Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson

Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson

Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Odea Donahue has been able to travel through people’s dreams since she was six years old. Her mother taught her the three rules of walking:

Never interfere.

Never be seen.
Never walk the same person’s dream more than once.

Dea has never questioned her mother, not about the rules, not about the clocks or the mirrors, not about moving from place to place to be one step ahead of the unseen monsters that Dea’s mother is certain are right behind them.


Then a mysterious new boy, Connor, comes to town, and Dea finally starts to feel normal. As Connor breaks down the walls that she’s had up for so long, he gets closer to learning her secret. For the first time she wonders if that’s so bad. But when Dea breaks the rules, the boundary between worlds begins to deteriorate. How can she know what’s real and what’s not?

Dreamland was a book I got around to reading last year, but unfortunately never got around to posting the review for it. It was a really interesting idea, first of all. I don't think I've come across dream-walkers too much in young adult fiction, other than Lisa McMann's Dream Catcher series. And when I mean dream-walker, I mean entering the world of dreams, not so much as just dreaming something and then it actually happening. Anyway, this was such an original concept and the descriptions were breathtaking. I mean, the dream sequences? It was so vivid, I could really see it clearly. There was a fantasy element to this one too, not just a paranormal one, which made this one so much better, in my opinion.

I will say, however, that I kind of hated the insta-love(ish) romance that starts off the book. I mean, I'm glad it took longer than other I-just-met-him-and-immediately-felt-a-connection-with-him-omg-we're-in-love relationships that can be found in YA, but damn–that was a short time to fall for each other. Other than this though, I liked the two characters, Dea and Connor. Both were genuine characters that I could root for throughout the novel.

There was a pretty cool twist that I did not see coming, which has to do with the aforementioned fantasy element. I wanted so much more of the dreamworld that was presented then though. Imagine the world-building possibilities! I feel like that where the book took a slight turn for me, because I'm a sucker for high fantasy and when you drop an entire world in there without exploring it then it makes me sad. Along with this I did have mixed feelings at the book's ending, but it did make sense. I like that the author chose to go in a certain direction, because it was not predictable and it didn't end all cleaned up nice and tidy, which was a change from most books.

I'm hoping that there's another book coming out about the dreamworld, because I would absolutely be down to read that. Paranormal, fantasy, and a great mystery element to it as well, Dreamland was such an amazing concept. Robert L. Anderson's debut is magical and dark, with beautiful descriptions and suspense that keeps you on your toes–definitely give this one a read.

If you like this, try...


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Waiting on Wednesday – Week 184

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming releases that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.


And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.


While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

Goodreads ● June 13, 2017

Um, is there even a question as to why I can't wait for this one?? As a Muslim myself, it's pretty rare to find representation for my religion in young adult books. There are definitely books out there, but not enough. Thankfully I don't have to wait too long for Saints and Misfits!

What are you waiting on?

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

This is such an overdue review because I read this one last year, but here it finally goes! I was pretty excited when I got Places No One Knows in the mail because I've heard tons and tons of good things about Brenna Yovanoff's books, and most of them are on my TBR. I've actually read her debut The Replacement a while back...long story short, I can't remember what happens in it, but I remember not liking it. Anyway, I'm a big believer of giving authors multiple chances, and I'm glad I did! I enjoyed this one, and while the pacing was slightly slower than what I expected (maybe to capture the dream-like atmosphere?), it was still a fascinating read.

There are two Waverleys. One is well groomed, academically unparalleled, reasonably attractive, and runs the cross-country country course at Basset in under eighteen minutes. Sixteen point five on a good day.
      The other is a secret.
      Secret Waverly is the one who never sleeps.
–p. 4, paperback

I was kind of expecting more about the whole dreamwalker aspect, but it wasn't a central part of the book. I guess Places No One Knows takes a magical realism stance, and we as readers just have to accept that this happens. Anyway, instead of focusing on the supernatural element of the story, it instead focused on the relationship between Waverly and Marshall, which I thought was an interesting approach. I personally would have liked to see more of the paranormal-side of the story explored, but I guess it makes for a pretty unique meet-cute?

