ARC Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

ARC

Written by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Release Date: October 18th 2016
Pages: 608, hardcover
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
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The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Timesbestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.”

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

LetsTalk

 

Sondra isn’t here. She can’t do this review. She’s over there. Screaming into space. Yelling about this book. Don’t worry. She’s only been doing it since she finished, oh a few months ago. She should be good….eventually.

Okay…okay I’m…okay. Good. Ish. Goddamn this book guys. Goddamn it. After Illuminae I didn’t expect this book to be so amazing, I didn’t know how anything could hold up to Illuminae. I was so happily surprised. I was so stunned with how fast I read it and how happy I was when we got…well specific characters showing up again.

I laughed a couple times, which was good, because I spent most of the time reading in terror.

 

Didn'tWork

I think this book had a few less texting conversations, and I feel like there were a lot of recorded moments, where we read the transcript of what was going on. I feel like it made the book a little less awesomely formatted than Illuminae was. But let’s be honest I’m nearly grasping here for things.

DidWork

Absolute horror in this book. The spreading blood? Whelp. That just caused me to panic the entire time I was reading the book. Welcome to the world I lived in by the way. Terror. Utter terror. So many things just freaked me out throughout this book, not that Illuminae didn’t have it’s horrifying moments, but Gemina just shoved things over the ridge.

I really loved the couple of this book. They started out hating each other, and probably would’ve stayed that way until everything goes to hell. That’s when things change and when they’re thrown into this chaos and they’re forced to work together and it creates this really great character relationship and I can’t.

THIS. WHOLE. BOOK. GODDAMN IT. I JUST LOVED IT. JUST ALIERHALDSKFJALEIRSHASLDKFJ.

Pickup

YESSS GUYS IF YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THIS BLOG YOU KNOW I HAVE AN OBSESSION WITH ILLUMINAE AND I WILL YELL AT YOU FOREVER TO READ THIS BOOK. GO READ IT RIGHT NOW.

Sondra

ARC Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

ARC

Written by: Zoraida Cordova
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Pages: 336, hardcover
Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC!

 

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“Enchanting and complex. Every page is filled with magic.”-Danielle Paige, New York Times best-selling author of Dorothy Must Die

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

LetsTalk

 

I went into this book knowing very little: a bi protagonist, a magical world based on Central American culture, and a…labyrinth of some sort? I very much enjoyed what I got: unique world-building, character growth, a surprising amount of feelings, and old tropes made new through a stand-out setting.

Alex is part of a family of brujas, but is scared of her powers for a variety of reasons that are well-justified in the narrative. When she comes into her power (which turns out to be greater than anyone expected), she is advised by the resident Mysterious Attractive Boy to do a spell to get rid of them. It goes wrong, of course, and she ends up accidentally sending her family into the clutches of the resident Evil Powerful Enemy. Alex goes on a journey to save them.

What follows is an adventure story with a strong undercurrent of family and a rich, original magical world. As many times as I’ve seen the “protagonist goes from fearing powers to accepting them and kicking ass” trope, there’s something so intrinsically appealing about it. This was the case in this book; I loved Alex’s growth.

Actually, that goes for all the tropes in the book; there are a lot of story elements that I’ve seen before multiple times, but the setting and cultural aspects gave Labyrinth Lost such a breath of life that even the tropes felt very fresh. There is a love triangle, but it’s quite low-key (and one of the sides is f/f)! Labyrinth Lost will be a welcome addition to my list of favorite new urban fantasy novels.

Didn'tWork

I would have liked to see just a little more fleshing out of Rishi’s character; while she still felt like a real character, she never felt quite as developed as I would have wanted someone with a role as central as hers to be, and that kept her at a like-but-don’t-love level for me.

Is it just me, or did Alex level up on her powers really, really quickly when she got to Los Lagos, at exactly the most plot-convenient moments? This was something I noticed about three-quarters of the way into the book, and it kept bothering me.

DidWork

This is the first thing that comes up whenever anyone discusses this book, so I’ll just say it now: the worldbuilding! The author uses elements of her own Latin-American culture to build the magical dark wonderland of Los Lagos, and the result is a world completely different from anything I’ve ever seen in fantasy before, where just when you think you know what to expect, you unearth a new corner, a new twist.

