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BLOG TOUR: Incense and Peppermints – Review + Giveaway

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This Song Will Save Your Life – Review

21469098This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales – 5 stars

291 pages

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) in September 2013

Young Adult, Contemporary

Goodreads | Book Depository

“Don’t be special.” That’s what I would say to my younger self if I could pinpoint the moment when I went astray. But there was no one moment. I was always astray.


Synopsis

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up.

Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Review

Only good things have been said about this book, and it’s easy to figure out why: it touches something inside most people. Elise is someone we’ve all been: she is deeply lost, because she’s different from everyone else.

Haven’t we all felt this way? Like we’re something special, I mean – not better, but just uncommon and outstanding in a sea of people who are all the same. In Elise’s case, she was told she was precocious, smart and special from a young age, and at sixteen she’s an outsider, a misfit – apparently just because the other kids were jealous of her.

Well, let me just tell you. As someone who’s also been told she was precocious and smart, it doesn’t work that way. No one’s jealous because you get good grades, sometimes people just don’t like you. Maybe because you’re self-centered or too plain or more of a diva than you think you are. I’ve never had anyone dislike me because I’m top of the class. It was always for other reasons.

Plus, you know all those people who you think are cut-out figures of teen movie stereotypes? They have lives too. They have their own problems, their own complexity, their own personality apart from the one you’ve made up in your mind. You’re not that special.

I’m going to share something. I’ve felt like Elise does too, which you might have picked up from the previous paragraphs. When I was in middle school, I was the outsider. People didn’t get me, or they simply didn’t like me. I don’t quite grasp it all yet, but they made it pretty clear that they were not my friends. Now I’m okay, I guess, but that was a difficult time of my life.

So I understand, like lots of people who weren’t “popular”. I get why Elise feels the way she does. And I recommend this book to everyone that’s ever felt like they’re the odd ones out. It’s books like this one that remind me why I like reading. It’s books like this one, because they make me think, they are somewhat relatable, and they are accurate depictions of how the real word truly looks. Because there are no mean girls who live just to make fun of you, and there’s not one person in your school who genuinely wants to make people suffer. The way I see it, both the author and Elise point out that after everything, we’re all still people. So please, get a copy if you can.


Have you read This Song Will Save Your Life? Do you plan to? Let me know below!

review

The Thousandth Floor – Review

31244354The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

441 pages

Publisher: HarperTeen

4 stars

SciFi/ChickLit/Young Adult

The girl was the first person to fall from the Tower in its twenty-five years. He didn’t know who she was, or how she’d gotten outside. He didn’t know whether she’d fallen, or been pushed, or whether – crushed by the weight of unspoken secrets – she’d decided to jump.


Synopsis

New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall…

Review

I cannot believe I waited this long to read this book! It’s been sitting on my shelf since Christmas, but for some reason I just couldn’t sit down and read.

I’m so glad I read it. We have five different point of views, and I found them all really interesting and complex! The characters were also very diverse. Some reviews claim it felt like the author was trying too hard to include diversity in her book, but I don’t think it did. We have a lesbian relationship and several POC MCs, which isn’t something we see in YA fiction that much. That was great.

The first chapter consists of a girl falling down a two-mile-high building, and then we go back in time to two months before that, and then the problems start: there are so many female characters, and so many reasons for each one of them to be that girl. I finished the book in one sitting just to see who it would be.

The author’s writing makes the book so incredibly fast-paced and easy to read. It was what I liked the most. The descriptions are beautiful, detailed and truly give the reader a sense of how this thousand-storey building looks and feels, and everything seemed so real and futuristic and just so amazing.

The story is strictly character-driven, and there’s so much drama and rich kid problems. It’s not what I’d usually read but it’s so well done I ended up loving it.

If you loved it so much, why not give if five big stars?

Well…

On the other end of the call was Atlas, her brotherand the reason she never wanted to kiss anyone else.

That’s why.

ABC Network abc scandal ugh kerry washington

Avery, the girl with a perfect life, spends the whole book completely desperate because she cannot have her brother Atlas. Technically, they’re not related by blood, but it still felt too weird for me to ship and reading their scenes, I even felt a little uncomfortable; their relationship could have been so great and sweet, but then the romance ruined it.

I wasn’t about to rate this book badly because of that since I enjoyed the rest of it very much. I really did love McGee’s writing and her characters, petty and spoiled as most of them were. I’d definitely recommend it and if you’ve read it I’d love to talk with you about it and hear what you thought about the relationships.


Is The Thousandth Floor on your TBR? Have you read it already? What did you think of my review? Let’s talk!

review

Cress (Lunar Chronicles, #3): Review

Cress by Marissa Meyer – 4.5 stars13206828

560 pages

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Retelling, Young Adult, Science Fiction

(May contain spoilers for the books that came before)

“Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves.”


Synopsis

In this third book in Marissa Meyer’s bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Review

The books in this series aren’t only longer as it progresses, they’re also significantly better. Cinder and Scarlet didn’t particularly blow me away – and I’m not saying that this book did it either – but it was fun, and a major improvement from the others.

I haven’t bought a physical copy of this book yet, but I’m going to get one soon enough! After reading it, I’ve decided I want copies of all the books in the series.

Cress is named after the new character introduced in the book – Cinder was a retelling of Cinderella, Scarlet of Little Red Riding Hood and Cress is Rapunzel. If we take the Disney film version, Captain Thorne is Flynn Rider and one of the Queen’s thaumaturges (Sybil Mira) would be Mother Gothel.

The characters were interesting and had a certain depth I didn’t see in the other books. But Wolf (for example) was badly developed: in Cress he suffers, but all he does is growl and attack people throughout the entirety of the book instead of actually doing something interesting.

Anyway, even though this book is the longest yet, the 560 pages flew by! And not only because I read it in ebook form. The characters get separated, so there are multiple stories going on at once, and this made the book very fast-paced! This made me realize why I didn’t like Cinder that much: there was only her story, and it wasn’t interesting enough to carry a whole book. So this was much better!

Cress and Thorne’s story was funny, and I loved how Cress’s massive crush on him was slightly mocked and didn’t transform into a relationship in a week, like it usually happens in YA books.

There was not a lot of Wolf+Scarlet in this one, but I still ship them and hope to see them safe, sound and happy in Winter!

And even though Cress’s parts were funniest and most entertaining, Cinder and Kai’s were the most interesting. Cinder’s learning to control her Lunar powers and Kai is preparing his wedding, all while a war is about to occur. I didn’t like them OR ship them until now, but I have to admit, it’s pretty hard to finish this book without doing that. Cinder’s incredibly worried of becoming Levana – she’s powerful and can manipulate people just like her – and Kai fights an internal war because of his feelings for her (were they real? Was she manipulating him? What am I going to do about her being cyborg?).

I even cried a little near the end of this book. Maybe I’m still emotional from Crooked Kingdom, but I really did. That’s what pushed me to give it 4.5 stars instead of the 4 I had planned.

I look forward to reading Winter very much! The only thing worrying me is its massive size…


Have you read Cress? Have you already finished the series? Do you agree with me on anything? Let’s talk!

review

The Last Star (The Fifth Wave, #3) – Review

The Last Star by Rick Yancey16131489

338 pages

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (May 2016)

Science Fiction, Young Adult

“Lost, found, and all was light.”


Synopsis

The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human.

Review

(Don’t worry, the quote I wrote up there is in no way a spoiler: you don’t know what it’s about, I just thought it was fitting since it’s the last book in the series.)

(But this review will definitely include spoilers for the last two books).

I have waited so long for this.

I fell in love with The Fifth Wave. Though less, I enjoyed The Infinite Sea very much. The Last Star’s blurb promised to be the brilliant, surprising conclusion to one of my favorite series.

And yes, I ended up loving it. Maybe because I believe in the series too much to let myself be disappointed. But that doesn’t take away the fact that I had a lot of fun – and a lot of feelings! – reading this book.

Let’s see; after a one-page intro (like in The Infinite Sea‘s “child in the wheat”), we start with a priest who managed to survive the Other’s first four waves and is now part of a traveling group living in the Ohio caverns Zombie and Ringer agreed to meet at in The Infinite Sea. This lasts for about ten pages during which there was an incessant screaming in my head that said “WHERE’S RINGER”, but it was actually kind of interesting? There’s this quote that makes more sense in the context but which I really loved.

“Even your biggest church-bashing atheist has faith in that. Life will go on.”

Then (yas!) we go over to Ringer’s POV and basically we discover her main task in this book, which isn’t really shocking, but will definitely add tension!

Vosch wants to figure out what went wrong with Evan Walker for him to fall in love with Cassie, and to do this she sends Ringer with this other woman called Constance. By now, Ringer has found out that the Silencers are not really Others, and she tries to explain this to a bunch of people who refuse to believe it, which I think is obvious (if this is true, they aren’t going to be rescued!) but also really interesting.

