ARC Book Review: Invictus

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Synopsis:

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time traveler from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in ancient Rome, Far’s very existence defies the laws of nature. All he’s ever wanted was to explore history for himself, but after failing his entrance exam into the government program, Far will have to settle for a position on the black market-captaining a time-traveling crew to steal valuables from the past.
During a routine heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl named Eliot who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Eliot has secrets-big ones-that will affect Far’s life from beginning to end. Armed with the knowledge that history is not as steady as it seems, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to set things right before the clock runs out.

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Review

*I won a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from NOVL and  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 26, 2017.*

This book was described as Doctor Who meets Guardians of the Galaxy, but since I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen one episode of Doctor Who that didn’t mean much to me. After reading this novel, I’d say this book is more of Six of Crows but with time travel. In other words, I loved it.

The novel started a little slow, but once Farway got his crew together and they were living on the Invictus, their time travelling ship, things got very exciting very fast. The only thing that threw me off a little bit was that we don’t see the beginnings of the crew’s adventures through time. Instead, the story jumps ahead and when we first see the crew on the Invictus they’ve already been jumping around time for about a year.

However, the time jump (pun intended) worked for me because I liked that Far, Priya, Imogen, and Gram, along with my favorite red panda, Saffron, were already a kind of family by the time the drama really begins. And that drama comes in the form of the mysterious Elliot.

To be honest, I didn’t like Elliot at first. Her non-answers annoyed me and I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why is she being so difficult?” Of course, there’s a reason, which you’ll just have to read and discover. But, in my opinion, I understood where she was coming from and in the end she became one of my favorite characters. Although, to be honest, I loved all the characters in this story.

Far is the cocky, sassy character, who’s soft spot for Priya made him endearing and quite adorable. Priya, my queen medic, was awesome and I wish she could make me some chai tea in real life. I’m sure her’s is better than what I’ve been getting at Starbucks. I absolutely loved Imogen and the fact that she changes her hair color every day. She’s so cute and funny, and we both share a love of gelato. And then we have my favorite nerd, Gram. His obsession with Rubik’s cubes and Tetris was so cute to me, and I liked that because he’s black, his views about travelling through time were different than those of his crew members. I thought that was a pretty great perspective to this story.

Overall, this book was filled with the perfect amount of adventure, romance, diversity, and funny moments, and I just couldn’t put it down. Although the ending to this story was absolutely perfect, I also wouldn’t mind a sequel. I just love these characters so much. Definitely make sure to grab a copy of this book when it comes out.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: I Hate Everyone But You

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Synopsis:

Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
Sincerely,
Ava Helmer
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
Stop crying.
G

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

I Hate Everyone But You, the debut novel by two emerging major talents in YA, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, is a story about new beginnings, love and heartbreak, and ultimately about the power of friendship.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 5, 2017.*

Going into this novel I didn’t really know what it was about. I just love the authors, Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, who started out at BuzzFeed before starting their own YouTube channel, Just Between Us. When I heard they wrote a YA novel together I knew I had to read it and was very excited to receive an eARC copy. I was even more excited when I realized this book is told in emails and texts, my favorite form of story telling (I love dialogue more than plot, fyi!).

I Hate Everyone But You, follows two best friends, Ava and Gen, who are starting their first year of college. While Ava is staying close to home by going to the University of Southern California, Gen is moving to the east coast to attend Emerson. Thus, the emails and texts are how they keep in touch, and I absolutely loved their friendship.

Ava has anxiety and is constantly battling that. Even though she’s still close to home she’s moved far enough where she must find a new therapist that can help her, and that’s sometimes easier said than done. Moreover, because of her anxiety and her personality in general, she struggles to make new friends and live in a world without Gen.

Differently, Gen is diving head first into her new life at Emerson. She’s writing for the school newspaper and aiming for a staff writer position, and her TA, Charlotte, seems eager to be her mentor. Additionally, Gen is exploring her sexuality in a way that surprises Ava.

While it’s clear Ava and Gen love each other, they also fight and have disagreements about a lot of different things. They discuss mental health, gender, sexuality, and more. They also challenge each other. Gen constantly corrects Ava, who struggles to understand that sexuality is fluid, and Gen has to come to terms with the fact that Ava will sometimes say things that Gen really needs to hear, even if she doesn’t like it.

Possibly my favorite thing about this novel is that Ava is clearly Allison and Gen is obviously Gaby, and the fact that the novel didn’t try to hide from that, but instead joked about it. BuzzFeed is mentioned as is their YouTube series, and Gen even calls Ava an “Allison,” at one point. I really liked that the authors weren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves.

Overall, I thought this was a great read and shows a realistic friendship, while also covering very real topics that aren’t talked about enough. Even if you’re not a fan of Allison and Gaby (though you really should be), you should definitely pick up this book.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“Never blame yourself for the physical failings of a man. Their infrastructure is designed for malfunction.”

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ARC Book Review: Genuine Fraud

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Synopsis:

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book at BookCon. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on September 5, 2017.*

The only book I’d ever read by E. Lockhart was How to Be Bad, which she cowrote with two authors. I also didn’t enjoy it. However, I’ve heard mostly good things about We Were Liars so when I had the opportunity to snag an ARC of her newest novel and get it signed, I decided to go for it. Thankfully, I ended up really enjoying Genuine Fraud.

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The novel is told in the third person and follows Jule, but the chapters go backwards in time. I don’t want to spoil anything because half the fun of this novel is the mystery, so I won’t go too much into the plot. What I will say is I really enjoyed the twists in this novel and was kind of surprised by a lot of what happened. Additionally, I really liked the main character, Jule. She’s definitely an antihero who sometimes does bad things, but I still liked her anyway.

What I really loved about this story was learning more about Jule and her friendship with Imogen. Since the story works backwards, it was interesting to see how everything came to be at the beginning of the novel. Moreover, I really liked that while the novel answered most of my questions, I was still left with questions by the end of the story. Usually, I don’t like that kind of thing, but I really liked how it added to the mystery and left me still questioning what was true in Jule’s story and what was not.

Overall, I highly recommend buying this book when it’s released, because if you’re like me, you’re going to want to reread it from back to front once you’re done.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“[Jule] believed that the best way to avoid having your heart broken was to pretend you don’t have one.”

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ARC Book Review: Wonder Woman: Warbringer

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Synopsis:

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book at BookCon. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on August 29, 2017.*

If I’m being totally honest, I didn’t really have any interest in this book. If Leigh Bardugo didn’t write it, I probably wouldn’t have read it. I’ve never really been a big fan of Wonder Woman and still haven’t seen the new movie. I don’t know why, I just never got into her story and therefore didn’t really know much about her.

However, I decided to finally give this book a read because I’ve only seen good reviews of it thus far and I love the Six of Crows duology by Bardugo. Though this book started out slow, I ended up really enjoying it and couldn’t put it down.

The novel begins with Diana, who, if you are even less familiar with Wonder Woman than I am, will one day become Wonder Woman. Now, though, she’s the Princess of the Amazons, trying to prove herself to her sisters. Unlike all the other Amazons, Diana was created by her mother, Hippolyta, with the help of the gods. She was never mortal, like the other Amazons, and has never seen war, a man, or the human world in general.

That is until a boat crashes near Diana’s home, Themyscira, with Alia on it. Alia is a mortal human, but she’s also a Warbringer, meaning she’s a descendant of Helen of Troy. Alia’s power will bring an age of war so great that it will even reach Themyscira, a land of peace. That is, unless Alia and Diana can team up to stop it.

Diana learns what she must do to bring the age of Warbringers to an end, but of course it’s not something simple, and it leads Diana and Alia to the mortal lands, which led to a lot of action and adventure, but also some hilarity. Because Dianna has never been anywhere besides Themyscira, there was a lot she didn’t understand about the world, like cellphones or the fact that to “kick someone’s ass” didn’t mean you literally kick them in the ass.

I also liked that Alia is half-black and this novel looks at issues of race and how that shaped who Alia, and her older brother, Jason, were. The novel had a lot of diversity actually, with Alia’s best friend, Nim, being Indian and queer, and Jason’s best friend, Theo, also being a person of color.

Warbringer also had some twists that really surprised me, which I totally loved. I like being caught off guard and this book did that for me. There were also little bits of romance, which were just enough that I liked it, but it didn’t take away from the story at all.

Overall, I definitely recommend giving this book a read when it comes out. Even if you’re not all that familiar with Wonder Woman, like me, you can definitely still enjoy this novel. And if you love Wonder Woman, I think you’ll definitely like this novel.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“It’s the people who never learn the word impossible who make history, because they’re the ones who keep trying.”

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ARC Book Review: Lucky in Love

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Synopsis:

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Scholastic via Edelweiss. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on July 25, 2017.*

Kasie West has become my go to author for YA contemporary romance novels. Her books are always so cute, fun, and quick to read, and Lucky in Love was no exception. This novel is told in the first person point of view of Maddie, a high school senior who’s very focused on school. She’s so focused that she and her best friends, Blair and Elise, have a pact that they’re not allowed to date in high school.

Maddie believes nothing comes easy and you have to work hard for what you want, which is why she’s not interested in entering the lottery at first. However, when her friends bail on her birthday party Maddie decides to spend the rest of her money on a lottery ticket and surprisingly she actually wins.

Suddenly, her life goes from kind of boring to very exciting. Everyone wants to be her friend and every one wants her money. Her friends and family start acting differently and Maddie soon questions who she can and can’t trust. Except for Seth, her cute coworker at the zoo. Seth was grounded when the news of Maddie’s lottery win broke and rather than tell him about it, Maddie likes that there’s someone in her life who presumably doesn’t know about her lottery win, so she keeps it to herself.

My favorite part of this book was definitely Seth. First, I loved that he’s Vietnamese American. As far as I can tell this is the first time the love interest has been a person of color in West’s novels and I thought that was great, especially because Seth opened up to Maddie about what it’s like to be Asian in America. There were multiple points where he and Maddie had open conversations about race and I really liked that a lot because while it wasn’t the main topic of the book, West also didn’t shy away from it.

I also really liked Maddie as a character. Though I was frustrated that she wasn’t handling her new wealth very responsibly I also acknowledged the fact that she was 18 and truthfully she did win $50 million ($30 million once you take out the taxes). It wasn’t like she was actually going to use up all her money but it still stressed me out every time she bought something extravagant, especially because it was so out of character for her. Overall though, I was more upset with her parents for not stepping in when they saw how much she was spending.

That small frustration aside, I really enjoyed this novel. It was a quick read and I loved Seth from the moment he was first introduced. I highly recommend picking up Lucky in Love once it hits stores. It’s definitely worth a read.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“Magic cannot be explained. It can only be experienced.”

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ARC Book Review: Words in Deep Blue

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Synopsis:

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released today.*

After reading a lot of fantasy lately, I was in the mood for a contemporary and Words in Deep Blue was the perfect choice. It’s a short contemporary romance told in the alternating points of views of former best friends Henry and Rachel. Right before Rachel was moving away she wrote Henry a love letter telling him, once and for all, how she felt about him. She put it in the Letter Library in his family’s bookshop, and this honestly sounds the coolest place ever.

In the Letter Library, you can’t take the books out and people write notes in the books or highlight their favorite parts and then put the books back. They also, of course, leave letters inside the books for others to read, which is what Rachel did on that fateful night.

Fast forward to a few years later and Rachel is totally over Henry because not only did he never respond to the letter but he didn’t even acknowledge it’s existence. So now, when Rachel returns to town, after the death of her younger brother, Cal, she’s not exactly excited to see Henry. Similarly, Henry, who feels Rachel just ditched him once she moved away, isn’t all that excited to see her either.

However, once Rachel and Henry start talking again, mainly thanks to their mutual friend, Lola, and the fact that they have to work together, their friendship begins to pick back up right where they left off. As Rachel continues to struggle with her grief over her brother’s death and Henry contemplates the end of his relationship with Amy, who he believes is the love his life, the two begin to lean on each other in a totally adorable, made-me-swoon kind of way.

Besides getting Henry and Rachel’s POVs, the books is also interspersed with letters from the Letter Library. These letters are between various people but mostly their the letters between George, Henry’s little sister, and a mystery guy named Pytheas; Rachel and Henry; and Henry’s parents. I thought these letters were really cute and a nice addition to the book, especially with the added mystery of Pytheas, though I figured it out pretty early on.

There were definitely times throughout the novel where I wanted to shake Rachel and tell her to stop acting so stupid but I gave her a pass because she’s grieving and besides those few moments I really enjoyed the novel. My only other issue, which is super small, was the random letter from the author in the book. I liked the idea behind it (that the book is kind of like a book in the Letter Library and this was her letter to the readers) but it appeared so abruptly in the novel that it totally took me out of the story.

At first I was confused by it and then I realized what it was and then I had to get back into the story after I read it. It just seemed very strange to me, though I did like the letter itself. Maybe if it came at the beginning of the book or at the very end it would’ve been fine but happening in the middle of the story just didn’t feel right.

Overall though, I really did like this book. If you’re looking for a cute and quick contemporary romance, this book is for you.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“People are not only their bodies. And if there is no hope of saving the things we love in their original form, we must save them however we can.”

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ARC Book Review: Flame in the Mist

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Synopsis:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 16, 2017.*

I didn’t know this was a Mulan retelling until someone on Instagram said it was and that made me feel so much better because my first thought while reading was, “Is this supposed to be like Mulan or are the similarities just an unfortunate coincidence?” Once I knew it was a retelling I was more comfortable with the similarities between the plots and I also liked how much Renée Ahdieh also changed it for her own story.

The first noticeable difference is this novel takes place in feudal Japan not Han China. However, there’s also a lot of other differences. I’d say the only real similarities is that Mariko disguises herself as a man and she develops romantic feelings for one of the men she ends up working alongside. Otherwise the stories are actually very different.

Mariko ends up disguising herself as a means of survival. Walking around in the jungle is never a good idea. Walking around in the jungle as a woman is an even a worse idea. It’s unfortunate but it’s also true. So Mariko takes on a new (male) identity and heads on a mission to find the Black Clan who she believes is responsible for trying to kill her and killing all those that were with her.

She of course finds them and figures out a way to weasel into their group. It’s not easy and she quickly realizes that while she’s smart in a lot of way, she’s not exactly “street smart.” Still, while working with the Black Clan she begins to make friends and even finds some romance.

Besides Mariko, the story also follows other characters. Told in the third person the story switches around a bit to Mariko’s brother, Kenshin, the Emperor, and members of the Black Clan. The jump in perspectives was nice because at points I found Mariko’s story to be a bit slow. I wanted action and she’s a planner, which is fine I just wasn’t really interested in all her plotting.

There’s also a great deal of mystery and magic in this novel and while I think the mystery did it’s job in making me want to know more it also left me thoroughly confused. Mainly, I was very confused by the ending and I’m not sure that I’m supposed to be. This book is the first in the series so obviously the cliff hanger sets up the next novel but I think the ending of this book was a plot twist that I somehow missed. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say that the ending left me feeling unsatisfied, not entirely eager to continue on with the series but also curious to know what happens next.

Another issue I had with the novel was the romance. I won’t say who it’s with because one thing I did like about this novel was I wasn’t entirely sure at first who Mariko’s romance would be with. Not to say it took me by surprise when it happened but there’s definitely a few twists that I was definitely surprised by and liked a lot. What I didn’t enjoy was the ease in which the conflict between Mariko and her love interest was resolved. It just seemed way too easy to me. It was like there was this huge betrayal and then a few chapters it was like, “Never mind, we’re good.” I didn’t get it all and it didn’t sit right with me.

Besides that though, I did really love the romance. It made me swoon, which sounds cheesy to say but it’s true. Plus, I just really liked the relationship between them. Mariko spent her whole life feeling less than just because she was a woman and with the Black Clan and her love interest she began to realize that being a woman wasn’t a weakness or a fault, it was just who she was. I absolutely loved that and I loved that overall message of the book.

For that alone I really did enjoy this novel. Would I read it again? I’m not sure. Still, I think you should give this book a try. It’s really interesting and like I said, the romance is fantastic.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“You are first and foremost a person. A reckless, foolish person, but a person nonetheless. If I ever say you are not permitted to do something, rest assured that the last reason I would ever say so would be because you are a girl.”

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