Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

Book Review: And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press on June 28, 2016
Genres: Alternate Universe, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Book Review:

AND I DARKEN asks one very cool question: what if Vlad the Impaler had been a girl? That was all I needed to pick up this book, because I really liked the idea of gender-swapping Vlad into Lada.

THE GOOD:

–Lada. Lada is the real standout of AND I DARKEN. I absolutely loved that she was vicious and mean. Sometimes she’s almost a silly caricature (because she’s always so bloodthirsty), but I so adored having a female character who didn’t want to be liked and didn’t care about what other people thought of her. If I were Lada, stuck in her world where women were supposed to embroider and be gentle and marry like chattel for the advantage of their fathers, I’d be just as nasty and determined to find my own way. Vlad the Impaler didn’t have an easy childhood, and neither does Lada.

–The love triangle. I’m quite surprised that I liked the love triangle aspect of this book. Well, I liked some of it. There’s no obvious choice here. Mehmed really could have Lada or Radu or both. I liked that the author explored the toxic branches of the triangle, the jealousy and hard choices it made for Lada and Radu.

THE BAD:

–Too long. AND I DARKEN is almost 500 pages. It’s the first book in a trilogy. AND I DARKEN is way too long. There were parts where I wanted to put the book down and take a snooze. I appreciate the author trying to make sure the reader understood the various politics of the time, but I wish she had condensed some of it.

–Mehmed. I didn’t like Mehmed at all. I didn’t really know why Lada and Radu were both attracted to him. The author kept telling me he was charismatic and a great guy, but she never showed me he was. She did show me he was a jerk — I can’t believe he told Lada the women of the harem were just a duty, not special like she was. I can’t see vicious Lada buying that, can you?

Overall, I liked the idea of AND I DARKEN. The execution was off at times, but it’s a series I would continue. I need more of Lada in my life!

Socialize with the author:

Kiersten White:
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– 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:
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– 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:
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Brodi Ashton:
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Jodi Meadows:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Hope and Red by Jon Skovron

Book Review: Hope and Red by Jon SkovronHope and Red by Jon Skovron
Series: Empire of Storms #1
Published by Orbit on June 30, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose. A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance. A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist. When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible.

Book Review:

HOPE AND RED is the first in the Empire of Storms trilogy. The book follows Hope, a girl trained as a monk assassin to get vengeance for her slain village and Red, an orphaned thief with a gift for smooth talking his way in and out of trouble.

Sounds like your run of the mill fantasy, right? Wrong.

HOPE AND RED is dark and gritty fantasy, two underdogs taking on the corrupt empire. It’s also funny, with characters like Sadie the Goat and lots of the underprivileged making fun of the rich and their lacey ways. And it’s serious, such as when female characters challenge and beat male expectations. Add in plenty of action, scary magic, and there’s a lot to like.

The author has a real gift for making memorable characters. Hope and Red are the standouts naturally, and I liked both for different reasons. But even characters who only showed up for a page stayed with me. Such as Hope’s father, who wore his daughter’s gift of a necklace and didn’t care that the other fishermen mocked him. Or Captain Carmichael, whose life eventually showed Hope vengeance wasn’t the only answer.

While we don’t get to see the entire empire in HOPE AND RED, we do get a good introduction to how life is for the poor. From Hope’s village being destroyed for a biomancer experiment to Red’s mother dying from toxic paints, life sucks a lot if you’re poor. Crime bosses and their gangs control what the imperials don’t.

I was sucked into the hard world of HOPE AND RED from page one, and I couldn’t get enough. Also, the author created some slang, which fit perfectly into the world. Most words are easy to figure out, but there’s a funny glossary at the end, written by one of the laceys.

I made myself read HOPE AND RED in several sessions, so I could enjoy the book for longer. But I really wanted to read the whole thing at once, because I enjoyed it that much. I definitely can’t wait for book two, BANE AND SHADOW, because I know it’s going to be even more epic.

Socialize with the author:

Jon Skovron:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Book Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul KruegerLast Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
Published by Quirk Books on June 7, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol fueled magic.

College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

Book Review:

LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE is a fun, quirky urban fantasy. Featuring a squad of “new adult” bartenders taking on the dark forces of the night, the book is definitely one I’d recommend for aficionados of properly mixed beverages.

Fresh out of college and unable to find a job, Bailey’s working as a barback for her friend Zane’s bar. It’s not a job worthy of her Ivy League education, but Bailey tries to overachieve anyway. One night she mixes herself a screwdriver, walks home, and is ambushed by a gruesome creature. But that screwdriver? It gives her the power to knock the beast into smithereens.

Bailey finds herself in a secret part of Chicago, where a perfectly mixed drink gives the imbiber magic powers for as long as the drink’s in their system. Each drink gives different powers based on its ingredients. Scattered throughout LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE are pages from The Devil’s Water Dictionary, Bailey’s guide to mixing magic drinks. Those pages were quite cool; one of my favorite parts of the book. They really added to the flavor of the author’s world.

As I said above, this book was quirky and fun. I also liked that the author worked in Bailey’s underemployment and living at home, as those are things a lot of college grads are dealing with. And I liked seeing her make friends, become confident, and realize she can do more than memorize and regurgitate information from a book.I liked seeing Bailey think on her toes. Let’s just say… Dumpster tank.

But there were also a few things that didn’t work for me. Sometimes I felt like the author forgot to mention stuff, like he forgot an important thing here or there, or it was edited out. Once in a while I felt like I was missing something vital. I also thought the romance between Bailey and Zane was unnecessary, awkward, and resolved way too quickly. I think it would’ve worked better if they stayed friends, rather than getting over the Fight and jumping together. I also wanted more background on the tremens.

Right now I think LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE is a standalone, and while I had a few issues with the book, I would definitely read more about Bailey and the Alechemists.

Socialize with the author:

Paul Krueger:
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– 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:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

Book Review: Age of Myth by Michael J. SullivanAge of Myth by Michael J Sullivan
Series: The Legends of the First Empire #1
Published by Del Rey on June 28, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
What does it mean if the gods can be killed? The first novel in an epic new fantasy series for readers of Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson, Peter V. Brett, and Scott Lynch.

Michael J. Sullivan’s trailblazing career began with the breakout success of his Riyria series: full-bodied, spellbinding fantasy adventures whose imaginative scope and sympathetic characters won a devoted readership. Now, Sullivan’s stunning hardcover debut, Age of Myth, inaugurates an original five-book series, and one of fantasy’s finest next-generation storytellers continues to break new ground.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between men and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now, only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer, Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom, and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over; the time of rebellion has begun.

Book Review:

I’ve wanted to read something of Michael J. Sullivan’s forever, since I’ve heard good things about his Riyria books. But I never got to any of them, so when I saw he had a new series coming out, it seemed like the perfect time to finally check out his work. And by the gods, am I glad I read AGE OF MYTH, because now I want to binge read all of his books.

First, I appreciated the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book. I’m always wary of starting new epic fantasy series because there’s that chance they won’t be finished. No worry of that here — all five books in The Legends of the First Empire are already written. That gives me such peace of mind knowing I’ll get the entire story, and too, I like knowing the author stuck to his ideas for how everything would go, and was even able to work in lots of foreshadowing.

Second, I like the squad of unlikely heroes. Born in a harsh land, Raithe has only ever known fighting and becomes the mythical God Killer. But all he really wants is to quit fighting and find a quiet place to settle down. Widow Persephone must give up leadership of the clan she’s helped lead for 20 years when her husband is killed. But when the new chieftain shows himself unworthy of protecting their clan, she kicks aside generations of tradition. And so on.

Third, AGE OF MYTH is epic fantasy without requiring 800+ pages per volume to be epic. There are big consequences to little events, battles where the underdog is overwhelmed and against the wall, and big powerful bad guys who see humans as rats. Classic fantasy stuff in some ways, but Sullivan puts his own spin on it all. And that ending? Oh man oh man! It’s going to be a long wait until summer 2017.

Socialize with the author:

Michael J. Sullivan:
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– 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:
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– leeanna

Book Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Book Review: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith RussoIf I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Published by Flatiron Books on May 3, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
4 Stars
Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met—open, honest, kind—and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself…including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

Book Review:

IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is an #OwnVoices book. I am so happy that there’s finally a book about a trans teen by a transwoman author published by a big company. I’m not devaluing the importance of small/indie presses, it’s just those books have less of a chance of finding their way into libraries/hands of teens who need them.

And let’s not forget the #OwnVoices, because that’s a really big thing. Imagine if you were in Amanda’s shoes, and you saw the author went through many of the same things her character did, and came out stronger on the other side? It’s a big deal.

In some ways, I feel IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is just a bit too easy and hopeful, but on the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with that. Amanda does have a relatively easy time in the South, even going to church once with extreme conservatives, and having an accepting group of friends, but… it just shows that you can possibly find support anywhere. And not every trans story needs to be full of doom and gloom. Yes, there’s some of that here, but it’s more about Amanda learning to really live her life, to overcome fears and realize she deserves to be loved as she is.

Socialize with the author:

Meredith Russo:
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– leeanna

Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria SchwabThis Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on July 5, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
4 Stars
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Book Review:

THIS SAVAGE SONG is the first in the Monsters of Verity series, a new YA fantasy series from Victoria Schwab. In a destroyed America, monsters rule the dark, and people cling to whatever bits of safety and normality they can find. Well, most people — Kate Harker and August Flynn excluded.

Kate’s father rules half Verity. People pay him for safety, and he keeps the Corsai and Malchai monsters from killing those people. He’s a vicious crime boss, and Kate wants to be exactly like him. She wants to prove to her father that she’s a Harker, worthy of being his heir.

August’s adopted father rules the other half of Verity. His people fight the Corsai and Malchai for safety. But Henry Flynn has a secret weapon: August and his siblings are Sunai. Sunai are monsters too, but different from the Corsai and Malchai. Sunai are avengers.

The worldbuilding is a bit complicated in THIS SAVAGE SONG. I would have liked more about the different types of monsters and how they came into existence. There are mentions of “the Phenomenon,” but I don’t remember an explanation or information about it. I did like the idea of violence breeding violence, and the author doing a little exploring of good versus evil, black and white versus shades of grey. I hope there’s more of that in the rest of the series.

THIS SAVAGE SONG also looks at what it means to be human and what it means to be a monster. Kate wants to be a monster, just like her father. August wants to be a human, but that’s impossible. I quite liked the Sunai, but it would spoil too much to go into why. So I’ll just say I liked what the author did with all three of them.

I was also super happy to find that there’s no romance in THIS SAVAGE SONG! It’s so refreshing to not have an insta-love romance crammed down my throat, distracting me from the other good stuff in the book. I’m so happy the author didn’t go that route here. Yes, Kate and August are thrown together, and must work together to save each other’s lives, but they don’t waste time making googly eyes at each other.

I am eager to see what else Victoria Schwab has in mind for Kate and August, and the other Monsters of Verity. Bring on book two!

Socialize with the author:

Victoria Schwab:
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– leeanna