Tag Archives: 3.5 stars

Book Review: The Truth Lies Here by Lindsey Klingele

Truth Lies Here

The Truth Lies Here

Release date: August 21st 2018

3.5 stars

In small town Michigan, Penny, an aspiring journalist, teams up with the nerdy boy-next-door and the town’s star quarterback to find her conspiracy theorist father after he goes missing and several other townspeople turn up dead in the woods.
The deeper she digs, the weirder things start to get. Townspeople repeat the same phrases—verbatim. Men in black suits stroll around Main Street. Chunks of her memory go missing. Pretty soon, Penny’s research leads her to the long-ago meteorite crash in Bone Lake’s woods, and she’s going to have to reconsider her definition of “real” if she wants answers. . . .

This is a great pick for a rainy, dark night when you want a book that has a bit of a creepy factor to it. Or at any time, but it has that definite feel of a dark night read. It was fairly quick to read, fast paced, it kept my interest through the whole book. It did have some twists I found predictable but that could be because it reminded me of Supernatural or The X-Files, two shows I’ve watched so many times I question everything when a book reminds me of them.

The whole book was through Penny’s POV, an aspiring journalist student hoping to use her childhood hometown as the backdrop to a human interest piece that she was sure would put her application over the top. Except her dad never showed to get her at the airport. I could understand her lack of concern at first, she was used to her father putting his work above everything else and they were on complete opposite sides of the journalism spectrum. It made for an interesting relationship even with her father being absent.

There was a bit of a love triangle between Penny, her childhood best friend Dex, and her childhood crush Micah, but it never overtook the story. Both boys added something different to the plot but I was leaning more toward Dex, the geeky best friend who loved conspiracy theories and The X-Files and who was by Penny’s side through her whole investigation, believing in the impossible even when she didn’t. I thought Micah was a good way to show how much Penny had changed from the girl who lived in Bone Lake as a child.

The plot focused on Penny’s father’s disappearance and her and Dex’s investigation. It was fast paced and there was a lot of back and forth as they argued over a realistic explanation vs a paranormal one. The more they investigated, the more strange things they uncovered, which led to more questions. Some of the twists were predictable, as mentioned, but they were still enjoyable.

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

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Book Review: Losing the Field by Abbi Glines

Losing the Field

Losing the Field

Release date: August 21 2018

3.5 stars

Losing his dream, his ultimate plan, and his future- Nash Lee never expected to be facing a life without football. One wrong move and it had all changed. Going back to school for his senior year no longer appealed to him. He’d rather not leave his house. Walking back into Lawton High School, seeing pity in everyone’s eyes was just another reality in his nightmare. Revenge wasn’t a pretty thing. Tallulah Liddell had found it was rather controlling. The way you looked at life changed completely when you clung to the ugly notion. But she’d done it anyway. From the last day of her junior year when Ryker Lee had made a fat joke about her and Nash laughed with him, she’d been driven by pain. It wasn’t like no one had made fun of her weight before. She was used to that. What had hurt so deeply was Nash’s laughter. He’d always been the one person to notice her, include her, not treat her differently. But that one moment had changed it all. From the time she walked out of the school building to the moment she returned for her senior year Tallulah had been determined to lose weight and finally be the size her peers considered acceptable. What she wasn’t expecting on her return was to find a broken Nash Lee who no longer smiled, rarely spoke, and didn’t care about anything or anyone around him. He was just existing. But the pain in his eyes she understood all too well. He was alone. He no longer fit into the perfect package.

I’ve been enjoying the Field Party series so I was excited for a new one. It tackled a lot, from Nash dealing with his injury and dreams of football being over, to Tallulah going from an outcast to popular, to a new football coach who I didn’t trust right away. I did miss the characters from the first three books who have graduated but Nash and his crew seem very able to carry on the football team and the series.

The book had the typical Abbi Glines feel to it. Quick to read, perfect to grab and head outside or to the beach. It had a dual POV, misunderstandings between the two main characters that kept them apart, small issues that seemed huge to them, larger issues that were a theme through the whole book. I liked what she did with Nash’s story, focusing on him having to come to terms with what his injury meant for his future and how hard it was to see all his friends still playing the sport he loved. I thought I would be less invested in Tallulah’s story since I’m not usually a fan of someone coming back “hot” to get revenge, and her plan seemed a little naive.

I did like Nash and Tallulah together. He was overprotective and she was naive and innocent, both were stubborn and it led to a lot of fights and misunderstandings that could have been avoided if they just talked to each other. Of the supporting characters, Nash’s cousin Ryker played the biggest role with their friend Asa also hanging around quite a bit. Either of them would be my guess for the next book. Hopefully there is one.

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

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Book Review: Royals by Rachel Hawkins

Royals

Royals

Release Date: May 1st 2018

3.5 stars

Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

This was a really cute and easy read that brought back memories of other royal type books but still felt like its own story. I loved the setting and the characters were a lot of fun to read. The dynamics between Daisy and her sister were interesting, very easy to relate to, and the differences between Daisy’s family and the royals were a great contrast. It all made for an entertaining read.

Daisy was understandably annoyed when her summer plans were changed because of her sister’s upcoming wedding. She didn’t see the need for her to be in Scotland for the summer when the wedding was still a ways away. She also hated that she would have to make herself over into someone ‘respectable’ for the royal family. I liked how sure Daisy was of herself, how open and assertive she could be, but she was willing to put up with a makeover and royal boot camp for her sister. It was clear that it was becoming a bit of an internal struggle for Daisy as she tried to fit in without losing who she was in the process.

The supporting characters were so entertaining. Alex’s brother, Sebastian, and his friends were so over the top but mostly in fun ways. Seb could cross the line at times but his friends all seemed to watch out for him. The fake dating plot between Daisy and Miles went where I expected it to but it was so much fun to see them on those dates. The wedding planning of Alex and Ellie was a very background plot enough to show they did really love each other and show the stress Ellie was under but not enough to overtake Daisy’s story. I wouldn’t mind reading more about Alex and Ellie.

Overall, it was cute and entertaining. I don’t know much about Scotland or their royals so I can’t speak to any accuracy about that part of the book.

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

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Book Review: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Chaotic Good Comps14.indd

Chaotic Good

3.5 stars

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.
When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.
At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.
But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

I really liked Whitney Gardner’s You’re Welcome, Universe so I was very excited to see this book coming out that seemed like it would be addressing sexism in the comic world and cyber bullying. There were a few times when it felt like the book was trying a little too hard while attempting to make a point and sometimes Cameron’s voice wasn’t the strongest. I don’t know much about the cosplay or dungeons and dragons worlds so I can’t speak to the authenticity but it seemed like a lot of fun.

Cameron was a character where I could see where she was coming from in regards to a lot of her actions, even if I didn’t always agree with the way she handled things. I didn’t find that she was completely serious, or at least that it didn’t come across as serious, about wanting to attend a program in design. Designing was a huge part of her life but she seemed to do a lot on a whim and inspiration, not really showing she would be able to handle the demands of a program with deadlines and rules. I did like her relationship with her brother Connor and I could understand why she didn’t want him(or their parents) to know about the cyber bullying but it seemed a little strange that she was able to keep it a secret since it was all public on her blog.

The addition of the comics drawn through the book, made up of the dungeons and dragons adventures, was a great touch. The romance was cute and I enjoyed the developing friendships. It was a little hard to completely enjoy some of the friendships when there was the lie of Cameron pretending to be a boy hanging between them. I understood her original plan but the longer she kept up the disguise, the more I felt bad for some of the other characters.

It was a fast read, easy to finish in a night. And if there was a companion book staring her brother, Cooper, I would definitely read it.

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

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Book Review: Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt

Bookish Boyfriends

Bookish Boyfriends

Release date: May 1st 2018

3.5 stars

The first of two books in an intended paperback original series about a girl whose classic literary crushes manifest in real life. Merrilee Campbell, 16, thinks boys are better in books, chivalry is dead, and there’d be nothing more romantic than having just one guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. She’s about to get the chance to test these daydreams when she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer into Reginald R. Hero High, where all their fantasies come true—often with surprising consequences. 

This turned into a really cute, quick read that ended up surprising me a little bit. I wasn’t sure about it going in and, at first I wasn’t connecting with it, but as it went on, I found myself being drawn into the story. It was an easy read, had some pretty interesting characters, and I really liked the family dynamics. The way the sisters fought but still always had each other’s backs was so familiar, coming from someone with siblings.

Merrilee was a huge bookworm, often lost in thought thinking about books, and that was easy to relate to. Her parents often referred to her as their little dreamer and her friends were used to her zoning out. It was just part of who she was. She dreamed of a romance like in her books and when one of the most popular guys in school wanted her, it was like a dream come true. I could understand her ignoring her unease, even when it frustrated me. I enjoyed seeing her journey as she became more confident in herself and stood up for what she wanted.

The supporting characters really shone in this book for me. From Merrilee’s best friends, Eliza and Toby, to new friends Sera and Hannah, her sisters, her older sister’s fiance and his mother, Merrilee’s parents, and her English teacher. They all added to the plot in some way. I also enjoyed the snark that Fielding brought, though at times he could go too far with it. He and Merrilee definitely had that Darcy/Elizabeth vibe that the cover seemed to promise.

The plot was cute, made for a quick and easy read, and it left itself open for the possibility of companion novels, which I wouldn’t mind seeing. I like the idea of the characters destined to find ‘their book’ by basically living it out in their real lives. I’m already curious to know which book would chose certain characters.

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

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Book Review: Winterfolk by Janel Kolby

Winterfolk

Winterfolk

Release date: February 6th 2018

3.5 stars

Rain is a homeless teen living with her father in the woods outside Seattle, near a community of other homeless people called the Winterfolk. She finds safety and sanctuary in this hidden world—until the day that safety is shattered when she learns the city plans to clear the woods of everyone who lives there. Now she’s forced to confront Seattle, which is full of strange sights, sounds, people—and memories…

I believe this is the first book I’ve read that gave such a detailed look inside the life of a homeless teen. Rain lived most of her life with her father, in their tent, moving when forced, never really putting down roots. She was very isolated and sheltered. The book wasn’t particularly fast paced even though it mostly took place within a day or two and the focus mainly stayed on Rain and her trying to find her way back after being separated on a trip to Seattle.

Rain had just turned fifteen in the book but she was a very young fifteen. She saw the world so differently and it was clear from the way she interacted with people. The other Winterfolk mostly stayed away from her except for her father and her friend King. She started the book off by being pretty dependent on both of them for everything. Her main focus was on staying invisible, like a ghost, but she grew as the book went on and she began to find her voice.

The plot was mostly centered around King taking Rain into Seattle for her birthday. They were going to do laundry, get something to eat, then go back to Winterfolk where her father was finally going to teach her how to make the bracelets he sold to earn them a little cash. To Rain, this was going to be a great day. Then she and King got separated and she had to try to find her way on her own. I was expecting the book to go deeper into the Winterfolk’s forced eviction but it felt like that and the ending was a little rushed.

This is a book I can definitely recommend to younger readers who are looking to move into the YA section. It would be good for older readers as well, it’s just that, as a bookseller, finding books for those younger readers who want to read in the YA section that their parents were okay with is getting more difficult and this one is a really good option.

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

 

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Book Review: The Midnights by Sarah Nicole Smetana

Midnights

The Midnights

Release date: March 6th 2018

3.5 stars

Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she’s more interested in composing impressive chord progressions than college essays, certain that if she writes the perfect song, her father might finally look up from the past long enough to see her. But when he dies unexpectedly her dreams—and her reality—shatter.
While Susannah struggles with grief, her mother uproots them to a new city. There, Susannah realizes she can reinvent herself however she wants: a confident singer-songwriter, member of a hip band, embraced by an effortlessly cool best friend. But Susannah is not the only one keeping secrets, and soon, harsh revelations threaten to unravel her life once again.

I was definitely expecting to lose myself in this book when I first started it and there were many times I did find myself getting completely absorbed into the story. There were also times where I was taken out of it and it took a while to lose myself again. There were a lot of different themes and different bonds, and I really liked seeing how the author explored each one and how she used them within each other. There was the family bond, the bonds of friendship, but there was also the bond Susannah and her father both had with music. Any time Susannah was talking, playing, writing music, I was completely hooked.

Susannah was an interesting character. All she wanted was to make music, to write that great song that would show her father she was worth his attention. It was definitely understandable that she would want answers after his death, and that she would be curious about his old band mates that she never met. Her plot explored her grief for her father, learning more about her parents’ past, and discovering who she wanted to be as a person. Who she was musically and who she was offstage.

The supporting cast we got to see was great. I really liked her mother and her grandmother, along with the new friends she made at her new school. I do wish we’d gotten to see more from the band members of the group she joined. Most of them had a bit of a “only there because they need band members” feel to them and I can barely remember the names. I know Susannah interacted with all of them but not all of them were memorable. From what there was, I would definitely read a spin-off focused on the band’s exploits.

Overall, I thought it was a very good read, easy to finish off in a night but also just as easy to want to take your time and savour it. I can’t wait to see what the author comes out with next.

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

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Book Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

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The Final Six

Release Date:  March 6th 2018

3.5 stars

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition. For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk. As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

The concept of this book, at least the Earth side of the plot, was a little scary. The mission to Jupiter’s moon with teenagers as the main hope, even genius teenagers, might have been a little far fetched, but the natural disasters hitting Earth and making such a mission necessary felt very likely. I’ve been enjoying all the Sci-Fi coming out this year and I think that with so much of the book being set on Earth, it stood out a little. At first this book felt very similar to Nyxia, a book I loved last year, but after finishing it, I think the two series will end up going in different directions.

The two main characters, Leo and Naomi, were good characters but it felt like the more they became involved with helping each other, the less we got the see any of the other teens. Besides Beckett, an antagonist of the group of teens, no one else really got the chance to stand out. There was definitely potential with some of them to be very interesting supporting characters if they’d been given a little more to work with. I did like the contrast in the way Leo and Naomi viewed the mission. It added an interesting dynamic to their relationship as they worked to help each other even though they didn’t necessarily agree.

I liked that there was so much science involved in the plot. I was expecting some but the book was full of it, written in a way that wasn’t overwhelming but still always present. I have no clue how accurate the science was but I liked that it was there. There were some plot twists and some did manage to surprise me but I did find I could predict a lot of what was happening. It was a solid first book and I will be interested in checking out the sequel.

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

 

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Book Review: Zenith by Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg

Zenith

Zenith

Release date: January 16 2018

3.5 stars

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.
But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder‘s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.
Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.
Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

I’ve really enjoyed Lindsay Cummings writing in the past so I was really excited to see she had another book coming out, this time in Sci-Fi, a genre I love and am really happy that there seems to be a lot of books coming out in 2018. I’m less familiar with Sasha Alsberg. I’ve seen a few of her YouTube videos but that was it. Going in, it seemed like it would have a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe or maybe a Six of Crows in space.

There was a huge cast of characters in this book and many, many POVs. I didn’t find it too hard to keep track of who was who, though skimming might make it harder to distinguish the characters. I enjoyed the dynamics of the crew and it really added to the before mentioned Guardians of the Galaxy vibe. There were times when it felt like character development suffered in exchange for having so many POVs but that’s something that can hopefully be rectified throughout the series.

I thought the plot was good, maybe a little cliche at times, but still a fun read. There were some times when the plot felt a little slow and it did have a bit of predictability to it. It was a good start to the series and I look forward to seeing where it goes. There was a lot of good things happening, definitely enough to outweigh the bad or my nit-pickiness. I thought the descriptions was where the book really shone and it made me very excited to see what these two do next with their characters and world.

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

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Book Review: Siege of Shadows by Sarah Raughley

Siege of Shadows

Siege of Shadows

Release date: November 21st 2017

3.5 stars

There’s nowhere to hide.
Not when you’re an Effigy. No matter where they go, Maia and the other Effigies can’t escape the eyes of the press—especially not after failing to capture Saul, whose power to control the monstrous Phantoms has left the world in a state of panic. It’s been two months since Saul’s disappearance, and there’s still no sign of him, leaving the public to wonder whether the Sect—and the Effigies—are capable of protecting anyone.
When Saul suddenly surfaces in the middle of the Sahara desert, the Sect sends Maia and her friends out after him. But instead of Saul, they discover a dying soldier engineered with Effigy-like abilities. Even worse, there may be more soldiers like him out there, and it looks like the Effigies are their prime targets.
Yet the looming danger of Saul and this mysterious new army doesn’t overshadow Maia’s fear of the Sect, who ordered the death of the previous Fire Effigy, Natalya. With enemies on all sides and the world turning against them, the Effigies have to put their trust in each other—easier said than done when secrets threaten to tear them apart.

This sequel to Fate of Flames picked up not long after the first book left off and it showed right away that there was still plenty of story and action to tell in this series. There was more character growth and world-building added to the overall story, and it definitely added more twists. I really liked seeing how the bond between the four Effigies was developing and the group had such an interesting contrast. There was Maia, the main character, as the newbie; Lake as the girl who was afraid to fight; Chin Rae who was always ready with a sarcastic comment; and Belle, the leader who seemed fearless.

The book was all in Maia’s POV again, and it really showed how far she’d come from the beginning of the first book when she was an Effigies fangirl. Now she could hold her own in their missions and, even if she sometimes got a little over-exuberant, she was willing to learn and try. Sometimes she made the wrong decision in dealing with things she’d discovered but it was always to protect someone from getting hurt or because she thought she was doing the right thing. This book did feel a little Maia heavy compared to the first where the other three girls seemed more present, but Maia was the main character so it made sense.

I thought the pacing and plot reveals were nicely done. Every time it started to feel like the book was slipping into a slower pace, maybe a little middle book syndrome, something would happen to pick things up again. It kept my mind from wandering while I was reading and it managed to surprise me a few times, which is always a plus. Overall, I did enjoy it a little more than the first book so hopefully the third keeps up the trend.

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

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