Tag Archives: Diversity

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard


IMG_1073Title: Cruel Crown

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publish Date: January 5, 2016

Pages: 208 pages

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard is a compilation of her two novellas — Queen Song and Steel Scars. It also gives you the opportunity to have a sneak peak to entice you, tease you, make-you-wish-it’s-the-release-day, of her second book, Glass Sword (not that she needed to).

Queen Song is a novella about Queen Coriane’s past, how she rose to the throne and the “scandal” behind it, and how she was murdered.

Coriane came from the House of Jacos, a poor, insignificant, and forgotten House compared to the other noble Houses. She loves books, tinkering, and doing manual labor. These practices, however, are frowned upon by her father and her foul cousin Jessamine for she is of Silver blood and God forbid any Silver blood caught doing such things.

She grew up with her best friends, brother Julian Jacos and Sara Skonos. On her birthday, she received a journal from her brother where she wrote her most private thoughts, deaths and events, and later on, her last thoughts before her untimely death.

No matter how happy the trio are that day, most happiness can end abruptly. Julian and Sara have their own plan of sharing a life together, as a couple, focusing more on each other. Knowing this, Coriane became more depressed and succumbed to the thought that she will live the rest of her life with her evil cousin Jessamine, alone, unwed, and unloved (the author did a great job reminding the reader that Coriane has very low self-esteem and self-worth). *insert sassy Harry Potter eye roll here*

Coriane’s fate was changed when she met Tiberias the 6th, son of Tiberias the 5th from House Calore. The prince fell for Coriane, a singer (one who can manipulate and control minds), a nobody, from House Jacos. It was true love, but the people thought otherwise. They said that she used her power to make Tibe fall for her, to get the crown, and have him marry her. Powerful people from other Houses were in opposition of their union, that there should have been a Queenstrial to earn the right to be married to Tibe. But he was in love with Coriane. The Queen and Prince Robert knew this too, and they both respect his decision to marry Coriane and not have a Queenstrial.

The couple was happy. However, that didn’t last. Someone is reading Queen Coriane’s mind, constantly planting thoughts and nightmares, driving her mad. King Tiberias and Queen Coriane finally had a baby and per tradition, he was named Tiberias. Queen Coriane called him Cal.

Queen Coriane’s nightmares returned and it was worse than ever. The next day, “the diary ended unfinished, unseen by any who deserved to read it. Only (name removed due to spoiler) saw its pages, and the slow unravelling of the woman inside.”

This novella is a heartbreaking one. Coriane did nothing but love Tibe, yet other people who think of themselves as better than her, people who have power lust, think that their opportunity to wear the crown was stolen from them unfairly. This book solidified the fact that whoever murdered Queen Coriane is a heartless person who would stop at nothing for power.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Steel Scars is a novella that revolves around Captain Farley and The Scarlet Guard. It basically explained how The Scarlet Guard operates and how they can expand by knowing important people and places that would benefit them. It filled in some gaps from Red Queen, which showed us that they were in the background when everything else was happening. The book is also informative on how Captain Farley found Shade Barrow and became more involved in rescuing Mare Barrow, and in the end rescuing Cal as well.

Rating 3.5/5 stars

Overall, Cruel Crown is found between a good read and informative read. It helped me remember Red Queen and it prepared me (and overhyped me) for Glass Sword.

Overall rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here


TROUJLHTitle: The Rest Of Us Just Live Here

Author: Patrick Ness

Publisher: HarperTeen

Publish Date: October 6, 2015

Pages: 336 pages

Everybody knows the lead character of every book. Who doesn’t, right? He/she is just the MAIN focus of the book; we all know every mannerism, everything they do, the shade of his/her eyes, the love interest, etc. They are the ones who make sure the world doesn’t end or the damsel in distress gets saved (is this still a thing?) and manages to do all of that without getting killed or maimed.

However, nobody knows about the supporting cast — the people who live their normal lives while the super hero saves the day, the people who just want to be safe, the people who just want to go to work or graduate, the people who don’t know that an invasion is about to happen and their fate is in the hands of a teenager who helplessly fell in love with the invader’s son who double crossed her in the end because he is, surprise, his mother’s son.

This is what Patrick Ness did with The Rest Of Us Just Live Here (and that is how some of his writing is too). The ordinary, supporting casts gets the lime light instead of the heroes who tries to save their small, sketchy town. Sure, their town gets their share of crazy bat shit paranormal phenomena more often than they need, but life goes on when you’re not the one responsible for saving your town from the Immortals. Life goes on when you’re not an “Indie.” Life goes on when you are a normal teenager.

The book doesn’t really have a plot per se. All they (Mikey, Mel, Henna, and Jared) really want is to survive the rest of their high school life, and spend all of their time together before everybody graduates and moves out of town. It does have a short synopsis in every chapter about the crazy things that are happening in their town while the “supporting casts” try to survive their day to day lives.

