Audiobook Review: The Maze Cutter by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Cutter
Author: James Dashner
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publication Date: October 4th, 2022
Publisher: Akashic Media Enterprises
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary audiobook to review! All opinions are my own.

“Seventy-three years after the events of The Death Cure, when Thomas and other immunes were sent to an island to survive the Flare-triggered apocalypse, their descendants have thrived. Sadina, Isaac, and Jackie all learned about the unkind history of the Gladers from The Book of Newt and tall tales from Old Man Frypan, but when a rusty old boat shows up one day with a woman bearing dark news of the mainland–everything changes. The group and their islander friends are forced to embark back to civilization where they find Cranks have evolved into a more violent, intelligent version of themselves. The islanders are hunted by the Godhead, the Remnant Nation, and scientists with secret agendas. When they cross paths with an orphan named Minho from the Remnant Nation, the dangers become real and they don’t know who they can trust. The islanders will have to survive long enough to figure out why they are being targeted, who is friend or foe, and what the Godhead has planned for the future of humanity.” (Goodreads)

I didn’t even know there was going to be a whole different series set in the same world but in the future. I remember really enjoying the original and so when I saw this on Netgalley I figured why not!

The book is told from multiple point-of-views. I wouldn’t say that one was more thrilling to read about than the others. At times the point-of-views were kind of bland and it felt like I didn’t get to know the characters that well. I would say that the book is more plot driven than character. I like a bit of both or more character driven.

It was interesting to be back in this world. It felt a bit different but also the same in some ways. The world building was fine but I do feel like I was missing something when it came to the cult and everyone’s plans. I don’t think it was entirely explained well but I am assuming there will be more answers as the series continue. The pacing could definitely be slow at times.

I did like the narration for this book and thought it was well done.

Overall, it was good. I wouldn’t say it was as good as the original but it wasn’t bad.

WWW Wednesday | 9-28-22

Hello, My Lovely Bookworms!

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and is now hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

It consists of answering these three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

My audiobook is The Maze Cutter by James Dashner. I saw it on Netgalley and was approved for it right away. Call me curious after I enjoyed the original series when I had first read it! I’m already 35% through. It’s been fine but hasn’t grabbed me yet.

My current ebooks are The Serpent and the Wing of Nights by Carissa Broadbent and A Cat Cafe Christmas. I am only 10% into the first and haven’t started the other yet so I can’t say anything about either, haha.

  • Donut Fall in Love by Jackie Lau (🎧) ⭐⭐⭐
  • House of Beating Wings by Olivia Wildenstein (arc) ⭐⭐⭐
  • The Fiction Between Us by Julie Olivia ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto (arc) ⭐⭐⭐

My next audiobook has not been picked yet, haha. I have nothing from the library at the moment so we will see!

I will also be reading After Dark with Roxie Clark by Brooke Lauren Davis and The Christmas Clash by Suzanne Park.

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT READ? ARE YOU LOVING IT? HAVE YOU READ OR WANT TO READ ANY THAT I HAVE LISTED? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Nice Typography | 9-27-22

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s prompt is Typographic Book Covers and it says to do covers with mostly words. I wouldn’t be able to name one. So, the other option was to do Books With Nice Typography so that is what we are doing!

What’s Your favorite style of typography i have shown?

Apparently I have a specific typography because some look same, haha.

Let me know in the comments below!

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

Arc Review: One Dark Window by Rachel Gillig

Title: One Dark Window
Author: Rachel Gillig
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: September 27th, 2022
Publisher: Orbit Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Elspeth Spindle needs more than luck to stay safe in the eerie, mist-locked kingdom of Blunder—she needs a monster. She calls him the Nightmare, an ancient, mercurial spirit trapped in her head. He protects her. He keeps her secrets.
But nothing comes for free, especially magic.
When Elspeth meets a mysterious highwayman on the forest road, her life takes a drastic turn. Thrust into a world of shadow and deception, she joins a dangerous quest to cure Blunder from the dark magic infecting it. And the highwayman? He just so happens to be the King’s nephew, Captain of the most dangerous men in Blunder…and guilty of high treason.
Together they must gather twelve Providence Cards—the keys to the cure. But as the stakes heighten and their undeniable attraction intensifies, Elspeth is forced to face her darkest secret yet: the Nightmare is slowly taking over her mind. And she might not be able to stop him.” (Goodreads)

What a wild book this was!

This book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Elspeth but there are flashbacks here and there to explain more about the shepherd king and rhymes that correlate with the magic system which is done by providence cards. Basically, they are like tarot cards. I loved all of the tales surrounding the cards as they were fun to read and gave me a bit more on what to expect from them. Elspeth has grown up with keeping a lot of secrets for her own safety as well as those she is close with, like her family. It must have been tough because the ruling king seems kind of ruthless and as you get to know one of the princes you realize he is to.

Elspeth is strong-willed and wants to do what is right, but she can also be impulsive which can cause a lot of chaos. I would say that in ways she can be morally grey and the thing living inside her head definitely is. The nightmare is something else and I loved the conversations they had!

The other characters in the book were just as interesting, even if some had smaller parts. I never once thought, “ugh, it’s this person again”. Even though the ruthless prince has personality, not always in a good way but he sure knows how to liven up a party! A lot of the characters have the same goal in common but it’s getting there that is different.

My least favorite part was the romance. It’s not bad per say and I did enjoy it a lot, but the build-up kind of sped up and then they were definitely in love. I do like the guy that Elspeth is interested in and their banter was cute so I’m not really going to complain that much, haha.

There were so many plot twists when it came to the plot and I was hear for every single one! They had my jaw dropping and the author killed me with that ending. I knew something was going to happen but let me down easy. It came full force!

I loved the magic system and thought that it was very unique. Nothing I have ever read before and I think it was done well. I understood it from the beginning and that’s something that doesn’t always happen when reading fantasy.

Overall, this was a fantastic book and I can’t wait for the sequel!

Goodreads Monday: The Sweetest Betrayal (The Kinder Poison #3) by Natalie Mae | 9-26-22

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday was hosted and created by Lauren’s Page Turners and has now been taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: The Sweetest Betrayal (The Kinder Poison #3)
Author: Natalie Mae
Genre: YA Fantasy / Romance
Publication Date: February 14th, 2023
Publisher: Indie

In this heart-pounding conclusion to The Kinder Poison trilogy—which People magazine proclaimed a “delicious high-stakes adventure”—war looms over Orkena, but can Zahru save her people without losing herself?

War has come to Orkena.
Zahru has risen as Mestrah, and she is determined to peacefully end the escalating tensions with Wyrim, her country’s long-time enemy. Yet diplomacy proves to be futile, and when Zahru turns to Orkena’s allies for help, she finds that none are willing to come to her aid—not without Kasta ruling at her side.
As Wyrim advances on the capital, Zahru is desperate to protect her people, even if that means accepting Kasta’s help. But her enemy is merciless. And as ambushes and betrayals push Zahru to increasingly dark tactics, she wonders if perhaps Kasta had it right all along: maybe peace was never an option … and maybe she was never meant to do this alone.
Can Zahru spare her enemy without sacrificing her kingdom? Or will Orkena’s salvation only come if Zahru becomes the monster her people need?” (Goodreads)

(Head here for a sneak peek of chapter 1 and a Q&A!)

DOES THIS ONE SOUND LIKE SOMETHING YOU WOULD READ?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

Arc Review: Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim

Title: Last of the Talons
Author: Sophie Kim
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: September 27th, 2022
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“After the destruction of her entire Talon gang, eighteen-year-old Shin Lina—the Reaper of Sunpo—is forced to become a living, breathing weapon for the kingdom’s most-feared crime lord. All that keeps her from turning on her ruthless master is the life of her beloved little sister hanging in the balance. But the order to steal a priceless tapestry from a Dokkaebi temple incites not only the wrath of a legendary immortal, but the beginning of an unwinnable game…
Suddenly Lina finds herself in the dreamlike realm of the Dokkaebi, her fate in the hands of its cruel and captivating emperor. But she can win her life—if she kills him first.
Now a terrible game of life and death has begun, and even Lina’s swift, precise blade is no match for the magnetic Haneul Rui. Lina will have to use every weapon in her arsenal if she wants to outplay this cunning king and save her sister…all before the final grain of sand leaks out of the hourglass.
Because one way or another, she’ll take Rui’s heart.
Even if it means giving up her own.” (Goodreads)

Even though I liked the sound of the book, it just didn’t give me what I wanted unfortunately. I think that it had a lot to do with execution and maybe would have been better if it wasn’t bogged down by so many things happening.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Shin Lina. She is an assassin for a gang and must do their bidding if she wants her sister to stay in good health. It’s a lot of pressure on her but she will do anything to keep her safe. Yay for sister bonds! I’m always down for that, but her sister was very much only used for that sole purpose and I really wanted to see more between them.

Lina as an assassin wasn’t it for me. I have a hard time with teens having this job in general, but it makes it even harder when they are talked up as the “greatest” assassin ever and then they fall short and start screwing up. I get that everyone has their bad days but give me something to work with here. Don’t hype up someone if they can’t live up to the expectations.

The whole romance didn’t do anything for me and it’s a real shame because it does involve tropes that I do like. I do think that other books have done it better and this one was just average. It’s not bad per say but just not to my liking. I think that others will like it though so don’t take my words to heart especially if it sounds interesting to you.

The love interesting was kind of weird. He really lived off of her trying to kill him and I’m not really sure how to take it, haha.

I did really enjoy the world-building and seeing her find her way to the emperor. Mythology retellings are always fascinating to me and I will give this author props for that! It was well done.

Overall, this wasn’t for me but it could be for you. I had some issues with it and it ultimately led me to just not being able to vibe with the story.

Book Review: Days of Infamy: How a Century of Bigotry Led to Japanese American Internment by Lawrence Goldstone

Title: Days of Infamy: How a Century of Bigotry Led to Japanese American Internment
Author: Lawrence Goldstone
Genre: YA Non-Fiction / History
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Publisher: Scholastic Focus
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“In another unrelenting look at the iniquities of the American justice system, Lawrence Goldstone, acclaimed author of Unpunished MurderStolen Justice, and Separate No More, examines the history of racism against Japanese Americans, exploring the territory of citizenship and touching on fears of non-white immigration to the US — with hauntingly contemporary echoes.
On December 7, 1941 — “a date which will live in infamy” — the Japanese navy launched an attack on the American military bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day, President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan, and the US Army officially entered the Second World War.
Three years later, on December 18, 1944, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which enabled the Secretary of War to enforce a mass deportation of more than 100,000 Americans to what government officials themselves called “concentration camps.” None of these citizens had been accused of a real crime. All of them were torn from their homes, jobs, schools, and communities, and deposited in tawdry, makeshift housing behind barbed wire, solely for the crime of being of Japanese descent. President Roosevelt declared this community “alien,” — whether they were citizens or not, native-born or not — accusing them of being potential spies and saboteurs for Japan who deserved to have their Constitutional rights stripped away. In doing so, the president set in motion another date which would live in infamy, the day when the US joined the ranks of those Fascist nations that had forcibly deported innocents solely on the basis of the circumstance of their birth.
In 1944 the US Supreme Court ruled, in Korematsu v. United States, that the forcible deportation and detention of Japanese Americans on the basis of race was a “military necessity.” Today it is widely considered one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time. But Korematsu was not an isolated event. In fact, the Court’s racist ruling was the result of a deep-seated anti-Japanese, anti-Asian sentiment running all the way back to the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s. Starting from this pivotal moment, Constitutional law scholar Lawrence Goldstone will take young readers through the key events of the 19th and 20th centuries leading up to the fundamental injustice of Japanese American internment. Tracing the history of Japanese immigration to America and the growing fear whites had of losing power, Goldstone will raise deeply resonant questions of what makes an American an American, and what it means for the Supreme Court to stand as the “people’s” branch of government.” (Goodreads)

I noticed this book while browsing the new books my library had added to their elibrary. The cover definitely caught my eye as well as the title. So, I borrowed it and here we are!

The book covers a lot of years in history and so sometimes it can feel like a lot, especially because it isn’t written in a unique way but more or less like an essay. This did tend to make it read it at a slower pace, but it was filled with a lot of information that I had never heard/read before. I liked learning as well as seeing how some of the rhetoric that is said today has been around. It’s amazing how that works.

Overall, this was a good read.

Arc Review: Talk Santa to Me by Linda Urban

Title: Talk Santa to Me
Author: Linda Urban
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance / Holiday
Publication Date: September 27th, 2022
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Francie was born in a stable. Really. Granted, it was the deluxe model with the light-up star on the roof, one of the many Christmas items for sale at her family’s Hollydale Holiday Shop. Their holiday gift empire also includes the Santa School, which was founded by Francie’s beloved grandpa, who recently passed away.
Francie’s always loved working in the shop, but lately Aunt Carole has been changing everything with her ideas for too-slick, Hollywood-inspired Santas and horrible holiday-themed employee uniforms. Aunt Carole’s vision will ruin all the charm and nostalgia Francie loves about her family’s business…unless she does something about it.
But this winter is about more than preserving the magic of Christmas. Francie is saving up for a car and angling to kiss the cute boy who works at the tree lot next door—hopefully it will be good enough to wipe her fiasco of a first kiss from her memory.
As the weather outside gets more and more frightful, can Francie pull off the holiday of her dreams?” (Goodreads)

I love a good Christmas themed book! It really gets me in the mood for the season, even if I’m not exactly reading it in the right season. 😂

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Francie. She has been in the business of Christmas since her birth. I liked the story of that which was included as a prologue. It was a nice touch! Her family runs the business and since the loss of her Grandpa who played Santa it just hasn’t been the same. Her aunt doesn’t help either because she is more of a Scrooge than anything! This was also another good inclusion because there is always that one family member who isn’t like the others and it adds to the dismay that Francie deals with when it comes to working at the family business.

Francie wasn’t a bad character but I wasn’t a fan of her journey to love. I thought that the book would have more romance with the guy at the tree lot but it didn’t start until halfway through the book. She also seems to spend more time worrying about her first kiss and wanting to know if she is a good kisser so she kisses other people so that they can rate her. It just wasn’t a plotline that I very much liked.

The other characters in the book are fine. I don’t think any really stood out besides her friend. They had a good friendship and I liked seeing them interact. The others were a tad bit flat and were there to help add to the plot but not in a big way.

The best part of the book was the Christmassy vibes! It made me ready for the season.

Overall, this was a good book. I liked a majority of it and only had a couple issues with the rest.

Arc Review: Seoulmates by Susan Lee

Title: Seoulmates
Author: Susan Lee
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: September 20th, 2022
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

The last person Hannah wants to see is her former best friend, Jacob. Until blackmail and a bucket list, along with two meddling mamas, push them together for a summer worthy of a K-drama…
Hannah Cho had the next year all planned out—the perfect summer with her boyfriend, Nate, and then a fun senior year with all of their friends.
But then Nate does what everyone else in Hannah’s life seems to do—he leaves her, claiming they have nothing in common. He and all her friends are newly obsessed with K-pop and K-dramas, and Hannah is not. After years of trying to embrace the American part and shunning the Korean side of her Korean American identity to fit in, Hannah finds that’s exactly what now has her on the outs. 
But someone who does know K-dramas—so well that he’s actually starring in one—is Jacob Kim, Hannah’s former best friend, whom she hasn’t seen in years. He’s desperate for a break from the fame and someone to trust, so a family trip back to San Diego might be just what he needs…that is, if he and Hannah can figure out what went wrong when they last parted and navigate the new feelings developing between them.” (Goodreads)

I am not usually a fan of childhood friends-to-lovers but this was great and gives me hope that I will enjoy this trope in the future!

The book is told from multiple point-of-views, mostly coming from Hannah and Jacob. I liked the dual perspective for their relationship because each one is going through something on the side, whether it be a break-up or dealing with an entertainment agency. It brings a wedge between them, but it was nice to see Hannah and Jacob try to make it all work even if they felt like it was all hopeless at times.

Hannah is also dealing with the craze of K-Pop and K-dramas. It has affected her relationship and even her friend group. She talks about always trying to hide away her Korean identity and wanting to just be American. She wanted to just fit in with everyone else. I feel like that can hit home for a lot of people. Hannah also feels like everyone she cares about eventually moves on and away from her. It’s a sting that is hard to let go of.

Jacob is pushed around by his agency and even his co-star. He has no time alone but feels like he must do what he does to help his family out after his dad died suddenly. That’s a lot for a kid to have on his shoulders. It’s all so often that a child becomes the head of the household and never gets out of the mentality, never having a childhood.

It was tough to read about both of their experiences, but it was also nice to seem them work through it and decide for themselves what they needed going forward. I think it helped to have each other back in their lives. It gave them a push!

Their mothers were hilarious and I also enjoyed Jacob’s sister! They meddle a lot and I was never disappointed when they graced the page.

The plot is filled with a lot of drama and so if you like K-dramas then this would be perfect for you! If you aren’t one for drama, I think that it is milder compared to others. I am not one for excessive mindless drama and this plot didn’t feel like that at all. It had me hooked and I finished it within a day!

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I loved the childhood romance and can’t wait to see what else this author writes in the future.

Arc Review: Direwood by Catherine Yu

Title: Direwood
Author: Catherine Yu
Genre: YA Fantasy / Paranormal / Vampires
Publication Date: September 20th, 2022
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a complimentary arc to review! All opinions are my own.

“No one ever pays attention to sixteen-year-old Aja until her perfect older sister Fiona goes missing. In the days leading up to Fiona’s disappearance, Aja notices some extraordinary things: a strange fog rolling through their idyllic suburban town, a brief moment when the sky seems to rain blood, and a host of parasitic caterpillars burrowing their way through the trees. Aja’s father, the neighbors, and even her ex-friend Mary all play down this strange string of occurrences, claiming there must be some natural explanation. It seems everyone is willing to keep living in denial until other teens start to go missing too.
Aja is horrified when she meets Padraic, the vampire responsible for all the strange occurrences. His hypnotic voice lures her to the window and tells her everything she’s longed to hear—she’s beautiful and special, and he wants nothing more than for Aja to come with him. Aja knows she shouldn’t trust him, but she’s barely able to resist his enthrallment. And following him into the woods may be the only way to find Fiona, so she agrees on one condition: He must let her leave alive if she is not wooed after one week. Though Aja plans to kill him before the week is out, Padraic has his own secrets as well.
In the misty woods, Aja finds that Padraic has made his nest with another vampire in a dilapidated church infested by blood-sucking butterflies. Within its walls, the vampires are waited on and entertained by other children they’ve enthralled, but there is no sign of Fiona. Before her bargain is up, Aja must find a way to turn her classmates against their captors, find her sister, and save them all—or be forced to join the very monsters she wants to destroy.” (Goodreads)

Vampires. I like them. I grew up as a teen reading about them and I figured why not try it again? Sadly, the vampires were somewhat intriguing but this book just didn’t hold my attention.

The book is told from the perspective of Aja. She is on a mission to find her sister while weird things are happening in their small town and no one seems to care or even bat an eye about it. Sister bonds are one thing that I like to see in books but since they are separated for a lot of the book there isn’t a formal bond between them and the sisterhood just felt very lackluster.

Aja is an alright character but I can’t say that there was much development when it came to her, or even any of the other characters. They all felt very flat with one role for each when it came to the plot. I feel like the book needed to be a bit longer to really grasp everything it needed to.

The vampires were very much like vampires and had a suaveness about them. I at least liked how they were portrayed and the author even through in some extra touches when it came to bugs.

I’m not one for scary and even though this is labeled as horror, I felt like it was more disturbing than anything. I also felt like the writing was a bit dry and it made it hard to continuously want to read.

Overall, this was okay but it just needed more development.