Posted in 2017 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: The Edge of the Abyss

26219455Title: The Edge of the Abyss

Series: Reckoners #2

Publication Date: April 18th, 2017

Publisher: Flux

Author: Emily Skrutskie

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Summary: Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she’d been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it’s not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It’s being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart.

But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect?

Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?

My Thoughts:
Ship: 
 Cas & Swift
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Cas, Swift
Needed BROTP: Cas & Chuck

Actual Review: If The Abyss Surrounds Us is a 10/5 then Edge of the Abyss is a 20/5 stars. TEOTA is everything that TASU is and more. It’s full of monsters and pirates and science and love and just everything that makes a sci-fi fantasy book perfect.

TEOTA finds Cas a couple of months after she agrees to become a pirate on Santa Elena’s ship, The MInnow, and start making her way toward righting the wrong that Fabian Murphy created in the world by being a supplier in black market Reckoners.

The Minnow has made her way to the Arctic to avoid Bao when suddenly a large Reckoner appears on the radar. Except it isn’t exactly a reckoner, it doesn’t have a companion ship and it isn’t taking commands to attack. It is choosing to do so on it’s own. Cas and the rest of the crew decide to name these wild reckoners HellBeasts.

The discovery of these Hellbeasts, call a convening of all the pirates to start discussing a plan to take care of this. Because left uncheck, these beasts will completely destroy the nature of the NeoPacific’s ecosystem.

All the while this is happening, Cas must also handle the stress of being one of the 5 in the running to potentially take over as Captain should Santa Elena pick her, but to do so Cas must be trained and that means both physical and mental in all ways of being a pirate. Add in a tumultuous love life with Swift, another one of the protegee’s and you’ve got one stressed out teenager.

We get to meet so many more pirates and explore even more of what it means to be a pirate in this semi post apocalyptic world that Skrutskie has created. Another amazing thing is we get so much closure and development for so many of our characters. And we get to see all sorts of Reckoners/HellBeasts in action, it’s awesome.

The last third…actually the whole book, is one thrilling page after another. You experience twist after twist all while exploring the amazing scenery and the great story in general.

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Posted in 2017 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Flame in the Mist

23308087Title: Flame in the Mist

Series: Flame in the Mist #1

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Summary: The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

My Thoughts:
Ship: 
 Mariko & Okami
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Mariko, Okami, The Cook
Needed BROTP: Mariko & Yuki
Favorite Quote: “I’ve never been angry to have been born a woman. There have been times I’ve been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight. Like being born under a stormy sky. Some people are lucky enough to be born on a bright summer’s day. Maybe we were born under clouds. No wind. No rain. Just a mountain of clouds we must climb each morning so that we may see the sun.:

Actual Review: Holy *Beep* on a *beep* Sandwich this book was good. But first I want to address the whole Mulan thing. Flame in the Mist is inspired by Mulan, it is not retelling. So there is no reason to get your panties in a bunch for wrong cultures as it is not a retelling of the Savior of China. The main thing that are similar is it is a female who has to masquerade as a man in a camp of fighters. I say fighters because Mulan infiltrates an actual Army Camp as a soldier where as Mariko is infiltrating NINJAS!!!

Mariko is on her way to the imperial palace to meet her bethrothed, the prince, when her caravan enters the Jukai forest which some believe is haunted as well as the stomping grounds of the Black Clan aka Ninjas who are kinda like Robin Hood but more ninja-like. THey are the scourge of the Emperor and no one really knows who they are or what they are truly like. They are run by Renmaru & Okami who are two Ronin, which i belive are sons of prestigous Samurai’s but where unfortunately killed in the past.

Mariko wants to find out why she was targeted to be killed and why the Black Clan was the one to do it. So she sets out to find them and disguises herself as a boy to do so to avoid having her life threatened once more.

Of course, once she is finally in the Black Clan’s camp she begins to meet many of the Clan members are starts to slwoly question everything she knew.

While Mariko is doing her own infilatrating, her twin brother, the Dragon of Ka, decides to do some investigating of his own. He knows deep down that she wasn’t killed when the caravan was attacked and will stop at nothing to find her and bring her home.

Ahdieh writes yet another beautiful setting and has such a way with words that you don’t realize just how far she has pulled you in until you’ve suddenly finished the book. FITM is no different and is completely different than her amazingly written Wrath and the Dawn series.

