Wednesday, June 1, 2022

ARC Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill


 

In every person's story, there is something to hide...


The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

Review:
I want to thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks for providing me with an e-galley of this book to read and give my honest review.
First off, being a bibliophile, how could I not want to pick this book up? A book whose premise starts in a library. I had to read it. Second, the idea of meeting friends in a library? SIGN ME UP! I've been very into mysteries lately, so once I read the blurb, I had to see what this one was about. Plus it's an author I have never read and I like to try new authors!
Fast forward to a few chapters in and I'm really intrigued. The author is receiving emails from a long time fan and reader who wants to read the work she's writing. But half way through, things become a little creepy, and then all out stalkery and there went my love of it. I didn't understand what the point of the correspondence was. It didn't add anything to the story for me. Couple that with huge plot holes and the introduction of information that for sure seemed pertinent but never played out and you end up with a book I just didn't love. I tried, I really did.
I could not connect with the characters. Their fast friendship seemed almost forced. They went from a short chat in the library about a scream (the thing that ultimately throws them together, in more ways than the reader won't realize until the end) to suddenly spending all their time together, as if there were no other people in their lives. It's not relatable, it's not understandable, it just didn't even make sense. And there was nothing all that unique about any of these people. Not one of them made me like them, or hate them, in any way. Zero connection which lead to not really caring what happened to any of them.
Then add to it how convoluted the story becomes. It made it really hard to keep things straight and to get into the story. 
And the ending? I'm not even sure what the author was trying to do with the ending. I get it was supposed to initiate some kind of suspense and leave you guessing but I didn't really understand what even happened.
The writer has potential, though she needs to tighten things up. The main character is an author who doesn't plot and I'm wondering if this was a hint at the actual author herself because with all the holes she left, it seems like she didn't plot it out to make sure it all made sense.
Overall, I'm disappointed to say this was not my cup of tea. 

Once upon a time, Sulari Gentill was a corporate lawyer serving as a director on public boards, with only a vague disquiet that there was something else she was meant to do. That feeling did not go away until she began to write. And so Sulari became the author of the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries: thus far, ten historical crime novels chronicling the life and adventures of her 1930s Australian gentleman artist, the Hero Trilogy, based on the myths and epics of the ancient world, and the Ned Kelly Award winning Crossing the Lines (published in the US as After She Wrote Hime). In 2014 she collaborated with National Gallery of Victoria to write a short story which was produced in audio to feature in the Fashion Detective Exhibition, and thereafter published by the NGV. IN 2019 Sulari was part of a 4-member delegation of Australian crime writers sponsored by the Australia Council to tour the US as ambassadors of Australian Crime Writing.

Sulari lives with her husband, Michael, and their boys, Edmund and Atticus, on a small farm in Batlow where she grows French Black Truffles and refers to her writing as “work” so that no one will suggest she get a real job.

THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY, Sulari’s latest novel will be released on 7 June 2022.




Thursday, May 26, 2022

ARC Review: The It Girl by Ruth Ware

 

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of One by One returns with an unputdownable mystery following a woman on the search for answers a decade after her friend’s murder.

April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.


Title: The It Girl
Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Gallery Books
Expected Publication Date: July, 12, 2022

Review:

I want to thank Net Galley and Gallery Books for providing me with an ebook of this title to read and give an honest review.

This is my second Ruth Ware book. The first book I didn't love but wanted to give this author another chance, as I'd heard so many things. 

I like a good who done it. Books that keep me guessing from beginning to end. This wasn't it. I guessed the who pretty much from the start. But because I am not always right, I figured I'd continue.

The story itself has merit. The plot was promising. I like the idea of it being a true mystery: who killed April? Despite someone having been convicted of it, we were going to find out if it was truly that person.

I enjoyed the main character's, Hannah,  before and after POVs. They helped move the book along.

What I didn't love was the repetition. I felt like the narrator just kept circling back to the same things: April was my best friend, if I was wrong I must find out who actually did it, my baby/my baby/my baby. It drew the book out to a length it just didn't need to be at.

Once the before caught up with the after, I got really bored. I didn't feel like the book was moving me in a direction to stay focused and wanting to actually know the ending. I pushed through only because I needed to see if I was right. And I was.

I also found the writing flat. The tone of the narrator never truly showed excitement, horror, fear, etc. I just didn't feel it while I was reading. Too much time for Hannah to think about all the possibilities, over and over again.

Unfortunately, I don't think I will read anymore books from this author. Certainly she is not for me, though that doesn't mean she is not for others.


Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.

Find her on twitter at www.twitter.com/ruthwarewriter, on facebook at www.facebook.com/ruthwarewriter or via her website - www.ruthware.com 


Monday, May 23, 2022

Always Be My Duchess (Taming of the Dukes #1) by Amalie Howard


 

Pretty Woman meets the Bridgertons in this witty, vivacious historical take on 90s romcoms by USA Today bestselling author Amalie Howard:


"Refreshing, steamy, and stocked with characters you don’t normally get to see in the genre—Her books are a must-read for me" —Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author


Lord Lysander Blackstone, the stern Duke of Montcroix, has only one interest: increasing his considerable fortune. After a series of betrayals, he keeps his emotions buried deep. Money, after all, can't break a man's heart—or make promises it can’t keep. But when his reputation for being heartless jeopardizes a new business deal, he finds himself seeking a most unusual—and alluring—solution...

Once an up-and-coming ballerina, Miss Geneviève Valery is now hopelessly out of work. After refusing to become a wealthy patron's mistress, Nève was promptly shown the door to the streets. When she accidentally saves the life of a handsome duke, she doubts the encounter will go any better than her last brush with nobility. But instead of propositioning her, Montcroix makes Nève an offer she would be a fool to refuse: act as his fake fiancée in exchange for fortune enough to start over.

Only neither is prepared when very real feelings begin to grow between them. They both stand to win... but only if they’re willing to risk their hearts.

Title: Always Be My Duchess (The Taming of the Dukes #1)
Author: Amalie Howard
Publisher: Forever
Expected Publication date: 7/12/22

Review:
I want to thank NetGalley and Forever publishing for supplying me with an e-galley of this book to read and give an honest review.
I will confess, I had no idea what this book is about. But I saw Amalie Howard's name and I know I love her so I thought, why not give it a try. Boy, am I glad I did.
I like a good romance, one that is meaty but also just angsty enough to pull you along. This one was that. Despite me shying away from such books, especially when historical type aspects are part of the plot, I rather enjoyed getting to know Stone (Montcroix) and Neve (Genevieve).
From the very start, there is a huge attraction between these two characters. I would not say love at first site, maybe lust, but it's there. And I love the arrangement trop this book hits on: guy needs a girl prop, girl needs money, everyone wins! Very Pretty Woman, one of my favorite movies!
But of course it's never going to only be about the money. And there is always going to be a complication, usually set off by the fact that, despite the business arrangement of the characters, they just cannot help but feel wildly attracted to each other!
Without wanting to spoil the it, let's just say this book does have it's happily ever after, even if it does take some rethinking on more than one occasions from the very stoney Duke!
I'm looking forward to the next installment in this series. I really hope it's Briar's story, though I see it was a bit of a set up for someone else!


AMALIE HOWARD is a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author, most notably of The Beast of Beswick, “a smart, sexy, deliciously feminist romance,” and one of O-The Oprah Magazine’s Top 24 Best Historicals to Read. She is the co-author of the #1 bestsellers in regency romance and Scottish historical romance, My Rogue, My Ruin and What A Scot Wants, and has also penned several young adult novels, critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Kid’s INDIE NEXT selection. Of Indo-Caribbean descent, she has written articles on multicultural fiction for The Portland Book Review and Ravishly magazine. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. Visit her at amaliehoward.com.



Wednesday, May 18, 2022

ARC Review: Her Majesty's Royal Coven by Juno Dawson


A Discovery of Witches meets The Craft in this the first installment of this epic fantasy trilogy about a group of childhood friends who are also witches.

If you look hard enough at old photographs, we're there in the background: healers in the trenches; Suffragettes; Bletchley Park oracles; land girls and resistance fighters. Why is it we help in times of crisis? We have a gift. We are stronger than Mundanes, plain and simple.

At the dawn of their adolescence, on the eve of the summer solstice, four young girls--Helena, Leonie, Niamh and Elle--took the oath to join Her Majesty's Royal Coven, established by Queen Elizabeth I as a covert government department. Now, decades later, the witch community is still reeling from a civil war and Helena is now the reigning High Priestess of the organization. Yet Helena is the only one of her friend group still enmeshed in the stale bureaucracy of HMRC. Elle is trying to pretend she's a normal housewife, and Niamh has become a country vet, using her powers to heal sick animals. In what Helena perceives as the deepest betrayal, Leonie has defected to start her own more inclusive and intersectional coven, Diaspora. And now Helena has a bigger problem. A young warlock of extraordinary capabilities has been captured by authorities and seems to threaten the very existence of HMRC. With conflicting beliefs over the best course of action, the four friends must decide where their loyalties lie: with preserving tradition, or doing what is right.

Juno Dawson explores gender and the corrupting nature of power in a delightful and provocative story of magic and matriarchy, friendship and feminism. Dealing with all the aspects of contemporary womanhood, as well as being phenomenally powerful witches, Niamh, Helena, Leonie and Elle may have grown apart but they will always be bound by the sisterhood of the coven.

Title: Her Majesty's Royal Coven
Author: Juno Dawnson
Publisher: Penguin Books
Expected Publication Date: May 31, 2002

Review: 

I want to thank Penguin Group/Penguin Books and NetGalley for approving me to read this ebook and offer my honest opinion.

This is my second Juno Dawson book. I read my first one last year and adored it. I love her writing because it flows well but more than that I adore the wit she weaves into her stories. Plus, who doesn't love a good modern witch story with characters who are good and bad, fun banter between friends, and a tense story line that has you hanging on to your seat until it's done?

I will say at the beginning I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story. I'm not sure if it is because I'm not British or I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. I also felt a bit like this was not the first book about this coven. The beginning made it feel like there was a back story I had missed. I want to chock this up to poor world building in a book that is a modern fantasy. It made it hard to understand where the characters were coming from.

Once I got about 30% into the book, the story took better shape, despite the absence of world building.

The four points of view really helped to solidify the different type of witches these ladies truly are. It helped you to solidify a dislike for one of the characters in particular, which I know was how the author wanted to present her in the story. You were meant to totally dislike her up until the very end. The other three witches are absolutely wonderful to get to know.

This book definitely brings forth many societal issues. The author presents them directly, in a no bones type of way. Completely straight to the point without holding back. It made the impact of these issues more relatable and understandable. She did a good job pointing out the discrimination that occurs as a result of the different lifestyles people lead. I do wish she would have chosen one issue to focus on as having so many made the book feel forced in nature.

Overall, it's obvious the author had one idea in mind for this book: tear down "norms" because they no longer exist as many have always thought they were. But I think she could have done a better job incorporating some world building to help set the tone a bit better.

About the author:

Queen of Teen 2014 Juno Dawson is the multi award-winning author of six novels for young adults. In 2016, she authored the best-selling World Book Day title: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE.

Her next novel is the beautiful and emotive MARGOT & ME (Jan 2017) which will be followed by her adult debut, the memoir THE GENDER GAMES (Jul 17).

Juno also wrote the bestselling non-fiction guide to life for young LGBT people, THIS BOOK IS GAY. In 2016 a follow-up, MIND YOUR HEAD, featured everything a young person needs to know about mental health.

Juno is a regular contributor to Attitude Magazine, Glamour Magazine and The Guardian and has contributed to news items on BBC Women’s Hour, Front Row, ITV News, Channel 5 News, This Morning and Newsnight concerning sexuality, identity, literature and education.

Juno’s titles have received rave reviews and have been translated into more than ten languages around the world.

Juno grew up in West Yorkshire, writing imaginary episodes of Doctor Who. She later turned her talent to journalism, interviewing luminaries such as Steps and Atomic Kitten before writing a weekly serial in a Brighton newspaper. In 2015, Juno announced her intention to undergo gender transition and live as a woman.

Juno writes full time and lives in Brighton. In her spare time, she STILL loves Doctor Who and is a keen follower of horror films and connoisseur of pop music. In 2014 Juno became a School Role Model for the charity STONEWALL.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

ARC Review: Places We've Never Been by Kasie West



A sweet and swoony contemporary Young Adult novel about a cross-country family road trip that puts one girl and her childhood best friend on an unexpected road to romance!

Norah hasn’t seen her childhood best friend, Skyler, in years. When he first moved away, they'd talk all the time, but lately their relationship has been reduced to liking each other’s Instagram posts. That’s why Norah can’t wait for the joint RV road trip their families have planned for the summer.

But when Skyler finally arrives, he seems...like he’d rather be anywhere else. Hurt and confused, Norah reacts in kind. Suddenly, her oldest friendship is on the rocks.

An unexpected summer spent driving across the country leads both Norah and Skyler down new roads and to new discoveries. Before long, they are, once again, seeing each other in a different light. Can their friendship-turned-rivalry turn into something more?  

Title: Places We've Never Been
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Expected Publication Date: May 31, 2022

Review:

I want to thank Delacorte Press and Netgalley for supplying me with an ebook of this title to review and give my honest feedback. 

I'm always a Kasie West fan. Her stories are fun, flirty, romantic, and realistic. There's just something feel good about her writing and what she chooses to show us with her characters.

This one is. friends, to enemies, to lovers trope. Also a second chances trope. And it was fun to watch the progression. I especially liked that the drama actually came from the male character's brooding rather than the female character's. There was no pining on her part, at least not until she realized she felt more than what she thought she did.

To add to the tension, these characters are thrown together on a road trip across the country planned by their mothers. The intent behind the trip is revealed a bit later in the book, though I figured out what kind of turn that would eventually take. But that didn't take away from the story of how these two people who spent their childhoods together and were torn apart, were able to rekindle an old friendship and turn it into something more.

I loved that West did not end the book as you would have liked for it to end, all tied up in this nice little bow. There were still obstacles to overcome and she made sure we saw that.

I will say there were a lot of secrets that had to be revealed and I wasn't sure how the author would do it in an authentic way, but she managed to pull it off.

Overall I enjoyed this sweet, fast, cute, and a little bit sad of a read. I'm excited for whatever the queen of contemporary YA brings next!


I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels are: PIVOT POINT and its sequel SPLIT SECOND. And my contemporary novels: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, ON THE FENCE, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, PS I LIKE YOU, BY YOUR SIDE, LUCKY IN LOVE, LOVE LIFE and the LIST, LISTEN TO YOUR HEART, FAME FATE and the FIRST KISS, MAYBE THIS TIME, and MOMENT OF TRUTH. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

ARC Review: Booklovers by Emily Henry


 

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…


Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

Publication date: 5/3/22
Publisher: Berkley
Author: Emily Henry

Review:
I want to thank NetGalley and Berkley for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give my honest review.
This is my second Emily Henry book (the first being People We Meet On Vacation) so while I got to know the author a bit in that first book, I feel like this book really showed me the depth her writing can take.
I was approved to read it the night before it was due to be published, so I jumped in right away hoping to finish it by the day it came out; close by no cigar!
This book is everything I really want in a romance.
Let's talk characters.I love the main character, Nora, who is definitely a shark but has this mushy dolphin feeling come into her personality as she grows. She's like the shell of a brazil nut, with it's super hard exterior, that you finally crack and realize the amazing thing that's inside. Then there's Charlie. He's another one with a hard exterior, but he's definitely a bit more pliable, his soft side oozing out warmly and engulfing everything in it's path so it, too, feels that warmth. I could go on about Libby, Nora's sister, who compliments her so well, their banter so easy and their love for each other as sisters so real. Or Sally, Charlie's mom, who we don't get to see enough of but is enough around the periphery to give us a hint of the momma hen she truly is. And Clint, Charlie's dad, who we just glance at for a few times but who definitely gives some wise words as well as learns some wise lessons in his big scene.
Being from New York, I love how the author is able to work it into little details in the book that remind me of growing up. The way people rush about, the woosh of the train entering or leaving a subway tunnel, the crowds of people when that first real day of Spring hits and everyone comes out and about (even if it is only 55 degrees). She makes me miss living there. She makes me miss some of that hustle and bustle, even though I'm perfectly content living in my comfy, suburban, New Jersey home.
I don't want to go on about how the story progresses or how it ends because I feel like that would spoil the wonderful that is this story.
The one thing I will say is besides the growing and analyzing and decisions made in this book, there is TONS of humor. Each chapter had me laughing out loud at something (at least until the very end when I will tell you there were some tears).
I'm so glad I picked this one up. It is 100% worth the read. I urge you to go buy it if you want a love story that's not quite a love story that turns out to be something like a love story!




Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the now-defunct New York Center for Art & Media Studies. Find her on Instagram @EmilyHenryWrites.

Friday, March 4, 2022

ARC Review: This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg (DNF)

Marit Weisenberg’s This Golden State follows a family on the run, a restless teenage daughter hungry for the truth, and the simple DNA test that threatens their carefully crafted world

The Winslow family lives by five principles:

1. No one can know your real name.
2. Don’t stay in one place too long.
3. If you sense anything is wrong, go immediately to the meeting spot.
4. Keeping our family together is everything.
5. We wish we could tell you who we are, but we can’t. Please—do not ask.

Poppy doesn’t know why her family has been running her whole life, but she does know that there are dire consequences if they’re ever caught. Still, her curiosity grows each year, as does her desire for real friends and the chance to build on something, instead of leaving behind school projects, teams, and crushes at a moment’s notice.

When a move to California exposes a crack in her parents’ airtight planning, Poppy realizes how fragile her world is. Determined to find out the truth, she mails in a home DNA test. Just as she starts to settle into her new life and even begins opening up to a boy in her math class, the forgotten test results bring her crashing back to reality.

Unraveling the shocking truth of her parents’ real identities, Poppy realizes that the DNA test has undone decades of careful work to keep her family anonymous—and the past is dangerously close to catching up to them. Determined to protect her family but desperate for more, Poppy must ask: How much of herself does she owe her family? And is it a betrayal to find her own place in the world?

Published: March 1, 2022
Publisher: Flatiron
Author: Marit Weisenberg

My review:

I'm grateful to Flatiron books for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give an honest review.
Unfortunately, I got 60% in before I gave up.
Why I requested to read it: interesting plot with secrets. I do love a plot with secrets, especially one I cannot figure out. One with little clues all the way through that keep me guessing.
Why I stopped reading: this book is not that. Unfortunately, even by 60% I had no idea what was going on. Perhaps had I gotten to the end I would have seen there were clues all along, but nothing made me want to stay focused enough to do that. I put the book down for a week or two hoping I would pick it back up and see more to it. But I was wrong.
The pace: a little slow for me but the chapters did go by quick enough once I sat to read it. 
The characters: they all came across as flat to me. I did not see any characteristics that truly set one out from the other. This was especially true of the narrator who just did not have any development for me even 60% through the book. 
The plot: how many times must the narrator say she doesn't know the secret. Overt and over again and still there was nothing to make me want to truly learn what it was. There was not enough movement for me from point A to point B by over half way through the book. Maybe if there were some thrilling scenes where you were kept in suspense I would have been more likely to want to keep reading to see what that secret was.
The writing: it was not horrible but not the best. I found it a bit young (yes, I know it's a young adult book but the narration was definitely not high school level for me, more like middle school). 
Overall I just could not force myself to like this one, despite the intriguing blurb.


 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

ARC Review: Year on Fire by Julie Buxbaum

What secrets will people keep—or reveal—to protect those they love? This novel, set against the frightening backdrop of an encroaching fire season, sparks reflection about friendship, the allure of romantic love, and loyalty to family.


Can a single kiss change everything?


It was a year on fire. They fell in love. Someone was bound to get burned.

The Spark: Just days before the start of junior year for twins Arch and Immie and their best friend, Paige, a spontaneous kiss shakes the very foundation of their friendship. But some ties run too deep to be broken by accidental betrayal.

The Fuel: Enter Rohan, new to Wood Valley High by way of London, who walks into school on the first day completely overwhelmed by his sudden move halfway around the world. When Paige calls dibs on him—he’s too cute to ignore—Immie is in no position to argue, certainly not after taking the fall for the disloyal kiss. Too bad for Immie that Ro feels like the best kind of familiar.

The Kindling: Former lab partners Arch and Jackson, Paige’s ex-boyfriend, have never considered themselves more than friends. But sometimes feelings can grow like wildfire.

The Flames: When the girls’ bathroom at Wood Valley is set ablaze, no one doubts it’s arson. But in this bastion of privilege, who’d be angry enough to want to burn down the school? Answer: pretty much everyone.

Year on Fire explores the blinding power of the lies we tell others and those we tell ourselves, the tight grip of family secrets, the magic of first love, and the grounding beauty of friendship.

Author: Julie Buxbaum
Expected Publication Date: April 12, 2022
Publisher: Flatiron Books

MY REVIEW:
I want to thank Flatiron Books for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.
I really love Buxbaum's writing. This is my third book by her and I am always entranced and rarely want to put what she writes down. I read this one in one day!
The differing points of view in this book truly leant to the plot continuing to move. I enjoyed watching each character mature and grow, or become just a little more undone. It was nice to see characters that didn't fit a mold. That had a little something wrong in some way. It made me remember no one is perfect and everyone has their dark side they are working through.
I like that the dramas the author chose to highlight are dramas we see with teens today: mental health issues, identity issues, family issues. With contemporary YA you often see characters that go through things and end up having them wrapped up and solved in a nice tight bow. It's often hard to remember the characters can be unhinged.
Overall this was an enjoyable read. This may be my favorite book from this author yet, though I really did love Tell Me Three Things.
I'd definitely recommend this read to friends and young adults. Looking forward to more from this author in the future.
What secrets will people keep—or reveal—to protect those they love? This novel, set against the frightening backdrop of an encroaching fire season, sparks reflection about friendship, the allure of romantic love, and loyalty to family.


Can a single kiss change everything?


It was a year on fire. They fell in love. Someone was bound to get burned.

The Spark: Just days before the start of junior year for twins Arch and Immie and their best friend, Paige, a spontaneous kiss shakes the very foundation of their friendship. But some ties run too deep to be broken by accidental betrayal.

The Fuel: Enter Rohan, new to Wood Valley High by way of London, who walks into school on the first day completely overwhelmed by his sudden move halfway around the world. When Paige calls dibs on him—he’s too cute to ignore—Immie is in no position to argue, certainly not after taking the fall for the disloyal kiss. Too bad for Immie that Ro feels like the best kind of familiar.

The Kindling: Former lab partners Arch and Jackson, Paige’s ex-boyfriend, have never considered themselves more than friends. But sometimes feelings can grow like wildfire.

The Flames: When the girls’ bathroom at Wood Valley is set ablaze, no one doubts it’s arson. But in this bastion of privilege, who’d be angry enough to want to burn down the school? Answer: pretty much everyone.

Year on Fire explores the blinding power of the lies we tell others and those we tell ourselves, the tight grip of family secrets, the magic of first love, and the grounding beauty of friendship.


 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Review: Stay Another Day by Juno Dawson

I really enjoyed this. The writing was excellent. The story was a little predictable here and there. And a little ending a little unbelievable, but overall it was a fun, quick read that hit on a lot of issues.
The writing was really great. Dawson really delved into the psyche of her characters, even those characters that were not narrating. And each character was very individual with distinct personality. The story flowed well and made me want to turn the pages.
I loved the character of Rowan. He was a balls to the wall kind of guy with no qualms about making his thoughts known, for the most part. He did hold some emotional baggage that he obviously needed to address (but this was par for the course for the whole family). 
Overall, I would highly recommend and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

Published: Quercus
Publisher: October 14, 2021

Queen of Teen 2014 Juno Dawson is the multi award-winning author of six novels for young adults. In 2016, she authored the best-selling World Book Day title: SPOT THE DIFFERENCE.

Her next novel is the beautiful and emotive MARGOT & ME (Jan 2017) which will be followed by her adult debut, the memoir THE GENDER GAMES (Jul 17).

Juno also wrote the bestselling non-fiction guide to life for young LGBT people, THIS BOOK IS GAY. In 2016 a follow-up, MIND YOUR HEAD, featured everything a young person needs to know about mental health.

Juno is a regular contributor to Attitude Magazine, Glamour Magazine and The Guardian and has contributed to news items on BBC Women’s Hour, Front Row, ITV News, Channel 5 News, This Morning and Newsnight concerning sexuality, identity, literature and education.

Juno’s titles have received rave reviews and have been translated into more than ten languages around the world.

Juno grew up in West Yorkshire, writing imaginary episodes of Doctor Who. She later turned her talent to journalism, interviewing luminaries such as Steps and Atomic Kitten before writing a weekly serial in a Brighton newspaper. In 2015, Juno announced her intention to undergo gender transition and live as a woman.

Juno writes full time and lives in Brighton. In her spare time, she STILL loves Doctor Who and is a keen follower of horror films and connoisseur of pop music. In 2014 Juno became a School Role Model for the charity STONEWALL.



 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

ARC Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

 


Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.


One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Published:
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


Review:
I want to thank NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with a copy of this book to read and give an honest review.
This is my first Holly Black book. She is an author that has been suggested to me a number of times and I finally dove into this one to see what she is all about. I was not disappointed in the least. 
Not only is this book unique, but the writing is fantastic. It flows right off the page. I didn't want to put it down. I'm not usually a huge fan of third person, but it worked so well for this story. It worked to show you several points of view from all different characters, adding to the world building and background you need to understand the entire story. The writing reminded me of Cassandra Clare, whom I love. Lots of detail, lots of painting the scene so you see it entirely in your mind without having to create anything for yourself. I love that. 
The twists and turns this book took were great. I will say I figured out the final twist earlier on than the book let you in on it, but it did not stop me from continuing to read so I could see the final outcome of the story.
I do like paranormal and this puts a nice twist on that. Modern day paranormal is always more interesting as there are so many more intricate plot holes the author needs to be aware of and Black covered them without a hitch.
The characters were nice, not my favorite. I love Gavriel. I love his craziness. Tana was more calm than I would have liked her to be in some situations, but she does explain later how she had gone from a scared, shy girl to one who was "different" at 13. She doesn't explain the difference but it's inferred in her mannerisms and how she reacts to situations that would otherwise cause people to die from fear. 
There is much gore in the book (a la Ann Rice if you will). I'm ok with that. It is a vampire book, after all, and if one does not expect gore from such a book, then they are not reading the right vampire novels.
I love how the author truly meshes a dystopian world with the paranormal. Think World War Z. 
Overall, I'm really glad I picked this up. It was a quicker read than I expected. I would absolutely read more from this author and intend to.



Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

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