

Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1)Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary provided by publisher:
Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.
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Okay, so when I first started reading this book, I couldn’t help but think of Veronica Roth‘s book Carve the Mark because of it’s constant mention of a ‘current’ that is revered for the individual gifts it bestows upon the people of CtM‘s world. So, when I hear people using the phrase ‘current carry them‘ in a religious context (after the death of a couple the MC knows), my mind couldn’t help but go back to the Roth book and its talk of the current. When I’d read other reviews for this book, no one else mentioned the similarities regarding the use of currents as a basis of power, so am I the only one who thought so after reading both books? I am? Okay, then I’ll move on…

This book didn’t quite draw me in until the MC Caro opens this mysterious box she’s been tasked with transporting from point A to point B – amidst dangers of pirates, and having to deal with some nosy family members – but that’s understandable, since action can breed more excitement and honestly, I still wasn’t too sure about this book (this book came in my Uppercasebox subscription, so who knows how soon I would have even picked up this book otherwise?), so it took the element of surprise to snare me. But once it did, I was hooked!

The story was engaging with all its action and Caro’s cleverness. But I will admit that all the boat (skiff? Not sure, shrug) terms were lost on me, and though I’d watched a video the author did for Uppercase, in which she explains the different terminology and locations of said boat (skiff? Whatever, it’s a boat from now on), I not only forgot everything, but had no idea what was going on when Caro would get into the boat stuff. A diagram or glossary would have helped tremendously for those boat-illiterate like me.

Seriously, though, I did enjoy the plot and would hate if I deterred you from reading this just because I personally was stumped by all the boat terms.

I feel like this review has been all over the place, ha ha, but I can’t forget to mention the characters before I actually finish, so I’ll start off with Caro, who was strong, smart, and very cool. Though her father isn’t able to be there to instruct her, she’s able to captain his boat, as well as deal with Tarquin, the boy who seems to tests her at every opportunity. She’s just a really interesting character, and I can’t wait to read more of her adventures!
I won’t go into Tarquin’s role, because there’s some spoilery mysteries that surround him, so I’d rather not give anything away, but I will say that he was perfect in his role, and I love him to pieces.
Minor characters abound, including Caro’s cousin KentĂ©, who brought an interesting dynamic to the boat. Oh, and could I forget Fee the frogman? If you read the book, you’ll learn more about these peoples, and the loyalty Fee brings to the story.

Well, now that I’ve rambled all over the place, I’ll conclude by saying that I really enjoyed this book and would be more than happy to recommend it!

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Review of ‘The Epic Crush of Genie Lo’ by F.C. Yee

The Epic Crush of Genie LoThe Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A super funny action-adventure that involves Chinese Folklore, centering around the very modern, teenaged Genie Lo.
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Summary provided by publisher:
The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…
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Usually, I like to start off my reviews with the things I didn’t like, but when it comes to The Epic Crush of Genie Lo…I have nothing bad to say, because I absolutely loved this book!

–The Characters–
First, let’s talk about our MC, Genie Lo. I think that Genie will go down as one of my favorite heroines ever! She initially played the role of the stereotypical Asian teen, being the model student, and model daughter. But then, with the arrival of Quentin Sun, she’s suddenly thrust into a world in which Chinese Folklore is real, and something she just happens to play a major part of. But she’s still a teenage girl. So, cynicism and snark abound in her interactions with Quentin, which really had me cracking up at times. I really loved how she does grow more comfortable in her own way as the book goes on, and though there’s no mention of a book 2 on Goodreads (as of the last time I’d checked, that is), I really look forward to more Genie!

Now, for Quentin Sun, I won’t say much when it comes to exactly who he is, because you’ll just have to read to find out. But he’s so endearing, interesting, as well as super-funny, though his funniness stems more from his having to combat Genie’s snakiness. Again, I just loved their interactions together!!

–The Plot–
What an exciting, fantastical story! I know zilch when it comes to Chinese folklore, but the things that were introduced to me in this book were definitely super interesting! Genie’s strength, and the things she has to fight against really make for an even more exciting read!

