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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: 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: 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: Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Nyxia

Nyxia

Release date: September 12th 2017

4.5 stars

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.
Forever.
Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.
But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

This book caught me by surprise. I wasn’t too sure about the premise when I picked it up but once I started reading it, I was completely sucked in by the story and the characters. It felt like every time the teens started to get comfortable, something else was thrown at them, and at the readers. It was fast-paced, which made for a quick read, and when I was finished, I really, really wanted the next book.

Emmett had many reasons for wanting the chance to go to Eden. The money Babel was offering, the health care for his family, was too good not to fight for his spot, which became necessary when the group found out only eight of them would actually succeed in being chosen to go to Eden. Emmett was a good guy and I liked seeing the walls he’d put up as he tried to think of the others as only competition start to crumble as they became friends. They became a family, as dysfunctional as they were. He could be very quick to anger and point out when he thought something was unfair but he was also protective when it came to his friends.

There were many great supporting characters and I ended up liking most of the group Emmett was in direct competition with, especially Kaya and Bilal. I also really liked Jaime, Katsu, and Azima. They were a very diverse group but they all had the common goal of being one of the eight selected to go to Eden. The adults on the ship were more suspicious and it was easy to start thinking there was more going on that the teens were told.

The competition aspect of the plot took up most of the book. The teens were pitted against each other at all levels. How they could use and manipulate Nyxia(the substance they were being sent to Eden to mine), how they fought against each other in simulations, how they worked as a team, to the point where it felt like everything they did they were being judged and scored on. It was a constant reminder that no one was safe, no matter how ahead they were in points. It was what made the book so fast-paced and, combined with all the twists, made me so excited for the next book.

*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: 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: 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: 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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