The Betrayal of Ka by Shea Oliver

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Synopsis via Goodreads

As the spaceship secretly lands on Earth, Ka’s mission is clear: find and kill Transprophetics. His shipmates think of him as a killer. On his home planet of Koranth, he is considered a murderer. Haunted in his dreams by the boy whose life he stole, Ka struggles to define who he really is.

A girl in a temple in Thailand. A boy kidnapped in Mexico. Both can do the impossible. Both can move objects with their minds. These two Transprophetics pose grave risks to the Donovackia Corporation as it plans its invasion of Earth.

With a blade in his hand, Ka’s decision to kill, or not, will reverberate across the galaxy.

My Review:

Wow. If I could sum up the experience that is reading The Betrayal of Ka, it would have to be “Wow.”

For one, Oliver’s world-building skills are exquisite. The details he used to describe this galaxy with multiple life-sustaining planets and how they interact/coexist/function was amazing.

That descriptiveness carried over to the characters as well. I feel like I would know Ka or Dylan or Bjorn if I passed them on the street. Each character had a distinctive personality that I felt completed their respective story arcs perfectly. Ka’s story arc specifically warmed my heart as I got further into this book.

As for the plot itself, it had several intermingling storylines going on, but I feel like by the end of the book each one was wrapped up in a way that left me satisfied and not lacking anything major, but also intrigued by what the second book might hold.

There were more twists and turns than I could keep up with, but in a good way that meant that when I sat down to read this book, I read large portions at once.

For anyone who loves futuristic fantasy/sci-fi I would definitely recommend checking it out.

(I feel the need to say that I would recommend this for high schoolers and up, as there is violence/some dark parts to the book, but they also are sort of what make the book)

 

And Now It’s Time for a Breakdown… To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

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So I have a rule that I don’t watch a bookish movie adaptation before I read the book it is based on, and while I had read TATBILB before, I wanted a refresher read. I posted a review after my refresher read a little while ago (which can be found here), so I finally watched the movie.

First of all, the casting could not have been more perfect. I cannot picture those characters anymore without picturing Noah Centineo and Lana Condor (yay for Asian-American representation!). Whoever did the casting deserves an award for it. Literally.

Second, this adaptation stayed pretty faithful to the book itself, which definitely gave it some extra brownie points in my book because that has always been a pet peeve. Aside from some pretty obvious little things, I didn’t really see a huge difference from book to movie.

Third, the romance between Lara Jean and Peter is so perfect, whether it’s read about or watched on the screen. The producers did such a good job bringing to life such a timeless literary couple; the emotions were just as (if not more) raw/real as they were in the book. I definitely squealed several times.

Finally, I loved seeing the dynamics of the Song family portrayed on screen. They have such a great bond despite Mrs. Song being deceased, and it sort of reminded me of my own family a little bit.

If you have not yet taken the opportunity to watch To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix, you should definitely make it your next movie night pick.

 

What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli

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Synopsis via Goodreads:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

My Review: 

Okay, first of all, why did Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera not team up sooner? Their writing styles fit together so perfectly, and made Arthur and Ben’s story double the cuteness.

Second, I’m a sucker for NYC and a good LGBTQ+ romance, so I’m sort of kicking myself for not reading this sooner.

This book was an emotional rollercoaster, with each turn written so poignantly and with such raw emotion that I felt like I was experiencing these emotions right there with each of the characters.

I appreciate the fact that the romance was written with ups and downs, bumps in the road, and general awkwardness–in a totally adorable way, mind you–because I feel like when people started writing LGBTQ+ romances in mainstream literature they were portrayed in a sugarcoated kind of way, which was definitely annoying.

I loved how each of the characters matured throughout the book–especially when it came to relationships. I thought each character’s arc suited them perfectly.

I personally think that the ending of the book tied up all the story lines (pretty) nicely, and let me feeling satisfied and not with a feeling of “I need to know what happens next” (thought I wouldn’t be opposed to a sequel, don’t get me wrong).

In conclusion, I hope we see another Albertalli and Silvera team-up in the future.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

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Synopsis via Goodreads:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

My Review:

So I finished my TATBILB re-read while traveling, and I kid you not my first stop when I got to my destination was the nearest bookstore to (finally!) procure my own copy of P.S. I Still Love You because I could not wait to read it.