I must say that I fell in love with Patrick Ness after I read A Monster Calls. This book threw me a little off because of it’s different type of writing. But, that does not mean I dislike Patrick Ness now. This book actually made me like him more.

Wait, what? You just said the writing is different but you still like him?

Yep. You read that right! I rarely read the acknowledgment section, but in this book I did. I was so surprised that this book was a fund raiser for the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) for the Philippines.

“Authors donated various prizes for which people bid.”

Patrick Ness auctioned off the chance to have the winners name in this book and the winners were Henna Silvennoinen and Jared Shurin. Lucky!

Overall, The Rest Of Us Just Live Here was a good way to start the new year. It shows us that even if we feel that nothing is really happening in our lives, it doesn’t mean it’s not a life worth living. We all get caught up with our everyday lives that sometimes we forget to thank God for the blessings we have received. We all get so upset at work that sometimes we forget that we are lucky to be employed, that  we are able to bring food on the table, and keep a roof over our head.

“Sometimes you have to find the EXTRAORDINARY in the ordinary.”

. . .this I certainly intend to do.

By the way, the book sleeve GLOWS IN THE DARK!

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Flawed by Cecelia Ahern



Title: Flawed

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Expected Publish Date: April 5, 2016

Pages: 368 pages

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

When everybody in a community, in a society, that strives for perfection — perfect grades, perfect demeanor, perfect body, perfect reputation, perfect everything, what does it mean to be Flawed?

Flawed are the citizens who have made moral or ethical mistakes in society. The location on where you get branded with F varies per mistake. On top of that, you have to wear an armband with  a big honking red F to make an example out of you; to remind the good citizens of Highland to never make a mistake.

Flawed is written in a first person point of view by Celestine North. She started by describing her family, her relationship with Art Crevan, and Judge “Bosco” Crevan. She also went in detail how the Guild works, and its “justice” system.

Life seemed perfect for Celestine. . .


Will she stand up for what’s right, or will she lie to keep her perfect life?


Flawed was a controversial read for me and its blurb did not do any justice to its content. If the characters weren’t in their teens, this could easily pass as an adult fiction. This book is a mixture of the idea of Divergent (Janine wanting to get rid of Divergents thus keeping society “pure”), a modern version of The Scarlet Letter (the red A and the isolation and ridicule that comes with it), and The Hunger Games (when they want to use her as a symbol for change/rebellion).

The book had more talk than I really wanted, but it certainly kept my pulse up when there’s action. It tackled prejudice, discrimination, segregation, isolation, and bullying. Flawed also has espionage, secrets, lies, and betrayals. Nobody helps a Flawed girl for free. Everybody has a hidden agenda for themselves.

So what makes this book a Young Adult book?

Besides their age, here are a few things that reminded me that Flawed is a YA book.

  1. “Art’s decision to stay away from me. . .hurts more than any branding.” Celestine was branded multiple times with hot cast iron (with anesthetic, the last branding without) and I am sure she was in a lot of pain not to mention the pain while the scars are healing. After being judged as Flawed, she was singled out, hated on, spat at, reputation ruined, future uncertain, and all Celestine could think of is her boyfriend? As a feminist, I would prefer girls portrayed strong and not worrying about any lanky boy for their happiness (no matter how gorgeous their blue eyes are).
  2. “If I have power to bring down Crevan, then I will do it. Then Art and I can be together.” Again, really? Why does the lead female character have to have a boy as a reason to fight? Why not, “Because Crevan is a conniving SOB who used his power for his own gains and literally ruins anybody who goes against him?” or because “He turned against me when I did not allow him to use me for his benefit?”
  3. “Who’s Logan?” After being gone for God knows how long, Art shows up to find Celestine. Instead of asking how she’s holding up, the first thing that came out of his mouth was petty jealousy. I just can’t with this boy.

However, even if the book has some shallow parts, I cannot deny the fact that I LOVE how the author tried to have diversity of the characters.

  1. Celestine’s dad is black and her mom is white.
  2. Mr. Berry has a husband.
  3. Devon sleeps with boys “even if his parents wished he didn’t.”

Overall, Flawed was a good pick me up from not being able to read for a good four months. Will I buy the printed version? Maybe. Do I recommend this book? Yes, to those who loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Scarlet Letter.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio



“I want you to ask yourself: Who are you?”

Kristin Lattimer, the main character, has got it lucky. She has a scholarship in the bag and her father won’t have to pay a cent for college. She has two amazing BFFs named Vee and Faith, whom she could share anything under the sun. She is taking her dreamy boyfriend Sam (who has a smile that makes her feel like a goddess) to Homecoming and they were crowned Homecoming King and Queen.

And you know what happens after Homecoming, right?

Just like every hormone fueled teenagers at the back of a limo with champagne cruising through their veins, Krissy and Sam had sex. Her first time was supposed to be AMAZING. But… It was far from pleasant. In fact, it felt like “someone had taken an electric drill to her insides.”

It’s not supposed to feel that painful, is it?

After visiting the OB-GYNE doctor, Krissy found out why she’s never had her period. She found out why she never had an acne problem, and the reason why she doesn’t have any hair “down there.” She also found out why it was excruciatingly painful when she tried to have sex.

Krissy found out that she’s an intersex.

What??? She’s a girl! She can’t be intersex!

Krissy felt like her life took a turn for the worse. Her two “hernias” turned out to be two testicles putting her at risk for cancer. She will never give birth to her own baby.

She will never be a true woman.

How is she going to tell her boyfriend? How will her BFFs react to the news? How will everybody treat her after they find out what’s going on with her?

Knowing she could always confide to her BFF, Krissy told Vee about her condition. Vee, then, told her mom and their other BFF, Faith, about Krissy’s condition. You know how gossip goes. As if Krissy’s situation was not bad enough… Everybody at school now knows about her condition. Everybody who voted her as their Homecoming Queen are now calling her names like Kristopher, bumping into her, and are just being plain a-holes. Her boyfriend does not want to talk to her anymore and is being bullied because of her.

Her life is falling apart.

But there is one question that needs to be answered.

Who told everyone about her condition?

Was it Vee? She did run against Krissy for Homecoming Queen and lost. Did Vee’s anger fuel her revenge?

Did Vee’s mom, who is friends with Sam’s mom, spill the beans?

Or was it Faith? But… She’s the one who could keep a secret the best and the one who grew up in a religious family. It can’t be her.

At first, I thought this book was about LGBT people. Though the main character is not gay, the hate she received from her fellow students is very similar to homophobia and transphobia. She was called names like “tranny,” “man-whore,” and “faggot” which really stung personally because how could these so called “friends” easily turn their back on her? How could a person disregard someone’s whole being just because of their anatomy?

The idea behind the book was great, but the characters did not live up to it.

I didn’t feel Sam’s love for Krissy. All the vibes I received from him was that he just wanted to have sex with her. After he found out about Krissy being intersex, he was vile, cruel, and an a-hole to her. What was his role anyway? He was just another pretty face. He did not contribute anything to the book.

Krissy’s life fell apart because of her diagnosis. However, I felt like losing her boyfriend was WAAAAAY worse. She was too obsessed with Sam even if he treated her horribly. She kept on thinking about him and wanted to get back with him. I felt my eyes roll to another dimension every time she thought of him. Girl… You are better off without him. Also, after the whole school found out about her condition, instead of accepting it and owning it, she went into hiding. She avoided people, and kept on making excuses. Yes, those are the common behaviors you’d expect. However, give me a strong main character. Show everyone a good example. Give people hope that even during hardships, one can chose to escape, or one can be brave.

I. W. Gregorio’s debut novel None of the Above took me on an emotional roller coaster ride. The author captured exactly how people are, and how they think when confronted with things that are far too difficult for their comprehension. If you want a mind opening, thought provoking, and gut wrenching book, this one is for you.

Rating: 3/5 stars

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera


More Happy Than NotIt was another routine trip to Barnes and Noble. I went to my favorite aisle which houses the Teens and Young Adult books and I noticed More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. Curious, I decided to read the book blurb and I was like, “Woah. Diversity. Score.” and took off with the book. Legally, ofcourse.

Aaron Soto, first person POV, is awkwardly funny, quirky, full of profanity, comic book-loving, and artistic teenage boy. He grew up in the Bronx in a small one-bedroom apartment for the four three of them: mom, brother, and himself. Mom works two jobs just to keep the roof above their head, and food on the table. Dad… Well he is a different story. You see, he committed suicide in their very own bathroom, in their bathtub.

Aaron has a girlfriend named Genevieve, and they seem like a normal, happy, heterosexual couple. Until, by coincidence, he met Thomas; a dreamer, and a writer who does not mind Aaron’s obsession with comic books and sketching. Both boys clicked instantly. They hung out more often, talked more often, and became close friends. Well, to Thomas they are friends. But for Aaron? Something feels different. Something feels off. He thinks he’s… No. It can’t be. He has a girlfriend.

He can’t be gay.

Wanting to forget about his sexuality and other memories, Aaron decided that he wants to go through Leteo’s memory altering procedure. It erases parts of your memory and can alter stories in your past.

After the plot twist, (which I will not mention here), I was hit by “the feels” out of nowhere.

Suddenly, I felt like I understand Aaron. Suddenly, I felt attached to the book. I flipped through the pages; wanting to know more, wanting to feel more, and crying some more. Aaron’s story socked me right in the heart.

What I really love about More Happy Than Not is Adam Silvera’s way of telling a story that feels raw, real, and unforgettable. This book delved through gut-wrenching, mind opening, and profound emotions related to homophobia, depression, suicide, and the inner struggle between who you really are and who pretend to be.

“Don’t forget me.”

I certainly won’t forget More Happy Than Not anytime soon. This debutant author caught my eye and I will be expecting great books from here on out.

Rating: 5/5 stars