Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

Contribute: An Awesome Contribution to the Book World

Contribute (Holo #2) by Kristy Acevedo

Published by Jolly Fish Press; scheduled for July eleventh, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 330

Wow! I finished both books in this series in three days. They are SO good. I also really like that they’re not too long. I’m finding YA books are getting longer and longer, and a lot of it is for no reason? These books are beautifully written and concise and exactly as long as they needed to be.

SO yesterday I wrote my review of Consider, the first book in this series, and you can read that here.

I found these books on accident, and I’m so glad! They broke my streak of bad books. The sequel did not disappoint!

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

Contribute novel by Kristy Acevedo

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

The holograms lied to everyone on Earth and only Alexandra Lucas knows the truth. Now she’s trapped in the year 2359 without family or friends—worse, without her anxiety medication. Alex attempts to reconcile the marvelous scenery, technological advances, and luxurious living with the knowledge that the holograms weren’t being completely honest—what else are they lying about? With a secret that could shatter her society, Alex tries to find her place among strangers, convicts, and a rebellion striving to bring the holograms down. Alex struggles to find the best way to reveal the truth and reunite with those she loves. But when surrounded by beauty and every convenience, Alex wonders if truth becomes irrelevant in a perfect world.

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

It’s almost even unfair to be judging this one as a sequel! It’s honestly like two stand-alone books with familiar characters. And I like that! The first book is way more focused on the everyday life and what’s happening on Earth. Well, when we start the second, Alex is being transported through the vertex to the new planet, the setting of the second novel.

Consider relies heavily on character building, and less on setting. It almost reads like a contemporary or dystopian, with sci-fi elements.

Contribute, though, is full on sci-fi with fantastic world-building and words like magpod and biohologram. It can’t even be compared to the first book, because they are seriously different genres.

I like that! I have never read a two-part series where the two books differ so drastically. The first book left me so raw and emotional and invested in the characters, and the second gave me the action and world-building I need from a sci-fi. I love it so much. I can’t say that enough.

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

Most characters from Consider are also in Contribute. But other than Alex, the characters from Consider play mostly smaller roles. What’s exciting is that we get a whole new cast of people to love and dislike and count on and be emotional about.

We get another kickass female friendship, this time between Alex and Katherine, a crazy amazing hacker and former convict. We also get a totally innocent, not creepy in the slightest friendship between Alex and Doctor A., an older man. I really, really like odd relationship dynamics, so I dug this one a lot.

I will say that I wasn’t as emotionally invested here. There were some deaths here that, had they happened in the first book, I would have taken a lot harder. But again, the characters weren’t as much the focus of Contribute, and I’m okay with that.

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

is gorgeous in a completely different way from the first. The first had me so emotional and obsessed with Alex’s anxiety (the most realistic depiction of the disorder I’ve seen in fiction, as I mentioned in the first review).

The world-building in Contribute is top-notch. I want to draw fan art. I want to journal about this place. This one also had a lot more going on in terms of a fast-paced plot, and some of the twists had me yelling out loud. Here’s a screenshot of my reading update on Goodreads:

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

I wrote “WHAT?!?!” Because I actually yelled “WHAT?!?!” aloud. There is no greater compliment I can give than yelling/speaking/cursing aloud as I read.

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

Is that there is so much pressure and so many high expectations about a sequel. I ended up giving Contribute four out of five stars. Is that fair? I don’t know. You can see I obviously enjoyed it. I did feel some things were a little rushed at the end, and I can’t describe the feeling I have been left with. It’s possible that discovering a new book you ADORE is an experience that can’t be repeated, so no matter how good the sequel is, it can’t match up. That’s what I’m going with here, because that’s the only explanation I’ve been able to come up with.

I would recommend Consider and Contribute to absolutely everyone!

Contribute by Kristy Acevedo

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/hot-dog vendor. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.



 

 

13 novels to read in one sitting

13 Novels to Read in One Sitting

You know the feeling: it’s late, you should be sleeping. Instead, your bedside lamp is on and you are cozy af, with a good book in your arms long after you ought to have gone to bed.

