Look at me, I read ARCs!
So, I got a lot of ARCs at Bookcon, and earlier this month, I finally dived into them! I still have all of my October and 2018 releases left, but just one September release, and I thought it’d be a good idea to just review all of some of my anticipated releases in one big post! So here are five positive reviews of some books coming at you in August and September!
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Series: DC Icons #1
Rating: 4 STARS
Release Date: August 29, 2017
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.
I actually wasn’t really planning on reading this one, but then the hype reached me and I ended up getting a copy at Bookcon, so I caved – and I’m so glad I did! The cast of characters in this book were absolutely fantastic, especially Aila, who I found so relatable as a heroine and a character. I also loved learning more about Wonder Woman; I hadn’t watched the movie yet when I read the book, so this was my first exposure to anything about her, so it was really interesting getting to know more about her background and seeing her as a teenager. It’s pretty much impossible to not fall in love with her. This story was a journey-type story, and even though I’m not a huge fan of those types, I actually really enjoyed it in this case! Also, this book was hilarious, and I rarely find books funny, so that was definitely a treat! The ending was also really sweet; I actually teared up a little. Overall, I think people will really enjoy this one!
(Also, this book had the plot twist of the century. That’s all I’ll leave it at.)
Genre: Thriller, YA
Rating: 5 STARS
Release Date: September 5, 2017
The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.
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.
I didn’t really expect anything from this novel for two reasons: I’ve never read We Were Liars, and the summary is extremely vague. I’m so glad I had zero impressions, because I absolutely loved this book with all my heart. It was a genuinely good, mature YA thriller that seemed to be written just for me: an unreliable narrator, backwards story-telling, an addicting fast pace, a twisted female friendship. I literally could not stop raving about this book in my head while I read it. Also, to top it all off, the ending was absolutely perfect for this novel. Overall, I’m almost happy I trudged through so many meh and just plain terrible YA thrillers to get to this one – it was so worth it.
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Rating: 5 STARS
Release Date: September 5, 2017
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.
Well, this was probably the most anticipated release of the second half of 2017 for me, and BOY, it did not disappoint. Adam Silvera has done it again. Like his first two books, I binged the entire thing in less than a day and left me completely ruined. Honestly, you can’t help yourself; it’s an addicting and intense read because you just need to know – will they both die at the end, and if so, how? I absolutely loved Rufus and Mateo as characters; both have completely different lives, and seeing them meet and watching their bond grow from being tentative acquaintances to close friends that (slowly) blooms into a beautiful romance made my heart ache. We also get to see other people’s POVs of those that personally effect them and those whose lives they have effected. The ending was so, so good, and, yep, I cried. I finally cried at a book. Overall, a powerful book that if you haven’t added to your TBR yet, you absolutely must.
Genre: Sci-fi, Thriller, Dystopian, YA
Series: Warcross #1
Rating: 5 STARS
Release Date: September 12, 2017
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.
For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.
Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.
In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.
As soon as I heard the concept for this book, I was set on getting it into my hands and reading it, so when I managed to meet Marie Lu AND get an ARC signed at Bookcon, I basically died. And, boy, did Marie Lu not let me down whatsoever. WHERE DO I BEGIN? First off, I want the Warcross game to exist in real life. I WILL FIGHT FOR IT. As per usual, Lu’s writing was absolutely terrific and was so fantastic at transporting the reader into the story. The characters were all diverse and well-rounded, and really made this story shine, even the background characters. Honestly, the concept could not have been carried out better, and I absolutely LOVED the direction Lu took it at the very end. This book actually didn’t have a cliffhanger, but it was left so open and I have so many questions! Overall, what do I have to do to get the sequel again?
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, YA
Rating: 4 STARS
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.
Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.
But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.
From the New York Times-best selling author of A Monster Calls comes a raw, darkly funny, and deeply affecting story about the courage it takes to live your truth.
Look at me, I’ve finally read a full Patrick Ness book! After finally reading A Monster Calls last year and loving it, I told myself I’d read more of his work, and I’m so glad I did! I absolutely loved Adam and was so sympathetic to his situation since terrible thing after terrible thing kept hitting him. I could totally feel for his really crappy day, especially since I know I have those days as a teenager myself where it just seems like the only place I could go is down. This was quite the fast-paced book, especially since it was so short, and I really liked the frank way the book dealt with sex, especially since I feel so many YA books can deal with it in the most unnecessarily cheesiest way possible and it seems completely unrealistic to boot. This book has an open ending, so if you don’t like those types of endings in contemporary novels, you’ll probably hate this book. My one complaint was probably the magical realism. It follows a character mentioned in passing in the beginning of the novel, and, unfortunately, the parts were just so boring and didn’t make any sense until the end of the novel. I ended up skipping over them since Adam’s story was much more compelling then hers. Overall, I need to read all the Patrick Ness books!
Are you excited for any of these books? Have you read any of these books? What’s your most anticipated release for the second half of 2017?
And I’m back with another edition of Bite-Sized Reviews!
Tomorrow, two books are coming out that deal with very similar themes, but one ended up disappointing me and one ended up being a fantastic book! I decided to just go ahead and review the both of them today!
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult
Rating: 5 STARS
Release Date: July 25, 2017
In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.
I was originally going to give this one four stars, but I don’t even remember why I took off a star, so five stars it is! I was really intrigued with this one mainly because the synopsis tells you next to nothing, and I am a very nosy person, so I needed to know what was going to happen! I definitely liked seeing from Jake’s point-of-view, since I rarely ever read a thriller from a guy’s point-of-view. I was definitely intrigued with the whole cult-ish vibe of The Marriage Pact, and this book was extremely addicting, especially since it took a lot of twists and turns I really wasn’t expecting. Not only that, but I ADORED the writing. It was very formal, but not so pretentious, you don’t know what’s going on. I’ve just never read a thriller like that before. Also, this one inserted a bunch of facts about marriage, so I learned things! And I also really loved the ending. Basically, this was like Fates and Furies, but with a cult.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, YA
Rating: 2.5 STARS
Release Date: July 25, 2017
A group of friends start a secret society in this out-of-control thriller from the author of The Telling and The Creeping that examines the all-consuming love of lifelong friendship—and what someone is capable of when they’re afraid of losing it.
Izzie loves nothing more than her three best friends, Viv, Graham, and Harry, and the bond the four of them share. And she’s terrified of their friendship falling apart next year when they go off to college. To bind them together, she decides to create that will belong only to them, a special thing that they’ll always share between the four of them. And so they dream up the Order of IV, a secret society devoted to mischief that rights wrongs and pays back debts. At first, it works like a charm—but when the Order of IV’s escapades get recognition beyond their wildest expectations, other people start wanting in. And soon, what started as a game of friendship is spiraling into something dangerous and beyond their control—and before it’s over, they’ll pay the ultimate sacrifice.
Hm, I was sort of disappointed by this one. I absolutely loved The Creeping, so I was really excited for this one, but it was just meh. First off, I thought this book was going to be about a girl gang when I read the synopsis, so I was already let down when there were two boys in the group, especially since these two boys end up being the heart of a mini love triangle – probably the dumbest one I’ve ever seen. It also had this weird feminist slant where they stand up to sexist dress codes and girls can masturbate, too, but we also have girl hate THE ENTIRE BOOK since our main characters are outcasts and the people they hate are popular, so what was the point? I also thought the whole IV thing was dumb. I am a teenager, so I highly doubt teenagers would get up to this. They’re cutting themselves to bleed on a statue, dancing around in their underwear, going out until the early morning to dump blood on people’s houses and throw rocks at their window, and I’m supposed to believe teenagers would do this why? All because of the murder of some girl they didn’t know that they found the dead body of as kids? And I’m not even going to bring up the lack of parenting that goes on as well. It just seemed really far-fetched and dumb. I will say, this was an addicting book and it was very dark, and that’s not seen much in YA, so I’ll give it that! But, overall, I was disappointed. Hopefully, The Telling is better.
A huge thank you to Ballantine and Simon and Schuster’s Children’s Publishing for the e-ARCs via Netgalley!
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopian, YA
Rating: 4 STARS
Series: Want #1
Release Date: June 13
From critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.
Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?
I will say, I didn’t even really have this book on my radar until I was so intrigued by the cover, I caved and decided to add it to my TBR, then went ahead and requested it. I’m so glad I was accepted for this one because I can only say that I freaking loved it.
1. The romance was amazing. So, we have this angst-y, forbidden, sexually tense romance between Daiyu and Zhou, and before you roll your eyes and groan, this romance was incredibly done well. There was absolutely no insta-love (in fact, they never say they love each other AT ALL. What is this sorcery?), and it’s all wonderful slow-burn and sexual tension. And when they finally get together, it’s like magic. I’m usually not one to get heart eyes over a ship where the both of them are on different sides of the track, but I loved it.
(Sidenote, I also ship Lingyi and Iris SO HARD. I would not be against a book entirely dedicated to the two of them being cute. Just saying.)
2. The characters were amazing. First of all, this book had a gang at a center of it, and I’m a sucker for any sort of gang or squad – think the Dregs from Six of Crows or the Night Court from the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series – so I was into it. But I absolutely loved all the individual characters and what they brought to the table!
We have Zhou, our wonderful main character who decides to act as the spy, Victor, who is sleek and sauve and hilarious, Arun, who is the scientist, Lingyi, who is the hacker, and Iris, who reminds me so much of Black Widow, and I love her, so it was great. And Daiyu, who isn’t part of the gang but is Zhou’s love interest who is strong and smart and stands on her own. I’m loving this rise of smart girls over ones who can kick ass 24/7 (even though I love those as well). I WANT THEM ALL TO BE MY FRIENDS. I just loved the interactions and relationship between Zhou and the gang, especially near the end.
3. It had great world-building. First off, this book took place in Taiwan, which I’ve never really seen as a setting before, so it was really awesome to have a book take place somewhere different and diverse. I also thought that a world that’s falling apart because of pollution and global warming was pretty much right on the nose considering the fact that Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement a couple of weeks ago, so it was interesting to see a sci-fi future like this.
4. It was a perfect sci-fi novel. I’ve definitely become more obsessed with sci-fi over the last year, but I haven’t read enough it, and I’m SO glad I had the opportunity to read this one. This one was more of a cross between dystopian and speculative sci-fi (which is my favorite type of sci-fi), and did a fantastic job of holding up a mirror to things such as privilege, class, and taking care of the environment. It was just done SO WELL, and I applaud Pon for it.
5. Basically, it was amazing. If I had to describe this book in any way, it’d be Six of Crows meets Red Rising – Six of Crows because of the characters and the aspect of them being in a group and Red Rising because of the whole “lower class goes undercover in the upper class” ruse, which I totally love. So, it was two of my favorite series in one, and I couldn’t be happier. Not to mention that even though this had long chapters, the pacing was still perfect and kept me addicted. AND I WANT MORE. I saw on Goodreads that this might have a sequel, which I’m eternally thankful for. I NEED ONE.
Basically, you will not regret adding this book to your TBR. It’s definitely worth it, and I highly recommend it, obviously.
A huge thanks to Simon and Schuster for giving me an e-ARC of this book, especially since I enjoyed it so much!
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Rating: 3 STARS
Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.
Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.
There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?
In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the grey areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, and acknowledges the light and darkness alive in all of us.
“Some people are just born bad, plain and simple.”
Honestly, this book wasn’t even on my radar. I’d heard some things about this book because I follow up with the Epic Reads website, but it didn’t really interest me, so I stayed away. But then I was pulled over by the Influence of Bookstagram, and I totally and completely caved because I heard SO MANY GOOD THINGS. Would I say that I totally and completely fell in love with this book? No, not really. But I definitely found this one entertaining, and I’m sure, in the right hands, someone would love this book more than I did.
So, regarding the characters, I found this one really interesting. We are introduced to Mary, a sixteen-year-old girl stuck in the crappy system and also just happens to be pregnant by her older boyfriend, Ted, who works in the nursing home close to the group home. Mary is someone you will most likely sympathize with. Her relationship with her mother is frayed, she wants to keep her baby but she doesn’t have that choice, she’s trying to get an education but is continually blocked from it, and everyone thinks she killed a baby. Allegedly. I felt so bad for her, and I thought this was a really great book to talk about how the system treats younger prisoners, especially POC. I know we’ve all watched Orange Is the New Black (and if you haven’t, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?), but this seemed like a darker, more grittier version (I mean, the show is dark as well, but this was less comedy and girl power, more depression and girl fights). And with Ted…whatever. I didn’t really care too much about him, to be honest, and I just didn’t like him? I’m weird.
The plot of this book was done so well. I will say this is a mix between a contemporary and a mystery, so for mystery/thriller fans like me, this is no psychological thriller, but I still found it really addicting, especially since we’re hinted at something more constantly. I personally found this book that way, and I just needed more of it, needed to know what was going to happen, and I can owe that all to Mary and her plight. I just needed to know what was going to happen next, needed to see if she was going to get the proper justice she deserved, needed to know what in the hell actually happened to Alyssa.
I also loved the little snippets inserted from books and reports and transcripts of interviews. I’m a huge fan of books like that, especially thrillers (it reminds me a lot of Dangerous Girls, and, wow, can I go a post without talking about that book?), and I thought it really added to the story, especially seeing how the public responded to the it. I honestly wonder how the public would respond if a nine-year-old black girl killed a white baby. Would the world go into chaos? Would more people believe she did it or if she didn’t? Would people think she deserved an even worse sentence? It’s one of those really interesting cases that would definitely bring up controversy in the real world right now (and I sort of wonder if it’s based off of something that happened in real life?).
I don’t know how I feel about the ending. Of course, I’m trying not to spoil, but I feel like I’ve seen it so many times before that I’m not really shocked or surprised, and it’s sort of become something where I basically say, “Oh, okay.” Yeah, the first few times I’ve seen that sort of plot twist, I was like, “Woah; what???” but it’s so overdone at this point that I’m starting to hate it a little. It’s not like it’s the author’s fault or anyone else’s, it just feels as if publishers see a plot twist and go, “YES MUST PUBLISH NOW,” to constantly keep up with the trends, and after seeing a thousand different ways to express the fact that the main character is lost royalty, it gets old.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty interesting mix between a contemporary and a mystery, and I think you should definitely check it out if it interests you.
Have you read this book yet? What did you think about it?
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, YA
Rating: 3.5 STARS
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Sixteen-year-old Harper Jacobs and her bored friends make a pact to engage in a series of not-quite illegal break-ins. They steal from each other’s homes, sharing their keys and alarm codes. But they don’t take anything that can’t be replaced by some retail therapy, so it’s okay. It’s thrilling. It’s bad. And for Harper, it’s payback for something she can’t put into words-something to help her deal with her alcoholic mother, her delusional father, and to forget the lies she told that got her druggie brother arrested. It’s not like Daniel wasn’t rehab bound anyway.
So everything is okay-until the bold but aggravating Alex, looking to up the ante, suggests they break into the home of a classmate. It’s crossing a line, but Harper no longer cares. She’s proud of it. Until one of the group turns up dead, and Harper comes face-to-face with the moral dilemma that will make or break her-and, if she makes the wrong choice, will get her killed.
Okay, so bear with me here. I was lazy enough to wait until, like, weeks and weeks later to write up this review, so if this sounds vague as all hell, now you know. But, when I was approved for this request on Netgalley, I was so pumped. I absolutely love thrillers, and I’m always interested in YA thrillers since YA is the genre I’m a huge fan of, and there aren’t enough thrillers found in the genre. Again, I ran into a YA thriller that I’d consider better than most, but, in the end, was still just okay. I think most people will enjoy this, but it’s no Dangerous Girls, and if you’re looking for a more complex thriller, this definitely isn’t it.
So, we’re introduced to a gang of rich, teenage robbers, and I know you’re probably immediately writing them off as unlikable, but they actually weren’t too bad. I thought it was interesting that they robbed each other’s houses for the thrill of it, not only because it sounded stupid, but because it seemed sort of risky and useless, since they didn’t steal anything big, but whatever. Harper is the main character, and, of course she has a younger sister who’s deaf, and this reminded me a lot like Alex from the horror/thriller movie Don’t Breathe from last summer, which I loved and would recommend over reading this book, but that’s getting off-topic. I thought Harper was an all-right character; I didn’t really cheer for her, but I wasn’t praying death upon her, so that was good! I thought the rest of the gang was sort of forgettable, and weren’t developed enough, except maybe Alex and Benji.
I thought the premise was interesting, and was pretty much what I expected from the synopsis. I was surprised to see that people actually died, and there were some moments that were really touching, especially during one of the member’s deaths. I will say, the book was addicting. I told myself I’d stop at one chapter, and, of course, I completely failed to do so. I just needed to know what was going to happen next, and I appreciate the fact that Garrett just wrote a straight-forward thriller without feeling the need to insert unnecessary filler. And hooray for the fact that the romance didn’t overtake the plot! It was barely there, which is how thrillers SHOULD be.
I honestly don’t know how I feel about the ending. At the same time, I thought it was entertaining, but on the other hand, I feel like, again, I’ve suffered through a conclusion that seemed to have an unbelievable villain, which way too many damn YA thrillers suffer from sometimes. Instead of trying to make a believable thriller, some authors fall victim to wanting to have this big, crazy twist that shocks people, and it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to spoil, but I just felt like the way things were handled, the “villain” had to not only be the best actor in the history of acting, but also be a mastermind, with a hell of a lot of coincidences.
It’s funny, because it honestly seems like I’ve read way too many thrillers this year, both adult and YA alike, that I thought were good, except for the highly unrealistic endings. It feels like thrillers have stopped attempting to make logical sense and be entertaining, and now seem to try to out-rank each other for craziest plot twist of the year, which isn’t what I want thrillers to de-evolve to, but that’s a discussion for another day. But, I’m sure some people will love the plot twist and be like, “OH MY GOOOOD. DID NOT SEE THAT COMING.” I just rolled my eyes.
Overall, if you’re interested, I’d say you should just go for it, but, personally, I wouldn’t set other people’s expectations to be TOO high.
Are you interested in this book? How do you feel about the state of thrillers? What’s your favorite thriller?
Genre: Sci-fi, YA
Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies #1
Rating: 2 STARS
The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.
ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.
Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.
The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.
In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.
“Rhee tore a path through the bustling marketplace, kicking up dust that fell slowly in Nau Fruma’s low gravity.”
Ugh, I’m so sad. I was super excited to read this book because it sounded really awesome, not to mention how pretty the cover is. But, unfortunately, I was highly disappointed by this one. And it all started out so well! Those are always the most disappointing books.
I think my favorite character out of the POVs was definitely Aly. He was so sweet and funny and nice, and I think the reason I liked him so much is that he’s different from the typical male POV, you know, the blonde, white guy who’s a player/professional jerk and also spits out sarcastic comments at all times. Yeah, that one. It was nice to get a change of pace with a sweeter guy. And we also get to balance it out with Dahlen, who’s all mysterious and secretive, and, personally, I want to learn so much more about him. Our main female character is Princess Rhiannon, and I feel sort of meh about her. I’m sure she’ll be a favorite protagonist of many, but for me, I think she’s one of many female protagonists that I’ll probably forget about in a couple of weeks. I do really like the fact that she wasn’t physically badass, by which I mean she wasn’t an amazing fighter or came up with witty comebacks like most female badasses seem to have been degraded to. We also have Kara, who plays a larger part in Aly’s story and someone we meet later in the novel, and, again, pretty forgettable on my end. I just didn’t care too much for her and felt she was quite bland.
I will say, one of my favorite parts of the novel was how it mirrored our real life at the moment. Aly is black and Wraetan (a race of people that reminded me of a representation of Syrian refugees and immigrants), and is immediately blamed for Rhiannon’s murder, even though he didn’t do it, just because of racial profiling. A new leader, Nero (a.k.a. Donald Trump in Space), bases his entire campaign off the fear people have with Wraetan refugees and saying they’re violent savages and that his supporters need to be protected from them. Aly talks constantly about his struggles and the stories of other Wraetan refugees as they leave their war-torn home and are constantly separated. It was such a fantastic representation, and it’s really what makes me love fantasy and sci-fi: the way it can show us the flaws in our own society and how ridiculous they are, sometimes.
The romance though? Definitely its weakest point. Fortunately, Dahlen and Rhiannon don’t get together (yeah, a boy and a girl travelled together and didn’t end up making out!), but then it’s rendered completely useless because Kara and Aly meet 2/3 near the end of the book, and Aly can’t. Stop. Thinking. About. Her. And I’m being serious here, because I got so annoyed, I started highlighting. Here are a couple of quotes:
“Her hazel eyes – were they always hazel? – met his and never left as they counted together.”
This is when the two of them are, you know, TRYING TO ESCAPE.
“The curve of her hip brushed against him, and even now – filthy and exhausted, skinned to hell, and on the run for his life – Aly felt his face flush.”
I don’t think I have to explain this one.
“He’d bloodied his knees and elbows, and he sure that everything would hurt later, but it felt fantastic here – his arms around her, his face in her big mess of tangles.”
Literally Aly’s thoughts two paragraphs after the previous quote I mentioned.
“She squeezed him. He could smell her, feel all the warmth from under her coat. For a long time, there was quiet, except for the sound of Aly’s heavy sobbing.”
Again, TRYING TO ESCAPE.
“He reached behind Kara to unravel the scarf, and her messy black hair fell everywhere. It smelled good – just a little bit sweet – and he brushed it out of her eyes for no good reason.”
*rolls eyes into the next century*
I get it, you love her; can we please move on to the actual plot and action and stuff? Or back to Rhiannon? Come on now! Not to mention the fact that it’s just the most boring romance ever, and I just didn’t care at all.
But, balancing the negative with the positive, I loved the world-building. Because of my obsession with Red Rising, I just love books that take place in space and such, and I thought the different races and the way the system worked was incredibly interesting and captivating. And, again, the way the fictional world mirrored our own was what made it so brilliant. My hat goes off to you, Belleza!
I felt like it was just personal opinion regarding the pacing, but at times I would be on the edge of my seat, and then I’d just become bored and easily confused. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m just bad at following things, but it just really bothered me how over the place it was.
Overall, this book wasn’t too good for me, but I can definitely see this become a new favorite for someone else.
Have you read this book yet? What did you think about it?
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Series: None (but I would love a sequel, pretty please)
Rating: 5 STARS
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.
I am black. I know, you guys are just so completely shocked! It’s as if I don’t have a picture on my “About Me” page that has my face next to V.E. Schwab’s and clearly shows the color of my skin (now I know you guys are going to go and probably look at my “About Me” page)! But, clearly, that’s not the point. Starr and I live different lives as black girls, but, she’s definitely probably one of the most relatable protagonists I’ve ever read about. She’s definitely up there with Fangirl‘s Cath and Unwind‘s Lev.
I live in the suburbs. Starr lives in the projects. I don’t in any way suffer from the effects of gang wars because I live in a nice neighborhood over in North Carolina. The closest thing to fear I’ve felt in my neighborhood is when I jump because someone is setting off fireworks and it’s not July 4 (this happens often). I don’t really have any friends that are black, I don’t listen to rap, I’ve never watched Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in my entire life, and any black person could probably be ashamed if they found out I didn’t understand any of their slang. I’ve lived in a nice suburban place since I was born, and I’ll probably go on to live in nice places (unless my life takes a horribly dark turn, which I hope it doesn’t). I don’t ever feel like I’m hiding two parts of myself, because I’m just introverted, and…that’s it. That’s all. There are lots of differences between us, obviously.
