ARC Review: The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

nowhereGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: October 10, 2017

syn

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

Who are the Nowhere Girls?

They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.

review

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Simon Pulse 

+++ Trigger warnings for sexual assault, violence, general skin-crawling misogynist ideologies and vulgarity

This book has no rating because it is without a doubt the most difficult book I’ve ever had to rate in my history of being a reviewer. Interpret and make your own judgments about what you think my rating of the book is based solely on this review and nothing as limited as a star rating. 

The Nowhere Girls is a battle cry, an ode, a bittersweet mourning, and a rage-inducing awakening. This book is more than necessary, it should be required reading for everyone, regardless of age, gender, or political leanings. Here’s the thing, The Nowhere Girls reads a little Perks of Being a Wallflower meets The Breakfast Club mixed with profound, contemporary questions about society and feminism. At times it feels like your run-of-the-mill coming of age story split in various POVs and as someone who generally loathes coming of age, it lagged for me, despite the eye-opening questions and they way it made me think (which is what marks great, life-changing books for me). I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters, which with so many POVs and an US POV that had the voices of several girls, it’s puzzling that none of them resonated with me. Not that the characters weren’t defined. They were more than multi-dimensional, they practically screamed from the pages with their unique and interesting personalities and their determination to succeed. 

I absolutely dislike the synopsis for this book. It makes the story seem like something it’s not-a revenge plot or some weird, let’s get back ALL THE MALES story. This is far from that. It’s an exploration of what it means to be female in our society and then breaks that down further into all the ways that sexuality, race, and choice intersect with that. 

Here is a list of the many important and critical pieces of what it means to be female that this book discusses in its short number of pages:

  • No means no. 
  • Why we think that if you’re dating someone and they force you that it’s not rape. 
  • How saying yes is a choice and it can be an empowering one. 
  • That girls should not be afraid of their sexuality or that they enjoy sex. 
  • The double standard of “boys will be boys” but a girl who actively explores her sexuality and enjoys being sexual is a slut. 
  • Trans girls and whether they feel they have or can find a place in feminist culture. Transitioning girls and the same sort of questions. 
  • How girls who are known “sluts” are ignored when they “cry rape,” how women are treated differently and their allegations taken less seriously if they’re a certain “type” of girl or from the wrong “side of the tracks.”
  • Differing perspectives on virginity. 
  • Why a sex strike is problematic. 
  • Why we think that if we’re drunk and we say no and are ignored, that it’s our “fault.” 
  • The many many reasons that women fail to report their assault.
  • The many levels of fear women face every single day that men do not ever consider. 
  • Why we feel the need to pass judgment on other girls. 
  • Small town mentality. 
  • Privilege and “getting away with it.” 
  • And many, many more. 

I can’t even count the number of times I found myself nodding at the scenarios discussed, all the many feelings and experiences females go through in every encounter they have with males and even other girls. So much of this book made me remember and reflect and that is the reason WHY I put a trigger warning on this apart from the constant references to rapes and assaults and the feelings associated with these events well after they occurred (because how can anyone forget? This is another thing that’s discussed). 

I was also so angry after I read this. Angry that women have to deal with any of this stuff. Angry that men think they have the right. Angry at all the misogynistic, horrible, and derogatory ways that women are looked at as possessions or to be used and discarded. It’s sickening. 

I feel like I should say that you need to be in the right frame of mind to read this without completely losing it. That if you don’t want to be ragey and heartsick and possibly triggered to put this aside until you’re ready but at the same time, this book is cathartic. It lets you voice everything you didn’t know you needed to say through the proxy of these characters. In a way that is both enlightening and lifts the weight off your shoulders. 

One of the worst and most heartbreaking moments in this book for me is when one of the girls says that she didn’t know she could or was allowed to say no. Holy crap that pretty much knocked the air out of  my lungs. It is so hard to be female. You very well might cry several times and at the end, you might not feel satisfied, but you will feel invigorated and fellowship with every female you see afterwards and that itself is a gift. 

Read, read some more, and for the love of Pumpkin Spice use that reading to inspire change in yourself and in the world. 

Jordan

Advertisements

Review: Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

love-andGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

synLove is more than meets the eye.

On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?

As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a sweet but shy girl named Cecily. And despite his fear that having a girlfriend will make him inherently dependent on someone sighted, the two of them grow closer and closer. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty—in fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?

review

3.5/5 Stars

Love and First Sight is an adorable and profound look at perception, the way we see the world, and what happens when someone who has never been able to see does for the first time. 

There’s a lot going on in this book but something I LOVED was the idea of beauty and how it starts beneath the surface. The main character, Will, is blind. He has never seen anything from birth, not even darkness. He has no perceptions, no stereotypes, nothing to work with because he has never seen it. Sure, he can know what something is, like a triangle or an apple, but he can’t envision it. What’s so compelling about this story is the many thought-provoking and inspired conversations on what it means to be beautiful and whether or not it matters if your physical appears fits the general construct and stereotypes of what beauty should be. Will has no basis. This is fascinating. His version of beauty is soul-deep and has to do with a number of components, the sound of someone’s voice, the feel of their skin, the way they treat others. He says that physical beauty, whether it’s there or not doesn’t matter. If only the world thought this way.

There are two sides of blindness, well three if you want to get philosophical. Blindness in terms of the everyday stereotypes and treatment towards blind people-they way people assume they need help, want it, or are helpless in general. Even the small things like they all wear sunglasses or like to be pulled along. Things that the average person probably would not think about. The small part of me that enjoys science was intrigued and downright astounded by the research poured into this book. It discusses how the brain develops, which parts are used for each sense, and how disuse of one can affect the others.  Will has the opportunity to received life-changing surgery that could give him sight. Learning, adjusting to vision is startling. Everything that goes with it, from depth perception to colors to shapes. How do you focus when there are so many elements and when you have never learned how? Each step is connected with blindness and learning through that earlier condition to finally see. We take sight for granted. It never occurs to us that it’s amazing that we can look at so many things at once and recognize them as distinct from each other. For a blind person learning to see, this seems impossible and the brain needs to be trained to cope with the explosion of sensory overload. After I read this, I really thought about placement, perspective, and the incredible power of the human eye to define. 

I’m hesitant to call this a romance because it felt underdeveloped and rushed. What I felt more than anything was a genuine and powerful friendship. There wasn’t really room for anything else on top of all the other stuff going on. The was a point in the story where feelings are confessed and I was stunned. Not that they were there at all but that it was sudden and without enough time to build on the romantic elements. The whole time nothing but friendship, respect, and adoration, with hints of romance. 

Secondary characters were, for the most part, barely there. Even when they were there, it was small snippets that suggested overall personality, but even when there was space in the story to expand and cement these characters in the story, it was a whole bunch of telling. They go on a road trip. I cannot think of a more perfect time to get to know secondary characters than on car ride, cross-country, that days a number of days. And yet, this whole section was in the span of a handful of pages.  

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

Thoughtful reading, 

Jordan

Review: Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

because-of-the-sunGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

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 Paulo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develop between Dani and Paulo, 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.

review

3/5 Stars

+++Potential triggers for abuse, violence, death

This book is weird. 

This is probably one of the most bizarre and strange interpretations of loss I’ve ever encountered. It’s weird in a way that makes you uncomfortable and raise your eyebrows straight into your hairline. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more awkward character. Dani is perplexing, puzzling, and you kind of can’t look away from the mess. 

The story is unexpected and surreal. It’s something that could happen, sure, but the odds…slim. This reads like an out of body experience. Dani is disconnected, so lost in her thoughts that it’s borderline hallucinogenic. Add her aloof nature, disconnect with her emotions, and the fact that she believes a bear is stalking her. The whole thing is all sorts of trippy. 

For most of the book, Dani mirrors the main character from Albert Camus’ The Stranger. P.S., if you haven’t read The Stranger and you plan on it, this book totally destroys the ending. I wish the main character would have said spoiler alert or something because once you see it, you can’t forget. She’s trying to process her mother’s death but is so far removed that she wanders around, out of touch with reality. What’s so important and different about this book is that it deals with a kind of loss that isn’t really talked about-how to deal with the death of someone you strongly disliked or even hated.

Dani’s relationship with her mother is complex. She harbors a ton of resentment, doubt, self loathing, and hatred towards her mother. Dani’s mother was verbally abusive, she made her feel small, like she was useless, a burden, and even her existence annoyed her mother. How do you feel when the person who made you feel that way dies in a horrific way? And if that person is your mother? No matter how much negativity Dani felt, she was still her mother. Dani struggles to sort through her feelings. The guilt of feeling a kind of relief that she’s gone, the loss, the anger, the things she never got to say. All of these chaotic thoughts and emotions plague her to the point that functioning like a normal person is almost impossible. This was eye-opening. So many times we see positive relationships between the protagonist and the person they lost, this was something else. 

Not much happens in the story. Dani is just trying to flail through life. No purpose, just time passing. Disconnected. Then there’s a random switch in POV that is enlightening and jarring. We get to see how Dani’s mom became the vile, but misunderstood woman she was. Nothing is ever what it seems. There’s so much we don’t know about our parents. 

There’s a subtle layer of commentary on perception of Mexican Americans, of people who live near the border, and the kind of prejudice they face. That was poignant, but subtle. 

The romance was…I mean…it wasn’t sexy, there wasn’t a bunch of tension or even chemistry. It was a choice and I liked that a lot. It’s way different and more refreshing than the constant instalove-even if that element is there to an extent. They listen to each other, the become friends, they help each other cope, and the make the decision to be something more. 

Pacing is slow. Dani isn’t exactly likable and she knows it. She makes herself that way. For much of the book, it’s hard to like her, but she’ll grow on you. If you’re looking for something odd and like contemporary, I’d try this one on for size.

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

Interesting reading, 

Jordan

100+ YA Books of 2017

I’ve set out to compile a definitive list of every highly anticipated YA release coming this year. I will update as I hear about them. If you have anything you’re super excited about that’s not on the list, please comment and I will add!!!

Because my Goodreads goal was a fail last year, I’ve decided to tackle this list PLUS my 2017 challenge. So far that’s 165 books and counting. 

I’ve included Goodreads links and their release month. 

***Once I’ve read and reviewed them, I will include the link to said review and put a star next to the title. 

 

  1. 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac (Feb)
  2. 27 Hours by Tristina Wright (Oct)
  3. #famous by Jilly Gagnon (Feb)
  4. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (Feb)* Review
  5. After the Fall by Kate Hart (Jan)* Review
  6. Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin (Jun)*
  7. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (Jan)
  8. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (Jun)
  9. Ashgrave by S.M. Boyce (Sept)
  10. At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson (Feb)*
  11. Bang by Barry Lyga (Apr)* Review
  12. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (Jan)* Review
  13. Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez  (Jan)* Review
  14. Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage  (Feb)* Review
  15. Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows (Sept)
  16. The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang (Aug) 
  17. The Black Witch by Laurie Forest  (May)
  18. The Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (Mar)* Review

  19. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Mar)*
  20. The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser (Jan)
  21. Brave New Girl by Rachel Vincent  (May)
  22. By Your Side by Kasie West (Jan)
  23. Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Jan)
  24. The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu (Jan)* Review
  25. Carlos’ Peace by Melissa Haag (Feb)

  26. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth (Jan)
  27. Charmsprings by S.M. Boyce (Oct)
  28. Cheating Death by April White (Jan)

  29. City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson (Jan)*
  30. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (May)
  31. The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye (May)
  32. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (Mar)
  33. The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom (Feb)* Review
  34. Curiosity and the Sentient’s Oblation by Zachary Paul Chopchinski (Feb)* Review
  35. The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine (Jan)
  36. Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson  (May)
  37. The Dark Days Pact by Allison Goodman (Jan)
  38. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (Feb)
  39. Dear Reader by Mary O’Connell  (May)
  40. Deathdread by S.M. Boyce (Oct)
  41. Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor (Apr)
  42. Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray  (Apr)
  43. Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon (Feb)
  44. Dreadnought by April Daniels (Jan)* Review
  45. Dreamfall by Amy Plum (May)
  46. Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (Feb)
  47. Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey (Apr)
  48. The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie (Apr)
  49. The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (Jan)
  50. The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera (Feb)*
  51. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza (Feb)* Review
  52. The Ends of the World by Maggie Hall (Jul)
  53. Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett (Sept)
  54. Exo by Fonda Lee (Jan)
  55. Fire Color One by Jenny Valentine (Jan)* Review
  56. The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo (Jul)
  57. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (May)
  58. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (Oct)
  59. Freeks by Amanda Hocking (Jan)* Review
  60. Frostblood by Elly Blake (Jan)* Review
  61. The Gatlon School for Vigilantes by Marissa Meyer  (Nov)
  62. Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr (Apr)
  63. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Jun)
  64. Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (Sept)
  65. Get it Together, Delilah by Erin Gough (Apr)
  66. Gilded Cage by Vic James (Feb)* Review
  67. Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn  (Jun)
  68. Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman (May)
  69. Give Me a K-I-L-L by R. L. Stine (Apr)
  70. Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (Apr)

  71. A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho (Feb)
  72. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner (Mar)
  73. The Grave Keepers by Elizabeth Byrne (Sept)
  74. Grit by Gillian French (May)
  75. Happily Ever After by Kelly Oram (Feb)

  76. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Feb)
  77. Haven by Karen Lynch (May)

  78. The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber (Jan)
  79. The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd Jones (Aug)
  80. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Jan)
  81. Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg (Mar)
  82. House of Furies by Madeleine Roux  (May)
  83. How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore (Jan)
  84. How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake (May)
  85. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Mar)
  86. Heartstone by Elle Katharine White (Jan)
  87. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti (Jan)
  88. Hunted by Meagan Spooner (Mar)
  89. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo (May)
  90. If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak (Jun)
  91. In a Perfect World by Trish Doller  (May)
  92. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura (May)
  93. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel  (Jun)
  94. Kill All Happies by Rachel Cohn (May)
  95. King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Feb)
  96. The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett (Jan)
  97. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (Jul)

  98. The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro (Feb)
  99. Legion by Julie Kagawa (Apr)
  100. Lessons in Falling by Diana Gallagher  (Feb)
  101. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana (July)
  102. Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (Jan)* DNF
  103. Lifers by M.A. Griffin (Apr)

  104. A List of Cages by Robin Roe (Jan)* Review
  105. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (Aug)
  106. Lois Lane: Triple Threat by Gwenda Bond (May)
  107. Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas  (Feb)
  108. Looking for Group by Rory Harrison (Apr)
  109. Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist (Jan)* Review
  110. Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (May) 
  111. Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra (May)
  112. Madness by Zac Brewer  (Sept)
  113. Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller (Sept)
  114. Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski (Apr)
  115. A Million Junes by Emily Henry (May)
  116. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (May)
  117. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (May)
  118. Now I Rise by Kiersten White  (Jun)
  119. Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh (Jun)
  120. Once and for All by Sarah Dessen (Jun)
  121. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake (Sept)
  122. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr (Jan)
  123. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (May)
  124. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (Jun)
  125. Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley (Jan)
  126. Perfect 10 by L. Philips (Jun)
  127. Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields (Jan)* Review
  128. Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott (Apr)
  129. A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl (Mar)
  130. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (Mar)
  131. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (Feb)
  132. The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt (Jan)* Review
  133. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (May)
  134. Renegade Red by Lauren Bird Horowitz (Mar)
  135. Roar by Cora Carmack (June)
  136. Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin (Feb)
  137. RoseBlood by A.G. Howard (Jan)* Review
  138. Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts (Jun)
  139. Saints, Misfits, Monsters, Mayhem by S. K. Ali (Jun)
  140. Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson (May)
  141. Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta (Aug)
  142. The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig (Feb)
  143. Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (Jun)
  144. Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George (Sept)
  145. Speak of Me As I Am by Sonia Belasco (Apr)
  146. Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer (Apr)
  147. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Mar)
  148. Stranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer (Mar)
  149. The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano  (Jun)
  150. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (Jun)
  151. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins (Aug)
  152. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (Sept)
  153. This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton (Feb)
  154. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera  (Oct)
  155. Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (Mar)
  156. Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty (May)
  157. Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (Jan)* Review
  158. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (Apr)
  159. The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (Feb)
  160. Vigilante by Kady Cross (Mar)
  161. Warcross by Marie Lu 
  162. Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken (Jan)
  163. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (Feb)* DNF
  164. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (May)
  165. Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic (Aug)
  166. Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Sept)
  167. Wildman by J. C. Geiger (Jun)
  168. Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith (May)
  169. Windwitch by Susan Dennard (Jan)
  170. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (Feb)*
  171. Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer (Jan)
  172. Wispvine by S.M. Boyce (Sept)
  173. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (Aug)
  174. The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia (Jan)* Review
  175. The X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry (Jan)* Review
  176. You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (Sept)
  177. The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins (Jan)

Number completed: 32/177

Enjoy and as always, happy reading!

Jordan

ARC Review: The Possibility of Somewhere by Julia Day

the possiblity of somewhereGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

syn

Together is somewhere they long to be.

