ARC Review – The Pants Project by Cat Clarke

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The Pants Project

Author: Cat Clarke

Publication: March 7th, 2017

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Format: e-ARC, 272 pages

Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Coming of Age, LGBTQ+

Read: March 2017

Cat ClarkeGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Synopsis
My name is Liv (Not Olivia)… I’m not technically a girl.
I’m Transgender. Which is a bit like being a transformer. Only not quite as cool as cool because I probably won’t get to save the world one day.
A Transformer is a robot in disguise. Liv is a boy in disguise. It’s that simple. Liv knows he was always meant to be a boy, but with his new school’s terrible dress code, he can’t even wear pants. Only skirts.
Operation: Pants Project begins! The only way for Live to get what he wants is to go after it himself. But to Liv, this isn’t just a mission to change the policy- it’s a mission to change his life. And that’s a pretty big deal.

I am a cisgender, straight woman and I know very little about transgender issues. If I say anything in this review that can be seen as offensive to the transgender community, please let me know!

Also here’s a review by a multigender writer which I found on this list of reviews of trans/non-binary literature by trans/non-binary reviewers. If you know of any #ownvoices reviews of this book, let me know so I can share them here!

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This book was really entertaining and cute. There’s a lot of passion and several themes that I enjoyed reading about and that I think are important within a middle grade specially. This book talks about acceptance, honestly, family, friendship and sticking up for yourself. Overall, it was a really nice read, super fast and just generally feel good even with the integration of serious topics.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
The writing style was really fast paced and easy to read. I could’ve finished the book in one sitting if I had had the time to do so. The main character has a very distinct voice and personality which I liked but it also felt very disjointed and there were some weird metaphors. Some things were not explained in the best way in my opinion and kind of made me raise my eyebrows a bit.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
I liked the characters in this book, most of all the relationships between them and how they grew and developed as the book went on. Liv was pretty great. He was very determined and had a lot of tenacity which I appreciated. He was very adamant about what he wanted to accomplish with The Pants Project and what it meant to him and I love his purpose. However, he also had a temper that had gotten him in trouble a few times and it was interesting to see that kind of growth, learning how to feel his anger without physically lashing out. He was really vulnerable and secretive for various reasons but he was really kind as well. Like I said above, I really liked the relationships that were explored in the story. The family dynamic is really great and Liv has a sibling with whom he gets along well, as well as you can with a younger sibling and I loved their relationship! There are quite a few side characters and the ones that had most page time I felt were well developed and interesting to read about. I want to mention that there is one character who does say transphobic and homophobic things. They are clearly condemned in the text and the author makes a point to call them out for being bad things to say and to believe but I want to make sure people know before reading in case it’s triggering.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon

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Done Dirt Cheap

Author: Sarah Nicole Lemon

Publication: March 7th, 2017

Publisher: Amulet Books

Format: e-ARC, 336 pages

Genre: Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance

Read: February 2017

Sarah Nicole LemonGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Abrams Kids and Amulet Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Synopsis
Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens. Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of Hazard, a powerful attorney: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.

Critically

Plot – 3.5 out of 5 stars
This book doesn’t have a linear plot in my opinion, it’s much more character oriented. But there’s a lot of amazing themes expressed and developed in this story. It’s a coming of age and it talks about hope, ambition, trust, friendship, honesty, bravery and just general girl badassery. It took me awhile to get into it but it caught my attention after the first quarter.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
This author’s writing is one of my favorite things about this book. Contemporaries tend to have very simple and easy to read writing, and while this has that, it’s also really poetic and lyrical. There are some really beautiful lines in this book that paint a detailed picture with descriptions that are intense. This book has dual POVs since the two main characters narrate the story but the distinction is very subtle and I wish it could’ve been more obvious to have an easier time transitioning between narrators.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
This is the selling point of this book. Not only are there two amazing female protagonists but they build such an incredible friendship that is pretty much the most important part of the story. I am kind of obsessed with these girls and their bond to be honest. Tourmaline is kind of the more naive of the two. She’s been sheltered her entire life and has a certain perception of the world because of who her father is and what he does. She feels really guilty for what she did when she was younger. However, she’s learning a lot about what is really happening around her and she’s defiant and determined. I loved seeing her become more confident as the story progressed. Then we have Virginia (it got a bit confusing sometimes since the setting is also Virginia) and she’s kind of like rough and tough. She’s definitely been through hardship and her life isn’t really what she envisions for herself. She makes the most of what she has but slowly things start to unravel and she wants to look to escape. She’s very vulnerable and scared, she’s dealing with a lot of anxiety but she’s also learning to open up and depend on others. Again, the friendship between these two characters is absolutely incredible and the best part of this book. But there are also a lot of complex and interesting relationships and romances that I feel were very well developed but didn’t take away from the friendship being the focal point of the story.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace

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the princess saves herself in this one

Author: Amanda Lovelace

Publication: February 14th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Format: e-ARC, 208 pages

Genre: Poetry

Read: January 2017

Amanda LovelaceGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Andrews McMeel Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

4-stars1

Synopsis
From Amanda Lovelace, a poetry collection in four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. The first three sections piece together the life of the author while the final section serves as a note to the reader. This moving book explores love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, and inspiration.

Emotionally

So this review is obviously a little different than all the ones I’ve done before. I’ve never reviewed a poetry collection before so I’m kind of winging it at the moment. I hope everything I share here makes sense and if it doesn’t, please let me know!

I first heard about this collection on Twitter. A lot of mutual book community friends were raving about it and though I hadn’t read poetry in a really long time (since high school), I wanted to give it a try. When I say that it was up to Read Now on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to check it out!

This collection is divided into four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen and you. It explores themes of love, loss, grief, death, empowerment and honesty. Because this is contemporary poetry, I don’t feel like it’s right to make a critically section in this review. The writing style is incredibly personal and the way the stanzas and poems are laid out are part of that experience. All the poems were raw and powerful, there was a lot of emotion emitted from the pages which is completely tangible as you read.

I enjoyed the entire collection but I have to say that I found it hard to connect. I liked the stories and pictures the author painted for the reader but I didn’t connect with the majority of them. I felt like I was reading a much more personal journey than something for me to feel connected to. For some reason, it felt much more intrusive to me, like I was looking into the intimate details of a stranger’s life and I didn’t have any right to it. But that’s just me being weird because the content and delivery of these poems is beautiful and intense.

My favorite section is definitely the queen. It was the part I connected to the most out of all of them and I felt like it was the culmination of the journey the author was telling in the first two parts. We learn about so many personal things from her life, so many hardships that the queen section feels like her triumph. It feels like this is the person she is now because of all the learned from all the things that happened then. And I think that 1. that was really brave of her to share with the world and 2. it’s incredibly empowering to read and to absorb.

Here are some of my favorite poems from the collection:

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Overall, I’m glad I read this collection when I did. I hadn’t read poetry since high school and this reminded me oh how much I enjoyed it. Definitely recommend it!

So that’s it for this post! This was one of the hardest reviews ever because I couldn’t use my usual format and it screwed me up haha. I’d love to know if any of you have read this collection and what you thought! Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!

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ARC Review – The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

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The Last of August Cover

The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2)

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Publication: February 14th, 2017

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Format: e-ARC, 336 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Retellings

Read: January 2016

Brittany CavallaroGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Harper Collins Children’s via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

4.5-stars1

Synopsis
In the second brilliant, action-packed book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy, Jamie and Charlotte are in a chase across Europe to untangle a web of shocking truths about the Holmes and Moriarty families.
Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers.
So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

Trigger warning for mentions of rape, drugs and violence.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
I always feel like these books are over saturated because there is so much going on with the plot at all times. There’s mystery and suspense. It’s really dark and intense and sometimes very confusing as well. There are always a lot of twists and turns and I didn’t see anything coming which is both good and really bad. The ending was really abrupt and kind of cliffhanging and that’s probably my biggest complaint. It left me with a giant question mark.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
I really like the author’s writing style. It’s very vivid as well as detailed and descriptive. It’s so fast paced but at the same time very confusing. The main character, Jamie, is left out of a lot of information and so that affects the overall narrative of the story, the reader tends to be just as lost and confused and angry as him throughout the story which is both good and band. When we get a bit of a switch up in the POV, I like how both voices are very distinct and unique.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I’m becoming a huge fan of this cast of characters. However, they are all extremely flawed and extremely complex and maybe not the best people. I don’t think I’d be their friends in real life though I love reading about their craziness. Jamie is getting a lot more reckless and brave in this book. He tagged along and was kind of like the sidekick in the first book but now he’s kind of tired of that role and wants to be a lot more involved in solving the mysteries that are going on though he sometimes pushes it way too far for his safety. He’s a lot angrier and desperate than he was in the first book but he’s also just as loyal and open and kind. I liked seeing how he’s developing as a character though I want more from him as well. Charlotte kind of drives me crazy. She’s reckless and destructive to herself but also really smart and cunning. She opens up a lot more in this books so I feel like the reader gets to know her more in this one but I also feel like there’s still more to learn! I want to know every nook and cranny of her personality because she’s such a complex character but we’re not there yet. The actual relationships between the characters (including the side characters) are my biggest issues with this series. The relationship between the two main characters is problematic and sometimes even toxic in a way that puts me off sometimes. There are also no great familial relationships or relationships between parent and kid that are really healthy. All of them are kind of wrong and weird and uncomfortable and though it makes a lot of sense for the plot and the kind of characters they are, I don’t think its the best theme to explore.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – Dreadnought by April Daniels

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Dreadnought (Nemesis #1)

Author: April Daniels

Publication: January 24th, 2017

Publisher: Diversion Books

Format: e-ARC, 265 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+

Read: January 2017

April DanielsGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Diversion Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

4-stars1

Synopsis
An action-packed series-starter perfect for fans of The Heroine Complex and Not Your Sidekick.
Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.
It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.
She doesn’t have time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

I am a cisgender, straight woman and I know very little about transgender issues. If I say anything in this review that can be seen as offensive to the transgender community, please let me know!

Also here’s a review by a trans woman writer which I found on this list of reviews of trans/non-binary literature by trans/non-binary reviewers.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
The plot of this book was really action packed and intense. It kicks off right away with the scene described in the blurb and has a lot of emotional and powerful moments throughout. There were times when I was a little confused with the world building. It was kind of choppy, some things I felt were over explained with a lot of time spent with them and others didn’t have as much of a spotlight. However, I really enjoyed how the author explored themes of family, friendship, identity and acceptance.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
Honestly, it was hard for me to get into this book in the beginning. It had a medium pace but I still felt like the book dragged. For some reason, the book took me a really long time to read even though I was enjoying it. The writing style is really descriptive and detailed though I felt like some things were more so than others. And it’s also graphic and unapologetic when depicting not only action scenes but the prejudices that Danny faces.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I really liked the characters in this series though for some reason I was very confused with Danny’s race. I don’t know why going into this book it was something that I fixated on, I can’t even tell you why, but I couldn’t picture her for half of the book because it never specifically said the color of her skin. There’s a certain point where another character comments on her whiteness and that’s the only mention of it. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m trying to be more conscious about race or what, but yeah that threw me for a loop. But anyway, I really liked Danny as a narrator, though there is SO MUCH going on in her life from the moment that we meet her that it sometimes made it hard for me to wrap my head around. She’s very happy about the situation she finds herself in but also really scared and nervous about how that is going to change her life. She struggles a lot with decisions and I liked her sweet, kind and brave nature. Sometimes I think she pushed herself too far too fast and it made me nervous for her well being but it definitely showed the determination she has. There are also a lot of side characters in this book, so many that it felt like they weren’t developed enough. I wanted some of them to have more page time and others to have a whole lot less than they ended up having. They were all very unique and I had some favorites obviously, though again, I got some mixed signals with the appearances of some of them. There’s also a lot of antagonists I guess you could say, people who are against Danny for some reason or another and damn did those characters create so much crap for the poor girl. It was so harsh and painful and yet so brutally honest and real, specially since this is an own voices trans book that it broke my heart and pissed me the f off at the same time.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

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Because of the Sun

Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publication: January 3rd, 2017

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Format: e-ARC, 272 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health, Realistic Fiction

Read: January 2017

Jenny Torres SanchezGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Delacorte Press and Random House Children’s via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

3.5-stars2

Synopsis
From the backyards of suburban Florida to the parched desert of New Mexico, Because of the Sun explores the complexity of family, the saving grace of friendship, and the healing that can begin when the truth is brought to light.
Dani Falls learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.
But when Dani chooses The Stranger by Albert Camus as summer reading for school, it feels like fate. The main character’s alienation after his mother’s death mirrors her own.
Dani’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she is sent to New Mexico to live with an aunt she never knew she had. The awkwardness between them is palpable. To escape, Dani takes long walks in the merciless heat. One day, she meets Paolo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develop between Dani and Paolo, and Dani begins to heal. And as she and her aunt begin to connect, Dani learns about her mother’s past. Forgiving isn’t easy, but maybe it’s the only way to move forward.

Critically

Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
I don’t really know how to explain the plot of this book because it’s not really a common one. It was really easy to get pulled into and was really easy to read which means I flew through it. It’s divided into three parts with no chapters which was a little hard for me to get used to but made so much sense when I look back. This book deals with loss, grief, violence, abuse, honestly, pain, overwhelming emotions and acceptance. It’s a little strange but very powerful.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style is very particular and unique. It’s engaging, powerful and intense. The author uses a lot of descriptions and details to paint a very emotional and heart breaking picture. Some of the scenes were kind of confusing and it took me awhile to suspend my belief and immerse myself in the main character’s perspective. But the best thing ever is that there’s Spanish and it’s written correctly which YES! However, it was italicized which threw me off but I still appreciate it.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
This story is about Dani and her relationship with her family, there’s no way around that. Even though I enjoyed the side characters, they definitely don’t have that big of a role in the story as a whole. We see from Dani’s POV and it’s all about her, most of the time. I had a hard time connecting with Dani. I felt for her and what she was going through but I didn’t feel any connection to her. I’m blessed to have never lost a parent and even then, I most likely would not feel as conflicted and shut off to it as Dani does. She’s angry and sad but also numb to all those things and letting life go on around her. She’s practically silent and mute, very introverted and lost within herself. She’s grieving but not really allowing herself to go through the process completely because she’s full of rage at the same time. I loved reading about her growth and her journey through all these tumultuous emotions though. She meets a guy named Paulo and his grandmother Doña Marcela and they are so amazing. They bring Latinx culture into this story which I really loved. I really liked Paulo and his interactions with Dani. He understood her in a way that I didn’t and I connected with him on a different level, so getting to see him talk and help Dani, helped me to understand her better as well. Doña Marcela says very little but she’s definitely tough. One of those grandmothers with a no nonsense attitude but the kindest soul and touch of anyone else in your life. I loved her silent support. Finally, Dani learns of her family through Shelly, her aunt she’d never known she’d had. They both struggle so much in this book but I really enjoyed the progression of their relationship and how they slowly began to open up to each other. That was definitely my favorite part of this book.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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A List of Cages

Author: Robin Roe

Publication: January 10th, 2017

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Format: e-ARC, 320 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health, Realistic Fiction

Read: January 2017

Robin RoeGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Disney Hyperion via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

5-stars1

Synopsis
When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian–the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.
Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

Trigger warning for graphic depictions of mental, physical and emotional abuse.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This book is absolutely and totally heart wrenching and heart breaking. Don’t go into this expecting a light contemporary because you’ll be shocked. This book is extremely powerful and poignant and might even make you cry if you’re affected by the themes discussed in it. It deals with abuse, family, friendship, trauma, grief and foster care. Both boys have different kinds of neurodiversity: dyslexia for Julian and ADHD for Adam. As I have neither, I can’t say if they are accurate representations but Adam reminded me a lot of my brother who does have ADHD. The only critique that I can really give is that I think the ending was rushed, there wasn’t enough resolutions and there were a few things left up in the air.

Writing Style – 4.5 out of 5 stars
I really enjoyed the writing style a lot. It was very distinct between the two main characters, their voices were very individual and unique to the other. It’s really fast paced and engaging. I managed to read the book much quicker than I thought, the second have I read it in one sitting which made it a very fast read. There’s a lot of graphic descriptions, it’s powerful and intense and totally kept me glued to the pages.

Characters – 5 out of 5 stars
The cast of characters in this book, specially the main characters, won me over and made me fall in love with them. They are so real and tangible and amazing. I find myself at a loss for words to describe how these characters made me feel. Julian broke my heart into a million pieces. He’s officially one of my cinnamon rolls because I just wanted to gather him into my arms and cuddle him. (Also, how weird is it that I know see 14 year olds as young enough to be cuddled, who am I?). He’s so quiet and lonely. He’s sad and depressed and lonely but doesn’t really know that he is. He feels that that is the way he’s supposed to be. His narrative is powerful in an emotional stand point and almost made me cry a few times. He’s scared but doesn’t really feel like he can talk to anyone because of the environment he’s in and school most definitely does not help because high school sucks and most people judge him. Adam on the other hand is the epitome of good. He’s such a kind and sweet, not only to Julian but to all the people around him. He actually reminded me a lot of myself and how I tend to be/act the way that someone needs me to, but Adam doesn’t have any negative connotations with that, that’s just how he is. He’s open and honest and gets really conflicted about Julian and his situation and what he should do. I really liked him and I liked his hyperactive yet empathetic personality and how close he was with his group of friends. My only problem where the characters are concerned is that I felt that some of the side characters weren’t developed enough. Adam has a very big group of friends but we only see a few closer up and only one I felt that we got to know as an individual. Also, Adam’s Mom, whom I felt should have had a bigger role in some of the later scenes, wasn’t around a lot of the time though it didn’t feel like she was the typical neglectful YA parent, that was a bit disappointing.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

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the-blazing-star-cover

The Blazing Star (Untitled #1)

Author: Imani Josey

Publication: December 6th, 2016

Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Format: e-ARC, 239 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Read: November 2016

Imani JoseyGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Wise Ink Creative Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

3 Stars

Synopsis
Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.
But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?
She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.
Great.
Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.
As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

Critically

Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
I was really looking forward to reading this book but I was confusing most of the time while I was reading. It involves time travel, mystery and action. However, the book felt too long, like it dragged and it was kind of boring at times when things slowed down. The story was very elaborate with a lot of different elements, though one in particular (the romance) felt unnecessary. Honestly, I think this was a great idea but there was too much going on for me to enjoy myself while reading.

Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
The writing style is very descriptive, but it almost feels like too much sometimes. It’s detailed and packed full of information, so much so that it was overwhelming and intense and made it difficult to be sucked into the story. It was really confusing and drawn out and it really took away from my enjoyment of the book.

Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
I’m still not really sure how I feel about the characters. I appreciate how the entire cast is made up of people of color. It’s realistic and it’s definitely something needed in Young Adult literature right now. However, I liked some of them, hated others and was even confused about some too. Portia is our main character and narrator. She’s a twin which I found really interesting and unique, though she’s currently struggling with what that means for her individual identity. She’s really headstrong and strong in general. However, I feel like she has a low self-esteem and she’s very hurt in this moment that we get to know her. She’s caring and kind to those around her but I still wanted more from her. I don’t know what specifically but I feel like I didn’t get to know her personality as much as I wanted to. I also felt like with the characters in general, they adjusted too quickly to their surroundings which made the progression of the story feel a bit unrealistic. Also, I have to say that there were way too many side characters. It got very confused with all the different names which were culture and period specific (which is perfect but hard to remember) and I felt like I couldn’t get to know them well because as soon as I felt like I had them all down, more would come. Like I said above, Portia is a twin and unfortunately, I feel like that dynamic was not explored enough. The sisters spend most of the time apart and since I wanted to see how the twin bond was going to be for them, that was really disappointed.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – Ice Crypt by Tiana Warner

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Ice Crypt Cover

Ice Crypt (The Mermaids of Eriana Kwai #2)

Author: Tiana Warner

Publication: July 25th, 2016

Publisher: Rogue Cannon Publishing

Format: e-ARC, 334 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mythology, Mermaids, LGBTQ+

Read: September 2016

Tiana WarnerGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Rogue Cannon Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

4.5 Stars

Synopsis
Meela has just returned from the Massacre—the annual attempt to wipe out the mermaids threatening her people’s survival. After forming an unlikely connection with Lysi, a mermaid she was trained to kill, Meela is determined to stop the war between humans and merpeople for good. She knows of a legendary weapon that could bring peace if she uses it against King Adaro, ruler of the Pacific Ocean. But her people have plans for future Massacres and refuse to help her uncover it.
While Meela works in secret to unearth the Host of Eriana, Lysi is held captive under Adaro’s tyranny. Sent to the battlefront, Lysi joins forces with a band of rebels that could either bring her freedom—or have her executed for treason.
Separated by the vast Pacific Ocean, Meela and Lysi must find a way to defeat King Adaro and end the war that has been keeping them apart.

Critically

Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
The plot of this book is action packed and full of precious folklore. It’s filled with violence, war and death. It had it’s slow moments and while there was action, it wasn’t as packed as the first book. There were a lot of plot twists that kept me on my toes and there was a bit more romance which I enjoyed it. The ending was open and I can’t wait to see what the last book brings.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing still worked really well with the story. It’s detailed and descriptive, almost to the point of being graphic, specially when depicting violent scenes which I must say was really interesting. It’s imaginative and steady paced. There’s various POVs in this one which was entertaining but it could get lengthy at times.

Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
I’m slowly but surely falling in love with the characters in this series. Meela is an amazing protagonist. She’s determined and yet vulnerable. None of the characters are the same after their first Masscre and you can really tell how it has affected Meela as she narrates her story. She’s tortured and torn. She’s honest and is trying to do everything in her power to stop the war that is terrorizing her island. In this book we also get another POV which I really enjoyed. We get a closer look at the mermaid side of the war, their strategies, their armies and their different cultures. The latter was something I wasn’t expecting. I love that they weren’t all from one group and there was a lot more going on under the sea than we were privy to until this point. The side characters are also pretty great. There’s quite a few antagonists so it never felt like everyone was against just one person. And the characters we get to see more up close are complex, interesting and sometimes even sweet, specially in their relationships with each other.

Emotionally

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ARC Review – Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys

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Dead Girls Society Cover

Dead Girls Society

Author: Michelle Krys

Publication: November 8th, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Format: e-ARC, 304 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller

Read: October 2016

Michelle KrysGoodreads

I received an e-ARC of this book from Random House Children’s and Delacorte Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

3.5 Stars

This review talks about the Cystic Fibrosis representation from an #ownvoices reviewer perspective, check it out as well.

Synopsis
You are cordially invited to participate in a game of thrills and dares. Tell no one, and come alone. If you dare.
Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’s going to afford college. And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.
When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she might win some real money.
But the Society isn’t all it seems . . . and soon Hope finds that playing the game isn’t a choice—it’s a requirement.

Critically

Plot – 3.4 out of 5 stars
This book was really mysterious and intense. It’s full of adrenaline and action packed because of what the main characters are going through. Sometimes it could get a little cheesy and almost immatureish. I feel like the romance that was introduced and carried out was unnecessary and didn’t really do anything for the plot. And the ending was really annoying and infuriating.

Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style was really simple yet fast paced. It was easy to read and it had an emotive and creepy quality to it. The mystery was really entertaining and well done. I think the choice of narrator was really interesting and I think unconventional but it had it’s moments where it felt whiny, immature though the character definitely showed off her smarts.

Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I had a problem connecting with the characters in this series. I don’t know if it was because of the point of view or because of the way they were presented but I didn’t care about them as much as I wanted or expected to. Hope is the main character and I found her to be an interesting choice, most notably because she has cystic fibrosis. I can’t say if it was a good or bad representation of the disease and what it does to the body and to the person but I thought it was an interesting aspect of her character. However, she’s really immature and whiny. She can be very petty and though smart, sometimes things felt like they were too easy for her. She’s brave and a fighter but some of her choices throughout the book are definitely questionable. There are four other side characters that take on a primary role in the book but I felt like they were stereotyped and very predictable. Even the main characters notices! Though at some point the other makes sure to point out parts of her individuality, I still saw that coming and pretty much continued the predictable characterization.

Emotionally

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