The last 10% of the book is just full of surprises and twists and just make you want to jump in the future and get the second book straight away.

Flame in the Mist is an absolute awesome and spellbinding story and i can’t wait to see where the sequel takes it.

Also Ninjas.

Posted in 2016 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: The Onyx Vial

Title: The Onyx Vial

Series: Shadows of the Nine #1

Publication Date: January 31st, 2016

Publisher: Self Published

Author: Alexis Lampley

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Summary: Fifteen-year-old Ariana Emory hides a rare and forbidden talent: she creates portals between worlds in the pages of books. These portal books are dangerous. But to Ariana, they are freedom. Her world is one of several ruled by a tyrant king. The books are banned and burned, their creators along with them. She wants nothing more than to keep creating them, so that her fellow countrymen can have means of escape and, if she succeeds, rebellion. Driven by that desire, Ariana disregards the dangers and entangles herself in a rebel society’s plot to regain freedom. Along the way, her fate collides with Hunter Woodworth and Killian Fyrenn, identical twin sons of the king.

The king and the rebels are after a deadly weapon, known as the Onyx Vial. The king wants to use it, the rebels want to destroy it. The rebels’ success depends on Ariana partnering with the boys, but they are worlds apart and she is convinced their motives aren’t pure. With the king closing in on the location of the vial, time is running out. Ariana must trust them or uncover their true intentions before it’s too late. The fate of the worlds rest in her hands.

My Thoughts:
Ship: 
 None
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Ariana, Killian,
Needed BROTP: Ariana & Killian

Actual Review: The Onyx Vial is a great story that takes a new spin on Magic and how elemental powers work. I love the idea that it used to be someone had all 4 elements, water, earth, fire, air but everything changed when the fire nation attacked….err…bad fangirl, stop making references.

Its been a few weeks since i read the book,so bear with me. Something happened in the past that caused magic to alter within the people and split. Now most people if they have magic can alter just one element, but there are the rare people out within the nine worlds who can manipulate two elements and they are called Tieren. The three main characters are all various forms of Tieren, there is Killian (not Jones unfortunately, and he’s not as sexy to me. unless Alexis says he has an irish accent. then he is as hot as Killian ‘Hook’ Jones. but i digress). There is also Ariana who has a proclivity for portal books and Elder Script, which is the old language of magic to keep the secrets well..secret. And if you order the one-time box through NerdyPost/NErdy Store, Alexis even writes a little message in Elder Script on the first day and you get a key to figure out the message. Finally there is Hunter who is kinda meh compared to Ariana. He’s a very typical teenage boy where he meets a pretty girl and she basically occupies his thoughts throughout the rest of the book, like really dude you’ve got so much other shit to worry about than a pretty girl.

The plot is hard to explain without giving away big spoilers but the story is absolutely breathtaking and I loved exploring this world that Lampley has created. LEarning all about how the different elements come together in different types of Tierens and the other 9 Realms/worlds. I love how the FIrebird has an opposite counterpart that is Ice/water related.

I can’t wait to see where the series goes, and hopefully the sequel comes out sooner rather than later.

Posted in 2016 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Rebel Magsiters

30530741Title: Rebel Magisters

Series: Rebel Mechanics #2

Publication Date: July 12th, 2016

Publisher: NLA Digital

Author: Shanna Swendson

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Summary: Tea, Love … and Revolution!

The Rebel Mechanics aren’t the only group plotting revolution against the magical British Empire. There are rebel magisters, as well, and Verity Newton and her magister employer, Lord Henry, know that the only way for the revolution to succeed is if both groups work together. A diplomatic mission seems like the perfect opportunity for them to meet with rebels in other colonies and gather support—right under the governor’s nose.

From drawing rooms, ballrooms, and the harbor in Boston to the streets of Charleston, Verity and Henry find themselves up against stubborn factions of both magisters and Mechanics and increasingly aware that they can only really count on each other as their relationship deepens. It may take a real crisis to unite the rebel movements and rally them to the cause—but could such a crisis also tear them apart?

My Thoughts:
Ship: 
 Verity & Henry
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Verity, Henry
Needed BROTP: Verity & Flora

Actual Review: Rebel Magisters is the sequel to Shanna Swendson’s Steampunk HIstorical YA alternate reality, Rebel Mechanics. RM and it’s sequel R Magisters is how she percieves the American REvolution and subsequent history would have been if the British have magic.

