Thursday, September 27, 2018

ARC Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

About The Book:

  Title:  Girls of Paper and Fire 
  Author: Natasha Ngan 
  Pub. Date: November 6th, 2018 
  Publisher: Jimmy Patterson Books 
  Pages: 336
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT 
  Rate: 4/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.


In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

Review:

Girls of Paper and Fire is the start of new fantasy series by Natasha Ngan. It stars Lei, who is forcefully taken from her small village in order to serve the Demon King as a Paper Girl. (Usually) 8 Paper Girls are chosen yearly to serve the King and all of his nightly desires. Typically only higher class paper-caste are chosen, but Lei's golden eyes captured the attention of royal consorts and is given as a gift to the King. A threat on the only family she has left is keeping Lei from escaping, but she looks for other ways to defy the royalty at every turn. 

"The fear might be strong.
But my hatred is stronger." 

Like nothing I've ever read before, this book was completely original. There are 3 castes in this book, Paper, Steel, and Moon. Paper castes, like Lei, are full human and considered the lowest of the low. The members of the Steel caste are a combination of demon and human, while those in the Moon caste have full demon traits. The demons in this book look part human/part animal. The Moon and Steel castes treat the Paper caste like trash, calling them horrible names and giving them away as slaves. The world building is so lush, it's absolutely phenomenal. Miss Ngan submerges you in this new world and it's so wonderfully horrifying that you won't want to get out.

When Lei is taken to the palace, she doesn't expect to fall for anyone, let alone another one of the Paper Girls. Girls of Paper and Fire includes a romantic f/f relationship and so much diversity. The characters are vibrant, even the secondary characters in this novel are so well-developed it feels like you really know them. 

Girls of Paper and Fire is a beautifully written, Asian-inspired fantasy. It ties up many plot lines, but leaves some open for the next book in the series. One of those being the Demon Queen! I really want to learn more about her and her secret life. Considering this book is going to be marketed as YA, I was definitely surprised at the explicit content. It reminded me of ACOTAR in the way it has quite a bit of YA/NA crossover appeal. Anyway, I definitely recommend this book for all of those YA fantasy fans out there. I know you'll love this book as much as I did. Are you excited for Girls of Paper and Fire? Are you planning to preorder? 

Thank you to Jimmy Patterson Books for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review
- Jocelyn

Monday, September 24, 2018

ARC Review: An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1)

About The Book:

  Title:  An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1) 
  Author: Charlaine Harris 
  Pub. Date: October 2nd, 2018 
  Publisher: Saga Press 
  Pages: 320 
  Genre: Adult, Thriller, Urban Fantasy 
  Rate: 5/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Gunnie Lizbeth Rose has been hired by a pair of Russian sorcerers as both their local guide and muscle through the small towns of East Texas as they search for a distant relative of an infamous sorcerer whose bloodline can help save their emperor-in-exile as an ever increasing number of assassins tries to stop them.

After the assassination of FDR in the 1930s, the US collapses and is picked off by the UK, Canada, Mexico, and Russia. We find ourselves in the southwestern states now known as Texoma. It is here that the gunnie Lizbeth Rose tries to piece out a life, running security on runs from Texoma, across the border to Mexico where work and prospects are stronger. When two Russian magicians come looking for a man named Alex Karkarov, they hire Lizbeth to find him or his family, but there are problems: The man they're looking for is dead, but he has a daughter they now need to find, as an ever-growing set of sorcerers and gunnies do not want them to succeed. It’s a good thing Lizbeth is a deadly gunfighter; too bad she hates sorcerers, even the ones she has to learn to rely on.

Review:

When I found out Charlaine Harris was releasing a new fantasy series, I literally could NOT contain my excitement. I am a huge fan of her work and cherish both her Sookie series and Midnight Texas series. An Easy Death takes place in an alternate history where the Holy Russian Empire is still ruled by Tsars (THE ROMANOVS, EVERYONE!) and the US is no longer United. Our main character, Lizbeth Rose, is a gunnie in the Southwest (now known as Texoma) and she is tasked to find someone who could save young Alexi Romanov's life.

A major theme in this book are the Russian wizards. Outside of the Holy Russian Empire, citizens aren't a huge fan of them. In the book, you'll see themes where they are not widely accepted and even banned from some restaurants, hotels, etc. Lizbeth is obviously cautious when these two wizards hire her to be their gunnie, but she's not about to turn down their money. I look forward to learning more about the broken US and Holy Russian Empire in the future books. There is a lot of world building going on. We have territories New Britannia (the original colonies), Dixie (current southeast of US), The Holy Russian Empire (modern California and Oregon), New America (Canada Controlled), and Texoma (southwestern US). It's a lot to come to grip on for a 320 page novel, but  I definitely feel like we will learn more of the HRE in the next book because of that ending!

Lizbeth is a great main character. She's tough, snarky, and doesn't care what people think of her. Unlike a lot of fantasy heroines, she actually has flaws and isn't annoying. She is definitely the type of heroine who can drive a series. I can't wait to read more involving her!! The other two important characters in this novel are the two Russian wizards who hired her to be their Gunnie - Eli and Paulina. From the Holy Russian Empire, they are mysterious and have lots of secrets they don't want to reveal. Paulina reminds me of Pam from the Sookie Series! She's funny with that dry sense of humor. Eli, is a hot Russian wizard that reminds of Eric Northman. Ok - I'm reaching here a bit, but I LOVE Charlaine's characters!

Ultimately, An Easy Death is something new and fresh from seasoned author, Charlaine Harris. I'm not sure how many books are going to comprise this series, but I can't wait to see what comes next for Gunnie Rose. Sex, magic, and adventure - you can't go wrong with this novel. If you are a Charlaine Harris fan or love Urban Fantasy novels with magic, I hope you'll give this book a try.


Thank you to Saga Press for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review
- Jocelyn

Monday, July 9, 2018

ARC Review: Baby Teeth

About The Book:

  Title:  Baby Teeth 
  Author: Zoje Stage 
  Pub. Date: July 17th, 2018
  Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
  Pages: 320 
  Genre: Adult, Thriller, Mystery 
  Rate: 2/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

Review:

Baby Teeth is being marketed as a thriller involving Hanna, a (selective) mute girl, who hates her mother so much that she wants her gone so that she can spend all her time with her dad. Meanwhile, her father refuses to believe that Hanna has any ill intentions toward her mother. While this novel is being marketed as a thriller, I didn't find anything thrilling about it.

The synopsis of this book is literally the entire story. It never progressed past that, and went in circles of 1. Hanna planning to hurt/kill her mom, 2. Her mom reacting to the situation, and 3. Hanna realizing it didn't work and goes back to the drawing board. Obviously, I got very bored after awhile. But I stuck with it because I thought something exciting was going to happen.

I will say that Hanna was a creepy, albeit believable little girl. Her lack of empathy turned her into a pretty scary character. Suzette, her mom, was at the end of her rope and extremely confused why her daughter hates her so much and is so defiant towards her but doesn't act this way towards her dad. I do wonder why she wouldn't just put video cameras around to catch her daughter's behavior if it was so concerning to her that her husband wouldn't believe her? The dad, Alex, is just so clueless that there is nothing interesting about him.

While I liked the characters and writing of this book, I was disappointed that there really wasn't any type of resolution or fulfillment to the plot. I felt like we were just reading a big short story with no climactic aspects. This book is being marketed as shocking and disturbing. I guess at times Hanna could be disturbing but it wasn't shocking at all. Because I liked the writing, I would definitely try something else Ms. Stage writes, but, unfortunately, Baby Teeth was not a hit with me.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn

Thursday, July 5, 2018

ARC Review: Nine

About The Book:

  Title:  Nine
  Author: Zach Hines 
  Pub. Date: August 7th, 2018
  Publisher: HarperTeen 
  Pages: 320 
  Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction 
  Rate: 2.5/5 stars 




Synopsis :

In an alternate world startlingly close to our own, humans have nine lives—and they can’t wait to burn straight through them.

As you shed lives, you shed your awkward phases: one death is equal to one physical and mental upgrade. Julian’s friends are obsessed with the idea of burning lives, but Julian is determined to stay on his first for as long as he can. His mother, the ultimate cautionary tale, burned through her first eight in just a few years, and Julian has no intention of succumbing to the debilitating rebirth sickness that she inflicted on herself.

But the regime has death incentives aimed at controlling overpopulation, and Julian realizes that he’s going to have to burn at some point—especially when he becomes a target for Nicholas, the manipulative leader of the Burners, the school’s suicide club. And when Julian eventually succumbs, he uncovers suspicious gaps in the rebirth system that may explain exactly why his mother went so far down the rabbit hole years ago. Along with a group of student dissenters, Julian sets out to find answers and is soon on the verge of exposing the greatest conspiracy ever unleashed on the world.

He has just eight more lives to uncover the brutal truth.

Review:

Nine is what I'm assuming is the start of a new YA series. The real genre to this is still unclear to me. If I had to pick one - I'd have to say Dystopian (which I love). But it takes place in a "parallel world" - which makes me think science fiction, and there's some weird stuff that happens that makes me think fantasy? I really am not sure what it is supposed to be.

Anyway, Nine takes place in a parallel world where people have nine lives, and the higher life you are on - the more benefits you get from the government. With a higher life, you get more food rations, entrance to a better college, a better job, and a nicer house. So basically, they are encouraging you to burn through your lives. This is being done to control the population. This honestly sounded like such a good dystopian to me and the premise is amazing, which is why I'm do disappointed the novel as a whole fell short for me. Our main character, Julian, refuses to burn his lives, which I don't get why? It's well known that it's important to burn lives to earn money for your family and get a good job. The burners club at school hosts parties to burn lives - and Julian attends them like a mega creeper, trying to dampen everyone's fun, and is also super judgmental while he's there. Mr. Hines tries to peg the burners as the bad guys - but I liked them. They had a semblance of a personality, unlike our wet mop, Julian. Also, I supposed Julian is just innately SO SPECIAL he already knows burning is not natural. It started getting really weird when he can talk to these gross cicadas popping up everywhere and random cats (nine lives, hehe). Save me the special snowflake trope.

I probably liked Julian the least. Right up there with Cody, his partner in crime. None of the characters really resonated with me. There were some semi-interesting characters, but we don't get to see enough of them for it to really make an impact. I liked Molly (who you initially think will be an important character), Nicholas, Constance, and Franklin. But like I mentioned, they had such small roles in the novel, that I still wasn't truly invested in them. Truthfully, I probably wouldn't have cared about the outcome of any of them.

So, if I could compare this book to already published books - I'd have to say it's similar to books like The Maze Runner, Scythe, The Unwind Series, etc. Which, is actually quite strange, considering I love all of those books but am not really a fan of this one. I'm not sure if I'll read a follow up to this one. It left a lot of unanswered questions, but I'm not sure if I care enough about any of it to find out. I've been hurting for a new dystopian since YA is now saturated with the same kind of fantasy, but unfortunately, this is not what I've been looking for.
Thank you to Harper Collins for providing
this book in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn

Monday, July 2, 2018

ARC Review: Heretics Anonymous

About The Book:

  Title:  Heretics Anonymous 
  Author: Katie Henry
  Pub. Date: August 7th, 2018
  Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  Pages: 336
  Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 
  Rate: 4.5/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Michael is an atheist. So as he walks through the doors at St. Clare’s—a strict Catholic school—sporting a plaid tie, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow nonbeliever at that. Only this girl, Lucy, is not just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.

But Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism. After an incident in theology class, Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies. When Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom, or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.

Review:

"How can you change a church that doesn't listen to you?" 

Heretics Anonymous is a cute, stand-along contemporary from debut author, Katie Henry. This book explores important issues like learning to be accepting of other cultures, and it involves diverse characters and witty banter. You are sure to love it!

While this book has a ragtag group of friends, it mostly centers on Michael, who just moved in to St. Clare school because his dad received yet another promotion. Since Michael is an atheist, he is adamant that this school is going to be absolutely terrible. But on the first day at St. Clare's, he meets Lucy, who is arguing with on of their teachers. Michael finally feels there are others like him at St. Clare's. And pretty soon, he is welcomed into Lucy's friend group, for people who don't necessarily fully accept the catholic way (i.e. are of a different religion, sexuality, or have different beliefs). They all start to expose the hypocrisies within the school/church, and start to realize that maybe everyone in the school can disagree with some accept of the church they belong to. We also see that home environments aren't necessarily conducive to healthy relationships - highlights of absentee parenting, family dysfunction, and just a non-accepting attitude (to name a few). There really wasn't anything I didn't like in this novel - it was funny, fast-paced, and romantic - honestly everything you could want in a YA contemporary.

For fans of Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda, Heretics Anonymous is a feel good contemporary that deals with controversial topics like religion, sexuality, and family dynamics in a way that teenagers can relate to. This book is definitely for young adults and adults alike. Ms. Henry definitely rocked her debut novel, and I can't wait to read what she writes next!

Also - a huge thanks to my friend, Heather, for sending me this (and a bunch of other awesome books) to read!!
Thank you to Harper Collins for providing
this book in exchange for my honest review


- Jocelyn

Monday, June 11, 2018

ARC Review: Notes from my Captivity

About The Book:

  Title:  Notes from my Captivity 
  Author: Kathy Parks 
  Pub. Date: July 10th, 2018 
  Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 
  Pages: 352
  Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary 
  Rate: 3/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Girl meets boy… and the family holding her hostage.

Adrienne Cahill cares about three things: getting into a great college; becoming a revered journalist like her idol, Sydney Declay; and making her late father proud of her.

So when Adrienne is offered the chance to write an article that will get her into her dream school and debunk her foolishly optimistic stepfather Dan’s claim—no, belief—that a legendary family of hermits is living in the Siberian wilderness, there’s no question that she’s going to fly across the world.

After all, it is the trip of a lifetime.

But the Russian terrain is even less forgiving than Adrienne. And when disaster strikes, nothing—not the flirtatious guide or her stepdad’s obsessively detailed preparations—can protect Adrienne from the sheer force of nature. Now, Adrienne’s being held captive by the family she was convinced didn’t exist, and her best hope for escape is to act like she cares about befriending them, even if it means wooing the youngest son.

Review:

Notes from my Captivity is a new YA novel about a girl who gets kidnapped by a hermit family living off the grid in Siberia. Most people think this family is a myth, which is what brings Adrienne to the Siberian wilderness in the first place. Her stepfather is in search for this family - The Osinovs, to prove to the world they exist. However, insanity ensues, and Adrienne ends up captured by them. And she believes they just might be trying to kill her.

I did like the characters in this novel. Adrienne was strong and funny. She was very sarcastic and I looove sarcastic narrators. The Osinov's were my favorite part of this, though. They were definitely super creepy, but intriguing at the same time. I loved the different dimensions of their character and motivation, it's what kept me interested in this novel. While the plot was different than your typical YA, there were definitely times that I anticipated what was going to happen. That would have been my least favorite part of the novel. it the situations were more surprising, I'd definitely have given this novel 4 or maybe even 5 stars. 

I did like this book. The beginning was definitely slow, but the second half was very hard to put down. I will say that this one honestly is like a YA I've never read before. I think the book could be for fantasy and contemporary fans alike, as there are big components of both. Have you read Ms. Park's previous novel, The Lifeboat Clique? I am hesitant about picking it up because it doesn't seem like something I'd like based off of the description, but this book was up my alley, so I'm thinking about giving it a try. Have you heard about Notes from my Captivity? Are you interested in giving it a try?

Thank you to Harper Collins for providing
this book in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

ARC Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

About The Book:

  Title: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe 
  Author: Lauren James 
  Pub. Date: July 3rd, 2018 
  Publisher: HarperTeen 
  Pages: 320 
  Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction 
  Rate: 5/5 stars 




Synopsis :

The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on theInfinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth.

Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity.

Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone….

Review:

Ok - I'm being completely serious when I say this book is one of the best science fiction books that I've ever read. So basically, NASA located a planet that was indeed, inhabitable by humans. At an attempt to colonize the planet, NASA sends a ship armed with astronauts, seeds, and genetic banks into space. The only problem, it would take years upon years to get there. So, two astronauts would man the ship while the others remained in torpor sleep. NASA didn't account for one of the astronauts getting pregnant on the first leg of the trip. So, instead of going into torpor sleep, the first two astronauts had a baby and raised this baby on the Infinity. At the start of our novel, there is nobody on the ship except for Romy. A huge mishap caused everyone else to die, except her. She is running the ship all by herself. 


"Love takes so much energy, and it just leads to pain." 

Romy is an extremely emotionally strong girl to be given this role in space and be the only one on the ship. However, she suffers from debilitating anxiety, which makes her question herself and her decisions. One day, NASA tells her that a second fleet will be joining up with the Infinity. The commander of this fleet - 'J' is on constant contact with Romy from then on. However, some things just don't add up. And we begin to question just who J is and what his motives are. It is honestly SO CHILLING. This book is also fiercely feminist, and I just love it so much. It's hard to put my words into coherent sentences so please enjoy this neat-o list of things I liked:

Things I Liked:
1. The mental health aspect.
2. The slow-burn of learning the ship's back story.
3. How relatable Romy is.
4. The mystery surrounding J.
5. The writing - it is CRAZY addicting

Things I didn't like:
Nothing

"If a life of fear isn't worth living, then why should I carry on?" 

Science fiction and thriller all rolled in one - this book is so fast-paced you can definitely finish it in one sitting. I am 110% pre-ordering this gym as it is one of my favorite books of 2018! If you haven't read this book yet (because I think it's been published before), you need to PRE-ORDER it so we can discuss the amazingness that is The Loneliest Girl in the Universe.
Thank you to Harper Collins for providing
this book in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn