What I’m All About

In the beginning of my journey as a reader, I avoided buying books in fear of wasting money on something I would hate. I never ventured outside of my reading comfort zone, which was, at the time, an author named Ted Dekker. I practically only ever read his books, and in order for me to read something other than Ted’s work, you’d have to pry the book out of my hand and give me one of your own (because I loved sharing Ted!)

Finally, I began to realize that I wanted more of a passion for books, and so, I went on Instagram and followed as many bookstagrams as possible! Eventually I stumbled upon a monthly subscription called BooklyBox, where I had access to a social media page specifically for book lovers, would receive a book monthly, AND (the best part) was that every time I receive a book, so did a child in need. How could I say no? I couldn’t! But trust me, I still struggled with fear of paying for a book I may hate. Knowing that I was making a difference for a child somewhere else in the world was the ONLY thing that helped me push through my fear.

I received my first box from BooklyBox and was overwhelmed with joy! I have loved EVERY book (except for 1- haha) that I have received from them since I joined. I began to realize that my favorite reads were from Young Adult Genre, and decided I would look at other Young Adult Genre books. As I began searching for more books I found myself stumbling into pages and blogs that were reviewing books in depth. I was given the opportunity to fall in love with the book before I had even opened it! This gave me the confidence to begin purchasing new books that actually appealed to me, rather than just collecting books, because, well… I could.

I went through my collection of books and immediately purged my library of unwanted tit-tat that I had collected because they were “cheap” or free. Libraries do not deserve to be disrespected like that. They’re to be a collection of beautiful creations, a portal to another world- an escape. My collection was far from that. Books that were a bore, and were poorly written swarmed my shelves. This was the day things changed.

With a new bookshelf, and [nearly] a fresh slate, I began to create a list of TBR’s. I kept going and didn’t stop until my heart was content, (for the moment at least.) I finished off my list with 157 TBR’s, and that’s not including one’s that I had already had in my library (the few that I kept anyway) that just hadn’t been read, yet. Here I am just a few months later with 3 six-cubed bookshelves, and a swarm of books I’m just dying to read. I still have empty shelves, but instead of rushing to fill them with ANYTHING, I’ve realized the importance of appreciating your books- the importance of collecting, vs. hoarding.

This blog is designed to help all those reader’s out there that are like me, the one’s who are lost, and looking for a good read. Instead of rushing out to just buy a book, because they’re beautiful, and the smell is intoxicating- go into that book store INFORMED! Liberate yourself from the impulse to buy books you never intend to read, and go in confidently knowing you are truly EAGER to read the book in front of you!

Welcome to The Reading Phoenix.

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Haven (PG-16)

Haven-1600px

Author: Mary Lindsey

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Publishing Date: November 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63375-883-4

four-stars

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.” 

Let’s start this review off with a bit of a disclaimer: If you’re looking for an interesting and deep retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this book is NOT for you. If you are, however, interested in horny shape-shifting teens, a small cult-like town, centuries-old magic, and somewhat stereotypical characters, all of which have a lot of deeper underlying meanings and symbolism, then you’ll enjoy this book! Now, let me spend the rest of this review elaborating on that because though it may not seem like it from the first snippet of my review, I actually liked this book!

First Impressions/Pros and Cons:

The first thing that drew me to this book was the caption on the cover which read “Sometimes beauty is the beast…” Whoa! What? This instantly peaked my curiosity. The synopsis just continued to reel me in after that. The book features a murder mystery that had me somewhat guessing until the end. I’d say I figured it out about 75% through the novel, but that didn’t stop Lindsey from placing other plot twists that I hadn’t been expecting. I love how she hinted at certain details vaguely in the beginning of the book and would come full circle many chapters later and clear up my suspicions. I loved her writing style, too, seeing how I read most of the book in one sitting! She definitely created a page-turner.

I think the only thing I didn’t like about this novel was the steamy scenes. Don’t get me wrong, they were well written, and had me craving more – but personally, I don’t like to indulge in those kinds of reads. I’m quite fine being held in suspense for 80% of the book and then they finally have a super passionate kiss! That is satisfying to me anyway. This book included much more than a single passionate kiss…

I also didn’t like that Rain constantly sexualized Freddie. I understand that this was his first experience with his feelings and his hormones, but it felt like at times he couldn’t express his love for her without also making it clear that he wanted her sexually, too. Don’t get me wrong, Freddie is no saint, and definitely did not make it any easier on him with the way she teased him or the times she outright came onto him, but I still didn’t like the behavior on either end.

Characters:

In this novel we have at least a dozen characters that we meet, but we really only intricately see the development of half of them. We have Rain Ryland, our main protagonist. Aaron “Rain” Ryland is an outcast who grew up on the streets of New York, passing from shelter to shelter with his mom. Standing at 6-foot tall and built like a linebacker, most people wrote him off just from intimidation alone, but if they got hold of his record, it would fair much worse. Having spent time in juvie, and regularly removed from school due to fighting Rain has just never had somewhere to call “home” consistently.

After Rain’s mom dies, however, Rain is sent to live with his Aunt Ruby in New Wurzburg where he meets Freddie Burkhart. Freddie isn’t your normal high school girl, though, and we can kind of sense this even from the description of her eyes. Freddie is rude when we first meet her, and we see that she had a 50 ft wall encircling her keeping everyone at a distance. Having lived on the streets for so long, Rain has an innate sense of danger, and he can tell that Freddie is truly in danger. As the two get closer, Freddie is constantly warning him to stay away, but Rain has always been a troublemaker, and really doesn’t know how to follow rules.

One thing that I really loved about Rain’s character is that even though he has this tough exterior, and he’s your stereotypical “ready-for-a-fight-not-scared-of-anything” kind of guy, he has this HUGE heart. He truly wants to see people succeed, and for their well-being. He constantly had little moments with other characters that made my heart melt. He even had a ‘moment’ with the “freak” in the book that made me swoon! Freddie, on the other hand, was different. Her focus was on putting forth this facade of strength and confidence no matter how much she actually just felt like breaking inside. Freddie was “guarded and clearly carrying a lot of baggage she wasn’t ready to unpack.” She was a tough girl by necessity, not by choice.

Thomas, Kurt, and Merrick irritated me throughout most of the book – especially once I found out they were Freddie’s cousins. Though their behavior was like any “typical” high school guy, it didn’t make me want to punch them in the mouth any less. They acted like animals most of the time, which wasn’t far off from the truth. Eventually, I did begin to warm up towards Kurt and Merrick, and at the end I understood Thomas.

Conclusion/Theme

This book essentially is a “Supernatural Romantic Mystery,” with shape-shifting people, horny teens, and an unsolved murder. Personally, the romantic scenes were a bit much for my taste (I don’t like romances,) but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t dying for more of it each time it came up. I honestly feel like between the language in the book, the sexual tension, and “hot” scenes in the book that this novel isn’t appropriate for anyone under 16 years old. I’d give this novel a 4-star rating because it most definitely kept me interested throughout, and was a unique spin on “Beauty and the Beast” with role reversal!

Favorite Quotes:

“Time had simply been a bookmark. Something that held his place while he waited to finish the story.”

“I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of dying for nothing.”

“Fate was a heartless bitch.”

“I believe we all hide a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Shadow and Bone (PG-15)

10194157

5 stars

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Square Fish / Henry Holt & Company

Publishing Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 9780805094596

Synopsis:

Ravka is a nation torn by a veil of darkness, the Shadow Fold, teeming with monstrous creatures who feast on humans. We meet Alina Starkov, initially someone who seems to be good for nothing. Alina serves in the First Army as a less-than-talented Mapmaker, where she feels overshadowed by her best friend, Mal, who grew up with her in the orphanage Keramzin. When she and her regiment are under attack while crossing through the Fold, a power she did not know existed is awakened within her. Before Alina has a chance to even realize what has happened she was whisked away to the Little Palace to be trained as a Grisha. The Grisha are a group of magically elite people, who use science, and small amounts of magic to shift the way the world works. Lead by The Darkling, the Grisha are used to serve the King and the country with their unique powers. With this newly found power, Alina has to face the facts of everything she has ever known, and everything she is coming to know. Secrets exist within both the new and old, and a decision is to be made that will forever alter the nation.

First Impressions:

The cover is beautiful, and it definitely drew me into the novel more. The first I’d ever heard of this novel was through Bookstagram, which is ultimately how it ended up on my TBR. The things I had read and heard from other readers really enticed me into this series, though I would have ended up picking it up eventually considering how stunning the cover artwork is.

Pros

I definitely felt like this novel was well written. It is a Russian Folklore with a touch of a Dystopian feel. It was paced so well that I found myself turning the pages without even bothering to check page count. I read this novel in a single day, and I very rarely do that. The novel keeps your attention all the way through. Bardugo did a great job with her use of Russian words to keep the cultural part accurate, and I loved that, as well. Her use of color-coding the Keftas was extremely helpful and creative in the novel. I really tried to narrow in and focus on what each color represented early on, and ultimately I was glad that I did.

Cons

I don’t really feel like there were any cons to this novel. I will say, however, that I wished the “Before” chapter had been a little longer and had more detail as it was the intro to the book and left me initially confused.  Also, though this novel is “dark” and definitely has a clear representation of good vs. evil, it did have a stereotypical “YA romance” feel throughout. It was portrayed well and kept my attention, but for those who are looking for high fantasy with little to no romance, this would not be the book for you. Romance definitely isn’t the focus of the plot, but it is used heavily throughout, so just bear that in mind.

Character Development:

The characters in this novel were so well-written. They developed with their own personalities, thoughts, and emotions, and that’s really what made the plot twist in this book work so well! I think my favorite development to watch was the protagonist, as she starts off weak, feeble, and insecure. I also thoroughly enjoyed the development of The Darkling. I can’t go into too much detail about either of these characters without spoiling the fun of the novel, so I’ll just leave it vague. Alina reminded me of a bird with a broken wing, she just needed time to heal before she could fly. The Darkling is mysterious and sexy, though I remember specifically thinking during reading “for someone his age, his emotions sure are very raw and easily touched.”
We also have Mal, Alina’s best friend from the orphanage. Mal irritated me for most of the book seeing as he was the greatest tracker in all of Ravka, yet he was completely oblivious to what was right in front of him. He could track an animal or person for hundreds of miles from a snapped twig, or a footprint, but with his nose so close to the ground he forgot to look at eye level.
During Alina’s time at the Little Palace, we meet other characters, Grisha characters, and here’s where I got to have some fun! Genya was a favorite of mine as she is the kind of person I could get lost in conversation with for hours. I’d envy her beauty eternally, but her personality really resonated with me, I WANTED to be Genya’s friend. We also met Nadia and Marie, who were probably the most annoying characters to me. I honestly have no idea how Alina put up with them, ever, considering how two-faced they were. The Little Palace reminded me of high school, to be honest.
If it’s like high school, where’s the popular “mean girl,” you ask? Meet Zoya, the bitch I couldn’t wait to see get taken down. Honestly, if it were up to me I would have killed her off quickly. She is every freshman girl’s nightmare, and that’s portrayed really well within the book.  Within high school we also have teachers, so where would we be without Baghra? She was that teacher who made you feel stupid every single time you failed, she stripped you of your confidence, and of everything you had and left you feeling completely naked no matter how many layers of clothes you had on. Following Baghra, we also had her martial arts teacher, he was one of my favorites, Botkin. Botkin was similar to Baghra in that he relentlessly tore Alina down, but when she did succeed he would give her small bits of praise to bring forth hope in her heart. He also happened to defend Alina from another student later on, and this is how he warranted my favoritism!

Theme & Conclusion:

A Russian Folklore Dystopian of good vs. evil, with a heavy focus on the battle of being ones own enemy, this novel touches on so many different themes. A taste of coming-of-age, a dash of self-discovery, and a hint of war, Bardugo really includes so many elements into her novel that you can’t fathom putting it down. I rated this novel a PG-15 for the, at times, graphic violence and deaths, along with the sexual suspense, and so on. Call me old school, but I wouldn’t want my 13 year old reading about make out sessions and things indicative of sex taking place later on. I rated this book 5 stars because it kept me going for hours on end with no ability to put the book down longer than a quick potty break. I would definitely recommend this novel to MANY people.

Favorite Quotes:

“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.” – The Darkling

“The moment our lips met, I knew with pure and piercing certainty that I would have waited for him forever.” – Alina

“Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.” – The Darkling
“People, particularly big men carrying big rifles, don’t expect lip from a scrawny thing like me. They always look a bit dazed when they get it.” – Alina
“There’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either, unless you were born to be a Hawk.”
– Baghra

Last Burning Star (PG-13)

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four-and-a-half-stars

Author: Caitlin Sangster

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publishing Date: October 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8613-2

Synopsis

This Chinese-Cultured Dystopian is set in a war-ravaged world where a society is trying to survive. With a set of castes to keep things organized, we have Firsts through Fourths. Firsts are those who are considered wise, they are our scientists of the lot. Seconds are those who carry the guns and protect the city, they are our soldiers. Thirds are our hard laborers, those who keep the city running by creating and packaging everything, they are our poverty-stricken slaves. Lastly, we have Fourths, and these are deemed the lowliest of the low. They are or are affiliated with political traitors and are viewed as untrustworthy by the entire society.
Our Protagonist, Jiang Sev, is a Fourth, who is being reconstructed into society through the teaching of a Second family. It is their job to rehabilitate her, regardless of the fact that society will never accept a Fourth. Daughter of a woman who betrayed the nation, and purposefully gave her the disease that started the war, (SS/Sleeping Sickness/Encephalitis Lethargica) Sev is branded as a criminal and made to do hard labor.
When chaos strikes the city Sev is faced with having to flee for her life. She meets many people along the way but by the end, the question is: What is true, and what is not?

First Impressions/Plot Thoughts:

I received this novel from PageHabit’s YA Subscription box, and to be honest, I don’t know that I would have picked it up by myself. I say this because the cover gives the impression that it’s a different culture, and I would not have thought “Dystopian” by looking at it. I more so would have thought an action-and-adventure kind of read, which is not on the top of my list to grab. The first thing that drew me to this book was, most definitely, the synopsis. Once I realized it had a Dystopian feel, I was very excited.

Pros

I think there were several pros to this novel, for sure. My favorite thing by far was Sangster’s use of cultural lore, like the star who fell in love with a man but had a vengeful father who separated them! Those details add such flavor to a book. Additionally, I really loved the names. Though I struggled with them initially, her use of the hyphens made reading much easier. I also love that she stuck with culturally accurate names. I also loved the way she built her characters, and ultimately that ended up playing a HUGE roll in the plot. (Even more so than usual for a Dystopian)

Cons

One of the things that I really didn’t like about this book was the fact that it was very hard for me to get into intially. I kind of felt thrust into this foreign world with ZERO understanding and I think it just left my head spinning until about 3 and a half chapters in. Ultimately I would have preferred a better intro to the novel. I also found myself bored by a few sections that had uneccessary detail, though I’ll fully admit this was closer to the end and I really just wanted to skim so I could get back to the action.

Character Development

The characters in this book are developed so beautifully! I was so happy that our protagonist faced real challenges, but had realistic responses. With Dystopians I feel we often get cookie-cutter characters, but in this one, we didn’t. Jiang Sev continued to develop from the very beginning and had a development (even to the end) that left me satisfied, versus being angry at the irrational progression.
Specific characters had these unique features that really brought them to life. Sev was a broken young-lady who wanted nothing more than to be loved and to fit in in the beginning. She was focused on Tai-ge, the son of General Hong, the head of the Second Family responsible for her rehabilitation. She was angry and confused, dealing with inner turmoil and conflict. Tai-ge, I felt was well described in the beginning, but began to fall flat further into the story, and then didn’t begin to develop right until the very end – which in some aspects makes sense. Then we have Howl, a charming and witty young man with a light-hearted way of inflating his ego. He was a pleasure to read through so much of the book! Most of the characters in this novel were broken, paranoid, and angry. I don’t think there’s much more to be expected from a post-war/current-war world.
Sangster still managed, however, to create unique personalities for each character, and that made the journey so much better.
Personally, when reading this novel I found my own heart hurting for Jiang Sev. My heart hurt for the loss of her Mother, for the loss of her childhood (she was branded as a criminal by the age of 8), for a love that was lost due to duty, and more. Tai-ge had me irritated more than anything else, because it was so obvious that he loved Sev, and I wanted him to betray his duty for that! What can I say? I’m a sucker for romance! (Which is why I won’t read novels that are focused on Romance.) With Howl, I spent most of the book battling who I loved more, and who I wanted Sev with. It was a shipping game for most of the novel, and even in the end, part of me was still torn.

Theme & Conclusion:

In this novel, we read a coming-of-age Dystopian, riddled with love and suffering, and the question of if their progress is real or an illusion. I rated this novel PG-13, mostly because I found it similar to the Hunger Games, but it had far fewer “adult” topics. Death happens, but not in a gory manner. There’s gentle physical contact at points, but nothing sexual that would surpass what’s seen in a nationwide commercial. Overall, I gave this novel 4.5 Stars and I would definitely recommend it to a friend. I would have rated it 5 stars, however, the initial struggle to be pulled into the story made it a tougher read. I am so not ready to wait an entire year before Book 2 in this series is released.

A Darker Shade of Magic (PG-13)

ADSOM

5 stars

Author: V. E. Schwab

Publisher: Tor Publishing

Publishing Date: February 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7646-6

The Why Behind the Read:

A Darker Shade of Magic has been on my TBR for who knows how long. I withheld myself from buying it for ages, though, because I’m a bargain hunter, and typically only purchase from outlet stores, or library sales. Basically, this book just never came across my path, until one day it ended up at my front door, courtesy of Jess (@certified_fangirl63), as a birthday gift! I started the book the same day because Jess had been hyping me up about it for a couple of weeks, as it is her favorite book. At this point, I’d already fallen in love with the idea of a Fantasy that spans four different worlds and is traveled through by a blood magician. Essentially, I have Jess to thank for radically impacting my reading world with this novel.

Pros:

I think some of the key things that made this novel great was Schwab’s ability to create four distinguishable worlds, that in many ways were identical, and in many others, couldn’t be further apart. The detail work that was put into bringing each world to life was creative and ingenious, and I didn’t struggle in the least imagining them due to the wonderful images she painted for me. I also found myself ever grateful for her ability to include backstory throughout the novel, without making it feel as if she had written an entire novella within the novel to explain what had taken place. I never felt confused at any point, and her story left me with no plot holes.

Cons:

Though the plot itself left me with no confusion, I am confused as to how there is a second and third book. ADSOM (A Darker Shade of Magic) was wrapped up so beautifully, I’m somewhat surprised it isn’t a standalone. That’s not to say that I’m not going to pick up book two as soon as I’m done writing this review, however. Considering it’s already 3am, we can pretty much rule out sleep for me tonight. My only hope is that the sequel is just as good, if not better than its predecessor.

