Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Kingdom of Ash

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Title: Kingdom of Ash

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Page Count: 984

Series: Throne of Glass, Book 7

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 23, 2018 by Bloomsbury YA

Format: eBook

Review: At this point in the game, I know exactly what I am getting into each time I pick up a Sarah J. Maas book. Kingdom of Ash was what I expected it to be in nearly every way, and I am totally ok with that. It was a satisfying ending to an epic saga (roughly 7,000 pages!). I think it is safe to say at this point that I am a dedicated Sarah J. Maas fan. Her writing is not perfect by any means, but I know that any book I pick up by her will be engaging and thoroughly enjoyable.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Felix Ever After

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Title: Felix Ever After

Author: Kacen Callender

Page Count: 368

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 5, 2020 by Balzer + Bray

Format: Hardcover

Review: First off, can we take a minute to appreciate that cover…gorgeous! I would have picked this book up for the cover alone if it wasn’t already in my TBR pile as a Mock Printz Committee selection. In the novel, Felix is an artist with a penchant for painting self-portraits. I like to think that this would have been one of those portraits.

But anywhoo, this book was a nice coming-of-age story filled to the brim with tropes. Misunderstood teenager? check. Angsty art school students? check. Mysterious online admirer? check. Confusing feelings about an attractive best friend? check.

Tropes aren’t necessarily a strike against a novel. When done well I enjoy them, however, I can’t say that about all the tropes in this book. I thought the romance angle in particular was weak. There was a weird quasi-love triangle that I didn’t feel did justice to either of the love interests. I could have cared less if Felix ended up either or neither of them.

So in summary, do not read this book for the romance, but rather for the character arc of a trans teen achieving self-acceptance and figuring out that it is ok to not have it all figured out.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Fiction · Science Fiction · Young Adult

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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Title: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Author: Suzanne Collins

Page Count: 439

Series: The Hunger Games, Book 0

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 19, 2020

Format: eBook

Review: It has taken me awhile to write this review, mostly because I have had a hard time coming to terms with how I feel about this book. To say that I was a fan of The Hunger Games series would be a huge understatement…I was obsessed. I thought about it night and day as I blazed through the series. Nearly every other aspect of my life was put on hold, and when the first movie was released in theaters, I immediately bought a ticket and showed up in full Capitol inspired regalia. I talked to anyone who would listen about it, and religiously followed several fan blogs. All that said, I was positively tickled when I saw that Suzanne Collins would be writing a prequel. I was a little apprehensive when I read the initial synopsis, but I do love a good villain origin story, so I figured it couldn’t be bad.

I was wrong. So, so wrong. In fact, when I finally finished, my first thought was: WTF did I just read? I am completely confused about what the author was attempting to do with this story. Origin stories, when done right, can lend so much perspective to the actions of a villain. This did not happen at all with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Instead of adding more depth to the character of Coriolanus Snow, it made him seem shallow and his nature was constantly portrayed in contradiction of itself. Everything he loves, he also seems to hate, and this is very confusing as a reader because his motives are even murkier than his character. The romance was disturbing and felt very “off” to me. This particular aspect of the story resulted in an ending that was bizarre to say the least. I was left with an overall feeling of disquiet when I finished, and I am not sure if this was or was not the authors intent.

The only thing I enjoyed about this reading experience was looking for the little Easter eggs and THG tie-ins woven throughout the storyline. There were enough of them that I decided to give this book a two star rating instead of a one.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Second Chance Summer

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Title: Second Chance Summer

Author: Morgan Matson

Page Count: 468

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 8, 2012 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Format: eBook

Review: If you love nostalgic beach/lake house in the summer vibes, this book is for you. It is a sweet story filled with friendship, romance, and above all, family. True to it’s title, this story is all about second chances. So if you are into that sort of thing, check it out. I personally found it to be an enjoyable summer read. I didn’t have to think too hard and I was satisfied by the ending. It had a tone very similar to The Summer I Turned Pretty (just with less angst), so I would definitely recommend it as a read-alike to Jenny Han fans.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Tower of Dawn

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Title: Tower of Dawn

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Page Count: 680

Series: Throne of Glass, Book 6

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 5, 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Format: eBook

Review: For the most part, when I review a book from this series I feel like I am constantly repeating myself, so my review of this book will be short and sweet.  My thoughts on this book are very similar to my thoughts on the previous five books, so feel free to look at those reviews if you feel so inclined.  That aside, it was nice to step away from Aelin’s story for a bit, and I really enjoyed the POV of Nesryn.  As with all of Maas’ books, nearly every character gets paired off with someone.  It’s nice but predictable.

I’ve made it this far, so I will definitely be reading the seventh and final book in the series.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

 

Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

The Midnight Lie

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Title: The Midnight Lie

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Page Count: 358

Series: The Midnight Lie, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 3, 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Format: eBook

Review: I was a huge fan of Rutkoski’s Winner’s Trilogy, so I was elated when I saw this book being offered up to readers on NetGalley.  Unfortunately, as with many books I hype in my mind, it did not quite live up to expectations.  I found both the setting and the romance to be boring.  I’ve seen this plot concept played out in other books, and I did not find this particular rendition to be anything special.  For folks who are interested, there is an LGBT+ angle, but there really isn’t anything else that sets it apart in my mind from other fantasy that I have read.  Although I would like to learn more about Nirrim’s magical gifts, I don’t think I am interested enough to continue forward with this series.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Young Adult

Kent State

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Title: Kent State

Author: Deborah Wiles

Performers: Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina DeLaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, & David de Vries

Length: 1 hr, 59 min, 56 sec

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2020 by Scholastic Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: Poetry is not really my thing, so it was hard to rate this book.  I listened to it in eAudiobook format, so it really felt like I was listening to a play with all the back and forth dialogues and monologues.  I personally did not really enjoy it, but I didn’t give it a low rating because I appreciate the amount of research that went into it and I liked that the author showed several different conflicting perspectives.  This gave a more complete picture of what happened (and why) on the fateful and tragic day of May 4, 1970.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fantasy · Fiction · Historical · Young Adult

The Court of Miracles

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Title: The Court of Miracles

Author: Kester Grant

Page Count: 464

Series: A Court of Miracles, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 2, 2020

Format: eBook

Review: I have never been a huge fan of Les Misérables.  True to it’s name, it is both lengthy and wildly depressing.  I am also not a big fan of musicals so that form of adaptation never interested me.  Nevertheless, the synopsis for this book piqued my interest.  Eponine?  As a cat burglar? Ok! If I had to pick one character I would like to see a retelling for, it would be Eponine, so I requested this ARC with very few expectations.  Perhaps this is sometimes the best way to approach books, because when they actually blow you away, it is a very pleasant surprise.

This book was FANTASTIC.  I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed it.  The plot, the character development, everything about it felt fresh, despite the fact it is an adaptation/retelling of a classic and well-known novel.  Eponine was a character you could not help but root for, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.  The one bummer about reading ARCs that you love is that you have to wait a very long time for the next one.  Even so, I like the way the author ended this book.  Some story lines were wrapped up, while others were simultaneously opened.  This left me finishing the book feeling both satisfied and chomping at the bit for more.  A pleasant combination.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Young Adult

Not So Pure and Simple

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Title: Not So Pure and Simple

Author: Lamar Giles

Page Count: 400

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: January 21, 2020

Format: Hardcover

Review: I was thoroughly impressed by this book.  The great thing about participating in the Mock Printz Committee at my work is that sometimes I am given books that I enjoy immensely, but would probably not have read otherwise.  This is one such book.  It surprised me with it’s humor, depth, and important message.  Oftentimes books that cover topics such as toxic masculinity and sexual agency come off as being too heavy-handed with character tropes and long inner monologues where the characters have “epiphanies”.  The resulting effect is that it feels like it is trying too hard to make a statement.  Giles masterfully avoided these pitfalls by giving us characters that are both lovable and realistic.  He shows that even well-intentioned young men are susceptible to toxic ways of thinking and sometimes their words and actions have unintended negative effects on those around them.  As a woman, I found I related to many of the female characters and their struggle to be “nice” even when they were not interested in the male pursuing them.  As I have grown older, I find that sometimes it is necessary to be blunt, even if it comes off as rude, but as a younger woman, this felt like a tricky minefield to navigate.  Reading this book made me realize how many behaviors are impressed upon us at an early age and really made me re-evaluate how I have simply accepted certain actions as “normal” when they really shouldn’t be.

I would consider this an important read for all teens and think it would be a great book for discussion.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Horror · Science Fiction · Young Adult

Cut Off

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Title: Cut Off

Author: Adrianne Finlay

Page Count: 384

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: August 11, 2020 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Format: eBook

Review: I was obsessed with the Lost series back when it was airing, so when this book was described as “Warcross meets Lost…” I knew I simply must read it.  Unfortunately for me, it was just…meh.  There were a couple scenes that creeped me out in the beginning, but overall it was not particularly exciting.  The one thing it did have in common with Lost was that the final reveal was truly disappointing.  I knew there was going to be a science fiction element to the story, but it was a bit more sci-fi-y than I was expecting.  I also wanted to see more character complexity and development.  The characters felt very formulaic to me: the brainiac, the deceiver, the loner, and the closed off beauty.  Nobody really surprised me or made me question what I knew about them.  I wasn’t really feeling the romantic angle either.  In a story like this, I feel the romance should add more depth to the plot or characters, but it didn’t really serve to do so as much as I wanted.  It was not a terrible read, but also not one I enjoyed enough to give a higher rating.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star