Ash Gupta has a life full of possibility. His senior year is going exactly as he’s always wanted– he’s admired by his peers, enjoying his classes and getting the kind of grades that his wealthy, immigrant parents expect. There’s only one obstacle in Ash’s path: Eden Moore—the senior most likely to become class valedictorian. How could this unpopular, sharp-tongued girl from the wrong side of the tracks stand in his way?

All Eden’s ever wanted was a way out. Her perfect GPA should be enough to guarantee her a free ride to college — and an exit from her trailer-park existence for good. The last thing she needs is a bitter rivalry with Ash, who wants a prized scholarship for his own selfish reasons. Or so she thinks. . . When Eden ends up working with Ash on a class project, she discovers that the two have more in common than either of them could have imagined. They’re both in pursuit of a dream — one that feels within reach thanks to their new connection. But what does the future hold for two passionate souls from totally different worlds?

review

3.5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & St. Martin’s Griffin

I was torn on how to rate this story because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had to get up early this morning and stayed up until 3AM to finish. If you’re a follower of this blog, you may have noticed that I am not the biggest fan of contemporaries. Coming of age stories typically bore me to death and so when I found myself plowing through these pages, it was a shock to my system. What is it about this book that made me a contemporary convert? 

Eden is not always likable. She’s pushy, indignant, a snob, she pushes people away and has no room for anything but her dreams. She makes judgments as harsh as those hanging over her head and doesn’t think before she speaks…and yet, there’s something about her. She’s rude half the time, but patient, intelligent, kind, and thoughtful with some. She let’s public opinions tarnish her shine. Anyone who has ever felt like they had a past they couldn’t shake and that they are their parents’ mistakes (because no one can see past the prejudice and assumption), you’ll get Eden on a personal level. 

This is a modern Romeo & Juliet spin with Jane Austen odes. Class distinctions, racism, and Southern prejudice all combine to form a heartbreaking adversary for these young lovers. Everyone is against this match. He’s Indian, Hindu, rich, she’s white, on food stamps, lives in a trailer park, and Christian. Everyone in this small town sticks to their racial group cliques and stepping outside of the lines invites retaliation in the form of rumors, bullying, and even abuse.

Ash and Eden’s relationship is refreshing, you’ll hope against all odds that they can slay the prejudice and small-minded stereotypes and profiling of their town, but somehow are certain that it’s impossible. And that is the problem.

This is a story about recognizing that there are parts of everyone’s lives that will limit and diminish them; that there will always be someone who disapproves your choices, and that forces greater than you will always think they know better. So much in this world is working against you, but it takes perspective, fresh, creative, and honest to find what’s working FOR you. Opening your eyes, recognizing the hate, the prejudice, and those who only put you down when they should be lifting you up is half the battle.

The romance is fast. It happens late, really late in the story. The first half, maybe 3/4 of the book are pretty much everyday high school scenes with commentary on social class, didacticism, etc. I don’t know how she did it. Actually, that’s not true. Very much in the vein of Pride and Prejudice the explosive fighting, the nitpicking, the anger, through it all, only Ash and Eden have the ability to hurt each other because they care so deeply-you realize that the love has always been there. Always. It’s that sudden realization-that soft and comforting warmth like a ray of sunlight shining on your face right after a rainstorm-that fills you with certainty that Eden and Ash can do anything if they’re together. 

Autism also plays a part in this story. How some teachers can be dismissive of difference and push the child away as disruptive instead of making the effort to understand. While a little reductive, these scenes were poignant and memorable. 

The jealous popular girl was a familiar and disappointing aspect. Also the perverse and sexually aggressive jock who starts rumors. 

Ash has some serious swoon lines. He has a way with words that will have you dropping your defenses as quickly as Eden does. Holy sincerity and adoration. 

Mundy. Harsh. Crazy harsh and brutally honest. No filter on that girl and boy is it painful. Her words are like a slap to the face but a revelation. They force Eden to look at herself and be honest. It also bypasses on the awkward. There are no secrets and there is relief in that. Spontaneous, a little weird, Mundy is a unique bff. 

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

Romantic reading, 

Jordan

Release Day Blitz & Review: Trial by Fire by Chris Cannon

Trial By FireTBFGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

synBryn’s hopes for a peaceful new semester at school go up in smoke when someone tries to kill her—again. She’s not sure which is scarier, facing the radicals who want to sacrifice her for their cause, or her impending nightmare of a Directorate-arranged marriage to her nemesis, Jaxon.

The one bright spot in her life is Valmont, her smoking-hot knight who is assigned to watch over her twenty-four hours a day. Is what she feels for him real or just a side effect of the dragon-knight bond? At this point, stopping the impending civil war might be easier than figuring out her love life.

She may have to live in their world, but she doesn’t have to play by their rules.

review3.5/5

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via Entangled Teen & Mark My Words

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You NEED to know what’s going on with Bryn and Valmont.
  • You’re more about the romance than the action.
  • You live for drama. 

PROS:

  • That same carefree, awesome, friendly banter is there making you fall hard for every character, even the bad guys.
  • Bryn and Valmont are complicated, romantic, adorable, everything you’d want in a couple with just the right amount of jealousy, love, and drama. 
  • You see another side to Jaxon, one that’s super surprising, sweet, and may have you second-guessing your opinion of him. 
  • The dragon world is evolving. Acceptance, difference, diversity, and understanding are all on full display. The main message is hope. 

CONS:

  • The book was more about the romance than anything else. The action happens much later in the book, along with the crazy cool mysteries that point towards a more accepting, less prejudice side of dragons in the past.
  • The “being” dragon part was absent. Their time in the sky, the flying, the battling, all of that was hardly present. I missed it. 

authChrisAward winning author Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures and snarky contemporary romance.

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

Happy reading,

Jordan

ARC Review: Sanctuary Bay-Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

sanctuary bayGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn

In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & St. Martin’s Press 

Sanctuary Bay is a spine-tingling and deeply disturbing mystery. Part deadly secret and illusion, Sanctuary Bay will keep you guessing to the very end. 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You’re a fan of Shutter Island 
  • You have a strong stomach
  • You like being scared

Deals with important subjects like bullying, identity, the struggles of finding acceptance as a biracial person in a world of black or white, assault (briefly), mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder, PTSD, growing up in foster care and the trouble with eidetic memory. There’s a ton of diversity.

Truly one of the creepiest stories I’ve ever read. Mystery propels the plot forward as stranger things start to happen and bizarre control and surveillance are placed on the students. The cult-like quality of the Wolf Pack is like a drug-induced mania full of carnal desire and blood. The ritualistic aspect is nauseating and horrifying. Some of the scenes are psychologically trippy, where you won’t know what’s real and what’s fake. Characters become unhinged and dangerous, trust is impossible. Several surprise moments. Sarah’s need to fit in and be accepted for all that she is made her more passive than I would have liked in regards to the Wolf Pack, like if you see something that messed up and disgusting, you should be a little more apprehensive.

The main characters, Sarah and Ethan were flawed and complex. At times they were both hard to like but it made them interesting. Sarah is wicked smart and loves science. She’s had a traumatic life, suffers from PTSD-induced flashbacks that coupled with her unique brain make the experience worse. She can see beyond the lies and is hyper-paranoid about things that don’t add up. An unconventional sleuth. Ethan is a cocky, popular guy who is basically a gigantic jerk. He’s sarcastic and frank, he acts like nothing matters and he’s constantly bored. Like most of the characters, behind their pretty facade is a darkness and depth that plagues them. 

The plot twist. A whole new level of terrifying and sadistic. 

There are many threads and clues that lead to the big reveal. History, science, cover-ups, you name it, they all add to the suspense. 

Many of the secondary characters disappeared into the background. Characters that were introduced like they’ve have a role, flit in and out. On a positive note, the characters were intelligent and unique for all the brevity. 

Sarah scrutinizes people and checks off little boxes as if she were conducting a survey. Race, age, social class, attractiveness, etc., are all assessed and quick assumptions are made based on these combinations of characteristics. While this sounds bad, it’s positive because it makes a point. We make assumptions about people for a variety of factors beyond their control everyday based on what’s on the surface, we put people in boxes and form opinions largely due to a greater construct, and how society perceives these things. The author made a huge point with this, however, it made Sarah seem hypocritical, judgmental, and like everything she strived not to be. Sarah had a chip on her shoulder about how others would treat her based on these eternal factors but she perpetuates the issue as well. I don’t think that it was the author’s intention, it needed to be explored and taken a step further but got lost in everything else that was going on. 

There’s a weird off-handed and inappropriate habit of referencing lewd behavior and sexual favors that’s wildly 1. Illegal and 2. One big shrug. Morals fly out the window in lieu of sensation. 

The villain was over-the-top, comic book-style, so bad it’s funny wrong. 

THAT ENDING. What a rush! Perfect setup for a sequel. 

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

Keep reading, 

Jordan