A big plus point for the book, despite not delving too much into the whole "I dreamed about you and appeared in your room" aspect, was the characters. Brenna Yovanoff's prose flowed really well, and the characters that came with it were well rounded and fleshed-out. The focus on the interactions between Waverly and Marshall was, as I've mentioned, quite interesting, but I just wish there was something a bit more. I do like a slightly dark and edgy contemporary, but there was a little teeny bit missing from the plot that I would have liked there. Character exploration was amazing though, and you could see where these people were coming from. Autumn was great too, and reading about her connection with these two really solidified the plot. 

Excellently written and captivating from start to finish, Places No One Knows draws you into this surreal, dreamlike world with very real characters and issues, and hits you with a rollercoaster of emotions. I will absolutely be reading more of Brenna Yovanoff's books, because if they're anything like this one, I'm definitely in for a treat.


▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Julia at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

  • Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson ● Goodreads

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 183

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming releases that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it's too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she's unable to escape. 


Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

Goodreads ● June 13, 2017

First of all–THAT COVER. Absolutely. Gorgeous. Secondly, every time I see the title, I get "Bad Romance" stuck in my head (not complaining!). Anyway, I'm really looking forward to reading this one, because while it does sound like a dark contemporary, it sounds like an important book, too. I actually haven't read anything by Heather Demetrios yet, and all her books are on my TBR list...maybe this one will be the first?

What are you waiting on?

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

Release Date: June 30, 2016
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!
Goodreads

June's life at home with her stepmother and stepsister is a dark one—and a secret one. She is trapped like a butterfly in a net. 

But then June meets Blister, a boy in the woods. In him she recognises the tiniest glimmer of hope that perhaps she can find a way to fly far, far away from her home and be free. Because every creature in this world deserves their freedom... But at what price?



When I received Paper Butterflies in the mail, I was excited for two reasons. The first? THIS GIRL GOT HER REVIEW OF SEED INTO THE BOOK! Look!!!
I was over the moon when I found out about it and was so excited when I finally saw it in physical form! Anyway, other than that, the second reason was because I really loved Seed (read my review). I'm still hoping there's a sequel, but I was definitely eager to read Paper Butterflies. So after months of putting it off, I finally buckled down and read Lisa Heathfield's second book.

This book wrecked me.

Paper Butterflies was both beautiful and absolutely devastating. By the end of the book my heart was probably in a million little pieces.

Kathleen puts another slice on my plate. I look up at her and she nods at me. Maybe this is the day she changes. Maybe she'll put her arms round me and say she really does love me and she's sorry. I smile back. A little bit of the grit in my heart feels like it's floating away.
           I eat my cake, the chocolate filling my mouth. Megan stares at me, but I don't care. Kathleen can love me too.
           I run my fingers along the crumbs on my plate, smudging dropped bits of chocolate cream.
           'More?' Kathleen asks.
           I laugh slightly. 'I need to leave space for a sandwich.'
           'But the cake isn't finished.' Just like that, the look is back.
–p. 18, paperback

This is a story of abuse, and the way our main character June is treated by her stepmother, stepsister and classmates is heartbreaking. Children can be so cruel, but holy crap, the way her horrific stepmother goes about abusing her? I had to put the book down for a break a quarter way through because it was honestly too much for me. It definitely highlights the importance of real-life issues being represented in young adult novels, or any book in general. The story, however, was so gripping that I picked it back up after collecting my thoughts and read it the whole way through.

I liked the alternating chapters of 'Before' and 'After' as it added to the mystery of how it all ends. The 'Before' story also jumps through year after year, which I thought was pretty cool, because we see how June grows, and how her friendship with Blister blooms into something. Oh, Blister. Blister and his family were the shining beacons of hope in this novel, honestly. The chapters about June and Blister and the rest of the Wick family were the little breaks of relief in this sad, dark story. I loved all the family members, and the relationship between June and Blister was just so adorable that it could make you momentarily forget about the horrible way that June is treated at home.

A dark, melancholic buzz speckled with spots of tormented sunshine that burgeons and turns on itself, slamming readers with an unpredictable twist, Lisa Heathfield's Paper Butterflies does not disappoint. I loved this book so much, and recommend it with all my heart. An important read for teens and adults alike, you don't want to miss this one.


▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

If you like this, try...


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The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

Release Date: October 11, 2016
Illustrated by: Levi Pinfold
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rated: MG 11+
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own.


Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?

I really loved The Madman's Daughter series by Megan Shepherd, so when I heard that she was writing a middle grade novel I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately due to busy times, getting to this book took a while, but I finally did it and I devoured it in two hours. The Secret Horses of Briar Hill has the same magical and imaginative tones as Shepherd's other books, and I was enthralled by this bittersweet tale.

One thing Megan Shepherd does really well in her books is establish the historical setting and build the world around it. I always fall in love with her descriptions and this was no exception. What I enjoyed most about this was that the information came in bits and pieces, as we're viewing this through the eyes of the child. I didn't know from the synopsis that this was set during the second world war, or that our main character Emmaline is in a house in the countryside, with other children who have–as she calls it–"still waters," also known as tuberculosis. The details were so well put and that was a strong point for the book.

I loved the characters. Emmaline, the other children in the house, Anna, the nuns, Thomas–from our protagonist's point of view, I liked that she gives them little descriptors and quirks that make it so easy to picture them. However, I definitely did not expect this book to touch on heavier topics, such as the war and loss. Most of the characters featured are sick children, yes, but wow–this book had a lot of depth to it, which I appreciated, and instead of glossing over the details, it's depicted in a way that allows a younger reader to understand what's going on without being ploughed down by a dark atmosphere.

What I did feel was lacking a little bit, however, was the part about the horses. Gorgeous descriptions, yes. But there was sort of no explanation for anything, which I guess makes sense since it's coming from Emmaline's point of view and we have no idea whether the horses are real or not–even with the ending–but the plot that involved the horses seemed sort of sidelined. I enjoyed the other bits of the story more, but I was just very confused when it came to this magical horse business as Foxfire appears. I feel like it might have been a way to explore the real-life issues surrounding Emmaline, as well as give some sort of insight into her backstory, but otherwise I felt like it wasn't adding too much to the story. The illustrations were beautiful though, and I really want to see what the finished book is like so I can take in more of them, as so many of mine were missing!

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill–what can I say? An emotional ride, this book was both lovely and heartbreaking to read, and I highly recommend this one to readers of all ages. Megan Shepherd knows her craft very well, with vivid descriptions that pull you in, a small mystery that keeps you in suspense, and, of course, horses.


▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Cassie at Random House Children's Books for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

If you like this, try...

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett ● Goodreads
  • Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian ● Goodreads

Everyone We've Been by Sarah Everett

Everyone We've Been by Sarah Everett

Release Date: October 4, 2016

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Addison Sullivan has been in an accident. In its aftermath, she has memory lapses and starts talking to a boy that no one else can see. It gets so bad that she’s worried she’s going crazy. 

Addie takes drastic measures to fill in the blanks and visits a shadowy medical facility that promises to “help with your memory.” But at the clinic, Addie unwittingly discovers it is not her first visit. And when she presses, she finds out that she had certain memories erased. She had a boy erased.

But why? Who was that boy, and what happened that was too devastating to live with? And even if she gets the answers she’s looking for, will she ever be able to feel like a whole person again?

Right from the get-go I knew this book would have a similar vibe to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Even though I watched the film ages go, I still remember the basic plot, and upon reading the synopsis I was curious as to how the book would execute some of the similar aspects. I was drawn into this one, the story unfolding between alternating chapters of 'Before' and 'After,' that had me hooked from start to finish.

I really enjoyed the protagonist Addie. I thought she was a sweet character, and besides the reasoning behind it all–which I'll get to in a moment–she was pretty solid. I also lovveeed Zach. The romance here was adorable, you guys! And his younger brother is absolutely hilarious. There were a lot of light-hearted moments from the 'Before' chapters that I liked, and it was all because of the characters' relationships. I hated Addie's best friend though. Ugh, Katy. She reminded me too much of the people that I know who just love to create drama for the sake of it. Other than her though, the characters were fantastic and made reading the changes between 'Before' and 'After' much more interesting.

The book was sad, but as I mentioned previously, I don't really get the reasoning behind the BIG THING that happened. I mean, even the main character looks back on it and doesn't think too much of the events that transpired–not to the point where it pushes her to do what she did. There was definitely a slight overreaction here. But eh, oh well. It made the story more mysterious and enthralling for sure.

