Fiction · Romance

The Roommate

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Title: The Roommate

Author: Rosie Danan

Page Count: 336

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: September 15, 2020 by Berkley

Format: eBook

Review: This book was actually better than I expected it to be, which is more uncommon than not.  I am a sucker for light romances, especially after reading books with darker content, and this was just what I needed.  I actually found the content of this book to be somewhat unexpected (in a good way), and the storyline brings to light social issues that most people rarely think about but are nonetheless important.  The romance was both sizzling and cutesy, a fun combination, especially if you are into the whole “opposites attract” trope.  I highly recommend this read if you are an avid romance reader.

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

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

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

Contemporary · Fiction · Romance

Real Men Knit

Real Men Knit

Title: Real Men Knit

Author: Kwana Jackson

Page Count: 320

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 19, 2020 by Berkley

Format: eBook

Review: After reading some more “serious” books, I was in the mood for something light and fun.  When I read the premise for this book, I was hooked.  Hot men knitting?  Yep. Sign me up.  The book certainly followed through on it’s promise, starring four uniquely hot adopted brothers.  Although this book focused more specifically on the youngest brother, Jesse, I find it hard to believe that Ms. Jackson will not be turning this into a series.  There are, after all, three other strapping young men to find attachments for.

I could be off base, but I couldn’t help but think that the author was imagining none other than Jesse Williams when she penned the character description for Jesse Strong….

Jesse Williams - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Aside from the locs, he pretty much matches his physical description exactly.  I’m not complaining though, and I don’t think other readers will be either.

Naturally I had to investigate whether the hashtag #RealMenKnit exists and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it does.  Feel free to look it up for some eye candy.  Thank you, Ms. Jackson, for the share.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

 

Fantasy · Fiction · Science Fiction

Chosen Ones

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Title: Chosen Ones

Author: Veronica Roth

Page Count: 304

Series: The Chosen Ones, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 7, 2020

Format: eBook

Review: This was a very original concept…what really happens to a hero after they have defeated evil? I think that Roth gives a really realistic depiction of how ordinary people would cope with extraordinary pressures and trauma.  I have always thought that being famous would be incredibly stressful – always dealing with scrutiny, invasion of privacy, and false narratives.  Each of the five heroes in this story deal with it differently, some withdrawing into anger or addiction, while others seemingly embrace it.  When evil rears it’s ugly head again, the heroes must take a critical look at the past, and what they think they know about themselves and each other.

It’s difficult for me to put my finger on why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.  Roth does a decent job of fleshing out the characters, but I think her set up took just a little too long.  I struggled to remain actively engaged and I could put this book down for days at a time without feeling compelled to pick it back up.  Now that the characters and story have been established, I imagine I would enjoy a sequel far more, though this is difficult for me to say with any certainty.  Considering this is accurate to how I felt when reading her Divergent series, I remain hopeful that the series will prove to be worth reading even though the way she ended it makes me uncertain.  It ended with a bang, but then tapered off into different directions.  If it wasn’t being advertised as the first in a series, I would have assumed it was a standalone.

Although this is Roth’s first “adult” fiction book, I still think it will mostly appeal to a younger demographic.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

The Queen’s Assassin

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Title: The Queen’s Assassin

Author: Melissa De La Cruz

Page Count: 384

Series: Queen’s Secret, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 4, 2020

Format: eBook

Review: I see this author’s name on our book shelves quite frequently at the library, but I have never before read any of her books.  When I saw this ARC being offered up by NetGalley, I decided to give her a try.  To summarize my thoughts on this story: it was utterly predictable.   In general this story went from plot point A to plot point B with little fanfare or complexity.  For a book that is advertised as “perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas,” this was rather disappointing.  The only thing I thought unique about it was that the author wrote one POV in first person, and the other in third person.  I can’t recall ever seeing this done before, and I could not decide whether or not I liked it.  It is unclear to me why the author made this stylistic choice, because it didn’t seem to add anything special to the narrative.

In short, it certainly wasn’t the worst YA fantasy fiction book I have ever read, but it didn’t interest me enough to want to continue onto the next book.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fantasy · Fiction · Paranormal · Romance · Young Adult

A Violet Fire

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Title: A Violet Fire

Author: Kelsey Quick

Page Count: Unknown

Series: Vampire in Avignon

Publishing Date/Publisher: December 9, 2019 by Kelsey Quick

Format: eBook

Review: I typically do not have high expectations for self-published books, but this one surprised me.  I found it to be an easy read, and I enjoyed the concept of living vampires.  I also enjoyed that humans could not be simply be turned into vampires.  They could in theory make offspring with vampires, but they were genetically different enough that a human could not become one.

In some ways this book follows the typical tropes of paranormal romances, but it was different enough that the story kept me engaged.  I felt that the weakest aspect of the story was the development of the central romance.  It’s not insta-love, but not a lot of dialogue is shown between the two characters to help the reader understand the relationship.  The reader is aware that time is passing, but aside from a first interaction and a final interaction, there isn’t much substance in between to make the relationship feel real.  In fact, when the final twist is revealed, I was not at all affected because I was not made to be invested in the relationship in the first place.

I will say, however, that I liked the direction the story was moving in, and I would most certainly continue reading the series if it were to become available to me.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction · Young Adult

What Unbreakable Looks Like

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Title: What Unbreakable Looks Like

Author: Kate McLaughlin

Page Count: 336

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 23, 2020 by Wednesday Books

Format: eBook

Review: This book tackles a very difficult topic: human trafficking.  The book felt very well-researched, and it goes into a lot of detail about how young women (and men) are groomed and eventually coerced into sexual slavery.  What I liked about this book is that this process is shown through what happens to Lex, rather than the author simply explaining it.  It can be difficult to understand why people fall into these traps, but when you see it happening in the story, it becomes abundantly clear how easy it is.  Anyone is susceptible to this sort of coercion, and it is very insidious how these pimps lure youth into a life of prostitution.

Lex is a deeply scarred character, both physically and emotionally, and my heart broke for her so many times.  The topic of human trafficking in the United States is not widely addressed in YA literature, although I think it should be.  It is unfortunately more common than people realize, and could be very well happening in their own backyard, so to speak.  Other things happen in this book that demonstrate the lack of education in regards to this topic, and the ignorance of people who choose to look at forced prostitution as a choice.  This book is largely about Lex accepting her self-worth, healing, creating personal boundaries, reclaiming her sexuality, and recognizing what makes healthy relationships.  At the start of the story, she is broken and recovering from addiction, but by the end, she is learning how to build herself back up and how to stand up to her abusers.  It is a painful and beautiful story, and I hope to see more like it in the future.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical

Cilka’s Journey

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Title: Cilka’s Journey

Author: Heather Morris

Page Count: 352

Series: The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Book 2

Publishing Date/Publisher: October 1, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

Format: eBook

Review: I was beyond thrilled when I saw that Heather Morris would be publishing a book about Cilka.  Like many other readers, I was intrigued by her character and utterly heartbroken by her unjust sentencing after the horror of the concentration camps.  It did not feel right leaving her story untold, and I am glad that the author felt the same way.

This book reads so smoothly that I flew through it over the course of a couple days.  Morris has an incredible way of writing that evokes such strong emotion while still being incredibly straightforward.  I actually found that I enjoyed this book even more than The Tattooist of Auschwitz because it covers a topic in history that I know almost nothing about.  I have read many books about the Holocaust, but I have never read one about the work camps in Russia.  I was appalled that these camps operated for decades in terrible and dangerous conditions completely unchecked.  It is staggering how many people were sentenced to these camps and how many of them died.

Cilka was an incredibly brave and resilient woman to have survived both camps.  I would have very much liked to meet her, and it makes me happy to know that the legacy of her extraordinary life will live on through this book.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold