Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Dustborn

Happy Wednesday, my dudes bibliophiles!

I think this may be the first sci-fi eARC that I’ve ever gotten, so it’s nice to get something from my favorite genre. I’d read Bowman’s Contagion duology beforehand and enjoyed it, so I figured that it would be interesting to delve into her newest project. And while it wasn’t without its flaws, Dustborn was a perfectly tense dystopian novel!

Enjoy this eARC review!

Dustborn by Erin Bowman

Dustborn–Erin Bowman

The only world that Delta of Dead River has ever known is a wasteland. In her dwindling pack, she and her family struggle to get by. But when her pack is raided, she is forced to escape, armed only with the clothes on her back and her sister’s newborn baby.

Delta soon discovers that the world beyond her pack is lawless, filled with rulers who drill fear into colonies of helpless workers, and secrets that are best kept under wraps. And to make matters worse, she has a target on her back–literally; branded on her back is a map that leads to the Verdant, a lush and green promised land that everyone in the Wastes seeks to get their hands on. With the help of a childhood friend, she may be the first to find it–but some things are too good to be true.

1/2) duncan-shepherd: #✨ ✨ GLOW UP ✨ ✨ Scavenger to Jedi | Rey ...
The cover gives me the most IMMACULATE Rey vibes

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Young Readers for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

The Goodreads synopsis describes this novel as a mashup of Mad Max and Gunslinger Girl, and even though I’ve never seen/read either of those, I definitely see where the vibe comes from. Dustborn is a tense and twisty dystopian novel, with notes of classic Westerns.

First, CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS? The color scheme. The art. The typeface. THE REY VIBES. Even though this definitely wasn’t my favorite novel, I wouldn’t say no to a poster of this for my room.

Now…[ahem] I should probably talk about the book now, shouldn’t I?

Let’s start off with Delta. I wasn’t a huge fan of her character–she was that classic, dystopian teenager who’s been hardened by all of the horrific things she’s seen and done, and has built up this impenetrably tough skin as a result. She’s closed off, and she thinks she knows everything, even though she’s…what, 17? I get it, living as a semi-nomad in a barren wasteland does some nasty stuff to the brain, but it didn’t make for a very likable character. It did, however, make her a nice guinea pig for some well-needed character development. Plus, that kind of character is the perfect kind of character to interact with a baby…because she KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT CHILDREN, AND IT’S HILARIOUS.

Best Maleficent Baby Aurora GIFs | Gfycat

As far as the other characters went, I wasn’t super attached to any of them. I felt ambivalent about most of them–I didn’t hate anybody, but I didn’t want to die for anybody, either. Delta and Asher’s friends-to-lovers dynamic was cute, even though the romance felt a bit like it was needlessly shoehorned in there to appease the Teenage™️ audience, but it wasn’t egregiously bad, or anything.

The plot itself was easily the most enjoyable part of the novel for me. Filled with rich imagery and no shortage of fascinating plot twists, Dustborn definitely kept me guessing in the best ways. Still not my ideal novel, but Bowman is the master of tense sci-fi, where it be in a lifeless wasteland (this one) or on an alien planet with the dangers of a deadly virus (Contagion). I liked the latter better (even though book 2 wasn’t as good), but this was still entertaining.

Overall, a bleak dystopia that was lacking in likable characters, but made up for it with its imagery and plot twists. 3 stars!

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Expected release date: April 20, 2021

Today’s song:

GUILTY PLEASURE SONG TIME–

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading & Writing YA (Anthology)

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles! I hope you’ve all had a lovely week so far.

I changed my icon up a bit–I’m switching from glasses to contacts very soon, and I just had my eye exam yesterday. Even though I’ve only tried them on once so far, I like them a lot! (Even though the experience of getting them on was…[ahem] interesting…)

Smiletotheshadow GIF | Gfycat

Anyway, I recently received this eARC, and for the most part, I enjoyed it immensely! Not only is it a wonderful collection of YA short stories from all sorts of new, #OwnVoices authors, it also serves as a helpful writing guide.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing ...

FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA–Edited by Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma

Stories by: Tanya Aydelott, Tanvi Berwah, Gina Chen, Linda Cheng, Mayra Cuevas, Nora Elghazzawi, Desiree S. Evans, Rachel Hylton, Adriana Malachian, Sophie Meridien, Maya Prasad, Flor Salcedo, and Joanna Truman

Introduced by: Melissa Albert, Becky Albertalli, Laurie Halse Anderson, Roshani Chokshi, Gayle Forman, Heidi Heilig, Jandy Nelson, Jason Reynolds, Adam Silvera, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Sabaa Tahir, and Nicola Yoon

BLURB FROM GOODREADS:

Thirteen Short Stories from Bold New YA Voices & Writing Advice from YA Icons

Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.

Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.

What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.

This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.

⭐︎

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Workman for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Overall, FORESHADOW is a lovely collection of short stories! It’s an incredible vessel to spread the word about several up-and-coming YA voices, and I look forward to see what else these authors put out. Not only that, but each story comes with an example of a technique in the writing craft that the short story exemplifies, be it imagery, mood, or plot twists. For those who seek to write YA, this is a must-read.

Since this is a short story collection, I’ll break down each of the stories and give a mini-review for each.

FLIGHT–Tanya Aydelott (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A poignant and heartbreaking tale of growing up, and the truly special bond that exists between mothers and daughters. This story brimmed with emotion, and though the 3rd-person/present tense POV took me out of it slightly, it was still a beautiful short story.

RISK–Rachel Hylton (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Wonderfully absurd. A tale of both the powerful friendship bonds between a group of girls, and of transformation, be it emotionally, or, y’know, mysteriously turning into a lobster. As one does.

happy lobster day - Furvilla

SWEETMEATS–Linda Cheng (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Without a doubt, one of my favorites of the short stories in this collection. A truly chilling twist on the tale of Hansel and Gretel, with a heady dose of the paranormal. The comparison to Guillermo del Toro was well earned, I must say!

hellboy gifs | WiffleGif

GLOW–Joanna Truman (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Though the writing and the POV left something to be desired, this was a solid, genre bending tale–both a sapphic romance in a small town and a trek in the middle of nowhere to end the world as we knew it.

ESCAPE–Tanvi Berwah (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Another chilling addition to this anthology! Simultaneously a story of family ties (and how easily they might be broken) and a spooky venture into the paranormal. Nothing like a family heirloom that scratches and bites anyone who tries to pry it open to snag your attention.

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PAN DULCE–Flor Salcedo (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Though it was difficult for me to connect with most of the characters, this was a powerful piece of #OwnVoices historical fiction, tying in themes of growing older and the veneer of childhood slipping away.

SOLACE–Nora Elghazzawi (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A beautiful, poignant, and at times poetic coming-of-age tale about finding new love and finding your place in the world. Just as lush as the plants that grow in Laila’s garden, without a doubt.

PRINCESS–Maya Prasad (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Though it was entertaining and posed some interesting questions about the role of AI in our lives, I think this may have been my least favorite story in the collection. The pacing jumped around far too much for my liking, but the world-building made for a pretty setting.

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FOOLS–Gina Chen (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

A lush fairytale of a short story. There were touches of everything from ancient mythology, modern fantasy, and even an X-Men sort of vibe that made it a truly unique tale, filled with themes of family and beautiful imagery.

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MONSTERS–Adriana Marachlian (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

With this short story, Marachlian weaves a beautiful metaphor for the feeling of being an outsider. All at once an #OwnVoices story of the struggles of immigration and the desire to fit in and a poignant, paranormal tale.

BREAK–Sophie Meridien (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Absolutely adorable! A mix of a diverse, classic rom-com and a bit of magical realism–and a dash of baking on the side.

RESILIENT–Mayra Cuevas (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Bleak and desolate, but, as the title implies, a heartbreaking tale of resilience and sisterhood. Cuevas’ writing did a wonderful job of making the situation seem exactly as gloomy and hopeless as it was meant to be. A downer, to be sure, but well-written all the same.

BELLY–Desiree S. Evans (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

A striking, #OwnVoices tale that tackles a myriad of tough subject, from sexual harassment to the loss of family, and the resulting traumas that come along with it. I loved the slight magical realism aspect, especially with Jaima’s connection to the river.

All in all, there wasn’t a bad story in this collection! With that and the writing/editing advice added in, I’d give it a solid 4 stars.

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Release date: October 20, 2020

Today’s song:

I listened to At the Party with my Brown Friends the other day, and for the most part, it was a great album!