–The setting–
It seems fitting that this book would take place in San Francisco, considering it is home to the oldest Chinatown in North America, and the largest Chinese enclave outside of Asia (I took this bit of info from Wikipedia, so hopefully it’s right, ha ha!). So, being that a lot of Chinese live in these parts, it’s the perfect place for Chinese monsters, and the like, to blend in, thus, the perfect setting for this fabulous book!

I think I’ve established by now, how much I absolutely loved this book, so obviously I will gladly recommend this book!!!

Thank you to Amulet Books via Netgalley for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Mini Review of ‘The Haunting’ by Alex Bell

The HauntingThe Haunting by Alex Bell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mini Review Time!
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Summary provided by the publisher:
Some curses grow stronger with time…
People say that all Cornish inns are haunted, but the Waterwitch’s history is particularly chilling. Built from the salvaged timber of a cursed ship, the guest house’s dark secrets go further back than anyone can remember.
Emma is permanently confined to a wheelchair after an accident at the Waterwitch which took place when she was ten. Seven years later, she decides to return to the place where the awful event occurred. But the ancient inn still has its ghosts, and one particular spirit is more vengeful than ever…
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After having read the author’s previous book Frozen Charlotte, and not feeling like it really lived up to the creep factor I was hoping for, I wasn’t really expecting much from this book. But how thrilled was I when this turned out so much better for me?!

First off, I loved the scares and found it to be genuinely creepy at times. There were plenty of details when it came to several horrific things mentioned in this book, and the entities plaguing the inn.
I mean, how creepy to think that one room houses a ghost who is trying to keep another locked out, holing away from the horror that would be bestowed upon him, should he be caught?Shivers. And when one of the characters pulls a bird feather from her eye? Ew! Icky, but definitely what you’d expect from a horror novel!

Second, I actually liked the characters. Though Emma is supposedly the MC, I feel that siblings Jem and Shell were just as prominent in this story as she was. Jem’s importance is proven by his need to take care of his younger sister, and protect her from their abusive father. He takes her away to the Waterwitch, and there, Shell comes into her own, and pretty much becomes the one I really feel is the MC of the story. She’s the one the most horrific ghost concentrates on, and she’s the one who can see it all happening when others don’t. Not till it’s too late, that is.

Third, and finally, I really found this book to be just good, well-done horror. I really enjoyed it and would be more than happy to recommend it to my fellow horror fans!

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Review of ‘The Sunshine Sisters’ by Jane Green

The Sunshine SistersThe Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Contrary to the cover of this book…it did not evoke the feeling of a beach read for me.
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Summary provided by publisher:
Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Girls are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own, their mother s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears and they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.
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Honestly, it took me a long time to finish reading this one. Though I didn’t exactly hate it…I didn’t quite love it, either.

Let’s go ahead and start with the bad, first.

Ronni Sunshine, epitome of the Hollywood diva (though she never was quite the starlet she likely would have preferred), is also the matriarch of the family. Reading about her life and how she treated her children was painful, and all because of what a narcissistic person she is. God, I just really disliked her. I couldn’t stand reading the details of her tedious life, and could of cared less about her early years trying to become a breakout star, nor what she had to do in her attempt to get there.
Then, if I were to pick another person I didn’t like, it’d have to be Lizzie, the youngest of the Sunshine girls. She’s pretty much had everything handed to her because of her beauty, and the things she actually did earn due to talent? They seem a bit cheap because of her attitude and indifference when it comes to how she would treat others. She was just as despicable as her mother at times, and when she finally realizes how wrong she was about several things in her life, she pretty much thinks she can just take them back, as if she hadn’t abandoned them.

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be some “great family story”, where they lay aside their differences and hug it all out, because if it is, it did not leave me with happy, satisfied feelings. If you couldn’t tell by my last few paragraphs.

By now, you’re probably wondering, ‘why did you rate this three stars if you hated it so much?’

Because I didn’t hate it. Sure, I didn’t love it, but even though it took me forever to get through – and my dislike for Ronni and Lizzie – I was still curious about this family, and I still wanted to know how Meredith was doing in London, or how Nell was doing on her farm.

