Seer by Ashley Maker

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author and my friend Mary Ellen. Thanks! All opinions are my own!

 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance/Dystopian/Science-Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (romance scenes and violence)

 

Pages: 344

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: When Clare Palmer accepts a scholarship to attend Evergreen, she thinks she’s escaping her insane, estranged father, while also getting the chance to go to the school her late mother graduated from. Instead, she finds herself trapped in a scientifically-enhanced, combat-obsessed society called the Corasha who view her as a dangerous outsider.

Clare views herself as an outsider, too. Unwilling to accept the outrageous claims of those around her, she’s ready to get out of Evergreen at the first opportunity, until unwanted and unstable visible abilities begin to surface, confirming she’s a Seer, a biological anomaly that’s both prized and guarded by the Corasha. The only person who knows about her phasing is Kade, the attractive yet infuriating mentor she’s now indebted to, but trusting him comes with a price her heart might not be willing to pay.

Surrounded by dangerous secrets and hidden agendas, Clare must figure out who she can trust—and fast, because there’s a war coming, and the last thing she wants is to become a weapon in the wrong hands.

 

Oh wow! I don’t think I’ve read a paranormal romance in quite a long time (and I’m not sure if this qualifies as a paranormal romance or if it’s more scifi-y but I’m gonna go with it)… probably since Twilight? Anyways, I went into this kinda blind and I felt for my first trip back into the genre I thought it was really well done. I’m really into conspiracy theories and plots within plots so this one definitely grabbed my attention. I also really enjoyed the world building aspect and the character development.

 

 

However, I did feel that the book had uneven pacing. It was fast in some parts and then tremendously slow in others. The main character was a tad annoying for me and she really didn’t seem to want to figure out what was happening on her own. While this book was very entertaining for me generally, I felt that Clare’s personality really put me off this novel.

 

Verdict: Unique and amazing story within a story that deserves to be read.

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Tiny Infinities by J.H. Diehl

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through KidLitExchange. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Genre: MG Contemporary

 

Recommended Age: 14+ (divorce, grief, drugs, drug usage, abuse, mental illness, and slight obscure mentions of sex)

 

Pages: 352

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: When Alice’s dad moves out, leaving her with her troubled mother, she does the only thing that feels right: she retreats to her family’s old Renaissance tent in the backyard, determined to live there until her dad comes home. In an attempt to keep at least one part of her summer from changing, Alice focuses on her quest to swim freestyle fast enough to get on her swim team’s record board. But summers contain multitudes, and soon Alice meets an odd new friend, Harriet, whose obsession with the school’s science fair is equal only to her conviction that Alice’s best stroke is backstroke, not freestyle. Most unexpected of all is an unusual babysitting charge, Piper, who is mute—until Alice hears her speak. A funny and honest middle-grade novel, this sharply observed depiction of family, friendship, and Alice’s determination to prove herself—as a babysitter, as a friend, as a daughter, as a person—rings loud and true.

 

This is another book that will probably be one of my favorites of 2018, but it’s for a different reason. It’s a cute middle grade contemporary that talks about divorce and could be a huge help for kids in a similar situation. It’s funny, it’s charming, the characters are well developed, and the book is very well structured and developed.

 

However, I feel like there’s more to the story than what the young readers read. From my grown-up perspective it felt like there was a whole hidden world going on that the book hints about. The book deals with a lot of issues throughout the book but never resolves them in the end. I don’t normally do this, but because of my concern about the book and about younger readers reading the book I will talk about spoilers:

 

SPOILERS FROM HERE DOWN

 

The mother has an obvious dependence on her medication and it hints at it being oxy, which a lot of people get dependent on. The mother seems to exaggerate her injuries so she can continue using the medication. The mother leaves the child entirely on her own and stops caring for the house in general. The neighbor man is a very loud and boisterous character and while the young girl’s selective mutism isn’t ever fully explained the father seems to be the cause of it. Whenever he yells or lashes out at the family they seem to cower. In a couple of points during the book when the neighbor man has had a particularly volatile episode the family members aren’t seen in the book for a scene or two. The neighbor man makes a comment about one such disappearance as the wife and the children left without the neighbor man to her family in North Carolina. The oldest child of the neighbor man openly talks about an obscure mention to him being the product of a one night stand between his parents. The father of the main character seems to be the most competent adult, but he fails to intervene to help the main character. In my opinion if this was a real story CPS should have been called a long time ago on the family and it concerns me that at the end of the book the neighbor man apologized once but still had an eerie vibe to him, the mother was still dependent on drugs, and the family was fractured and left to deal with a dependent mother while the father lives elsewhere. Sure, he says he will come everyday to mow and make the children’s lunches, but he’s left three of his kids with an addict who has shown herself to be incapable of caring for her own children. This book really concerns me and really intrigues me and I’m not sure if this is a healthy book for a child to read or if it’s so obscure in these issues that it’s okay.

 

Verdict: I have feelings about this book.

We Own The Sky by Sara Crawford

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

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (some sexual references)

 

Pages: 510

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: 16-year-old musician, Sylvia Baker, has always been different. She’s the only one who can see the “flickering people.” When she sees a gorgeous flickering man named Vincent, she learns that they are Muses.

With his help, she finds herself creating exquisite songs that she loves almost as much as songs by her favorite bands–Radiohead, M83, and The Black Keys–and she is falling in love in a way she never knew was possible. While trying to maintain her newfound friendships and her band, she falls deeper into the world of the Muses.

When the original Greek Muses wake to find a world in which the internet has given everyone the tools to be an artist, a battle between traditional and new methods of creation ensues. As Sylvia discovers how she is connected to the world of the Muses, she learns that this war may put her music, her love, her very life at stake.

 

Let’s start this off by saying this was a beautifully unique and moving book. I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved by a book that revolved around music except for Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. I thought it was well written and amazing. The characters were amazingly well constructed and complex. I loved the plot, I thought it was creative and well developed, and overall I felt that the book was one amazing song in itself.

 

The only tiny issues I had with the book are that Vincent gave me creeper vibes and I just couldn’t shake them. And the pacing was a bit sporadic at times. There were also some jumps in the scenes that didn’t make sense, but I don’t think they mattered overall for the book.

 

Verdict: If you’re looking for the perfect song, read this book.

The Linen God by Jim O’Shea

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from JustRead Tours and Wayside Press. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Rating: 4.5/5

Genre: Mystery

Recommended Age: 15+ (mystery, intrigue, suspense… there’s nothing too adult in this book for younger readers but it is aimed at an older audience)

Pages: 282

Author Website

Amazon Link

Synopsis: The legendary Shroud of Turin is the most studied and controversial religious relic in human history. The ancient linen cloth bears the inexplicable image of a crucified man, alleged to be that of Jesus of Nazareth. What if it was real? What if the Shroud contained a secret powerful enough to alter the course of human history….and what if it fell into the wrong hands?

Manny Lusum is convinced the Shroud is the genuine article, and obsessed with proving it scientifically. Grace Barden is not only Manny’s best friend, but also secretly in love with the physics student and soon-to-be Catholic priest.

Across the globe, three grisly murders and the theft of a secret manuscript thrust Grace and Manny into a generations-old conspiracy of biblical proportions. From New York to Rome to the inner sanctum of the Vatican, they struggle to untangle a bizarre mystery surrounding the controversial artifact. In a dramatic confrontation between faith and the ultimate evil on the world stage, Grace and Manny are pushed to the edge of an abyss, balanced on the brink between heaven and hell.

I had never really read a Christian focused mystery book (not even the Da Vinci Code, don’t tell my momma), but I really enjoyed this one. I thought the plot was intriguing and the writing was superb. The book was mostly fast paced and heart pounding. There were a lot of twists and turns and in the end I was very surprised. I really liked this book and I really liked seeing the character development of the main characters.

However, I felt that the book could have focused a bit more on the side characters and some backstory. And I also felt that the plot slowed down a lot in some parts, so the pacing was a bit weird. But the pros definitely outweigh the cons for me in this one.

Verdict: A mystery you will love if you liked The Da Vinci Code.

I Felt A Funeral, In My Brain by Will Walton

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from KidLitExchange and Push. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Genre: YA Contemporary Poetry

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (homophobia, alcoholism, drug usage, casual sex)

 

Pages: 304

 

Author Website8

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: How do you deal with a hole in your life?

Do you grieve?

Do you drink?

Do you make out with your best friend?

Do you turn to poets and pop songs?

Do you question everything?

Do you lash out?

Do you turn the lashing inward?

If you’re Avery, you do all of these things. And you write it all down in an attempt to understand what’s happened — and is happening — to you.

I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain is an astonishing novel about navigating death and navigating life, at a time when the only map you have is the one you can draw for yourself.

 

I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I do enjoy it sometimes. This book I honestly enjoyed. It’s written in verse and it’s so beautiful. I was moved by Avery’s journey from his grandfather’s death to where he finds himself after and all the little roads he travels. I thought that while the book was in verse the book was well written and all the characters super developed. The plot was also complex and amazing. Seriously, this book was good.

 

The only issue I had with it is that some of the verses got a bit confusing and I can see where people could get confused about the direction, but if you’ve read verse before then this shouldn’t be an issue.

 

Verdict: Verse poetry books are the future and I’m loving it.

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from KidLitExchange and Sky Pony Press. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 3/5

 

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (homophobia, transphobia, sexism, abuse, sexual assault)

 

Pages: 336

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Breathlessly romantic and brilliantly subversive, The Unbinding of Mary Reade is sure to sweep readers off their feet and make their hearts soar.

 

2018 is the year of the YA sea-faring books so I found another sea faring book to review! I found this book to be an interesting read. The main character was very complex and I’m still not sure what to think about her. I also thought that this book was unique in that it showed a cross-dressing female.

 

However, I’m very concerned with how trans and genderqueer people were shown and portrayed and treated in this book. There was a lot of abuse and hurtful statements towards them and it was really hard to read. The way the book was written was also really jarring and it took me out of the book each time it shifted. The plot was also really weak and the pacing was super slow. I didn’t feel the romance in this book and honestly there was a lot of it for what I thought would be an awesome sea-faring book.

 

Verdict: I’d really like to know your opinion if you are LGBT+ on this book. I honestly feel there are some really upsetting parts about this book and I fear that it will be hurtful to people in the long run. In my opinion, I think it can be hurtful and I even got upset reading the book. But I’d like to know your opinion about it.

Snow and Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from KidLitExchange and the publishing company. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Genre: MG Retelling/Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: 10+ (some violence, some scary moments with animals)

 

Pages: 224

 

Author Website03

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Snow and Rose didn’t know they were in a fairy tale. People never do….

Once, they lived in a big house with spectacular gardens and an army of servants.

Once, they had a father and mother who loved them more than the sun and moon.

But that was before their father disappeared into the woods and their mother disappeared into sorrow.

This is the story of two sisters and the enchanted woods that have been waiting for them to break a set of terrible spells.

Bestselling author-illustrator Emily Winfield Martin has created a world that sits on the border of enchantment, with characters who are grounded in real emotions that readers will recognize in themselves.

 

This is probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever looked at. Not only is the cover gorgeous, but so are the illustrations. And the book isn’t just for looks. The characters are very complex, which is surprising for a young middle grade book. The plot was also very well developed and the writing was amazing. It didn’t feel like a regular retelling, but something extra special and that’s what made the book very enjoyable.

 

However, the only things I didn’t like about this book was that the book pacing was very slow and I fear that a slow pace could be offsetting to some kids. And the ending was rushed really bad. Those elements really pulled me out of an otherwise fantastic book.

 

Verdict: Amazing book that any young child (or old child) would love. Plus it’s pretty enough to be a coffee table book.

Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from TheNovl and Little, Brown Books. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Genre: YA Fantasy

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (violence, death, cutting, suicide, mature scenes)

 

Pages: 384

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.

The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.

Or rather, three unexpected options.

Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.

Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.

Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.

When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.

Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.

 

This was one of my hotly anticipated reads of this year and so when TheNovl sent out emails about it I squealed. At work. It was hard to explain to my coworkers. And then when I got it in the mail I cried. Literally. And then I worried that I would hate this book. On the surface it almost seems like a Three Dark Crowns esque book, but inside it’s totally different and amazing and AjsLKJ:DLjaldufr;alsdjflasjdroasuer;ojasdhnfsdjflkjsadlfanlsdfnasjl!!!!!! I am so in love with this book. Like seriously. LOVE! The characters are so amazingly complex and well developed. One of the girls is a lesbian and there’s a F/F relationship, which is something I don’t normally see in YA fantasy. The book is also incredible in that all of the main players, even the villains, are female and the love interests hardly help them out. This plot development is also awesome and the pacing is well done. The writing is fantastic. I can just rave about this book all day long.

 

The only issue I have with this book was that we ended on a cliffhanger and I NEED THE NEXT ONE NOW! I also want to slightly criticize the book on using cutting as a power, which can potentially give the wrong idea to some people. I don’t think it’s on the same level as the controversy around Carve the Mark, but it’s slightly worrying that someone could get the wrong idea.

 

Verdict: An all female trio that is truly feminist goals.

First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy

Disclaimer: None, I bought this book on Audible.

 

Rating: 4/5

 

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

 

Recommended Age: 16+ (animal sacrifice, murder, romance ((somewhat explicit)), brutal and descriptive death, cult-like group, domestic terrorism, and confusion)

 

Pages: 448

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: It started for pranks, fun, and forever memories.

A secret society – for the four of us.

The rules: Never lie. Never tell. Love each other.

We made the pledge and danced under the blood moon on the meteorite in the orchard. In the spot we found the dead girl five years earlier. And discovered the ancient drawings way before that.

Nothing could break the four of us apart – I thought.

But then, others wanted in. Our seaside town had secrets. History.

We wanted revenge.

We broke the rules. We lied. We told. We loved each other too much, not enough, and in ways we weren’t supposed to.

Our invention ratcheted out of control.

What started as a secret society, ended as justice. Revenge. Death. Rebellion.

 

I have an overt fascination with the color purple to the point that anything purple draws me in. This book is one of those things. I loved the cover and I thought it sounded interesting so I dove right into it. The book was fascinating, creepy, yucky, and confusing all at the same time. It really took me awhile to sit and consider what I wanted to say about this book. So, let’s jump right in:

 

I listened to this book on Audible and while the narrator’s voice was robotic and creepy, it really worked well with this book. The narrator also was able to make the teenage characters sound like teenage characters. The story itself was very well written and it keeps you guessing until the last minute. We know from the beginning the fate of the group, but the story somehow makes us want more as we continue through it. The book also did well concerning the character development of the four main characters. With every character you go through a period of loving and hating them. The author also does well to make the villainous characters have a very decent backstory. I ended up feeling bad for all members involved and that’s how a book should write characters. People are complex and whether we do good or bad things depends on our own personal backstory. Sometimes the mean girl has mental health issues. Sometimes the pretty girl has a mean streak. Sometimes the bully is bullied at home. And sometimes the geeky smart kid is just as big of a bully as they are. The plot developed really well and the pacing was perfect. The mystery was the background of the story, but somehow the author maintained its importance throughout the book.

 

However, the confusing writing can make the reader distressed enough to DNF it. There is a lot to keep up with in this book and it requires complete devotion most times. This can make for a challenging read for those who aren’t used to having such an involved book.

 

Verdict: The perfect mystery/thriller for the would-be teen or adult anarchist.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Disclaimer: None! I bought this on my own!

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

 

Recommended Age: 15+ (sex, drugs…. Uhhhh…. Violens? Also violence and LGBT+ goodness)

 

Pages: 513

 

Author Website

 

Amazon Link

 

Synopsis: Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

 

Let’s start this review off with “I’m watching Mackenzi Lee on YouTube and I’ve discovered my twin/soulmate/second-half in her”. Seriously, I love her. And I also love her book! I’ve never read a historical fiction book that was an entertaining as this book! The world building was fantastic and the characters felt so alive. The plot was entertaining and very accurate to the time period and the book was also paced perfectly. I love how Lee wasn’t afraid to keep the novel below the 350ish page “limit” that most YA books seems to try to achieve. I enjoy longer novels when they need to be longer and I feel that a lot of books need to be over that soft limit, but they’re afraid of losing people’s interest in going over it. Lee also made history and the time period come alive and I feel that this book could be easily used in a history class to help bring history to life.

 

The only complaint I have is that 1) The book is over and I really want to know what happens next and 2) I really REALLY REEEEAAALLLYYYYYY want the next book in the series. I’m not sure if this next book is all about Monty’s sister Felicity or if Monty will reappear, but I neeeddddddd.

 

Verdict: I have a new hero and her name is Mackenzi Lee.