Verity and her employer, Magister Lord Henry have already met the Rebel Mechanics and helped them escape out of the city with their machines to avoid being captured by the British Government so they can keep working towards an eventual revolution. RMagisters finds Verity and Henry beginning to entertain the idea of how can they manage a revolution that could win. They undesrstand that it would most likely need to be a combination of the Rebel Mechanics and Magisters that are more positively inclined to a revolution. All the while keeping Verity’s magic hidden and any budding feelings at bay.

We get to see a whole new side to quite a few of the beloved characters which is quite fun as well as meet some new characters as well who will be vital to the plot. Flora gets some much needed character growth and is set up to have even more in book 3 which is delightful.

Another surpise is that we get to see other cities within the world Shanna has created and how some of their magisters see the world. It’s setting up to be quite the revolution if it pans out properly.

Rebel Magisters has some major plot twists come up and makes me eager to read book 3 and hopefully there is even more in this world because i love it all.

Posted in 2017 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Queens of Geek

28245707Title: Queens of Geek

Publication Date: March 14th, 2017

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Author: Jen Wilde

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Summary: When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

My Thoughts:
Ship: 
 Charlie x Alyssa, Jamie x Taylor
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Charlie, Jamie
Needed BROTP:  Jamie & Brianna
Fave Quote: “In one brief conversation, she made me see that there’s nothing wrong with me.”

Actual Review:  It seems I am to read diverse books lately and this one did not disappoint. It’s got a MC who is Chinese-Australian and is openly Bisexual and another MC who is Autistic/Asperger’s with major Social Anxiety. While i’m not sure of anyone else’s Ethnicity mostly because it’s not really described/stated in the book, unless I missed it.

Queens of Geek takes place in a version of San Diego Comic-Con that is probably SDCC but just not called that. So the whole story takes place over one weekend where our 3 main characters, CHarlie, Jamie & Taylor are planning on taking by storm.

Charlie Liang is a popular Australian Youtuber who has also now made it big time in an indie-film that turned out to be the Next BIg Thing so she is at the Con as a big guest ready to make her mark and start the next chapter of her life.

Jamie & Taylor are her two best friends that she has invited along for the ride. Jamie is her best friend since Year 7 who has some major Social Anxiety but knows how to keep it handled. And Jamie is an American transfer to Australia 4 years prior. Taylor & Jamie are the case of mutual hidden unrequited love aka the over used trope of best friends falling in love and will probably be together by the end of the story. Sorry I like the story but just once in a while I want to see a boy & girl friendship that NEVER has romantic feelings within it at all. It is very rare to find, especially in YA novels.

Jamie is not only socially Anxious but she views this weekend as a stepping off point that if things go as planned she can take college by storm in the future. But of course, this is life and stuff doesn’t go to planned. Also i think she has a super power because she constantly makes tumblr posts on her PHONE and they are all long and gramatically correct and perfectly spelled and all this pretty formatting that just DOESNT HAPPEN FOR NORMAL PEOPLE! Jamie is a die hard fan of this book’s version of HP, majorly popular series with movies based off books. She desperately wants to meet the author to tell her how much an impact the series has made on her and has helped her with her Anxiety. Jamie is basically every fangirl on Tumblr come to life…er i mean page. This weekend ends up being a huge transformation weekend for Jamie as she has to overcome fears and really dig deep on her identity and how she views her self.

I really loved the plot and just overall setting of the story. As I have never been to a Comic-Con, it definitely makes me feel transported there with ease and I can just imagine the Green Room and panels and all the SWAG!

The only thing that kinda takes away is how YA books are beginning to handle sex in relationships. Like just because I personally believe to save it til marriage, It’s not that bad when i know the relationship has been developed and is a deep bond between the two. But lately i’m seeing people suddenly putting out practically on the first date which just seems a bit much to me. Especially for these people who are just barely 18. It’s not a problem with the book that should turn anyone off because it’s so subtle and alluded to in YA books, just a problem i am having with a growing trend.

Queens of Geek, i think at least, really handles the Anxiety and Jamie’s character really well. You can see how she thinks and acts but no one really treats her differently because of it. I loved her growth in the story and would love a sequel about her and her new friends she makes at the con.

Overall, QUeens of Geek is a great summer read that you will just fly through. I highly recommend it to all fangirls and fanboys.

Posted in 2017 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: When Dimple Met Rishi

28458598Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Publication Date: May 30th, 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Author: Sandhya Menon

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Summary: A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

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

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

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

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts:
Ship: 
 Rishi x Dimple
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Rishi, Celia
Needed BROTP:  Celia & Dimple
Actual Review:  When Dimple Met Rishi is the diverse YA Contemporary that we’ve all been dying for and it does not disappoint in any way. It is one of the most adorable and well written Contemporaries this year and is sure to be the Hit of the Summer.

WDMR is the diverse book that people all over the globe have been wanting because it gives them something that many of us take for granted, a book with MC’s and references that they truly can identify with. That being said, almost anyone can identify with Dimple or Rishi, even if they are white. Dimple Shah is a class A geek, she loves coding and wants to branch out on her own and find her independence. She is such a computer geek she even wants to go to a Summer Camp that is all about coding and web app design before the start of her freshman year. Rishi Patel on the other hand has an Artist’s heart. But he feels pulled to please his parents and be the perfect eldest son and is currently lined up to go to MIT (which is nothing to sneeze at) and get an Engineering Degree. He feels conflicted between what would be the ‘sensible’ route and going with his heart, which is something many people can identify with, myself included.

Dimple and Rishi’s parents are extremely traditional Indian parents, meaning they want to arrange their children into marriages and ensure their happiness. This being said, Dimple is 100% against this idea where as Rishi wants the stability and security this idea gives. But unbeknownst to Dimple only, this Summer Camp is the primed place to drop some hints and do some subtle or not so subtle nudges from Rishi and both set of parents.

From adorable and awkward meet cutes to amazing dates with perfect views, WDMR is the perfect summer Contemporary YA Romance to sit by the pool and soak in. I recommend drinking an Iced Coffee beverage, 😉 i myself prefer Iced Vanilla Lattes.

The setting was gorgeous California and you definitely felt transported htere and this story is just rife with Hindi and Bollywood references that you feel easily immersed into this culture.

I’d say I personally would want a pronunciation guide but that’s just because I like to pronounce things correctly, and i screw up things in every genre…may or may not still think Tobias has a different pronunciation in Divergent than a friend says is correct. But i digress.

Definitely pick up this story when next possible, or even better yet, order it online and have it delivered. Either way, read this adorable story.

Posted in 2017 Releases, Reviews

Sydney Reads and Reviews: Eliza and Her Monsters

31931941Title: Eliza and Her Monsters

Publication Date: May 30th, 2017

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Author: Francesca Zappia

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Amazon
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Summary: Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

My Thoughts:
Ship: 
 Eliza x Wallace
Fave Cinnamon Rolls: Eliza, Emmy, Max
Needed BROTP:  Eliza & Emmy & Max
Fave Quote: “There are monsters in the sea.”

Actual Review:  ALL THE STARS! This book was absolutely delightful.

I was lucky enough to receive Eliza and her Monsters in my May Owlcrate which not only was an exclusive cover but we got to receive it before publication date on May 30th. What more can i say but BUY AND READ THIS BOOK AS SOON AS YOU CAN!!!

While I find myself tending to lean toward fantasy YA novels over contemporary, I do love a good contemporary and this one is as good as it can get. Eliza is such a lovable character that is just so… human. She has her fears and her anxieties and slowly you see her realize she needs help even while still not truly changing who she is on the inside or out.

Wallace is an absolute delight of a boy to have as a book boyfriend…though he can’t top Clark from Matson’s Unexpected Everything. But Wallace is definitely a close second, you just want to wrap him up in a blanket and give him a big hug. Such a sweetheart. And while he has moments that are less than stellar, he’s human and it shows just as much as it does with Eliza.

The story is absolutely amazing and I just about inhaled it. IT was one of those books I just didn’t want to put down. Just as people in EAHM inhaled her Monstrous Sea, I inhaled this story.

Eliza and Her Monsters is definitely going to be one of my top reads of 2017 and I plan to explore more contemporaries that have nerds as main characters. Geeks and Nerds are the best.

I also thought this story handled Eliza’s anxiety and introvertedness rather well. I don’t know much but I didn’t feel like it was fake or wrong.

Seriously guys, pick this book up when it gets released. I wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for Owlcrate and I’m incredibly grateful because I ADORED this story.