Jenny Han does it again, ladies and gents and everything in between.

Lara Jean and Peter being together for real is so cute. I want that for me.

Like every relationship, it has its bumps in the road. The whole video incident, for one. I think people don’t write or talk about that kind of thing enough. Social media can be a mean-spirited place, and my heart went out to Lara Jean and Peter reading that.

Then, of course, there’s John Ambrose McClaren. It was nice to see them rekindle their friendship together, even if they both sort of knew they never had any shot at anything beyond that. I think everybody needs a John Ambrose McClaren in their lives.

It was also cute/funny to see Peter’s jealous side come out, especially after all the time he spends with Genevieve while he’s dating Lara Jean.

I liked how the main characters sort of developed/matured in their own ways between the first book and the second.

I also enjoyed being introduced to another one of the 5 boys that Lara Jean wrote to in her letters. By my count, we have been introduced to all but one at this point, and I’ll be interested to see if we get introduced to Kenny at any point in the last book in the series (stay tuned for that review!).

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Synopsis via Goodreads:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

My Review:

This is actually a reread; I read TATBILB a couple years ago, but I put it back on my TBR list after the movie came out and meeting Jenny Han at YALLfest.

It was just as good as I remember it being when I first read it!

First of all, I love the Song family so much. I feel like the dynamics Kitty, Margo, and Lara Jean are very similar to what it’s like to have siblings in real life, and it cracks me up.

I also think that Mr. Song is an underrated character. Being a single parent and raising three girls is no easy feat, I would imagine, and I think it’s so sweet the lengths his daughters go to to make him feel loved.

I just think Jenny Han is good at writing romance. While it was very rude of Kitty to invade Lara Jean’s privacy like she did, I think it would be so cute/romantic to meet and fall in love with someone because of a letter.

I was sort of skeptical about the whole fake-dating thing for a while, but I was also selfishly happy that Genevieve got knocked down a peg or two.

I’m glad that Peter and Lara Jean end up together for real in the end, even though sometimes Peter can be (very) clueless.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Hello, blog-o-sphere! Long time, no see.

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Synopsis via Goodreads: 

A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

My review: 

This is probably the best book I’ve read so far this year (Caroline, if you’re reading this, thanks for inspiring me to read RWRB). I still can’t believe that this was Casey McQuiston’s debut novel.

Casey does such a good job with the characters; their personalities seemed authentic as did the way they interacted with others. Definitely would want to be friends with them in real life.

As someone who is fairly into politics–American politics, anyways–and took AP Gov in high school, I appreciated that she clearly did her research on how elections and the publicity associated with them goes, as well as the role of and inner workings of the presidency.

Along those lines–especially with everything going on lately–I appreciate that she has a woman who comes from a Hispanic immigrant family as the president.

Of course I was all about the romance aspect of it. Two major figures from two of the world’s major superpowers falling in gay love for each other?!?!?! LGBTQ+ representation heaven! Casey does such a good job of portraying this romance in an authentic way and not making it feel rushed–just two teenagers in love. Alex and Henry are so cute together.

While I believe there’s gonna be a book two (and a RWRB movie!), I do feel like this could’ve been a standalone because Casey does a good job of tying everything together at the end and not leaving me feeling like there was something missing. I can’t wait to read what Casey writes next.

If you’re looking for your next summer read, I would definitely recommend picking up Red, White & Royal Blue from the bookstore or library nearest you.

 

 

Odd One Out by Nic Stone

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Synopsis via Goodreads:

Courtney “Coop” Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn’t mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.

Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed “new girl” would be synonymous with “pariah,” but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.

Jupiter Charity-Sanchez
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . . .

One story.
Three sides.
No easy answers.

My Review:

I thought I was a Nic Stone fan before, but boy did this book make me love her even more. Adam Silvera put it best, in my opinion–it really is a radiant masterpiece.

I loved each of the characters so much, and how close the Chin, Cooper, and Charity-Sanchez families was so perfect (Jupiter’s two dads were so cute). I loved how goofy but lovable Golly and Britain were, and how loyal they were to both Jupiter and Courtney–I wish every friend could be like them.

Speaking of that, Courtney and Jupiter’s friendship was definitely goals. There is LGBT and POC rep in OOO (if that wasn’t already obvious), and I think Nic did a great job writing it; it didn’t feel forced or stereotypical or anything like that, which can sometimes be the case when authors try to tackle subject matter like this. Here’s to diverse books!

Being a Queen fan myself (I listened to Another One Bites The Dust on repeat while writing this), I definitely appreciated all of the references to Queen and Freddie Mercury that were laced throughout the book.

Relating to that, I loved how the book was structured: each character had their own section, and within their section the chapters were organized based on a prominent part of their personality. Courtney’s section was entitled “The Game Plan,” (he plays basketball), and while there isn’t distinct organization in the chapter titles, there is a game plan made within his section. Rae’s section is opened by a crossword puzzle (she likes crosswords), and each chapter in her section is titled after a word that fits within the crossword puzzle. The chapters within Jupiter’s section are all titled after Queen songs, as she is the Queen-obsessionist in the book.

I don’t think I’ve ever been this obsessed with the structure of a book, but, you know, you learn new things every day. In the spirit of it being a new year, don’t let this year go by without picking up Odd One Out–you will regret it if you don’t. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read lately.

The Wicked King by Holly Black

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(wanted to include the B&N exclusive cover because that’s what I preordered)

Synopsis via Goodreads:

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

My Review:

If I could sum up my feelings about The Wicked King in three words, they would have to be “OH MY GOD!!!!” That’s about how I felt after finishing it. Holly Black definitely does not disappoint in this second installment of “The Folk of the Air” series (though I could’ve gone without as many plot twists; if you know YOU KNOW). I loved how much Jude came into her own in this book; I think she made a great seneschal, and I also think it took a lot of bravery for her to turn against her family and stand by the fact that it was the right thing to do. Cardan definitely needs to get his crap together; that’s all I’ll say to avoid spoilers. I finished the majority of this book on one train ride, and it is not a book you can easily put down and come back to–there’s never a dull day in Elfhame. The Cruel Prince had a fast-paced plot, but Wicked King is like that but on steroids–in only the best way, of course. I can’t wait for this book to come out in a week; those of you who are fans of the series are going to LOVE it. Thanks to NOVL for the ARC.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Synopsis via Goodreads:

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

My Review:

It was so fun to revisit this book so I could give myself a refresher before The Wicked King comes out. It was just as invigorating and fast-paced as it was the first time, and I would not recommend finishing it after you finish your math exam. Holly Black packs action into every last page, and I would put this on the must-read list for any fantasy/sci-fi lover. I love the fact that she has three badass female protagonists at the forefront of the story, and that they develop throughout the story into young adults who play important roles in the society of Faerie, and they’re not just cast off as dainty and weak. In short, I’m always a sucker for good, well-rounded characters like Jude, Taryn, and Vivi. Sometimes, at least for me, it could get difficult to keep track of all the subplots in my head, but once most of them were tied together at the end of the book, it was easier to remember what all had happened.  Overall, however, it’s a great read, and I’m looking forward to the sequel and hopefully getting to meet Holly in January!

And Now It’s Time for A Breakdown…. The Hate U Give Movie Review

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My (Many) Thoughts:

I’m normally nitpicky about movie adaptations of books when they leave out details, but this movie transcends that. George Tillman Jr. and the cast and crew all did a phenomenal job. The casting couldn’t have been more perfect. The acting couldn’t have been more poignant. I think Amandla Stenberg’s performance was one of the best of her acting career (just one girl’s opinion). I equally appreciated how real Sabrina Carpenter’s portrayal of Hailey was–she didn’t hold back there either. She was the very antithesis of Starr, and I think the movie viewers needed to see that. Aside from Sabrina’s and Amandla’s portrayals of their respective characters, AJ Kapa’s portrayal of Chris was heartwarming. How much he wanted to be there for Starr was awe-inspiring (why can’t all boys be like that?!), and the scene when he takes Starr home after prom cracked me up. All of the scenes that needed to portrayed in a real way (ie no sugarcoating) were–the scene where Khalil was shot, the scene in which the police unleashed tear gas into the crowd of protestors, the store getting set on fire, etc. It was all so poignant and heartbreaking and emotional and raw and real–I don’t cry easily and I teared up several times. I wouldn’t change anything. Bravissimo.

(PS You know it’s a good movie when your dad outcries you, and he takes the concept of not crying easily to a whole new level)