Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare BlakeThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns #1
Published by HarperTeen on September 20, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Book Review:

THREE DARK CROWNS is the first in a new dark fantasy series about three queens, only one of which will survive to take the throne. The queens are sisters, and after their sixteenth birthday, they have a year to kill each other. The last one standing wins the crown.

I was intrigued by THREE DARK CROWNS because I love me some dark and twisted fantasy. Sisters killing each other for the throne? Gimme. Each a user of a different type of magic? Gimme. Political factions scheming for power? Gimme.

THREE DARK CROWNS was a good series starter, but just a bit too slow for me. The majority of this first book is set up, introducing the sisters and their people, the different types of magic, and meandering along to the ceremony of Beltane. I think the author did a good job of describing the sisters’ current situations, but I was lost on the worldbuilding as a whole. For the longest time, I thought each sister was on a separate island, and I didn’t understand references to the mainland. Yes, I know there’s a map, but it was hard for me to make out land boundaries.

Because the pacing was slow, the middle of the book was a bit of a slog for me. I would’ve preferred more action and a less token romance. Each sister had her own romance subplot, and I’m not a romance fan, so that was a lot for me. Now, I should say I liked how Arsinoe handled her suitor. That was good. But her buddy Jules? Meh.

But the end of THREE DARK CROWNS redeemed that slow middle for me, and this is a series I’ll continue. With all the set up out of the way, I’m hoping the second book will be a lot darker. For a book about three queens who must murder each other, there was surprisingly little Bad Stuff happening.

Socialize with the author:

Kendare Blake:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Book Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan GraudinWolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on October 20, 2015
Genres: Alternate Universe, Young Adult
Pages: 388
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Her story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

From the author of The Walled City comes a fast-paced and innovative novel that will leave you breathless.

Book Review:

I was super excited to read WOLF BY WOLF. A young adult, alternate history imagining what might have happened if the Nazis won the war? What would Europe look like if Hitler and Emperor Hirohito controlled much of the world? What if Nazi medical experiments produced a human with supernatural powers? What if one of those humans fought back?

I love alternate history, especially alternate history of the WWII variety. I think author Ryan Graudin did a great job of creating a plausible post-war Third Reich and getting across her vision for a mostly Axis-controlled world. The Axis Tour, a motorcycle race over 20,000 kilometers, from Germania (Berlin) to Tokyo, is the center of WOLF BY WOLF. A race to show off the best of German and Japanese youth, it’s a fierce competition filled with sabotage and danger. Only open to boys, until Adele Wolfe stole her twin brother’s identity and won last year’s Axis Tour.

Enter Yael. She survived a death camp and medical experimentation to come out stronger, but cursed with the ability to skinshift. She can shift her features to impersonate anyone, which makes her perfect for the Resistance’s plans. This year she’ll enter the Axis Tour as Adele Wolfe, win, and assassinate Adolf Hitler.

All Yael has to do is fool Adele’s brother Felix and another racer she has history with, escape detection, deal with the sabotage attempts of the other competitors, and come out on top. Easy, right?

WOLF BY WOLF has an excellent balance of past and present events. Most of the book focuses on the race, and Yael’s efforts to impersonate Adele in the presence of Felix and Luka. But there are a few sections set in her past, showing the people most important to her, the people she’s lost. Yael isn’t entirely sure of who she is, but she remembers herself by remembering them. I quite liked the author’s writing style — it was perfect for developing Yael’s character and thoughts, as well as the world. Graudin has a unique way of describing things, and I also liked that she included Yael’s inner voice. Yael is a great character: she’s survived hell and found a way to fight back. She’s sure of her mission at first, but as she spends time with the other racers, she begins to question who they are. In the author’s note, Graudin says she wrote about identity — what makes people who they are — and I think she did a good job at exploring that, by showing the other racers through Yael’s eyes.

WOLF BY WOLF captivated me, from the author’s version of a world where Hitler still lives to the deadly Axis Tour. There were times when I wasn’t sure if Yael would be able to complete her mission, or even survive the race without getting her cover blown. I rated the book 4 stars instead of 5 because despite lots of action, it dragged a bit in the middle for me and I wanted things to move along. Otherwise, I’m eagerly waiting for the second book, and I’ll be recommending WOLF BY WOLF to anyone looking for a creative, fast-paced, unique YA book.