 Readers who love their contemporary novels with a dash of science-fiction: you need to pick this one up. A heartbreaking narrative sprinkled with wonderful and touching moments that made me smile (topped off with a gorgeous cover!), I found myself absolutely taken with Everyone We've Been. Gorgeous prose, a suspenseful romance, secrets...what's not to like?


▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Julia at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 182

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming releases that I'm DYING to get my hands on.

This week's WoW is:
In a Perfect World by Trish Doller

Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.

But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.


With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.

May 23, 2017 ● Goodreads

I'm really excited about this one because, hello? DIVERSITY! I don't think I've ever read a book set in Egypt or about Egypt, unless it's about Egyptian mythology, and even then, it's prettttyyyyy much just set in the US. Anyway, I'm also a little bit scared about this, regarding the location and the aspects of culture that are featured in the book. I'm just hoping the author has done a good job of portraying it (reviews seem to be pretty positive, so I've got my hopes up!), but nonetheless, I shall definitely be giving this one a read.

What are you waiting on?

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Release Date: February 9, 2017

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!
GoodreadsWebsite

Long before she was the Queen of Hearts, Catherine Pinkerton was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.


Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

After a long break from reading, well, ANYTHING, Heartless was exactly what I needed to get back into the reading mood. I had read Cinder by Marissa Meyer ages ago, and absolutely loved it too, but unfortunately for some reason never completed the series. I’m glad this one was a standalone novel though, because I could really just dive in without worrying about having to remember plot and character details for the sequel. Anyway,
I love origin stories! I was interested to see how this one was going to be tackled, and Marissa Meyer definitely did not disappoint.


The only other origin story I’ve seen for the Queen of Hearts was briefly in Once Upon a Time, so I was glad that there wouldn’t be other adaptations of the book’s character that influenced my perception. It’s also been a while since I’ve read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, so I was pretty confused when the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen were two different people, but now looking back it makes more sense. It’s because Disney had combined the two characters in their adaptations–the animated film and the Tim Burton films–which is why I found it intriguing to know more about Chess and Hearts, the two different lands presented in the story. While this is a standalone, and as I’ve mentioned previously how I’m thankful for that, I could definitely see this having some sort of spin-off with a tale about the war in Chess and how the Queen of Hearts comes into play with that.


Rather than the characters, I was here for the story. In my opinion the characters could have been a little better–Catherine’s transformation is pretty drastic, and I couldn’t really buy the romance between her and Jest. I loved the supporting characters though; they were all very well thought out. I mean, Mary Ann’s character for instance? Holy moly. I mean, she doesn’t even have too big a role, but I only remembered who she was in the actual book after finishing Heartless, and then the end of her story comes to make sense. It was the attention to detail that completely blew me away, as the author really thought through how these characters start and end up, how their roles alter by the time Catherine becomes the Queen of Hearts.


Having finished Heartless, I’m now desperate to finish Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, as I’m sure she skilfully weaves different fairy tales in her other series as she does in this one with Alice in Wonderland, “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater,” “The Raven,” and other stories. A brilliantly imagined account of a character doomed from the start, Heartless is luscious, dark, and gripping. 



▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...


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This Seasonal Blogger is Back at it Again!

Oh my gosh! You guys!
Ugh, it’s good to be back.

This girl is back home for the summer and it’s time to blog again!

But wait, Rabiah, why even are you a seasonal blogger again?

Because I’m a lazy person, that’s why.
Haha, just kidding! (not about the lazy part though. I’ve always been lazy.)

It’s mainly because during the school year I’ve just got too much writing going on–essays, screenwriting, re-writing scripts, applications–too much that every time my heart gets the itch to blog, my fingers and brain are like “Rabiah, are you bleeping kidding me? WE’RE DEAD. Go watch some more tv instead.” 

That and the fact that it takes a while to read books when you’ve got university work to worry about makes it really hard for me to blog while I’m at school. Kudos to those amazing people who can do it all! I know definitely can’t, but wow, props to your fantastic dedication!!

Anyway, here’s to letting you guys know that I’m here, and that I’m praying I get a lot more blogging in this summer, because let’s face it–I missed you guys, the book blogging community. All you bloggers, reviewers, authors, readers, YA and middle grade fanatics. I really can’t wait to catch up with everyone, so here’s to an awesome summer!

All the hugs,
Rabiah x