But seeing that Starr went to a private school was what hit home for me. I go to a private school as well, and it also happens to be Christian, because my entire family is, and I am as well (but, like, everything else about me is liberal, so there’s that). Obviously, there are only eight to ten other black kids in grade out of the 120+. Out of the entire school, there’s probably still a lower number than white kids that attend. It can sometimes be interesting, going to school where some of the white boys listen to rap more than I ever will in my entire lifetime. And it can also be highly annoying, because surprise, surprise, some of those same Christian white boys supported Donald Trump and his racist remarks (and his misogynistic comments. And now he’s transphobic. And he’s Islamophobic. And we’re all going to be here all day if I continue). So, imagine my fury at the fact that I’m sure if I asked these people to their face if they thought Donald Trump was racist, they’d probably say no.
It’s frustrating. It really is. And the fact that Starr feels like such a real, raw character is what makes it so perfect. Her parents are protective and care about her, much like mine are (and she gets annoyed at them, much like I do) and she swears a lot in her head, much like I do when I get rant-y and angry! I’m not the only one who does that! It makes me so happy! And she feels like she has to be this whole different person because she doesn’t want to be the Angry Black Girl, and, yep, I feel for the fact of feeling like I have to keep my mouth shut even though I want to scream, and that’s part “I don’t want to become a stereotype” and part “I am an introvert, hear me keep quiet.”
Also, this book gave me all the feelings. ALL OF THEM. The entire way the case is handled, the entire way the actual shooting is handled feels so very, very real. You will be angry. You will be frustrated. And if you’re not, you probably don’t care or you’re just emotionless or whatever. But nothing made me want to throw my phone against the wall (I was reading this as an e-book) then that interview with the cop’s dad, where it makes out Khalil and Starr to be these teenage thugs who made the cop uncomfortable and in danger. WHEN THAT IS NOT TRUE. NONE OF IT IS TRUE. And then we have Hailey over here, with her annoying ways, saying the most racist things, and then being angry because Starr is offended by said racist things. #EveryRacistEver
But then we have Chris, Starr’s boyfriend, and their relationship is so cute, okay? Chris is white, and he doesn’t want Starr to be this different person in front of him, and, yes, he might say some ignorant things that will make you face-palm – especially if you’re black – but I think what I loved is the fact that Starr always set him straight, and he tried as hard as he could to understand. And he’s just a nice guy in general, and he’s such a dork who’s always there for Starr whenever she needs him. Chris is precious; where can I buy one?
I felt like the case was realistically handled, and I loved how this book gave this sort of POV of black people. We get a look into protests and riots and having to live in a neighborhood that puts a curfew on the people living there, much like what happened in Ferguson a couple years ago. They are angry and they are frustrated and they want justice, and those emotions bleed through the pages, and that’s what makes this book so amazing. That it manages to play with your emotions, by not only being serious, but also balancing those moments with really funny ones. We usually only get to see this type of stuff on TV, so it feels far away unless you’re actually there and living through it, and I liked how Thomas managed to make the feelings the protestors and Black Lives Matter advocates feel going through this conflict. It just makes it that much more powerful and personal.
We have supportive parents that are ACTUALLY THERE and ACTUALLY SUPPORTIVE and feel real. We have a beautiful representation of family and being black from #ownvoices. We have an adorable romance that doesn’t take center stage. We have wonderful female friendships. We have a raw representation of racism that will probably make you angry and uncomfortable, and THAT’S THE POINT. We have a book that is literally so amazing and perfect and PLEASE READ IT I BEG YOU.
And if you’re not pushed to read this book after this review, then, I don’t know how I can help you. You must pick this book up. You must.
(Hopefully, I’ll be able to buy this in hardcover since I had to borrow this via Overdrive, and the hardcover looks so gorgeous, but I don’t have any money to buy it; I am just a poor, jobless teenage bookworm. I’M SUFFERING.)
Have you read this yet? Why haven’t you read this yet? YOU MUST!
(And if you have, what did you think about it?)
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Series: Frostblood Saga #1
Rating: 1 STAR
The frost king will burn.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.
“I offered my hand to the fire.”
So, I realized that I have yet to post a completely negative review on my blog. So…I decided to publish one! Yeah! And that review is, unfortunately, for Frostblood by Elly Blake. Obviously, there are some things that you should know. First, I was really, really excited to read this. A fantasy book that deals with elemental powers and deals with a competition? Yes, please. And two, I rarely give out one stars. Like, ever. Seriously, I’m pretty sure that on my old Goodreads profile, I had about under twenty one star ratings. And, honestly, a large majority of them were DNFs, so me rating one star to a book that I’ve fully read is even more of a surprise. But, I’ve already rated two books one star this year. Is that an accomplishment? I can’t tell.
EDIT: THIS REVIEW IS FULL OF SPOILERS. I apologize to all the people I’ve already spoiled because I was in a rush to post this. Whoops.
First off, I think the main reason I didn’t like this book was just the fact that this was pretty much a cliché mess. If you’ve read a YA fantasy in the last couple of the years, you’ve probably already read this story and seen its plain characters and formed heart eyes at the soppy romance and seen the plot twists coming a mile away…and, yeah, you’ve most likely read this already. And if you haven’t, congratulations! You’ll probably love this more than I did.
We get to meet Ruby, who’s the token Chosen Girl who also has to battle the darkness inside her, and is part of a class/group of people that’s known as being an outsider and is constantly getting attacked, and somebody she cares about dies, causing her to want to get revenge against those who hate her. You know, the usual. Except Ruby wasn’t developed anywhere past that, and I swear to God, pretty much all her thoughts I’ve read before in another YA dystopian/fantasy before. And then we have Arcus, the token Love Interest who has a tragic past and is cold-hearted to the Chosen Girl but actually totally secretly loves her and he also has an undercover sweet side that comes out of nowhere and he’s an expert in the field that the Chosen Girl needs to become an expert in. Again, the usual. I will say, I liked that he was scarred since we rarely ever see an imperfect character in YA who’s still considered beautiful, but that’s overshadowed by how typical everything else was.
And then there’s the fact that I felt like the pacing of this book was all over the place. It took me a good long while to read this book, like about a week, which, for me, is a ridiculously long time. If I’m not in a slump-y sort of mood, I can read a book in two to three days, so yeah. I thought the first part of this book was so slow until Ruby FINALLY gets captured again. This sort of went all A Gathering of Shadows-esque, and, yeah, I love that book, but it also suffered from mentioning this awesome competition in the synopsis, and then it takes over halfway through the book before we finally actually GET to said competition, which annoys the hell out of me. And even then, the competition wasn’t even that fun. I was bored.
The world-building was much the same. It’s the same fantasy world with royalty and kings and queens ruling and peasants treated unfairly, and, of course, two main groups are fighting against each other, and one of them is prejudiced against the other, and it has magic, except this time, it’s elemental. It just didn’t seem like it’d take any effort to create a world like that, one that I’m sure we’ve all seen described in several other YA books.
And then we reach the end, and we learn…Arcus is lost royalty. You thought it couldn’t get more cliché? Don’t worry, it just proves you wrong! And then we have this big battle that’s pretty typical. Her new “love” is taken by the Big Bad Guy, who has been possessed by some sort of evil and is also the Love Interest’s brother, and the Chosen Girl unlocks this inner power that she never knew she had, while also feeling bad because it feels like she’s dabbling in the dark side. I’ve seen this before. Like, 294882 other times.
It’s just so frustrating, because I feel like this could’ve been good, despite the clichés. For example, I absolutely love Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, and that got slandered by Goodreads for being unoriginal, but, in my opinion, it did a good job at balancing being cliché, but also still being pretty entertaining. Of course, not everyone feels that way, but I loved it. But this one…just ugh. That’s basically how I feel about it, which sucks.
Overall, just a very disappointing read, but if the reviews from Goodreads are anything to go by, I’m sure some of you guys out there might fall in love with it.
Have any of you guys read this book? Do you feel the same way? Or do you feel totally different?