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

I meant to review this one last week, but since Night Owls and Summer Skies came out right when I got the eARC and I need to get the salt out of my system, I temporarily put it on hold. But worry not, here’s the review now, and it’s leagues better than the former novel! 😉 Though it wasn’t without its flaws, The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss was an adorable, friends-to-lovers rom-com.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Amazon.com: The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss ...

The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss–Amy Noelle Parks

Caleb and Evie have been friends since childhood, but while Caleb seeks a romantic relationship with her, Evie thinks she has better things to do than dating. Their paths lead them to a prestigious, math and physics oriented school, where Evie flourishes–both in her academic endeavors, and in her budding relationship with Leo, a boy from her class. But as her talents begin to be noticed, her anxiety shows its face more than ever.

Caleb, meanwhile, is desperate to win Evie over. Now that she’s dating Leo, there seems to be no chance of them getting together–even though he almost kissed her 17 separate times. Can they still remain friends, or will Caleb’s true feelings tear them apart?

Just Kiss Already GIF | Gfycat

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Amulet Books/ABRAMS for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

🚨 THE ADORABLE SIRENS ARE GOING OFF LIKE CRAZY, FOLKS, WE HAVE AN ADORABLE RED ALERT, I REPEAT, AN ADORABLE RED ALERT 🚨

What I’m trying to say is that The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss is an incredibly sweet rom-com that’s simultaneously cute and handles some tough topics in a very genuine way.

I couldn’t help but root for all of the characters! Evie was my personal favorite–we’re very different people, to be sure (I mean, she’s going to a math-oriented school, so that’s already a major divide), but I found her to be an incredibly relatable and poignant character. And although I don’t have any experience with an anxiety disorder as she does, the representation of it seemed realistic without info-dumping or being overtly preachy. Caleb was sweet too, and he and Evie had wonderful chemistry. I’m not usually drawn to the friends-to-lovers dynamic in romance, but their relationship was incredibly well-executed.

As much as I loved the characters, there was one thing that bogged down a tiny bit of the novel…

Ladies, gentlemen and others, we’ve fallen into another love triangle trap.

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I mean…Leo was okay…but the addition of the love triangle to the story made it frustrating at times, and it was clear from the start that he and Evie weren’t meant to be. Even though it was kind of a vehicle for Caleb’s personal journey to win Evie back, I still wasn’t quite a fan of that aspect. Maybe it’s more of an “It’s not me, it’s you” problem here, since I just despise love triangles in general, but this one was at least more tolerable than most.

Other than that, my only problem about The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss was the very end. I can’t quite place what made me temporarily lose interest, but the ending felt a little bit rushed for reasons I can’t place. Again, maybe it’s just me, but I feel like too much was crammed into the last 80% of the novel or so.

But all in all, The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss was a sweet and heartfelt romance with genuine and lovable characters. 3.5 stars!

So Cute Reaction Gifs Adorable Reaction GIF - LowGif

Release date: January 5, 2021

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Night Owls and Summer Skies

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

Ah, what a beautiful, sunny day. It’s days like these that kids like you should be ranting about bad eARCs.

Anyway, I know I posted in last week’s weekly update that I read a different eARC before this, but I figured I should probably post this review sooner, since I managed to get it the day before its release, this June 30. Plus, I need to get some feelings out, because Night Owls and Summer Skies was, for lack of better words, a complete train wreck.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Amazon.com: Night Owls and Summer Skies (9781989365250): Sullivan ...

Night Owls and Summer Skies–Rebecca Sullivan

Emma Lane is set to spend the summer with her mother, eager to try and mend their broken bond after her parents divorced. But without warning, she dumps Emma at Camp Mapplewood, the very same camp that sparked many of her long-standing anxieties that still linger to this day. Bitter and frustrated, she reconnects with Jessie, a childhood friend, and begins falling for Vivian, the young camp counselor. Will she be able to face her fears and find new love?

The Office Jim Yikes GIF by hewenttojared23 | Gfycat

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Wattpad Books for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Whew. There’s a lot to unpack here.

First off, the Goodreads synopsis was rather misleading; Night Owls and Summer Skies was billed as more of a coming-of-age story about facing one’s fears. However, what we got was…zero character development, toxic relationships, and sloppy handling of the topics that the book promised to touch on.

Let’s start off with these characters. First off, Emma is EXTRAORDINARILY unlikable. I feel like the author was trying to make her give off a Sassy and Sarcastic Protagonist™️ vibe, but she’s nothing but a self-centered jerk. She pushes away every attempt the other characters (namely Gwen and Jessie) have at friendship, and she’s incredibly disrespectful at every turn. Vivian is similarly problematic; Sullivan was clearly going for some sort of enemies-to-lovers romance, which I normally love, but it crashed and burned quickly. Vivian wasn’t just sarcastic, she actually derided Emma in negative ways, which we were supposed to interpret as…banter? No, no, NO. All kinds of no. That’s not humor, that’s just straight-up toxicity.

Red flag - Album on Imgur

Additionally, the antagonists had zero redeeming qualities. Lauren, the main bully in the story, was not only a cardboard, run-of-the-mill pretty/popular antagonist bent on bending the world to her will, she’s a genuine CREEP. There’s even instances where Lauren sexually harasses Emma, which, like most other aspects of the novel, was handled veeeeeeeery poorly. Not only does it not seem to have a lasting effect on Emma herself, Lauren receives no punishment for anything that she does. NOTHING that anybody did in this book has consequences. NOTHING.

And to top it all off, the writing is utterly childish. The prose–if you can even call it that–is dry and lifeless, and the dialogue is not only unrealistic, but deeply cringe-y. Every part of this book desperately needed an editor–or a better editing job, at least. Even though I ended up blowing through Night Owls and Summer Skies in about an hour and a half, it was such a pain to read all the way through.

Overall, Night Owls and Summer Skies is quite like its characters, in that there’s hardly any redeemable qualities for both. 1.5 stars.

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Release date: June 30, 2020

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Elatsoe

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

General Edelweiss+ update…so apparently, Macmillan is only accepting eARCs from Netgalley now, so that eliminated most of my requests, so…whee…

Most of my eARCs have been from more indie publishers anyway; personally, it’s probably a good thing–if it’s a good eARC, I feel great about being able to spread the word about them. Especially when they’re as good as Elatsoe.

Again, I CAN’T WAIT for this one to be released! Though there was a brief lull in the middle, Elatsoe not only boasts stellar representation, but a thrilling paranormal tale!

Enjoy this eARC review!

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe–Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe–Ellie for short–lives in an alternate America, where the beasts of myth and legend roam the world, and ghosts are not so far away. Like Kirby, the ghost of her old dog, who she has now trained to follow her wherever she goes. Ellie herself can also raise the dead, and communicate with spirits.

But her skills, as she soon finds out, will be put to the test sooner than she ever thought. When her cousin is murdered, she and her family arrive at the scene, only to find that his killer hides in a picturesque Texas town, and that he may be hiding secrets that may spell disaster for the town’s residents. Will Ellie be able to uncover the truth before town falls into supernatural ruin?

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Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Levine Querido/Chronicle Books for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

The premise already excited me, but in all respects, Elatsoe is a fantastic, paranormal murder mystery!

First off, REPRESENTATION! Elatsoe is an incredible #OwnVoices story–both the author and the protagonist are Lipan Apache, and the protagonist is also confirmed to be asexual. I hardly ever see asexual representation in literature, and so I’m so excited to see that such stories are coming into the spotlight.

This novel strikes the perfect balance between the spooky paranormal and a murder mystery. The worldbuilding of this alternate America is absolutely stellar as well; most aspects of it are deftly explained without an excess of info-dumping. Darcie Little Badger introduces all sorts of fascinating creatures, and weaves them seamlessly into alternate America.

Going off of this, my favorite aspects–and my favorite scene–was that of the ghosts. Not only is Kirby adorable, but there’s a beautiful scene in which Ellie stumbles into a ghost sea, filled with trilobites, whales, and all manner of prehistoric creatures. The writing is lush and gorgeous, beautiful and immersive. And I’m a sucker for prehistoric critters and marine life, so of course you have my attention with the scene, even if it was fairly brief.

At times, some of the dialogue felt flat, causing a bit of a lull at the halfway mark, but I’m glad to say that it quickly picked up from there. I found myself completely immersed in the supernatural murder mystery, and after said dull spot, I enjoyed it from start to finish. Darcie Little Badger made so many creative choices that made Elatsoe all the more original, making for a supernatural story unlike any other.

All in all, a brilliant and creative #OwnVoices paranormal murder mystery. 4 stars!

guillermodltoro: Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) dir… – Glamrock

Release date: August 25, 2020

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

This novel is certainly one of the better eARCs I’ve gotten in my (short, granted) time using Edelweiss. I’m so excited for it’s release–it stands out so much in the grand scheme of YA, mostly in that it’s unafraid to not take itself seriously. Delightfully bizarre and oddly poignant, The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly is one of the most unique novels I’ve read in a long time.

Enjoy this review!

The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly ...

The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly–Sybil Lamb

Eggs is a homeless girl with a unique talent; she has mastered the art of flight. Every day, she can be seen leaping from the rooftops in the ramshackle city that she calls home, never once touching solid ground. In her flights across the town, she befriends Grack, a hot dog vendor who sells every kind of hot dog imaginable, and Splendid Wren, a hippie who is willing to give Eggs a place in her home. Grack and Wren join forces to try and protect Eggs, but all of their efforts may be in vain after she gets on the wrong side of Robin, a notorious troublemaker. Will Eggs be able to find her way out of this sticky situation?

The Girl Who was Convinced Beyond all Reason that She could ...
Art by Sybil Lamb

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Arsenal Pulp Press for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Though rather short, The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly was a treat to read. Whimsical, humorous, and unique, this novel is one to look out for, a delightful romp across city rooftops.

Eggs was such a precocious character, and I loved tagging along on her adventures across the city. Grack and Wren were likewise humorous, and paired well with Eggs’ chaotic, misfit nature. Their friendship and willingness to take Eggs under their wing(s) (no pun intended…wait, would that be considered a pun? Beats me…) made for a lovely story to read.

Lamb’s writing was as unique as the characters–it had an almost matter-of-fact tone to it, while still being wonderfully whimsical and witty. I’m not sure if Sybil Lamb is British or not, but either way, the writing is packed with classic, British humor, sure to please fans of Monty Python–or to get them started on such media. Needless to say, this book got a laugh out of me several times.

There wasn’t too much “action,” per se, until the last 80% of the novel, and honestly, that perfectly fit with the story. It wasn’t meant to be a serious adventure–it’s more of a cheerful romp, than anything, a very feel-good sort of story. The ending, without spoiling anything, was bittersweet, but beautifully poignant.

The synopsis on Goodreads says that it’s suitable for ages 14+, but I’d say that it would be suitable for some younger ages (though not too young) as well; aside from the aforementioned action scene, I can only remember one mild swear, and not much else that would scar someone younger than 14. The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly could be enjoyed by preteens, young adults, and adults, in my opinion.

All in all, a delightfully odd novel that stands out in the YA genre. 4 stars!

MRW my wife goes for the prostate and I don't even flinch - GIF on ...

Expected release date: November 10, 2020

Today’s song:

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Lyrics and Curses

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Music references. I’ve grown up in a family of music nerds, and it’s been a passion of mine for almost my whole life–almost as fervent as my love of books. So you can imagine my joy to find a paranormal romance eARC that promised lots of them. But though I liked that aspect of the novel, most of it didn’t click with me.

Enjoy this eARC review!

Lyrics & Curses (Cursed Hearts, #1) by Candace Robinson

Lyrics and Curses (Cursed Hearts, #1)–Candace Robinson

1985. Lark Espinoza longs for an escape–from her stepmother, her popular sister, and her town where nothing seems to happen. But when a mysterious, cloaked stranger appears in her workplace, she knows something’s amiss–but even more so when she realizes that no one else can seem to see him.

It turns out she isn’t the only one. Auden Ellis, the boy Lark shares notes filled with song lyrics with, has also had an unexplainable experience–out of nowhere, he sees a stranger playing a flute that nobody can see–except for him and Lark. Auden and Lark sense that there’s a link between these unexplainable events–but would could they possibly mean?

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Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Filles Vertes Publishing for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

For a while, I was teetering between a 3 star and a 2 star rating. The second half of the book pushed it towards the 2 star end, sadly. The Goodreads blurb pegs it as Pretty in Pink meets Stranger Things–both of which I love–but Lyrics and Curses felt weak in most respects. (Also, I…really don’t see the Pretty in Pink part? Maybe that’s just me, but…)

Let’s start off with what I liked. I loved Auden and Lark’s friendship/almost relationship, even though the latter felt forced and rushed towards the end of the novel. Their shared bonding over music was something I related to, and plus, they (I mean, I guess I should be saying Candace Robinson) had great taste. Jumping off of that, I LOVED the music references–David Bowie, Talking Heads, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, Queen, all the good stuff. There’s a clear love of all things 80’s, and it really shines through in Lyrics and Curses.

