Tag Archives: arc reviews

ARC August Week 2 Update

Wow! We are wrapping up Week 2! While I only read two ARCs in the first week from my list, I read two ARCs this week! One on this list and one that wasn’t. Oops! Still I am super pleased with myself. Here’s how the challenge is going:

  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Thornhill by Pam Smy (Release Date: August 29th)
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (Release Date: September 19th)
  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills (Release Date: December 26th)
  • Invictus by Ryan Graudin (Release Date: September 26th)
  • These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips (Release Date: August 1st)
  • Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt (Release Date: August 22nd)
  • That Inevitable Victoria Thing by E.K Johnston (Release Date: October 3rd)
  • Berserker by Emmy Laybourne (Release Date: October 10th)
  • Top Ten by Katie Cotugno (Release Date: October 3rd)

ARCs Read:

Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt – You can check out my review that has already gone live for my thoughts on this one! ★★★★

The Winnowing by Vikki VanSickle – Also shared a review for this one earlier in the week. Here’s my thoughts! ★★★★

Other things I read this week:

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi – A friend of mine recommended this manga to me. Fushigi Yuugi is her favourite manga ever and she said this had some interesting similarities. Since reading this, I’ve been seeing this manga pop up on my Goodreads feed a lot lately, so it’s definitely got some popularity behind it. Volume One ends on an interesting note, so I definitely think I need to investigate this one further. ★★★★

Who Is AC? by Hope Larson – This graphic novel is an odd duck. It’s clearly inspired by Sailor Moon and it has a lot of ideas though none of them particularly go anywhere or seem to gel in a way where the story feels cohesive. The art is really great, there’s a lot of diversity, but I wish the story itself had been much more solid in the end. ★★ 1/2

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul – I devoured this book in an day. A lot of these essays are very in-your-face offering perspectives about being a woman of colour, the racism the author felt growing up and even now, and her desire to find change. Many of the essays were funny, sometimes she’s punch just hard enough at the reader to make them stop and think. I also loved reading about growing up in an Indian family and her father reminded me at times of my own (who was short, fat, bald and Italian. Not even close to Indian). This book hurts at times, but with good reason. ★★★★★

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart – This is a beautiful middle grade book about a boy and his horse. Wasn’t sure if I was going to like this one with the slow start, but then halfway through I devoured it, bawled like a little baby and just loved it. ★★★★

Spider-Gwen, Vol. 3: Long-Distance by Jason Latour et al. – Not really enjoying this whole alternative world Spider-Gwen. It’s getting kinda weird, and just less and less appealing. Matt Murdock in this setting is dreadful, and I don’t like how Cindy is handled either. ★★

Green Lanterns, Volume 1: Rage Planet by Sam Humphries  et al. — Not bad, not great. I really don’t know much about the Green Lantern-verse and it’s characters and truthfully this didn’t do much for me. I really liked Jessica as a character though!

Tally:

Number of ARCs on the list read: 3/10

Number of ARCs Read: 4

Number of Non-ARCs Read: 10

ARC Reviews – A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

28575699Title: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

Author: Eric Lindstrom

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to keep everyone at arm’s length. And when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.

As the walls of Mel’s compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst–that her friends will abandon her if they learn the truth about what she’s been hiding. Can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?

Huge thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I had a weird relation with this book as I was reading it. In fact, for such a short book I had put it down for six days without reading it because something within its contents gave me a reason to. I won’t lie to readers, Mel is a challenging heroine — she’s very distant from the reader, sometimes to the point where you never feel like she’s going to be open enough either. I hit a point with her where I was frustrated and it caused me to put the book down.

After some internal monologue and a few days away from the book, I picked it up again, determined I needed to see it to the end given I have this habit that I don’t like to give up on people or ficitional characters apparently. I am happy I saw her story to the end.