Also, there’s this one explanation that I really liked about just how masterful the Others’ plan is – the one thing I didn’t get was what the Others were trying to do: save the humans? Destroy the humans? I need to reread this.

Okay, I’m getting off topic, my point was that Ringer explained that since in the 4th wave you couldn’t trust that people were still people, there was no trust therefore no cooperation, thus no progress at all: the last step in knocking the human race back into the Neolithic, now that they had to hunt for food. The death of all civilization, and the barrier before the beginning of a new one. I loved this.

One thing I didn’t like about Ringer’s parts was this one bomb that she dropped on us in the middle of the book and then there was no mentioning of it until like 100 pages later? If you’ve read the book you know what I’m talking about. This really got on my nerves, but it doesn’t affect the rating much because it’s a minor detail.

With Cassie, it was very interesting to see that motif that keeps repeating throughout the three books: I am humanity. I think it all wraps up very nicely, and even though I expected many of the plot twists and bad things that happened, I was still very emotional, saying goodbye to the characters I’ve grown to love so much.

Zombie is just the dad of the group and I kind of love that. He was still interesting in this book, even if it wasn’t that focused on him. This one is basically Cassie’s redemption: I forgive her for how rude and boring she was in the last one. Even if her relationship with Evan was ridiculous in this book.

I don’t want to feel like it’s over – I was left with a feeling that told me there was more… And there isn’t more.

Rating

4 stars

Conclusion

In my system, 4 stars means I’d recommend it. I just don’t think you can read the first two books and then give up! The Infinite Sea was a bit slow, but I think it was worth it to get to this one.

If you’ve read this book, definitely hit me up on Instagram (@mayaheartsbooks) and we can discuss it! I really need to, it’s left me in shreds.

review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Review

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness23830990

336 pages

Publisher: HarperTeen

Young Adult/Contemporary/Fantasy

Goodreads

“We’re just as screwed up and brave and false and loyal and wrong and right as anyone else.”


Synopsis

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

Review

I was itching to get a Patrick Ness book, and I found this under my Christmas tree (you can take a look at my Christmas post). I originally wanted A Monster Calls, but I’m not disappointed with The Rest of Us Just Live Here at all!

So to sum up the synopsis and explain a bit further, this book is about those kids we don’t usually hear about in books; the ones who go to school with the so-called “indie kids”- you know, the extras in movies, the people whose lives are not as exciting, not worth telling.

Except this book was great because it showed how these kids’ lives are exciting and difficult, which is why I chose the quote at the top. This book is filled with real-life problems. While the indie kids are off saving the world, Mikey, Henna, Jared and Mel are living in a world like ours, even though their stories sometimes cross.

Basically our protagonist Mikey is your average 17-year-old boy with anxiety issues who’s just trying to move through life and has bad parents and two sisters who he really loves. He was an interesting MC and it felt like he was someone real, someone relatable. I thought the way his anxiety was portrayed was very important, and we need more mentally ill characters like him to raise awareness.

On the other hand we have his friends, Henna and Jared, who (fun fact!) were actually named after real people who participated in an auction for the chance to be in this book. Henna is a black half-Finnish girl who Mikey claims to be in love with, problem is she doesn’t seem to feel the same. Jared is Mikey’s best friend who – for an actual reason, you’ll see – is worshipped by mountain lions and just felines in general.

I’m going to be straight: these characters lead pretty indie lives for non-indie kids. But you just get the vibe that they’re everyday people, and that’s what’s important I think.

Now for the writing and format – amazing. I cannot even talk about the writing, it’s just… great. Here’s an example: there are about 8 pages with dialogue only and I didn’t even notice until I was 5 pages in. You get so sucked into the book, and I think that proves how brilliant Ness’s writing is.

The format is actually pretty simple, divided into chapters – but it also managed to be original! Every chapter starts with a small summary of what the indie kids have been doing. These paragraphs are dramatic and kind of hilarious, but interesting too, because they actually intertwine with Mikey’s story and are helpful to get a sense of what’s going on. Mikey and his friends, being non-indie, have no idea, so it would just be really confusing if we didn’t have them.

It wasn’t a five-star book, but only because that rating is reserved for my favorites and this wasn’t that good. But I think it deserves the four stars I gave it!

Rating

4 stars

Conclusion

Would I recommend this book? Yep, for sure! It makes you think, I believe, and even though it gets a little crazy with the mix of fantasy and contemporary, it was a great read.

I haven’t read any other Ness books, so I don’t know whether this one is better or worse, but I’ll let you know when I read them!