Tag Archives: 3.5 stars

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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Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince

Release date: January 2nd 2018

3.5 stars

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

It’s been a while since I a book set in the world of the fae so I was interested in taking a trip back to Holy Black’s world. It was new characters, a new plot, but the same feel as previous books. It started off with a bang but then I found it slowed down quite a bit before picking up again right at the end. It was well balanced between lighter and darker moments with plenty of twists. I did find a lot of the twists to be predictable, which I was hoping my theories would be wrong just so I would be surprised.

Jude was an interesting character. She was human, born in the human world to human parents but after an incident with her half-sister’s fae father, she found herself with her sisters in their world. She was determined to prove herself to the court, to earn a place among the fae, and to make her adopted father proud of her. She was extremely protective of her twin sister and leery of trusting any of the fae, especially the youngest prince and his friends. She could be smart but she also made some reckless decisions, usually when it came to defending herself or her family.

There were a lot of interesting character dynamics in the book. Jude and her twin sister were so opposite, very close, but where Jude was fiery and in your face, her sister was quiet and more passive. The relationship she had with her adopted father was an interesting power dynamic. She was always trying to gain his approval and he always seemed to hold her at arm’s length. I wasn’t a big fan of the dynamic between Jude and the youngest prince, Cardan. He bullied her and was cruel to her in ways I can’t easily forgive just because he might turn out to be the love interest. A few of their scenes were ones that, on a re-read, I would skip over.

The plot was mostly Jude dealing with Cardan and her wanting to prove herself worthy to be a part of the fae court, not just a human who lived there. Once the political intrigue and court betrayals began, things picked up but these were the twists I found to be predictable. It could create some interesting plots in the next book but I’m more interested to see how the dynamics between Jude and Cardan is dealt with.

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

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Book Review: Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

Kiss me in new york

Kiss Me in New York

Release date: October 3rd 2017

3.5 stars

It’s Christmas Eve at JFK in NYC.
Charlotte is a British student, waiting for a flight home after the worst semester of her life. Anthony is a native New Yorker, surprising his girlfriend at the airport after three months apart. Charlotte has just been dumped, and Anthony is about to be dumped, right in the middle of the holiday crowd.
Charlotte’s flight is canceled when a blizzard blows in, and Anthony can’t bear to go home. So, they set out into the city together, clutching a book Charlotte picks up in the airport gift shop: Ten Easy Steps for Getting Over Your Ex. For this one night, they’ll focus on healing their broken hearts … together.
Step-by-step, the two struggle to put the past behind them. But the snow is so enchanting, and the holiday lights are so beguiling, that soon their shared misery gives way to something else. Soon, they’re not only over their exes — they’re falling for each other.
Then a subway ride splits them up by mistake. Will they reunite before Charlotte’s flight leaves New York forever?

This was a very fast, very cute read. It’s perfect for curling up with on a cold night, hot chocolate in hand, snuggled up with a blanket, and just letting it warm you up. It took place pretty much within a twenty-four hour period and had our two main characters, total strangers, bonding over their respective break-ups. I loved the idea of them teaming up to have one night of following the steps in the book Get Over Your Ex in Ten Easy Steps and it made for a book that was cute, heart-warming, and made me smile.

The book was told alternating between Charlotte’s POV and Anthony’s POV. Charlotte was a British exchange student who’s flight home for Christmas was cancelled. She had just been dumped by her boyfriend and was eager to get home, away from all the reminders. I really liked Charlotte, she was pretty rational but she could also be impulsive, and while I would probably never have the courage to ask a stranger to do the steps in a Get Over Your Ex book with me, she made it seem perfectly acceptable. Anthony wanted to surprise his girlfriend at the airport when she arrived but ended up getting dumped instead. He was more reluctant to get involved in Charlotte’s plan with his break-up being more fresh but he eventually agrees to go along with her plan. It was better than wandering the streets alone because he didn’t want to go home and face his family, who thought he was spending the night with his girlfriend.

The plot was mostly Charlotte and Anthony getting to know each other while doing the steps in the book. They had to improvise on a few of them but they made it work. The connection between them maybe happened a little fast but I could also understand it, both heart-broken and alone on the holidays and finding someone who understands what they were going through formed a bond. If they’d met under any other circumstances they might not have even given each other a second look but everything that night worked to form a bond between them.

As mentioned, it was a fast read at about 200 pages, but it was one that put a smile on my face and i really enjoyed it.

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

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Book Review: Rules of Rain by Leah Scheier

Rules of Rain

Rules of Rain

Release date: December 5th 2017

3.5 stars

A dramatic new novel about the bond between a teen and her twin brother.
Rain has taken care of Ethan all of her life. Before she even knew what autism meant, she’s been her twin brother’s connection to the hostile world around him. She’s always prepared—when her father abandons them, when her mother gets sick, when Ethan is tortured by bullies from school—Rain is the reliable, stable one holding them all together. She’s both cautious carer and mad chef, preparing customized meals for her family and posting crazy recipes on her cooking blog.
Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, and she’s sure that nothing will ever change—until one night when her world is turned upside down by a mistake she can’t take back. As her new romance with her long-time crush and her carefully constructed life begins to unravel, she discovers that the fragile brother whom she’s always protected has grown into a young man who no longer needs her. And now, for the first time, she finds that she needs him.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect going in to this book but it turned out to be a quick, cute read that had some great supporting characters and some very good character growth for the main character. There were interesting family dynamics, romance, and amazing friendships. I really liked Rain’s blog entries with her food suggestions and Ethan’s experiments.

Rain started the book as someone who pretty much lived to take care of her brother. As he started to become more independent, she struggled with losing her own sense of self. Who was she if she wasn’t her brother’s caregiver? That, and trusting other people with her brother, were something she was struggled with the whole book and had to learn to let go. The relationship she had with her brother was sweet but also could be a little co-dependent.

The romance was sweet, though sometimes Liam did seem a little too perfect. The friendships were a huge highlight and I would definitely read a spin-off featuring either Ethan and Hope or Marcus and Kathy. I was surprised at how invested I got into their stories considering they weren’t the main focus. I loved the way the group interacted with each other. They seemed like they would be a lot of fun to hang out with.

The plot was very character focused so if the reader didn’t like Rain, it might be hard to enjoy the book. It was quick to read and I got way more invested than I first expected.

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

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Book Review: Brooding YA Hero by Carrie Ann DiRisio

Brooding YA Hero

Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character Almost as Awesome As Me

Release date: October 3rd 2017

3.5 stars

 

Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist?
Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?
Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love.
As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat.

This book was hilarious, poked fun at some more popular tropes in YA books, but also had a lot of great writing tips. The book was told mostly through Broody’s POV with some additions from his ex-girlfriend Blondie, teaching the reader how to become a main character. He talked about the different types of characters, plots, settings in a way that made sense but was also funny.

Broody was used to being in many, many books so when he was suddenly not the one being chosen to star in books, he decided to write his own. It was full of reasons why he was the most awesome character ever while being like a self-help guide to supporting or new characters to becoming a main character in their own right. His guide delivered hilarious commentary on so many tropes, pointing out flaws without being insulting. I loved that there was actual writing advice within Broody’s narration.

I really liked the addition of Blondie DeMeanie’s narration, interjected in between Broody’s Broody-centric advice. She was tired of being cast in the role of villain simply because she liked make-up or because she was Broody’s ex-girlfriend. She just wanted to be the main character for once. She often added her own advice or broadened Broody’s thoughts.

It was a quick read that had many, many laugh out loud moments. Broody showed some character growth as he went through trying to figure out how to write his book. This book definitely made me want to check out Broody’s twitter account for more laughs and awesomeness.

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

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Book Review: Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza

Kat and Meg

Kat and Meg Conquer the World

Release date: November 7th 2017

3.5 stars

Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different. Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to people. Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: They’re both obsessed with the same online gaming star and his hilarious videos.
It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book was a quick read with great moments of female friendship and both main characters showing a lot of growth. I enjoyed the way their love of a video game and YouTube star brought them together. They were such complete opposites but they worked well as friends, first more as a convenience since neither really had any friends and then as someone they could trust. It stayed pretty light but still tackled some issues like mental illness(anxiety, panic attacks, and ADHD).

Kat was the one I found myself identifying with more than Meg. Kat was new, quiet, and getting paired with Meg for a science project was a huge nightmare. She was the type of student who would rather work by herself and know she would get a good grade than chance her partner bringing her down. Meg was more outgoing, very open with her love for Lumberlegs, and wasn’t the most reliable when it came to schoolwork. Her antics drove Kat crazy but she also pushed Kat to try new things so they balanced each other very well.

I enjoyed the YouTube/Lumberlegs plot line. Both girls loved watching the YouTube star Lumberlegs playing a video game, one that Kat also loved to play and Meg was learning to play. It was relevant to today with so many YouTube stars making names for themselves. It was nice to see their love of the video game tie into their science project, which was another major plot of the book. The science project was their big assignment for the year and was a big source of disagreement between the two girls due to their difference of work ethics.

The plot was predictable but enjoyable. It was fast to read and I will definitely be looking for more books from this author in the future.

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

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Book Review: The Color Project by Sierra Abrams

The Color Project

The Color Project

Release date: August 17th 2017

3.5 stars

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.
Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.
When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

This book had made its way on to my must read list a while ago and once I had it in my hands, it didn’t take me long to settle in to read it. I really enjoyed the friendships, family dynamics, the relationship between Bee and Levi, and the whole concept of The Color Project. It’s the type of book that can make the reader want to go out and get involved the way these characters did. I also really liked all the scenes that involved Bee at her job at a florist’s, especially once she began designing her own arrangements.

Beatrice, Bee, was the second oldest in a family of four and I found she was a very easy character to relate to. When she found a project she believed in, she threw herself into it, like with The Color Project. She loved her family, sometimes they could annoy her, but when they needed to pull together or comfort each other, they were there. She had some great friendships with Gretchen, her best friend who had recently moved, with some of her brother’s friends, and new friendships with some of the workers at The Color Project. She went by her nickname, Bee, instead of her full name and only a few people even knew her full name. I liked that Levi made a game out of guessing her name. It was cute and playful.

The relationship between Bee and Levi was a huge part of the story so I was glad I enjoyed it. There was an immediately attraction and interest between them but it was a slow developing relationship. They were good for each other and I thought it was a believable relationship with the issues that ended up appearing, like the big one from the synopsis with Bee not wanting to reveal her full name. There were times when I wanted to yell at them to just talk to each other and to actually listen to what the other was saying, but it showed that as cute as they were together, they were not immune to having problems in their relationship.

There was a few times the book felt a little long. From the synopsis, I knew there would be an illness in Bee’s family but it seemed to take forever for it to be revealed. I think I was about halfway through the book before that storyline took place. It did make me feel like the story was dragged out a bit, even with all the cute interactions between characters(which I am always a fan of). I did find the plot easy to predict but the character dynamics did their best to make up for it.

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

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Book Review: Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone

Click'd

Click’d

Release date: September 5th 2017

3.5 stars

Allie Navarro can’t wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. CLICK’D pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it’s a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking about CLICK’D.
Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone’s making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that threatens to expose everyone’s secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present CLICK’D to the judges?

I really loved Every Last Word, which dealt with the world of poetry, so I was really excited to see how Tamara Ireland Stone would handle the world of technology and apps. As this is a middle grade novel, I thought the author did a great job using the world of app development and the technology required in a way that felt realistic but without getting too detailed to overwhelm the reader. It was really great to see a middle grade book with a female character focused on coding and friendships. The writing was beautiful in a way I’ve come to expect for Tamara Ireland Stone and, while it was a short, quick read it still had a good message.

Allie was a young character, only twelve years old, so I thought it was understandable that she could be a little selfish and immature. She got caught up in the hype surrounding the app she designed and didn’t want to admit to her parents when there were glitches. Asking for help and taking responsibility for mistakes is a huge part of growing up and it was something Allie slowly did through the book.

I really liked the dynamics in the relationships Allie had with her friends, her parents, and her nemesis. The book was short so the turnaround between Allie and Nathan going from enemies to friends felt a little rushed and it would have been nice to see it fleshed out just a bit more, but overall it was really good.

I also liked the whole idea for the app. The scavenger hunt aspect of it sounded like a lot of fun and it’s always fun to find people you have something in common with and make new friends. The glitch in the app sounded like a legitimate problem that could easily happen, one that could end up being an app-killer if not solved. It also led to some good questions being raised about privacy on the internet and could create some good discussions.

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

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Book Review: The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims

Art of Feeling

The Art of Feeling

Release date: August 15th 2017

3.5 stars

Since the car accident, Samantha Herring has been in pain, not only from her leg injury, but also from her mother’s death, which has devastated her family. After pushing away her friends, Sam has receded into a fog of depression.
But then Sam meets Eliot, a reckless loner with an attitude and an amazing secret—he can’t feel any pain. At first, Sam is jealous. But then she learns more about his medical condition…and his self-destructive tendencies. In fact, Eliot doesn’t seem to care about anything at all—except maybe Sam. As they grow closer, they begin to confront Sam’s painful memories of the accident—memories that may hold a startling truth about what really happened that day.

This book ended up being a quicker read than I’d originally thought it would considering it was dealing with a family grieving and attempting to move on with their lives after the death of the mother of the family. It also dealt with a boy who couldn’t feel pain and how the teenage daughter from the family and the boy became friends. They were helping each other in ways no one else could. Both teens had interesting family dynamics. Both family fought quite often but they also very obviously did care about each other.

Sam was a likeable character. She struggled with the fact that she’d been in the car with her mother during the crash and has been unable to remember any details about the other car or person who took off. She’d pushed away all her friends during her time out of school right after the accident and was finding it hard to connect with them again when she returned. That led her to becoming friends with Eliot, who both intrigued and frustrated her with his lack of self-preservation. Their dynamics was really interesting and I loved seeing their friendship unfolding.

Sam’s family were all struggling with their grief in their own ways. Her father lost his soulmate, her brother was self-medicating his pain away, and her sister simply stayed away as much as she could. Eliot and his older brother had a very interesting dynamic. His older brother was his primary guarding because their parents were never around. Eliot resented his brother trying to be a parent and his older brother struggled with balancing letting Eliot have independence and making sure he was safe.

Other than these two characters’ developing friendship and Sam’s struggle with her grief, we had some side plots of Eliot being bullied, both of them caught up in being targeted by a childhood friend of Sam’s who was trying to rebuild his image as a tough drug dealer, and the mystery of who was in the other car that hit Sam and her mother. None of them felt too overwhelming and they all tied nicely into the main plot. I thought the author did a good job making sure everything connected.

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

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