Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes | Book Review

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Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes. Queen of Hearts, #1.

My copy: HarperTeen (Harper Collins Publishers), May 3rd, 2016. ARC (review copy), 306 pages.

Source: Courtesy of the freebie ARC shelf at my local bookstore.

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Synopsis:

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.

Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


Thoughts on Queen of Hearts:

  • Well. This was disappointing.
  • The writing felt very juvenile, and there were scenes that were obviously not juvenile in the slightest. (Um, pretending to “do it” in a coat closet? Probably not something for middle grade readers.)
  • Where was the plot. Where was it. Hellooooo, plot? Where aaaaaaare yoooooou? O_O Nothing happened until the middle-ish, then a great one thing happened (gasp! Torture! Graphic things! Aiiee!), and then it went back to nothing happening. I really expected a thicker plot — this effing Wonderland! You can literally do ANYTHING — but there wasn’t much here.
  • Speaking of it being Wonderland, I was expecting some of its famous characters to pop up. I expected lots of magic and bizarre things, but, sadly, none of that appeared. No Cheshire Cat, no White Rabbit, no Caterpillar, at least not in the colorful way you might expect. Just bratty Dinah, who I shall rant about in the next paragraph.
  • I really didn’t care for/like any of the characters. Everyone felt so bland. Dinah, though, Princess of Hearts, oh boy. She was kind of a b*tch. And not a sympathetic b*tch. There are some characters that act badly but you understand where they’re coming from, or at least their motivations somewhat justify their actions. I like these morally gray characters; they’re layered and feel real. I may or may not like them, but at least they’re not two-dimensional. Well, this does not describe Dinah. She was mean, rude, whiny, pushy, hypocritical, and rash. (She literally goes and does something insanely dangerous because of a “bad feeling.” Agh.) And then she was ALL OVER her best friend and (of course) love interest, when he was clear he wasn’t into her the same way. (Couldn’t remember his name for the life of me, so I had to go look: Wardley.) Gah. I couldn’t stand Dinah.
  • While reading Queen of Hearts, I didn’t hate it. But now that I’ve had some time to think about it and actually get my thoughts in order, I strongly disliked it. As my first Wonderland retelling (though it feels more like a prequel), this was disappointing. ♦


Have you read Queen of Hearts?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a Wonderland retelling you recommend?
(I know of Splintered, so gimme something else!)
Comment below letting me know!

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The Crown by Kiera Cass | Book Review

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The Crown by Kiera Cass. The Selection, #5.

My copy: HarperTeen (Harper Collins Publishers), May 2016. Hardcover, 278 pages.

Source: Library.

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Read my review of The Heir, book #4, here.

Synopsis:

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.


Hi, yes, I’m still alive. Sorry for the lack of action on the blog, but life’s been stressful and I haven’t been reading much lately. However, I did read The Crown, so here are some quick thoughts on it:

  • Total fluff. So illogical. Doesn’t even try to be creative. But still so addictive! I read this in one sitting, as I normally do with Kiera Cass’s books.
  • I mean, it’s pretty obvious who Eadlyn’s going to choose, right? Of the Elite who are left, I actually liked all of them, but I wish Eadlyn had actually tried to get to know them all even more. Things just flew by so fast.
  • I didn’t find Eadlyn as annoying as she was in The Heir. She still wasn’t my favorite character, but at least I wasn’t rolling my eyes every ten seconds. She’s aware of her snobby, bossy ways, and at least tries to change. Girl’s got a lot of work to do, but at least she was trying to become a better person. Eadlyn wins points here.
  • America and Maxon moments are adorable. I needed more of them because they had the only real, deep relationship going on here. The romance concerning Eadlyn was just so fast and abrupt.
  • This dystopian government is just all kinds of unrealistic. Don’t think too hard about it because you will see all the ways such a system would never work.
  • The political sub-plot was just… bad. So obvious and so obviously thrown in there. It could have been actually very interesting, but any attempt at fleshing it out was not there.
  • It sounds like I have only complaints for The Crown, but I did enjoy it. The Selection series is fun and addictive, but it’s not great by any means. Still, pretty dresses and lots of cute boys and sweet kisses wrapped up in an easy and fast-to-read story works for me. ♦


Have you read The Crown?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a princess series you’ve read and recommend?
Comment below letting me know!

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge | Book Review

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge.

My copy: Amulet Books, April 2016. Egalley (review copy), 384 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Amulet Books!

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Synopsis:

To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.


The Lie Tree has a great premise and a great protagonist, but it just wasn’t the right book for me when I was reading it; I was still in a big reading rut. Absolutely nothing of the book’s fault — my head just wasn’t in it. I’ve seen so many other people love this book that I know I just missed a lot due to reading it because I felt like I had to. Oh, the woes of being a book blogger.

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Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker | Book Review

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Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker.

My copy: Simon & Schuster, June 14th, 2016. Egalley (review copy), 309 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Simon & Schuster!

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Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . .

ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.

Jaxon’s first date. Ever.

In rehab, he can’t blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can’t slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he’ll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.

If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother’s absence, and maybe admit that it’s more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.

Prepare to be cured.


Cure for the Common Universe is a really unique story about a boy who gets sent to video game rehab — only the rehab itself is set up like a video game, with points, leveling up, tournaments, and side quests. The cast of characters is extremely quirky and diverse, and all the characters do really get on your nerves — but their personal stories also make you care about them.

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Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann | Book Review

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Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann.

My copy: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins Publishers), May 2016. ARC, 225 pages.

Source: Courtesy of the freebie ARC shelf at my local bookstore!

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Synopsis:

From the author of the acclaimed Poisoned Apples comes a novel in verse about a young woman and the aftermath of a life-altering decision. This thought-provoking and sophisticated read further confirms Christine Heppermann as an important voice in the tradition of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, and A. S. King.

Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places.

Once again, Christine Heppermann writes with an unflinching honesty and a deep sensitivity about the complexities of being a teenager, being a woman. Her free-verse poems are moving, provocative, and often full of wry humor and a sharp wit. Like Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, Christine Heppermann is a voice to turn to for the truth of difficult subjects. Ask Me How I Got Here is a literary exploration of sexuality, religion, and self-discovery.


While I haven’t read any A.S. King, I have read Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson. Ask Me How I Got Here does tackle serious teen issues in verse form, much like Ellen Hopkin’s writing style and Laurie Halse Anderson’s stories, but Ask Me How I Got Here lacks the depth it should have, and that I wanted it to have.

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Reading Wrap-up: May 2016 (yup, this is SUPER-DUPER late, I know)

May and June really got away from me… Almost this entire first half of the year I haven’t felt super motivated to read or blog. In the spring I read mainly graphic novels, comics, and manga. However, now that it’s summer and life has gotten a bit less stressful lately, I’m back in full swing, ready to tackle my TBR pile again and catch up on my Goodreads challenge!

In May 2016, I managed to read 10 books, though most of them were still graphic novels, comics, and manga. June isn’t over yet, but I have read one actual novel as of writing this post! (Wow. Isn’t that incredibly impressive? i.e. Not.) For now, let’s just look at what I read in May. Here are the books, organized by rating. (Also, I’m working on reviews for a lot of these books, so hopefully, if all goes according to plan, they’ll be up on the blog within the next number of weeks.)

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Legend: The Graphic Novel by Marie Lu, adapted by Leigh Dragoon, illustrated by Kaari | Mini-Review

22571758Legend: The Graphic Novel by Marie Lu, adapted by Leigh Dragoon, illustrated by Kaari. Legend: The Graphic Novel, #1.

My copy: G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR (Penguin Group USA), April 2015. Paperback, 160 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a military prodigy. Born into the slums of the Republic’s Lake Sector, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives are not as sinister as they often seem. One day June’s brother is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Now, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June tries desperately to avenge her brother’s death. And the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together and the lengths their country will go to in order to keep its secrets.


Legend is my favorite dystopian series ever, so I was very excited to return to the story in graphic novel format. I really liked the artwork by Kaari and it was cool seeing the story visually. It stayed true to the book from what I recall. It also moved along so quickly! Very enjoyable. Now… are they ever going to make Legend into an actual movie?!

I didn’t appreciate the white-washing, however. Isn’t Day supposed to be Asian? I remember Marie Lu once wrote a blog post about Day’s unusual blond hair and blue eyes and Asian features. Which means he, as well as his brothers, would have to be at least part Asian, hmm? So why did the entire Wing family look as white as white can be? Sigh.

The only other negative thing is that the romance really didn’t seem fitting, strangely enough. The relationship between June and Day in the novels is incredible, but it felt so rushed in this graphic novel. It was marvelous seeing them steal some kisses, but this adaptation was just so fast-paced that any attempt at the romance felt a bit silly.

Overall, I really enjoyed Legend: The Graphic Novel. It’s definitely a great, breakneck-paced revenge/mystery story despite two major flaws. I highly recommend it to fans of the novels. As for those who have not yet read the books… do so before reading this graphic novel! You’ll get so much more of the story out of the novels, and then you can crush your soul even more by picking up this graphic adaptation. ♦


Have you read Legend: The Graphic Novel?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a favorite book adaptation (interpret how you like) of yours?
Comment below letting me know!
And, as always, happy reading!

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Explorer: The Lost Islands and The Hidden Doors edited by Kazu Kibuishi | Mini-Reviews

Mini-Reviews!

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Book titles: The Lost Islands and The Hidden Doors
Authors: Edited by Kazu Kibuishi + a ton of authors and artists who will be mentioned later in this review
Series: Explorer, #2 & #3
Publisher: Amulet Books (Harry N. Abrams)
Release dates: October 2013 and October 2014 (respectively)
Formats: Hardcovers, 127 pages each
Source: Library.

Add The Lost Islands to your Goodreads:

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Add The Hidden Doors to your Goodreads:

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Read my review of The Mystery Boxes, book #1, here.

Synopsis of The Lost Islands, book #2:

The highly anticipated second volume to the critically acclaimed Explorer series, The Lost Islands is a collection of seven all-new stories written and illustrated by an award-winning roster of comics artists, with each story centered around the theme of hidden places. Edited by the New York Times bestselling comics creator Kazu Kibuishi, this graphic anthology includes well-written, beautifully illustrated stories by Kazu (the Amulet series), Jason Caffoe (the Flight series), Raina Telgemeier (Drama and Smile), Dave Roman (the Astronaut Academy series), Jake Parker (the Missile Mouse series), Michel Gagné (The Saga of Rex), Katie and Steven Shanahan (the Flight series), and up-and-coming new artist Chrystin Garland.

Synopsis of The Hidden Doors, book #3:

A bullied boy discovers a door guarded by a sly monster . . . A painting of a door opens in a forgotten Egyptian tomb . . . A portal in the park promises to turn you into a much cooler version 2.0—if you can just get the bugs out . . . Edited by New York Times bestselling comics creator Kazu Kibuishi, who is also a contributor, the third volume in this highly praised series gathers some of the foremost and fastest-rising talents in comics for kids: Jen Wang (Koko Be Good), Johane Matte (Explorer: The Mystery Boxes), Steve Hamaker (colorist of Jeff Smith’s Bone series), Faith Erin Hicks (Friends with Boys), DougHolgate (Zack Proton series), and Jason Caffoe (Explorer: The Lost Islands and Flight). Readers maynever walk into a room the same way again.


The Explorer graphic novel series is a really cool look at how different authors and artists interpret the theme Kazu Kibuishi gives them. In book 1 it was mystery boxes. In book 2 it was lost islands. In book 3 it was hidden doors. They’re gorgeous books to look at and they’re entertaining to read. They’re definitely aimed at middle grade readers, but some of the stories can be appreciated by older readers. The artwork is absolutely drool-worthy. These are practically coffee table books — gorgeous books for your friends and guests to flip through to show off your awesome tastes.😀

Here are my brief thoughts on each story to be found in The Lost Islands and The Hidden Doors.

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