Socialize with the author:

Ryan Graudin:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Book Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica CluessA Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Series: Kingdom on Fire #1
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on September 20, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?


Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.

Book Review:

The best description for A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING is in the Acknowledgments: Victorian Cthulu Harry Potter. I saw that when I finished the book, and yeah, that’s a great way to describe it.

Jessica Cluess takes a bunch of tropes and cliches and builds off them, turning tired old stuff into a fun, well-written series starter. I read A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING in a day, absorbed by the author’s besieged London and Henrietta.

Because a witch was partly responsible for summoning the Ancients who are trying to destroy England, female witches are now executed. Henrietta’s hidden her magic abilities her entire life, but when she saves her best friend’s life, a sorcerer sees it. But instead of being killed, Henrietta’s whisked away to be trained as a sorcerer. Female sorcerers don’t exist, but it’s prophesied that one will defeat the Ancients.

There’s only one problem: Henrietta’s living a lie. She knows she isn’t the Chosen One.

One of the things I liked the most about A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING is there’s not a lot of romance. There’s a little there, but I was really worried this book would slide into love triangle or even love quadrangle territory, given that Henrietta’s fellow students are all male. Sure, one of them tries, and the banter is fun, but I so, so appreciated that the author didn’t turn the book into a romance with a light side of fantasy. No, Henrietta remembers what’s at stake.

The book did lag a bit for me in the middle, and I was tired of the misogynistic attitude of some sorcerers. Not to mention the whole blaming all witches for the Ancients when a male magician was also responsible. I also don’t know why the Ancients are trying to take England for their own, but I’m guessing that will come up in the next book.

Socialize with the author:

Jessica Cluess:
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 599
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Book Review:

Ready for the shortest review ever?

ILLUMINAE is █████ out of this world.

That about covers it, but here’s a longer version:

ILLUMINAE is the sort of book I’ve wanted to read for a long time.

First, the format: It’s composed entirely of interviews, emails, IM convos, recovered video footage, conversations with Artificial Intelligence, and other neat stuff like ship schematics and casualty lists. I geek out over that type of stuff, because it makes me feel like I’m the book’s world. I know the non-traditional format might be off-putting for some readers, but the authors did an amazing job. That kind of format can go wrong, but here, it was perfect. The emails and IMs and other content really worked to develop the characters. I knew Kady and Ezra within pages, and everyone else, too. Rarely do I tear up when bad stuff happens, especially to minor characters, but here I did, because I knew these guys and I was rooting for them.

Second, the story: After the Kerenza colony is attacked by BeiTech, Kady and Ezra and the other thousands of survivors are in a deadly race for their lives. They have to outrun the Lincoln, a ship bent on their destruction so there aren’t any living witnesses of the atrocities at Kerenza. But they also have to survive the fleet’s AI, which has gone… a little crazy. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, there’s a new plague no one has seen before.

Third: the experience: reading ILLUMINAE really is an experience. Don’t let the length put you off. Yes, it’s over 600 pages, but it goes by quickly. I was actually trying to drag it out because I loved the experience of reading this book. There’s dark humor, references to classic sci-fi, great characters, moral dilemmas to puzzle over, and tons more. The formatting is well done too, which really adds to the experience. For example, I’ve never read a battle scene the way it’s shown in ILLUMINAE, and now I can’t imagine how I’ll go back to normal blocks of text. This is great YA sci-fi, folks.

ILLUMINAE is a book with a lot of hype behind it. Very rarely do hyped up books meet my expectations, but this one did. ILLUMINAE vaporized the hype monster. I need the rest of this series so badly that waiting is going to be painful… has anyone invented a jump gate generator yet?

