Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi NovikUprooted by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey on May 19, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 438
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Book Review:

UPROOTED’S description likens the book to a Grimm fairy tale, and that’s a comparison I’d agree with. The scariest thing in the book isn’t a particular bad guy, but an entire forest: the Wood. It’s malevolent and corruptive, and if you venture inside, you won’t come out the same.

Agnieszka lives on the edge of the Wood. Her valley is protected by the Dragon, a great wizard who demands a girl every ten years to serve in his Tower as payment. Everyone expects that Kasia, beautiful and talented Kasia who’s prepared all her life for this indenture, will be taken. Agnieszka’s devastated about it, because Kasia’s her best friend. But when she herself is chosen, everything Agnieszka knows changes.

UPROOTED has an Eastern European folk tale feel, and since so many fantasies are set in pseudo-Western European countries, I appreciated that. I also liked how different types of magic were presented. Agnieszka’s chosen because she has magical ability, but when the Dragon tries to teach her his spells, they don’t work and tire her. Why? Because her magic is intuitive; she feels her way through spells rather than commands them.

I really liked the Wood in UPROOTED. It’s delightfully creepy, and I liked how the author slowly revealed information about it. The Wood was my favorite part of the book; I especially liked the ultimate reveal about its creation. Agnieszka’s stubbornness also endeared her to me, because I felt her attitude and reactions to events were quite realistic (and probably ones I’d have myself).

UPROOTED did have a couple of downsides for me. At times, I thought the pace was really slow, and my attention would wander while reading. I also wasn’t a fan of the relationship that develops between Agnieszka and the Dragon. Thankfully the romance isn’t in your face, but I just didn’t see why they were attracted to each other. Lastly, I wanted more character development for the Dragon and Kasia. A lot of development was put into the Wood; I wish even a bit of that had been given to the Dragon and Kasia, since they are important characters.

As far as I can tell, UPROOTED is a standalone, and I did like the way it ended. It’s always nice to get a complete story in a book, rather than have to wait 2-3 years or more. But at the same time, I wouldn’t mind a return to this world.

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Naomi Novik:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Book Review: Mechanica by Betsy CornwellMechanica by Betsy Cornwell
Published by Clarion Books on August 25, 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

Book Review:

I really like the idea behind MECHANICA. While inspired by Cinderella, MECHANICA is more than a fairytale retelling. Nicolette is determined to make her own way in the world by becoming a successful inventor just like her mother. But with both of her parents gone, Nicolette’s been turned into a servant for her Stepmother and step-sisters. On her sixteenth birthday, she receives a letter from her long-dead mother, informing her how to get into the workshop hidden in the cellar.

Having the workshop changes everything. Suddenly Nicolette’s able to invent her own machines, rather than just fix the ones left from her mother’s day. Nicolette comes up with a plan for independence, working very hard to perfect her projects and find ways of making money. Unlike many fairytale princesses, she doesn’t sit around and mope while waiting for a prince to rescue her.

I was a little wary at first when she met Fin and Caro, and warier still when she had such strong feelings for Fin. But. BUT. I love how the author handled the whole thing in the end. Nicolette thought about her feelings for Fin quite a bit, and a lot of the time, he was like an imaginary friend, someone to talk to during the long, rough days. And when there’s a chance for them to be together, she thinks about what she wants, not what everyone else wants. MECHANICA doesn’t go the usual route of romance in YA, and I was so, so, SO happy about that. I also liked that the author mentioned how the Fey have friend families instead of spouses.

MECHANICA did have a couple of things I have to nitpick. Is there another book coming? I can’t find any information so far, but I sure hope so. There were some unresolved things that were really built up, like the Ashes. I also hoped for more information on what happened during/after the Exposition, since attending it was so important to Nicolette. I didn’t find MECHANICA to have a real big climax, just a kind of whimper at the end, regarding both the Exposition and the Steps.

Overall, however, I quite enjoyed MECHANICA and Nicolette. I really do hope there is a sequel, so I can watch her continue to grow and find out more about the fascinating world the author created.

Socialize with the author:

Betsy Cornwell:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

Book Review: The Creeping by Alexandra SirowyThe Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on August 18, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
2 Stars
Eleven years ago, Stella and Jeanie disappeared. Stella came back. Jeanie never did.

Now all she wants is a summer full of cove days, friends, and her gorgeous crush—until a fresh corpse leads Stella down a path of ancient evil and secrets.

Stella believes remembering what happened to Jeanie will save her. It won’t.

She used to know better than to believe in what slinks through the shadows. Not anymore.

Book Review:

THE CREEPING has an interesting premise. When they were six, Stella and Jeanie were in the woods. Only Stella came back. Jeanie disappeared, never to be seen again. Stella has no memories of that day or any before it, so she wasn’t able to help the police. Years later, Stella’s put all that behind her, and now she’s a popular girl, concerned with kissing hot boys and having a great senior year. But then she finds a dead little girl, a girl who reminds her of Jeanie.

THE CREEPING is one third creepy and two thirds boring. A huge part of the book is Stella and her monologuing on being popular and boys. For a book titled “THE CREEPING,” I expected more creepy stuff. I mean, there’s some there, but really, a lot of the focus is on Stella and guys and her friends. Stella’s somewhat of a bitch at first, but I didn’t really mind that. I found her attitude and the attitudes and behaviors of her friends to be realistic. It was just a bit much for me, especially all the “There’s no way he’ll help me. I was a jerk to him. Oh he’s cute. Why do I like him? He’s geeky.” etc. over and over.

He refers to Sam, Stella’s childhood friend. I quite liked Sam, as he’s sweeter and more helpful than a lot of the guys you find in YA books. He’s always there for Stella, even when she’s a complete bitch to him. I did wonder why he was so loyal.

Okay. The creepy part of THE CREEPING. I won’t spoil it, but the author did surprise me with the final reveal. I just wish that more of the book had been, well, creepy! By the middle of THE CREEPING, I wanted to skim the teenage angst bits and get to the creepy sections. I do think the book is too long — 400+ pages of teenage angst and only a bit of mystery was about 150 pages too much.

Socialize with the author:

Alexandra Sirowy:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Book Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor HermanLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 18, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

Book Review:

I love historical fiction, especially historical fiction that covers less popular time periods than Tudor England or WWII. There’s nothing wrong with those periods, but there are thousands of years of stories to tell rather than rehashing the same thing over and over. So, I was obviously excited to start LEGACY OF KINGS. Alexander the Great as a boy? Bring it on!

LEGACY OF KINGS is the first in the Blood of Gods and Royals series. It’s over 400 pages, and for the first book in a series, it felt about a hundred pages too long. Part of the reason why I felt it was too long is there’s a huge cast of main characters. There are seven! The author had to spend a lot of time introducing everyone and setting up their arcs. I’m sure all the characters are important in their own way, but a few were boring for me, because they didn’t get a lot of page time and I didn’t know enough about them. Yes, I know that’s contradictory, but I wish the author had slimmed down her cast and really focused on characters such as Alexander and Cynane.

Due to the large cast, LEGACY OF KINGS has a slow start. It takes the book a while to get going, and switching perspectives didn’t immerse me in the time period at first. But I kept going, and after I’d gone through everyone’s perspectives at least once, the book got better. I swore I was reading a historical soap opera — but in a good, really entertaining way.

I think the author did a great job of showing life in ancient Macedonia. I really liked the little details, such as how there’s a bucket of sand in most rooms in case of fire. I also like how there’s some magic in LEGACY OF KINGS, and hints of more to come. It’s the end of the Age of Gods … or is it? I don’t know, and I can’t wait to find out.

I wavered between three and four stars for LEGACY OF KINGS. It’s a book I liked because of the time period and the story. But I didn’t love it, due to the large cast of characters and the slow pacing. Based on the ending, I think the author’s going to really amp things up in the next book, EMPIRE OF DUST, so this is a series I’m eager to continue.

Socialize with the author:

Eleanor Herman:
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– leeanna

Book Review: All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder

Book Review: All We Have Is Now by Lisa SchroederAll We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder
Published by Scholastic on July 28, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Source: Blog Tour, Publisher
Goodreads
4 Stars
What do you do with your last day on earth?

Just over twenty-four hours are left until an asteroid strikes North America, and for Emerson and everyone else who didn't leave, the world will end. But Emerson's world already ended when she ran away from home. Since then, she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and on her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.

The city's quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them he has been granting people's wishes -- and gives them his wallet full of money.

Suddenly, this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in one last day -- maybe even their own.

all we have is now by lisa schroeder blog tour

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for ALL WE HAVE IS NOW by Lisa Schroeder. This tour is hosted by CBB Book Promotions and you can visit all the stops here. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway, and also my answer for Make-A-Wish-for-the-Apocalypse.

Book Review:

ALL WE HAVE IS NOW asks one important question: what would you do with your last day on earth? What if you knew an asteroid was going to wipe out North America — would you spend your last day with loved ones, righting wrongs, or hiding? Or would you do something else?

Emerson and Vince, two homeless teenagers, don’t want to wait the last few hours until the end. They’re about to take their end into their own hands when they meet Carl, who has spent his time granting wishes to people. Helping them do something they’d always wanted to, but hadn’t for one reason or another. Carl grants Vince’s wish of having money, and asks that the two pay it forward if possible.

Emerson and Vince have been concerned with surviving on the streets for so long that they’ve forgotten how to really live, how to enjoy themselves. But as they grant wishes and help people, their own wounds start to heal. ALL WE HAVE IS NOW is a hopeful story about the end of the world, one that shows how important human connections can be at the end. I like that the book tries to remind the reader that it’s important to live in the moment and enjoy yourself, rather than always looking to the future.

ALL WE HAVE IS NOW also follows Carl, and I liked that while the book is young adult, we also get the perspective of an adult. It was good to see how he felt about events compared to how Emerson and Vince felt. I was a little let down by the ending, which was too open for me, but overall I liked the message and tone of the book. I think it’s hard for a book about the impending end of North America to be uplifting, but the author accomplished it.

Make-A-Wish-for-the-Apocalypse

Make-A-Wish-for-the-Apocalypse- There’s just a little over 24 hours until a meteor is scheduled to hit the US. What do you wish for?

Okay, so I wish I could say I’d go out and do something like Emerson and Vince. Or that I’d grant some wish of my own, of things I’ve always wanted to do but never did. But in reality? I’d probably just stay in my house all day. Maybe read some of those books on my TBR pile that I’ve always wanted to read, but haven’t. Or maybe I’d read old favorites, so I’d be assured of enjoying a good book before the end. Or maybe I’d take a nap so I wouldn’t have to count down the hours. Yeah, I’m exciting, aren’t I?

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:

all we have is now author lisa schroederLisa Schroeder is the author of over a dozen books for kids and teens, including the YA novels I Heart You, You Haunt Me and The Bridge From Me to You. She loves tea and cookies, flowers, family hikes, books and movies that make her laugh and cry, and sunshine. Living in Oregon, she doesn’t get nearly enough sunshine, but the hikes are amazing.

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Buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Book Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Book Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie RyanDaughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on May 26, 2015
Genres: Romance, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 375
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.


In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

Book Review:

The summary for DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE makes it sound like the kind of book I’d love. Frances is one of the few survivors of the destruction of the Persephone; more importantly, she’s the only survivor who’s willing to face the truth of what happened. The two other survivors, a Senator and his son, claim a rogue wave destroyed the ship, but Frances knows everyone on board was murdered at gunpoint. After rescue, she takes on the identity of Libby O’Martin, a girl she met on the ship. Frances is determined to get revenge for the murders of her parents and the life she lost.

Fast forward four years. Frances has seamlessly become Libby, and now she’s out to destroy the Senator and his son for covering up the truth about the Persephone. The only snag in her plan? The Senator’s son – Grey – is her first love. They also met on the ship, and somehow fell in love in a few days. When she sees him again, Frances is torn between her revenge and loving Grey.

I found DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE skewed too far in the unbelievable romance direction for me to enjoy the book at all. I wanted to put the book aside by page 8, after I read, “It didn’t matter that I’d known him barely a week, it had been long enough to fall for him with an intensity I’d never experienced before (p. 8).” Okay, I get that they’re both fourteen at the time, and swept away by each other, but when Frances encounters him years later? When she’s putting her revenge plans underway? She’s pretty much in love with him all over again, and the Frances part of her that’s hiding inside the Libby disguise wants to throw all caution to the wind and be loved again. To top that off, I’m not sure why Frances liked Grey at first — maybe because he was the first boy that showed her attention? I don’t know. You can’t just tell me that they fell in love in a few days and it’s a “relationship” that overcomes her desire to get revenge for the murder of her parents and hundreds of other people.

DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE requires a lot of suspension of disbelief: that Libby and Frances looked enough alike for Frances to assume Libby’s identity; that Frances and Grey fell in love at first sight; that Frances can carry out such a complicated revenge plot without any real experience; etc., etc. I also found the author’s writing style to be somewhat stilted, with lots of telling that didn’t add to the suspense for me. The pace was super slow, and I skimmed a lot of the book because I just wasn’t interested in what was going on. The only reason I kept reading? I wanted to find out why everyone on the Persephone was murdered. But even that wasn’t too interesting. I wish I’d gone with my instincts and put DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE down after the first few chapters.

Socialize with the author:

Carrie Ryan:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

Book Review: Half a War by Joe AbercrombieHalf a War by Joe Abercrombie
Series: Shattered Sea #3
Published by Del Rey on July 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Words are weapons

Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.

Only half a war is fought with swords

The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.

Sometimes one must fight evil with evil

Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

Book Review:

I loved the first two books in the Shattered Sea trilogy: HALF A KING and HALF THE WORLD. So to say I was looking forward to the conclusion, HALF A WAR, is an understatement. I like my fantasy dark and gritty, and Joe Abercrombie certainly delivers on that — and the Viking feel of the series doesn’t hurt, either.

HALF A WAR is the perfect title for this book, because half the war against the High King is fought in battle and the other half is fought with words. The two main characters of HALF A WAR each fight in their own way. Princess Skara, who loses her family and country to the High King’s men can only use words and her cunning to save what’s left of Throvenland. Raith, Grom-gil-Gorm’s sword bearer, only wants to fight and surrender to battle lust.

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I didn’t enjoy HALF A WAR as much as the other two books. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I think it’s that Skara and Raith weren’t as strong for me as Yarvi and Thorn. Yarvi and Thorn are in HALF A WAR, and I did like seeing Yarvi’s machinations through Skara’s eyes, but … I don’t know. I just didn’t connect with Skara and Raith and Koll (Father Yarvi’s apprentice), which is probably why I wasn’t as into this book, as I’m a character-driven reader.

I did appreciate that the author included a few more hints about the elves. Their weapons play an important role, and I had a moment when I put everything together.

My expectations were high going into HALF A WAR, and while they weren’t quite met, I still enjoyed the book. I like that this trilogy considers what revenge and vengeance can lead to and the effects of war on the average person.

Let’s talk about it:

What do you think about each book in a trilogy having a different set of main characters?

Socialize with the author:

Joe Abercrombie:
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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: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Book Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Series: Winner's Trilogy #2
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) on March 3, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 402
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
1 Stars
Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Book Review:

I wasn’t a huge fan of THE WINNER’S CURSE last year, but I decided to give the second book in the trilogy, THE WINNER’S CRIME, a try because I was curious about the world. One of my big complaints about book one was the lack of worldbuilding, but there was enough to hook me and leave me wanting more.

Unfortunately, I shouldn’t have bothered with THE WINNER’S CRIME. Because I wasn’t a fan of Kestrel and Arin’s relationship in the first book, I really couldn’t stand all the time they spent angsting about each other in this one. THE WINNER’S CRIME is incredibly slow paced, with Kestrel and Arin going back and forth on liking each other, on reasons why they can and can’t trust each other, on why they can and can’t be together. I found Arin to be somewhat of a bully in this book, trying to force Kestrel to admit she likes him when he knows both of their lives are in danger anytime they meet, even in secret.

THE WINNER’S CRIME also has a huge pet peeve of mine. Kestrel is supposed to be incredibly intelligent, but now that she’s in love with Arin, she acts like an idiot. She’s under the Valorian emperor’s nose, and he repeatedly shows and tells her that even thinking about Arin isn’t a good idea if she wants to stay alive. But Kestrel thinks she’s above every warning, and stupidly spies for Herran. For what reason? I have no freaking clue, other than maybe she enjoys putting her life in danger?

THE WINNER’S CRIME suffers from middle book syndrome: not very much happens. Seriously, I think you could skip this book and move right onto the third book if it was available.

Socialize with the author:

Marie Rutkoski:
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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:
Website
Twitter

– leeanna