Furia

Disclaimer: I received an arc and a finished copy from the publisher! Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Furia

Author: Yamile Saied Mendez

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Argentinean ownvoice main character

Recommended For…: contemporary lovers, feminist novels, #ownvoice!

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary

Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, slight gore, domestic violence TW, masculinity, romance)

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 368

Synopsis: In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Review: I really loved this book! I loved the writing and thought the pacing was wonderfully managed and done. The character development was masterful and I was so invested in Camila’s journey! I loved how the author conquered the tough topics of domestic violence and masculinity. Definitely a book I’ll reread and pass onto other women.

The only compliant I really had is that I wished there was a bit more world building, but the book was wonderful overall!

Verdict: A highly recommended read!

The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher! Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: The Faithless Hawk

 

Author: Margaret Owen

 

Book Series: The Merciful Crow Book 2

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Recommended For…: fantasy, bird themes, war

 

Publication Date: August 18, 2020

 

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (language, death, violence, gore)

 

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co

 

Pages: 400

 

Synopsis: As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.

With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.

A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.

 

Review: For the most part this book was pretty good. It helped clear up a lot of the confusion I had with the first book and the writing was much better and clearer. The characters continued to be fully developed and overall I really liked this one.

 

However, I did feel like the pacing was a bit too slow in this one and the plot wasn’t that interesting. In the beginning it was pretty interesting, but the plot slowed down midway and then came to a head at the end.

 

Verdict: It was pretty good!

The Pre-Programming by G.B. Gabbler

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: The Pre-Programming

 

Author: G.B. Gabbler

 

Book Series: Circo del Herrero Book 2

 

Rating: 2/5

 

Recommended For…: sci-fi, epic poetry

 

Publication Date: November 27, 2018

 

Genre: Sci-Fi

 

Recommended Age: can’t recommend, dnf-ed

 

Publisher: SOBPublishing

 

Pages: 400

 

Synopsis: [The crippled god of metallurgy, fire, and alchemy has many names and many faces—sometimes Hephaestus, Ptah, or Vulcan. He changes to suit his needs. And just like his names, his creations have gone through countless revisions. This time, he’s finally onto something—his Automata have turned the heads of other gods. They’ve noticed their pre-programmed potential. There’s a reason Vulcan didn’t scrap the Automata—a reason he left them in the care of humans all this time. They were just the beta testers for his most intricate windup toy yet…

Vulcan’s ancient Automata find their purpose rebooted in the second installment of the CIRCO DEL HERRERO/THE BLACKSMITH’S CIRCUS series. Their immortal human Masters will drop like flies—superfluous in the next round as the gods shuffle in a new deck of fateful cards. The Masters can choose how and when, but they will all die to free the Automata of their earthly chains. Odys and his Automaton, Maud, struggle to protect his twin sister from the plotting of his dual-bodied adversaries. But his sister, Odissa, finds herself a willing participant in The Blacksmith’s latest exhibition—could she be the missing cog to the god’s tightly wound machine all along?

 

 

Review: For the most part this was a good sequel. The characters were well developed and the story was just as intriguing, but I had to dnf it at over halfway through because I couldn’t get into the story. It wasn’t for me, but it was definitely good and would be good for some people.

 

Verdict: DNF for me but maybe not for you!

The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman

Disclaimer: I received this arc and e-arc from the publisher for a tour! Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Wild Path

Author: Sarah R. Baughman

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Recommended For…: middle grade, people who like horses

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Genre: YA Middle Grade

Recommended Age: 12+ (alcohol, broken family)

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 336

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Claire Barton doesn’t like the “flutter feeling” that fills her chest when she worries about the future, but she knows what she loves: the land that’s been in her family for three generations; her best friend Maya; her family’s horses, Sunny and Sam; and her older brother Andy. That’s why, with Andy recently sent to rehab after a DUI, and her parents planning to sell the horses, Claire’s world feels like it might flutter to pieces.

When Claire learns about equine therapy, she imagines a less lonely future that keeps her family together, brother and horses included. But, when she finds mysterious wild horses in the woods behind her house, she realizes she has a bitmore company than she bargained for. With this new secret-and a little bit of luck-Claire will discover the beauty of change, the power of family, and the strength within herself.

Review: I thought this was a very sweet book and I really liked how the author created the story. The plot was very engaging to the reader and even though it is a sad book I think that it will connect with a lot of middle grade readers. The book is also a classic horse girl book and I am here for it LOL.

The only issue I had with the book was that I wish that the world building was a little bit better and that we spent more time with the side characters from the book.

Verdict: It was a sweet book!

More Than Just A Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

Disclaimer: I received the e-arc and arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: More Than Just A Pretty Face

Author: Syed M. Masood

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5

Diversity: Muslim/Desi reps!

Recommended For…: contemporary, muslim/desi books, romance

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Genre: YA Contemporary

Recommended Age: 16+ (language, sexual content, non consensual filming of sex TW, emotional abuse TW, slightly racist moments)

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Danyal Jilani doesn’t lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he’s funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn’t approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal’s longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.

When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man–a school-wide academic championship–it’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone he’s smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her…the more he learns from her…the more he cooks for her…the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.

Review: For the most part I enjoyed the story of this book. It had some great moments, like building up Bisma’s and Danyal’s relationship (very well done!) and I loved learning some more about Desi/Muslim culture and religion. I also thought the author did well with Bisma’s character and she didn’t feel badly written at all. She’s a character I’ll remember for the longest time, not only for her quiet strength, but for her intelligence and kindness as well.

However, I had a lot of issues with the book that I didn’t wish I had. I felt that the book made a lot of comments about girl’s appearance. I understand that the POV is a young man in high school, but it felt like he was stereotyped into an 80’s version of a high school guy who’s girl crazy. The mother’s comments on sex appeal in reference to how Danyal views them and how she condoned it was cringy and creepy. She said Bisma was “not hot” and I don’t think any mother should be commenting on the hotness of a young girl. It was kinda misogynic how, not only the mother, but all of the female characters aside had a “women hating on women” mentality. There were also comments about the rep that I didn’t feel should be in the book. Danyal says at one point all Desi’s are shallow and says they only judge on looks. There is also a very religious Muslim character and he’s written to be hated on for his devotedness. The Islamic religion is very beautiful and the hatred on the character can be misconstrued to a more naïve reader. Many other reviewers also pointed out problems with the rules of romance and how the book didn’t follow them and didn’t state them to the full extent.

Along with those problems I also had some smaller issues of the text in terms of racism and abusive content. The father was severely written and it wasn’t that well resolved by the end of the book. The father is very emotionally abusive to Danyal to the point he says Danyal can’t be his son because Danyal is a failure. That’s very gut wrenching and as someone who faced some of that in her childhood, it’s very distressing to read. There’s a racist remark made by the teacher towards Danyal in regards to “where he comes from”, and then the teacher is written as this cool teacher that’s on Danyal’s side and it’s weird.

Verdict: For the most part, the book seems to be ok, but there are a lot of badly written moments. I think the book should have had a round or two with sensitivity readers to help smooth out the roughness of this book.

Not Your #Lovestory Q&A!

NOT YOUR #LOVESTORY INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

1) Could you sum up Not Your #lovestory in five words or less?
Going viral gone wrong

2) What is your favorite memory while writing this book?
Reading back over my final draft and being really proud of what I accomplished with this story.

3) What inspired you to write this story?
The #planebae incident on Twitter two years ago really made me think about privacy and consent in social media, and how we don’t really know the people behind the viral stories. As a society, we see a small snippet of their best or worst moments and make assumptions about them as a whole.

4) What was your biggest struggle with writing this story?
Making sure I handled the more sensitive parts with care, and working with a synopsis, since I’m typically a pantser.

5) What is a piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Comparison is the thief of joy. There is always someone who will be a step ahead of you, and the only thing you can control are the stories you write. So keep working to improve your craft, and be proud of what you’re accomplishing, not what other people are doing or getting.

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake

Disclaimer: I received the book and e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: Skunk and Badger

 

Author: Amy Timberlake

 

Book Series: Skunk and Badger Book 1

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Recommended For…: children

 

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

 

Genre: Children’s Chapter Book

 

Recommended Age: 10+ (acceptance and friendship)

 

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

 

Pages: 136

 

Synopsis: No one wants a skunk.

They are unwelcome on front stoops. They should not linger in Important Rock Rooms. Skunks should never, ever be allowed to move in. But Skunk is Badger’s new roommate, and there is nothing Badger can do about it.

When Skunk plows into Badger’s life, everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And why-oh-why are there so many chickens?

Nooooooooooooooooooooo!”

 

Review: I absolutely loved this story! The illustrations were so cute and full of expression. The story was fun and child friendly. However, some of the book is choppy and repetitive, but younger readers probably won’t notice.

 

Verdict: It was a charming book

I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch and Victoria Ying (Illustrator)

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: I Kissed Alice

 

Author: Anna Birch and Victoria Ying (illustrator)

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Diversity: Lesbian/bi main characters (not sure exactly how they define themselves). f/f romance

 

Recommended For…: romance, contemporary, mixed media, LGBT, f/f romance

 

Publication Date: July 28, 2020

 

Genre: YA Contemporary

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (slight sexual content, language)

 

Publisher: Macmillan/Imprint

 

Pages: 320

 

Synopsis: Rhodes and Iliana couldn’t be more different, but that’s not why they hate each other.

Hyper-gifted artist Rhodes has always excelled at Alabama’s Conservatory of the Arts despite a secret bout of creator’s block, while transfer student Iliana tries to outshine everyone with her intense, competitive work ethic. Since only one of them can get the coveted Capstone scholarship, the competition between them is fierce.

They both escape the pressure on a fanfic site where they are unknowingly collaborating on a graphic novel. And despite being worst enemies in real life, their anonymous online identities I-Kissed-Alice and Curious-in-Cheshire are starting to like each other…a lot. When the truth comes out, will they destroy each other’s future?

 

Review: Oh. My. Bi. Heart. I loved this book so much! I immediately fell in love with the story and I loved the duel POVs. It was both exciting and cringy as the girls stumbled through their love story. The voices were very distinct and the writing well done. The book also mentioned periods… which WIN FOR PERIOD NORMALCY! The book is also in a mixed media format, showing the girls text messages and their comic they write and illustrate.

 

The only complaint I had was the confusing beginning. The book kind of throws you into the girls feud and you have to wade through it, kinda like their stuck-in-the-middle best friend.

 

Verdict: Definitely recommend!

A Better Man by Michael Ian Black

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son

 

Author: Michael Ian Black

 

Book Series: Standalone

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Recommended For…: males and male identifying people

 

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

 

Genre: Autobiography

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (toxic masculinity, consent, sexual content)

 

Publisher: Algonquin Books

 

Pages: 304

 

Synopsis: In a world in which the word masculinity now often goes hand in hand with toxic, comedian, actor, and father Michael Ian Black offers up a way forward for boys, men, and anyone who loves them. Part memoir, part advice book, and written as a heartfelt letter to his college-bound son, A Better Man reveals Black’s own complicated relationship with his father, explores the damage and rising violence caused by the expectations placed on boys to “man up,” and searches for the best way to help young men be part of the solution, not the problem. “If we cannot allow ourselves vulnerability,” he writes, “how are we supposed to experience wonder, fear, tenderness?”

Honest, funny, and hopeful, Black skillfully navigates the complex gender issues of our time and delivers a poignant answer to an urgent question: How can we be, and raise, better men?

 

Review: For the most part this was a good book. It was really sweet and heartwarming. I really liked that the book discussed consent and privilege and other topics, but I feel like the book could have done more. I can’t really explain it but I was just left with this feeling of incompleteness. Also, I wish to see more male identifying people to review this. I don’t see nearly enough.

 

Verdict: It was good, but I would like  to see more male perspectives on this.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher and then bought my own copy. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Book: The Merciful Crow

 

Author: Margaret Owen

 

Book Series: The Merciful Crow Book 1

 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Recommended For…: fantasy lovers, bird theme, plagues, secret smuggling

 

Publication Date: July 30, 2019

 

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, near animal death/torture TW, gore, slight romance, lots of death and sickness)

 

Publisher: Henry Holt

 

Pages: 384

 

Synopsis: A future chieftain.

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince.

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard.

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

 

Review: For the most part I enjoyed the book. It had really good character development and I thought the idea of the world was really cool. I especially liked how most of the positions were based on birds and the plot was very intriguing and kept me hooked for the majority of the book.

 

However, I thought the world building was confusing as was the magic system. I honestly didn’t know that Fie had magic until she used it during the raid and I was like “where did that come from??”. And there was a part where Fie mentioned that the prince’s long hair will give him lice, which is why they cut theirs close to their head, but then at the same time was described with longer hair? The book also didn’t explain a lot about what was going on and it was really hard to get into at first.

 

Verdict: Could have been fleshed out more but it was a good book.