I love that feeling. I live for that feeling.

To that end, I have gathered thirteen novels (in several genres) to keep you up at night. Novels you will read compulsively. Novels you won’t want to put down.

Without further ado, in no particular order:

Science Fiction

Archetype by M.D. Waters

Archetype Novel by M.D. Waters

I was lucky enough to have bought this as an impulse purchase at the Dollar Tree! They seriously have amazing books for just $1 just because they’re a few years old.

So Archetype is about a woman who wakes up and can’t remember her past, and almost anything else about the plot is a spoiler, unfortunately. But it’s science-y and written beautifully and so worth your time. I stayed up until one in the morning, after having read Archetype in one sitting.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Why everyone needs to read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter explores a fun idea in physics that’s been floating around for a while now, but in a way I hadn’t yet seen! It’s also about love and regret and is just totally, beautifully heartbreaking. I read it in one sitting for my 27th birthday.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

Consider novel by Kristy Acevedo

Consider is newest to my list! About holograms/portals that show up all over the world, telling the people of earth that they are there to save them from impending doom. SO good. So original. Written gorgeously.

Also, lots of nerdy sci-fi references to Dr. Who and Star Trek. Fun stuff.

 

Romance

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein

I don’t know that I’ve ever read another romance that kept me up reading at night, but Shuffle, Repeat definitely did! About two kids forced to ride to school together, who bond over their hatred of each other’s music.

The characters are so hilarious and you’re rooting for them so hard and there is a compulsive need to turn page after page.

 

Fantasy

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

Fantasy is a little difficult for this because it tends to run so long, which is what makes The Spirit Thief perfect! About wizards that can speak to the spirits inside of objects, not to reduce it too much.

It’s a short, quick, uber entertaining read. I laughed out loud on the very first page, got to love that!

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I saw this a few years ago and had to buy it. What a funny idea! Dorothy has become a tyrant in Oz, Glenda the good witch is creepy af, and the munchkins curse and have tattoos.

I love re-tellings, and I loved the idea that our beloved childhood characters could be so broken. Dorothy Must Die is delightfully morbid.

 

Mystery

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One Of Us Is Lying novel by Karen M. McManus

I had mixed feelings about One Of Us Is Lying, but ultimately, I did read it in one sitting (as did many others, from the reviews I read). About five kids who go to detention, but only four make it out, as the fifth has died in the room.

It is an exciting journey with these four kids, and my mind was genuinely blown by the twist.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

The beauty of this book is in its simplicity, and in its singularity. A kid finds his neighbor’s dog dead, and tries to solve the mystery of who killed him.

The narrator is a teenage boy with autism (the author had worked with children with autism, so it’s very, very realistic). I have a soft spot for any and all things autism, as my dad has Asperger’s. Reading a mystery from such a POV is so completely fun.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

This one genuinely surprised me! About a guy named Odd Thomas who sees dead people and tries to help them move on. He has a premonition that something bad with massive casualties is going to come to town, and tries to stop it.

I had never been a fan of Dean Koontz, and I’m still really not, yet Odd Thomas remains one of my favorite books of all time. Because it moves through a period of one day, it’s so easy to keep reading and reading until the devastating, gorgeous end.

 

Children’s

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game by Ellen Raikin

I had to throw some children’s books in, because they’re my favorites. This is about a millionaire who dies, and in his will is a mysterious game that sixteen strangers have to play to see who wins his fortune.

I read The Westing Game in school, in sixth grade. I re-read it as an adult to see if I was romanticizing it, sure it couldn’t be as brilliant as I remembered. But oh my god. It is a hilarious, mind-bending game, and whether you have kids or not, you should read it.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I still haven’t watched the movie, because I’m nervous about how well this could have been adapted. The Giver is a gorgeous masterpiece, and it should be required reading for every single person.

 

Thriller

Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

Heart Sick by Chelsea Cain

I don’t read a lot of thrillers, it’s probably the one area I avoid most. They have to be really particular for me to enjoy them. I read Heartsick because Chuck Palahniuk, who is one of my favorite authors, said the female serial killer in this was amazing. A recommendation from Chuck P plus a female serial killer? I was in, and Heartsick doesn’t disappoint. The series did get a little meh after this one, but the first book is so worth it.

 

Horror

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk

I hesitate to even call Diary horror, but it’s probably the closest genre we’re going to get. It’s written in the form of, get this, a diary. A woman writes to her husband who is in a coma, and whom she occasionally stabs with pins because she hates him. It is weird and disgusting and so, utterly fantastic.

***

What about you?

What books have you read in one sitting?

 

 



Consider: My Happiest Accident of 2017

Consider (Holo #1) by Kristy Acevedo

Published by Jolly Fish Press in 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 288

Oh my god, y’all! I get to break the streak of bad reviews! Three in a row had really upset me, and I was desperate to find a book I really love to review next. Enter Consider, by Kristy Acevedo!

Funny enough, I found this book on accident. So, I was approved for yet more ARC’s I had forgotten I signed up for. One of which is called Contribute. Now, somehow, when I asked for Contribute on NetGalley, I totally missed that it is a sequel! I hate that, and I am obviously still obligated to read and review it. I have really been craving some sci-fi, so I bought the first book and figured I’d hope for the best. Anyway, this is now perfect timing, because if you haven’t read Consider (and you need to), you can read it before Contribute comes out in July.

Consider novel by Kristy Acevedo

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

As if Alexandra Lucas’ anxiety disorder isn’t enough, mysterious holograms suddenly appear from the sky, heralding the end of the world. They bring an ultimatum: heed the warning and step through a portal-like vertex to safety, or stay and be destroyed by a comet they say is on a collision course with earth. How’s that for senior year stress?

The holograms, claiming to be humans from the future, bring the promise of safety. But without the ability to verify their story, Alex is forced to consider what is best for her friends, her family, and herself.

To stay or to go. A decision must be made.

With the deadline of the holograms’ prophecy fast approaching, Alex feels as though she is living on a ticking time bomb, until she discovers it is much, much worse.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

I immediately LOVED this concept. I knew right away that part of the fun would be trying to figure this out. Are the holograms lying? Telling the truth? Is there or isn’t there a comet? Regardless of the comet, would I leave to a world I know nothing about? It is SO fun.

In Consider, the holograms show up, complete with portals (called “vertexes” in the book) and say they will remain there until the comet comes, so people can ask them questions and decide whether to go through. The questions and answers are so great, and it really helps add to the mystery of it all. Some of their answers suck, like that you can’t bring your pets (I’m not going ANYWHERE without Buffy, for serious) . Some sound too good to be true, like that there’s no war. It really makes it more exciting to try to figure out how WE feel, as a reader, about what we would do in their shoes.

I also think it’s worth noting that parts of this fall into the “dystopian” category. Now, I am sick of this fo sho. I don’t typically buy dystopian novels at all, anymore. Especially not in YA, particularly because of the “chosen one” trope, which, you know, no fucking thank you. Dystopian works here for a couple of reasons. One, this is about a normal girl and her life and family. She’s not the chosen one, she can’t save the world, it’s just about her life dealing with the aftermath of the arrival of the holograms. Also, we watch this place’s descent into madness, and it’s slow and realistic. It’s not sudden or crazy and horses don’t eat each other. The bad is gradual, the desperation is palpable, and it’s fantastic.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

Make this SO good, because every character is necessary. How often can you say that?

Alexandra, our narrator, is phenomenal. SO real. Also, she has a significant problem with anxiety, and it is the most accurate portrayal I have ever read. Now, obviously, anxiety is not one-size-fits-all. I can only speak for myself, and I will say that while it is not as bad as Alex’s, I have a significant problem with anxiety as well. Mine happens to be of the same variety as hers, wherein I picture every bad thing that could possibly happen until I’m convinced I’m actually dying. I enjoyed reading about Alex’s attacks, not the least of which because I like to see characters with anxiety and/or depression that are still totally lovable, intelligent, reasonable people. Alex is amazing. I can’t say enough good things about her.

Her relationship with her boyfriend is realistic for their age and situation, which I like. She calls him out when she doesn’t feel he’s treating her anxiety the way he should, which I love, because so many people with anxiety (in my experience) will let people treat them terribly, convinced poor treatment is deserved.

Alex’s relationship with her best friend, Rita, is also wonderful. I LOVE stories about female friendship, and theirs plays a significant role.

Her family. Oh my god. Her dad is one of those characters I absolutely love to hate. I’ve been mentioning, lately, that there are a lot of antagonists that are just boring. Not good, not bad, just blah. I can’t stand feeling meh. I want to love my antagonists (this makes it way more complicated) or I want to reeeeally hate them. Well, I hate Alex’s dad. BUT, I also understand him, and totally see why he is the way he is, and watching his journey is just as exciting as Alex’s. That is awesome.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

is gorgeous. One thing I don’t mention a lot but is really important to me: metaphors. Nothing irritates me more than overuse of metaphors and similes. No matter how good a story is, if there are too many of these, I can’t stand it. Consider has only a few, and they are REALLY GOOD ONES. They’re sticking with me, they are that good.

The pacing is perfect. There are just enough OMG moments and little bits and pieces I didn’t expect. The ending surprised the actual fuck out of me.

Consider by Kristy Acevedo

Is that I cannot wait to jump into the second book! I’m also terrified. Is there anything scarier than starting the sequel of a book you really love?? So much pressure. Such high expectations.

I would recommend Consider to everyone!

Here’s a link, if you’d like to purchase Consider on Amazon! It’s definitely worth it!

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/hot-dog vendor. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.

This post contains an affiliate link. Please read my disclosure for more info.



 

 

The Sunday Post | Weekly Wrap-up #4

I’m linking up with The Sunday Post hosted by Kimberly @Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I am officially one ahead of my Goodreads reading goals! I’m really happy, because when I started these wrap-ups I was three behind.

My week passed really, really quickly for whatever reason. And yet, again, I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to. I’m going to look at the paragraph above this one and remember that even if it doesn’t seem like it, I am getting things done.

I binged the hell out of season two of The Magicians. Omg. I loved season one, but holy shit season two was phenomenal. This is one case where I think the show is considerably better than the book, though I was only able to get through the first book in the series.

I also started 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, and I’m really enjoying it. I think there’s so much to be gained from having shows like this, where the cast is MAD diverse and it gives an unapologetic look at rape culture thriving in American schools. I haven’t read it since I was a teenager, so I can’t say how well it’s following the book. But I am going to call it a successful adaptation.

I finished and reviewed two ARC’s this week! (click on the picture to see the review):

I’m sad to say that neither review was exactly glowing, and I hate that this has been three in a row now!

I reviewed Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, which is magical realism that I just found super boring.

And As You Wish, which is also magical realism, which started off good and the ending made me crazy.

Beasts of extraordinary circumstance by ruth emmie lang As You Wish

I’m still up to my ass in ARC’s, and have two more coming in the mail! Which I love, because I always have something to read.

I still have The Beautiful Ones from NetGalley. Hector, one of the narrators, seems super sexist and I hate to have to try to excuse it because of timing.

From Edelweiss I received Rough Patch, which I was really excited about because it’s about a young girl working on accepting her bisexuality. I’ve only read a chapter, so we’ll see how it goes! (Not technically an ARC, as this one came out in May, but it’s still a free book so hell yes.)

Also from Edelweiss I received Nice Try, Jane Sinner, which I started and I LOVE the voice. I’m thinking I’ll finish this one next, so I can break my streak of negative reviews.

And from Penguin’s First To Read, I received Impossible Views of the World. Which is about a woman who works at a museum and has to go on like a literary treasure hunt, and I love it so far. I’m about fifty pages in, so let’s hope that continues.

I hope everyone is having an incredible week!



Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Published by St. Martin’s Press, expected to release in November, 2017

Genre: Magical Realism

Pages: 352

I really need a win soon! This is the third time in a row I have to give a review saying I didn’t love a book, and I’m sad about it.

I do want to say that in the case of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, my reasons for disliking it are completely subjective. I know, I know, they always are, right? But this time it feels like it’s more-so than usual. My failure to connect with this book has nothing to do with the book, so I feel the need to describe exactly why, so you’ll know whether these things would make it difficult for you to connect, also. I am by no means saying this is a bad book. In fact, of the advance reviews so far, every single one I looked at said the book was excellent. So keep that in mind, please.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, a magical realism novel by Ruth Emmie Lang

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places, jeopardizing not only his own life, but the life of Mary, the woman he loves.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell: great storms that evaporate into thin air; fireflies that make phosphorescent honey; a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door.

I pretty much judge a book by the same things, over and over. Characters, plot, writing, pacing, message. But the most important to me, and I usually don’t mention it in these terms, is readability. How much did I want to keep reading this book. Did I have to keep reading? Here’s the thing, and again, let me say here that it’s not a bad book, I didn’t want to keep reading. Had it not been an ARC, I would almost certainly have DNF’d it, because I couldn’t connect and I was *whispers* bored. I’d rather hate a book than just be bored and meh with it. It’s such an unfortunate position. So here are my totally subjective reasons for feeling this way:

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

I felt a little misled, here. Given the description, I was just expecting something so completely different. Weylyn can manipulate weather, speak to animals, make plants grow… I just expected it to be more about that, I guess. Every chapter, save one at the end, is from the point of view of someone around Weylyn, watching his miracles unfold. My favorite chapter in the whole book was the one, at (nearly) the very end, from his point of view.

Through the whole thing, because Weylyn is a man of few words, we don’t have much of a sense of his intentions or feelings or agency. I thought the book was about Weylyn, but it turns out to be only tangential. It’s much more about the people around him and their reactions to him. Which is fine, just not what I expected, and not what I personally wanted. Because for almost the entire book we have no idea what Weylyn wants, it was hard for me to know where the book was going. And not in an Oh This Is So Exciting And Twisty way. I couldn’t find my bearings in an uncomfortable way.

With about thirty pages left, I found myself wondering what the point even was. Whether there would be a climax. Whether I would feel any resolution. That’s not a good place to be, with that little left. I expect to be entering wrap-up right about then, unless there’s a cliffhanger.

The ending was satisfying in it’s own right, though again, it wasn’t what I was looking for when I got the book. I think had it been marketed more as: the story of Weylyn and the love of his life and oh yeah there’s some magic, instead of: this is the story of Weylyn and his magic and oh yeah he loves a woman (I know they’re almost the same, but the distinction is important to me), I may have felt differently about the whole thing.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Because Weylyn is the fascinating one, the one raised by wolves and manipulating weather and everything, I really needed to hear from him. I couldn’t connect with him because, as I explained earlier, I don’t feel we were given the opportunity to. I want to know how much he knows about what he’s doing. I want to know whether he really ever thought the pig was magic. I want to know whether he meant to be rude or polite on his first day in human school. I felt a lack of closure because I never understood his motives.

The POV alternates between other characters, as I explained. Some of whom are fine, and some are more boring than others. Mary, the woman Weylyn loves, does have more page time than most, and I appreciated that because she was really the only character I cared about. We meet her at different times throughout her life, as a child and a young woman and an older woman, so we get to see her grow and change (although she’s always obsessed with her and Weylyn’s childhood together).

I did have some issues with their relationship. As I’ve expressed in former reviews, I can’t stand when people spend very little time together but decide they’re in love. Weylyn and Mary go through something traumatic together very young, so I can see how that would develop into the obsession they share later. But I didn’t like that Mary and Weylyn weren’t together much, and they stayed in love their whole lives (he says this in the first few pages, not trying to give a spoiler).

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

was a pretty big let-down for me, and again, I think it’s because we never see it through Weylyn’s eyes. I need to understand things. I need to know how and why things happen, at least eventually.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

I know it’s a lot of information that’s not necessarily helpful, but it’s all I’ve got. Basically I feel this: make me happy or piss me off, but please don’t bore me. Unfortunately, for me, this one was just a miss.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang