Infinity Son: Review

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for a chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

So, you’d think my love of Adam Silvera would excuse a little bit of the shortcomings of this book, but alas.

Brighton and Emil grew up in a world protected by Spell Walkers-superheroes who guard the people against spectors and other baddies. All his life, Brighton wished to become a celestial and join the ongoing war. But instead of Brighton, it was Emil who suddenly came into power after a fight on a train. But even though it was his brother now in the heart of the fray, Brighton still did his part with his popular social media accounts where he tried to paint the Spellwalkers as the good guys most people don’t see them as.

This started as a solid book. Two brothers, tight as my pants after a big dinner, and some magical folk with crazy powers, phoenixes, hydrae…I mean, come on. But probably about a quarter in I began to drop slowly off that high, and I just felt kind of BLAH. I got past much of the Steelheart vibes, and the lack of character personalities, and hoped the plot would make up for it. It did not.

Don’t get me wrong, I have loved ALL of Adam’s books. They gut-punched me, had me skipping meals to keep on reading, and broke my bank account for different editions (Thank you Book Depository) This one lacked the heart I’m used to in his books. It felt empty, and a tad cookie cutter for my taste.

I hated that I didn’t fall in love with this book as much as I planned to. My expectations might have been too high. It was a decent read, but certainly not mind-blowing as the cover suggests.

Full Disclosure: Review

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

I was initially drawn to this book because the premise is not one I have read before. Therefore, I was intrigued. I was surprised to read it through and discover that it wasn’t your typical “dying teen girl” novel. Not at all.

This book centers around Simone, who is an HIV positive teenager, who navigates high school, her sexuality, and dating while trying to keep her condition a secret. She’s a first-time theater director for her school’s performance of RENT and a musical buff. When she meets Miles, she enters the world of dating, all while dodging a mysterious person who threatens to out her condition if she doesn’t stop seeing Miles. With gay dads, a broken-ish family life, that with being adopted and a person of color, she still powers through life. Her secret could be exposed, but is that something good or something bad?

I loved Simone’s voice. As someone with limited education about HIV, and musicals, I have to say I learned a few things from reading this. Simone takes her health seriously, and she protects herself at all costs, and I think that is something admirable. She is a good example for teens reading this story. The plot moved smoothly, and all the characters, side, and main were distinct.

Some of the things that irked me, such as the eye-rolling, went away quickly when I reminded myself that I am reading about teenagers. What do you expect? Also, some plot points needed expanding on. The book could have had a higher word count, and I would have been OK with it if it solved these minor things.

I didn’t know until I started to write this review and I researched the author, that Camryn is only a teen, which hypes me up so much about this book. One, because she is young, but she is so talented, and two, that I know she is going to be around for a long time and I am excited to read everything she has to offer the world.

Eight Will Fall: Review

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

Contrary to what many of you are posting, this book has only one POV with Larkin. It is written in the third person.

Overview:

EIGHT WILL FALL follows Larkin who, as an Empath, is suppressed by the queen of her kingdom, along with others like her. She and her brother are forced to work the mines to survive. Larkin has a bit of a temper (for good reason) and one day she uses magic against an unfair shopkeeper. She and her brother are arrested and thrown into prison. Queen Melay then makes it known that she is choosing seven inmates (and a guide) to go down into the mines and see if the rumors of a returned dark lord are true or not. Each chosen Empath have a family member held back as leverage, thus making their choice an easy one. Once down in the caves, they encounter terrifying creatures, long-dead cultists, and the truth about themselves and how far they will go to save the ones they love and bring justice to their kingdom.

What I liked:

I loved the world-building in this story. It was fresh and not so complicated that it was hard to follow. I was sucked right in. The creep factor hit me like a brick wall in a WHOA sort of way as I wasn’t expecting it. BUT I love gore done right, and this was done right. I felt like I was in the movie The Descent, which terrified me and I watched, like, five times, because I’m a sucker for punishment.

The magic system was cool. I don’t remember many books with magic like this.

What I didn’t like:

Hmmmm. Not much, but maybe that I didn’t truly connect with all the characters as much as I hoped. That is what knocked it down a star, but honestly, it didn’t affect the story as a whole. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Read if you like:

Claustrophobic atmospheres
Thrill rides
A strong heroine
Good vs Evil
Stand-alone books (as far as I know)

A Heart so Fierce and Broken: Review

Thank you to Edelweiss for having the glitch of the century and allowing me to yank this book to download for my own greedy hands.

**THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS. Sort of. **

A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY was one of my favorite books of 2019. I couldn’t put that book down and when I was done, I kept walking by my bookshelf admiring it. It gave us a great protagonist with Harper, a complicated king in Rhen, and a broody man of Grey. It had everything. Unfortunately, this one did not live up to the first book.

Before you get all, this-is-not-the-first-it’s-a-sequel-and-doesn’t-have-to-be-the-same, hear me out. The book opens with Harper’s POV, and that is all we get out of her. Whomp whomp. Then we get to Grey and I happy squeal. But Grey’s character seemed off. He was smiling and talkative, and didn’t seem like the Grey we knew and loved. Next, we have a new character in Lia Mara, daughter of the Shallow queen whom we met in the first book. She’s OK, I guess. So, the whole novel is Lia and Grey. No Rhen, (until the very end) and no Harper save for the opening chapter.

OK, so the story follows Grey in his attempt to thwart Emberfall from knowing he’s the rightful heir. Lia is there to show us that her mother is as cruel as we thought, and along with Jacob (Harper’s bro), Noah (Jake’s boyfriend), and a new character Tycho, they journey to make alliances. All the while, falling love, being angsty, and mostly depressed.

I’ll go into what bothered me most, besides Grey’s character 360. Harper. She stood by while some horrible things happened. SHE STOOD BY. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you,” is what she says. I read that as, “I’m sorry I DIDN’T help you.” As strong as a character as she was, I wanted more out of her, and her supposed love for Rhen felt so…wrong. I kind of hate her now.

That brings me to Rhen AND WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU? He wasn’t my favorite, to begin with, but he took my dislike to a whole new level. So, I hate him too.

Without Harper or Rhen (and how boring Grey became) the story dragged on and on. Lia Mara was a yawn. The only redeeming character was probably the human-like creature who accompanies them on their journey. The story lost its heart, and it lost its direction. I was waiting for the fierceness, but all of it fell flat. I’m pretty sure the next book will answer a lot of questions and make me feel better about the things that happened, but until then I shall scream like a spoiled child who’s ice-cream cone just fell onto the pavement.

Resurrection Girls: Review

Do you know the feeling when your world goes off of its axis? Things don’t feel right. The sky doesn’t look as blue. People talking sounds like it’s muffled underwater. The wind is all wrong. That is how I felt after reading this book. I felt destroyed.

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

This book seeps in grief. It follows Olivia and her parents three years after the accidental drowning of her three-year-old brother. We see them coping in their ways, her mother keeps herself drugged enough to numb the pain, and her father is just…absent. When a new neighbor moves in across the street, Olivia begins to come out of the cave she’s banished herself to. The new neighbors consist of only women, a daughter her age, a mother, and an elderly blind grandmother. Olivia is drawn to Kara and her outgoing ways that ultimately reunite Olivia with her former best friend, whom she distanced herself form after Robby’s death.

Slowly, Olivia begins to feel alive, more than she has in years. In this journey, we find out what happened to Robby and the part that Olivia played in it. This is where the book goes from heart-breaking to completely obliterating. Olivia blames herself. Her mother once blamed her. In Kara, she sees the Olivia she used to be. Even when Kara reveals her unusual hobby of writing death row inmates. Eventually, things come to a crescendo and everyone begins to realize to take a step back and care for the living, and not dwelling on those who were gone.

This book hit me particularly hard because I have lost not one, not two, but three pregnancies. I could feel the grief in Ava’s words, and as I read, my mind kept going to my now four-year-old miracle child and how…oh I don’t even want to think about it anymore. I will die.

Anyhow, this book navigates the stages of grief and how Olivia and her family needed each other to get through it. The supernatural aspect of Kara and her family drew me in. Honestly, I thought it was strange at first,but quickly realized how well it fit into the topic of death and new life.

This book is unlike anything I have ever read. And it breaks me to know the author has also dealt with child loss. I hope she finds sunshine in the darkness. It’s there, and sometimes it takes longer to see it. But it’s there.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back: Review

Thank you to Netgalley who approved the e-arc the same day I received my Goodreads win of the same book. All comments are my own.

I am going to start this review by saying how disappointing this book was. It did not make the impact I was expecting it to given the author’s debut. This book was not fun. It was not fast-paced. It was not interesting. It was missing the heart that SINTD had-the relationships that made me fell in love with it. Most of it dragged, and I slogged through the ending with all the gusto of me getting up in the mornings. That is to say, sluggish and swearing at the gods as to why this was happening.

This story takes place ten years after the events of SKY IN THE DEEP, but do not directly coincide with that book so much. Fiske’s younger brother, Halvard has center stage, as well as a new heroine named Tova who is a soothsayer in a way. She and Halvard are part of two warring clans. Honestly, that is all I got out of it. There were no emotional ties to either character. I feel personally attacked at how pumped I was to get not only one, but two copies of this and feel as let down as I am.

The major things were lack of world-building, lack of character-building, and lack of story-line. The romance fell flat. So, in other words, there was nothing keeping me from talking good about this book. Nothing stood out. Mostly, I wanted it over so seeing as it was short, that was one plus to it all.

The Lady Rogue: Review

Huge thanks to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

This book was everything I was looking for, which is to say I was looking for a sassy protagonist, a sexy Irish lad, and an Indiana Jones-like adventure. I sure got it.

Theo’s dad is a treasure hunter who suddenly finds himself wrapped up in a mystery and goes missing. Along with the boy named Huck who broke her heart years before and a journal, Theo sets out to find her father, as well as crack the secrets of a ring, reportedly worn by none other than Vlad the Impaler. Or Dracula for you simpletons. What starts as a simple task, their journey takes them deeper and deeper into some shady and dangerous stuff. All while running from a weirdo with a wolf and dodging feelings, Theo and Huck take their travels through Romania and into some creepy places to find both the ring and Theo’s dad.

So, when I said this book was like Indiana Jones, it WAS like Indiana Jones, but for the YA crowd so I was here for it. I mean, I was there before the line even formed. We got an angsty teen and the boy who left her, for reasons we come to know, who have to team up together. I mean, this is GOLD. We’ve got train rides, and boat rides, and camping, and lots of hiding. We have protagonists who bounce dialogue off each other like it’s nothing. I loved it all.

Theo was an unapologetic go-getter; she likes what she likes and she finds a way to get what she doesn’t. Huck was also adorable. They have a tumultuous history which adds to the tension. I probably would have liked a little more about their history as it did seem a little vague, but that wasn’t a deal breaker. I would have liked more of a character arc for both of them, especially Huck. One bug that I kept having to swat was the history with these two and why Huck had left Theo before. For some reason, it was sort of strange seeing as they had lived together and decided to take their relationship a step further, which resulted in Huck’s banishment from the household. There’s some immaturity in the situation, which this is a book about teens, so it’s whatever.

The treasure hunting had a Da Vinci code feel to it, and Bennet did take liberties with some aspects of Vlad The Impaler history, but that was all good.

What I didn’t feel like I was completely sold on was the ending. I felt like Theo’s dad was glossed over a bit, even though he was the main reason (as well as the ring of course) for the journey. I wanted him to have a bigger part. I wanted Huck to hash it out with what her father had done to him as well as to Theo, and I felt it was glossed over a bit. Maybe I’m asking for too much. I don’t know…

Other than those minor issues, I loved reading this book. I love European settings, funny banter, and romance so I give this book 4/5.

Scars like Wings: review

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a chance to review this book ahead of its release date.

So, sometimes there are books that you may think, well, I just can’t relate to that. But books are not just for you to relate to personally. They are for you to open your eyes to others and what they might be going through. They teach you empathy and how to switch your perception of what you only see on the outside. This book is one of those that I digested in such a way.

SCARS LIKE WINGS follows Ava, a year later after a horrific house fire that killed her parents and left her burned on 60% of her body. She lives with her aunt and uncle as she navigates life feeling lost and hideous. She makes a deal with Cora, her aunt, and attempts to go back to school for a sense of normalcy. Ava knows her life is no longer normal, and the stares and whispers about her appearance do not sneak by but are amplified in her already fragile mind.

She meets a girl named Piper, who’s recovering from a car accident and together, along with a boy named Asad, they form bonds that seem unbreakable, but are just as splintered. Piper may push Ava to become more confident, but it can only go so far. Ava realizes the trauma that Piper is going through behind closed doors and learns to look past her problems. Behind the backdrop of a theater group and secrets, she must come to terms with; Ava must find a way to break free of her scars.

I finished this book in less than a day. The characters and their journies were so heartbreaking. Having scars of my own (car accident, thyroid surgery, throwing my arm through a window), I felt a little bit what Ava was going through. People who ask about the scars on my face as a child and when we’re children we don’t know how to process it. We sink into ourselves, feel ashamed, or just get angry. These feelings are normal and are some of the things Ava goes through. What I learned as I grew, is what Ava learns in this book, is that you are not your scars and that you can rise above the stares and the questions and comes to terms with your past because scars, unseen or not, are there to stay. It’s what you do with them that defines you.

I cannot wait to see what else Erin Stewart has in store. I cannot believe this is a debut because it is just phenomenal!. Congrats on a fantastic book. I hope teachers and librarians stock this book and use it as required reading.

Expected publication is October 2019 from Delacorte

Wild and Crooked: Review

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

WILD AND CROOKED, like the last book I read of Leah’s WHEN LIGHT LEFT US, was stunning. I went in thinking one thing and getting another. I love books like that. It’s like reaching into a Halloween bucket of candy and coming out with the peanut butter cup prize.

This story follows three POV’s, but mainly the focus is on two. Gus, who has cerebral palsy, and Kayln, who is the daughter of a murderer. The two kids strike up a nonconventional friendship which leads them down a path of self-discovery and solving the mystery of a decades-long murder cover-up.

The first half of the book seemed very much almost a love story but not. I caught on pretty quickly what was happening. There were tense moments where some secrets threatened to spill, and when they did, it was a like a bomb exploded. I was biting my lip as I was reading, on edge. The second half took a bit of a detour and focused more on the past and how to right the wrongs of their families and town.

I loved the characters. Every one of them. We have some serious queer reps, as well as mental and physical illnesses that you think would impede out heroes, but it only makes them stronger in the long run. Leah Thomas has a way with her characters that puts me in awe. Her talent is flawless. She weaves stories through complicated narratives with ease. She gives us a glimpse into the lives of flawed and fierce teens who lean on each for support.

The platonic queer friendships are something rare in YA books, so this book was refreshing. The murder mystery reminded me a lot of Making a Murderer and had me hooked from the first chapter.

I can’t describe how much I love Leah Thomas and all of her novels. If you haven’t read WHEN LIGHT LEFT US or her earlier works, do so, and add this one to your WANT TO READ. You won’t be disappointed.

Werewolves, and vampires, and bears, OH MY!

Featured

THE entertainment world goes through phases all the time, but one that seems to have always stuck around in some form has been the supernatural.

Vampires were hot some ten years ago with YA books like TWILIGHT and VAMPIRE ACADEMY and VAMPIRE DIARIES which brought them to a much younger audience than that of books like INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE or movies like BLADE and shows like TRUE BLOOD. It seemed for a time that we were saturated in them. But the supernatural elements of vampires, werewolves, and ghouls and goblins never really disappear. They just lay low for a while.

Sometime last year I saw a post on Twitter’s #mswl (manuscript wishlist) where agents were asking for vampire novels, and the internet went wild. To sum up the tweets, vampires need a comeback. Not long after that there were calls for witches and werewolves and folks, I am HERE FOR IT.

When Renée Ahdieh announced her new YA title, THE BEAUTIFUL, fans went wild. Not long after that, fellow best-selling author, Jay Kristoff announced his own, EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE. Olivia Wildenstein released her YA werewolf novel, PACK OF BLOOD AND LIES in April (if you haven’t picked that one up, do it NOW!) with the sequel releasing soon.

Witches never seem to go away, and authors keep coming up with brand new ways to portray them. SERPENT and DOVE by SHELBY MAHURIN is one that is releasing this year that comes to mind. Also, THE BLOOD HEIR by Amelie Zao.

But where are my werewolves? SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater had a good long run with her Mercy Falls series, NIGHTSHADE, and Patricia Briggs with her Mercy Thompson series and Alpha and Omega dominate the NA crowd. So, where are they in the YA world?

With UNSPOKEN, I did not initially intend it to be a shifter novel. But, as a pantser, I let the ideas flow as I write and never truly plan ahead of time. So, when the story took hold and formed, I found myself face to face with a sort of werewolf story-line that, after much research, shifted (no pun intended) into something much much more than the usual trope.

I have always had an obsession with wolves. They peek into my stories in subtle ways and, in the case of UNSPOKEN, massive ways. I once wrote a book when I was younger called The Leader of the Pack, which was essentially The Lion King with wolves. After that, I wrote another about a princess and her wolf guardian. After UNSPOKEN, I found myself making the wolf a central, but ambiguous character in my King Arthur retelling IRON to LACE (unpublished and under revision currently) and a spooky Red Riding Hood retelling, EVERY BROKEN THING (still underway)

Wolves are not going anywhere in my writing. But stick around because I promise you they will not get boring.

The Gwylis in UNSPOKEN is taken from Welsh mythology and, like the werewolves of legend that you know, they are cursed. But this curse they did to themselves by making a pact with demons for power to overcome their enemies. So, ultimately, what we have is both a curse and a gift. I twisted up what people knew and made it my own. If you want wolves, I have wolves: killer ones, good ones, and ones with serious bad attitudes with book-boyfriend hair.

That all being said, I’d like to present the cover:

Isn’t it gorgeous????!!! The team at PARLIAMENT HOUSE PRESS brought the goods! What we see a mashup of the two worlds that our protagonist, Izzy, must choose between; the castle she will inherit or the wilds of the unknown.

Unspoken is up on Goodreads! Add it to your WANT TO READ and any lists of your choosing! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41180912-unspoken

I would love to hear your thoughts and questions. I’m around any time so connect with me here, or Insta, Twitter, Goodreads, anywhere!

The wolves are coming. Shhhhhhh.