Tag Archives: 2017 ya debut

Book Review: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara

The Last Namsara

Release date: October 1st 2017

4.5 stars

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.
These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.
Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

I was really excited to get my hands on this book. It was one of my most anticipated to come out and I will definitely be buying a hardcover when it hits shelves. This book had an interesting world, plenty of interesting characters, and dragons. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think after the first chapter with Asha being a dragon slayer but the plot turned into directions I enjoyed.

Asha was the only daughter of the king, the youngest child, and had been declared the Iskari, a title that made people fear her and a way for her to atone for the destruction she caused as a child. She was the kingdom’s dragon slayer and each dragon she killed was one step closer to making up for breaking the law she had when she was younger. The Asha at the beginning of the book was so different from the Asha by the end. There was so much character development that it will be interesting to see where the character goes in the sequel. She was very protective of the people she cared about, though she counted few among that group, and I loved seeing her open up to knowing more people and questioning the laws and her beliefs as the story went on.

There were a few main dynamics in the book. The most prominent was the one between Asha and Torwin, a slave belonging to Asha’s betrothed. Torwin challenged her to think for herself and was a great partner through the book. Secondary was the dynamic between Asha and Jarek, the jerk she was supposed to marry and I loved seeing Asha finding ways to show her independence even as Jarek tried to control her. There was also great dynamics between Asha and her cousin Safire, and Asha and her older brother. They both showed glimpses that they were not exactly who Asha thought they were so I’m excited to see more of that developing.

I loved all the old stories that broke up a lot of the chapters. It was a great way to show some backstory and historical content without feeling like an info dump. It was reading folk lore for this kingdom and learning why the people had their beliefs. The book started off a little slow but not in a bad way. The pace picked up the more Asha found herself outside the walls of the kingdom, hunting, and by the end, I had to finish the book even though I should have been asleep hours before. It really was a book I just couldn’t put down.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Who's that girl

Who’s That Girl

Release date: July 11th 2017

4 stars

Junior Nattie McCullough is totally OK with her place in life: Latin whiz. Member of the school’s gay-straight alliance. Joni Mitchell superfan. Seventeen-year-old who has never been kissed. So when last summer’s crush and her former classmate—Young Lungs lead singer Sebastian Delacroix—comes back to town with his new hit single “Natalie,” she can’t bring herself to believe it could possibly be about her…could it?
As Nattie sorts through the evidence (the lyrics, Sebastian’s elusive text messages, and their brief romantic encounter last year), the song’s popularity skyrockets, and everyone starts speculating about “Natalie’s” identity. If that wasn’t mortifying enough, Nattie runs into another problem: her confusing, flirtation-packed feelings for her good friend Zach. With her once-average life upended, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her short-lived past with Sebastian was something love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

I went in to this book thinking it would be a cute read with some romance, a growth arc, a little angst, and it had all of that. It also had great friendships, great dialogue between characters, and was a lot of fun to read. I loved the group of friends, the family dynamics, and the plot.

Nattie was an easy character to like, even when she was making bad decisions because I could understand her reasoning behind them. That didn’t mean I agreed with her or that I couldn’t see the bad outcome that was coming from that decision, I could just understand why she came to the conclusion that her way was the best way. It was fun to see her push herself out of her comfort zone as she tried to get answers from Sebastian about the origin of the song “Natalie”.

The dynamics between the two main groups Nattie interacted with, her family and her group of friends, were so great. I loved the quirkiness of her parents, the sibling bond that had developed between her and the family’s exchange student Sam, and just the whole overall family dynamics. Her group of friends were just so much fun any time they were all together. I enjoyed the romance aspect of the plot as well. I was a little worried about it feeling too love triangle-ish, but it felt more like a girl who was ultimately trying to figure out her confusing feelings.

The main plot was mostly Nattie trying to figure out if she was the mysterious ‘Natalie’ in Sebastian’s song and how to deal with it, while also figuring out her feelings for her friend Zach. It made for a light, perfect beginning of Summer read. I could easily see myself re-reading this by the pool on a nice day.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Book Review: The Art of Starving by Sam J Miller

Art of starving

The Art of Starving

Release date: July 11th 2017

4 stars

Matt hasn’t eaten in days.
His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.
Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.
So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?
Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.

This was a book I was a little hesitant going into since it involved a boy thinking that starving himself was giving him superpowers. I’m very glad I gave it a chance because the book was full of quirky characters, an interesting family dynamic, and a plot that would be really interesting to see debated on if it was more magical realism where Matt did have superpowers or if his mind was trying to validate his choice of not eating by making him think he had superpowers.

Matt was a likeable character who could be frustrating in that he was hypocritical at times and sometimes just wasn’t that nice. He was also hurting because his older sister had run off and he had no idea where she was or what had driven her to take off. Part of the plot focused on Matt trying to discover her reasons, blaming a few fellow high schoolers for his sister’s disappearance. I liked how determined Matt was to find out what had happened to his sister and how much he cared about his mom, who worked so hard in an effort to keep their roof over their head and food on their table. I also liked the developing relationship between Matt and Tariq as Matt got closer, trying to figure out if Tariq was responsible for his sister’s disappearance.

I really appreciated that there wasn’t any romanticizing of Matt’s eating disorder. If the powers were real, I would have liked more background on them. Where did they originate? How did they work? Were there a lot of others out there like Matt? But then that would mean knowing for certain if the powers were real or if they were from Matt trying to justify not eating. I like the idea that it could be argued that either theory is valid based on how the reader saw the events. Matt’s powers reminded me a bit of the aliens in We Are All Ants, as I was also questioning if they were real or part of the character’s coping mechanism.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Weekly Reading Recap


So. Much. Rain. And so many books.

Currently reading: Signs point to Yes

Finished reading: Art of starvinggentlemans-guideHonor GirlIf Birds Fly Back

Reviewed: avengeddreamfall

What I’m hoping to get to next week: Ginny Moonthis-is-how-it-happened to read

Art of starvinggentlemans-guide to review

Books read it 2017: 77

Debut authors read in 2017: 23


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Book Review: Girl out of Water by Laura Silverman

Girl out of water

Girl out of Water

Release date: May 2nd 2017

3.5 stars

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.
Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves

I loved summer read and this book easily fit in with the types of books I usually look for to grab and read out by the pool or at the beach. It had great character dynamics, a lot of growth, and a nice slow-burn romance. It was a pretty addicting read and the biggest complaint I would have would be that it was predictable.

Anise was looking forward to her last summer with her group of friends so I could understand her disappointment when she found out she had to spend her summer in Nebraska helping her injured aunt with her cousins. It definitely wasn’t the summer she had planned. She did come across as a bit whiny and bratty in the beginning but in a way that was understandable instead of over the top. It also meant that she wouldn’t be able to do the thing she loved doing most in the world – surf – all summer. I enjoyed seeing her find ways to connect with her cousins and make the best of her situation, like going to the park and learning to skateboard.

We don’t get to see much of Anise’s friends before she went to Nebraska but it was easy to get the feeling for how close a group they were. I thought the author did a great job showing how hard it can be to keep in touch when everyone was so busy, even though they’d promised to all keep in touch. Timing wouldn’t work out, something else would come up that prevented it, life happened. In Nebraska, Anise was getting closer to her cousins, learning how to skateboard, and developing an attraction to a skateboarder named Lincoln. I loved seeing those two together. They were really cute and Lincoln was really good for Anise.

There was an underlying issue through the whole book of Anise’s mother who’d been absent most of her life. Her mom would show up every now and then in her life but was mostly gone, leaving all the hurt behind her. Anise worried that she would be like her mom so she didn’t have a huge desire to leave her home town. With most people I went to school with wanting to leave as soon as they could, it was an interesting point-of-view.

This was a really good addition to my summer reads list and I’m excited to see what Laura Silverman does next.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*


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Book Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus


One of Us is Lying

Release date: May 30th 2017

4 stars

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

I really enjoyed this Breakfast Club vibe meets Pretty Little Liars mystery. It had some interesting twists, great characters, and it really drew me right into the story. Putting a Breakfast Club vibe into a book is a sure way to get me to pick it up and I was not disappointed.

The book was told in many POVs as we followed the four main characters trying to figure out who was framing them for Simon’s death. I liked all four pretty equally. Maybe Bronwyn and Cooper edged out the other two but not by much. Even with the book being less than 400 pages and very fast paced, there was still a lot of growth for all four characters. The story was as much about their growth as it was about the mystery and I really enjoyed that.

I wasn’t a fan of how the cops handled the whole case but I could see why they were so short-sighted. They had four teens in the room with the victim, all who were about to be exposed and all who had access to Simon and to the epi-pens in the nurse’s station. With all the publicity the case was getting, of course they wanted to solve it quickly, but they just ended up looking a bit incompetent. I thought the book did a good job showing how their narrowed focus affected the case and the teens and using some outside media sources to call them on their dropping the ball.

The mystery held my interest and I was looking for clues everywhere. It was the type of mystery where the reader could simply read to enjoy it and hopefully be surprised at the twists, or they could try to pick up the clues and solve it. It made it a book that was impossible to put down.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*


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Weekly Reading Recap


I binged watched 13 Reasons Why this weekend. That was…it just was. How do you describe something like that?