Instagram <3:

Socialize with the authors:

Amie Kaufman:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Jay Kristoff:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey

Book Review: Marked by  Laura Williams McCaffreyMarked by Laura Williams McCaffrey
Published by Clarion Books on February 16, 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
Sixteen-year-old Lyla lives in a bleak, controlling society where only the brightest and most favored students succeed. When she is caught buying cheats in an underground shadow market, she is tattooed—marked—as a criminal. Then she is offered redemption and she jumps at the chance . . . but it comes at a cost. Doing what is right means betraying the boy she has come to love, and, perhaps, losing even more than she thought possible. Graphic novel–style vignettes revealing the history of this world provide Lyla with guidance and clues to a possible way out of the double bind she finds herself in.

Book Review:

I finished MARKED about a few hours ago and I have almost no clue what I read. While the beginning is good, after Lyla’s Marking, the book meandered into “what the heck is going on here” territory for me.

To start, there’s a serious lack of worldbuilding. There are a few snippets of background information in the comic strip illustrations, but I had real trouble understanding Lyla’s world. Why do people live in primitive conditions, starving and freezing? What is Protean? I guess Protean was supposed to be some sort of energy superpower, but if society has it, why does most of the town not even have running water? It’s that sort of thing, especially when there’s no explanation, that keeps me from getting into a YA dystopia.

Second, there’s so much other confusing stuff. Much of the slang the characters use isn’t given any English equivalent. What’s slagging? Where did Merde come from? Miner’s Cough seemed like it would be important, but nothing came of it. There was a lack of a bigger plot. Lyla just kind of ran around with a pack of kids, trying to be a spy. Also, because of that lack of worldbuilding, I didn’t really know why the Red Fist was fighting against the establishment, or why it had become a gang of bullies.

Third, the ending was very open. I personally don’t like such open endings, especially with MARKED being a standalone. After so much buildup about Lyla deciding who to trust and what to do, I wanted to know what happened to her.

Socialize with the author:

Laura Williams McCaffrey:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Book Review: Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle ClaytonShiny Broken Pieces by Dhonielle Clayton, Sona Charaipotra
Series: Tiny Pretty Things #2
Published by HarperTeen on July 12, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Diversity, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
5 Stars
June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.

June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.

After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?

Book Review:

I loved TINY PRETTY THINGS last year. I read it twice before I reviewed it. I gushed about it. I couldn’t wait for the sequel.

SHINY BROKEN PIECES is just as good as TINY PRETTY THINGS. As with the first book, I read it twice and loved it each time. I read it twice because I sped through too quickly the first time to be able to write a coherent review.

First, I love me a good ballet book. You know how sometimes there’s no actual dancing in a ballet book? That’s so not the case here. Yep, there’s plenty of drama in SHINY BROKEN PIECES, but there’s also sooooo much dancing. The ballet this time is Swan Lake, and I greatly enjoyed watching everyone practice and perform.

Second, the characters. Bette, Gigi, and June are back. After last year’s accident, Bette’s been suspended from the school, because everyone suspects she pushed Gigi. But Bette isn’t going to sit in the shadows and give up quietly. I liked the mystery aspect of SHINY BROKEN PIECES, where Bette is trying to clear her name. The authors had me thinking this person or that did it; the big reveal had me going :O.

But back to the characters. Everyone is dealing with a lot. Gigi’s trying to recover from the accident, but is also drifting into mean girl territory. June is battling her eating disorder while figuring out what she wants in the future. The characters have grown and changed from the first book, and there’s something to like/dislike about each of them.

Really, the short version of what I’m trying to say is: I love Bette, Gigi, and June. They’re cutthroat, dedicated, driven, and not above a little backstabbing when necessary. I also love that Gigi and June both address the lack of diversity in the ballet world.

Third, everything else. Yeah, this isn’t turning out to be a good review, but I just love this series something fierce, and that’s rare for me. I swear, Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton could write a cereal box and I’d be enthralled. I sincerely hope there’s another book in the Tiny Pretty Things series — while SHINY BROKEN PIECES does tie up a lot of the storylines, I’m greedy and want more!

Socialize with the authors:
Sona Charaipotra:
Website
Twitter

Dhonielle Clayton:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel CainePaper and Fire by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #2
Published by NAL on July 5, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

Book Review:

INK AND BONE, the first book in the Great Library series, was one of my favorite books last year. I’ve been looking forward to the continuation of Jess’s story ever since, and PAPER AND FIRE did not disappoint.

I described INK AND BONE as a book lover’s nightmare. PAPER AND FIRE is a herd of nightmares trampling over every page.

Now that Jess is part of the Library proper, in the High Garda (the guard for Scholars and the Library), he sees even more of the horrors initiated by the Archivist and those under his control. Every move he makes is like a chess match, as the Archivist is watching for Jess to put half a toe out of line. But Jess, being Jess, doesn’t hesitate to throw himself into danger to save others. I really liked how he protected his chosen family, and how the author showed blood isn’t always thicker when it comes to families.

The main story in PAPER AND FIRE is the rescue of Thomas. In INK AND BONE, the postulants were told Thomas had been killed, but Jess discovers otherwise. If you’re dangerous but still useful, the Library takes you, tortures you, and exploits you. The first half of the book is a little slow, but looking back, I saw the Archivist’s trap closing around Jess and his friends as they tried to find whatever information they could. The second half is action-packed, with Jess, Glain, Santi, Wolfe, Khalila, Dario, and Morgan. It was great to see the “crew” again, as well as see how the decisions of the Library and fighting against it impacted each of them.

I had absolutely no idea what would happen in PAPER AND FIRE, and I loved that. I always enjoy when a book is unpredictable. I also liked getting to see more of the world of the Library; I think this is one of my favorite worlds, ever. There are some scenes near the end, where you see how much the Library has hidden and controlled people, and I had a moment.

And that ending! Oh my, oh my. Waiting for the next volume in the Great Library series is going to be rough.

TL;DR version: Alternate history, where books are more important than a single life. The Library is all-powerful and all-seeing, but Jess can’t let it keep his friend. Full of action, thinky moments, and great characters.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to the publisher, I am offering one copy of INK AND BONE to U.S. readers.

Socialize with the author:

Rachel Caine:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Book Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi MeadowsMy Lady Jane Published by HarperTeen on June 7, 2016
Genres: Alternate Universe, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 512
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

Book Review:

MY LADY JANE is a book that shouldn’t work, but it does. There’s a mishmash of things: shapeshifters, pop culture references, fourth wall breaking, tons of humor, and alternate history. Jane is still Queen of England for nine days, but Edward lives and is on a quest to retake his throne after Mary deposes Jane. And, maybe most importantly, MY LADY JANE is hilarious.

Humor can be hit or miss for me, especially in written form, but I must share a sense of humor with the authors, because I found their writing super funny. That said, I’ve never seen/read THE PRINCESS BRIDE, and I think there’s a lot of references to it in MY LADY JANE. But there were plenty of other things to keep me laughing: Jane’s bookworm antics, Gifford turning into a horse every day, Edward hearing he’s a spoiled brat, etc.

In this version of England, there are two factions. Shapeshifters (E∂ians) and non-shapeshifters (Verities). They’re not religious factions, but as people have taken sides, it’s very reminiscent of Protestants versus Catholics. Just a whole lot more fun. The authors take the idea that King Edward was poisoned and run with it, giving him a happily ever after just as they do with Jane. This is first book I’ve read that develops Edward as a real person, and I’ve read a lot of Tudor books. Same with Gifford, aka G, aka Guildford Dudley. He’s not the jerk I always assumed him to be. I had a lot of fun with the authors’ alternate versions of such famous historical figures.

I liked a whole lot about MY LADY JANE:
♥The alternate history, as I already mentioned. Jane Grey deserves a happy ending, and I’m really happy to see her get one.

♥The E∂ian concept was fun, although at one point I thought Oprah was passing out shapeshifting forms (and you get a dog! and you get a horse! and you get a bird!).

♥The romances. Jane and G are arranged, just like they are in history. But here, G turns into a horse every single day, leaving almost no time for him and Jane to get to know each other. And at first, Jane’s furious she had to marry G, who she assumes is a philanderer, because no one knows the truth about him. Over the course of the book, they really develop as a couple, with plenty of misunderstandings and tender moments. They go from enemies to friends at a believable clip.

MY LADY JANE is perfect for when you need a combination of history and humor.

Socialize with the authors:

Cynthia Hand:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Brodi Ashton:
Website
Twitter

Jodi Meadows:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Run by Kody Keplinger

Book Review: Run by Kody KeplingerRun by Kody Keplinger
Published by Scholastic on June 28, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who's not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn't care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents' overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter -- protect her from what, Agnes isn't quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it's the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn't hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo's dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and -- worst of all -- confronting some ugly secrets.

Book Review:

RUN isn’t normally the type of YA book I’d read — contemporary just isn’t my thing — but I was intrigued by the summary. Agnes is blind and stifled by overprotective parents. Bo is the town slut with a meth addict mom. After the two strike up an unlikely friendship, they end up on the run… but from what?

RUN alternates between Bo’s narration of present events and Agnes’ showing how their friendship started and grew. Agnes likes Bo because unlike everyone else in town — especially her parents — Bo treats her like a normal person. Bo doesn’t think she’s special or extra good or an angel because of her disability. Thanks to their friendship, Agnes begins living for the first time in her life, breaking out of the cage of her parents have created to keep her safe. And also thanks to their friendship, Agnes learns how many people in town misjudge and insult Bo simply because of her family’s reputation. Even she did, before she knew the real Bo.

There’s so much good stuff in RUN. It’s one of those YA books that has a lot of what I’d like to see more of: genuine female friendship, a mature look at sex (no instalove here!), a disabled protagonist that’s more than her disability, etc. There’s depth to both Agnes and Bo, and while the book tackles a lot of issues, it doesn’t feel like an “issue book.”

The last few pages of RUN didn’t quite gel with the rest of the book for me, which is why I gave 4 instead of 5 stars. I felt like Bo threw away a lot of what had been important to her, which just didn’t fit with the rest of RUN.

But overall, RUN is fantastic!

Socialize with the author:

Kody Keplinger:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Book Review: Drag Teen by Jeffery Self

Book Review: Drag Teen by Jeffery SelfDrag Teen by Jeffery Self
Published by Push on April 26, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
A fantastic, fabulous, funny YA debut from Jeffery Self, one of the gay icons of the YouTube generation, that follows one high school student on a drag race to his future.

Debut YA author Jeffery Self takes us on a road trip with an insecure high school senior who has one goal: to be the first in his family to leave Clearwater, Florida, and go to college. The problem is, he has zero means of paying for school -- until his friends convince him to compete in a drag teen competition for a college scholarship.

Book Review:

JT needs to get out of Clearwater, Florida, a town that’s too small and just not for him. But he doesn’t have money for college, and his grades aren’t good enough for scholarships. Then his boyfriend Seth finds the perfect solution: JT will compete in the Miss Drag Teen Scholarship Pageant. The only problem? JT loves being in drag — it’s the only time he feels proud and powerful — but the last time he did it, he was booed off the stage of his high school talent show.

DRAG TEEN is a breezy yet serious book, on a subject I haven’t seen in YA before. There’s no angst over JT being gay; he’s already out to his parents and everyone else. No, the focus of the book is JT’s journey to find himself. Drag is a big part of it, because that’s his confidence booster, but there’s also a lot about him learning to quit worrying, live in the moment, and not put himself down.

I liked DRAG TEEN the most when it stayed in the moment, just like JT was learning to do. Sometimes the book got a bit too serious, and it didn’t quite fit the tone of it, like the author’s intentions were coming down like a sledge hammer. Sometimes JT’s revelations were a bit too mature, like a thirty-year-old looking back at being seventeen.

I liked the message of DRAG TEEN, I really did. I saw a lot of myself in JT, as I’m sure other people will. It’s so easy to be negative about yourself, to doubt things, to refuse the help of your friends, and so on. But anytime JT got into trouble, a miracle always showed up to help him. Flat tire on country backroads? Cue rescue by a superstar country singer who was also happy to lend JT wigs and costumes. By the end of the book, I was tired of JT never having to work for anything; everything he needed to find himself was handed to him.

Socialize with the author:

Jeffery Self:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna