February 12, 2020

Reviews: This Train is Being Held + All the Stars and Teeth

pub 2/11/20 by Amulet Books
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received e-ARC from pub for review
⭐⭐⭐💫 3.5 stars | The Train is Being Held is about far more than just two teenagers having a meet-cute moment on the subway, which was both good and bad. Good because I thought the author delved into a lot of pertinent topics like racism, classism, mental health and struggling to meet parental expectation – all while falling in love for the first time. The flip side was that I felt like I needed more time and a much deeper development to capture all the growth and drama that the two main characters, Isabelle Warren and Alex Rosario, experience over the course of three years. Trying to stick to subway encounters and using time jumps to cover that period of time didn't really allow for that in a way to be even more meaningful. When private school student and aspiring ballerina Isabelle meets Dominican-American star baseball player Alex, it's pretty much attraction at first sight. As the 1 train keeps throwing them in each other's path, they learn more about what's lies beneath the surface. He struggles with wanting to go to college and study poetry (I admittedly didn't love the inclusions of his poems) with his father's push to go major league. While Isabelle's unstable mother and family drama make her feel like she always has to be okay and perfect. Alex and Isabelle help each other to pursue their dreams and I found their relationship to be very sweet and romantic. But as I said that something more was missing for me to really fall in love with this book, despite all the great elements it had going for it.

Do I recommend? It's a sweet, quiet book that read really quickly for me. If you're at all interested, I'd recommend borrowing from the library.


pub 2/4/20 by Imprint
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received e-ARC from pub for review
⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars | If I could make one request to publishers about their book descriptions, it would be: please don't makes comparisons to Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series! That plus the mention of mermaids is what peaked my interest in All the Stars and Teeth in the first place but while the book was enjoyable, it wasn't exactly memorable. Amora Montara is the princess of Visidia and has trained to be the Higher Animancer, the master of souls, her entire life to secure her place as heir to the throne. What I found interesting about their magical system is that individuals can choose their type of magic and are only allowed to have one. But for Amora, she has no choice by to master the dangerous soul magic if she is to be queen one day. Then on the day she demonstrates her powers to the kingdom, circumstances force her to run but not without help. Specifically from Bastian, a pirate, who will help her prove she can rule if she can help him regain his stolen magic. Being on this journey with him (and other characters I can't name) was my favorite part. But I'm also a sucker for a good quest! Through these travels, Amora learns more about herself, her kingdom and her family than she ever expected and it's all about the tough decisions she'll have to make for Visidia once she uncovers the truth.

Do I recommend? It wasn't a standout fantasy by any means and I most likely won't continue further. I'd say this is more of a borrow than a buy now.

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