Currently reading: Warbringer

Finished reading: Once and For AllHouse of Furiesone-of-us-is-lyingWindfall

Reviewed: traitors-kissRamona Blue

What I’m hoping to get to next week: inconceivable-life-of-quinnDefy the Stars to read

one-of-us-is-lyingWindfall to review

Books read it 2017: 60

Debut authors read in 2017: 18

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Book Review: The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beatty


The Traitor’s Kiss

Release date: May 9th 2017

3 stars

An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.
With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.
As the girls’ military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

This was one book that I was really excited for when I’d first heard about it so when I found myself having a hard time connecting with the characters and getting into the book as a whole, it was disappointing. It felt very slow, which I’m usually fine with as long as there’s great character dynamics and world building. But both of those elements really felt like they were lacking so there was nothing to make up for the slow pacing.

Sage was not a character who really drew me in to her story. She was a very judgmental girl, especially toward other girls, and I wasn’t a fan of the way she thought she was better than them because she was a tomboy with no interest in boys and they liked things like make-up. I’m not a fan of the heroine continuously putting down other girls just so she stands out as different. It felt like one of those “all the boys like her because she’s so different, which makes all the girls hate her” trope that I really, really dislike.

If I had connected more with Sage, I think there’d be a chance I would have liked the book more, or at least been more forgiving of the slow pace and lack of interesting character dynamics. It ended up being pretty predictable, which could also be because I have read so many fantasy books in the last year or so that it feels like not much surprises me anymore. There were glimpses of potential for some great supporting characters.

I will likely pick up the sequel when it comes out to see where the author takes the story, to see if my theories are right, and because I hate leaving a series unfinished.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*


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Weekly Reading Recap


This week is a busy week and it will be hard finding the time to keep up my reading pace but I will succeed!

Currently reading: Windfall

Finished reading: See Metraitors-kissRamona BlueThe Midnight Dance

Reviewed: imageimage

What I’m hoping to get to next week: one-of-us-is-lyingHouse of Furies to read

Ramona Bluetraitors-kiss to review

Books read it 2017: 55

Debut authors read in 2017: 17

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March Wrap-Up/April TBR

Another month done, another month closer to Summer.

March Wrap-Up:

royal-bastards Royal Bastards – Andrew Shvarts. 4/5 stars. Review. I enjoyed this world and the misfit feel to the group of characters.

hundred-lies-of-lizzie-lovett The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett – Chelsea Sedoti. 3/5 stars. It took me a while to get into this one. Once I did, I thought it got better but it still didn’t pull me right in.

hidden-memory-of-objects The Hidden Memory of Objects – Danielle Mages Amato. 4/5 stars. Review. I loved the twist with the main character being able to see memories attached to objects.

the-crowns-fate The Crown’s Fate – Evelyn Skye. 4.5/5 stars. Review. A great follow-up to one of my favourite books from last year.

upside-of-unrequited The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli. 4/5 stars. Review. Another great follow-up to a favourite from last year.

geekerella Geekerella – Ashley Poston. 4/5 stars. Review. So cute and I enjoyed picking out the parallels between this story and Cinderella.

Blacklist Blacklist – Alyson Noel. 3.5/5 stars. I missed the competition aspect from the first book but this one definitely upped the mystery factor.

Lotterys Plus One The Lotterys Plus One – Emma Donoghue. 3/5 stars. It was a really cute story but it did feel like a MG-written story.

Miss Ellicott's School Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded – Sage Blackwood. 3.5/5 stars. Another cute story and I really enjoyed the magical world.

starfall Starfall – Melissa Landers. 4/5 stars. Review. I did miss that the misfit crew from the first book was less present in this one but it was still great going back to this world.

flame-in-the-mist Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh. 4/5 stars. Review. I love Renee Ahdieh’s writing and this one already has me excited for the next one.

image After the End – Amy Plum. 3/5 stars. I really enjoyed the Revenants series so I had high hopes but it took me a while to get into this one.

image The Last Thing You Said – Sara Biren. 3.5/5 stars. The way the two main characters kept hurting each other out of grief was very realistic.

image Maud – Melanie L Fishbane. 4/5 stars. Review. It was a little strange at first, reading a fictionalized version of LM Montgomery’s life when I grew up in PEI but it was good.

image Wild Beauty – Anna-Marie McLemore. 4/5 stars. There’s something very magical about Anne-Marie McLemore’s writing and the characters she creates.

Metaltown Metal town – Kristen Simmons. 3/5 stars. This was another one that was hard to get into. The pacing was a bit uneven.

The Midnight Dance The Midnight Dance – Nikki Katz. 3.5/5 stars. I really enjoyed the dark and twisted spin the plot took but there was a lot of things that could have been explained better.

April TBR:

Ramona Bluetraitors-kissWindfallone-of-us-is-lying


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