I tried something new (book review)

aka who do I think I am, agreeing to things?

 

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A dying planet.

One ship.

Humanity’s last hope is to reach for the stars.

We spared no expense building the only interstellar colonization ship. We plundered the Earth’s barren crust to shape her hull. Stocked her with the harvests of a famished world. We tore apart families. Denied hope to millions. All so an exceptional few, humanity’s greatest minds and purest hearts, could board her durantium hallways.

But not everyone wants us to reach our destination. And Nassas Duval, a hypochondriac off his meds, must stop them.

Star Phase Exodus is the story of humanity’s ultimate journey. Will we reach the stars, or die trying?

Expected publication: September 28, 2018.

 

 

The characters

Margaret Evans – Our friendly (?) neighbourhood Android.

 

We first meet Margaret at the scene of a very traumatic incident, and you can tell right away that she is more than a little strange.  The way her brain worked could only be described as disturbing, and she gave you gems like ‘humans must understand that sometimes one should sacrifice one’s parts for the greater goods’. There was no emotion marring her thought processing in the beginning and towards the end which caused me some pause every time she thought about getting new body parts. But I really liked her and, during the moments that she wasn’t the focus, I found myself looking forward to when we’d see her again.

Despite eventually liking Margaret, I must say that there aren’t any female characters in this book that wasn’t obsessed with men or emotions in one way or another, which was a bit disappointing. I really wished we could have had one strong female character who wasn’t even a little motivated by a male character.

 

Nassas Duval – Hypochondriac with a badge!

 

Oi vey, does this man need his meds. Or does he? Turns out some of his paranoia wasn’t really paranoia after all. Above all of that though, what stood out to me about Nassas wasn’t his hypochondria, it was his personal relationships. On one hand, his marriage is utterly sad and could be considered as nothing other than loveless. On the other hand, his relationship with his brother might be the only positive thing in his life, even though the things they bonded over were questionable.

He also battled with Margaret for most odd character, so…that’s a thing.

 

 

 

 

The plot

 

There were two major events which caught me off-guard and broke my heart in one fell swoop, one of which I was able to foresee the new outcome and the other ruined the subplot that I had in my head. Both incidents were traumatic for all parties involved, me most of all.

Aside from that, the summary was more than a little misleading. Up until the last few scenes, the book takes place on earth and there’s no evidence of anyone trying to harm the ship or its passengers, just the foreshadowing of it. I can appreciate a good build up, but I wanted more of what I was promised.

It was entertaining enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts

 

 

His writing style is a little choppy, which takes some getting used to, but it isn’t at all intolerable and the ending left me reasonably curious as to the outcome. The characters are tolerable and just this side of likable with storylines that played up their unique traits and was enjoyable enough to keep me reading.

 

 

 

 

 


TL;DR: I’d read book two because I hate leaving unfinished things and because Margaret is the right kind of odd.

 

I would recommend to fans of quirky, scifi fans and to anyone looking for a quick, no commitment read. But give it a miss if you want EXACTLY what the summary promises.

 

 

Goodreads: 4.59

BN: 5 (with only one review)

Amazon: 4.7

My rating: 3.5 stars.

 

 

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Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

aka I think I’m in love


 

 

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Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Released: April 24, 2018.


 

There shall be no Blue spoilers in this one…

 

 

The characters

 

“I hate when assholes have talent.”

 

(The) Leah Catherine Burke

 

Oh, my heart. I have found myself on the page!!!

 

Leah is a publicly strong individual whose internal demons sometimes gets the better of her, and you know what? That’s okay. That’s perfectly normal, because everyone has their demons, and we all deal with them in different ways. But. BUT. She’s also abrasive when she gets in her head, so you either tolerate her or you don’t, so she doesn’t have many strong friendships. So don’t expect too many epic gossip sessions with her girls, because this very imperfect, relatable character doesn’t do soft and mushy.

 

Leah trying on prom dresses breaks me, leaves me raw because I can relate. I never used to feel good trying on clothes, they need seem to fit me right, so to see her find one that she loves and have her mom shit on it, and for it to cost so much on top of that…God. I quite literally cried reading this scene.

 

How Leah shuts down/downplays what she’s feeling? I. Am. That.