Alex’s relationships with her mother and her sisters was a high point for me. Even when she was frustrated with them for pushing her into a life she didn’t want, even when she felt out of place, even when she made decisions that hurt them, it was so obvious that they all loved each other. I appreciated that the power of family was such a huge theme in this story, and would especially love to see more of Lula and Rose in future books.

And of course, the characters are wonderful. Alex has a very strong voice and a clear character arc and her thought process is written in a way where even her not-so-good choices make sense. I totally did not expect to like Nova, but my heart melted for him by the end; he has some great lines, and his backstory broke me. Rishi was just precious, and her unfailing support of Alex was the cutest thing ever. As is typical of me, the group moments between the three of them were among my favorites.

Pickup

Yes! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for some new urban fantasy to get excited about.

Sondra

BLOG TOUR: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

kowteam

Written by: Kerri Maniscalco
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Pages: 336, hardcover
Series: Untitled Trilogy, #1
Goodreads   |   Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |  Indiebound

 

AAHHH!! I’m so excited to be part of this blog tour!! Stalking Jack the Ripper was such an absolutely amazing book. I cannot wait for everyone to go get their copy and read it. Then you can message me and scream with me about how amazingly great it is!
Book

 

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

LetsTalk

I was quite literally the first person to pounce on Little Brown at TLA to get my hands on Stalking Jack the Ripper, I was so excited to read this one I couldn’t wait to read it when I got home. I’ve always been just slightly obsessed with Jack the Ripper, Probably slightly more than I should’ve been if I’m being quite honest. I had very high expectations for this book, while it didn’t meet every single be of my expectations, I was so thrilled with this book overall, I can’t.

I am so excited that it has been announced that this book is going to be continued as a trilogy, I’m not sure where it’s going to go, which that alone has me super excited. What I really loved was that the characters were so unique. They really had their own voices and made me as the reader fall head over heels in love with them all.

Didn'tWork
So here’s the thing, I love mysteries, I love watching them, I love reading them. Unfortunately because of that I wind up picking up on a lot of tropes. In Stalking Jack the Ripper I was decently easy to pick up both of the large plot twists, but the amazing part of this? It didn’t take anything away from my experience of this book. Yes I knew whodunit. But it didn’t change anything.

I wanted something from Thomas’ point of view. I loved him as a character, he was so interesting, and his mind worked so amazingly, I fell in love with him as Audrey Rose did. I wanted to get into his head and see a chapter from his POV. I think it would’ve helped us as the reader to get a little closer to this character. But really he was a wonderful person overall.

DidWork

This book was sold on it’s twisting of actual fact with Manscalo’s own story. It was sold by these characters. It was sold by the simple way that it all worked together in this absolutely amazing wonderful quirky way.

I think that this book is totally one I’m going to suggest to people who don’t normally read YA, not because of its amazing mystery, but because it is something that is easily accessible to people. I think that a lot of people could get into the way that Jack the Ripper was reimagined. It became something far more than I expected as it rolled along, which is something that I really think a lot of people could enjoy.

I really loved the humor in this book, oh my god the wit and humor was so great. Audrey Rose and Thomas had such great interactions that had me actually laughing out loud. I think the two of them worked so well as both a duo to solve murders, but also as a couple. I can’t wait to see where they go next.

Pickup

I absolutely think that you need to give this one a shot. Don’t go into it expecting a huge mystery. But expect something that is an amazing retelling of history.

Sondra

Be sure you also follow Kerri and learn all you can about this amazing series before it’s released!

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stalking jack blog tour

ARC Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

ARC

Written by: Kathleen Glasgow
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Pages: 416, hardcover
Series: standalone
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Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

LetsTalk

This is the kind of intense dark book that, I think, some people will only be able to read in quick bursts, and others would prefer not to read at all. The main character, Charlie, has a lot of things heaped onto her–abuse, the loss of her best friend, homelessness, and self-harm are just a few. Kathleen Glasgow does not pull punches. Nothing is easy, and every bit of Charlie’s upward progress feels earned, narrative-wise. And I have to give her credit, because Charlie’s voice, her struggles, and her growth still ring so true that the book was still able to hit me hard in the emotions like it was supposed to.

Even if dark contemporaries normally not your kind of book, I recommend giving it a try. From the distinct characters to the gorgeous poetic prose to the focus on female relationships to the message of hope, Girl in Pieces is an extremely powerful novel, one that I think will help many people.

Didn'tWork

 

Pacing-wise, I feel like Girl in Pieces could have been about fifty pages shorter. The middle section, particularly the parts dealing with Charlie and Riley’s relationship, was on the slow side and I think it got just a bit too repetitive. While it should be noted that for the mast part this book did NOT feel like pain for the sake of pain, I think this section approached the closest to that kind of atmosphere.

DidWork

As I said, I’ve read a lot of books dealing with self harm, and one problem I’ve found with them is that the main characters tend to run together. I am very happy to say that Charlie stood out. I loved that she was quiet and reserved, and that this didn’t go away when the book ended, but that she found her voice nonetheless. I loved the moments of humor in her inner monologue and how hard she was willing to fight. I love how real her struggles and setbacks felt, and how much it made me cheer her on. 

The female relationships in the book were so important! From the best friend she loved and lost to the angry woman in her therapy group (who turns out to be fiercely loyal and loving) to her artist landlady with a tragic past to her recovering alcoholic supervisor at work, Charlie meets and develops bonds with a variety of women who affect her journey in so many ways. Charlie comes out of the hospital hoping for romantic love to save her, but her friendships with other women turn out to be so much more important.

(On that note, I don’t know if this was the author’s intent, but I definitely read Charlie as bisexual.)

After Charlie leaves the hospital, she meets Riley, who gives her a job at a coffee shop and has a heap of issues. From the synopsis and his intro, I kind of expected the relationship to be romanticized, but it wasn’t! The toxic aspects (the age difference, Riley’s drug use, Charlie accepting his terrible treatment of her because she doesn’t think she deserves better and Riley taken advantage of that) are all addressed in a very nuanced way. Riley’s addiction is presented sensitively, but never in a way that excuses his actions. I finished the book not really sure how I felt about Riley as a person, but very satisfied with the direction his and Charlie’s stories had gone.

One last thing I’d like to address is the writing, which is lyrical and emotional and sends chills down my spine. There are subtle shifts in both writing style and chapter length that match with Charlie’s mental state at the moment, something I appreciated.

Pickup

I would definitely recommend this if you’re in the mood for a nuanced, unique, moving dark contemporary with an amazing voice. 

Sondra

BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY: As I Descended by Robin Talley

Displaying AS I Descended Banner.jpg

Written by: Robin Talley
Release Date: September 6th 2016
Pages: 384, hardcover
Series: standalone
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LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

 

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Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

 

LetsTalk

I don’t think I’ve referenced this on here yet, but like almost any theater kid, I love Shakespeare, and Macbeth is my favorite of his plays. It’s a wonderful story that, one would assume, would be difficult to adapt. But setting it in an old Southern boarding school, replacing the witches with some of the creepiest spirits you have ever seen, and making Macbeth and Lady Macbeth an f/f couple are all pretty amazing ways to do so.

I’ve been a fan of Robin Talley’s since I read Lies We Tell Ourselves, but this is my favorite of her books so far. It’s scary and beautifully written, with characters who are sympathetic even as they make bad decisions. It does a good job preserving the themes of the original play, and all the deviations are exactly what the story needs to keep it flowing and have it make sense in modern times. Even with the changes, the story never loses its high stakes, and I appreciated that.

I should also note that the four main characters are all not straight–a (Mexican) bi girl, a (disabled) lesbian, and two gay guys (one of whom is fat and has anxiety; the other one is Mexican).

Even though it comes out about two months earlier, As I Descended is a perfect Halloween read that will make you want to crawl under the covers in fear and then make you cry.

Didn'tWork

Certain developments with Maria and Lily towards the middle of the book, while they felt natural with where the characters were going in general, also appeared a little abrupt. The change made sense, but it could have occurred more smoothly. Lily’s character arc in particular felt somewhat incomplete as a result.

A minor quibble is the police-are-incompetent-for-plot-convenience trope. The police in the story made some decisions that I did not find believable at all.

DidWork

I wasn’t expecting to love the supernatural aspect of this book so much–I was more focused on the “f/f Macbeth” thing–but it ended up being a high point for me. Every scene where the ghosts appear or speak feels appropriately horror-movie-ish in the best way possible. A certain scene in Lily’s bedroom made me want to never sleep again. Robin Talley uses Mexican mythology to develop the ghosts, which makes sense with Maria’s character and gives the story another layer.

As I Descended features multiple POVs, and all the narrators are fleshed out. The motivations are very believable, which can be tricky with a story as…well…murder-y as this one. I particularly loved Lily’s voice–her rational and ruthless thought process, how her disability and sexuality motivated her actions, her fierce love for Maria even as she disagrees with some of her decisions. Lily is the ideal modern adaptation of Lady Macbeth. And I loved Maria, whose conflict always felt believable and whose decisions I completely understood. Without giving away too much, her ending is a small deviation from the original end of the play, but perfect for this story.

There are small nods to the original play throughout this book that were a lot of fun for me. For example, a game exists where the player has to put items that were mentioned in the witches’ scene into a cauldron. I thought that was a pretty cool addition.

I heard someone say that reading this book felt like watching the original play, and I agree. Robin Talley nails the atmosphere perfectly, and her writing is top-notch. As I Descended was just the right mix of new and old material, and I can’t wait for all of you to get the chance to read it.

Pickup

Definitely! Complicated messy teens + ghosts + good representation = a fantastic book.

Sondra

ABOUT ROBIN TALLEY:

I live in Washington, D.C., with my wife, our baby daughter, an antisocial cat and a goofy hound dog. Whenever the baby’s sleeping, I’m probably busy writing young adult fiction about queer characters, reading books, and having in-depth conversations with friends and family about things like whether Jasmine’s character motivation was sufficiently established in Aladdin.

My website is at http://www.robintalley.com, and I’m on Twitter and Tumblr.
LINKS: Website | Twitter Facebook | Tumblr

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Giveaway:

3 Finished Copies of AS I DESCENDED (US Only)

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Q&A Review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Q&A

Written by: Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 26th 2015
Pages: 496, hardcover
Series: Thunder Road #1
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An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

1) Best Part of this Book?

I was excited to read a new series by McGarry, I loved all of the characters in Pushing the Limits and I couldn’t wait to see new characters and see what could be done with them. The best part of this book was the new world, it was a community and I see exactly where McGarry can pick up all kinds of new characters for this series. This is such a wonderful world and I want to see it developed down the road.

2) Favorite character?

I really adored and loved Olivia. She was such a wonderful character that was so beautifully fleshed out. It was also a side character that really stuck out to me. I loved so many of the side characters in this series and that makes me so excited to go forward with it.

3) Worst part of this book?

I feel like this book was so fleshed out. That it was so well developed that nothing really stuck out to me as bad. I enjoyed the fact the club is legal, and how that is dealt with both within and without the club. Especially Emily’s Dad.

4) Favorite Quote?

Emily hops up on a stool and props her elbows on the bar. “You wear the crazy crown. For real, who carries a knife and, seriously? Who walks in with a bra on and is okay leaving without one? Those things are expensive.”

5) Was it what’s expected?

Not exactly. I expected this to be an illegal club, I’m glad that it wasn’t, I liked how it worked within the world and the story. Overall I was just really happy with this book. I can’t wait to dig into the next one because Razor seems like such an interesting character.

I do also want to go off topic just a bit, but as someone who has an adopted sister, I loved the way that Emily’s adoption with her Dad was handled, it was handled so well and I’ve seen adoption go badly in books. This was so great and I thank McGarry for it.

 

Pickup

 

If you aren’t sure about starting with McGarry’s books since there’s four in the other series you can absolutely start here, it doesn’t go off her old books at all and it’s really fresh and different.

 

Sondra

Q&A Review: Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Q&A

Written by: Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 27th 2014
Pages: 577, hardcover
Series: Pushing the Limits, #4
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Book

Bonus novella included: Crossing the Line.

Acclaimed author Katie McGarry returns with the knockout new story of two high school seniors who are about to learn what winning really means.

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

1) Best Part of this Book?

I really loved seeing West’s character, I knew in Crash Into You he had a lot more to his story, just like with Beth there was something really cool about her that made me interested. West had me interested. I wasn’t disappointed I loved seeing him grow into something that is so much more than she could be.

2) Favorite character?

Hmmm, I think in this one I really liked both West and Haley equally. I think that the two complemented each other so well. Obviously all of the couples complemented each other well, but I just loved the push and pull of these two.

3) Worst part of this book?

I really expected just a tiny bit more of Rachel and Isiah. I know we didn’t get much about the other couples after they were done. But with this being West’s story I expected to see something of her, more than just a couple scenes. Call me selfish. I wanted more. I love her okay.

4) Favorite Quote?

“Don’t think of it as falling. Think of it as jumping- with me.”

“How is jumping better?”

“Falling happens. Jumping you choose.”

5) Was it what’s expected?

I wasn’t sure if this book would include a lot of the other couples or if it would just wrap up with their story. While I was hoping that it would include the other characters I was really happy that West and Hailey got their full story told. I’m really happy for the two of them.

 

Pickup

 

So I binged this entire series so hard. I can’t even begin to recommend it to everyone. I’ve already made some friends read it and I will probably push this series on everyone who enjoys books like these. I know that I need so many more.

Sondra

Q&A Review: Lady Renegades by Rachel Hawkins

Q&A

Written by: Rachel Hawkins
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Pages: 264, hardcover
Series: Rebel Belle, #3
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Book

Just as Harper Price starts coming to terms with her role as David Stark’s battle-ready Paladin, protector, and girlfriend—her world goes crazy all over again.

Overwhelmed by his Oracle powers, David flees Pine Grove and starts turning teenage girls into Paladins—and these young ladies seem to think that Harper is the enemy David needs protecting from.  Ordinarily, Harper would be able to fight off any Paladin who comes her way, but her powers have been dwindling since David left town…which means her life is on the line yet again.

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins brings the fun once again in the finale of this pitch-perfect romantic paranormal comedy series.

1) Best Part of this Book?

The fact that a large portion of it was an all-female road-trip, with three very different girls fighting evil together! I love the role that Harper’s relationships with Bee and Blythe played in the series, and how much we got to learn about Blythe. The humor in the series is, as always, on point.

2) Favorite character?

Blythe plays a bigger role in the book than she did in the previous one, and I appreciated every moment of her–her practical, ruthless thought process, her sass, the parallels between her and Harper, and the relationship they developed.

3) Worst part of this book?

The ending fell really, really flat for me. Pretty much the second they walked into the cave, I knew exactly what was going to happen. It was forced, and predictable, and I have never ever read a book where the particular trope the author used actually worked.

4) Favorite Quote?

“What’s a pretty thing like you want with a sword anyway?”
“She’s going to use it to castrate guys who ask stupid questions,” Blythe answered for me, her voice flat.

5) Was it what’s expected?

Yeah, pretty much. It was predictably, but fun and lady-centric and generally a fitting end to the series.

 

Pickup

If you’ve read the first two books, you’ll probably read this one anyway. But yes, this series is worth finishing.

 

Sondra

Q&A Review: District Ballet Company Series by Katherine Locke

Q&A

Written by: Katherine Locke
Release Date: April 13, 2015
Series: District Ballet Company

Book

Four years ago, a car accident ended Zedekiah Harrow’s ballet career and sent Philadelphia Ballet principal dancer Alyona Miller spinning toward the breakdown that suspended her own. What they lost on the side of the road that day can never be replaced, and grief is always harshest under a spotlight…

Now twenty-three, Zed teaches music and theatre at a private school in Washington, D.C. and regularly attends AA meetings to keep the pain at bay. Aly has returned to D.C. to live with her mother while trying to recover from the mental and physical breakdown that forced her to take a leave of absence from the ballet world, and her adoring fans.

When Zed and Aly run into each other in a coffee shop, it’s as if no time has passed at all. But without the buffer and escape of dance—and with so much lust, anger and heartbreak hanging between them—their renewed connection will either allow them to build the together they never had… or destroy the fragile recoveries they’ve only started to make.

 

1) Best Part of this Book?

I have three things to talk about here, and I’m not how to because they’re all intertwined: the writing, the love story, and the portrayal of mental illness.

When I say love story, I don’t just mean between Aly and Zed (though that too, they’re absolutely beautiful and electrifying and soul-shattering together) but between both characters and ballet. And this is where the gorgeous, lyrical writing comes in–the way Aly and Zed think about each other and about dance is powerful and brimming with emotion. During some of the dance numbers in the series, I could actually hear music in my head.

And then Aly has anxiety and an eating disorder, and Zed is a recovering alcoholic, and the portrayal of that is excellent as well. There are short chapters where Aly talks to her therapist throughout the books, and a lot of what she says completely mirrors what’s in my head at times. Also, I love that the series consistently treats mental illness not as something to be fixed, but as something to be managed.

2) Favorite character?

Aly has a special place in my heart, just because her issues with anxiety mirror my own so much. She also has very good taste in tea.

3) Worst part of this book?

The pacing was not great–particularly a quarter of the way into the second book, when Aly and Zed were rehashing the same issues over and over, which is true to real life but not the most interesting thing to read about. I was also very bored by the prequel, though maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it after the other two and not before.

4) Favorite Quote?

“There will be bad days. What if the bad days are too bad?”
“There were bad days before this, and we’ll handle any bad days to come. I promise. That’s what we do, Aly. We’re pretty good at weathering storms.”

5) Was it what’s Expected?

In terms of the general outline of the story, yes. In terms of the writing and its effect on me, definitely not. I ended up a lot more invested than I thought I would be.

 

Pickup

Yes! If you’re interested in ballet, or second-chance romance, or mental illness (and physical disability) representation, or writing that will make you Feel Things, you should definitely pick up this duology.

Sondra

Q&A Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Q&A

Written by: Katie McGarry
Release Date: November 26th 2013
Pages: 474, hardcover
Series: Pushing the Limits #3
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From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a romance forged in the fast lane

The girl with straight A’s and the perfect life—that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy family…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker—a guy she has no business even talking to. But after the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

The last thing Isaiah needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks. But when their shared love of street racing puts their lives in jeopardy, Isaiah and Rachel will have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

1) Best Part of this Book?

Oh dear…well… Out of all of the books this one is my favorite. I absolutely adored this couple. I loved Rachel, and I adored Isaiah. This couple just won me over, especially because I saw so much of myself in Rachel. She truly was the best part of this book. It’s rare I find a character that reminds me so much of myself. I just loved her okay.

2) Favorite character?

Whoops. I kinda just talked about that didn’t I? Rachel reminds me so much of myself, I mean minus the fact that I don’t know squat about cars. But I can appreciate cars, I can appreciate it a lot. But overall I just could’ve taken a lot more of her character, I could’ve taken more books about her too.

3) Worst part of this book?

Unlike Dare You To, the angst in this book felt more natural. I didn’t dislike anything really. I loved and adored this book so much that I need people to read it just so they can understand me as a person. Whoops this is supposed to be worst part of the book….

4) Favorite Quote?

“When I’m with you, even my past seems like a bad dream,” he says. “I’ve sat on this hill a hundred times, and all I used to see were lights that represented places where I wasn’t wanted, where I never belonged. Now, when you aren’t with me, I look east and know one of those lights represents you, and I don’t feel alone anymore.”

5) Was it what’s expected?

After how much I loved the first two books I didn’t think I could get a book that could top the other two, let alone find a book that could easily work its way up in my favorites. This one really just won me over heart and soul and I’m just really happy.

 

Pickup

You need this series in your life. If you enjoy contemporary novels with that great happy ending and great characters? Just trust me. Just go get this series and read it.

Sondra