Wednesday, September 5, 2018

WILDCARD (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shaped or forms my opinions of the novel. Thank you Marie Lu for the opportunity.

AUTHOR: Marie Lu -- Website | Twitter
PUBLISHED: September 18, 2018 by G.P. Putnam 's Sons (Penguin Random House)
GENRE: Young Adult Sci-Fi
PAGES: 352
Find it on Goodreads

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo's new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she's always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo's grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone's put a bounty on Emika's head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

I had a truly lucky and blessed summer. Even though I wasn't able to attend BEA like normal because my cancer has been out of control, almost every publisher I know sent me the books I would've waited in lines for.

But getting Wildcard was challenging. And it was at the top of my list. I begged everyone I could think of at Penguin Random House. I even begged Marie herself -- and in the end, that's who came through for me. So a big thank you goes out to Marie for sharing one of your precious ARCs.

At the end of Warcross, we found out a few really important things. First, Hideo had installed a new algorithm, so that anyone who was wearing his lenses (which was about 98% of the population) was under control.

We also learned that Zero, the hacker that Emika was meant to hunt down was really Sasuke, Hideo's missing brother. And he made Emika an offer to help him shut down the algorithm.

I was really excited to reenter the world of Warcross. The concept of the NeuroLink was completely fascinating to me and the game of Warcross was thrilling.

At the beginning of the book, we find Emika still struggling to make a choice -- to help Zero or not. The Phoenix Riders -- her former teammates and now closest friends -- don't want her to do it. They think it's too dangerous.

It gets a little spoilery here, so be careful.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

BRIGHT WE BURN (The Conqueror's Saga #3) by Kiersten White

AUTHOR: Kiersten White -- Twitter | Website
PUBLISHED: July 10, 2018 by Delacorte (Penguin Random House)
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
PAGES: 416
Find it on Goodreads

Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it? 

Lada's rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won't rest until everyone knows that her country's borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed's peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince. 

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister's indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before--including her relationships--can Lada truly build the country she wants. 

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

When I started this book I felt very clear of one thing: There is no way Mehmed, Radu, and Lada would make it all out alive.

It was also obvious that Lada would not take kindly to being told how to rebuild HER Wallachia.

I will say that my initial conviction was, in a way, true. But I won't spoil you (those will be below the jump).

Bright We Burn was everything the ending to a complex, deeply woven fantasy should be. It also saw all the characters finally being true to themselves. Lada was always true to herself, but Radu denied himself certain things because he was blindsided by his love for Mehmed, and Mehmed, even though he awarded Wallachia to Lada, was not happy by the way she was ruling and was ready and willing to go to war, as it seemed the son of Murad was always in the mindset for.

Early in the novel, we learn from some peasants about Prince Lada and how she is perceived -- and everyone in Wallachia, minus the boyars -- are starting to experience prosperity in the way Lada intended.

This was extremely fulfilling, right from the beginning, to see that she was able to do what she set out to do. That her gut instincts were leading her people to a better tomorrow. And she was doing what no prince had done before, yet she was a WOMAN. Once again, the feminist tone could not possibly be ignored.

It also sees Radu finally choose HIMSELF over Mehmed in so many ways, which was so incredibly refreshing. To me, he'd gotten a little annoying, but seeing him finally take a stand or some things was really satisfying.

I gave this final installment 5 HEARTS because I felt it successfully wrapped up the story and each character's story line.

Here's where it gets spoilery ...

WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU: An Overachiever's Guide to College Rejection by Ariel Kaplan

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shaped or forms my opinions of the novel. Thank you Penguin Random House and the wonderfully generous people at Underlined for the opportunity.

AUTHOR: Ariel Kaplan -- Website | Twitter
PUBLISHED: August 21, 2018 by Knopf Books For Young Readers (Penguin Random House)
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary, Mystery
PAGES: 352
Find it on Goodreads

Mischa Abramavicius is a walking, talking, top-scoring, perfectly well-rounded college application in human form. So when she's rejected not only by the Ivies, but her loathsome safety school, she is shocked and devastated. All the sacrifices her mother made to send her to prep school, the late nights cramming for tests, the blatantly resume-padding extracurriculars (read: Students for Sober Driving) ... all that for nothing.

As Mischa grapples with the prospect of an increasingly uncertain future, she questions how this could have happened in the first place. Is it possible that her transcript was hacked? With the help of her best friend and sometimes crush, Nate, and a group of eccentric techies known as "The Ophelia Syndicate," Mischa launches an investigation that will shake the quiet community of Blanchard Prep to its stately brick foundations.

I remember my college application process and I'll tell you this much: I didn't put nearly as much effort as I should have. My dream school -- University of Michigan -- was ruled out for me in my freshman year when I had mono for four months and had to teach myself everything and ended up getting an incomplete in geometry, setting me back behind everyone in my class that would eventually take AP Calculus together. And in a small school like mine, where every little detail counted, that was a big one.

When I found out a school nearby to U of M -- Eastern Michigan University -- offered some great scholarship opportunities, I decided that was the school for me. It was close enough for me to visit home often, I could keep dancing and teaching at my dance studio, and maybe I'd even be able to transfer to EMU. Oh, and it helped that when my boyfriend, who was a year ahead of me in school decided to go there, too, in advance of my application process, that was basically the icing on the cake. Like a lot of icing. So much icing that the cake was more frosting than not.

I don't regret going to EMU -- I met some of my favorite people there and was in a sorority and did a lot of things that really changed my life. But when my brother started doing his application process a few years later, it became clear to me that I hadn't put nearly enough thought into mine. I did get into a few other places because I needed back ups in case EMU for some reason didn't take me. But I didn't care when I got into them and when one of those admittance letters came first, I didn't care. And for the record, I didn't graduate from EMU because of health problems. I've still yet to finish my degree. And sometimes I wonder if I'd chosen some place else if maybe I wouldn't have lost my momentum, as I seemed to have done by my fifth senior year.

Long story short, the college application process that goes on now for seniors is NOTHING like what mine was. It wasn't this big day or week where everyone starts getting offers. Even if I'd applied to some other schools or done some real research, it was a waiting game -- waiting for mail to arrive to tell us the result. It wasn't all done by email. It wasn't even like that during my brother's college application process. But I know it's real because I've coached at high schools and I have seen the anxiety and devastation and the celebrations that those weeks bring to high school seniors. So reading about it was really interesting.

This book is incredibly smart and shockingly witty. Mischa's narrative is funny and quick. If you loved the quick repartee of Gilmore Girls, you'll love this book. It moves fast and Mischa is a very worthy narrative. The mystery element is also really entertaining. It's basically a whodunnit and the ultimate culprit was NEVER on my list of suspects. If you enjoyed One of Us is Lying, you'll really enjoy We Regret to Inform You. It's a quick moving mystery that you can't put down, and though it doesn't involve murder, it also doesn't lack an element of excitement.

I also loved that this is a very diverse book. Mischa works with the Ophelia Syndicate to try and crack the case of who tanked her college chances, and the Ophelias are a group of super computer whizzes, professional level coders, and hackers. This is so incredibly important! We need more women who code and who are into the different computer sciences and engineering. And that they've learned and taught themselves is really, really inspiring.

The LGBTQ+ community is also represented here -- Nate himself is bisexual and when Mischa met him and first developed a crush on him, she learned her had a boyfriend, so she stifled those feelings away.

I gave this book 5 HEARTS! I loved it and I read it in about six hours. I absolutely couldn't put it down. My mom was watching me devour it all day long!

Things start to get spoilery here -- you've been warned!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

NOW I RISE (The Conqueror's Saga #2) by Kiersten White

AUTHOR: Kiersten White -- Twitter | Website
PUBLISHED: June 27, 2017 by Delacorte (Penguin Random House)
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
PAGES: 471
Find it on Goodreads

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

After finishing And I Darken, I immediately dove into Now I Rise.

Lada, recently awarded the role of prince of Wallachia by Mehmed himself has embarked on a journey back to Tirgoviste, leaving Radu behind as Mehmed's singular focus, Constantinople, and a war with the Byzantines looms on the horizon.

Radu is feeling both a little abandoned and more than a little ignored and even slightly skeptical of Mehmed, but still has an undying devotion to him. When a team of Byzantine ambassadors visits Edirne, Radu once again crosses paths with Cyprian, someone he'd met previously and who he felt a certain pull towards and this time, is pushed towards him.

Things get a little spoilery here, so look out ... 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

NINE by Zach Hines

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shaped or forms my opinions of the novel. Thank you Harper Collins for the opportunity.

AUTHOR: Zach Hines -- Twitter
PUBLISHED: August 7, 2018 by HarperTeen (Harper Collins)
GENRE: Young Adult Sci-Fi
PAGES: 260
Find it on Goodreads

In an alternate world startlingly close to our own, humans have nine lives—and they can’t wait to burn straight through them.

As you shed lives, you shed your awkward phases: one death is equal to one physical and mental upgrade. Julian’s friends are obsessed with the idea of burning lives, but Julian is determined to stay on his first for as long as he can. His mother, the ultimate cautionary tale, burned through her first eight in just a few years, and Julian has no intention of succumbing to the debilitating rebirth sickness that she inflicted on herself.

But the regime has death incentives aimed at controlling overpopulation, and Julian realizes that he’s going to have to burn at some point—especially when he becomes a target for Nicholas, the manipulative leader of the Burners, the school’s suicide club. And when Julian eventually succumbs, he uncovers suspicious gaps in the rebirth system that may explain exactly why his mother went so far down the rabbit hole years ago. Along with a group of student dissenters, Julian sets out to find answers and is soon on the verge of exposing the greatest conspiracy ever unleashed on the world.

He has just eight more lives to uncover the brutal truth.

Nine was a book I was REALLY looking forward to. It seemed like nothing I'd ever read before and I loved the premise -- that humans had nine lives. The book was absolutely everything I expected, and then some.

It gets spoilery here. Enter at your own risk.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

AND I DARKEN (The Conqueror's Saga #1) by Kiersten White

AUTHOR: Kiersten White -- Website | Twitter
PUBLISHED: June 28, 2016 by Delacorte (Penguin Random House)
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
PAGES: 475
Find it on Goodreads

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

And I Darken is a perfect example of a book that at one point, when it first came out, I couldn't get into, but I'm so glad I gave another try.

It's also the first historical fantasy I've ever read. It has its basis in fact in the change that occurred in the Ottoman Empire and Wallachia. The main characters are Lada, Radu, and their friend Mehmed. Kiersten White includes an important author's note here:

"While the book is based on actual historical figures, I have taken massive liberties, filling in gaps, creating characters and events, shifting time lines, and most particularly, changing Vlad the Impaler to Lada the Impaler." 

