ARC Review: The Theft of Sunlight

I finally finished this book! It has been so hard trying to find time to read these past few weeks. If you weren’t aware, my fiance and I are currently in the process of buying a house! And at the same time, I’m also unfortunately dealing with some medical issues and too many doctors appointments. Oh and this week is the week of Passover.

I’m a little busy. So trying to read has been pretty difficult. But, I finally found time to finish this amazing book and I’m so desperate for more!

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My First Time at YALLFest: My Thoughts and Honest Review

I am loving these long titles recently. Sorry to anyone who can’t read the whole thing and is thinking, “what in the world?” at these. Next time I’ll make sure the title is an entire paragraph – that will be fun!

So, I went to YALLFest 2019 last week (more like 2 weeks now but whatever) and let me say, wow. It’s on the same craziness scale as BookCon with just a 1/50 of the booths and the people – also it’s outdoors. I went with my friend Grace and we were so excited. Grace is a veteran at this, having gone multiple years in a row, but this being my first time, I basically relied on Grace to lead me through the event with no issues. There were no issues thankfully.

Day One – Friday:

Friday is mostly a signing day so we went and got some books signed (to rephrase, Grace got some books signed and I stood in line for her) and then we wandered around Charleston. Grace had won tickets to the Red Carpet Preview hosted by Penguin Teen which we went to after meeting some wonderful authors. On our seats were these cute tote bags containing stickers, tattoos, a preview of 2020 books, and an ARC of They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman.

The event was a lot of fun and included authors such as Ally Condie, Renee Ahdieh, Tochi Onyebuchi, and other fantastic authors! If you ever go to YALLFest and want a fun panel to go to, Red Carpet Preview was awesome and I highly recommend it.

Day Two – Saturday:

The day started off at 4:30am when our alarm went off and we woke up for the day. We waited in the car in front of the museum (where the ARC square was located) at 5:30pm until we saw other people arrive. We parked and waited outside from 6:00am until 9:00am when the Fierce Reads booth opened for their ticket drop.  I grabbed tickets for Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan and Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust.

9:01am – after tickets were acquired, I went right to the Fierce Reads booth next door where they were selling finished copies of books. As they stated in their email, if you purchased certain books you got some ARCs included. So in addition to tickets to two ARC drops later in the day, I also snagged ARCs of The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi (The Gilded Wolves #2) and Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles.

After that, rushing over to Epic Reads to acquire another book, everything started to blur. For most of the day I ran around to different drops that were happening for books I knew I really wanted and occasionally stepped in line for mystery items. Besides running around to different drops, my friend and I also attended the I Love YA A Waffle Lot! event hosted by HMH Teen.

The event was a lot of fun and hey, free waffles! I took some photos at their Instagram station, pictured below:

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Towards the end of the day, Fierce Reads offered another promotion like the one from the morning, buy a book and get an ARC. I bought two books, Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan and Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok. Included with those books were the ARCs to the sequels of each, Ruthless Gods and Sensational. It was a nice surprise for everyone as they cleared out books and ARCs from other events.

The ARC square closed at 4pm, with raffle winners being announced at 4:30pm, for the most part. I didn’t win anything but that’s typical. Finally, after a long day of running and waiting in line, we headed for the car.

To sit down for an hour until our final event.

We went to the Smackdown event at the Music Hall and it was very interesting. I didn’t know what to expect at this event but I was still somehow surprised at the different segments they hosted. There was singing, dancing, shoving hand into mayonnaise, and a lot more.

It was a great way for Grace and me to relax and have some fun at the same time. The drive home was bittersweet because 1) the event was over which means we were going home soon but 2) yay for beds and sleeping!

After ordering pizza and marveling at our hauls, YALLFest was over!

Here are some crappy photos of my haul from this year, taken in the hotel after a 15 hour day! Enjoy!

Haul photo 1     haul photo 2

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Overall, it was a fun festival to attend. It’s a bit annoying that the event is outside because rain or shine, you’re going to feel it, and with the cold it was brutal. The ARC square is also very close together so lines would often intersect or be side by side, which got confusing as the day wore on. The last real complaint is that there is absolutely no food nearby. If you are not prepared to bring some snacks or a lunch with you, and you’re trying to stay on top of ARC drops during the day, you are going to starve.

Besides the usual festival complaints, I really enjoyed meeting everyone at YALLFest and I am planning on going again next year for the 10th anniversary! Now that I know what to expect, and how to optimize my time, I’m excited to see what next year holds for us!

Did you attend YALLFest this year? If you did, what was your most exciting find?

If you didn’t go, what would you have been on the hunt for?

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The Cerulean

Okayyyy, wow. That’s how I’m going to start off this review because – wow. I read The Cerulean by Amy Ewing, which is currently available to buy or borrow from the library. I read the ARC of The Cerulean with a friend of mine recently and both of us were severely disappointed – let’s get into why!

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Here is the description from Goodreads:

Sera has always felt as if she didn’t belong among her people, the Cerulean. She is curious about everything and can’t stop questioning her three mothers, her best friend, Leela, and even the High Priestess. Sera has longed for the day when the tether that connects her City Above the Sky to the earthly world below finally severs and sends the Cerulean to a new planet.

But when Sera is chosen as the sacrifice to break the tether, she doesn’t know what to feel. To save her City, Sera must throw herself from its edge and end her own life. But something goes wrong and she survives the fall, landing in a place called Kaolin. She has heard tales about the humans there, and soon learns that the dangers her mothers warned her of are real. If Sera has any hope to return to her City, she’ll have to find the magic within herself to survive.

So first things first, when I read the description and first received this book I was so excited. Not only did it sound amazing and new, it had such a unique plot I had to read it and see what it was all about.

My first reaction to this book was, what is going on? The premise of the plot does not even cover the first 50 pages out of 500. There is so much more that goes on during this book that it gets so confusing and sporadic it’s hard to keep up. And the layout of it did not help. For one, there are so many different points of view (POVs), it’s hard to keep up in the sectioned setup. We have Sera, Leela, Agnes, and Leo all somewhat thrown together based on location – which made it so difficult to establish a timeline when switching POVs.

To further explain why I did not like this book, I’m going to break it up into a few sections.

1) The fact that the main character Sera is the only straight woman in her society, which consists of polyamorous lesbian couples, is unnecessary to me. Besides the fact that she claims she is different, Sera acknowledges that some women do not feel attraction and choose not to marry – which would have been fine. But making her straight added nothing to the plot in this entire book, which makes it feel like she’s trying to make her feel like an “other” to the reader and I was not a fan of that. The author continually makes a point of mentioning that Sera is different, but does nothing to explain why her being different matters. I would have been much more impressed if she had made her Ace/Aro than making her straight, because at least then she would be different without countering the idea that straight people are somehow “weird” or “different”. Because they’re not – they’re the norm.

2) The character Leo had a weird and sudden character shift that was somewhat explained, but so underdeveloped it felt wrong and out of place. It felt like he was made to be the bad guy and then changed his mind and decides he wants to be the good guy? He starts off wanting to do anything to please his father with no regards to other people around him, but suddenly when it affects Sera, he changes his mind and becomes a good person and wants to help her. It seemed so sudden and out of character, I’m not sure if it was Ewing’s intention to make it that sudden or not, but regardless, it was very confusing. 

3) I adored Leela and Agnes’ character so much and honestly I just wanted to read from their POV and nobody else’s. The way they were written and portrayed in the book not only made me love them, but it made it much harder to read from Leo or Sera’s POV later in the book, especially since they both came across so childish and whiny in comparison to Leela and Agnes.

4) The set up of the book by location did not make sense to me and made the story so choppy. Instead of sprinkling different character POVs in to explain what’s going on in the meantime, we get six different sections and have to connect the dots that way through four different POVs. Not only would it jump to different POV by location, but we mostly get Sera, Leo, and Agnes’ POV until suddenly about 75% of the way through, we finally get Leela’s POV and it’s such a sudden shift, it was honestly annoying. I would have much preferred if it was a constantly changing POV and the author can set the location so we know where they are, instead of splitting up by section and then POV. To sum it up, it was not enjoyable to read it that way for me.

Now to give the author the benefit of the doubt, I did read the advanced copy of this book, so some of those issues may have been resolved in the final draft, but if they weren’t I would not recommend this book to a friend.

Overall, I really wanted to like the story and the mystery of what was going was enticing. But the setup and some of the characters killed it for me and unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like this book, I didn’t. I would give this book star.pngstar.png/5 stars.

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If you’re looking for a cool science fiction, space getaway, I would honestly suggest anything else at this point – I’ve heard Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff  is amazing and so is Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston.

Spectacle

I received an advance copy of Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok from NetGalley and I loved it. This book is currently published and available on all platforms, so if you like this review, feel free to purchase a copy for yourself or pick it up at your local library!

Image result for spectacle cover jodie lynn

To start off, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

As a historical fiction buff – I loved this story! The slight fantasy of it also made it that much more entertaining for me, especially since it added a lot to the story. Even though I wished it had a more prominent role, the biggest part of the story I loved was the historical fiction aspect of it, especially since it was 1880’s Paris – post Napoleon era.

The characters in this book, since most are women, seemed restrained, which makes sense for the times. While there were times I wished I saw more of a “screw the patriarchy” type of attitude from the characters, I can’t blame them for their reservations and their fears. It does show itself at times, but I had hoped for more moments of it.

Honestly, I loved this story so much, I couldn’t put it down at times. Since NetGalley gives out e-ARCs, I had to read this story on my kindle, which is something I don’t do often, so the fact that I couldn’t put the book down is saying something. As a person who has trouble reading on a kindle at times, the fact that I was obsessively reading this book means it’s good!

One of the problems I had with this book was the ending. It felt like it came out of nowhere and I was not prepared for the reveal when it happened. Usually with murder mysteries, there are some clues given to the reader so that they can start to guess who the killer is, but with this book I felt blindsided. I wish there had been a little more of a hint as to who it was and why they were doing it before the sudden reveal. On the other hand, it was also nice to be completely surprised at the fact that I didn’t guess the killer immediately. So if you like knowing who did it, this book is not for you! Get ready to be surprised.

Honestly, I really enjoyed this book and thought it was not only a suspenseful, enticing read but historically accurate, which is always lovely to read. As a historical fiction/fantasy buff – this book itched all my scratches and left me wanting more. I’m so excited to see what Zdrok comes out with next!

To wrap this up, I loved this story and I would give this book star.pngstar.pngstar.pngstar.png/5 stars! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction as Zdrok does an amazing job incorporating history and fiction seamlessly.

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If you like historical fiction murder mysteries, I would recommend Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco or Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers!

This Book Is Not Yet Rated

I received an advance copy of This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni from a giveaway on Goodreads. The book is available on April 9, 2019 so only two more months!

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Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

A smart and funny contemporary YA novel about 17-year-old Ethan who works at the crumbling Green Street Cinema and has to learn, along with his eccentric, dysfunctional work family, that fighting for the thing you love doesn’t always turn out like in the movies.

The Green Street Cinema has always been a sanctuary for Ethan. Maybe it’s because movies help him make sense of real life, or maybe it’s because the cinema is the one place he can go to still feel close to his dad, a film professor who died three years ago. Either way, it’s a place worth fighting for, especially when developers threaten to tear it down to build a luxury condos.

They say it’s structurally unsound and riddled with health code violations. They clearly don’t understand that the crumbling columns and even Brando, the giant rat with a taste for sour patch kids, are a part of the fabric of this place that holds together the misfits and the dreamers of the changing neighborhood the cinema house has served for so many years.

Now it’s up to the employees of the Green Street Cinema–Sweet Lou the organist with a penchant for not-so-sweet language; Anjo the projectionist, nicknamed the Oracle for her opaque-but-always-true proclamations; Griffin and Lucas who work the concessions, if they work at all; and Ethan, known as “Wendy,” the leader of these Lost Boys–to save the place they love.

It’s going to take a movie miracle if the Green Street is going to have a happy ending. And when Raina, Ethan’s oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes back home from Hollywood where she’s been starring in B-movies about time-traveling cats, Ethan thinks that miracle just may have been delivered. But life and love aren’t always like the movies. And when the employees of the Green Street ask what happens in the end to the Lost Boys, Ethan has to share three words he’s not been ready to say: “they grow up.”

This Book Is Not Yet Rated is the story of growing up and letting go and learning that love can come in many different forms and from many different sources like the places that shape us, the people who raise us, the lovers who leave us, and even the heroic rodents who were once our mortal enemies. 

Going into this story, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let me say that I was blown away by how deep this story was. The author discusses serious topics such as death, identity, self worth, and finding our place in this world – something I didn’t expect to be hit with. It was a pleasant surprise, but a surprise nonetheless.

The beginning was a bit boring for me and I had a bit of trouble getting into it, but once I was invested, it was an engaging story. I did have an issue connecting with the main character though, although I’m not sure what about him made him distant for me. His personality seemed odd, but it makes sense as the story progresses why it might come across that way, so I’ll excuse it.

The biggest issue I had with the story in general was the relationship between Ethan and Raina. It was a weird love story between them that I’m not sure was resolved, which was irritating because I felt so much of the book was Ethan avoiding his feelings for Raina and once he accepted them, the tension dissipated and I’m left with nothing. I wanted more out of this love story between them and I felt a bit disappointed in it. Besides that, the interaction between Ethan and Raina were a mix of sad and emotional to fun and light hearted – it was a good, realistic mix.

Besides that, the story is engaging, funny, and deep. The other characters, like Anjo, Sweet Lou, Griffin, and Lucas helped lighten up the story and make it more entertaining and less emotionally scarring, especially in regards to the fact that this theater is going to be torn down. I also think Ethan’s friendship between these characters helped make him seem less lonely and whiny, like he does with Raina at times, and makes him appear more like a normal teenager.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and it was a good, fast read. I’m excited to read the finished result in April! For my rating, I would rate this book a star.png star.png star.png/5 stars. It was a good contemporary read and I would definitely recommend it!

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If you like this book, I would recommend To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han