Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

“OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again 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): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Fiske

Spoiler Free: I was so happy when I saw I was approved for this book on NetGalley! I’d been hearing quite a lot about it, and seeing it all over instagram, so I was thoroughly hyped!

Overall, it ended up being a phenomenal story, and I absolutely love the world and characters the author created! I was hooked for most of the story, and the end thoroughly wrapped everything up. But this was not just a simple story about vikings and war, but ended up holding quite an emotional story. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but this story is just as much about understanding and learning to accept one another as it is about fighting.

My main qualms with the story have to do with the beginning and the synopsis. First off, I felt the beginning was rather chaotic, as we are both thrown into a brand new world with tons of characters, and thrown into battle within the first chapter. It ended up being hard to follow both, and I ended up having to focus more of my attention on learning how characters aligned to each other and why they were fighting rather than the fight itself. Additionally, the synopsis for this story wasn’t done in the best way. It reveals event that don’t happen until 50%-60% of the story, and seems to spoil the entire story arc almost. This ended up leading to a story where I kinda already knew most of what was going to happen.

Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed the story, especially the last 40%. In that last 40%, I ended up really connecting with the MC and her love interest, and my worry over them added to the suspense of the final parts of the book. Additionally, I love how well-rounded the ending was, while still giving the reader space to think and wonder what will happen in the future. It didn’t just abruptly end after the final battle was fought, but rather worked to describe the aftermath, which was just as big a part of the plot as the enemy they had to fight.

Lastly, while I did admittedly feel detached from characters at first, which was most likely due to our MC needing time to connect with the side characters as well, I did end up loving almost all of them, especially Eelyn and Fiske. The characters were all solid, and the morals they held close to them weren’t lost just because they fell in love/made a new friend/etc. It felt realistic, and the emotional problems they went through all molded well with the physical plot.

In the end, I do highly recommend for all you guys to check out this book when it comes out in April! (I’ll still be picking it up myself, I need that gorgeous cover on my shelf!)

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Furthermore by Taherah Mafi

“Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! I recently found myself wanting to read something not too scary or complicated before bed, and settled on Furthermore!

“She’d decided long ago that life was a long journey. She would be strong and she would be weak, and both would be okay.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5/10

Favorite Character: Alice

Spoiler Free: I missed Taherah Mafi’s writing so much!! (Shatter Me was my favorite series for the longest time!)

With Restore Me coming out soon (still can’t believe my favorite series is getting extended, I can only hope it lives up to my expectations!), I decided to read Mafi’s middle grade series, as I’ve been interested in it for a while! While everything about it is quite different from her YA series, I still absolutely loved it! From the vibrant world to fleshed out characters, I found myself entranced by every part of this book!

First off, this book contains two worlds, Furthermore and Ferenwood. Both are developed amazingly well, especially seeing as Ferenwood isn’t even entirely the focus of the book. Both are based around very different systems of magic and rules, and the lore behind why this is is explained fantastically well! Additionally, in Furthermore, the twists and turns of the world itself matched perfectly with the plot, and kept most of the plot’s twists concealed quite well, since you can’t predict a world you barely understand!

We also had two amazing characters to lead us through this world, Alice (our narrator), and Oliver (the guide). It was actually really nice to have someone new to Furthermore to be the one describing it to us, as we felt as confused and lost as Alice did at points. The relationship between Alice and Oliver was also super interesting, as they were not connected in any way but a common goal at first. The growth of both their friendship and each character was interesting to see, and I actually grew to like them quite a bit.

Lastly, I liked almost everything about the plot itself. It twisted and turned, and never stopped, keeping me hooked from chapter to chapter until I forgot how long I had been reading. While I found most of the book to follow this almost steady yet exciting pace, the ending was a bit too rushed and quick for me. It carried the tone of a fairytale rounding off with a simple “happy ever after,” and I felt it left some things unexplored and some words left unsaid. Nevertheless, I’m overall still super in love with this book, and definitely recommend it if you want a break from standard books in both the middle grade and YA genre!

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

“Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! Now this goes a bit outside my posting schedule, but I had to get these thoughts out as soon as possible!

“What happened here on Kerenza is not the story of one corporation against another. It is the story of what happened to those caught in the middle. To people, to families.”

Stars (Out of 10): More stars than lives lost over the course of this series

Favorite Character: This is impossible!!!

Now, in order to protect both my friends from spoilers (since I just know they will seek them out! + make sure I don’t sway anyone away and hurt release-day sales, I will be foregoing my usual format of including both a spoiler free and spoiler part of the review, and will be avoiding any whisper of a spoiler in this review! So if you’ve come to find out how the book ends before it’s out, you’re looking in the wrong place! (This is directed heavily at you, Jaye.)

First let me tell you all a little tale on how I got this copy, a finished copy, three weeks before street date. I live in the Netherlands now, and so I didn’t know any online place to order Obsidio from that would ensure I would get the book on day one (I needed it that bad), and so I started reaching out to all my local (and not so local), bookstores. In the end, I got mainly vague answers, that led me to believe online was still the best choice, even if I got it a day or two after release. However, when I was sitting in class the day after, I got a message from one of those bookstores that they had just gotten a copy in, and were able to hold it for me. At first, I thought this meant I’d be able to pick it up on release date, but still asked how soon I could pick it up. When the response was they would arrange things immediately, and I could come on my own schedule, I knew I had gotten super lucky. I rushed to the store as soon as my classes for the day ended, but part of me was still worried they had gotten Obsidio mixed up with another book and I would be disappointed upon arrival. But long story short, I ended the day with Obsidio in my arms and a smile on my face! But now onto the part you guys are really here for, did Obsidio bring a proper end to the Illuminae Files?

In short, YES!

In long…

I loved every page of this book. It feels as if more variation finds its way in the file types each book, and this time was no different! We’ve got all our beloved chat rooms, video narrators, and briefing notes, along with art and comics as well! Additionally, for those worried, the book is focused not just on the new narrators introduced, but our old friends as well. Unlike in Gemina where Kady and Ezra appear near the end, there are two major narratives played out through this book, carrying the voices of Hypatia/Heimdall as well as the rebels on Kerenza. Additionally, they balance these narratives in such an amazing way where one does not overshadow the other, and both play major roles in how the overall story of Illuminae finishes out.

Additionally, the entire book felt realistic. Even when united by a common goal, people still fight and question the teenage MC’s, and the way this is done and built up is extremely convincing as well. (No spoiler, it says this in the synopsis haha.) There are also still all the twists and turns in plot one would expect from an Illuminae book, and I found myself surprised by all of them.

Now it’s going to be hard to talk about the ending without spoiling it, but it was written exceptionally well. It gave nothing away until it actually happened, while still making you feel “in the know.” It also just was a fantastic send-off to the characters and the series, and not necessarily in terms of plot. It gave you the time to say goodbye, to look proudly on these guys and what they had survived and accomplished up until the end, and put your heart on the line along with the character’s lives going into the final battle.

All in all, I probably cried multiple during this book, and was close to it even more, and I loved every single page to it. It gripped right until the very end, throwing in twists and reveals in a paced way throughout the book, ensuring nothing was boring and nothing overwhelming. It went by way too fast, but don’t all good books?

Godspeed, my Illuminae friends. It was a wild ride, and I’m so happy Amie and Jay gave this story life so I could join along.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

#1 bestselling author John Green returns with his first new novel since The Fault in Our Stars!

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! It took me a while to actually figure out how I wanted to go about this review, as I personally felt it was such a difficult one to explain my feelings on. But I made a promise to review every book, so here I am!

“Your now is not your forever.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8/10 Stars

Spoiler Free: After hearing about John Green’s new book, I had to admit I was wary. I haven’t had the best track record as of late with his books, and doubt I would rate them as highly if I were to reread them again. Therefore, I was fairly worried this book would be the same, and I’d have to come out to the public as a person who was not a fan of John Green’s YA novels.

As you can see from my rating, that was not the case. I absolutely loved this book, and was blown away by the narration style in this one. It felt like a whole new type of John Green novel.

While I won’t say the plot is the strongest I’ve ever seen, it didn’t have to be either. The inner turmoil Aza faces throughout the book is strong enough to carry the entire novel, and the mysterious disappearance of a billionaire only adds to it. And while I cannot comment on the accuracy of the portrayal of Aza’s turmoil, and I can definitely comment on its presence. It seems much more real than mental illnesses are often portrayed, and is a constant in Aza’s life, not just something that shows up when the author has run out of things to say in the scene, or needs to make their narrator more “relatable to today’s teens.” It felt harshly and utterly real, not a small hurdle Aza needed to get over in order to be “normal.”

Overall, this novel was fantastically done and my only regret is not reading it all in one sitting. I read it bit by bit over the course of a week instead, as I was reading it with my mom, and I feel this may have caused the ending to seem almost chaotic when compared to the other portions, and without the build up being right there. If I were to read it again, I’d definitely do it all at once!

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading

ReWired by S.R. Johannes

“YA cyber thriller, ReWired, by Shelli Johannes-Wells (writing as S.R. Johannes), which offers a fresh and exciting new take on the genre, and could be described as Ally Carter’s HEIST SOCIETY meets THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO for teens.
Sixteen-year-old Ada Lovelace is never more alive and sure of herself than when she’s hacking into a “secure” network as her alter ego, the Dark Angel. In the real world, Ada is broken, reeling from her best friend Simone’s recent suicide. But online, the reclusive daughter of Senator Lovelace (champion of the new Online Privacy Bill) is a daring white hat hacker and the only female member of the Orwellians, an elite group responsible for a string of high-profile hacks against major corporations, with a mission to protect the little guy. Ada is swiftly proving she’s a force to be reckoned with, when a fellow Orwellian betrays her to the FBI. To protect her father’s career, Ada is sent to ReBoot, a technology rehab facility for teens…the same rehab Simone attended right before killing herself.
It’s bad enough that the ReBoot facility is creepy in an Overlook-Hotel-meets-Winchester-Mansion way, but when Ada realizes Simone’s suicide is just one in an increasingly suspicious string of “accidental” deaths and “suicides” occurring just after kids leave ReBoot, Ada knows she can’t leave without figuring out what really happened to her best friend. The massive cyber conspiracy she uncovers will threaten everything she cares about–her dad’s career, her new relationship with a wry, handsome, reformed hacker who gets under her skin, and most of all–the version of herself Ada likes best–the Dark Angel.
With a deliciously twisty plot, the topical bite of Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER, ReWired delves into technology addiction, internet privacy, and corporate/government collection of data, as it vividly illuminates the universally human questions about ethics, privacy, and self-definition that both underpin these socio-political issues and dovetail with classic coming-of-age themes. Ultimately, ReWired is about the daily choices we all make about who we want to be, how much of ourselves we choose to share with others, and the terrifying risks and exhilarating rewards of being ourselves, online and off.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads

Hello, guys. Allison here. It’s time for my review of ReWired. This time I have a netgalley review. I believe it is my first netgalley review too.

First off, I would like to thank the publisher and author for providing me this ARC in an exchange for an honest 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

Don’t spend money on this book. Go read a fanfiction instead. It will give you a similar feeling. The writing is very simplistic. Writing takes practice, and this book gives off a vibe of being that practice. This book appears to go through an identity crisis. We start off with a realistic fiction with a slight twist to it (the focus being on hacking). We then go into a mystery with slight suspense. We take a brief stroll into a teen slasher. And then we somehow end up in a dystopian final confrontation. It’s like the book wanted to be too many things.

Judging from the acknowledgements in the beginning, this is a republish or rewrite of a novel done in 2012. This causes an issue in the fact the characters did not age well. While the characters may embody stereotypes, we are now in an age where books are taking long-done stereotypes and turning them around. This book does not do that. Instead, it starts with the cliche and keeps the cliche until the end. Even the rushed romance feels off.

However, you could say the plot would be interesting if done differently. I would love to read a book about a rehab group for tech people if the characters were more interesting, the mystery was more developed, and the ending was better. First point of view is always hard to write, so I understand the challenges the author had to be facing when writing Ada. Ada spent more time describing Simone and her friends than establishing herself. It’s hard to balance a well-developed first-person protagonist and a detailed book. She could establish her personality by doing things that compliment her personality rather than just comparing herself to Simone. In general, Ada just wasn’t an easy character to like. It’s hard to enjoy a book when you don’t like the protagonist.

All in all, this book just needs updating to fit into 2018’s standards.

ReWired by S. R. Johannes

“‘Delving into the world of underground hacking, REWIRED crackles with tension. I loved every cyber-second I was immersed in Ada’s world!’— Kimberly Derting, author of YA thriller series’ The Body Finder, The Pledge, and The Taking.

16-year-old Ada Lovelace is never more alive and sure of herself than when she’s hacking into a “secure” network as her alter ego, the Dark Angel. In the real world, Ada is broken, reeling from her best friend Simone’s recent suicide. But online, the reclusive daughter of Senator Lovelace (champion of the new Technology Privacy Bill) is a daring white hat hacker and the only female member of the Orwellians, an elite group responsible for a string of high-profile hacks against major corporations, with a mission to protect the little guy.

Ada is swiftly proving she’s a force to be reckoned with, when a fellow Orwellian betrays her to the FBI. To protect her father’s career, Ada is sent to ReBoot, a technology rehab facility for teens…the same rehab Simone attended right before killing herself.

It’s bad enough that the ReBoot facility is creepy in an Overlook-Hotel-meets-Winchester-Mansion way, but when Ada realizes Simone’s suicide is just one in an increasingly suspicious string of “accidental” deaths and “suicides” occurring just after kids leave ReBoot, Ada knows she can’t leave without figuring out what really happened to her best friend. The massive cyber conspiracy she uncovers will threaten everything she cares about–her dad’s career, her new relationship with a wry, handsome, reformed hacker, Fisher, who gets under her skin, and most of all–the Dark Angel.

With a deliciously twisty plot, the topical bite of Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER, ReWIRED delves into technology addiction, internet privacy, and corporate/government collection of data.

ReWIRED is about the daily choices we all make about who we want to be, how much of ourselves we choose to share with others, and the terrifying risks and exhilarating rewards of being ourselves, online and off.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here with another review! This time I’ve got another ARC from Netgalley, and read it with Allison!

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: I wanted to like this book, as the concept seemed super neat and reminded me of books such as The Program and Dark Eden, but the execution was just terrible.

I believe I saw somewhere that this is a re-release of a story originally written in 2012, so maybe that’s part of it, it just didn’t age well. And if I’m being honest, many parts of the story did feel pretty dated. (EDIT: I now know that this is incorrect, and rather some of the reviews at the beginning of my copy were misleading. Regardless, I still find the references and some of the tropes outdated. In writing in such a quickly changing area, it’s pretty important to either invent new references that cannot become outdated, or ensure any references used (such as the fact that everyone listened to Daft Punk in this book) are as relevant as possible. In my opinion, anytime popular culture is involved, you always run the risk of it being cringy, and unfortunately almost all of the pop culture use in this book was.)

But even if the story had been written now, with references that worked still in today’s time, the over-stereotyped characters matched with the juvenile, and at times, contradicting writing also would have made me rate this book the way I did.

Specifically in terms of characters, it was kind of ridiculous, and at times insulting, how certain types of characters were categorized. We have Varian, the gamer obsessed with WOW and changed his real-life name to his character one, who only dresses in black and wears a trench coat? We also have Raven, a punk looking girl who our narrator hates from the start because of how off-putting she is. And it continues on, with the stereotyped cheerleader and the lanky, quiet guy. Lastly, the most likable character is the dead best friend, as she is given the most characterization, even when compared to the narrator. (Also, there’s a lot of crying and emotions in this book that feel very fake and extreme.

In addition, we have a random romance thrown in that is very on and off and reminds me a lot of younger high school relationships. It honestly was all over the place, and without it, I probably would’ve rated the book higher.

Back to writing, it felt simple, and while this was good during the explanation of confusing, techy moments, it just contributed to the dated feeling of the entire novel. Additionally, I’m not sure if this book just hasn’t gone through any editing yet (have an ARC copy), but there was tons of errors that led to confusion during some scenes. But the main issue with the writing was how it contradicted itself sometimes, showing us one fact and then pulling an entirely different conclusion from it. (The most obvious example being a 3 day period shown, and then having that period being described as a week.)

Additionally, the ending left some things unresolved, and for a stand-alone book I find that very off putting. My favorite part about stand-alones is that they’re usually all wrapped up in a bow by the end of it, or at least don’t purposely introduce new “twists” in the last few chapters that never get resolved.

I do have to admit that the plot was semi intriguing though. The main reason I finished this off was because of the plot, and wanting to find out the secrets behind everything. If some of the other things above had been improved, I could see myself recommending this book based on plot alone. However, it is a package deal, and therefore I cannot recommend this book to people looking for a cool urban sci-fi.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This time, I read The Cruel Prince, one of the most hyped up books for January 2018, with my discord server’s book club!

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5/10 Stars

Favorite Character: This bounced around the entire book, but by the end, Jude

Spoiler Free: To start, I’m going to admit I really did not care for the Tithe series at all. I don’t remember the why behind it, but it just didn’t click with me. So fair enough, I was quite worried and cautious about starting this book, and as the hype rose around this book more and more, my excitement for it did not.

In the end, it was chosen as the book club book in the discord server I am in, and it was the Fairyloot January book. Without these two reasons, I may have skipped this book entirely. I am SO glad I did not!

It blew away any expectations I did have, and I didn’t see any connection between this book and my feelings for Tithe. It snatched my interest and kept it, through every twist and turn, every betrayal and backstab. It felt true to the world of Faerie, but still created characters to cheer for and love.

From the main character to all the small side characters, each felt fairly developed, and fairly realistic. We have Jude, a mortal grown in a cruel world by a cruel “father,” and admittedly this affected how she grew up as well. But we also have her twin, someone who accepted Faerie in a different way. In addition, all of the Fae live up to this cruel idea while still having a personality around that. They have their flaws, and this book shows them sticking to them regardless of how much we hope they’ll be “good.”

Additionally, while the world is a bit confusing in the beginning, it clears up quickly, and the fact you don’t remember the names and relations right off the bat is totally okay, as you’re often reminded of them in a way that is helpful, not repetitive or overbearing.

 

Lastly, the plot is absolutely fantastic, and is constantly packed with action and intrigue. There’s never a lull where I wanted to put the book down and take a break, and the pacing overall was much better than some of the other books I’ve read recently.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

“Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! Allison and I chose The Belles as our book to read together last week, so here is my review!

“No one is a prisoner. Even you have the power to make your own choices.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Remy

Spoiler Free: This book was a rollercoaster ride. A slow start, a slow build up to the first big drop, the first big twist. Then suddenly you’re falling, and you’re not quite sure when you’ll stop. The drop is bigger than you expected, curving and twisting at moments, but then you start to get used to it. You start to expect each curve, each spin, and it starts to feel drawn out. You start to see the end of the ride, and wonder, “Is this it? Was the fun in the middle?” But you are wrong, and suddenly everything is thrown upside down and your heart is in your throat once again. Before you have the chance to process all this, the ride jerks to a stop, and forcing you off, leaving you to wait for the next ride once again.

That, in a long metaphor, is my experience with this book. I did really like it, and I really want to read what happens next, but there were some issues. It was mainly a pacing (slow, quick, slow, quick drop of info then end) issue, and some holes in the plot, but overall I do highly recommend this!

Additionally, the world is super interesting. While it could’ve been better explained at points, I really enjoyed learning about a world so obsessed with beauty, and all the different ways they go about getting that. Also, in order to make us want and truly see that beauty, we were given lushious descriptions of dresses, eyes, hair, and all the rest. We fell into this world wanting that beauty as well, wanting to see what creation Camellia made next, even with all the problems that came with it.

Careful! Spoilers beyond this point!

Continue reading

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

“Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hello guys, Allison here! I just finished the newly released, highly hyped The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton.

Quote: “Someone’s demeanor can become an obstacle for them.”

Stars (Out of 10): 8.5

Favorite Character: Camellia

Spoiler Free: The Belles has a beautiful cover, but the world is what really reels you in. While at first it may seem overwhelming, but as the story goes on, the world of the Belles is one of the most unique I’ve ever read. From teacup lions and elephants to the magic of the Belles, the world building is phenomenal. You can easily come up with images in your head as the descriptions flow across the pages. However, that doesn’t mean this story was perfect and there were some things I didn’t enjoy as much, such as the cliche love interest and the lack of common sense most of the characters seem to share.

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This Above All by Lindsey Roth Culli

“When sixteen-year old Piper is cast as Romeo in her school’s production, she’s as surprised as everyone else. Not only because she’s a girl, but also because she’s from one of the region’s most notorious ultraconservative families.

But when the school principal demands that the part be recast “appropriately” or the show cannot go on, Piper faces a choice: become the figurehead to appeal the principal’s decision or accept the message the administration’s ultimatum sends to the school’s gay students, including her new friends. Namely, that they should be ashamed of who they are or whom they happen to love.

Pitched as Dirty Dancing meets Saved!, when the daughter of one of the region’s most notorious ultraconservative families is cast as Romeo in her school production, drama is sure to follow.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again with another review! This was another one of those e-ARCs I had lying around from last year, and I finally got to it!

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): 8/10 Stars

Favorite Character: Tony

Spoiler Free: Looking back, I’m not 100% what made me request this book from NetGalley, since it’s not the type of story I usually enjoy, but I’m really glad I did.

I was originally quite put off by our narrator, Piper, because her ideologies are so much different from mine. At certain points in the beginning of the story, it was actually quite hard to read her opinions on certain people and things. But as Piper started questioning herself and beliefs, and warming up to the idea of diversity, I started warming up to her!

While I can’t say I liked every part of the plot, and certain parts of the ending really got on my nerves, it overall was a really nice story. One of the first things I noticed when reading was how natural/realistic the writing felt, and how it seemed to fit Piper perfectly. It probably is what helped me warm up to Piper as fast as I did!

In the end, I highly recommend this story. It’s not a book that’s supposed to push forward religious teachings, but rather provides another viewpoint, and seems to promote a general idea of questioning what we’re taught about other people, and taking the time to learn and understand people who are different from us.

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