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.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

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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Novella Review: Clipped Wings Novellas

Earlier this month I got sucked into the Clipped Wings series by Helena Hunting. After I finished the second book in the duology, I wanted more and thankfully Hunting provided that in the form of numerous novellas. Because there are a lot of them and they’re all pretty short, I’m going to do one round up review of all them. So settle in for a trip into this world of tattoos and romance.

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Cupcakes and Ink

In this novella, we meet the duology’s main characters, Hayden and Tenley, prior to the start of Clipped Wings. Told in both of their POVs, this novella simply shows where their infatuation with each other began. Personally, I could’ve done without reading this one. It didn’t really add anything to the story for me. That’s not to say it was bad; I just didn’t see the purpose of this story.

Stars: 2/5

Between the Cracks

This novella is told in the POV of Chris, one of Hayden’s friends and coworkers. Similar to Hayden, Chris has a troubled past. However, now that he’s been able to capture the eye of Sarah, the woman he’s been infatuated with for a while now, he’s trying to make his relationship with her work.

Between the Cracks take place right after (spoiler!) Tenley leaves Hayden at the end of Clipped Wings. Hayden decides to try to bring her back, but ends up in some trouble, which is where Chris steps in. After their journey, Chris returns home to Sarah and there’s a little smut to make this story worthwhile.

Stars: 4/5

Cracks in the Armor

At first this short story really bugged me because it ends with no answers. Told in Chris and Sarah’s POV, this novella takes place after the end of Inked Armor, and Chris and Sarah’s relationship is still rocky… and it’s not fixed by the end of the novella. Hence, my problem with this novella. However, it turns out there’s a reason for that.

These two actually got their own book (Fractures in Ink), which I now own and plan on reading ASAP. Besides the annoying end, I really liked this story, hence why I bought the book. I need more of these characters in my life!

Stars: 3/5

Get Inked

I wasn’t sure I’d like this novella because it’s a crossover with Hunting’s other series, Pucked. However, I actually ended up really enjoying. Even though I was unfamiliar with a lot of the characters because I haven’t read the other series, Hunting was still able to quickly pull me into their stories without making me feel like I was playing catch up. Because this novella involves a lot of characters there are also a lot of different POVs, and at points I sometimes felt the characters were too similar.

However, Hunting played into that a little, especially by having her two female leads (Tenley and Lily) joke about how their boyfriends (Hayden and Randy) were so similar, mainly in appearance. Besides that, this novel had a decent amount of smut, which is always fun, and I was intrigued enough by the Pucked characters to consider giving the series a read.

Lastly, it’s worth noting this novella also takes place after Inked Armor.

Stars: 5/5

Borrow or Buy: Overall, I would buy all these mainly because most of them were free or 99 cents, and I think they’re all worth at least that much.

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:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

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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Book Review: Poison Study (Reread)

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Synopsis:

Murder, mayhem and magic…

Locked in a coffin-like darkness, there is nothing to distract me from my memories of killing Reyad. He deserved to die—but according to the law, so do I. Here in Ixia, the punishment for murder is death. And now I wait for the hangman’s noose.

But the same law that condemns me may also save me. Ixia’s food taster—chosen to ensure that the Commander’s food is not poisoned—has died. And by law, the next prisoner who is scheduled to be executed—me—must be offered the position.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I first read Poison Study back when I was in high school (over six years ago), and I absolutely loved it. When I read it the first time, the series was only a trilogy and I immediately read all the books and the read the spinoff Glass trilogy, which was also amazing. Then the author, Maria V. Snyder, decided to bless us with three more books in the series.

However, since I hadn’t read the first three books in years I knew I would have to reread them before I dived into the new books, but I put it off for a while because WHO HAS TIME TO REREAD?! Thankfully, audiobooks exist and I was finally able to listen to Poison Study, and it turns out that I still really enjoy the book.

The main character, Yelena, is still just as amazing and kick ass as I remember, and her love interest, Valek, is just as swoonworthy (though I was trying to figure just how old he is since Yelena is 18 at best). I liked how their relationship was a little bit of a slow burn, but totally worth the wait. I also forgot about a lot of characters that I loved like the magician, Iris.

All in all, I’m so excited to be rereading this series and getting to see how Yelena and Valek’s story continues in the new books. The only issue I had was on the audiobook, music plays at the start of each chapter, which I thought was annoying. It was totally unnecessary and while I’d like to listen to the next book, Magic Study, I don’t know if I can deal with that music again. We’ll see what happens.

If you haven’t given this series a read yet, I definitely recommend it. It’s a great fantasy series filled with intrigue, mystery, plot twists, and a bit of romance. You’ll love it!

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“But you’ve slipped under my skin, invaded my blood and seized my heart.”

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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.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

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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Book Review: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here

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Synopsis:

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I’ve had this book on my shelves for at least a year and I don’t know why it took me so long to read it. As I told someone on Instagram, this book gave me serious Fangirl vibes, but I actually liked the story Scarlett was writing, unlike the Carry On snippets in Fangirl (note: I love Fangirl, so no shade).

Scarlett is a teenager who fluctuates between being a realist and a pessimist. Her favorite TV show was just cancelled and she’s currently in a mild state of depression. To make matters worse, her favorite thing to do, writing fan fiction, now seems pointless without the show. Until she comes up with a new concept.

Rather than writing about her favorite characters, she begins writing about the students at her high school. There’s her longtime crush, Gideon, who’s become one of the “populars,” and Ashley, one of the popular girls and Scarlett’s archnemesis. Ashley also happens to be the sister to Scarlett’s best friend, Avery, and is, of course, dating Gideon.

As Scarlett starts to blur the lines between the fictional world she’s created and the real one, her life gets way more complicated. There may be something more than just friendship blooming between her and Gideon, but she’s not exactly sure. Meanwhile, Avery’s starting to take an interest in high school activities that have nothing to do with her regular academic studies. Additionally, Scarlett’s mom is dating someone new… again. The only constant in Scarlett’s life at the moment is her elderly neighbor and good friend Ruth, who’s a BAMF in every way you can imagine.

I really loved the characters in this novel, especially Scarlett. She’s snarky, funny, and unafraid to stand up for herself. I also like that even though she’s a “nerd,” she’s not the kind that is super intelligent. In fact, Avery often does Scarlett’s homework for her, which I loved. Often times in novels like this, the characters that geek out about comic books or TV shows are also insanely smart and are heading to Ivy League schools. While there’s obviously nothing wrong with that, it sometimes seems like these books about fandoms and geek culture skip over the outcasts and the people who don’t fit in with the academically inclined or the “popular” people; they’re just different.

That’s what I loved about this novel. Even Ashley, the “popular mean girl” character, really surprised me, as she wasn’t exactly that typical mean girl that often exists in these types of novels. These characters were all complicated and had their own issues that really reflected what high school is actually like and I loved it.

In summary, Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here is a must read in my book.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“…the importance of trying to understand people who are different from you, even though it’s so much harder than writing them off, because it might make you admit something to yourself that’s painful.”

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Book Review: Inked Armor

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Synopsis:

In this follow-up to Clipped Wings, the emotional love story continues between Hayden and Tenley; two young people who desperately want to love and be loved but are afraid to completely let go of their pasts.

In the wake of losing Tenley Page, tattooist Hayden Stryker’s tumultuous past is haunting him. Plagued by nightmares about the murder of his parents, Hayden reaches out again to Tenley. Having run from the man she doesn’t believe she deserves, Tenley finally lays her guilt to rest. Despite their intense physical attraction, Hayden and Tenley struggle to repair their fragile emotional connection. As Hayden gets closer to the truth, he must find a way to reconcile his guilt over his parents’ death in order to keep the woman who finally cracked his armor, and found her way into his heart.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

Inked Armor picks up two weeks after the end of Clipped Wings. Tenly has returned to her hometown to get her affairs in order and to figure out all her complicated feelings about her past so she can be in a real relationship with Hayden. Of course, she went about this all wrong, and really hurt Hayden.

Once Tenley returns to Chicago, fixing their relationship is much easier said than done. They’ve both been hurting because of their dark pasts and while Tenley has finally begun to come to grips with hers, Hayden must now face the ghosts of his.

I really liked that this book took more of look at Hayden’s issues, because they were definitely hinted at in the first novel but weren’t ever really explored. In this book we learn more about Hayden’s parents, the night they died, and how that one night really altered Hayden’s life. I also really enjoyed the kind of mystery surrounding that night as well. I started making my own guesses at who could’ve killed Hayden’s parents and while I was right, I was also still surprised, which I loved.

Besides that, this book also didn’t disappoint in the romance/smut department. The scenes between Hayden and Tenley were just as steamy and interesting. They can really just hook-up anywhere, honestly. More than the smut though, their relationship was incredibly cute, as were the other couples in this novel.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent sequel and perfect end to this duology. I’ll definitely still be reading all the short stories in this series, though. I already bought them all on my Kindle. Can you tell I’m obsessed?

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“The most dangerous criminals are the ones who appear the least threatening.”

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