Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

“The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! I’ve been excitedly wanting to read this ever since I heard of it, and I recently was gifted it by my amazing friend!

“The past doesn’t exist. It’s just a story we tell ourselves. And stories change each time you tell them.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5/10 Stars

Favorite Character: The one and only Jane Sinner

Spoiler Free: Ughhhhhhhh I loved this book so much! It’s honestly everything I wish for from a contemporary!

How To Make A Good Contemporary

  1. Have a strong, and sometimes hilarious, narrative voice
  2. A good blend of struggle, humor, and love
  3. Add a cat

And then this book had to go and add a competition into the mix. It’s like this book is after my heart!

Now, to get a little more serious, I did seriously enjoy and love this book, and the main reason for this definitely had to be Jane. Her voice and her struggles felt so real and brutal and honest all while remaining absolutely hilarious. From her facade of having no care in the world to how hidden she keeps her true emotions reminded me of myself at points, but then Jane always came in with some funny quip to keep me from dwelling too much. Additionally, the way the emotions were written along made me feel them almost as strongly as I image Jane did, which also added to overall “realness” that the book held.

The plot itself was also pretty amazing. I didn’t guess any of the “twists,” as I was too wrapped up in Jane’s competitive strategy to really consider what the others were up to, and I preferred it that way. Additionally, the competitions were just really fun to read through, and getting to hear about everything after it happened (since this book was written in the form of a diary) allowed for Jane to add her afterthoughts to them. The pacing itself was also pretty great, spreading the action and emotions throughout the book in a fairly balanced way.

Unfortunately, the only reason I dropped this book a star was due to its ending. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the ending of the book itself, but I didn’t like how short it was compared to the rest of the book. For reasons I’ll explain a bit better in the spoiler section, it felt a bit rushed and unfinished, and I didn’t feel fully satisfied by the end of it, almost as if it needed a bit more words/pages to provide proper closure for the book. But I still absolutely loved what the ending contained, and what it meant for Jane and her future.

Overall, this book made me laugh a lot, cry a bit, and taught me something about myself along the way, and that’s all I can really ask from a book.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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Spell Speakers by Day Leitao

“14-year old Darian was raised in an isolated village, resisting the King and his army. When his life takes a tragic turn, he ends up in the castle, closer to his former enemies than he has ever imagined. His only solace is Cayla, a girl who helps him smile again, for whom he slowly falls in love. But the castle has more dangers than he imagined.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 3/10 Stars

Spoiler Free: This novella was meant to introduce the world and make readers more interested in the series, but I don’t really think this book did that at all. If I were to judge this novella purely on how well it accomplishes that task, it would’ve received 1 star. It barely bothered to explain the world at all, the one we were supposed to be growing interest in, and focused instead on a very oddly paced plot with characters that all read kind of the same.

Unfortunately, I found out pretty early on that I would most likely not be a fan of this novella. This revelation came purely from the writing style at first, as it felt super cut and dry, very simple and uninteresting. Instead of utilizing language to properly make readers feel and understand the world better, everything just felt stated. “Character A did this. Character B reacted like this.” It told more than it showed, which caused a major disconnect between me and the characters.

Additionally, the plot itself was fairly simple to guess, yet wasn’t aware of this. It not so subtly dropped many clues before every twist, so every reader would have actually picked up on it before it was revealed, but somehow our MC, Darian, was entirely clueless to everything going on around him. The pacing of the overall plot was also fairly weird. We had a very quick-moving start, almost as if we were dropped into the middle of a story, and then we get a lull in the middle, followed by a final chapter in Darian’s POV that suddenly dumps a bunch more information on the reader. When combined with the simple writing, it almost felt as if I was reading a very detailed outline of what the book was going to contain, instead of the book itself.

The world itself, as I mentioned above, is also just poorly explained. We learn nothing of the magic system (which is part of why I requested this novella, it sounded interesting), and almost nothing on the tension between the smaller villages and the kingdom, just that magic is the cause of it. It leaves readers in a limbo of who to believe, as we aren’t given a sympathetic outlook on either side. All we know is that the king is burning villages in search of a witch that is probably dead (but how do only the villages know this? Why doesn’t the king?) It’s all really confusing, so I’m trying not to dwell on it.

Lastly, I wasn’t able to get a grasp on almost any of the characters. While I overall did find Sian interesting, and the interplay of motives running through him, this same level of depth did not come through well in the other characters, and instead made them feel incontinuous. For example, with our main hero Darian, we don’t actually get to learn about life back in the village, or anything that makes us sympathetic to the cause Darian’s mother was fighting for. Furthermore, this makes his constant longing for his old life hard to empathize with, since we have no understanding of that life. His inner voice also seems to shift dramatically within the story, from a focus on home/hatred of the evil king, to a focus on love interest only, and then back to a focus on revenge/hatred without regard of said love interest. This imbalance actually comes through in that love interest as well, and I have a hard time gauging what her inner thoughts actually are, even after having read a POV chapter from her.

However, I was still intrigued. Even with everything above, I still want to learn more. Some might say that this want for more stems from the lack of content that the book provided me with in the first place, but I also didn’t expect much coming into this in terms of content (it is only 100 pages!)

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

“The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review!

“Dying’s a boring side effect.”

Stars (Out of 10): 9/10 Stars

Favorite Character: You literally cannot make me choose

Spoiler Free: Someone go back to the girl in 2017 and punch her for putting this down, please? She was an idiot.

That girl could’ve given you quite a few reasons for putting down this book. The frustrating romance, the semi-confusing plot, the beautiful writing style that made the entire story takes twice as long.

The me that read this book now would count those reasons among why I loved this book as much as I did. I think somewhere between then and now something clicked within me, something that made me appreciate Maggie’s writing much more. Maybe it was my reading of All The Crooked Saints, a book so heartbreakingly beautiful that I cried even in the happy moments. Maybe it’s my growing appreciation for those stories that take time to read, thanks to books like Strange The Dreamer and Nevernight. Maybe it’s something else. But I love this book now.

I’ve already mentioned the writing style, and I think this is where Maggie truly shines. She has such a wonderful way of controlling language, and the simplest of lines can seize your heart. She embeds humor wonderfully within the story as well, in a way that feels natural and sudden. She has a way of making you smile at how ridiculous her characters are in some moments, and how amazing they are in others. If I had a list of authors who I’d read purely for the way they craft stories, Maggie would be on it.

In addition, the characters are also fantastic. They all feel extremely unique, even when being written from a third POV. Additionally, she gives you reasons to love and understand each one, to root for them in their highs and cry for them in their lows. Her creation of this friendship that exists between the main cast is also amazing, and I love how deep and unrivaled it feels, how full of love. I’d read a story of them doing absolutely nothing and still love it.

Additionally, we have the romance and the plot. It almost seems that these take a back seat to the characters and writing at points, but it doesn’t feel wrong. The book, even in the lulls, still always feels like it’s going somewhere, that each line is woven through with clues and secrets. Additionally, while the romance is fair from the main focus, it still adds another layer to this already full story, and I loved it, and am really really curious to see how this continues sooner.

I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to read Blue Lily, Lily Blue (lots of ARCs and little time), but I certainly will read it as soon as my schedule allows, as I am completely ensnared in one of Maggie’s worlds once again.

A Mark Unwilling by Candace Wondrak

“Lexa Blue thought she had her life figured out. She’d go to college, maybe get a job, and wait until the Demon whose Mark she bears comes to collect her soul. No real concrete plans since it wouldn’t matter in the end. What she did not expect was the end of the world.

Conquest. War. Pestilence. Death.

Even with her trusted Warlock friend, David, Lexa is clueless about how to stop the apocalypse—but she’ll still try; because of her Mark, she can’t die. Who better to fight the Horsemen?

It’s not that simple. With a prophetic girl as a new sidekick, a group of Vampires who’re suspect, and an FBI Agent who somehow knows her connection to the biblical figures, Lexa’s life is going to get a heck of a lot worse before it gets better.

When her Demon finally comes to claim her, will she be ready?

…Probably not.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review!

First off, I would like to thank the author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 5/10 Stars

Spoiler Free: The author actually reached out herself to me in regards to reading this book, and I was quite excited at the prospect of reading another book about the four horsemen after recently reading Laura Thalassa’s interpretation of them. Needless to say, this book differs greatly from that one!

For starters, not only does this book use biblical characters as the powerful entities in this book, but she uses greek ones as well, such as Hades. While at some points it got kinda overbearing, and it was never actually explained how everything works together, that didn’t end up being too much of a problem, and I think I would prefer this no explanation over a poor one that confused things even more.

The plot itself was fairly interesting, the narrator had her soul sold before she was even born by her parents, and has spent most of her life waiting for that debt to be collected. It involves a bunch of other supernatural and spiritual figures, such as the devil, demons, Hades, seraphs, warlocks, and vampires, and is ultra packed in terms of content. Not that much happened in this book besides the beginning of the end of the world though, and I still don’t have much of a clue about the grander scope of the plot as a whole, and where it’s actually going to.

In terms of characters, I was a bit less happy. In the end I don’t know if I actually connected/liked any of them as people, or would choose to befriend any of them, but I did like how most of them stuck to the “truth” of themselves. For example, our narrator can really come off like a bitch sometimes, but I get it, her life has never been her own so she’s kinda constantly pissed at the world. But this core of anger and frustration is what drives her, from the confusing and sometimes inconsistent relationship with her parents to how mean she can get with some people, especially her friends. While I wouldn’t wanna be on the other end of her tongue, I do like her fire.

I think the thing that most got to me was the writing style. There were in general quite a few small mistakes here and there, some typos, but I also get that this is an indie and there isn’t a whole team behind this work, which actually makes the existence of only a few of these mistakes quite impressive. The main issue though was the short sentences that the author favored. There were a lot of moments where one thought or phrase was split up into many short sentences for emphasis, or repeated many times in short sentences for emphasis, and it kinda made nothing actually emphasized. It ended up just making some of the portions pretty choppy, and took me out of parts of the work. Additionally, there were moments where the narrator would latch on to a small detail and go on a small rant about something completely unrelated to the current moment at hand, which also brought me out at points.

Overall, I am still extremely intrigued to see what happens next! This book ends on quite the cliffhanger!

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

“Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review!

“I teach you to be warriors in the garden so you will never be gardeners in the war.

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5/10 Stars

Favorite Character: At first it was Zelie, but by the end I loved Amari!

Spoiler Free: Ahhh this book lived up to the hype! Fully and completely!

I really really enjoyed my time spent reading this book, and it unfortunately went by way too quickly! (I read this 500+ page book faster than I’ve read from 300 page books… it was just paced so well and constantly held my attention!)

There were things I liked and loved about all of this book I think, from the characters to the plot to the world! For a debut, it was overall super well developed and well written, and I cannot wait for the next few books.

In terms of world, I thought it was super well done. I was never confused by how it worked/the magic system, and I really loved the variety in magic and spells (especially since our MC had a pretty unique power, and we didn’t just see the standard elemental magic.) Additionally, even the small details overall added to the strength of the world and it’s realism. For example, all the animals had slightly altered names, like a lionaire and a gorillon. With this tactic, Adeyemi was both able to add a magical and mystical feel to the world and separate it from our own while still ensuring the readers were able to understand and recognize the animals, and making sure we didn’t have to memorize a million extra words just for animals either.

In terms of plot, I won’t say it was the most imaginative or twisty one ever, but it was definitely action-packed and exciting. It was able to weave build up and action very well, in a way that made neither overbearing and kept the book well balanced. There were never times I ached for the book to speed up or slow down, and the entire course of the plot felt really natural!

Additionally, the characters were all just as amazing. They had their motivations, their traits, their weaknesses, and they stuck with them. One of the worst things a book can do is give a character a desire and then make them wishy-washy on it, or make them change back and forth between different personalities. Adeyemi did not do this at all, and stuck with the characters she created while still giving them chances to learn and grow (some did, some didn’t, and some are still on their way!)

Unfortunately, the only reason this book is not a 5 star read for me is because it just didn’t click with me on the same level as books like Graceling and The Last Namsara did recently, and I think this has to do with the romances. While I loved the main ones, they sometimes felt as if they progressed weirdly or too quickly, and this didn’t always line up with the characters involved in the romances. While I cheered for them, I didn’t absolutely love how they were handled either.
However!! The romance is far from the focus of this book, with the parts that are important being the best parts as well. Definitely pick this book up if you’ve been considering it (or even if you haven’t!)

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another book review!

“This town was built on revenge, and it’s never made anything better or right.”

Stars (Out of 10): 7/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Bo

Spoiler Free: I haven’t had the best experiences with witchy books as of late, so the main reason for me picking up this book, especially the hardcover, was based on how gorgeous it was. (However, don’t go into this book expecting witchy, it’s much more of a ghost story!)

Overall, it was an okay book. I didn’t connect with Penny until later, as I’m starting to find the whole “Plain Jane” act quite overdone, and the romance itself was developed a bit too quickly (though there is a reason for this explained later.) And while the plot itself was fairly cool, and I liked the interjections of tales from the past (I am always a sucker for that kinda stuff), it was incredibly predictable. So much so that I guessed the main twist in the first 30%.

Why did I rate this book at 7 stars still then?

It was really all because of the ending. Yes I guessed the twist, and I guessed the truth hidden behind the actions of both the main character and other characters, but the way it was actually done was so beautifully written that I couldn’t help forgiving its predictability. No it didn’t shock me or surprise, or completely blew my mind like some other books lately, but the final conflict and its resolution still got to me, and I couldn’t help feeling attached to the characters in the final moments of the book.

Additionally, I also really enjoyed how the story itself was told. For the most part the book was really nicely written, especially the portions set in the past that reveal the story of the sisters. It combined well with the voice of the narrator, even if they were a bit whiny at points.

Overall, I did end up enjoying the novel, even if it was hard to make myself read it at points since I knew where it was going to go.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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Olympian Challenger by Astrid Arditi

“A hero’s tournament. A defiant contender. Does one girl have the courage to take on Mount Olympus?

Hope’s world doesn’t have room for heroes. She barely has time for schoolwork, swim team, and taking care of her ailing mother. But when she’s invited to a mysterious tournament, the all-powerful hosts won’t take no for an answer.

Transported to Mount Olympus, Hope comes face to face with her new trainers—the pantheon of Greek gods. While other contenders train hard to gain a fighting edge, Hope searches for a way out. Instead, she finds a gorgeous shadow god who may just convince her to stay…

As each round unfolds, the ultimate prize draws closer—the granting of her heart’s deepest desire. If she survives the final challenge, her mother’s cure would be within reach…but only if Hope can ignore the tournament’s dark purpose.

Olympian Challenger is the first book in a bold YA urban fantasy trilogy. If you like Greek mythology, forbidden romance, and feats of courage, then you’ll love Astrid Arditi’s heroic coming-of-age tale.”

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review!

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC to review. Please note that the version I read was an advanced copy, and certain events/language may be changed in the published edition.

Stars (Out of 10): 3/10 Stars

Spoiler Free: Anything that claims to follow/use Greek Mythology always intrigues me. I grew up on Percy Jackson and other Rick Riordan books, so I just have a soft spot for the stuff! Unfortunately, even with that soft spot, I did not enjoy this book at all. I wanted to drop it at 35%, and almost did after hearing from other readers that the story isn’t worth it in the end, but I ended up continuing (I still don’t know why.) In the end, they were right. While the story is the only thing I may have liked about the book, it still wasn’t phenomenal.

First off, this book uses a ton of tropes and stereotypes that I am just over. We’ve got insta-love, which tried to follow a haters to lovers pattern but switched waaay too fast to lovers. It honestly made me cringe at points, especially when the narrator would think of this boy she loved and how she would do anything for them. (Uhhhh… okay.) Additionally, I hate most of the choices surrounding Gabriel. One, he seems to carry some of the general gay stereotypes, but only at certain points. He spends a whole scene gushing over fashion with this other female character, but we don’t see that hobby/trait brought back again, which makes it feel shallow and fake. He is also constantly portrayed as someone to be protected, as weak and small, with our main narrator constantly saving him/feeling sorry for him. I honestly don’t know if the readers get to know Gabriel at all beyond feeling sorry for him and his situation, as that is all our narrator seems to think about him.

These continues on to other character problems. None of our characters feel really fleshed out, and most seem to be based off of one specific trait. We have our standard smart girl who only cares about proving herself and her superiority and our evil dude who just enjoys killing puppies for fun. The narrator’s main rival throughout the story also has barely any depth, even with the parallels the pair constantly have with each other (I was honestly expecting more here, some sort of revelation or something, but no.) Even the narrator’s best friend in the competition, Amy, shows little more than her thieving skills and sad backstory, and their constant tension (caused by tiny little things and always instigated by Amy) stops us from actually getting to know her as well. Even the gods all seem like carbon copies of each other, and this is the saddest part. Instead of developing their personalities from their powers and stories, all seem to be exactly the same. Vain, with huge egos and lust for power.

This brings me to our narrator, Hope (ironic name eh?). She seems to be almost good at everything, and when she does lose, it’s either because she wasn’t trying or her overflowing goodness got in the way of her hurting someone or letting someone else be hurt/left behind. She’s an overdone chosen one, and I feel like she doesn’t really have to learn or do anything in order to solve her problems. She’s just magically better than everyone. I did like the ARC with her mother, on how that’s her one motive, but even that is given up in the end for a more “selfless” narrative (which, to me, kinda removed Hope’s one drive as well.)

I did like that the quests/challenges were all based around other heroic quests, and the planning/idea behind them all was pretty intriguing. However, the action of completing them felt too easy for the most part, and any challenge Hope had with them was trying to ensure all her friends made it through as well. It once again enforced the idea that these challenges weren’t actually difficult at all for Hope.

Overall, I’m pretty disappointed with this story. It had a really nice idea, and the plot was mainly intriguing, but the lack of support from the characters/an uninteresting romance made the entire novel fall short.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

“Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review!

“She was a girl born in fire and raised in the stars, and she would burn against the darkness.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Di!

Spoiler Free: Overall, this book kept surprising me with how much it contained! I haven’t read this author’s other book yet, but this really makes me want to!

This book was chock full with action and plot. The first 25% of the book could’ve been an entire book on its own almost, in terms of quantity of plot and action. For the most part, I loved the fast pace and the way this book constantly kept me on my toes, but I can also see how it’s super overwhelming/overdoes the twists, and it keeps getting harder and harder to surprise the reader. Additionally, nothing that happened was all that surprising, but I do like the set up this book does for the rest of the series (especially the villain!!)

In terms of world and characters, I also felt the author did a fairly good job! She tackled a very complex world with many races/ideologies that all were an important part of the story, as well as a sea of different characters as well. While at points some things were under explained or certain characters were not given enough meaning before their death, I was overall quite impressed with the author’s general ability to show and not just tell.

I honestly cannot wait until the next book, and am excited to see where the plot continues to go!

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

“Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! Sorry for the small disappearance, went on a short vacation and didn’t end up being able to read much!

“He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to.”

Stars (Out of 10): 9/10 Stars

Favorite Character: I honestly loved everyone for different reasons!

Spoiler Free: Why did I put this off so long!!! I ended up loving just about everything about this book, from the romance to the plot to the narrator’s unique voice! I mainly picked this up so because I wanted to have read the book before I saw the movie, and I’m really glad I did! Super excited for the movie now!

I think it’s actually been quite a while since I last read a contemporary, and this is definitely the perfect book to warm me back up to genre! It was simple in a good way, and was such a nice break from all the intense sci-fi and fantasy I’ve been reading!

In terms of plot, this book definitely wasn’t the most mind-bending one ever, but the mystery of Blue’s identity really added to the overall feel of the novel! Additionally, the ending perfectly wrapped up every loose end, and I loved it for that!

I think the main thing that made me love the book was the narrator’s voice. It felt so unique and honest, and super funny as well. There was something so truthful and interesting about the way Simon saw and thought about the world, and it made you really cheer for him from page 1 where he started being blackmailed.

Overall, I think I’ve found another author to add to my list of contemporary favorites, and I can’t wait to read her next book! (Which I have waiting at home!!)

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

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Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

They came to earth—Pestilence, War, Famine, Death—four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all. 

When Pestilence comes for Sara Burn’s town, one thing is certain: everyone she knows and loves is marked for death. Unless, of course, the angelic-looking horseman is stopped, which is exactly what Sara has in mind when she shoots the unholy beast off his steed.

Too bad no one told her Pestilence can’t be killed.

Now the horseman, very much alive and very pissed off, has taken her prisoner, and he’s eager to make her suffer. Only, the longer she’s with him, the more uncertain she is about his true feelings towards her … and hers towards him.

And now, well, Sara might still be able to save the world, but in order to do so, she’ll have to sacrifice her heart in the process.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! (I think this book was the first one I ever preordered on Kindle!)

“I cannot decide if you are a toxin or a tonic,” he says, lifting a hand to my cheek. “Only that you plague my thoughts and fill my veins.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5/10 Stars

Spoiler Free: Laura Thalassa is a super popular author in the YA Lit Discord I’m a part of, and therefore I couldn’t pass up on reading her newest release! Even though I had only read Rhapsodic by her before (a problem I need to amend soon!), I knew I’d enjoy this new book both from the reactions from my friends who read ARCs + all the teasers Thalassa shared. This prediction ended up being entirely correct!

I really loved the characters in this book, and the world/story this first book sets up. While I had a bit of trouble getting into at first, just due to warming up to the characters who were presented in such harsh and raw ways, I was hooked by 25% and spent the rest of the day shirking my responsibilities to finish it!

One of the things I already know from reading Rhapsodic is how well Thalassa does romances, so I had high hopes coming into this one! I didn’t think it was possible, but the romance in this book was even better than Rhapsodic (considering I haven’t read the rest of the books), and it had me flipping pages at points to see how it progressed!

Additionally, it’s fairly obvious that the focus of this book is the characters, and their emotional journey more so than the physical one. While in Rhapsodic I had issues with the plot coming on too suddenly, this book didn’t suffer from that at all! There was still a plot, but it never worked to overshadow the characters in the book, and blended along well with the relationship’s progression. It was like the main emotional storyline’s sidekick, always there and never wavering, but also never fighting for the spotlight.

Lastly, I think the one book per horseman/main character is a really fitting format for the series. While I would have loved to see more of Pestilence and Sara, I also know that the next book might not have been as enticing due to the now-resolved tension/issues that made this book as strong as it was!

Overall, I’m super excited for the next book in this series, and excited to read more of Thalassa’s work in general!