Oh, and as much as I hate saying it, a certain TMZ-side of me still had to know what was going on with Lizzie and her…”complications”. And yeah, I wanted to find out if there was a chance for redemption with it came to Ronni and the girls. Whatever.

As for recommending this book, if you’re a fan of Danielle Steele, you’ll probably like this, because it kind of reminded me of the few books I’d read of hers in the past.

Thank you to Berkley Books via NetGalley for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was such a cute, adorable, and fun read – can I use any more adjectives? – that I really enjoyed!

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Synopsis taken from publisher:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
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When Dimple Met Rishi was a book that I had had on my radar for awhile. The fact that this was centered on two Indian-American teens with such different ideals when it comes to their culture?

Gimme Gimme!!

So, being that I am already a sucker for cutesy romances, I was really looking forward to see how Dimple and Rishi’s relationship would end up playing out.

Now, let’s start off by saying that Dimple and Rishi were fantastic characters. I enjoyed them both for their differences. Dimple is super independent, though her mother would love to see her embrace her culture more – mainly the part where she’d find the Ideal Indian Husband, that is. But Dimple’s goals are far different, and a husband is definitely not in the plans.
Then there’s Rishi, who definitely fits the Ideal Indian Husband description to a T. And he is more than happy to do the things that would make his parents proud, including marry the woman his parents have chosen for him. But still, he’s more than just being the ideal Indian guy, and it was cool seeing that he had something he really enjoyed outside of his parent’s expectations. (I won’t go into it, since you should be reading the book anyway.)

Anyway, when these two meet, it’s most definitely not love at first sight…course, it didn’t help that Rishi said, “Hello, future wife…I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives!” On some girls, that might work, but on Dimple Shah (and most normal people)? Nope. And so comes into play the scene depicted on the back cover, of Dimple throwing a coffee in to Rishi’s face.

Of course, a moment in which Dimple is very much justified.

Though the first meeting went far from well, I really loved seeing the two characters get closer, as well as seeing them come to understand each other more. There’s definitely growth from both, and that does help make for a more interesting read!

Before I finish my review, I feel I should touch upon the fact that the two happen to be attending a summer program for aspiring web developers – something Dimple is very much interested in – and I think it’s a pretty cool setting that shows just how driven these characters are when it comes to getting what they both want. Though, Rishi’s end goal is a wee bit different than Dimples…

Finally, in conclusion, I really did enjoy this book and would be more than happy to recommend it!

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Review of ‘Toward a Secret Sky’ by Heather Maclean

Toward a Secret SkyToward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even the lush depictions of Scotland couldn’t bring me to fall in love with this book.
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Synopsis from publisher:
Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.
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This book had me torn when it came to actually decided whether or mother I liked it. The idea this book is centered on is pretty cool, what with there existing a secret organization to keep us lowly ones safe, as well as the promise of some code-breaking. But the “romance” (I cringe even thinking of it) is so ridiculous to me, that it played a large part in why I disliked this book.

Why don’t I first start with the good?

Call me cheesy, but I loved the idea of the American girl having to start over in a foreign country. Living with family she doesn’t know, maybe she’ll be able to find out more about the father she’d never known, and explore the Scottish countryside as well. And of course, she’ll fall for the handsome some of a Scottish laird, and the two will live happily ever after – once all conflicts and whatnot are cared for, of course.

The whole ‘secret codes and mysterious organization’ thing was an interesting part of the story, too. The former actually ended up playing only a small part unfortunately, but I did feel that it was well done and more clever than I could have been, attempting to crack a riddle-like code.
When it comes to the mysterious organization, we do get an explanation of its existence, as well as learning of some of its members, but again, those moments are seldom, and I wish we could’ve gone deeper into its missions or pretty much anything interesting, really.

So…now on to the bad/annoying.

I usually am the biggest sucker when it comes to romance, typically loving even the super cheesy stuff, but Maren‘s infatuation/instalove when it comes to Gavin is so ridiculous! When she first meets him, she swoons, falling to her knees because he’s so good-looking. Then, whenever she’s in his presence, all she can think about is how hot he is, yadda yadda. This goes on for pretty much the whole book, to the point where I was actually cringing at her excessive descriptions.
Honestly, the “romance” was one of the worst things I had to deal with when reading this book.

Finally, when the book seems close to having a satisfying wrap-up, we’re given more conflict, and something terrible happens in Maren’s life. This terrible thing bothered me because I didn’t really feel it had to have happened, and of course it leads to more terrible things and me hating the last 2o% of this book. I’m guessing that the way this book ended, there’s going to be a book 2, though I hadn’t seen anything listed on Goodreads. Seriously though, if there isn’t a book 2, I’m going to really hate this book even more in the future.

I’ll only recommend this if you can get past the annoying instalove and really would like to read a book that has mentions of secret organizations and codes.

Thank you to the publishers at Blink via NetGalley for giving this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review Of ‘Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault (Glass Vault, #1) by Candace Robinson

Quinsey Wolfe's Glass Vault (Glass Vault, #1)Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very interesting story that could have been better with some additional editing.

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Synopsis taken from publisher:

Some see it… Some don’t…

People in the town of Deer Park, Texas are vanishing. There is a strange museum, known as Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault, that appears overnight. Perrie Madeline’s best friend and ex-boyfriend are among the missing. Perrie, along with her friend August, go on a pursuit to search for them in the mysterious museum. Could the elusive Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault have anything to do with their disappearances?

A book that intertwines horror elements and retellings, with humor and darkness.
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Okay, so first, let’s talk about the things that bothered me.

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The writing.

The writing isn’t horrible by any means, but I feel like this book really could have benefited from some additional editing to improve the flow of the story. Perrie is the MC/narrator, and she was constantly telling us what was going on, as opposed to describing. It was like she was dictating events to a jury, so it did get to be a little much.
Then there was the strange wording that was sprinkled throughout, another thing that could have used some editing. I had already used this example in a status update on my Goodreads, but here it is, August reaches over, and with his hand he pulls apart mine that are clasped. It sounds so weird, and brought to my mind the spoof movie, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which has a moment in which a character tells his mafia don-like boss, “I will take these cotton balls from you with my hand and put them in my pocket.” (I love the movie, which is why I couldn’t help but remember the line). So the strange wording threw me off a bit, and that did come to mind when I was rating this things.

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Maisie and her stinkin’ eye patch.

Perrie’s cousin and best friend Maisie had and endless supply of homemade eye patches, and did she need them? No, she was wearing them in solidarity with people who only had one eye. Right… When it comes to unique fashion, I could care less, usually, but I couldn’t help but think of the long-term damage that was likely happening to her eyesight. She also drove Perrie to and from school everyday, which seems like it’d be dangerous, but what do I know? I’m just basing this off the fact that she really did have 20/20 vision, but chose to wear a patch for the fashion aspect, and not out of real necessity. So yeah, ridiculous.

And finally:
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Perrie and August’s “relationship”:

August is another person Perrie labels as her best friend, and throughout the story, we’re seeing Perrie describe how she’d started looking at him differently, and in a more romantic way. But as I read it, I felt like it just didn’t make sense, and didn’t like these moments at all. Theirs was not a relationship I cared to read about.

Now, for the good.

I really enjoyed the story itself, and loved the horror aspect of it. Once we get to the real action, it’s so good! There are several well-known stories that are intertwined with the plot, and I really enjoyed how they each played out, as well as the author’s added touches to these stories, making them a bit more morbid or just plain interesting than the originals.
And can we talk about the fact that there aren’t many horror stories in YA, so how cool is it that this book really is centered on it?! I am such a fan of horror, so when I saw the ‘horror’ tag, I knew I had to read it!

Finally, that ending!!! It really surprised me, and now I need to know what happens next, so I definitely will need to read the next book!

Will recommend for fans of horror; just be mindful of a slow start, cause once you get further into the story, it’s definitely worth it!

Thank you to Candace Robinson via NetGalley for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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