 

 

“I feel knocked down . I feel demoted.

 

Simon and Blue

 

Still the greatest OTP I’ve read about in a while and I want another book of their love. Please, Becky. Please???

Simon and Blue check for Leah in a way that none of her other friends do, and it’s sweet and wonderful to witness. My unproblematic faves need protecting at all costs.

 

 

“I dare you to kiss me.”

Morgan and Anna

Remember those two from T.H.U.G (Chris and Hailey) who represented the two types of white people?  Well, here they are again. However, Morgan realized the error of her ways, unlike Hailey. so good for her, I guess. She’s still trash though because an angry tongue speaks the truth and that truth was racist as all hell.

 

Abby

I’m glad that I got to see this side of her, which we didn’t get in Simon. I didn’t expect it, but I didn’t hate it either. Go on then Abby!

 

The plot

 

‘No one ever warns the baby.’

 

There are things in this book that you just see coming from a mile away and normally I would be annoyed by this but this isn’t a mystery or a thriller or suspense so I didn’t feel robbed of anything. You saw the prom scene, you saw Leah’s reaction to having a crush coming, but you didn’t necessarily see that the crush was reciprocal.

 

Aside from Leah’s internal battle against her feelings, and the usual high school senior angst, there’s nothing else to this book. It’s not calm, but its mundanity was a welcome change. There was no scheming, no bullying, just teens trying to enjoy their last few weeks together.

 

The plot is simple and easy to follow so you don’t need to set aside too much brain power after a taxing day. You can pick it up and have a good chuckle (or cry depending) and escape reality for a little while.

 

My thoughts

 

‘She makes me want to shove my hand into my chest and rip my own heart out.’

 

This isn’t a cute story that leaves you feeling sugar cubes coursing through your veins, no dancing sugar plum fairies. This one hurts just as much as it gives you something to feel good about. Leah’s pain becomes your pain, but her triumphs? Oh, they were much more brilliant after all of her hurt. Seeing her finally happy, with herself and with her love life, was worth the moments of self-loathing and doubt.

 

Yes, the prom was cliched but that was the point. Even Leah points out how cliched it is. But that’s what made it cute, the fact that they went through with it anyway. Let them be kids one last time.

 

I also want to address the complaints about Leah’s character. Honestly, this Leah was more likable, understandable to me than the Simon ‘Leah’. I wasn’t fond of her in Simon. I found her selfish and cold and I couldn’t connect with her. But this Leah? I feel seen with this Leah. I saw this Leah’s pain and claimed her as my own.

 

But you know what else this book showed me? That I am just as much a Simon as I am a Leah. But how can I be so Leah and Simon at the same time?! OMG Becky just sees me. I feel seen.

 

I think it’s worth a try, I really do.

 

 


TL;DR: This one hurts you, but as with all things Albertalli, the sweet moments leave you flying high. Read this if you don’t mind a main character that isn’t all the way likable. Also, read Simon Vs if you haven’t already.

 

 

 

Goodreads: 4.26

BN: 4.7

Amazon: 4.6

My rating: 5 MUST HAVE MORE stars.

 

 

 

ARC Review: Wicked River by Jenny Milchman

aka This some white people mess…

 


 

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Six million acres of Adirondack forest separate Natalie and Doug Larson from civilization. For the newlyweds, an isolated, back country honeymoon seems ideal: a chance to start their lives together with an adventure, on their own. But just as Natalie and Doug begin to explore the dark interiors of their own hearts, as well as the depths of their love for each other, it becomes clear that they are not alone in the woods.

Because six million acres makes it easy for the wicked to hide. And even easier for someone to go missing for good.

As they struggle with the worst the wilderness has to offer, a man watches them, wielding the forest like a weapon. And once they are near his domain, he will do everything in his power to make sure they never walk out again.

Published: May 1, 2018.

 

The characters

 

 

Natalie

Oh Natalie…how I wish you weren’t so easily swayed, then none of this would have happened. You would have had a traditional honeymoon, with accessible communication, and warm beds etc. Instead, you get lost in the middle of nowhere with a madman on the loose. It’s your own fault! It was sad to witness how easily she gave in to Doug’s every whim, how much she leaned on him for every aspect of her life, to the point that she no longer even had friends in her corner. And she certainly didn’t question enough.

However, I can say that without this honeymoon from hell she wouldn’t have the very visible character growth throughout. She goes from someone who is unsure of their every decision, to a woman who is firm and independent and sure of herself. It’s a wonderful change.

 

 

 

Doug

Honestly, he is everything that I don’t like in male MCs. He gets his way, or no one wins. His friends are creepy, he’s creepy and he completely overpowers Natalie. Okay, to be fair, it is clear that he really does love her, but yikes, let up a little. I didn’t trust him from the very beginning, but he does make up for it in his defense of Nat.

He’s one of those characters that you have to give a chance before making a judgment.

 

 

 

Mia

This. Little. Girl. She is an eyeroll in human form. Honestly, youth makes you reckless and cocky, but Jesus! Mia is Natalie’s precocious (almost) thirteen-year-old niece; they both dote on each other and so she is the first one to realize that something is amiss with her aunt’s honeymoon trip. Unfortunately, she rubbed me the wrong way throughout the entire story, which made her vital role as a story driver a tad annoying for me. I could, however, appreciate the change in her at the end of the novel.

On the positive side, I can say that her determination to find Nat and Doug was admirable.

 

 

Kurt

There is so much wrong with him as a person. As a character though? Well done Jenny! He is just what you want an antagonist to be: unlikeable with a logic so skewed that you can’t help but wonder how they function on a daily basis. Yet their logic is almost always fully understandable if you put yourself in their shoes. When he goes into his childhood trauma, you can’t help but understand why he is so broken as an adult. I wouldn’t go so far as saying I want to save him or hug him because he took his childhood to an unacceptable extreme, but I understand. 

I could definitely have stood to have more time in his head, as creepy as it was to experience.

 

 

 

The plot

 

From the very beginning, the idea of this story gripped me. The idea of a couple of newlyweds going on an adventure to start their new life together and somehow having to fight for their survival is intriguing to me. I was curious as to how something goes so far left that returning to civilization is a question rather than a certainty.

The plot jumps between three different POVs: Natalie, Mia and Kurt, the most intriguing of which was Kurt’s. However, the three different narrators gave the story a level of uncertainty as, for most of the story, neither of the narrators was experiencing the same things. Mia was our lead investigator back in the real world, Natalie and Doug were preoccupied with surviving while Kurt was…Kurt.

As far as plots and the formula for a good plot goes, this one works. Every time you something major is about to happen you can feel it. The moments when you think things are finally working in our couple’s favor, your hope is dashed, and I LOVED it! All in all, I’m here for it.

That hidden element, the driving force behind choosing the Adirondack as a honeymoon location, caught me off guard. Guaranteed, you will be too because by the time it comes up you’ll be so focused on Nat and Doug’s race for survival. It’s like a little bonus plotline for you.

 

 

 

 

My thoughts

 

 

Kurt is certifiable, and not a ‘haha he’s just a little socially inept’ way (not that mental illness is EVER funny), in a ‘this man has gone too far to see how wrong his actions are’ way, so the way his storyline ends is a little unsatisfying for me. I wanted him to suffer more than he did, live HIS worst nightmare a little bit.

I also need to mention that this is not a situation that I could ever see myself getting into. EVER! Like, no judgment to people who love camping in the middle of ABSOLUTE nowhere, but that ain’t for me. On top of that, for this to be your honeymoon plan? Nope. Next. Nah. Honeymoons are for enjoying each other, not expending your energy paddling rivers.

The writing was enjoyable enough, with some lines that made me want to make quote prints and hang them all over my room. You could get lost in this world if you wanted to, I think. I just wish there was more of the world to get lost in, and less returning to civilization. Civilization is not what I signed up for, give me more wilderness!

 

 


TL;DR: The idea is intriguing, so if you don’t mind having a particularly obnoxious thirteen-year-old as a story driver, then go right ahead. But, if you’re here for a wilderness survival thriller…be warned, it’s not all you’ll be getting. There’s duplicity, family drama and questionable decision-making throughout.

 

Goodreads: 3.66

BN: 4.5

Amazon: 4.1

My rating: 3.5 doing-too-much stars.

Mini-review Monday

Today’s theme: Graphic Novels.

 

Monstress Vol. 1 by Marjorie M. Liu

Art Style – The art style perfectly matched the theme. It’s exactly what I would expect of a sci-fi/fantasy artwork, and so it didn’t distract from the story in any way.

Overall: In the beginning, I wasn’t very sure what I was reading. I didn’t look too hard into this one because it’s been recommended to me so many times that I figured I go on blind faith this time around. It grows on you though, I just wish the backstory was clearer from the start. Like, why are the two factions so against each other?

 

It eventually grew on me though, the little snippets of information at a time. So I can definitely see why so many people recommended it to me.

 

Give it a try.

 

My rating: 3.5 stars

 

 

Series Review: Small Town by Jessica Edwards

aka the series that keeps you coming back for more.

 


 

 

 

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One night, everything changes for eighteen year old Alice. 
When the full moon invades Small Town, where a young innocent Alice Smith is ending her shift at the diner, she comes face to face with a big terrifying wolf. 
When the wolf attacks Alice and runs away, leaving only a single bite, she has no idea what troubles lie ahead of her. 
Could it have been that she was at the wrong place at the wrong time or the opposite? 
When the school’s most frightening gang becomes interested in her, they will do anything to find out the truth behind Alice, especially their leader, Ryder King. 
Alice wants nothing to do with Ryder but when the time comes, Ryder could be the only one who can help her survive….

 

It starts off crazy(!), with our main character being attacked by a rogue alpha. Oh child, I was hooked from there! Every paranormal/shifter story that starts with a rogue alpha never ends well for the rest of the townsfolk, and this one was no exception.

 

Anna is then thrust into a world within her world, with no time to adjust to this new reality because someone is going around killing innocent townsfolk. Is this plotline new? No, but the execution is done well enough that that doesn’t matter.

 

In the beginning, I was not sure that I liked any of the characters, but as the story progressed I became so invested in the investigation that I didn’t care if I didn’t have a favorite.

 

Why were these very specific people targetted? Could the killer be someone we’d already met? A part of Ryder’s inner circle, or some unnamed townie? Will Anna ever learn to be one with her wolf?

 

Then bam! Cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers.

 

 

 

 

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With her mother now gone and her father’s still a no show, Alice is unprotected, vulnerable and alone. 
How will she manage to survive without her mother’s protection? Who was responsible for it? Is Alice the murderer’s next target? If so, who will protect her? 
With the murderer still on the loose in Small Town, Alice must be prepared to confront the dangers around her in order to keep those close to her safe again, but can she do it after the heartbreak, betrayal and the loss she has already endured?

 

 

*name redacted* is a predator (sexual and emotional, among others). That’s all I’ll say about that. Oh, and all adults in these books are incompetent. UGH!

 

Now that that’s off of my chest, let’s talk about book 2. So, we’ve found our killer’s real target: Anna. Still no clue whodunnit though.

 

The angst between Anna and Silver was understandable I guess: two hormonal teenage girls focused on the same boy, one booted out for the other. Yikes. I wished that it didn’t have to be like that, but…such is life sometimes. If this isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry, it doesn’t get much pagetime as Anna is so focused on learning how to control her wolf and find out who killed her mother that she barely looks Silver’s way. Plus Silver is pretty good at pulling disappearing acts, only being mentioned when someone notices that she’s not around.

 

Child, when we got confirmation of who the killer and rogue Alpha is/are, I was fistpumping because I had figured it out. Yes, I’m one of those weird people that get happy when they figure out the plotline (it’s even better when I have to work for it though). Now, it was time for Team Anna to prove it.

 

Big fight scene, a death and a major injury. Plus there’s a character introduction. But, bam! Cliffhanger bishes.

 

 

 

 

 

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The last thing Alice expected to see that night, was her father. 
The man himself who abandoned Alice, when she was only just a newborn.
It’s the first time, Mark Smith has seen his daughter in eighteen years, but he has no idea the reason why he’s been brought back to Small Town, and back into his daughter’s life. 
Will Alice be able to forgive her father for the pain and suffering he has caused all those years ago, or will she put her feeling’s aside, and focus on killing the murderer of Small Town instead?

 

TW: rape, talk about suicidal/depressive episodes, physical/emotional abuse.

 

We now know for sure who the killer is, but still no way to prove their guilt. Gah! I felt Anna’s frustration in this situation. Especially since Ryder and Max insisted on treating her like a fragile flower, not giving her the chance to defend herself or even letting her in on the plan. Obviously, that works out well…right?

 

 

I personally would not have let *name redacted* leave my sight, especially not so soon after discovering their treachery.

 

I don’t know if I agree with Alice’s decision to shut Mark out. Yes, he was an absent parent, but he deserves to know what happened to his wife. He’s bound to find out anyway, why not be the one to tell him? Be hurt, but don’t lose sight of rationality. Like, now is the PERFECT time to find out why he left, which she always wondered, and yet…

 

A lot of the time I couldn’t relate to the characters’ reactions. Things that I would let slide causes a huge blowout, and then times when I would throw down, nothing. This is especially true for Alice. I did finally understand why Silver became the person that she did. A tragic situation only made worse by poor decisions.

 

The last 75 pages or so weren’t my favorite, the feud between Max and Ryder became tiresome. Plus Alice gets mad at the wolves for not listening to Max’s side of the story, yet it’s what she’s doing with Mark. Girl!

 

Buuuuut, the final fight scene redeems it for me. And that cliffhanger!!!! Hello! It made me count the weeks until I could read book 4. (The mark of a good series in my honest opinion. It has staying power.)

 

 

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It’s my fault she died a year ago. 
It’s my fault I went out to the woods that night.
It’s my fault that her family suffered. 
And it’s my fault Kellan’s heart remains broken. 
She’s the reason why I can’t go on with my life.
She’s the reason why I can’t sleep at night. 
She’s the reason why I relive that night in my nightmares. 
And she’s the reason why her brother wants me dead.

 

 

Truth starts off exactly where Chasing the Alpha ends off and I’m even more confused this time around. Like, where did homegirl’s memories go? Or is this some kind of ruse to catch Max off-guard? What’s happening here?! Am I right to be worried for Max? All these questions had me fighting myself because all I wanted to do was skip ahead to get some clarity. It also made me wonder if this was Jessica’s way of introducing new mythical characters (witches/fairies) maybe?

 

What I did discover in book four was the fact that Ryder’s parents are awful! Even more so than when we learned that they blamed him for Anna’s death and basically disowned him. What kind of people could do something like that? Well the kind that we see here ( when you get to that point you’ll understand).

 

And, if you guessed cliffhanger, you’d be right! Gaaaah! What even?!!

 


 

CHARACTERS:

What I can definitely add as a positive to Edwards’ series is the fact that the characters have stayed true to themselves all throughout. I can appreciate the continuity because logically a person doesn’t change drastically over such a short time span (the books take place over a series of weeks).

 

Alice wasn’t my favorite character, but what surprised me was the fact that Max, who I started off hating and mistrusting, ended up being my most liked. I wanted more of his story/POV, which I got with book four (where is part two Jessica???? Don’t rush, but…hurry!) Unfortunately, he ends up making the same types of questionable decisions as Alice. Why won’t these characters learn to communicate? Quit withholding information and your lives would be so much easier.

 

The adults could use some work, Ryder could use a chill pill and Kellan could get some more airtime. Bane too, I guess.

 

PLOT:

These books were fast reads, that kept me engaged and constantly ready to reach for the next book in the series. The plot wasn’t overinvolved, so you don’t need to think too hard about what’s happening, but that’s perfectly okay. The fact that you needed to solve a murder and find a way to get justice for all those dead people was more than enough.

 

 

CRITIQUES:

There were the typical pitfalls of self-publishing which can be forgiven because when we’re our own editors we tend to miss things: specifically pacing and grammatical errors.

You know that trope where characters fail to communicate and thus causes everything to escalate beyond all control? This is that in series form, so if you cannot stand that trope please bear that in mind.

 

What I’m hoping for in TRUTH Part 2: Closure.

 

 

 


TL;DR

If you love paranormal romances, a bit of a whodunnit mystery and teens saving their own damn selves, pick these books up. If you can’t stand poor communication between your characters and sometimes questionable decision making, maybe give the first one a peek and decide if it’s worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dee ^_^