ARC Review: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

ARC

Written by: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Pages: 368, hardcover
Series: The Fixer, #2
Add on GoodReads

 

Book

The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.

For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she’s about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.

LetsTalk

What. Even. I don’t even really know what to talk about with this book because I felt like I was strapped into a roller coaster without my permission and just shot into space because Lynn though it would be fun. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t. I mean it was an amazing book, I’m so entranced with how realistic Lynn is able to make her characters react to things. But overall I’m just sitting here with this book in my lap and staring at the pages like I expected there to be a whole lot more words. More pages.

Like, dear lord, let me at least breathe while I’m trying to read. I’m really quite sure I didn’t breathe for a very good long portion of this stupid book.

Didn'tWork

Well there was that one plot twist I’m really angry over, but I really understood why the character chose what they did, so I’ll let it slide.

The biggest thing I want to talk about in this review is the ending. While I would’ve been okay with the ending had this been a trilogy, as of right now, it’s not. This series is a duology, which means this is the final book. But the ending of the book sets up for more books, it doesn’t tie things up. Is this because there’s no tying things up in a world like The Fixer? I don’t know. I don’t know if Lynn expects to get a third book or what exactly her thought process was. But I will say this, I wasn’t happy with that being the ending to the series. Not at all. So many amazing ideas went into this book and I just feel so unfulfilled that this is the end to the series.

 

DidWork


I touched on the characters, but I want to talk about it more, I’ve been told that Lynn has a psychology degree, and while I don’t know personally if it’s true or not, I do know that she has an amazing way with characters. The characters react, and interact so realistically that I sometimes forget I’m reading someone’s fiction rather than an account of real life. I’m just so thrilled with everything in this novel.

I loved how we have a plot for the book, but it’s also a large amount of over arcing plot from the first book. We have dynamics and shifting allegiances and Holy Plot Twist, Batman! I don’t know how one mind can come up with so many amazing wonderful things. But I do know I’m gonna be picking up more of Lynn’s books.

Pickup


If you’ve not yet read the Fixer series then I do recommend it. But I also caution you that if you aren’t okay with very open endings, you might want to hold off until we see if we get a book three.

That all being said if you want to help try and get a book 3 then I say we band together and let the world know #WeWantTheFixer3

Sondra

Q&A Review: The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Q&A

Written by: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: July 7th 2015
Pages: 372, hardcover
Series: The Fixer, #1
Add on GoodReads

Book

This thriller YA is Scandal meets Veronica Mars.

Sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick has spent her entire life on her grandfather’s ranch. But when her estranged sister Ivy uproots her to D.C., Tess is thrown into a world that revolves around politics and power. She also starts at Hardwicke Academy, the D.C. school for the children of the rich and powerful, where she unwittingly becomes a fixer for the high school set, fixing teens’ problems the way her sister fixes their parents’ problems.

And when a conspiracy surfaces that involves the family member of one of Tess’s classmates, love triangles and unbelievable family secrets come to light and life gets even more interesting—and complicated—for Tess.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for this compelling teen drama with a political twist.

1) Best Part of this Book?

The fact that this book was absolutely NOTHING like I expected. My friend got me to read this series after her screaming text messages to me over The Long Game. But when I started The Fixer I was expecting a teenager who fell into “Fixing” friends problems, something that was simple and probably fun. What I wasn’t expecting was the book that I got. A fast paced, thrilling amazing experience that had me utterly guessing from page 10 until the very end.

2) Favorite character?

Gotta be Ivy. I related to her on a huge level, especially when we found out her whole backstory. I don’t want to get into spoilers but she was just a precious angel who I wanted to protect.

3) Worst part of this book?

The ship man. Or lack thereof. The groundwork was all there… BUT GIVE ME KISSING OR GIVE ME DEATH.

4) Favorite Quote?

“I’d tell you that you can’t stay mad forever,” Ivy commented, “but I’m pretty sure you’d take that as a challenge.”

5) Was it what’s Expected?

I really already talked about this but oh hell no. Such an amazing thrilling crazy ride and I don’t even know where to start with how much I loved and adored and just like wow. It was a total wow book. I couldn’t wait to dive right into the second book and see exactly where this goes.

 

Pickup

Absolutely! Give this one a try and see what you think of it! I was really surprised by it and honestly? I was glad to be so surprised.

Sondra

Q&A Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Q&A

Written by: Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 28th 2013
Pages: 456, hardcover
Series: Pushing the Limits, #4
Add on GoodReads

Book

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. “Dance with me, Beth.”

“No.” I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….

“I dare you…”

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….

1) Best Part of this Book?

Aside from the fact that Beth goes from a crazy person to someone who warms my heart and makes me smile? I think that’s probably a huge thing. I wasn’t a fan of Beth and I wasn’t sure how I would handle her book. I was absolutely surprised by how amazing Beth was, and absolutely blown away by her character development.

2) Favorite character?

As surprising as you might think it would be, it’s actually Ryan. Not Beth. She was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But Ryan is precious and I love him and I just want to hug him and his precious heart.

3) Worst part of this book?

This book seemed a little bit more angsty than the other McGarry books. Which isn’t a bad thing I didn’t mind angst, but this one had some seriously painful moments. Painful guys.

4) Favorite Quote?

“How many more of us are faking the facade? How many more of us are pretending to be something we’re not? Even better, how many of us will have the courage to be ourselves regardless of what others think?”

5) Was it what’s expected?

When I’m reviewing a series I might change up this one because when you’re reading a series you’re pretty good at what you’re gonna get. I knew that things were gonna get bad (Admittedly maybe not that bad) but it would all be okay at the end of the day.

PickupIf you haven’t picked up any of McGarry’s series then you should pick this one up. Because it really changed how I felt about Beth as a whole, which made me really happy.

Sondra

Q&A Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Q&A

Written by: Jeff Garvin
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 352, hardcover
Series: standalone
Add on GoodReads

Book

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

 

1) Best Part of this Book?

“The fact that it exists” is pretty much a given here–it’s about time YA books started featuring more nonbinary characters and exploring the complexity of gender.

That being said, I loved:

  • Riley’s blog entries, which could easily have felt like infodumps but didn’t, because Riley’s voice was so powerful throughout. 
  • the way Riley’s anxiety was portrayed–the fact that it didn’t magically go away at the end of the book but was something Riley learned to cope with better, Riley’s conversations with their therapists, the depiction of the anxiety medication’s effects.
  • Riley’s heartwarming friendships with Solo and Bec.

2) Favorite character?

Riley is very believable as a teenager who has been through a lot and is trying to figure out what to do next, who is fantastically snarky with great taste in music, who shows a mix of strength and vulnerability and grows so much.

3) Worst part of this book?

Can I say I’m jealous of the fact that Riley got five thousand followers in a week? Does that actually happen to people?

On a more serious note, Jeff Garvin made the decision not to reveal Riley’s assigned-at-birth sex, and I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it means readers will (hopefully) question why the want to know that information when that isn’t the gender Riley identifies with. On the other hand, someone’s assigned sex does influence how people treat them, and that contributes to who they are.

4) Favorite Quote?

“The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.”

5) Was it what’s Expected?

Honestly, it was. Other than Riley’s gender identity (which I haven’t seen many books feature), this was a pretty garden-variety coming out story, with both the good and the bad that this entails.

PickupI’d say yes!

Polina

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

 

BookReview

Written by: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Pages: 640, hardcover
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2
Add on GoodReads

Book
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

LetsTalk

I am going to veer off from our normal way of writing reviews for this one. I’m not gonna talk about what didn’t work and what did work, because this book…It’s just so much more than that. It’s been a long time since a book has worked its way into my very soul. But I’m here to tell you A Court of Mist and Fury is now printed on my soul.

I listened to this book on audio, at first it was because of the fact that I was cleaning, but then it simply became such a powerful way to just dive into this story that I couldn’t bring myself to read the physical book. I just would lay on the couch, and simply watch the ceiling and listen. This story was one that was so much more than I ever expected. I didn’t dive in for such a long time because I feared love triangles, and more problems like what Queen of Shadows had (Yes it was a great book, but it had problems, let’s be honest here).

At the start of the book we meet such a different person than we left in A Court of Thorns and Roses. She’s broken, she’s dealing with PTSD, she’s hurting. You want to cheer for her to break through these chains, but depression is so much more than that, and the way that Maas writes it? It crushed me, because it felt so real. It felt like I’d lived it all myself and sometimes I didn’t even see the way out.

While I know many have said that Tamlin changed drastically in this book, he really didn’t. As soon as I finished A Court of Mist and Fury, I downloaded A Court of Thorns and Roses audiobook to listen to. Mostly because I couldn’t just put Mist and Fury on my shelf and walk away. But as I listened to Thorns and Roses I realized Tamlin didn’t change at all, all of the possessive annoying traits were all here in this book. I as the reader and Feyre as the narrator both overlook them, blaming the fact that he is Fae, or High Lord. We both allow things to slip because of the moments when he is wonderful and loving and beautiful. But all of those abusive possessive moments? Oh they’re here. Now I roll my eyes so hard at him, it’s not even funny.

Rhysand in the first book is cold, calculating, but there’s this hint that maybe he’s something more. Maybe there’s something else under that High Lord’s mask. Mist and Fury takes his mask and throws it away. Rhys is so much more than I ever gave him credit for. I didn’t trust him anymore than Feyre did at the start of the book, and just like her he won me over.

I don’t feel like this book has a love triangle. I feel like there’s a linear love story, that gets distracted. But isn’t that how real life is? Sometimes you think you’re with the right guy only to realize you’re not? That guy that you love and trusted turns around and hurts you? The fact that Maas doesn’t shy away from things that are so realistic, and this time handles them so beautifully… Well to say I’d choose this series over Throne of Glass any day is almost an understatement.

The story told within these pages is a beautiful and romantic and amazing wonderful story. I don’t know how anyone could put something so amazing together into pages. But I do know that this series is now in my all time favorites. I am so glad that I got to read it. So so glad.

I need that third book though. I will say that. Because wow that ending. Because wow Maas can take a book a million places within one book. Because holy shit I don’t know where anything is going to go from here, but I can’t wait to get that book in my hands and see everything for myself.

Sondra

ARC Review: We Awaken by Calista Lynne

ARC

Written by: Calista Lynne
Release Date: July 14, 2016
Pages: 180, e-book
Series: standalone
Add on GoodReads

Thank you to Netgalley and Harmony Ink Press for the ARC!

BookVictoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.

But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.

 

LetsTalk

 

It’s going to be a bit difficult for me to review this book. I wish I could give it five stars and scream about it to everyone in my immediate vicinity, because it has so many things I love–beautiful prose, girl friendship, mysterious and unusual worldbuilding, and of course, f/f romance with well-written asexual representation. We Awaken had all the pieces I wanted to see, and I really wish it had gone through another round or two of editing–something to make the pieces come together more fluidly.

We Awaken is about Victoria Dinham, a dancer whose father recently died in a car accident and whose brother is in a coma. One night, she dreams about a beautiful girl who creates good dreams and claims to have a message from her brother. You can guess where the story goes from there. She falls in love, learns about asexuality, reconnects with her former best friend, and comes to terms with what happened to her family.

Ultimately, We Awaken was enjoyable, but left me feeling like something was missing. The romance was cute, and the asexual representation was amazing, but so much about the characters and the world could have been fleshed out and wasn’t. While I would still recommend this book, I feel that it did not live up to its potential.

 

Didn'tWork

 

I really wish all the characters had more depth. Victoria was a pretty well-developed character. Ashlinn had hints of things that made her interesting, but the narrative utilized her more as a love interest and a way for Victoria to learn about asexuality than as a character in her own right. Victoria’s family and friends are pretty much tropes (though her best friend, Ellie, was at least an enjoyable one).

Victoria and Ashlinn’s relationship, while adorable, was rushed and very much insta-love. How did they fall in love? What brought them together besides Victoria thinking Ashlinn was pretty and a couple of lines of flirting? Who knows?

The world was underdeveloped as well, and it made me grit my teeth in frustration because anything dream-related is fascinating to me. I wanted to know more about Ashlinn’s history, and about her counterpart who creates nightmares, and whether there are others like them. (Because really, Ashlinn is only one person, and unless something timey-wimey is going on, which the novel did not imply, there’s no way for her to visit everyone’s dreams every night). (I know that’s exactly the type of thing I need to suspend my disbelief on, but it bothered me). The ending, too, was very anti-climactic–very much a case of “let’s resolve that troublesome plot so they can cuddle!”)

 

DidWork

 

My favorite thing about the book was the portrayal of asexuality. While it felt a little info-dump-y at times, it was still great to see a character go through pretty much the same process I went through a couple of years ago. Both Victoria and Ashlinn are asexual, and one thing I appreciated was that they both experience asexuality differently–for example, Ashlinn likes kissing and Victoria doesn’t. The narrative makes it clear that there is no one way to be asexual–everyone’s experience is different. Victoria and Ashlinn’s relationship also exemplified how it was possible to be intimate without being sexual.

While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the dialogue (which I found extremely clunky and forced), the actual descriptive prose was beautiful. Victoria’s thought process, the running theme of permanence and lack thereof, and the images of the dreams Ashlinn creates were perfectly illustrated.

Because I always have a weakness for things like this, I loved Victoria reconnecting with her friend Ellie. They had a fun dynamic, and I liked that they were both good friends in some ways but lacking in others, and balanced each other out. Ellie’s reaction to Victoria being asexual–both the initial response and how it changed later–was also very realistically written.

 

Pickup

 

I had my problems with this book, but in the end, it’s an enjoyable, fluffy story that provides some much-needed asexual representation. Definitely give it a look if you have the chance.

Sondra

Book Review: On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

BookReview

Written by: Corinne Duyvis
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Pages: 455, hardcover
Series: standalone
Add on GoodReads

Book

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

LetsTalk

If you haven’t read a Corinne Duyvis book, I highly, highly recommend you start. Just like her first book Otherbound, On the Edge of Gone is captivating, complex, and intertwines the characters’ diverse identities with the plot in a meaningful way.

On the Edge of Gone takes place in the aftermath of a comet hitting the earth, and focuses on an autistic girl, Denise, trying to secure a place for herself and her family on a spaceship about to leave the planet. Like Denise, Corinne Duyvis is autistic, and the nuance she is able to add to her character makes this book a welcome change from numerous others where autistic characters are treated as tragedies, learning experiences, or problems to solve. As someone who has long suspected that I might be on the autistic spectrum, I very much appreciated her.

This is a story about survival, about family about the choice between a few individuals and the greater good, how we as a society decide who is valued and why these assumptions might not always be right. It’s a powerful, important, ultimately optimistic story and one of my favorite books of 2016.

Didn'tWork
Nothing, really, for me. It’s not a plot-heavy or fast-paced book, but I didn’t really need it to be those things.

DidWorkDenise is a wonderful character, and I emotionally connected to her right away. She’s smart and brave, and gets excited about cats and organizing information. Her autism is handled realistically, and, as I’ve said before, refreshingly. She struggles, and doubts herself, and gets overwhelmed, but she also comes up with good ideas that often succeed. Above all else, she is the heroine of her own story. The end of the book shows her starting to value herself more.

Just in general, the book is really diverse. In addition to being autistic, Denise is half-Surinamese, and the fact that she’s a biracial girl (as opposed to a white boy) makes it much more difficult for her to get an autism diagnosis. Her sister Iris is trans and bisexual, and there are plenty of secondary characters of different races and sexuality.

The apocalypse part of the book is amazing as well. First, the fact that it’s happen relatively close to now, and not two hundred years in the future, made it resonate so much more strongly because what if that happened during my lifetime? Second, Denise’s fight for survival is handled in a really complex way. Everyone wants their loved ones to live, and choosing the people who would be most useful in building a new world seems like a good idea–until you look at the people you’re leaving behind, who may not be “useful” (whatever that means) but still don’t deserve to die. Iris has this one line that I really loved: “Whether someone is useful only matters if you value people by their use.” (This may be a misquote, since I don’t have the book in front of me). Without giving away spoilers, the middle ground the book was able to find on this issue (at least in Denise’s situation) was a very satisfying solution.

Third, it’s one of the most optimistic apocalypse books I’ve read. Bad things happen (obviously) but the focus is on the power of people to survive and endure, on people banding together and helping each other survive painful situations. The ending filled me with hope for the characters and the world.

PickupAbsolutely! Corinne Duyvis’ voice is one you need to hear. (And if you enjoy this book, Duyvis has a short story called “And the Rest of Us Wait” in the Defying Doomsday anthology, which takes place in the same world.)

Sondra

ARC Review: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

ARC

Written by: Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: April 26th 2016
Pages: 420, hardcover
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, #2
Add on GoodReads

Book

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

LetsTalk

 

This was THE book I wanted from TLA. The one single book that I wanted more than any other. And it was only because it was one week before I could read it as it was published. But that one week was still so important to me because lord knew I needed it.

The Wrath and the Dawn was one of my top favorites from 2015, it blew me out of the water, especially as a debut. It wasn’t just the story either, it was everything and in every way that it all worked together to create this masterpiece. But then that ending happened. That cursed ending.

I already knew this was going to become one of my favorite series and I just couldn’t handle waiting to see more of it, so even if it was only three days early, lord I needed it three days early.

We’re also gonna ignore how late I am posting this review okay? Okay. Good. Y’all are the best readers ever.

 

Didn'tWork

I think that there was so much going on in this book, some of it seemed like it was handled so easily that there could’ve been more build up, but again I feel if there was more build up it would’ve lead to this being a trilogy….which really I wouldn’t have minded… But I just feel like some of the pacing could’ve been handled a little bit differently than it was.

DidWork

This damn OTP. Because that’s what these two are. Really. I have few true OTPs, and they fall into that category hard. I don’t know how to even express how hard I ship this couple. I cannot.

Both the Wrath and the Dawn, and now the Rose and the Dagger, are written with this amazingly elegant hand. I felt like I was submersed in the world. I could feel the story come alive around me and it was an experience reading the book, outside of the actual plot of the book.

Characters in this book man! Like c’mon. How can I start to talk here. They all grew and changed, and yet they stayed true to who they really were inside. They grew together and sometimes apart, but most times closer together and it just made me really happy.

Overall the book made me really happy okay? And I already know it’s gonna be one of those books that I reread and reread and reread and reread.

Pickup

The Wrath and the Dawn is one of my FAVORITE series. Period. So yes, yes go read this series and love it as much as I do.

Sondra

Q&A Review: We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Q&A

Written by: Shaun David Hutchinson
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Pages: 455, hardcover
Series: standalone
Add on GoodReads

Book

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.

Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.

What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

1) Best Part of this Book?

The characters are so vivid and well-drawn. Everyone, from Henry’s asshole brother to his science teacher, has hidden depth, and it makes the story all the richer and more layered. Henry asks everyone what they would do if the world was ending and they could prevent it, and their answers reveal so much about them. Because the character are nuanced, the relationships are as well, and there’s a balance between family, friendship, and romantic love, which I always appreciate.

2) Favorite character?

Henry. His voice is very believable–raw and painful, but also sometimes hilarious. Sometimes his headspace reminded me of mine during the worst parts of my high school years, and I read the book with my fingers crossed for him to make it through.

3) Worst part of this book?

It was hard for me to take the aliens seriously at first, to integrate their weirdness with the serious themes of the book. By the end, I didn’t really care. It wasn’t about the aliens.

4) Favorite Quote?

The universe may forget us, but our light will brighten the darkness for eons after we’ve departed this world. The universe may forget us, but it can’t forget us until we’re gone, and we’re still here, our futures still unwritten. We can choose to sit on our asses and wait for the end, or we can live right now. We can march to the edge of the void and scream in defiance. Yell out for all to hear that we do matter. That we are still here, living our absurd, bullshit lives, and nothing can take that away from us. Not rogue comets, not black holes, not the heat death of the universe. We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.

5) Was it what’s expected?

Definitely not. This is one of the most unique books I’ve read.

PickupThis book is gorgeous and complex and original, and I definitely recommend that you pick it up, especially if you enjoyed More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera.

Sondra

Q&A Review: Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Q&A

Written by: Tamora Pierce
Release Date: September 1st 1983
Pages: 391, hardcover
Series: Song of the Lioness #1
Add on GoodReads

Book

From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.

But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins – one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.

1) Best Part of this Book?

The ability to see where this book is going to go. This series is going to go really far and I can tell already and I’m so excited to follow Alanna and see where this series gets to go.

2) Favorite character?

Alanna was absolutely wonderful, she’s headstrong and powerful. She’s just got to learn to control herself a little bit and I can already see she’s going to do wonderful things.

3) Worst part of this book?

I understand that it was both Middle Grade, and published before I was born, back when YA and MG weren’t what they are today, but, I wish that there had been just a bit more substinance to the book. It was good, really but it didn’t have a lot of power behind the book.

4) Favorite Quote?

“I said I fell down.”

“Ah. The ground bloodied your nose, split yer lip, and punched ye in th’ eye, all at once.”

5) Was it what’s Expected?

I don’t know? Because I don’t know what I expected going into this book. I had an open mind, an open heart, and open arms. I was excited to see what this book would give me, so I can’t really say what I was expecting one way or the other

Pickup

I think that if you’re willing to dive into the world of Tamora Pierce, that you’ll really enjoy this one. I do think that it’s something totally worth you trying out.

Sondra