Characters & Development:

Throughout this novel, I felt that Schwab did an incredible job bringing her characters to life, and allowing us to genuinely see growth and change in them. In other books I’ve read the author often times struggles with feeling as if the changes in their characters was evident enough, causing them to induce too much change, too quickly. Unlike those authors, Schwab leaves just a teasing taste of change, and that’s enough to keep me satisfied, without feeling as if the character at the beginning of the book, is an entirely different person by the end of the book.

Each character had unique traits that drew me into wanting to know them more. Kell is the first character we meet, so it’s only fitting to start with him. In the beginning of the novel he comes across as a “rogue, bad boy type,” but before long we get to peak at his kind heart, and at his woundedness. It gives us a look at his flawed attributes as a spoiled young man, but also insight into his heart of gold. This makes it much more satisfying when he’s forced to take a look at himself later in the book. Then we’ve got Rhy, and Rhy is the kind of guy who craves attention, no different than many a young Prince, I’d guess. He’s flirtatious and assumes everything is his for the taking, but soon life lessons will teach him otherwise.

Both Kell and Rhy are from Red London, but when we take a trip over to White London, we meet much crueler characters. Holland is reserved and to himself, bound to his duty and to the Danes. There’s not much I can really say about Holland without mentioning spoilers, so we’ll move along. Alongside Holland, we meet the rulers of White London, Athos, and Astrid Dane. Astrid is seductive and cunning, she is ruthless and pompous. Her personality reminds me very much of a Peacock. Athos Dane, similar to his sister is also ruthless, but he takes it much further because Athos Dane is a Sadist. He is power hungry, and happy to cut down anyone and anything in order to remain ruler of White London, alongside Astrid.

Lastly, in a world stricken of color, we meet Lila Bard, and Baron in Grey London. Lila is by far my favorite, so I’ll save her for last. Baron has a piece of my heart, as he is kind and watchful over Lila. Unlike anything she’s ever known, he is the closest thing to a Father she’s ever had, and though she constantly disrespects him, he continues to love her anyway. Lastly, we have Lila, and Lila reminds me so very much of a grittier version of Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Lila is prideful, insecure, paranoid, and a thief. She is starving for an adventure, for a one way ticket away from the only life she’s ever known, and it places her very near to my heart. She is ruthless, brilliant, and a survivor, and to me, that makes her the most beautiful character within the entire book.

My Relationship With The Characters:

While reading this novel I found myself experiencing different emotions with each character. With Kell I wanted him to value what he had, I wanted to see him grow as an individual and become grateful for what he had. With what little journey I had with Rhy, I wanted him to grow up, to be the young prince who would one day wear the crown, rather than being something like a partying frat boy. Moving along, the only thing that I felt towards the Danes was hatred, and I happily dreamt of their death from the moment I met them. Alongside those two, I felt a heavy mix of pity, and frustration towards Holland. There were things about him that I understood, and then things that I felt didn’t have to be as they were. Lastly, my entire time spent with Lila, I found myself admiring her. I admire her strength and audacity. I admire the fact that no person, thing, or even world, was going to hold her back. Full of fire and passion, Lila will make you want to start a rebellion, and go on an adventure.

Conclusion:

In this novel of good vs. evil, of humanity vs. nature (nature being magic), and of an individual vs. society, I found I was constantly kept on my toes! Much like Kell felt the pull of his Antari magic, this book kept pulling me in for more. I rated this novel PG-13 because of the (at-times) graphic violence, and the periodic sexual tension used in the plot. This is one of the best books I have read in a while, and I’m glad to have stumbled into it, all thanks to a wonderfully well-read friend!

Favorite Quotes:

“Magic made things simple. Sometimes, Kell thought, it made things too simple.” – Kell

“Looking for trouble,” [Baron] would say, “You’re gonna look till you find it.” “Trouble is the looker,” [Lila] would answer, “It keeps looking till it finds you. Might as well find it first.” – Lila & Baron

“He knew above all that defiance was like a weed, something to be ripped out at the roots.” – Athos Dane

“A life worth having is a life worth taking.” – Lila Bard

“Hesitation is the death of advantage.” – Holland

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” – Lila Bard

“Love doesn’t keep us from freezing to death, Kell, or starving, or being knifed for the coins in our pocket. Love doesn’t buy us anything, so be glad for what you have and who you have because you may want for thing, but you need for nothing.” – Lila Bard

“Or perhaps I will go with you to the end of the world. After all, you’ve made me curious.” – Lila Bard

“The ones who think they’re ready always end up dead.” – Lila Bard

Artemis Fowl (PG – 10)

artemis fowl

four-stars

Author: Eoin Colfer

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Publishing Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-142318001-2

I decided to pick up this novel because I’ve recently found myself drawn to middle-grade reads, and the cover seemed very interesting! It had a pre-teen double O-7 feel to it. Once I read the synopsis, the idea of a 12-year-old genius villain really enthralled me, and when they mentioned the kidnapping of a fairy, my interest had peaked.

One of the things that really made this novel great for me was the amount of detail Colfer used when writing. The images were painted very clearly in my head, and I could honestly see everything. Now, everyone knows that little things go a long way in novels, and one of Colfer’s strengths is his use of police jargon. I really loved the banter, and the use of terms that I grew up hearing in all of the police shows that I watched. Colfer was also careful to explain why things worked a certain way in Fowl’s world (i.e. the use of a Butler, etc)

Though I enjoyed much of the novel, I did find myself cringing at certain parts, and questioning who would someone cast this as a “middle-grade read,” which is defined as ages 8-12 years old and is intended to have appropriate content for the said age range. Personally, I think this book is inappropriate for anyone under the age of 10. There is “graphic” violence, grossly depicted use of excrement, and other things that make this book seem as if its target audience was 10 to 12-year-old boys. Add in a few minor curse words, and some innuendos to even more curse words, and you’ve got a novel that’s better suited for the Young Adult genre. Parts of the novel did feel drug out, as well, leaving me to push through and force myself to keep reading at times. I have heard from many people, however, that the second book in this series picks up in pace and makes it much easier to read.

On the bright side, though, Colfer writes his characters beautifully! The characters inside this novel were well-developed and well-rounded. None of them felt flat or ignored. One character, in particular, Mulch Diggums, didn’t receive a lot of development, but I honestly believe that’s because he didn’t get a lot of “face-time” in the book. With the little interaction that I had with him, I was disgusted the entire time, you’ll understand once you read it for yourslef. We also meet one Captain Holly Short, who experiences several different phases of emotions and thought processes throughout the novel, and the shifts in these emotions and thought processes are placed perfectly. She has her fair share of flaws in the beginning, with being lazy, and she starts with a victim mentality. Eventually, once she understands why her superior is a bit harder towards her than he is to anyone else, she realizes she needs to step up to the plate and become a responsible LEP-Recon officer. There’s also Captain Root, your stereotypical hot-headed officer, who is old-fashioned and set in his ways, but by the end of the novel, even he begins to soften, and it’s quite a beautiful site. Lastly, from the “good-guy” side, we have Foaly. Foaly is a paranoid Centaur and is your go-to if you need a joke, some sarcasm, or some form of humorous harassment. He’s brilliant and knows his way around the technological world as if he himself created it all, (and in some ways he did). Between his brains and his humor, he’s easily my favorite character.

Over on the “dark side”, we meet Butler, an immovable man-servant/assassin, and though he has a hard exterior, he has cracks in his armor. We get to see that above all duties, family comes first for him and that honestly warms my heart. Butler has a sister, Juliet, who throughout the entire novel, she pretty much remains innocent. There’s little character development on her end, but she primarily remains a “supporting” character. Along with the innocence of Juliet, we also have Mrs. Fowl, who, since the loss of her husband, has retreated into the shell of her mind, presenting behaviors similar to bipolar dementia. Lastly, we have the infamous Artemis Fowl, who is pretty much evil to his core. Between his witty comments and evil deeds, we do see moments where the “evil-genius” mask slips and we see that he’s still a 12-year-old boy. Colfer did a great job ensuring that we get to know each character on a personal level.

I spent a lot of time laughing with the characters in this book, a lot of time frustrated with Artemis, and the adults in his life, and I spent a lot of time determined to reach the end so that I could get to book two. My journey with Captain Short had me wanting to sit down and have a serious conversation with her about her poor behavior initially, and then towards the end, I developed some respect for her and found myself admiring her as an officer. My time with Captain Root honestly made me want to give him a prescription for blood pressure medicine because he has one hell of a temper. Throughout the entire novel, Foaly honestly made me want to be his best friend. He was pretty much my idol in this book. The only time I found myself conflicted in this novel was with Butler, because his duties kept him bound from holding to his moral standards, and that broke my heart. I truly appreciate the experiences I had with each of these characters.

I gave this book a PG-10 rating because I really don’t think some of the material is appropriate for readers under the age of 10-years-old. Between the violence, and the minor language, I personally wouldn’t want my eight-year-old to read it. A novel about good vs. evil, overcoming the odds, and a war between The People and the Fae, this book was genuinely good read.

Favorite Quotes:

“Confidence is ignorance,” advised the centaur. “If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.” – Foaly

“Passion was the enemy of efficiency.” – Butler

“If I win, I’m a prodigy. If I lose, then I’m crazy. That’s the way history is written.”                 – Artemis Fowl

“I’m right there with you, darlin’. Unless you step on a landmine, in which case I’m way back in the Operations Room.” – Foaly

“Hit that back-stabber where it hurts, right in the ambition.” – Foaly

 

 

 

The Surrendered (PG-15)


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Author: Case Maynard

Publisher: Blaze Publishing

Publishing Date: September 2016

ISBN: 9780997010473

Received: Give by Blaze Publishing, in exchange for an honest review
Our Protagonist, Vera Delancourt reminds me very much of the main character in “The Taming of the Shrew.” She’s ill-mannered, blunt, troublesome, and she is perpetually sticking her foot in her mouth. 

Vera was surrendered to “The Tax,” along with her twin brother, Oliver, when she was 10-years-old. “After a 40 year period of unsound financial decisions, a declined worldwide currency, and international social unrest, the world was catapulted into complete devastation and ultimately all government collapsed. The commander decreed that each child under age 18 was to be a taxable commodity, allowing one exception per family the commander ordered parents to pay exorbitant fees for their offspring.”
Vera’s parents, having twins, would have only needed to pay tax on one of them whilst the other was exempt, but before long Vera’s mother was with child, again. Faced with being surrendered Vera refused to see Oliver be surrendered alone, or leave him behind, and was therefore surrendered with him. They have spent six years enslaved to the Master, and the Overseer in the Mills, in which they are enslaved. 

Vera, affectionately known as Vee, is a Driver, or head, of the Herb Mill, while her brother is the Driver for the Military/Ammunitions Mill. Meanwhile Oliver works to keep his head down, and do as he’s told, but Vera has always been a hot head, and wouldn’t know how to keep her mouth shut no matter how hard she may try. They have hoped and dreamed that the two of them would age out of the system together, and re-enter society next year when they become of age- together.
Unfortunately, after an unforeseen event takes place at the Mills, Vera flees with two younger girls, Jane, her younger sister whom she never expected to see at the Mills, and Ramsey, a fellow Herbalist, having to leave her brother, Oliver, behind in the mills. They are running for their lives, knowing full well they’ll be killed if caught. Once off the grounds, however, the girls are discovered stowing away in the back of a truck driven by two young men, Cason and Matthew, sons of a Farm Mill owner, John William. Initially fearful that as quick as their run started it has stopped, they find they have stumbled on some of the few people in the world who would dare take them in. John William and his wife Ann instruct the boys to hide the girls underground, lying in wait to travel up North for freedom. (This plot piece sounds a lot like the Underground Railroad to me!) Unfortunately, chaos strikes before their ride ever arrives, and they are thrust into a race to save each other, and Oliver. 
This Dystopian novel deals with rape, child slavery, and some realistic depiction of death. It embraces the nastiness of greed, and a broken society that chooses not to revolt against the government to protect their children. 

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. 

-Edmund Burke

For this reason I’d easily rate it PG-15. Though Case handles the phraseology of some of these topics quite well, I do still think it’s a bit much for adolescents, therefore I suggest an older audience. A thought provoking novel, that had me clinging to every word, loving every second of Vee and Cason, and dying to know what happens next, this book easily receives five stars. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a GREAT Dystopian. 

The Rattled Bones (PG-13)


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Author: S. M. Parker

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publishing Date: August 22, 2017

ISBN: 9781481482042

Received: PageHabit Book Box
A powerful novel that embraces true feminism, hard work, perseverance, and determination! This book embraces topics like racism, sexism, grief, touches of mental disabilities, and then adds a fantasy-ridden twist. Great for it’s touches of suspense, and paranormal, this book gripped me from early on! 
Rilla Brae has become property of the ocean, bound by its beauty, and after her father’s death, she becomes bound by duty. At eighteen years old she had plans to go to college soon, but with the loss of her mother to a psychiatric hospital twelve years ago, and the death of Jonathan Brae, she’s conflicted. Should she leave the only home she’s ever known, defy the statistics, and let Gram fend for herself, whilst getting an education so she can return ready to conquer the fishing industry? Or should she stay and care for Gram, take over the fishing business once successfully run by her father, and be the statistic she’s never wanted to be?

Rilla is a strong female protagonist, definitely making strides for feminism. She’s working in a world of men who are arrogant, and egotistical, but if he’s got the last name Benner then he’s just an ass. Defending the only thing she’s ever known Rilla sets off to take over the fishing business, to maintain the income for her and her Gram. With the change from a Trio to a Duo, she finds her heart crushed in the habits she still holds from before her dad’s wake, like making two lunches before heading out to sea. 

When Rilla’s boat malfunctions and she sees a young girl standing at the shore of Malaga she hopes the girl can provide some help, but in the blink of an eye she disappears. Once Rilla gets up the courage to return to the Island of Malaga, following this same young lady, she bumps into Sam, an archeology student from away. With a budding friendship ensuing the two of them set out on an adventure. Rilla’s adventure is to escape the death of her father, the aching loss of her mother, and the anger she feels towards her for leaving, and the confusion between attending school or staying home. She battles distancing herself from her friends, like Hattie, whom she partially blames for taking her to a party when she could have been on the water to help her dad the day he died. Forgiving Hattie means she will have to forgive herself, and that takes courage. There’s also Reed, her boyfriend of two years who is still childish and selfish. Words left unsaid can do so much damage once they are released in anger, and she must determine what she wants to do with these words. 

Meanwhile, Rilla battles the thought that she may be more connected to her mom then she could ever hope. She starts seeing visions of a young girl on Malaga island early on, but it doesn’t stop there. When the girl begins to invade her home, and every aspect of Rilla’s life, she can no longer deny the truth that is facing her, that this girl is real. Rilla is challenged to find this girl’s story, and how it was tied to her, and tied to her Mother. She’s been called crazy from early on, thanks to living in a small town and her mother leaving. She’s not ready to share this “private thing” with anyone because she isn’t ready to deal with the town thinking she’s gone insane after her father’s death. They already dismiss her ability to fend for herself and patronize her due to her gender, she doesn’t need to be tied to her mentally unstable mother as well. 

Eventually she opens up to Sam and a whole new world begins where she’s able to be open with someone who believes in her, and is willing to fight the world to keep her safe. (Not going to lie, I shipped these two from the start!) Through the whole thing Rilla finds her town was far from innocent, and the ancestors of her people hid their horrific sins, but when she reveals the real story, hidden for years, the unmasked truth is surprising, but oh so refreshing to finally have a clear conscience.

Overall this was a great novel, held my attention,  and was absolutely wonderful! Due to the content, and some language I’d say I’d rate it PG-13. Definitely worth the read! 

Shadow Fall

Shadow-Fall-Audrey-Grey-Ebook-Cover

5 stars

Author: Audrey Grey
Publisher: Blaze Publishing
Publishing Date: Noveber 22, 2016
ISBN: 9780997010480

“The asteroid that will destroy the earth is named Pandora.” Maia Graystone has always known her world would end. She’s known “the exact day, the exact hour, the exact minute, but no one explained to her why.” In the world that Maia lives we find her battling every demon imaginable. Hunger, thirst, poverty, and insanity have ravaged her lands. The world’s demise, which the government has so “lovingly” called Deliverance Day, is to be brought on by an asteroid they’ve called Pandora. Deliverance Day was intended to be some kind of twisted version of Salvation. Society has been classed by Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Bronzes, unless they were able to purchase sleeping chambers, won’t survive the hit, silvers are buried underground in the chambers that will maintain their lives in a stasis, and Golds will party it up in space on Hyperion, while Silver’s watch through the eyes of the Chosen.

Maia, our protagonist, was once a member of the elite Chosen, designed to be a key factor in D-Day, by allowing people to piggyback onto her mind, seeing and living out all of her actions, thoughts, and feelings from the safety of their stasis chambers underground, while all the Golds would continue life out on Hyperion, far from the asteroid that would render earth uninhabitable for years to come. Maia was a Chosen because she was designed to be genetically flawless from birth, expected to carry on the human race not only in her mind, but by bearing children later on. Unfortunately, however, when Delphine, a fellow Chosen, actually assaults her, and Maia’s mother consults the Emperor, Maia is compared to a gangrenous toe and is banished and cut off from court. There starts Maia’s fall from grace, and the absence of her mother. Salvation would never come for her. The thing is, though, as the years have gone on, “they don’t mention salvation anymore. No one does.”
In our lives we all have things that we hold onto, things that allow us to be strong against all odds, and for Maia, that one thing is her Brother, Max. Maia has persevered through 7 years in a six-by-six foot hole in the earth, hiding from the creatures in the Pit, a Pit she was cast into when she was caught trying to steal food to feed her and her brother.

In her mind, she views herself as weak, and a failure, because when she was arrested, she abandoned her brother who was waiting on her return, and once in the pit she didn’t fight, she hid to survive. I think it was wisdom to stay hidden, but Maia hates herself for it daily. She’s learned how to live afraid, but trust me, for someone who is constantly afraid, the more we get to know her, the more we realize that she’s actually quite ballsy.

I think one of my favorite things about her is how easily I relate to her ability to stick her foot into her mouth. At one point she’s been captured by Ripper, who has been hunting her down to kill her since she first entered the Pit. Ripper asks Maia if she thinks she’s better than her, to which Maia says yes. Obviously it’s a mistake to piss of the person who’s got your life in their hands, and therefore when Maia is being choked by the rope that’s binding her, she says “Given my current way with words, this might actually keep me alive.,” and I literally laughed out loud.

Thanks to the Pit that Maia called home for 7 years, she’s learned to put every person she meets into a category; Predator or Prey. If imagining life in a 6-by-6 foot hole isn’t heart-wrenching enough, imagine being dropped into the Pit when you were just nine years old, after watching your father being brutally murdered, and labeled a traitor. When she talks about the Pit, she says, “my young brain couldn’t yet understand that there are some places where you are never safe.” Even now, as our government-tearing-down, wounded, and never trusting rebel continues on her mission, she’s only 16 years old.

When Maia’s father died, he was declared a traitor, and his head was mounted on a pike over the wall to prove a point to all of society what would happen to a traitor. Before he died, however, he hid something inside his children, a key, and a map, to lead them to the weapon that would help them save the world. During this time, this was all being helped along by Maia’s mother, who had abandoned her family two years prior, when Maia was only 7 years old. Much like Maia, I’m inclined to agree “I want to say it’s my mother, not Emperor Laevus, who should be punished.” The question that haunts me is, did her mother deliver her father into the hands of an Emperor who has an insatiable hunger for blood?

The plot rolls on and we meet new characters: Nicolai, the head of the plot to kill the Emperor, Riser, someone she knew from the Pit, but now expected to be her partner, Flame, the tech savvy, devoted-to-the-cause Fienien rebel, and Brogue, the twitchy mercenary who was brought along to protect Maia and Riser inside the Shadow Trials, and Prince Caspian, the Emporer’s son, the man Maia was genetically made to pair with. The rest of the novel we have a fight to save the world, and an emotional love triangle that had my heart coughing up blood by the end. Why must triangles be so tough? Can’t she just be with both of them?! Of course not, but there’s no salve for the torment Grey put me through! She did an incredible job keeping me as equally emotionally confused as our pit surviving friend with a name change, Maia Graystone to Lady Everly March. Lady Everly March being the person Maia was reconstructed to be since she could not infiltrate the Shadow Trials as herself.

Throughout this entire novel, one of my biggest struggles was that the symbolic representation of the enemy was the Phoenix, and the symbol you can’t help but root for is the Scorpion killing the Phoenix. It isn’t hard to tell why this bothers me, identifying with, and being known as Phoenix made this portion of the plot quite hard to swallow. I had to separate myself from it and look at the mere fact that, as with anything, not every individual part of a species can be good. So while 99% of Phoenixes are great, this 1% is just not… however heartbreaking that is.
One of the things, however, that I admired most about our author, Audrey Grey, was her ability to span about a weeks time into a 302 page novel. Maia reveals to us once she is out of the Pit that D-Day (or Deliverance Day) is two weeks and five days away… and *spoiler alert* we don’t even see D-Day by the end of the book, hence book 2, Shadow Rise. Can you imagine being 16 years old, have spent 7 years of your life hiding to survive in a cannibalism infested Pit, only to be saved to find that the safety of the world weighs on your shoulders and you have TWO AND A HALF WEEKS to save it?!

Another high praise to Audrey Grey is for her use of rhymes and poetry throughout her book. It really created a realistic view of what has happened to this society over the years. She even has a tune “Dandy Apples, Dandy Apples, smell like roses in the fall. When their swingin’ and they’re screamin’, Ain’t they the dandiest sight of all?” Morbid, of course, but a really wonderful graphic depiction of the kind of societal tearing that’s taken place. She’s constantly injecting these poems into the plot and they flow so beautifully with the story. She also added moments that make a bibliophile’s heart ache. The government burned all books, and they could only be bought on the black market. Unsanctioned text would lead to the capital punishment of death, which we see later on in the novel. The few REAL books that are left are so mangled that they can’t be read, save for the book that Maia recieved from her mother just she left for good. As awful as Maia’s mother is, Maia still yearns to prove herself, because she wanted to say “I can be good,” clearly lacking in any kind of approval from her mother.

The rest of our journey through this novel is just smaller individual steps towards tearing down the government, facing her mother, deciding who she loves, Riser or Caspian, and saving humanity. Thus, Grey has created a novel that I could not put down (for a second time) and rendering my need for sleep and food a useless tool until the release of Shadow Rise! I most definitely would recommend you read her novels, and would give the book a rating of 5 stars, and PG-12, primarily for the heavy amount of death and destruction, and that it confronts all the issues one would expect when overthrowing a government that may leave a child under 12 a bit emotionally shocked.

Thank you for taking the time to read my review and I’d love to hear your thoughts about this novel once you have read it, too! You can find it on amazon or at Blaze Publishing:

https://www.blazepub.com/books/shadow-fall/

XoXo,

Phoenix

Saints and Misfits


⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ (3.5)

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9924-8

Author: S. K. Ali

Publisher: Salaam Reads

Publishing Date: 2017
Janna Yusuf is a very conservative hijab wearing Muslim-American girl. She’s smart, and kind, but broken inside. She’s strong inside and in her mind but it takes a while for us to see the physical appearance of her strength. Having divorced parents, Janna has a secular father, and religious mother and brother. Her father has remarried, and has two children with his new wife. Janna continues to love him endlessly, but we see mixed emotions between Muhammad and his father.In the beginning of the book we find that Janna is sexually assaulted by Farooq, the monster, as he’s well known for the rest of the book. The rest of the plot is spent running away from, and avoiding Farooq, her family, and her friends, as Janna shelters the truth inside. During this traumatic time Janna is still faced with the normal struggles of everyday life.

She’s attends Fenway High School where she’s fallen for a young man named Jeremy, a Christian boy. Clearly, this is against her beliefs, and what she’s been taught her whole life, but she cannot simply shut off her feelings for him. Through Advanced Classes, Mixed Emotions, Traumatic Experiences, and Shotty Friends, Janna also cares for an elderly man in her area, a Mr. Ram, whom she cares for once a week. A wise and caring man, Mr. Ram has been watched by Janna since well before she was a teen. He reads poems, and gives advice to Janna during her times with him, and I never left moments with Mr. Ram unaffected. 

During moments of frustration we see some favoritism towards Muhammad which seems to be culturally correlated with his gender. For obvious reasons Janna is irritated by this, and she now begins to play with the idea that her mother loves Muhammad more than her, and that she “finds it easy to exclude” her. 

While the monster who hurt her continues to attend her school and mosque, Janna has no place to hide. 

The novel was well written, especially if you focus on the accurate look into a Muslim-American’s everyday life. The characters and character relationships are genuine and allowed me to read the novel with the utmost ease. That being said, however, I found myself frustrated with the plot, easily bored, and having to stop myself from skipping along to get to the interesting things faster. I believe S.K. Ali could use improvement in the area of discerning how far of a gap should exist between plot and filler. That being said, I was also extremely frustrated with the sexual assault in the beginning because I felt it could have been detailed better creating in me a replica of the violation Janna felt. 

If I had to give this book a star rating I would say 3.5/5 stars considering is was a great diverse read, but the amount of time it took me to digest my book. I look forward to hearing your opinions on the book as well!

The Cruelty

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four-and-a-half-stars (4.5 Stars)

Author: Scott Bergstrom

Publishing Date: February 7, 2017

Publisher: Feiwell & Friends

ISBN: 9781250108180

Let me premise this entire review by saying this: I am reviewing the book that I read, not the man who wrote it.

I say this because as I’ve read other people’s reviews, most have automatically gone to good reads and have marked his book with a poor review without having even read it solely because they were upset and angry with things that he had said and done as an author that could be construed as rude and arrogant. I cannot speak to or for the man, but I can speak about his book, which is what I’m going to do. That being said, let’s begin.

WOW. I genuinely enjoyed this novel, and was pleasantly surprised. If you enjoyed the movie Taken (not Taken II, because we all know the sequel sucked,) then this book is for you! Gwendolyn Bloom, 17-year-old stuck in her shell as a “diplobrat” who has moved more times than I can count is stuck in your run-of-the-mill rich-kid societal school where she’s bullied because her daddy isn’t rich enough, and she lives in her head. Don’t get me wrong, if I didn’t know Gwen, and all I saw was that she often responded to her teacher’s questions about “benign indifference” in French, I’d think she was some arrogant show-off, too. In reality, however, that’s not the case.

When Gwen’s dad is kidnapped her world shatters. She’s faced with information she never anticipated that rocks her world. In a rush to save him since the government isn’t doing it’s job, she leaves behind a short-lived romance with someone whom she’s quickly and unrealistically fallen in love with as he becomes her only tie back to the world she’s left behind. It’s a race against time as Gwendolyn has to become as cruel as the people who have taken her dad.

We start the book off with a quote from George Orwell that really sets a unique tone:

“Part of the reason for the ugliness of adults in a child’s eyes, is that the child is usually looking upwards, and few faces are at their best when seen from below.”

Gwendolyn Bloom’s mom died when she was seven leaving her in the hands of her step-dad, seeing as she never knew her biological father. She has a close connection with her dad, and wouldn’t think of him as anything less. At one point she’s called into the principle’s office, and she corrects the principle who calls him her “step-father” and instructs her to just call him her father. We see early on that Gwen has a brave side to her, a side with tenacity, but it’s often beaten into submission. She has an innate sense of justice, too, one that she tries to see through even from the very beginning.

Gwen is an intellectual ruled by a mind that never stops. If it did she might be faced to confront the ugly past of her mother’s death, a past she was present for and remembers all too well. A sloppy gymnast for hobby, Gwen is raw power. Between her books and the balance beam she walks on, Gwen always finds an escape. She craves stability and normalcy, but what would a diplobrat know about that?

In the novel we meet several other characters, but we really only briefly get to know a few of them. We spend time with Gwendolyn’s neighbor, Bela, an ex-Musad agent who made a promise to her father never to feed her the lies of the government. He made good on his word, to say the least. We also spend time with Gwen’s long-lost aunt on her mother’s side. I’d like to say that I really appreciate the fact that Scott painted the Judeo-Christian woman as kind, and genuine, rather than cruel and twisted. Typically religious folks always end up being painted as nuts in the novels, and Lili was genuine through and through. She was a much needed support in the initial time that Gwen’s dad went missing.

One of the things that I loved most about this novel was that it was so true to it’s title… Cruel. It was genuine, hard-core, well written, and well researched. Over time I get sick of the traditional sugar-coated, watered down YA novels that are fed to us. The Cruelty was far from that. Fast paced, and extremely realistic, I didn’t feel like Scott was spoon feeding me a story he was going to wrap up in an unrealistic pretty bow. In fact, I loved the ending, which for me is rare. The end of the story was concise, and didn’t leave a ton of loose ends. I felt satisfied in the end, and noticed Scott left just enough of an “open-ending” to make room for a second novel. It didn’t leave me craving book two right away. Some novels leave you with your mouse hovered over the pre-order button on Amazon for the next book, but Scott didn’t do that to me. Like I said, I felt satisfied, but eager for the next book. Almost like after you finish a good meal, you’re full- not looking to eat more right away, but you’ll be ready when it’s time for dessert.

Another character we meet is Yael, a Musad agent covering as a dance, and krav maga teacher. Yael has a gentle spirit, but is a strict teacher. She doesn’t play games, and I love that she doesn’t coddle Gwendolyn. Often times when you get a YA you have these characters that are intended to support the protagonist and aid them in the shift between where they started and where they are going- character development. It isn’t uncommon that these supportive characters end up babying the protagonist, and being a shoulder to cry on. In some books that’s needed, but in this one it would have been an embarrassment. Scott portrayed his characters realistically, ugly at times even. I felt like he’d actually been to these other countries and had met these people because they were genuine. He wasn’t afraid to paint society for what it is- brutal, ugly, and cruel.

As a supporter of raising awareness on Human-trafficking I also appreciated his accuracy in the representation of that side of the world Gwen’s thrust into. It’s often times painted as glamorous and as a reprieve from being a run-of-the-mill whore, but Scott didn’t go that route. Again, unafraid to paint the ugly truth he was detailed and open about how things work and what happens to these girls. Though that wasn’t the focus of the story, or even a huge part of the plot, the fact that he didn’t neglect it, that he didn’t halfheartedly write that piece, I appreciate.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel. I rated in a 4 and a half stars because I felt like it was well-written, well-researched, and genuine to its title- cruel. From beginning to end I enjoyed this read, and though the first 30 or so pages were a bit slow, it picked up quickly. I never felt like I wanted to DNF this book, or put it down and take a break. Often times I had to tell myself to put it away because I needed to sleep, but I never did, because I needed to know what happened more. As I stated early on, if you were a fan of the movie Taken, or stories like that, then I definitely believe this book for you.

One of the things I have decided to start doing is rating books similarly to movies. This book, I would say, even as a YA novel is definitely a PG-13 based book. With heavy language, violence, death, human-trafficking, and prostitution, I don’t think this is something a twelve year old should read, or a thirteen year old for that matter, but if you’re open to that for your child, be prepared to explain and walk them through the emotions they will experience during this novel. Please be aware of this information when considering this book for yourself, a friend, or your child.

I hope you enjoyed my review, and if you’d like to discuss the book with me you’re welcome to comment below, or message me on any social media. If you’re unable to access those platforms feel free to email me!

 

XoXo,

Phoenix