In regards to Radu, she said this:

"Radu the Handsome is merely a footnote in Vlad's story, but I did my best to breathe life into his legacy."

And finally:

"Mehmed the Conquerer is a revered Turkish national hero, with Istanbul still a testament to his greatness and his ability to think that far into the future. I have done my best to honor that, while still acknowledging that he was a real person. Just how much interaction the three would have had growing up in the Ottoman Courts together is unknown. I've crafted a fictional history in which the formative relationships of their young lives were with each other."

This entire first book take you from Lada's birth -- to a lazy father named Vlad, who had already named one son after him and chose to name his daughter Ladislav, after himself as well. Born in Transylvania in 1435, she was formidable, right from the start. Radu, a slightly more fragile being, was born about a year later. After their mother, Vassilissa abandoned them, they were left to their nurse and her son, Bogdan, roughly the same age as them, as their father was rarely around. Vassilissa seems like a characternym -- look up the word vacillate and you'll find out exactly what I mean. "To be ambivalent," was the phrase that stood out most to me.

Eventually Vlad becomes Prince of Wallachia. While children, the are taken on a rather rare trip with their father to a village near the Arges river, where he takes them to a rundown old fortress and explains to Lada that THIS -- Wallachia -- is her true mother. She takes it to heart and collects some dirty, sticks, and pine needles which she keeps in a pouch she wears. This becomes a defining concept of the book and the entire series. Having Wallachia for her own is paramount, especially once her father trades them to the Ottomon Empire to build his own power when Lada is 13 and Radu is 12.

Lada and Radu strike up a friendship here with Mehmed, often called "the little zealot," but he's of no real threat because he is third youngest of his father Murad's sons. The likelihood of him ever becoming Sultan is minuscule.

As we get to know Lada and Radu (the chapters alternate between them), it becomes obvious that there couldn't be a more stark difference between them. Radu is sensitive where Lada is aggressive. Lada is suspicious of everyone and their intentions where Radu is too trusting. Lada is extremely independent, whereas Radu is at first lost without his nurse and is generally a little needy. Lada is considered by many to be ugly where as Radu grows into a handsome young man. Radu is diplomatic, gifted with a silver tongue and an ability to get people to listen to him -- Lada would rther ram someone through with a sword than be diplomatic. Despite coming from a Christian country, Lada is atheist and her brother Radu is introduced to Islam by a man named Kumal, where he finds great faith and finally, something as tantamount to his character as Wallachia is to Lada.

But as they get older, they find they do have one thing in common: a love for Mehmed that sets them against each other even further. But as he takes up with concubines, marries a first wife, and produces an heir, both Radu and Lada feel a little lost to the rituals of court.

When Wallachia's finally vulnerable, Lada begs Mehmed to send her back to be prince and challenge the current usurper of the throne -- and Radu holds him as he cries.

I thought this book was really triumphant in so many ways.

First, it covers such a long expanse of time. When the book starts Lada has only just been born. She is nearly 18 when they see her off. And she accomplishes so much in that short time. While Radu wanders slightly aimlessly and then only wherever Radu goes, she personally manages to become Jannissary and lead her own troop of all Wallachian men, including Bogdan, when they are finally reunited.

Second, it challenges traditional gender norms. Radu marries Nazira because that is the law-abiding, religiously-approved standard, but she knows that he longs for Mehmed, and she herself has had a spiritual wedding to Fatima, who was Kumal's maid. Lada herself should never have been able to become what she did, but she was a rich character with absolute ideals for herself. She wouldn't cheapen the future she saw for herself by marrying or becoming part of Mehmed's harem. She wouldn't even accept it if Mehmed gave everyone else up for her. She wanted to be an equal to him in every way, not subservient. And as she approaches Wallachia, she says:

"I am no longer the daughter of the dragon ... I am the dragon."

This book is drenched in feminism. It's exactly the kind of book young feminists should be reading. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with getting married and having that kind of wish if you genuinely wish it. But there is something to be said for a YA book that so blatantly contradicts the patriarchy by virtue of Lada.

I give this book 5 Hearts! 

Monday, August 13, 2018

WARCROSS (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shaped or forms my opinions of the novel. Thank you Penguin Random House for the opportunity.

AUTHOR: Marie Lu -- Website | Twitter
PUBLISHED: September 12, 2017 by G.P. Putnam 's Sons (Penguin Random House)
GENRE: Young Adult Sci-Fi
PAGES: 366
Find it on Goodreads

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire. 

Let me start this out by saying, especially to Marie Lu herself and any publishing associates who come across this: I finished Warcross in less than a day and I have been in pursuit of a Wildcard ARC since BEA and ALA, which I was supposed to be at but had to bail on because my cancer relapsed and instead, I've spent the summer reading. I am DESPERATE for an ARC. Does someone at Penguin Random House want their bathroom tile cleaned with a toothbrush? I'm your girl if it means getting Wildcard. I have NEVER in my five years of blogging begged for an ARC, but depending on my health, I may have to enter the hospital for a month and I there's a good chance I could miss the release. So I really, really, truly want an ARC so bad. 

So now you know, I LOVED Warcross. I loved it SO MUCH more than I thought I would. I'm a girl gamer, but I've never been involved in games that involved a lot of battle or live opponents/teammates through online games. I'm a Pokemon and Mario kind of girl. But this still fascinated me and within the first five pages I was hooked and simply could not put it down. Let me talk about a few points in general that I thought were really, truly exceptional.

Marie is fantastic at world-building. And in Emika's case, she had to build a world of grief, because it's all Emika's known for a very long time. Her mother left for no apparent reason when she was young, so it was just her and her dad, an artist, until he passed away. She has sold off many of her possessions to make ends meet in a crappy apartment and she is still wracked with grief. Marie creates this portion of the story so well and depicts grief thoughtfully and authentically in a way anyone could relate to.

The world building throughout the rest of the novel is phenomenal, too. I can see the characters and the environment and for a video game she had to imagine and then create a world that contains it is just so impressive.

At one point a quote is used -- and this is from the ARC edition, so it may have changed, but I thought it was so beautiful and true now:

"Everyone in the world is connected in someway to everyone else."

I just thought that that was so honest. And in today's world, a lot of people forget that we, as humans, are linked all together, too. But we are focusing on what's separating us instead of what connects us, especially here in the U.S. We've become less human and value those connections less. The only bonds that seem to be treasured are the ones that offer something to someone else. And the very bonds that humanity is supposed to treasure are flicked aside for someone or something else, and very often involving hate.

One thing I love about this is being inside Emika's mind and seeing how she thinks and analyzes. She's so brilliant! But like many brilliant people, her social skills leave a little to be desired.

If you're worried about SPOILERS they start here ... 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

SAM & ILSA'S LAST HURRAH by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shaped or forms my opinions of the novel. Thank you Penguin Random House and the wonderfully generous people at Underlined for the opportunity.

AUTHOR: Rachel Cohn -- Website | Twitter
               David Levithan -- Website | Twitter
PUBLISHED: April 10, 2018 by Knopf Books For Young Readers (Penguin Random House)
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary
PAGES: 211
Find it on Goodreads

The New York Times Bestselling duo behind Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily return with twins out to throw the party of a lifetime—or at least the best party of high school!

Siblings Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing parties for their friends—and now they’ve prepared their final blowout, just before graduation.

The rules are simple: each twin gets to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn’t know who’s coming until the partiers show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right, as well…in rather surprising ways.

I know I'm in the minority of YA bloggers and fans in general when I say that I've never read a book by David Levithan before. His books are ubiquitous in this genre. And I also know I'm in the minority when I say I also never read Nick & Norah or Dash & Lily. These books are wildly popular as well.

This book came to me via Underlined, Penguin Random House's community for YA readers. I didn't get to go to BEA this year because my cancer has had a very strong recurrence and I can't travel right now because I'm sicker than I've ever been and we are struggling to find a chemo that works that my liver isn't being poisoned by. I contacted them in hopes of obtaining a few of the ARCs I was missing and not only did they send me those books, they sent me a GIANT box filled with hardcover titles and book swag -- a tote bag, a pouch for it, a t-shirt, the movie Everything, Everything (based on the YA book by Nicola Yoon), Kindle external battery chargers, and more.

I had just finished reading Sadie by Courtney Summers and wanted something light to read as kind of a palette cleanser and this seemed like a good, fun choice. It was exactly what I wanted and it also made me a little nostalgic and emotional. It gave me all kinds of feels. And I was surprised by how much I instantly liked it, because I caught a few of the reviews on Goodreads and they were mostly negative, even though many of them loved Cohn and Levithan's previous cooperative projects.

I found the reviews to be way too harsh. I LOVED this book. It was a creative story with fully developed characters, which I think is an accomplishment given that the premise of the entire book takes place over one night and in one location. I got a very good idea of all the characters and who they were -- and they are all the guests at a party hosted by twins Sam & Ilsa, who are throwing one of their famed dinner parties in their grandmother Czarina's home in Manhattan, which she is selling so she can move to Paris. Most of the characters are also graduating imminently and many of them haven't really sewn up what it is they're going to do once they leave high school.

I don't know how much you remember about being a senior in high school, but I remember feeling like I was a fully-formed, responsible adult, capable of making any and all decisions without much input from anyone. I was way too headstrong and I thought I was more mature than I actually was -- after all, I'm 32 now and I still don't feel like a fully-formed, responsible adult. How could I possibly have been one at 18? This book reminded me of all those feelings I had and all these crazy notions I had, even though the most adult thing I could do was vote, and otherwise, I was really just a baby.

I thought Ilsa's voice was particularly strong and she had a very realistic teen voice and edge, without  being whiny. Sometimes, contemporary YA narrators are super whiny. I didn't feel that way about Ilsa at all, or Sam for that matter. Sam & Ilsa are, as I mentioned, twins. And I know that it's pretty typical for one twin to be the "big" sibling or "Twin A" and the other to be a little more reserved. It's very clear that Ilsa is Twin A here.

I also love any book set in New York City automatically a little more than other books. I've spent a lot of time in the city in the past few years and I consider myself a New Yorker in my soul. The first time I stepped out of Penn Station and onto the streets of New York, I immediately found what I've been looking for my whole life. So even though this book took place in a fictitious building, I still loved it.

Of all the characters, the persons that annoyed me the most was KK. But I think that's kind of the point. You're supposed to feel like she's super annoying. She has her moments of brilliance and she's got an interested personality dynamic, but in general she kind of gets under your skin in am irritating way. I'm a big fan of the show Chasing Life, which was on Freeform, but it got canceled. Anyhow, there's a character on this show named Ford, and she is kind of who I imagine KK to be like. She's super rich, she's got a major attitude problem, she can bug the crap out of you and be compelling, all at the same time. And she thinks she's an authority on everything. So I had a very clear vision of her.

I really felt the dialogue was perfect and appropriate for teens at this phase in their life. There wasn't a lot of what I call "Dawson's Creeking", where they use a lot of big words and overly mature dialogue that even adults don't use. This felt right for their ages and the pace of the novel was also really great. It moved along quickly.

At one point the guests all have this really great conversation about lifeboats and how people can be your lifeboats -- the only thing keeping you afloat, especially if you have no idea what direction to go in your life and you feel like you're just ... there. With no sense of where you are headed or what the next step is. Sam, a musician who desperately wanted to go to Berklee in Boston and had his dreams snatched when he melted down a bit during his interview, is using lots of his friends as lifeboats. And he has no real concept of what's next for him. Everyone is moving on. And his only lifeboat left will be Ilsa and, as he points out, "she leaks ... when I weight too heavily on her." And he discusses needing more lifeboats.

Let's be real here: We all do this. We all have people who are our touchstones, our anchors during the storm, people to reassure you, people to remind you of who you are. And at different points in our lives, we need those people more than other times. Sometimes, it's smooth sailing and you don't need a port in the storm. Sometimes, we need lots, or we need a lot from one person. There's something to be said for being independent, of course, but realistically people need other people. And I don't buy into that whole concept that you are the only person you can depend on. That kind of thinking isolates you, can lead to depression and anxiety, and just isn't realistic. There is no shame in needing other people. But at this particular point in Sam's life, he needs to figure out how to be his own boat a little.

As I mentioned, I felt that the cast of characters were really well established. I also could totally see them on some sort Bravo TV show reunion type of thing, like Watch What Happens with Andy Cohen. They'd get great ratings! At one point, Li and Ilsa are talking in private and this exchange happens, which I just love:

Ilsa: "I was born with bitchheart. Sam got all the good DNA."
Li: "Maybe bitchheart isn't so terrible? It will make you a survivor."

Also during another conversation later, Li and Ilsa talk about medication for Ilsa's anxiety and she says she's afraid it will change her. I personally am bi-polar type II and I was really afraid that taking meds would change who I am. I liked how real and vulnerable that moment was. But Li is open with her and tells her about her experience and how the medications just give her a lift and help her to be her true self with less anxiety, which is the real gift of psychiatric medications. There's such a stigma out there and I think it was great that it was talked about here.

There were also a lot of moments where they talked about the great change that they were all experiencing. Johan, though, has already been through this and is a little more seasoned. He talks about fulfilling his dream of moving to New York and how he got there. I loved this quote so much, because I relate to that desperation to move to New York.

Johan: "I always had the destination in mind -- the question was, how would I pay for the ticket? I don't mean literally -- although I guess there it's there literally, too. But I mean it more like, what's the thing that's going to get you from where you're stuck to where you want to be? And don't get me wrong, when I say stuck, I don't mean that that my parents were mean or my friends were lame. I loved them all. But I loved the idea of setting off, the idea of New York even more. And I realized my ticket was music. Even when I was twelve, thirteen, I knew it was my ticket. Not that I loved it more than my family or my friends -- but I knew that of all the things I loved in my life, it was the one thing that could travel with me."

The book ends on an epilogue chapter that takes us ten years into the future. I won't share all the details of that because I think it's better left discovered, but I will say that I loved it and it did make me cry a little. It did just remind me of how fleeting that period of life is and how I felt like I was more grown-up than I was.

All in all, I thought that this book really perfectly captured that time period in a person's life and dealt with authentic emotions, worries, fear of the unknown, heartbreak, so, so well. It was also a great quick read and even though I got a little emotional at the end, the book ends on a great high note. I'm just super sentimental lately.

I would definitely recommend this book -- but if books about teenagers and that are written in that authentic voice bug you, don't say you weren't warned.

If you happen to be older and you want something that will make you feel those feelings of nostalgia and also just read a really great story with some truly unique characters that are well-thought out and is a fun fast read, then you'll really love this.

But if you ARE a teenager, this is a great read -- it will prepare you for this time in your life and maybe you'll take the opportunity to remember how young you are and how you will only experience your senior year once and that when you're young is the time to take a few risks and see where life takes you. But it will also remind you that you aren't as grown up as you think you are yet.

Monday, July 16, 2018

ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers

AUTHOR: Courtney Summers -- Website | Twitter
PUBLISHED: April 14, 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary, Thriller
PAGES: 321
Find it on Goodreads

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 
With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive? 

I grew up just outside of Detroit. Only about thirty minutes from the heart of the city, but less than five minutes from one of the border lines, yet I also lived in one of the whitest cities in America. This isn't allegory. It's fact.

The school that I went to wasn't of this vast landscape of wealth and business. It was a little-almost-forgotten corner of the suburban sprawl. It butted up to another similar corner of another city, then to another corner of a city that was quite a ways more like the Detroit you've come to know on the TV.

Had my parents bought house two doors to the right of where we now live, we would've gone to the same ginormous (I love that that is officially an Oxford-English dictionary world) school district they went to, where graduating classes boasted anywhere from 400-800 people and where a few of my friends who went there had to contest to making friends with people all over the building, because they wanted to, but because the school was so expansive, you'd never make it to your assigned locker in advance, so you had to make friends you could share with that were near your different classes. One of my friends had FOUR lockers.

Meanwhile, my locker had ventured across the middle school and high school buildings my entire time there, but I was ALWAYS between the same two people, one of which happened to love to just bathe himself in cologne between every class.

There were lots of things afforded to us as small school students that I KNOW I wouldn't have had the chance at had the situation been reversed. I was a big fish in a small pond and I milked that old adage for every cent it was worth.

But there was a price to pay. Living in a little community like that opens you up to all kinds of criticism and doesn't allow for a whole lot of privacy. I was a book smart person, at least when my anxiety wasn't clinging to my brain. And everyone knew my business or thought they knew my business or thought it was their job to know my business.

It's part of what happens when you're best friends with the town's Golden Boy, too. A Golden Boy full of mysteries and always a line to get him, like taking a number at the deli counter.

In short, I grew up in a community a lot like our main character Romy's. And I had been sexually assaulted the eighth grade. A problem that -- according to most parents and students -- wouldn't have happened if I'd just given that boy a hug like he'd wanted. Of course they weren't there when he cornered me during my independent art study period and felt me up. They weren't there when he hunted me through the hallways and I hid in bathrooms and stood on the seats so he couldn't see which stall I was in. It wasn't until someone I thought was a friend saw -- a Golden Boy if there ever was one -- and told my cheerleading coach that the school finally believed me and got the cops involved.

Unluckily, many years after I graduated from that small school, with the small hallways, the small people, and the small minds, I was raped and sodomized. He kept going when it hurt and I said "no," and "stop," and "please." I won't say who, but I think you can guess. My Golden Boy. My knight in shining armor. He abused me, mentally and physically. Because he'd started grooming me to believe I wasn't good enough to be loved by anyone else. And I knew once he did it that even if I had picture perfect evidence that he did it, I could never charge him. Because no one took me seriously the first time. Why would they take me seriously the second time, when it was someone with much higher standing in the community?

They wouldn't. Why?

Because "boys will be boys."

Mostly, Romy just wants to outlive it all and be left alone. I know that feeling.

I realize that this has been less than a review and more my story. But that's why books like All the Rage are important. Because they give real people a story that resonates with them, that they can relate to, and that can help them realize they are not the only ones.

All the Rage is the story of so many girls.

And in this political day and age when the rights of women and girls are up for debate and when the "boys will be boys" motto seems even more prevalent, especially when you have a president who brags about going around and grabbing pussies (just "locker room talk," of course, no big deal) these stories are all the more important, no matter when or where they happened!

I firmly believe with all my heart and soul that during some of the time that we pay our lawmakers for working -- our representatives, our senators, our cabinet, our Supreme Court, and yes, even our president, if he can understand all the big words -- should go towards a mandatory reading of All the Rage. There are women on Capitol Hill who will identify with this story. There are more women still who will champion it -- and some men, too. Because even though it is a work of fiction, we all know that stories like this do indeed happen. I believe some politicians will, if they let themselves, have their eyes opened. I believe it should be required reading for high schoolers. And maybe, just maybe, a few more people will stop seeing our president as the Golden Boy.

I wept while reading All the Rage, which is a testament to how accurately I felt and how much I saw myself in some of Romy's feelings, thoughts, and stories. And I weep knowing that we live in a culture where our young girls need to have these types of books to turn to to know that they are not alone. That said, I can't give it anything less than five hearts.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

THE FATES DIVIDE (Carve the Mark #2) by Veronica Roth

AUTHOR: Veronica Roth -- Website | Instagram
PUBLISHED: April 10, 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins)
GENRE: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
PAGES: 450
BUY IT: Books-A-Million | Barnes and Noble | Amazon
(The Books-A-Million AND Barnes and Noble links take you to AUTOGRAPHED COPIES!)
Find it on Goodreads

Fate brought them together. Now it will divide them.

The lives of Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth are ruled by their fates, spoken by the oracles at their births. The fates, once determined, are inescapable.

Akos is in love with Cyra, in spite of his fate: He will die in service to Cyra’s family. And when Cyra’s father, Lazmet Noavek—a soulless tyrant, thought to be dead—reclaims the Shotet throne, Akos believes his end is closer than ever.

As Lazmet ignites a barbaric war, Cyra and Akos are desperate to stop him at any cost. For Cyra, that could mean taking the life of the man who may—or may not—be her father. For Akos, it could mean giving his own. In a stunning twist, the two will discover how fate defines their lives in ways most unexpected.

With the addition of two powerful new voices, Veronica Roth's sequel to Carve the Mark is a chorus of hope, humor, faith, and resilience.

I went into reading The Fates Divide with two thoughts.

My first thought was that either Akos or Cyra was going to die, just like (SPOILER ALERT) Tris dies in Allegiant and it was going to break my heart and give me the world's worst book book hangover and I wouldn't trust books again for months and would always assume the worst. This is exactly what happened when I finished Allegiant, FYI. Another FYI: I still gave it four stars because it was an incredibly well written book and it made me feel such strong emotion. In fact, if I was re-reviewing it today, I would give it five stars because it was a book that had the power to feel grief so vividly and experience such heartbreak for fictional characters. I also made it one of my Top 13 of 2013.

My second thought was that I know a thing or two about oracles. I'm a HUGE fan of Rick Riordan's books, and anything that involves Percy Jackson inevitably includes oracles. And sometimes an oracle's prophecy isn't always what it seems. In fact, the face value is often not the whole story. It was my strong feeling that the title was exactly what I felt in my gut -- that in some way either Akos or Cyra, maybe both, had somehow already lived through their prophecy.

My alternative thought was that if they hadn't somehow already lived their prophecy, their fate, that the oracles predictions for them weren't as deathly as they seemed.

I mean Akos believed his fate to be this "The third child of the family Kereseth will die in service to the family Noavek." Akos and Cyra walked on eggshells and took even extra preventatives to escape this when the simple fact was he could've gone on serving his Cyra Noavek for dozens and dozens of years before dying of old age while still serving Cyra. That's just one simple way he could've died in service to the family Noavek, something no one ever bothers to consider, given what they know.

Cyra's prophesied fate was that "The second child of the family Noavek will cross the divide." What I'm about to say is a little spoilery for Carve the Mark, but if you're here reading this review, I assume that you've already read CTM, so you know, proceed at your own risk.

Ryzek forced Cyra to use her currentgift -- causing pain by touch -- on Akos and it both drained her physically and changed her currentgift thoroughly, in such a way that it was like she died. I went into The Fates Divide believing that in some way, this may have canceled out someone's fate and I was beginning to suspect that Cyra's fate was not what we were led to believe.

One concern I had for the book was that when I was reading reviews for Carve the Mark, I noticed a lot of negative reviews and a lot of people complaining about a "slow start" or too much to get into. Clearly, they don't understand that as with all things in life, but especially books, sometimes the greatest things take time. And I thought that might affect The Fates Divide.

This is where things are about to get really spoilery, so if you don't want to be spoiled, don't continue ...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

SADIE by Courtney Summers

This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shaped or formed my opinions of the novel. Thank you Wednesday Books for the opportunity.

AUTHOR: Courtney Summers -- Website | Twitter
TO BE PUBLISHED: September 4, 2018 by Wednesday Books (St. Martins/MacMillan)
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary, Thriller
PAGES: 320
Find it on Goodreads

A gripping novel about the depth of a sister's love; poised to be the next book you won't be able to stop talking about.

A missing girl on a journey of revenge and a Serial-like podcast following the clues she's left behind. 

Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. 

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

In April, my mom and I had the privilege of going to a Veronica Roth event where we got to hear her speak and then meet her. One of the questions someone had for her was "What are you reading right now?" The first book that came to her mind was Sadie by Courtney Summers. She said she absolutely couldn't put it down. I trust recommendations from authors I love so much. If they recommend something and I love their writing, I figure I'll LOVE their favorites. So naturally, Sadie jumped to the top of my list.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Sadie, which chronicles the story of the titular character as she goes on a road trip to track down who killed her younger sister, Mattie. The book is split between chapters by Sadie, and chapters by West McCray, who is trying to solve the mystery of Sadie and Mattie via a special program meant to capitalize on the success of the "Serial" podcast for a fictional radio station in New York City.

As I've mentioned before, my goal this year is to find and read books that remind me of nothing I've ever read before. Sadie fits the bill -- it's unlike anything I've read and it was easily the fastest I've read a book all year. It took me just a little under 24 hours and every single minute was well spent. I couldn't believe how fast the book was slipping away as I devoured it. I wanted there to be more of it and I both dreaded and equally -- I wanted answers, yet I didn't want the book to end.

This is where things start to enter the spoiler realm, so if you don't want to be spoiled, stop reading here ...

CARVE THE MARK (Carve the Mark #1) by Veronica Roth

AUTHOR: Veronica Roth -- Website
PUBLISHED: January 17, 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books (Harper Collins)
GENRE: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
PAGES: 468
Find it on Goodreads

In a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost.

Then Akos is thrust into Cyra's world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?

Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth's stunning portrayal of the power of friendship—and love—in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.

By nature, I am a stubborn person. Therefore, I can hold a grudge forever. And I thought I could never forgive Veronica Roth for what she did to Tris. So I decided I would never read anything by her again.

But then the opportunity to go to signing with her and hear her speak and learn about her newest book came up and my mom REALLY wanted to go. So I decided I would put down my grudge for the night and go have an exciting experience with my mom.

But when it came time to get my books signed and meet Veronica herself, I had to tell her: "I'm still not over Tris and Allegiant. I'm still processing that." And she totally understood and met me with: "I get it, you're still mourning and working through it. A lot of people are." And I decided in that moment that the fact that I was still worked up about a book that came out in 2013 was really a testament to her skills as a writer. She created a book that I'm STILL thinking about, even now. And it also made me have TONS of extra respect for her as a writer to be real with her readers about that and get it.

That night when we got home, I started Carve the Mark -- and though I did struggle a little with getting attached to the characters and my fear that one of the two leading characters would die, I became completely entranced by this novel.

If you go on Goodreads, you'll see a LOT of DNFs (did not finish) and some negative reviews. Here's the truth: It starts kind of slow. But that's because Roth does a terrific job at world building and growing her characters over the course of the novel. But if you really commit to it and decide to push through, you'll be handsomely rewarded because this book is absolutely amazing.

This is where things start to get a little spoilery, so if you don't want to be spoiled, don't read past here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

MIRAGE (Mirage #1) by Somaiya Daud

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shapes or forms my opinions of the novel. Thank you Somaiya and Flatiron Books for the opportunity.

AUTHOR: Somaiya Daud -- Twitter | Website
TO BE PUBLISHED: August 28, 2018 by Flatiron Books (MacMillan)
GENRE: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Sci-Fi
PAGES: 321
SOURCE: Author
Find it on Goodreads

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancĂ©, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection...because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Cancer, where I've been, what I've been up to, my new mission, and a few missing books ...

So with the exception of few spotty posts here and there, I haven't done much with the blog in a long time.

Last summer, I started a business with LuLaRoe which took off like gangbusters and that pretty much ate the rest of the year. And I was definitely burning the candle from both ends. This was evident after two stays related to complications from the oral chemo pill I take.

Since November, I have been in a hardcore fight with cancer. As it stands, there's so much cancer in my blood, they can't even give an estimate on what percentage of blood is cancerous as they normally would. I also have an increase in blasts, which are super concentrated immature blood cells. I'm set to start my fourth line of therapy for it this week. Because I've had pancreatitis and existing issues with my liver for years now, several forms of the therapy are just completely off the table for trying. So we're down to very few types of oral chemo on I can take.

If you're a praying person or a good thoughts person, I really need all those. I am on a tightrope right now and if it doesn't work, I may need a bone marrow transplant and the rate of survival for CML (my type of cancer) patients and the bone marrow transplant are not great.

Right now, I'm not able to work my business because I'm simply too tired and weak and in pain. Some days, I'm too tired to even focus to read, which is kind of scary. And even once I start the oral chemo, these things won't just immediately go away. In fact, odds are, things will get worse before they get better. It's going to be a couple months of experimenting with dosages and also potential blends with other oral chemos to try and find a solution.

So right now, I'm pretty much laid up. I was supposed to be at BEA and my stretch goal was to go to ALA. But unfortunately, it didn't happen because I was so sick.

So my goal right now it to turn this blog around and get it in tip top shape (so ignore some of the graphics for now) and read and review to my hearts content and feel a little less uselesss.

Most publishers have been very accommodating and so kind and gracious in sending me the ARCs I missed! Penguin Random House's Underlined community is sending me a box of books at Goodies. Marie Lu and her team are getting me an ARC of Wildcard. I am getting copies of A Curse So Dark and Lovely by Brigid Kemmerer and the Girl King by Mimi Yu! I was also sent a copy of Mirage, by Somaiya Daud who I had the pleasure of meeting in April. Thank you ALL!

A few other thank yous go out to some publishers.

First, to the people at Little & Brown for sending me Girls of Paper and Fire, Phantom Wheel, How She Died How I Lived, The War Outside and an Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason.

Next, to the people at Harlequin Teen for sending me Shadow of the Fox and Iron Flower.

Finally, to the people at MacMillan, for Sadie, Darkest Star, Black Wings Beating, Unclaimed Baggage, and the The Boneless Mercies.

I am SO thankful for all of you helping me make my couch BEA dreams come true.

I am still looking DESPERATELY for the following titles, so if anyone could help me, I'd be SO grateful!

Seafire by Natalic C. Parker (Penguin Random House)
A Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (Little & Brown)
The Wicked King by Holly Black (Little & Brown)
Grace & Fury by Tracy Ban gheart (Little & Brown)
Light Years by Kass Morgan (Little & Brown)
The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesso (Little & Brown)

UPDATED: Thank you, Kass Morgan, for sending me an ARC of Light Years!

So if you know know of anyone who could help me, I'd be so grateful. I'm going to be in the hospital, in my bed, or on this couch (you could seriously make a plaster cast of my butt from this couch) ALL SUMMER and into early fall. So I need GREAT books to review, so I feel like I'm contributing something to the world.

My first review in awhile will go live tonight -- it will be for Somaiya Daud's amazing book Mirage, which is due out this August and which you will NOT want to miss.

Thank you! And I can't wait to start sharing more with you guys and for my new design which I'll hopefully relaunch within the month!


Monday, May 7, 2018

THE ORPHAN QUEEN (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows

This book was provided to me by Katherine Tegen (an imprint of Harper Collins) in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or my review. Thank you Harper Collins.

AUTHOR: Jodi Meadows -- Twitter | Website
PUBLISHED: March 10, 2015 by Katherine Tegen (Harper Collins) 
GENRE: Young Adult, High Fantasy
PAGES: 391
SOURCE: Publisher
BUY IT: Books-A-Million | Barnes and Noble
Find it on Goodreads

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities. 

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Monday, April 30, 2018

CINDER (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer -- Twitter | Website
PUBLISHED: January 3, 2012 by Feiwel + Friends (Macmillan) 
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance
PAGES: 387
SOURCE: Self-purchased
BUY IT: Books-A-Million | Barnes and Noble
Find it on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother.

Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder's brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an "honor" that no one has survived.

But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

THESE BROKEN STARS (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

This book was provided to me by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book or my review. Thank you Disney-Hyperion!

AUTHOR: Amie Kaufman -- Twitter | Website
               Meagan Spooner -- Twitter | Website
PUBLISHED: December 10, 2013 by Disney-Hyperion 
GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
PAGES: 374
SOURCE: Publisher
BUY IT: Books-A-Million | Barnes and Noble
Find it on Goodreads


Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.  

The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.