Lindstrom’s writing has a very simplistic quality to it that makes it very engaging. Mel is so into her own mind, thoughts and feelings that she doesn’t see beyond the world. She’s so focused on the death of Nolan, the guilt and anxiety that is present within her and its to the point where everyone she’s ever loved has been pushed far, far away from her. I can relate to that. Sometimes it’s on purpose, other times its just done unconsciously. My frustrations with Mel came from seeing myself in her and I think it’s why a part of me avoided this book for the while that I did.

Mel’s illness is rough, but her reactions and responses are so realistic, right down to the friends she keeps. I really liked the way Lindstrom handled the teenage drama in this book because the responses didn’t feel melodramatic, but rather on point. People do blow situations out of proportion, some people do try to be an alpha in a friendship, some people will try to take all the attention for themselves — all these reactions felt right in place with the story. I felt so angry with a lot of the characters in this book because none of them every stopped to look at the bigger pictures, which again shows a lot of strength in the story being told here.

There are parts of this book that I think will make readers uneasy at times, but I do think A Tragic Kind of Wonderful offers some wonderfully realistic characters trying to seek light in dark places. It is for those who wish to understand those with mental illness, and what Mel feels throughout the story sheds a lot of light on the stigma of mental illness, even if she s a character can feel really infuriating at the same time. If you like deep contemporary YA, this is definitely worth checking out.

ARC Review – Blood For Blood (Wolf By Wolf, #2) by Ryan Graudin

26864835Title: Blood For Blood (Wolf By Wolf, #2)

Author: Ryan Graudin

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?

Huge thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

One of my favourite reads from last year was Wolf By Wolf. It just married everything I love in a story together: awesome action, great characters, a well developed and (in this case) researched story. I am also a sucker for alternative history stories, which was another reason why Wolf By Wolf won me over. I have been anticipating the sequel, Blood for Blood since I finished the first book, and I actually managed to hold off reading this until now.

And then I tore right through it. Much like Wolf By Wolf, Blood for Blood had the exact same addictive qualities. Yael is still an amazing heroine, and her thirst for revenge and vengeance for her people is much more violent in this book. The stakes also feel much higher, and there’s such an aggressiveness in Yael, Mariam and Luka’s cause. Even the scope of this story feels so much larger and terrifying, and at times I felt so afraid for these characters, but I also loved that even though they were in frightening situations, they managed to keep their eyes on the proverbial prize.

I also loved that we finally got to learn more about Yael and Mariam’s origins, as well as about skinshifting, and all the experimentation. Graudin has this real knack for giving the right amount of dealt without providing information overload, something which I feel like in the hands of an unskilled writer, would pose a major problem.

I cried, I cheered, I yelled, I threw my arms up reading this book. It took so many fantastic twists and turns and kept me on the edge of my seat. Whenever I had to put Blood for Blood down to go back to work, I was always waiting and thinking about what was potentially going to happen next and if the tables would be turned. There is a lot of real surprise in this book, and I am sad that this duology is over. I felt exhausted by the end, and yet I felt that this ending was just so satisfying and dynamic, ending the only way it could have. I STILL LOVED IT. This book is a wonderful conclusion, if you haven’t read Wolf By Wolf, get on that ASAP.

ARC Review – Girls Like Me by Lola St.Vil

28114572Title: Girls Like Me

Author: Lola St.Vil

Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Shay Summers is trying to cope with the death of her father, being overweight, and threats from a girl bully in school. When she falls in love with Blake, a mysterious boy online, insecure Shay doesn’t want to tell him who she is. But with the help of her two best friends, as well as an assist by Kermit and Miss Piggy, ultimately Shay and Blake’s love prevails. 

 

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!
Sam’s Review:

Girls Like Me was a book I came out coveting from the #TeendsReadFeed event hosted by Raincoast. With its adorable cover and its interesting pitch, I thought this would book would be a grand slam for me. I love books about underdogs, about people don’t necessary fit into the molds of society, who want be loved, but there was a lot about this book that simply didn’t work for me.

First off, I really didn’t understand why this novel was written in verse. I like to think when a novel is written in verse that it’s attempting to highlight something specific by using the style to explore whatever it is they are attempting to show. In this novel, I found I just never connected with the use of verse. It was there but it didn’t evoke any real meaning or feeling for me. Also the sections that were written entirely in text message? Those were simply painful to read, and while I am sure teens likely do text that way, I had moments where it was hard to decipher what some of the short hands even meant.

The other thing is that I wanted to love Shay and I wanted to root for her, but the book was missing something there as well. All we know is that she’s bullied and she fat, but neither of these aspects are really explore because this is all we are really told about her character. We don’t actually know much about why she is bullied (although in truth, it is high school and sometimes bullies bully for the sake of it), but it just felt like something more was needed to make me connect to her on that emotional level, which I just felt like I never got reading this book. Being emotionally connected to characters is important to me, and I felt like Shay was very distant and very closed despite this being her personal thoughts.

The other thing I wish this book had pushed harder and started to before it fizzled off was looking at being “body positive.” It was there, then it kinda disappeared and I felt like the messages that the author was trying to convey started to get lost and over showed by Shay’s romantic feelings, which is totally fine, except that I don’t feel like I really got to know the guy she was falling for.

While I felt horrible for the way Shay was treated in the novel and the names she was called, I feel like this book was missing the spark for me to cheer for her when she does fight back. This isn’t a bad book at all, and I do think there will be readers out there who will connect emotionally to Shay’s story, I just wish I had been one of them.

ARC Review – Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker

27272262Title: Smash & Grab

Author: Amy Christine Parker

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.
 
CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .
 
Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.

Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this book!

Molly’s Review: 

I REALLY enjoyed this book! After falling into a little bit of a reading slump I needed something fun that would really drag me into the story and not let go. I didn’t want anything TOO heavy and this was just the perfect balance. I LOVE heist movies and books, so I went into this with high hopes and was not disappointed.

Lexi and her crew are thrill seekers. They’re young rich LA kids who have issues with their families and they all deal with these issues by doing crazy and wild stunts. The book starts out with them jumping off a building. I really loved how Lexi and her gang had actual problems and not just rich kid problems. Lexi’s dad is in jail and her mother is falling apart. Lexi’s friends (while not the MOST fleshed out group of side characters) are all personable and facing their own issues. We see glimpses of things that all people face: abusive parents, un-accepting parents, etc. This made the book feel real.

I also liked that Lexi was and wasn’t a stereotype. She’s a typical rich, blond, beautiful LA chick but she is also pretty bad ass. She holds her own and stays true to herself. She uses her looks and charm when she needs to, but she isn’t vapid and vain, nor a mean girl. I really liked that she didn’t quit fit any mold when she really could have.

Christian is the other voice in this book. It is a dual POV book, but the author does an AMAZING job with the two voices. I was never once confused as to who was speaking and that really helped me enjoy this book even more (because I do NOT like dual POV books with alternating chapters). Christian is from the hood and he and his own crew of friends are bank robbers. They were strong-armed into doing the robberies by the local gang which has ties to a much larger Mexican gang. Each friend is working the jobs to help their families/ save people they love. It’s all very tragic and makes them not really BAD guys. Christian was an interesting character; he’s smart, of mixed race so he doesn’t always feel like he fits in with the rest of his crew, and he cares deeply about doing the right thing even when he’s forced to do the wrong thing.

Christian and Lexi cross paths multiple times and sparks fly. They end up joining forces to rob the bank that Lexi’s dad used to work for… to help prove his innocence and to set Christian free. There’s a lot of double crossing, some kissing and swooning and some high action moments with crazy stunts. I very much enjoyed this book and would LOVE to see it as a movie.

ARC Review – The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott

22440677Title: The Way Back to You

Author: Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.

Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.

Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.

As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they’re barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.

With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way to back to her…and to each other.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this for review!

Molly’s Review:

Originally I was a little worried that this book was going to be too similar to Jessi Kirby’s new book, but thankfully it was not! This book does deal with organ donations, but that’s the only similarity. So if you are also worried about that, don’t be!

This is the story of two people coming together due to a mutual loss. Cloudy and Kyle have a history, but they also have a shared loss. They both lost Ashlyn; Cloudy’s best friend and Kyle’s girlfriend. Both of them are not doing well dealing with the loss, but they go on with their lives and try their best.

Until Cloudy finds out that Ashlyn’s family is in touch with some of the organ recipients who got Ashlyn’s donated organs. Cloudy makes the snap decision to visit the recipients and she invites Kyle along with her. They take off on a roadtrip that spans across three or four different states just to see these people from afar, and to see if this can help them start to heal.

I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and both characters were very real. The story is told in alternating voices (something that I generally avoid) but both voices were very clear and I’m curious to know how the two authors went about it! I wonder if each one took a voice or what. But anyway, I liked the two voices, and getting the two different perspectives. Cloudy and Kyle both had very different relationships with Ashlyn.

I also enjoyed how unpredictable this book was. I thought that certain things were going to happen and play out in predictable ways but they didn’t. The story took interesting twists and turns and along the way both Cloudy and Kyle grew, they came to accept their losses (and not just the loss of Ashlyn, but other losses in their lives) and started to heal.

River’s Quickie Reviews #7

It’s been a long time since I’ve thrown one of these together, but River managed to get a crapton of books from ALAMW 2016, and has been writing some mini reviews for a few of the books she got her hands on. Enjoy some mini-reviews of titles that have either just released or will be coming out later in the year!


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Title: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (May 3rd 2016 by Greenwillow )

Synopsis: Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places.

River’s Review: This is a very fast read. I think I read it in about a half hour? It’s written in verse and the writing is SO gorgeous.

This is the story of a girl who has an abortion. She goes to a catholic school so there’s a lot of religious stuff going on in this book, but it’s not a book about condemning what was done. It’s not a book about a broken girl, just a girl who deals with the consequences of her actions and does what she believes is the right thing. This book isn’t preachy, but it does give a very interesting view on both sides of the debate, and I loved the juxtaposition going on in it.

I also really liked how quiet it was. She doesn’t go crazy and become a broken thing, but she does lose faith in herself and interest in things that were once important. Friends and family show concern, but it’s all very subtle and overall very well done.

This is a great book for a lazy afternoon. Beautiful writing, important content. It was something different and I needed it. 5/5 Stars.


25203675Title: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi  (April 26th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin)

Synopsis: Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth. But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

River’s Review: Here’s another book that I very much enjoyed but didn’t LOVE. The writing in this is breathtakingly gorgeous and I really enjoyed some of the side characters. But over all I felt a little displaced with the world and the two main characters didn’t do too much for me. I LOVED that it was based on Indian mythology, that’s not something that I’ve run into very much in YA. Kamala the flesh eating horse was hilarious, and I really enjoyed Gupta and his eccentricities. Sadly Maya was a little too gullible at times, but I did enjoy her growth as a woman in the story. Amar was every other brooding bad-good-guy.

The first 100 pages or so of this was slow and boring at times, but around 150 things really picked up and I loved the way that things were reveled and pieced together through Maya’s own personal journey.

I’m very excited to see what more Chokshi writes, because wow does she spin some beautiful tales! 4/5 Stars.


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Title: The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter (March 15th 2016 by Philomel Books)

Synopsis: Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms. But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

River’s Review: So I really liked this but something about the story felt super dated. I couldn’t place the time, and then there were mentions of cell phones and a couple of pop culture references, but overall this felt like it was set in the late 80s or early 90s for some reason.

And the college aspect of this was REALLY weird for me. I didn’t do the whole “freshman” thing when I was in college (I transferred in during my 2nd year) but I don’t remember my college (or any of my friends) having dances (like formals like you do in high school) and the pay phone at the end of the hallway and the very lack of anybody really following up with anything regarding Cassie just seemed really random and strange.

The emotional aspects, the mental health issues in this, and the writing were all really good though. 3/5 Stars.