ARC Review: See All the Stars by Kit Frick

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Release Date: August 14, 2018

synvia Goodreads 

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

review3 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley &  Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

I had a hard time rating this book because on one hand, I couldn’t put it down, and on the other hand, it dragged so badly at some points that had I not wanted to figure out what happened, I would have DNF’d and moved on. 

But I needed to know. Despite the blatant toxicity of the friendships in this book, despite so-so characters, and a shrug of a love story, that hint of a good mystery was all I needed to push forward. No spoilers and I should have seen it coming because the book comparisons alone were enough to give it away. Do yourself a favor and DON’T read the full Goodreads synopsis from the top. 

If you read this book for what it’s marketed as, you’ll be disappointed. If you read this book for what it really is, an ode to friendship and a navigating through loss (whether it’s of friendship or tragedy) you won’t be disappointed. 

At its heart, See All the Stars is a gripping mystery that explores the complexity of friendship and how toxic relationships can shape us into who we are and it might not be what you desired for yourself. When you let someone take the reins of your life and lead, you might not be happy where you end up. This book is about 4 friends who are all connected by their fiercely independent and adventurous ringleader, Ret. Ret is the center of their universe and without her leadership, the girls have nothing in common, so you can see where the drama comes into play. Lies, punishment, pitting the girls against each other is all part of Ret’s hold. The story is from Ellory’s POV. She’s really into metalworking and dealing with some stuff. Her world revolves around Ret in a very unhealthy, almost obsessive fixation. She checks her actions against Ret and looks to her to see how she responds. Why Ret has such power over these girls is a mystery. When Ellory starts to pull away things quickly go downhill and in comes the romance. 

As romance goes, this one was kind of bland. There wasn’t any real fire, not even really a connection-it just was. Don’t get me wrong, at times there was really beautiful writing and gorgeous metaphors but the words did not match up with the actual feelings between the characters-or at least, it didn’t read that way. The emotions weren’t there. 

I liked that the story was told between the past and present. Towards the end it all collides and it gets a little confusing. I had to reread one section because I wasn’t sure whether it was in the past. There are flashbacks in the now sections as well. 

There’s colossal build up. Tension is high because as the reader you know something terrible happened but not the magnitude. When you get to the end everything suddenly makes sense with startling clarity. 

Keep reading, 

Jordan

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ARC Review: Like Never and Always by Ann Aguirre

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“It’s terrible and lovely, longing for someone you know will only break your heart.”

“They say love is blind, but I’d say that infatuation is blind, and love is tolerant. When you really love someone, it’s not that you can’t see the flaws; you’re just willing to forgive them.”

“I’m hurting, but I’m not ruined. Things get ruined, not people.”

synOn a hot summer night, a screech of brakes and shattering glass changes two lives forever.

Liv wakes in the hospital, confused when they call her Morgan. She assumes it’s a case of mistaken identity, yet when the bandages come off, it’s not her face in the mirror anymore. It’s her best friend Morgan’s.

Morgan always seemed to have the perfect life, yet Liv must navigate endlessly disturbing secrets of the criminal and murderous variety—and a romance that feels like a betrayal. Torn between the boy she loved as Liv and the boy she’s grown to love as Morgan, Liv still has to survive Morgan’s last request.

review4 Stars 

***I received this ARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Tor Teen

Read the book if:

You like complex romances of epic, triangular proportions.

You have enough time to plough through in one sitting (I started and did not want to stop, I was completely engaged).

Steam and angst are your best friends. The romance will make you want to melt. It builds and blossoms and it feels like you’re sinking into a really comfy blanket on a cold night. Clay is AMAZING. Where can I find one of those? He’s loving and supportive, and OH SO SEXY. Clay is definitely new book boyfriend material. 

The review:

I liked Liv. She freaked out for a bit, understandable, but she turned it around. Her emotions were raw and confused, and so authentic. The voice was super strong and believable despite the unbelievable situation. 

Morgan was a fierce and compelling character, for someone who wasn’t actually alive. She had a huge part because Liv took over her life and had to sink into her lifestyle, uncovering all of the lies and things she hid from her best friend. It really makes you think about how well you know your loved ones. 

The plot itself was confusing at first. It was hard to tell what the book was supposed to be-contemporary, drama, paranormal, romance, murder mystery, thriller? It had elements of all of these. Genre-bending. 

The mystery was intriguing. It was complex and full of two generations of scandal. The twist surprised me. 

If you’re looking for a love triangle with a blend of mystery, pick this up.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading,

Jordan

 

 

 

 

ARC Review: Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari

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“That’s scary for a boy if he’s not willing to man up. Expectations are heavy. It’s like sticking a mirror in front of his soul.”

synAri Sullivan is alive—for now.

She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous—and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

review2.5/5 Stars

***Trigger warnings for graphic violence, animal abuse, gore

What I liked:

  • The story started in a really engaging and mysterious way. We know that the main character wakes up injured and terrified, with no memory of how she got there and no way of getting out. 
  • The killer’s POV has tremendous back story and is ridiculously graphic. You truly gain insight into the crazed mind of this serial killer-how the proclivities developed, the transformation from minor fixation to full-blown obsession. It’s both sickening and fascinating. 
  • A twist that was so unexpected, I’m not sure that what I thought was the twist wasn’t actually a twist within a twist. By the end, I was still uncertain. 

What I disliked:

  • Despite the rollercoaster of a start, the pacing was slow. I skimmed through page after page, where there was so much unnecessary detail that it extended scenes for pages that should have been much shorter. The sentence structure was also weird and oddly scientific. 
  • SO MUCH GRAPHIC VIOLENCE. If you are an animal lover, steer far, far away. If you are at all queasy when it comes to blood, slicing, dissection, anything of that nature, quickly step away from this book and don’t look back. 
  • The main character is dull. Predictable. Makes some choice decisions that will leave you wanting to throw things across the room. When the reveal comes where you find out how Ari ended up in the cistern, it’s really no surprise with her poor decision-making skills. Completely naive and judgmental to her detriment. Also explosive anger, crude and misogynistic insults. 

Read your heart out, 

Jordan

 

 

ARC Review: The Girl Who Called the Stars by Heather Hildenbrand

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“…but you don’t deal in death and escape the feel of it afterward.”

synvia Goodreads

Be very afraid of the Shadows.

I know what I’m not. Human.

I can’t remember my life before Earth, but I’ve grown up hearing the stories of a planet ravaged by war and a people in need of a leader who will bring them out of the darkness. I’m supposed to be their light.

My future terrifies me.

But I’m done waiting to have a real life. If I ever want a chance to live free of the Shadows, I’ll need to fight for it because freedom is never free. No matter what galaxy you call home.

(This is book 1 in The Girl From The Stars Duology. Previously published as Across the Galaxy, now revised & rewritten with brand new content.)

teaser

TGWCTSteaser2TGWCTSteaser copy

review3 Stars 

PROS:

  • Heather Hildenbrand is the angst master. I swear, every single time I read her books there’s always some super swoonworthy, colossal build up of steam and languishing right off the bat. Then it grows and before you know it, you’re flipping through the pages on the prowl for a happily ever after…or at least one measly kiss. Jeez. But that tension is what makes the reader keep reading. 
  • The premise of this book is awesome. I loved the fast-paced tragedy and adventure, and also those horrifying Dementor-style demons. The mix of elemental-style powers with alien made this way different from your average space drama. Kingdoms in the space. I’m all for that. Also vicious wolf guardians? What’s not to love?
  • That explosive ending. I should have known. It was right there and somehow it went right over my head. Facepalm. 
  • Instead of being thrust into the typical long lost princess/heir trope, Alina has always known her purpose, she just doesn’t have the memories to back her up. Alina is focused, determined, and pushes through her fear for the future of her people. Plus she’s obsessed with coffee 😉 

CONS:

  • The plot didn’t feel cohesive. There was a quick jump into space that kind of slowed the pacing and then politics meets black magic. It didn’t feel like it fit together. 
  • Most of the secondary characters were so-so. Alina’s former best friend would have been stronger had there been more interactions. Also the catty, occasionally elitist arguments between some of the characters made a lot of the young people unlikable. 
  • Peter was supposed to be a sort of protector and father figure for Alina, but I feel like there wasn’t enough of that relationship built in the text-it was just there. I couldn’t establish an emotional connection that made me care either way about what happened to him. The issue with that is, the main character cares so much that it made it more difficult to connect with her. 
  • The book feels so short. A little more foundation here and there could have helped really build the emotions between all characters, not just the leads. 

Read and read some more, 

Jordan

 

Review: More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

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“If someone harasses you online, you can have them blocked-but they can reappear in seconds, pretending to be someone else. Over and over again. Anonymously.”

“We all push sometimes, just to make sure someone is on the other side, pushing back.”

“He says the internet makes too many people loud, and too many people silent, but the loud people are all we hear. We have to ask questions to hear the silent people.”

synvia Goodreads

*While this book exists in the same universe as Letters to the Lost, it is a standalone title.*

Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

review

5 Stars 

+++Trigger warning for: child abuse, assault, cyberbullying 

***Some of the content is a little mature. There is some crude language that might not be suitable for lower YA.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I am not big on contemporaries. Something about straight drama usually grates on me, but last year, when I read Letters to the Lost, I was completely smitten with the characters and sucked into the story. While the book itself had some problematic parts, it was one of my top reads of 2017. As much as I loved Letters to the Lost, More Than We Can Tell is even better. 

 

WHAT’S TO LOVE:

REV FLETCHER. 

REV FLETCHER.

REV FLETCHER. 

But seriously, Rev Fletcher. It’s always the quiet ones. Outwardly dark, broody, knicknamed the Grim Reaper because of his tendancies to wear black hoodies and avoid socializing. Beneath that hoodie is a world of hurt and memories that are so horrific that you’ll want to cry for his loss of innocence. The scars on his heart are as deep as the scars that riddle his body. All he wanted was to be loved and what he got was a crazed, religious fanatic of a father who took punishment for sins to a whole, sickening new level. Rev’s voice is strong. His internal struggle is heart-wrenching and honest. He struggles between fears of becoming his father to fear of disappointing him. The tug-o-war is real and raw. The emotions are a lot to process as a reader and his character voice is so authentic that you want to reach out an help him, as if he were a friend. Yet, despite all the pain, Rev is a genuinely kind person, a great friend, and surprisingly flirty. There are times in the book were the swoon is out of this world. 

There were moments in this book where I thought, how is it possible for my heart to be so full for characters who don’t even exist in real life?

The plot. The pacing. The romance.

Emma Blue is a BA coding girl who made her own computer RPG. She’s outspoken, yet shy, she hides behind her computer screen and idolizes her father. She thinks that sexism in gaming is just something girls have to face, but takes steps to manage the trolls. Emma is compassionate, she gets Rev to open up and trust her, and yet, she completely oblivious in all her other relationships. Despite her headstrong, stubborness, she is still likable and you want to see a happy ending for her. 

This book deals with heavy subjects like child abuse, molestation, cyberbullying and assault. These are all very real, very traumatic things that happen on a daily basis that are hard to read about. They’re presented in a way that is not too graphic, but emotionally very powerful. 

The secondary characters were the main characters in Letters to the Lost and their stories, though more subtle still evolved and were just as interesting. 

ALL THE FEELS.

QUESTIONABLE/SO-SO ELEMENTS: 

Even if you need closure, NEVER EVER agree to meet your former abuser at a random address alone. 

Although we live in a tech savvy, social media-centric world, don’t randomly give out your location to someone you met online or worse, agree to meet them and immediately get in the car with them, alone. NO NO NO NO NO. People can be whoever they want on the internet. Be smart. 

Finally, read this book. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enoy this: 

Read on,

Jordan

Review: Heart of Ash by Kim Liggett

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“I carved out my heart and threw it into the deepest ocean. And I’d do it again and again. I will never be sorry for loving you.”

“We’re like the dissonant chord in the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, begging for resolution. As long as we’re apart, there will never be peace in the world.”

All that remained were our bodies—vessels for each other’s hearts.”

“But if I gave in to him, gave in to the darkness, I knew it would be my ruin.”

synvia Goodreads

Ash may have escaped the immortal-worshipping cult that killed her mother, but the love of her life is still under its thrall. Dane has been possessed by his diabolical ancestor Coronado, a man who’s fabulously wealthy, dripping with fame, and the leader of Europe’s most dangerous immortal network. Dane begs Ash to join him at Coronado’s castle in Spain, and swears that his blood bond with Ash is stronger than Coronado’s hold over him. Ash is desperate to help Dane vanquish Coronado without having to sacrifice herself to the darkness. But when you’re all in, blood and salt, the only way to hold on to the light might just be by setting everything on fire.

review5 Stars 

Heart of Ash is exactly the book I needed at the right time. As many of you know, my reading record this year has been staggered and less than stellar. In the past week, I have read 3 horrible ARCs and I was questioning what happened to YA. For every 20 books there may be 1 truly great one. When did this become the norm? It could be me. It could be that over the past year, I have changed and become too busy, but I think that it’s because of that I’m okay with passing over books that are not for me and more than fine with slapping a DNF on a book that consumes my time with no heart. I don’t know if you have felt it to, but it feels like a turning point in YA. How has your reading been going?

That being said, Heart of Ash restored my faith in YA and my love of reading. The twists, the angst, the lust, the suspense, everything about this book sucks you in like a sweet and sometimes bloody addiction. When I read Blood and Salt, I was impressed with the story, but Heart of Ash blew the first book out of the water. 

The writing is beautiful, with profound and emotion-laced introspection at every turn.

The twists and turns keep you guessing to the point that nothing is what it seems.

I love this book. From the lush setting, to the deep, pulsating romance. What I appreciated was that while the book was essentially a romance, it felt like more. I was invested in every character, hoping for the HEA when everything seemed destined to end in total destruction. I hoped for more for these cursed lovers.

Great plotting. Better pacing. 

The blood and evil pours off the pages. When the truth is out…it’s astounding and powerful that Ash can withstand and overcome so much. Ash flirts with darkness and makes the choice to sacrifice herself and chance at happiness for the happiness of others.

The chemistry is straight fire. Slow burning sometimes, simmering others, and a blaze the next. There are some scenes that I would mark as mature YA, but they fade to black, not before all that angst and tension builds. Their love is explosive, volatile, and eternal. 

There are so many things I could say about this book, but the most important is: read this. 

If you like dark and twisted with a greater chance at utter devastation than happily ever after, try the Blood and Salt series.

If you like any of the following, enjoy this:

Read your heart out, 
Jordan

ARC Review: Burning Bright by Chris Cannon

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synvia Goodreads

Bryn is back for her senior year at the Institute for Excellence, also known as shape-shifting dragon school. She isn’t sure which is scarier, the life-force sucking dragons stalking campus or the fact that she’s officially betrothed to Jaxon, a guy who will never love her. Not that she could ever love him, either… That’s just ridiculous.
 
Senior year should be fun. Her parents are alive, she’s finally fitting in, and she’s learning how to be a Medic. But what’s with Jaxon giving her strange looks? He runs hot and cold, and he doesn’t even have the excuse of being a hybrid fire-and-ice-breathing dragon like her. One minute they’re having a great time and the next, she wants to blast a fireball at his head. The marriage contract of doom looms over them–unless this match not made in heaven kindles a flame…

review3/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Teen 

I think part of the reason I was underwhelmed by this book is because I loved Bryn’s story so much. I was so invested in her story, that I yearned for a happy ever after. I was not disappointed. Watching the love blossom and evolve and grow was like a sudden discovery of something that has always been there. Bryn is one of my all time favorite characters. She’s sarcastic, headstrong, brilliant, and so brave. A risk-taker, a leader-she breaks down walls and questions authority, unwilling to give into the archaic ideas of gender roles-especially for the upper class dragons. Bryn is a true warrior and she deserves someone equally as fierce. 

My biggest issue with this final installment in the Going Down in Flames series was not the plot, because that was epic, but the uneven focus. So much time was spent dwelling on the will they/won’t they of the impending relationship that it disrupted the pacing, making it much slower than the previous books. 

I adored Bryn’s internal dialogue. How she questions herself, sorts through her feelings, and pushes herself to be bold, further, to see things in a new light made me admire her even more. Everything was so genuine, from the confusion to the surprise lust. 

Jaxon. What a powerful shift. From the cold, calculated, and arrogant jerk he originated the series as to the compassionate, loving person he becomes. His walls were high and armored but he was willing to take a chance. I have crushed on Jaxon since book 1. There’s something about a bad boy, semi-villain that is so intriguing. Jaxon has much more depth and heart than he was ever given credit for and it’s finally in this book that we get to see Jaxon broken and bare, with his heart on his sleeve. ❤ ❤ ❤

All in all, this was a quick, fun read, but not all that I hoped for the conclusion of the series. 

Read on, 

Jordan