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Book Review: The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

The Nowhere Girls

The Nowhere Girls

Release date: October 10th 2017

4 stars

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story. Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re everygirl. But they start with just three: Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head. Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant. Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android. When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students. Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.

There seem to be a lot of books coming out that tackle the issue of rape culture, and real life proving that there can never be enough of these types of books. There were three very relatable main characters but we were also introduced to many others with small snippets in many POVs of many different girls who were being affected by the events of the book. I really liked seeing these girls come together, fight for each other, and have such open discussions with each other.

Grace, Rosina, and Erin were the three girls we spent the most time with, the main characters. Grace was the new girl, having moved with her parents after her mother needed to find a new job; Rosina was the eldest girl in a large, extended family so she was overwhelmed with family duties; Erin had Asperger’s and was dealing with a mother who spent more time on autism chat rooms than understanding her own daughter. These three were the girls who were behind The Nowhere Girls, giving girls at their school a safe place to speak their minds. The friendship that formed between them was amazing.

I loved all the additional snippets from other characters, some agreeing with the group and some not. We saw girls from all different perspectives and I thought it was very realistic that not everyone agreed with everything, even if they agreed with some of it. I also loved the secret meetings and how open the dialogue was between the girls during these meetings. It was great to see the girls actually talking and educating each other instead of judging and bullying, though there were still a few times a comment would slip in.

There was also a blog run by one of the male characters that we saw posts from, countering and commenting on what the girls were doing. It was disgusting and sad, especially knowing there are people who agree with it. It was good that we saw decent male characters in the book as well so not every male was bad.

It was a slower read, mostly due to the heavy content. It’s not something that should be an easy read and it’s definitely one that will stick with readers.

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

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Book Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

When It's Real

When It’s Real

4 stars

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.
Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

This book was very cute, perfect for a summer read or curling up under a blanket or in bed and just losing yourself in the characters and the plot. I do love the hate-to-love trope and I thought this book handled it very well. I loved the dynamics, not only between the two main characters, but between all of them. It was entertaining to read and very easy to completely lose myself in the story.

Vaughn was a good girl, never really in trouble, helping out at home, and when the opportunity to to pose as a teen celebrity’s girlfriend and take financial strain off her older sister came up, she had to say yes. I really liked her. She wasn’t afraid to speak up when Oakley treated her badly but, no matter how angry he could make her, she was still willing to listen to him when he opened up to her. Oakley was someone who’d had a lot of success at a young age and, while he was still young now, was in a bit of a creative drought. He needed to prove he was a serious artist to work with the best of the best and his team thought dating a ‘normal’ girl was the way to do that. I liked that there were little scenes early on to show he wasn’t just a jerk, there was a decent guy underneath his celebrity persona.

The pages really flew by, even at over 400 pages it was a quick read. I really liked seeing Oakley and Vaughn getting to know each other, getting on each other’s nerves, bickering then making up, everything they did was fun to read. Their relationship was what drove the plot so if the reader wasn’t too invested in their romance, fake or developing, they might not get as absorbed into the book as I did. I loved them and I’m very glad I have 3 of the Royals series to dive in to now that I’ve finished this one.

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Book Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

Release date: October 17 2017

4 stars

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES. And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

This book was a fast read and I found it to be very unique. Told from the POV of Will in the verse style, the chapters were short but very engaging. It made it very easy to say one more chapter until the book was finished. Almost the whole book took place within the length of the elevator ride from the eighth floor to the lobby and it did so without feeling like the plot was being stretched out.

Will was someone I found to be a relatable character and he had a voice that really resonated, that stayed with me long after I closed the book. He was grieving for his brother and he wanted revenge, he knew he had to follow the rules his brother taught him and as long as he could focus on that, he had a purpose. He was hurting and angry and just wanted someone to pay.

I liked seeing who was going to come on to the elevator next and what they would add to the conversation. Each person had a connection to Will, even if he didn’t know it right away, and they all gave him and the reader something to think about. Jason Reynolds could have doubled the amount of floors and stops and I’m sure I still would have loved it because the conversations were so great and important.

The verse style worked well for the subject matter. It drew attention and highlighted the parts of the conversations that ended up sticking more in my mind and it made for a quick read. I wasn’t fully prepared for just how much this short book shook me but I know I won’t be forgetting it.

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

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Book Review: Fireblood by Elly Blake

Fireblood

Fireblood

Release date: September 12th 2017

4 stars

All hail the Fire Queen.
Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby’s powers and past…
Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fire Queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax—which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, Ruby no longer knows whom to trust. The fates of two kingdoms are now in her hands.

This sequel picked up not to long after Frostblood left off, with Arcus on the throne and Ruby attempting to navigate the Frostblood kingdom where many, most, people hate her and fear her. With the Minax loose in the kingdom, she was determined to find a way to stop it, to defeat it once and for all, but doing so would mean leaving Arcus and traveling to the Fireblood kingdom.

I really liked seeing the Fireblood kingdom and how different it was from the Frostblood one. There were many great additions in this sequel that made me like it even more than the first. Hopefully that trend keeps up and the third one is also amazing. I loved the introduction to Kai, his flirtation, his confidence, his backstory, his unwillingness to treat Ruby as fragile. He did need her just as much as she needed him and them training together and helping each other were great scenes. And there were many of them. I loved seeing the relationship between them, whatever it was turning into, develop.

Ruby was fierce in this book. In the first one, she had a lot of growth with regards to becoming stronger and trusting herself and her powers. In this one, it was more about her determination to fight and destroy to Minax, even if she still wasn’t convinced she was the prophesied Child of the Light. I loved seeing her learn to push her powers even more than in the first book and her learning more about the Firebloods.

I also loved the way the mythology has been worked into this series and continued to be important. It wasn’t just a quick explanation at the beginning of book one and then forgotten about, it was a huge part of the prophecy and was something that kept getting elaborated on through this sequel. I would definitely read a spin-off series of the Gods of this world. It’s going to be way too long until the next one comes out but at least we already have a title and cover!

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

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Book Review: The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins

Great Pursuit

The Great Pursuit

4 stars

Lochlanach has traded the great beast for something far more terrible, a Lashed enemy veiled in beauty, deception, and a vengeance passed down through generations: Rozaria Rocato. And she’s offering the hunter Paxton Seabolt power and acceptance he could never receive in his homeland. Pax must decide how far he’s willing to go under her tutelage, knowing she is the opponent of Princess Aerity Lochson.
In a land where traditionalists dread change, the Lochlan throne must contend with mysterious foes and traitors, while attempting to keep revolt at bay. As dire circumstances strike the royal family, matters of the castle are left in Aerity’s hands. It’s time to put aside her fears and grasp the reign, taking actions that have the potential to save or destroy her people.
One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continue. In this sequel to The Great Hunt from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins, political intrigue and romance intensify in another thrilling fantasy. Princess Aerity embraces a quest for identity and passion before making the ultimate sacrifice for her kingdom.

I loved the first book in this duology and the second was just as great. I couldn’t wait to dive back into this world with its great characters, and it was nice knowing it was a duology so I knew the end of this book was the end. Though I wouldn’t have complained if there was a third. I read this book quickly even though it was over 500 pages. It picked up soon after the first book left off, with Aerity engaged to the hunter who’d slain the beast and Paxton having run off now that his magic had been revealed.

Aerity had grown a lot in the first book and she showed even more growth in this book. She was always willing to put her kingdom and her people first, all her people. She didn’t always agree with the laws or opinions of her father and his generation, especially when it came to the Lashed(magic users). She didn’t want to marry but she would follow through with the agreement her father had made. I couldn’t blame her for wanting to go off on one last adventure to find Pax before the wedding.

I liked seeing the POVs of some of my other favourite characters, not just a back and forth between Aerity and Pax. Wyneth was struggling with moving off after the death of her betrothed at the very beginning of the first book, Vixen and Tiern were adorable as they tried to figure out their budding romance. It also gave the reader the chance to see what was happening in different locations so it felt more well-rounded.

The plot was even more intense this time around. The big bad was Rozario and she was not messing around. She had the beasts she’d created, she had an army, and she wanted destruction. Being the last book, I figured there would be a big battle and was worried for my favourite characters. There was a lot of action, romance, and this book was just a great read all around.

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

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Book Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Afterlife of Holly Chase

The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Release date: October 24th 2017

4 stars

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.
She didn’t.
And then she died.
Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.
Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.
But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

I am a huge fan of Cynthia Hand, she’s never disappointed me with one of her books, and this one kept that streak alive. It was a re-telling of A Christmas Carol and I enjoyed seeing other Dickens’ works tied in to this one, with some of the characters having names like Havisham and Dorrit. The book was short, her shortest one yet, and it ended up being a very quick read. It could easily be read in a night, sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace(or in bed, or wherever someone wants to read).

This book wasn’t just a re-telling of the original in a modern world or with a female main character. It took a Scrooge in Holly Chase who was spoiled and mean and just an absolute brat and showed the reader her punishment for not changing, for not considering the warnings of the three ghosts. After her death, she was sentenced to work for Project Scrooge, trying to save other Scrooges from her fate. Her target this year was seventeen-year-old Ethan, a teen who was very similar to her before her death so this time she found herself getting more invested.

Holly wasn’t too likeable at the beginning, first as a spoiled rich girl while she was alive then just going through the motions of her job with little respect for anyone. The feeling of being drawn to Ethan due to their similarities was what started her to open her eyes. They had great interactions and were a lot of fun to read.

There wasn’t a whole lot of time for a lot of character development in supporting characters. It was really focused on Holly and Ethan, which was a little disappointing because I usually find a favourite character in Cynthia Hand’s supporting cast. Even with the short amount of pages, there were still twists in the plot and it was a quick, fun read.

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

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Book Review: Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Invictus

Invictus

Release date: September 26th 2017

4 stars

Time flies when you’re plundering history.
Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.
But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

Invictus feels like one of those books I was going to love based on the synopsis alone. A group of misfits in space? Where do I sign up? It had time travel, action, great characters, and was very well-paced. I was completely sucked into this book. It had a Doctor Who, Firefly vibe to it, and anyone who knows my pop culture obsessions knows that’s an immediate plus in my books.

Far had been training so hard to become a time traveler like his mother but he failed his final exam. When he got the chance to work for a black market operator, to be a captain of his own ship and time travel with his own crew, he can’t say no. I loved Far as a character. He was so determined and passionate about time travel and finding out who had sabotaged his final test. He was protective of his crew and it added a great dynamic between all the characters that I was definitely a fan of reading.

The supporting cast was great. They were all so different but still fit perfectly together. They really were one big family. Imogene with her log updates was hilarious, Gram was so adorably awkward, Priya was more reserved, and Elliot was the one I found the hardest to get to know but he was still great.

The descriptions of the time periods the crew visited were so well done. It was so easy to picture the locations and the scenery. It was great. I liked the way the crew’s missions interwove with the mystery of who the girl who kept showing up during their mission was, along with the mystery of what had happened to Far’s mother. I thought Ryan Graudin did a great job balancing all the story plots so they complimented each other instead of feeling like three stories crammed into one book.

The book works perfectly as a standalone, which is what it is, but I would definitely not to sad to hear of a companion novel one day.

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

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Book Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Moxie

Moxie

Release date: September 19th 2017

4 stars

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.
Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!

This book was a lot different than I was expecting, in a good way. It wasn’t just about a girl finding her voice, it wasn’t just about standing up against sexism, and it wasn’t just about feminism or girl power. I was completely drawn in to Vivian’s story, her journey, and I just couldn’t put this book down.

Vivian was a girl who liked to stay in her comfort zone. She was a good girl who had her group of friends and was happy staying on the outside of the school social scene. Deciding to do something about the sexism wasn’t easy for her and even doing something anonymously was hard for her since it was so out of character. But I loved that it brought her closer to new friend Lucy and to love interest Seth, plus it added an extra dynamic to her group of friends. Vivian learned to stand up for herself and she inspired many other girls in her school to do the same.

I thought the romance was well done. Seth was a great addition without taking away the focus from the main storyline. It gave the story a good guy who wanted to support the cause but who also sometimes didn’t quite “get it”. Seth was a very good guy and he was open to listening. He and Vivian managed to have a healthy relationship, which was great, and even through their ups and downs, I was hopeful they would stay together.

Mostly, I loved the positive female relationships in this book. There were so many different ways we saw girls supporting each other and every time someone tried to tear one of them down, they were there for each other. It still showed that not all the girls had the same mindset when it came to how to handle things like sexism and feminism but I loved that the book was open to showing that.

This is the type of book that makes you want to blast girl power songs, sing along at the top of your lungs, and start a revolution.

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

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Book Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die At the End

They Both Die at the End

Release date: September 5th 2017

4 stars

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

Adam Silvera is 3/3 at making me fall apart while reading his books. This one was very unique, each of his books are so different from each other, and I fell in love with this cast of characters. They pulled me right into their story, these two completely different boys and their friends, and I both didn’t want to stop reading and wanted to run away because of the title and anticipation of all the crying. It was an Adam Silvera book after all.

I enjoyed the multi-POV with the focus on Rufus and Mateo. It was mostly told through the eyes of the two main boys but we got little glimpses into a lot of characters who played a role in the day’s events. Sometimes they were character who’d also gotten to call, sometimes they were friends of either Rufus or Mateo, and sometimes they seemed like a random POV. Everything tied together very well, something I’ve come to expect from an Adam Silvera book.

I like the contrast between the two main boys. Mateo was quiet, much less adventurous, and was dealing with anxiety. Rufus was harsher, abrasive, but underneath very caring. Neither of them deserved to get a call from Deathcast saying they were going to die that day but they did and they both chose to make the most of it. I really liked the idea of an App where someone who’d gotten the call could find someone to spend their last day with and that were places they could go to have an amazing experience.

The whole idea of Deathcast had me wanting more, not in the ‘it wasn’t explained or built well in the book’ way but in the ‘this is so fascinating’ way. I could read about its creation, about the person who got the first call, about the people left behind. There could be so many stories written in this universe and I would read them all. And probably cry a lot because it’s Adam Silvera. Maybe one day I’ll make it through one of his books without crying but it wasn’t this one.

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

 

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Book Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints

All the Crooked Saints

Release date: October 10th 2017

4 stars

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.
At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

I loved Maggie Stiefvater’s books that I’ve read so far so I was very excited for this one. It’s so easy to get lost in Maggie’s writing and the worlds and characters that she builds. This was no exception. The book was slow, but not in a way that dragged. Instead it worked perfectly with the world she was creating to completely draw me in and fall in love with her characters.

The plot centered around the Sorias family, in particular three teens, Daniel, Beatriz, Joaquin. Daniel was the Saint of Bicho Raro who granted miracles. Joaquin dreamed of being a radio DJ. Beatriz was the one who tied everything together, the engineer, the builder. The three of them started an illegal radio show and right from the beginning, their bond was evident. I really liked all three of these characters and they each had their own journey. The supporting cast were all great as well and I liked seeing all the little insights into them all that tied back into the overall mythology of the story.

I really liked the mythology of the Saint of Bicho Raro, the granting of miracles, and having to face a fear before that miracle is granted. The Sorias family was forbidden from helping the ‘Pilgrims’ face these fears under threat of being confronted by their own darkness. The imagery Maggie Stiefvater used to decribe the darkness of the ‘Pilgrims’ was fantastic. It was so easy to picture what was happening and so easy to get lost in her story.

The book was very character driven, which I didn’t mind because I loved these characters. It made the pacing slow but again, it didn’t mater because I was so lost in the story. As long as Maggie keeps putting out books like this and The Raven Boys, she remains on my auto-buy list.

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

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