Legion Review: 9 Moments from the Premiere to Admire, Recap + ...

But that’s where the good aspects ended for me. Speaking of said music references…I loved them, but most of the time, much of the 80’s references felt more like namedropping, like the author was just sprinkling them in to say “OH, and DID I MENTION that this is the 80’S?!? Would you look at THAT!!! 80’S!!!!!!1!!!” The more that were piled on, the more tired and forced the setting of the novel felt. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big fan of most 80’s content as well, but some of the references only ended up dragging the novel down, and making the historic setting less genuine.

Aside from that, the plot generally felt weak. The paranormal aspect was barely touched on until the second half of the book, and even then, it felt like there weren’t any high stakes for the characters–at least until…maybe the last 90% of the book? I wasn’t invested in Lark and Auden’s journey, and the paranormal aspect was only mildly gripping. As a result, the last half of the book felt incredibly rushed, and I ended up skimming the last 75% or so. After Lark and Auden realize the source of these paranormal occurrences, the book got *slightly* more interesting, but by that time, the book was nearly over, and there wasn’t too much time to touch on it further. I suppose that’s what a sequel is for, but I still felt that most of the beginning could have been cut out, and the paranormal aspects of the plot been expanded upon more.

All in all, a novel that showcases a nostalgic love of music and the 1980’s, but fails to deliver on most other aspects. 2 stars.

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Me 50% of the way through trying to decide if I’d give this 3 or 2 stars

Expected release date: November 10, 2020

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out today’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song. (Not 80’s, sorry…)

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: June 8-14, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

All things considered, it’s been an…alright week. There hasn’t been anything super eventful, other than J.K. Rowling testing me ([screams] TRANS RIGHT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS, WHEN WILL YOU LEARN–). I’ve received a few more eARCs (more reviews to come next week!), but I checked Edelweiss yesterday, and I’d gotten declined 4 (four) eARCs all at once…whee…

But hey, I’ve just started out. And plus, I still have a bunch of pending requests, so things could start looking up next week.

My reading week’s been fairly hit-or-miss–it’s swung between four star and two star reads, for the most part, but I’ve found a few that I enjoyed. As far as writing goes, I’ve just finished writing the climax for my WIP (!!!), and I’m close to 300 pages! It’s the most I’ve ever written, so that’s been crazy. I’m also working away at an Iron Giant puzzle, which has given me a primal urge to go back and watch it again.

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WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Under Shifting Stars–Alexandra Latos (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Dreamwalkers–Leslie Rush (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Dreamwalkers - Leslie Rush - Pre-Order - Filles Vertes Publishing, LLC

Fourth World–Lyssa Chiavari (⭐️⭐️)

Fourth World (Iamos Trilogy, #1) by Lyssa Chiavari

Lyrics and Curses (Cursed Hearts, #1)–Candace Robinson (eARC) (⭐️⭐️)

Lyrics & Curses (Cursed Hearts, #1) by Candace Robinson

Ash–Malinda Lo (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Ash by Malinda Lo

The Girl who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly–Sybil Lamb (eARC) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Girl Who Was Convinced Beyond All Reason That She Could Fly ...

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek–Kim Michele Richardson

Amazon.com: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel ...

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Dreamwalkers

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Now that I’ve been on Edelweiss for a little longer now, I’m starting to request and receive more eARCs. Of course, I’ve gotten declined…[ahem] several times (I found out that I got declined 4 all at once yesterday, whee…), but I have a couple more that I’ll be reviewing soon.

Me going on Edelweiss yesterday and seeing the line of declined eARCs on my homepage

I hadn’t heard of this novel before Edelweiss, and it sounded fascinating. Not only did it seem an interesting blend of the paranormal and an almost slice-of-life story in New Mexico, it features mostly Native American characters, who, even though YA has made great leaps in terms of diversity, I still don’t often see in literature today. Though it had some slips and falls, Dreamwalkers was ultimately a decent and fun novel.

Enjoy this review!

Dreamwalkers - Leslie Rush - Pre-Order - Filles Vertes Publishing, LLC

Dreamwalkers–Leslie Rush

Vivian Night Hawk leads a quiet life in New Mexico, juggling her job at her mother’s shop and taking care of her genius little brother Brian. But when she inherits a jacket that belonged to her father, who went M.I.A. when she was young, she discovers a hidden ability–the ability to dream-walk, and control and traverse through her dreams and the dreams of others.

Vivian’s newfound power comes with a price–a newcomer to her quiet, New Mexico town may not be who he says he is, and her brother, targeted for his unusual intellect, may be in grave danger. Will she be able to save her brother before her world becomes a nightmare?

Inception (2010) — Interiors : An Online Publication about ...

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Filles Vertes Publishing for giving me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Overall, Dreamwalkers, though it certainly wasn’t without its flaws, was an interesting novel! Sort of a Stranger Things meets Inception kind of deal, and for the most part, it was fairly well-executed.

Dreamwalkers had all of the interesting elements of a paranormal sci-fi story: strange abilities, secret government programs, a bit of romance, and not to mention, a genius/comic relief sibling. Such intrigue was my favorite part of the novel–though some of it was predictable from the start, it was perfect, paranormal fun.

That being said, I felt like Rush might have played it a little safe in terms of the dreamwalking aspect of the story. There’s infinite possibilities with controlling/traveling in other people’s dreams, but the book didn’t stray quite beyond sort of normal dreams, and resurfaced childhood memories.

Additionally I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing or the dialogue. Though it had its moments of being funny/well-written, I didn’t get attached to many of the characters, and as a result, I wasn’t as invested in the story. Most of the writing was similarly flat, and at times, a bit cliched. The sibling banter between Vivian and Brian was funny, at least, and I thought Brian was kind of adorable, but other than that, those aspects were a bit weaker.

Overall, a decent paranormal novel with great Native American representation and an interesting set of concepts, but that fell flat in a few places. 3 stars!

Release date: October 6, 2020

Today’s song:

(This one gives me some serious nostalgia…)

That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in ARC Reviews, Books

eARC Review: Under Shifting Stars

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Out of all the eARCs I’ve received so far, this is my favorite so far! A beautiful story about sisterhood, grief, self-expression, mental illness, and exploring one’s gender identity and sexuality. A perfect read for pride month!

Under Shifting Stars–Alexandra Latos

Audrey and Clare used to be inseparable. As twin sisters, they were each other’s best friends. But the recent death of their older brother has driven a rift between them, and both sisters struggle to grapple with their inner demons.

After the shift to a school for non-neurotypical kids like herself, Audrey is determined to be seen as normal. Tired of letting her mental illness define her, she will stop at nothing to return to her twin sister’s school. But in her striving for normalcy, she realizes that being a freak isn’t as bad as the other kids have made it out to be.

Clare has always been the more popular and sociable of the twins, but lately, she has begun to question her identity and status in the school. Not only has she realized that she’s genderfluid, but she’s started to have feelings for Taylor, her new, nonbinary classmate. As social pressure grows ever higher, she must choose between her popular friend group and being true to herself.

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Thank you to Edelweiss+ and HMH Books for Younger Readers for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Under Shifting Stars is such a powerful novel. The whole cast of characters felt so, wonderfully real, and I found myself relating to both the main characters in some respects. Latos nails the confusing feelings of being a teenager who doesn’t fit in with their peers, for one reason or another.

First off, this representation! As I said in the summary, Clare is genderfluid, and her love interest, Taylor, is nonbinary. Audrey also has ADHD. While I can’t speak to how well they were represented, Latos made them both wonderfully relatable and well-written, human characters. And while I’m not genderfluid, one aspect of the novel that was so well done were all of Clare’s confusion in discovering her sexuality/gender identity. So A+ for Alexandra Latos in that respect!

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Other than that, Latos deftly explores so many topics, ranging from the relationships between siblings and the loss of a loved one. The reactions and growth of Audrey and Clare were both wonderfully written, believable, and poignant to read. No matter your background, you’re sure to get attached to both characters, and feel their struggles along with them.

All in all, a beautiful and touching novel about grief, sisterhood, and so much more. 4 stars!

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Release date: September 29, 2020

Since I’ve already posted once today, check out this week’s Goodreads Monday for today’s song.

That’s it for this review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!