Book Review: Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews

Book Review: Magic Strikes by Ilona AndrewsMagic Strikes by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #3
Published by Ace on March 31, 2009
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 310
Format: Paperback
Source: Own
Goodreads
5 Stars
When magic strikes and Atlanta goes to pieces, it’s a job for Kate Daniels…

Drafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with these days. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot.

But when Kate's werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games—an invitation only, no holds barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament—she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta's shapeshifting community…

Book Review:

MAGIC STRIKES is the third book in the Kate Daniels series. I highly recommend this series if you like creative urban fantasy with a side of kickbutt heroine, sizzling chemistry, and non-stop action.

In MAGIC STRIKES, we at last learn more about Kate and her background. Previous books in the series had some clues, but here we get the full story. Why Kate is so careful about never leaving her blood or any traces of it around. Why Kate knows so much about the powerful, mysterious, and secret leader of the People. And why Kate is a loner, which might be the most important information of all, since she bucks all of her life experience and training to help her friends.

Kate doesn’t have many friends, you see, so when Derek ends up nearly dead, she’s willing to take part in a deadly tournament to get revenge on his attackers. The bad guys in MAGIC STRIKES are inspired by Hindu mythology, and damn, they were creepy and scary, but also cool. I like how the author never sticks with the traditional Western European baddies, but draws inspiration from all over the globe.

I enjoyed every aspect of MAGIC STRIKES, from watching Kate’s protective side come out again to seeing her growing friendships with a variety of Pack members. Julie from MAGIC BURNS even makes a cameo appearance; I was happy to see her again. And I can’t forget the romantic relationship developing between Kate and Curran. I’m not always a fan of romances, but I appreciate that this one hasn’t been rushed, and that Kate doesn’t lose herself whenever Curran shows up. She admits she’s attracted to him, but she doesn’t let that attraction override her brain.

The ending made me snort with laughter. I’m not going to spoil, but it’s good. That’s just one more thing I like about Ilona Andrews’ writing — it makes me laugh all the time, even in the middle of a dangerous action scene or when Kate’s just sitting in her apartment.

Socialize with the author:

Ilona Andrews:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Book Review: Under the Lights by Dahlia AdlerUnder the Lights by Dahlia Adler
Series: Daylight Falls #2
Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on June 30, 2015
Pages: 312
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls ... opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved ... and the person she never imagined she could.

Book Review:

I am picky when it comes to contemporary. Very, very picky. I originally picked up UNDER THE LIGHTS because I knew it had a girl/girl relationship, and those are all too rare in YA/NA.

By the way, this is the second book in a series, but you don’t need to have read the first, BEHIND THE SCENES, because UNDER THE LIGHTS is Vanessa and Josh’s story, not Ally and Liam’s.

I got that relationship and so much more. Honestly, I was surprised at how deftly the author wove in many big important things, including:

♥ Diversity. Vanessa is Korean American. She’s part of the main cast for Daylight Falls — not to fulfill a racial quota, but because she’s a good actress. Her parents want her to quit playing around and go to college, get a real job. But she wants to be an idol to girls just like her. So when she realizes she’s attracted to Brianna, and that she might be gay…

♥ Sexuality. Vanessa’s not so sure she can survive in Hollywood being a minority and being gay. Parts just don’t exist when you fit into those slots. As it is, she’s typecast in movies as the med student or science nerd. Her boyfriend, Zander, has never made her tingle like Bri does, and he’s pushing for her to make a purity pledge so they can be even better role models. Meanwhile, Josh, the other main character, makes no apologies that he likes to have sex with a different girl every night. His sexuality is praised — a reality TV show wants to follow him around.

♥ Celebrity culture and expectations. Josh’s mom, an aging soap star, wants a reality TV show to replace her canceled show. The only condition? Her famous bad boy son must be a part of it. It’s totally okay for him to be a jerk to his fake girlfriend and woo girls in clubs. But for Vanessa? It’s not okay for her to even be seen in a club — it goes against her good girl image.

There’s so much good stuff in UNDER THE LIGHTS. I loved the author’s voices for both characters and her writing style. I was in a reading slump when I started this book, and it helped pull me out. On one level, UNDER THE LIGHTS is fun and includes some very yummy scenes between Vanessa and Bri — including a non fade-to-black sex scene. On another level, UNDER THE LIGHTS has great commentary and observations on so many important cultural and life issues.

UNDER THE LIGHTS has so much of what I want to see in YA and NA that I’ll be recommending the hell out of it. And reading everything else Dahlia Adler writes.

Socialize with the author:

Dahlia Adler:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Book Review: Circus Mirandus by Cassie BeasleyCircus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Published by Dial Books on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
Fans of Big Fish, Peter Pan, and Roald Dahl will fall in love with Circus Mirandus, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in world.

Do you believe in magic?
Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.

The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

Book Review:

CIRCUS MIRANDUS is a magical book.

Yes, it’s about a magical circus, so you could assume some magic there, but there’s magic in the characters, the story, the relationships — everything, really. When I started reading this book, I was 14 chapters in before I knew it, and later I didn’t want to turn the last page.

CIRCUS MIRANDUS is a book you can read on a few levels. One, for kids to experience a fantastical circus and the power of relationships. Two, for adults to remember the power of magic and hopefully to think that believing in magic is a good thing, and to see how it can help anyone through tough times.

I think the most impactful thing I can say about this book is that it made me ugly cry at one point and left me filled with hope by the end. Very few books affect me emotionally, but CIRCUS MIRANDUS was one. Why? Everything about this book is fantastic and so well done.

I ached for Micah. At the start of the book, he’s facing the loss of his grandfather Ephraim, who is really more of a father to him. Aunt Gertrudis tries to keep them apart in their last days together, and gets angry any time they share their special stories of Circus Mirandus. Ephraim visited the circus as a youth, and was given a miracle. He’s hung onto it for years, but now is the time to use it — and Micah’s determined he’ll get to do so.

One little thing I especially loved about CIRCUS MIRANDUS was that we got to see the magic circus from both Ephraim and Micah’s eyes. I thought it really added to the book that the author included chapters from a young Ephraim, who went through something very similar to Micah.

I have so much love for CIRCUS MIRANDUS. My experience while reading was amazing, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Socialize with the author:

Cassie Beasley:
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– leeanna

Book Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Book Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam SilveraMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
The Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto -- miracle cure-alls don't tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can't forget how he's grown up poor or how his friends aren't always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it's not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn't mind Aaron's obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn't mind talking about Aaron's past. But Aaron's newfound happiness isn't welcome on his block. Since he can't stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

Adam Silvera's extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

Book Review:

At first, MORE HAPPY THAN NOT seems like a contemporary novel. Yes, it examines some pretty awesome and important things, such as being a possibly gay boy in the Bronx. Aaron starts off the book with a great girlfriend who’s understanding; she held him when he cried after his father committed suicide. But when he meets Thomas, a boy unlike any he’s met before, Aaron starts to wonder — is he gay? Does he love Thomas?

Aaron’s happier than he’s ever been before, but his old friends aren’t. They don’t like that he might be gay. And that’s when the book transforms, shifting from contemporary to speculative fiction with the Leteo Institute. In a near future world, the Leteo Institute has invented a way to help people forget memories they don’t want anymore. Aaron wants to forget that he’s gay.

About 60% through MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, there’s a real bam! moment. It’s when little things scattered throughout the previous pages suddenly made a lot more sense. It’s when I felt even more for Adam and his family. It’s when I realized the author was a genius. The last 40% or so of the book is heartbreaking, but in the best possible way.

Aaron has such a great voice. He felt incredibly real to me, as did his friends, family, and the Bronx. I enjoyed every uplifting and grueling second of him questioning himself, his sexuality, and loss. MORE HAPPY THAN NOT is a book that really made me think and feel, and I bet you’ll go “Woaaaah” at the end, just like I did.

Socialize with the author:

Adam Silvera:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

Book Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. JensenHidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #2
Published by Angry Robot on June 2, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Book Review:

Last year, I loved STOLEN SONGBIRD, the first book in Danielle L. Jensen’s amazing young adult fantasy series, the Malediction Trilogy. I loved every bit of STOLEN SONGBIRD, so of course I couldn’t wait for the sequel.

HIDDEN HUNTRESS is just as good, if not better, than STOLEN SONGBIRD. Let me tell you, this book has no hint of Middle Book Syndrome, which usually plagues trilogies. So much important stuff happens that I couldn’t even begin to summarize it, and I’m not going to try. Because HIDDEN HUNTRESS is too good to spoil!

I think my favorite thing about HIDDEN HUNTRESS is the way Danielle ended every chapter. I swear she’s an expert at ending chapters with cliffhangers. I’d get caught up in Cécile’s narration and think “I have to know what happens next” at the end of her chapter. I’d be tempted to skip ahead, but then it was Tristan’s turn, and I’d get sucked into his story. This happened over and over again, and I loved that.

Much of Cécile’s focus is on finding Anushka, the witch who cursed the trolls. I enjoyed watching Cécile try to puzzle through clues, and while I’m not going to spoil things, I like how that storyline played out. In Trollus, Tristan has to sort out his father’s true intentions and desires, which is quite difficult, since trolls never say what they mean. In the first book, we mostly saw Trollus through Cécile’s’s eyes. In HIDDEN HUNTRESS, we see it through Tristan’s, which I greatly enjoyed.

HIDDEN HUNTRESS is one of those books that’s worth the wait!

Let’s talk about it:

Be sure to check out the amazing guest post Danielle wrote for me, a letter from Anaïs to the reader! I also interviewed Danielle last year.

Socialize with the author:

Danielle L. Jensen:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Book Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle ClaytonTiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton, Sona Charaipotra
Series: Tiny Pretty Things #1
Published by HarperTeen on May 26, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

Book Review:

When books are pitched as X meets Y, the comparisons rarely work for me. But “Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars” is SPOT ON for TINY PRETTY THINGS. If you like drama and/or ballet books, this is one for you.

Here’s how much I loved TINY PRETTY THINGS: I read the book twice in a month. Yeah. I reread a lot, but I just couldn’t leave Gigi, Bette, and June behind. I need more of them, stat!

TINY PRETTY THINGS is written from the perspectives of three very different characters at the American Ballet Company school. Gigi is the school’s new student and star, an African American transplant from California. Bette is the rich legacy, the former star student who will do anything to regain her top spot. June is half Korean, a perfectionist who needs to land a lead role or her mother will pull her out.

I appreciated the diverse characters — very rarely have I seen ballet books feature anything other than white main characters. And there’s a reason for that, because diverse dancers do have a more difficult time in the ballet world. But the authors don’t just toss in ethnicities and leave it at that; they show how other students look at Gigi and June, and show the struggles June has as a “halfie.”

There is SO MUCH DRAMA in this book, I ate it with a spoon and loved every second of it. Seriously, I had no idea what was going to happen next, or who was going to attack who. Aside from all the drama and the characters trying to one up each other, there’s plenty of dancing — yay!

And the ending? Oh man. I didn’t see it coming at all. It’s not quite a cliffhanger, but it did leave me desperately craving the next book.

In case you can’t tell, I loved TINY PRETTY THINGS, and highly recommend it. I don’t usually gush for contemporary books, but this one was perfect for me.

Socialize with the authors:
Sona Charaipotra:
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Dhonielle Clayton:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel CaineInk and Bone by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by NAL on July 7, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
5 Stars
In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

Book Review:

INK AND BONE is one of those books I always wanted, but I never knew it until I read it. There are so many good ideas and it’s such a great story that I’m still thinking about INK AND BONE a month after finishing it. With the amount of books I read, about 20 per month, it’s rare that a book sticks with me.

Jess lives in a world where owning personal copies of books is illegal. The Great Library has survived since the days of Alexandria and now exists in every city. The Library controls access to book and knowledge, functioning with as much power as a country. Jess’s family makes a living selling books on the black market, and seeing an opportunity, his father sends him to the Library, with the intent of having a spy on the inside.

But joining the Library isn’t that easy. There are 32 postulants and 6 available spots. The competition is fierce and dangerous. Jess must navigate a murky world, one where disagreeing with the Library’s policies and politics can be deadly. For example, when Jess is in the middle of a war zone, he could call on his family connections to survive, but doing so would expose his book smuggling background. What to do?

Imagine the greatest texts of the world surviving through the centuries thanks to the Library. But at the same time, imagine the same Library controlling which of those texts the public can see. Imagine a world where you can’t own your own books. It’s every book lover’s nightmare, right?

Rachel Caine explores those ideas and others in INK AND BONE. It’s a very thinky book, but enjoyably so. Jess’s time as a postulant for the Library is the best sort of dangerous adventure, one that’s fun to read but left me thinking. I cannot wait to return to the world the author’s created — bring on the next book!

Let’s talk about it:

What would you do if you lived in a world where you couldn’t own books?

Socialize with the author:

Rachel Caine:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Headstrong by Rachel Swaby

Book Review: Headstrong by Rachel SwabyHeadstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science--and the World by Rachel Swaby
Published by Broadway Books on April 7, 2015
Genres: Biography, Non Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Blogging For Books
Goodreads
5 Stars
Fifty-two inspiring and insightful profiles of history’s brightest female scientists.

In 2013, the New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill. It began: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job, and took eight years off from work to raise three children.” It wasn’t until the second paragraph that readers discovered why the Times had devoted several hundred words to her life: Brill was a brilliant rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites in orbit, and had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Among the questions the obituary—and consequent outcry—prompted were, Who are the role models for today’s female scientists, and where can we find the stories that cast them in their true light?

Headstrong delivers a powerful, global, and engaging response. Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, Rachel Swaby’s vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one’s ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they’re best known. This fascinating tour reveals these 52 women at their best—while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.

Book Review:

HEADSTRONG: 52 WOMEN WHO CHANGED SCIENCE — AND THE WORLD is a needed book. I wish it wasn’t, but it is. Even in 2015, women still struggle to make their way in male dominated fields like physics, astronomy, computer science, mathematics, etc.

I experienced discrimination based on my gender when I was a computer science student. I’ve been told I’m not a “real geek” because I’m a girl. Although I’m no Yvonne Brill — the inspiration for this book, whose accomplishments as a rocket scientist were overshadowed by her domestic abilities by the New York Times — I understood the struggle every woman mentioned in this book went through. And I’m ashamed to say I’d heard of maybe 4 out of the 52.

HEADSTRONG is separated into 7 sections: medicine, biology and the environment, genetics and development, physics, earth and stars, math and technology, and invention. To be included in the book, the author picked “only scientists whose life’s work has already been completed (xiii).” Due to that, the author admits the book is not very diverse, as opportunities opened up first for white women. She also didn’t include Marie Curie, because if you think of a woman scientist, that’s likely the one you picture. But did you know Marie Curie’s daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, also won a Nobel Prize?

The profiles are relatively short, 3-5 pages, and focus on the woman’s contributions to her field. I read one or two sections a night and felt like I learned a ton about women in science. For example, I never knew a woman invented Kevlar, or wrinkle free cotton, or the Apgar score. The profiles are easy enough to understand for young girls, and interesting enough to hold the attention of older readers.

What will you learn?

Socialize with the author:

Rachel Swaby:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Book Review: Black Iris by Leah RaederBlack Iris by Leah Raeder
Published by Atria on April 28, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.

Book Review:

black iris leeannadotmeBLACK IRIS is a book I’ve been looking forward to for months, so when I started it, I tried to savor it. I wanted to take in and enjoy every line of Leah Raeder’s gorgeous prose, but I couldn’t tease myself. After two days of reading slow, I gave in and read the rest of the book in one frantic gulp. A week later, I’m still nursing a book hangover. I knew BLACK IRIS would destroy me, and did it ever. I’m talking destruction in the best way possible, of course.

I really just wanted to howl like a wolf for my review, but I figured that wouldn’t be too informative. But that’s how I felt when I turned the last page of BLACK IRIS — like the wolf, a wild, powerful beast, high on the success of getting revenge on my enemies. The author put me so completely inside Laney’s head that I felt like her. It’s a great feeling to have — with as many books as I read, rarely do they impact me so emotionally that I feel each betrayal and revelation like a sucker punch to the gut.

BLACK IRIS is smart, sexy, bold, heart-wrenching, dark, and a hundred other adjectives. At times it pokes a bit of fun at other new adult books, such as the magic formula of broken girl plus bad boy equaling sexual healing. And then there are times when BLACK IRIS dives into the human psyche, giving a look at what might happen if you were unafraid of the consequences of getting revenge on all those who have fucked you over. Oh, and there’s some page-scorching sex, of all varieties. Laney and Blythe? My new favorite couple.

I haven’t talked at all about the plot, but BLACK IRIS is a book best read blind. I don’t want to spoil a second of it. Here’s what I will say: the book flips around in time, building tension and anticipation between last year and this year. Gradually, the reason for Laney’s quest for revenge is shown even as that quest takes off. The time jumping also showed me the differing states of Laney’s relationships with Armin and Blythe as I was being drawn into her web. I was super surprised by the ultimate revelations, which is always something I enjoy.

I like to reread, but BLACK IRIS is a book I wanted to begin again as soon as I finished it, which is a bit fast, even for me. But I want to reread because I know I missed little details and descriptions when I started reading faster because I had to find out what happened. I’ve never used the bookmark feature so much on my e-reader as I did when reading BLACK IRIS.

In a way, BLACK IRIS could feel like a checklist of stuffing things inside books: Laney deals with her sexuality, with bullying and her mother’s suicide, with drug use, with the tightrope of female friendships when she’s attracted to them, with finding herself in a new world, with showing her enemies not to fuck with her. But thanks to Raeder’s skillful writing, you don’t feel like these things are in the book just to be in there. No, they’re all important aspects of Laney and her story.

Laney calls herself an Unsympathetic Protagonist, and BLACK IRIS is an emotional and atmospheric ride inside her head during an unforgettable year. As she says, “Fuck forgiveness.”

Let’s talk about it:

What’s something new you’d like to see in New Adult?

Socialize with the author:

Leah Raeder:
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– leeanna

Book Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Book Review: All the Rage by Courtney SummersAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 14, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic, Young Adult
Pages: 321
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Book Review:

ALL THE RAGE is a book that made me quiver with rage for what Romy endures.

“Because ‘slut’ was just too humanizing, I guess. A slit’s not even a person (p. 38*).”

You know who writes SLIT on Romy’s mom’s car? The son of the sheriff. If that doesn’t make you want to dive into Romy’s story, to see why everyone hates her so much, I don’t know what will. I’m not trying to be sensational — ALL THE RAGE is full of lines I could quote.

ALL THE RAGE is my first Courtney Summers book, but it won’t be my last. It’s hard stuff to read at times, but I loved how the author didn’t pull any punches or censor anything. I’m sure when I reread this, I’ll find more gems hidden in its pages. Like all the little observations she makes about how society has trained women to be polite. Such as when Romy automatically takes a napkin with a number from a guy who creeps her out, “like the obligation to be nice to him is greater than myself (p. 233*).”

I was a bit confused at the start of ALL THE RAGE, because the book flips between NOW and BEFORE, between Romy’s rape and the horribleness she endures after. There’s not a lot of flipping though, and eventually I knew enough to put the pieces together. I think the confusion I felt as a reader echoes some of Romy’s confusion over what happened to her, since she couldn’t remember.

Okay. So I haven’t really talked about the book itself, the plot or characters, but I’m not going to do that. I went into this book with almost no foreknowledge, and I think that’s the best way to read it. I want it to hit you as hard as it hit me, so no spoilers from me.

I think ALL THE RAGE should be required reading for all high school students and well, everyone. Because it talks about rape culture in a way that will make you think. We live in a world where rape is blamed on the victim for what she was wearing or because she asked for it. We live in a world where if rapists are actually convicted, it’s their future that’s ruined because of one little mistake. We live in a world where people are sympathetic for the perpetrator, not for the victim. We live in a world where people in power can cover up a crime or even ignore it. We live in a world where Romy hopes an unborn baby isn’t a girl, because being a girl is hard and dangerous and painful.

And I apologize for the preachiness, but that’s what ALL THE RAGE did to me. It makes me want to shout from the rooftops. It makes me want to put the book in as many hands as I can. That’s the sign of an excellent read and an impactful book.

*Quotes are from an Advanced Review Copy, and may change by publication.

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– leeanna