Tag Archives: katherine tegen books

ARC Review – We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Title: We Set the Dark on Fire

Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy We Set the Dark on Fire. I love books with feminist angles and I love unique world building, which this book has in spades. However, there were things about it that definitely kept it from being a favourite.

I want to talk first about the aspects that I liked. First was the setting and particularly the Medio School and it’s weird cult-like behaviour. I loved reading the bits from the handbook and I loved the sinister feeling that came anytime Mejia wrote about this organization and how the females in it were oppressed. There was such a good level of creep factor here that definitely gave me Handmaid’s Tale vibes. I also loved the fast, hard, feminist angle this book has, as there is this amazing build towards uprising that I think just works in the story so so so well.

I think the hardest part for me with this book was the writing. I found that while the world was very interesting and colourful, not seeing it through Dani’s eyes was difficult for me. I think the third person narration just didn’t work for me at all, and I think for a lot of the more difficult or high pressure moments in the story, the third person perspective removed a lot of the agency for me. I would have loved to have a sense of Dani’s feelings, her discomfort, and her drive to survive this weird dystopian world.

I wasn’t also entirely sold right away on the forbidden romance, especially because I struggled with the character in question. I generally don’t mind a hate-to-love relationship but again parts of it just didn’t work for me. It made me happy because I’m all for these types of stories being told and I think there is a lot of value in them, and towards the end of the book, I found myself setting into the romance and it grew on me.

We Set the Dark on Fire is an interesting debut where I found myself loving the world-building and the creep factor, but the characters fell short for me. I wish I liked these characters more because I found myself not really connecting with any of them, even in their times of distress. I think those looking for an interesting and different kind of dystopian story, will definitely enjoy this one.

Late to the Party ARC Review – Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

Title: Invisible Ghosts

Author: Robyn Schneider

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Rose Asher believes in ghosts. She should, since she has one for a best friend: Logan, her annoying, Netflix-addicted brother, who is forever stuck at fifteen. But Rose is growing up, and when an old friend moves back to Laguna Canyon and appears in her drama class, things get complicated.

Jamie Aldridge is charming, confident, and a painful reminder of the life Rose has been missing out on since her brother’s death. She watches as Jamie easily rejoins their former friends–a group of magnificently silly theater nerds–while avoiding her so intensely that it must be deliberate.

Yet when the two of them unexpectedly cross paths, Rose learns that Jamie has a secret of his own, one that changes everything. Rose finds herself drawn back into her old life–and to Jamie. But she quickly starts to suspect that he isn’t telling her the whole truth.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I have loved all of Robyn Schneider’s books that she has published. I figured given her track record and my enjoyment, Invisible Ghostssurely was going to be a new favourite. I was expecting to love this, and it was just okay. Saying that it was just okay breaks my heart a little bit, but that is the truth.

When this book was being pitched to me, I was told it was an exploration of grief. That statement is true to an extent, given this is a story about Rose believing that she can see the ghost of her best friend and brother, Logan. The parts of the story where Rose and Logan interacted were easily some of the best parts of the story, and I really enjoyed those moments.

Where I struggled with this book was the romance between Jamie and Rose. I just couldn’t connect with it, I felt very hollow at times, and frankly, I was bored. I know part of Jamie’s story is that he is helping Rose through her grief, but I felt like at times the book made this element a bit too easy, undermining what it means to feel a sense of loss. I think what frustrated me more is that Robyn Schneider has explored the topic of grief before, and I think it was done much better in her other books than Invisible Ghosts.

While I love Robyn Schneider’s writing style, I found that this book and I just didn’t connect the way I was hoping. Perhaps I put too high an expectation on this book given past experiences, or maybe I just wanted something with a lot more depth on a topic that I connect with than this book provided. I think there will be plenty of readers who will love Invisible Ghosts and not much the surface level discussion of grief, but I won’t lie, my expectations were just a bit too high.

ARC Review – 100 Hours (100 Hours #1) by Rachel Vincent

30653906Title: 100 Hours (100 Hours #1)

Author: Rachel Vincent

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: A decadent spring break getaway on an exotic beach becomes a terrifying survival story when six Miami teens are kidnapped and ransomed.

Maddie is beyond done with her cousin Genesis’s entitled and shallow entourage. Genesis is so over Miami’s predictable social scene with its velvet ropes, petty power plays, and backstabbing boyfriends.

While Maddie craves family time for spring break, Genesis seeks novelty—like a last-minute getaway to an untouched beach in Colombia. And when Genesis wants something, it happens.

But paradise has its price. Dragged from their tents under the cover of dark, Genesis, Maddie, and their friends are kidnapped and held for ransom deep inside the jungle—with no diva left behind. It all feels so random to everyone except Genesis. She knows they were targeted for a reason. And that reason is her.

Now, as the hours count down, only one thing’s for certain: If the Miami hostages can’t set aside their personal problems, no one will make it out alive.

Huge thank you to Miss Print’s ARC adoption for this review copy.

Molly’s Review:

This book was like watching an early 2000-esque action movie. Lots of complicated ugly pretty people, random almost faceless “bad guys”, a tropical location, some vague references to political unrest & explosions.

So naturally I loved it.

The writing in this book isn’t spectacular, nor are the characters, but it was very fast paced and I flew through the first 250 pages in one sitting. I didn’t really care about anyone, but I did want to see what was going to happen.

A lot of this is pretty unbelievable. One of the characters is diabetic and she’s able to jump off a cliff, hike MILES through the jungle, and make out with the cute boy she’s known for a full day without having any problems. And no, I’m not saying a diabetic couldn’t do that, I’m saying that pretty much nobody could do that, let alone a teen girl with a disease that is affected by lack of food and too much physical exertion.

There is A LOT of teen drama in this, which I also found to be a little over the top because really, I feel like most teens that were kidnapped by Colombian terrorists in the middle of the jungle would be a WHOLE LOT LESS WORRIED about who’s hooking up with who. But then again it wouldn’t be an early 2000-esqu action movie without the main character hooking up with the beautiful strange they just met (hello every single Jason Statham movie EVER).

So yeah, this book was okay. It tried hard to be something more than it was, but didn’t quite make it. And it ends on a cliff hanger so I guess there’s going to be a second book. I might pick it up if I’m in the mood for some mindless action.

ARC Review – The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

25812109Title:  The Female of the Species

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

Huge thank you to the publisher for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I have been a fan of Mindy McGinnis since her debut, and I have enjoyed everything that she has written so far. I was SO excited when I found out that she was writing a contemporary, but sadly this wasn’t my most fav of her books (I did really enjoy it a lot tho).

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. We know that the MC, Alex, is dealing with the death of her sister. We know that Alex knows how to kill a man. Has she done it? Why does she know? How did she learn? And why would she want to know?

This book is told in three POVs that alternate. I am not a big fan of this, and I had a lot of trouble connecting with Alex (which was probably the point). Jack was okay and I really enjoyed Peekay’s chapters. I loved the way things ebbed and flowed through the story, and how they twisted around to get to the real heart of things.

This is a book about sexual assault. And I for some reason hadn’t seen that coming.

McGinnis’ writing is gritty and honest and sometimes made me cringe with just how fucking real it is. She made me want to cry at times with some of her vivid truths and the way that she used animals to illustrate how brutal humans can be. This book scared me with how wrong things can go in the blink of an eye. And it broke my heart at the end.

If you love honest books, pick this up. If you love gritty portritates of real life, pick this up. If you think that books about rape are important, pick this up. And if you’ve previously enjoyed a book by the author, make sure you don’t miss this one.

 

ARC Review – Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1) by Alyson Noel

26116460Title: Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1)

Author: Alyson Noel

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Everyone wants to be someone. Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life. But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

Huge thank you to HarperCollins for sending me a copy of this book for review!

Molly’s Review:

So I wasn’t going to read this book when I first heard about it. The author alone put me off it (I wasn’t a huge fan of some over her previous work) and then I saw the huge international deal that it got and I was like ‘whelp, here comes the hype monster”.

Yet somehow this book hasn’t really been all that hyped up? It arrived with a fancy VIP invitation attached to it and then I read the synopsis and I thought it sounded like the type of ugly-pretty-people stories that I like. So I gave it and try and I liked it.

But I still don’t get it. This book is another Pretty-Little-Liars-Gossip-Girl-The-Lying-Game types and there’s nothing really special or important about it. It’s a fun read about the seedy night life of LA and there’s little bit of a mystery to it and a lot of brand name dropping, but other than brain candy it’s not like AMAZING.

But I did like it?

I totally think that people who love Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars will really enjoy it. But much as with those books (oh I also think fans of the 90210 TV reboot would love this too) they aren’t much more than a beach read (but hey, summer is coming!!!)

So grab a copy and take it to the beach and enjoy it for what it’s worth.

ARC Review – The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen

26116496Title: The Last Time We Were Us

Author: Leah Konen

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life. She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties, and with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.  Local teen convict released early. Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvie. A million years ago, he was her best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.

Huge thank you to Harper Collins for sending me an ARC for review!

Molly’s Review:

So I totally read this book because I had to find out WHAT the big secret was. And I ended up really enjoying this book. There IS a lot of dram and teen angst (and at times I was just like GIRL WHAT ARE YOU DOING) so if you sometimes feel “too old” for high school YA then maybe skip this one.

But I totally got this at times. I had a male BFF for 10 years before some shit went down, but I could totally relate to some of the stuff that Liz was dealing with. My ex-BFF didn’t go to jail or anything, so that part I didn’t really relate with, but some parts I was there for. The shared history, the fun memories, the comfortable understanding… I do miss all of that. But the confusing emotions and what-not where what made my friendship end.

Liz knows that she shouldn’t give her ex-BFF (who they call an ex-con, but are you really an ex-con if you went to Juvie???) the time of day. She has it all going for her; super popular BFF, super popular ALMOST boyfriend, a fun summer of the RIGHT parties and a chance to lose her v-card with THE ONE. Then she see’s Jason (the BFF) and it all comes crashing down around her.

I totally got why Liz wanted to see Jason again. She used to care about him, she was intrigued when he suggested that there was more to “that night” than most people believed and she was curious about where their friendship still stood. And the closer she got to him the more she realized what a sham her “popular life” was.

During all of this there’s A LOT of teen drama and there’s also Liz’s sister’s wedding happening. There’s a whole thing with Liz’s sister and her high school sweetheart (whom she is NOT marrying) and “that night” and Liz’s sister is a royal jerk about Liz’s newfound friendship with Jason. I really wanted to smack the sister at times because she was just so selfish and entitled about things at times. Yes, she was getting ready for her wedding and was probably super emotional and stuff, but man, some of the ways she’d talk to her sister… really made me upset.

Thankfully there is a happy ending (after some more predictable drama) and sadly the secret wasn’t as big of a deal as I’d hoped for. The writing in this is smooth and the characters do show some strengths and growth, so I decided to give this four stars.

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.