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Villain Squad — Penguin Teen — The Young Elites

Penguin Teen contacted me recently asking if I would like to join them by celebrating, uh, villains? YES VILLAINS. Embrace your inner demons.

noun: villain; plural noun: villains
  1. 1.
    (in a film, novel, or play) a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.

Please press play and enjoy the hell out of this song while reading the rest of this post…

First I would like to thank Penguin Teen for sending me a paperback copy of The Young Elites. I’ve been wanting to read this book for some time but just never found the chance. So this seemed like the perfect one!

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

I am SO glad that I finally got around to reading this book! It is DARK and sexy and I LOVE IT! The song that I posted above actually fits Adelina SO well and when I was reading the book and this song came on… I got goosebumps. If you’ve read the book, listen to the lyrics and you’ll understand.


What is a villain to you? The bad guy? The so good he’s bad guy? The beautiful woman who seduces and then kills? The man who kills to save his city? The woman who kills to save herself? What is a villain anymore? In media villains are everywhere. Bad guys doing good things, good guys doing bad things. I know that I am DYING to see Marvel’s new <b>Suicide Squad</b> film (JARED. FREAKING. LETO. YES PLEASE). Villains and their bad selves and their squads are all over. So to celebrate Marie Lu’s upcoming novel The Rose Society I am joining Penguin Teen and creating my own Villain Squad. I’ve assembled a team and we are…

The Bad Book Be-ARC-hes.

First we have Sammy er I mean Jibber-JABBER (My lovely coblogger).

While I’m far too kind in nature, I’m also the last likely person you’d look at to commit criminal acts. Think of me as a female Hank Scorpio from The Simpsons — I’m cheeky, friendly, but I am also the one with my fingers on the doomsday device, demanding that every employee deserves a a hammock, and that millions of dollars be sent to my evil undisclosed location. If I wee to have a villainous power, it’d be “Fast-Talking” — I chat so fast that you’ll barely have a chance to comprehend the information I’ve given you, and zoom! — I’ve stolen out of your pockets, or stated a secret code word to get my cronies ready for action. I’ll chat you up, and while your blindsided by my gift for gab — that my friends is when I’ll strike.

Next we have Librario (author of Nobody’s Goddess)
One day I fell asleep with my head on open book and discovered that every time I open a book from then on, I can absorb it all, as if I had read it from front to cover. The only drawback is, a big fan of the book forgets she ever read it in exchange! So I’ve been “reading” books with my powers so I can get more reading done, knowing that I steal the memories of the book away from many fans as I do… But not realizing they sometimes actually like that because then they can re-read it and feel as if they’re discovering books they love for the first time.

And the last member of my squad, Melly-G (Author of The Sight Seer Saga and The Fading Dusk) is SO EVIL that she didn’t even show up for the party (and thus did not get to choose her own name!) She’s a book horder and her power is ignoring the world as it burns because she’s too busy editing her next great work (which she uses to enslave the masses).

As for myself… I am Fast Mollies (name throwback to 2006 y’all!)

I do everything quickly. Sometimes too quickly. When I’m called upon to save you I tend to rush right past you to the next person! My power is speed and I use it for reading as many books as I can… not saving the poor and downtrodden as I should. Sure I might rush out to answer my signal, but I often do a shitty job of saving you because I’m going too fast because I want to return to my damn book! 

What’s your villain persona and power? Who would be on YOUR villain squad????

ARC Review – The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

23346358Title:  The Accident Season

Author: Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis: It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom. 
The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

Huge thank you to Penguin/Random House for sending me an ARC of this book!

River’s Review:

The writing in this book is BEAUTIFUL guys. When I was reading it I kept having to pause and re-read parts because the rhythm of it all was just that wonderful. I had to stop after awhile or I never would have finished it. It’s poetic.

I am also discovering that I really enjoy magical realism. Earlier this year I read and LOVED Bone Gap, so when I saw people comparing the two I knew that I HAD to read this book. And while I did like this a lot, it wasn’t The Bone Gap for me. But I love how magical realism plays with my head. How I’m trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not. To try to place things and then to let them all go and fall as they’re meant to be.

This is a story about a family. With secrets. And mysteries. Every year at the end of October they all suddenly become accident prone. Bumps, bruises, torn flesh, broken bones. Some people die. Some things are accident. And some… are not. The accident season hides the intentional. One sister, Alice, doesn’t even believe there is an accident season. And when you find out what happened to her, what happens to her, it’s easy to understand why she thinks it’s a lot of shit. And it’s really left up to the reader to determine if the accident season is real or not.

This is also a story about a ghost. A girl remembered and not. A girl who haunts the family, our main character, and her friend. A girl who suddenly appears and disappears. Another mystery.

I loved the atmosphere of this book and think it would have been the BEST book to read in October. There’s a huge Halloween party and a scary old house and a ghost. A curse. Mischief and mayhem. I would have loved to have read this curled up in a hoodie some dark stormy night. So do that if you can. It’ll just add to the overall effect.

ARC Review – The Diamond Conspiracy by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

23292456Title: The Diamond Conspiracy

Author: Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Having narrowly escaped the electrifying machinations of Thomas Edison, Books and Braun are looking forward to a relaxing and possibly romantic voyage home. But when Braun’s emergency signal goes off, all thoughts of recreation vanish. Braun’s street-wise team of child informants, the Ministry Seven, is in grave peril, and Books and Braun must return to England immediately.

But when the intrepid agents finally arrive in London, the situation is even more dire than they imagined. The Ministry has been disavowed, and the Department of Imperial Inconveniences has been called in to decommission its agents in a most deadly fashion. The plan reeks of the Maestro’s dastardly scheming. Only, this time, he has a dangerous new ally—a duplicitous doctor whose pernicious poisons have infected the highest levels of society, reaching even the Queen herself…

Huge thank you to Ace and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Do you know what I love about The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series? I love that it has yet to disappoint me (and the day that happens I will feel a lot of sadness). There’s insanity! Humour! Romance! And some nutjobby characters who continue to entertain.

In this latest instalment we finally learn more about Welly’s and it’s quite the doozy. It’s great to finally see him drop down his guard and let the reader and Eliza in. I mean seriously, their romance is so adorkable, and I love when they get into heated conversations because both are so stubborn and awkward that it makes you laugh. Eliza continues to amuse me in every book, and she always gives the reader lines to chuckle over.

The characters introduced in The Diamond Conspiracy are pretty darn fun as well. There’s also mecha, face punching, and just plain awesome from this volume. Admittedly, even if the series ever goes downhill — I’ll probably still be reading it.

After a crummy week of tests and being sick, Books and Braun really know how to be the perfect pick me up.

ARC Review – Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

22501055Title: Under a Painted Sky

Author: Stacey Lee

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

Sam’s Review:

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for this ARC!

Westerns really don’t get the love they probably should. In Stacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky we meet Samantha and Annamae, two young woman, who share one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about. These two tough girls embody what it means to have perseverance, and to fight for yourself.

The writing in this book is absolutely stunning, and you really do feel like you’re transported into the old west. The images that Lee paints are wonderfully descriptive and have their own personality, which I quite enjoyed. There’s something about travelling a tough and lonesome road, and yet Samantha and Annamae make you feel so welcome despite the problems they are essentially escaping from.

If there is anything I could highly praise about this book, it’s the friendship between the girls. You get this strong sense of companionship and trust between the two girls — that they would do anything for each other, that they genuinely care what the other thinks. You don’t see a lot of friendships like this in YA, and in a lot of cases, the friendships in YA do tend to feel tacked on or very superficial. That truly isn’t the care here because Lee gives you damn good reasons to love these girls and enjoy their adventure.

The romance was the only thing that I liked, but didn’t love. West and Sam were cute, but he was a bit too hokey for me. That being said, I thought Lee did a good job here as well, because it wasn’t an instant connection, the two actually had some chemistry, which I appreciate so much.

This is a western, and it’s an unloved genre that needs a resurgence. This book reminded me how much I love the genre and how much I appreciate diverse women being friends with each other. We need more of that in YA, and we need it to be as genuine as it is portrayed here.


ARC Review – The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

17987501Title: The Forbidden Library

Author: Django Wexler

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That–along with everything else–changed the day she met her first fairy. When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon–an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within. It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

Huge thank you to Kathy Dawson Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review: 

Ever since I saw the cover for The Forbidden Library, I knew I had to have it. I love library adventures, and when a book is set in a library or is about uncovering ancient information, or it just has a lot of humor in its approach, I just get giddy on the inside. Django Wexler’s The Forbidden Library is fairly dark at times for a children’s book, but there’s a lot of mystery and intrigue, just as their is courage and crazy.

Alice is a solid protagonist. She’s plucky, quirky, adventurous and lovable. Her narrative is very engaging, and her curiosity often gets the better of her. She’s paired with a fantastic ensemble cast, from Ashes, the talking cat, to sweet, adorable Isaac. The main mystery within the story is that Alice loses her father to a mystery shipwreck and is forced to move in with her Uncle Geryson and his talking cat. To survive a shipwreck is unlikely, but Alice believes that considering the bizarre circumstances of how it happened that he could have potentially survived.

Wexler writes beautiful prose and description. There’s an exquisite amount of detail in how he describes Alice and the world that surrounds her. The prose is really what kept me completely sucked into the story, and I had a hard time putting the book down because I wanted to uncover each and every one of the mysteries that is within the novel. In a lot of cases, this book is a mystery, wrapped in another mystery, wrapped in an enigma. There’s always more questions than answers, and as answers begin to form, more questions appear. It makes for a fun and engaging read a lot of the time, and Wexler definitely went in some directions I didn’t entirely expect him to go.

Not only is this a fantastic middle grade novel, but it’s one that I think a lot of adults would equally enjoy because the layering of narrative is just so strong. There’s so much adventure and exploration, and sometimes that’s what you need in your life (at least, I know I do!). If you love middle grade or libraries, this is a book worth your attention.

ARC Review – Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

18106481Title:  Nearly Gone

Author:  Elle Cosimano


Rating: ★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother’s job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone’s skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn’t trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn’t figure it all out soon—she’ll be next.

Huge thank you to Kathy Dawson Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Ughhhhhh, I wanted to love this SO MUCH MORE than I did. I was DYING for this book and so excited when I got an ARC. It sounded so dark and edgy and fast paced and weird and it just… fell so flat. Basically, the romance killed it for me. Nearly Boswell is a brilliant girl living in a trailer park, her mother is a stripper, and her best friend is in love with her (but he has his own mental issues to deal with) and SHE CAN TOUCH PEOPLE AND FEEL THEIR EMOTIONS. This aspect of the story should have been SUPER IMPORTANT right? But it felt like it was just this random thing that sometimes benefited her but like… it was never really IMPORTANT. She has a rule not to touch people and then I thought she’d be out there using this ability to figure out who the murderer was and… it was just such an afterthought the entire novel. So that was a bust.

Then Reece, this bad-boy-new-guy who becomes her newest mentee (after all of her previous mentee’s get KILLED) and she’s all I WILL NOT TUTOR YOU one minute and then the next she’s busting into drug deals to save him and having to ‘pretend to be his girlfriend’ to keep the local drug dealer off their back and in order to do that she has to basically check off a list of annoying tropes that have wormed their way into YA. He dresses her for school? CHECK. He makes her ride his motorcycle? CHECK. He finds random times to touch her even though she ~totally~ doesn’t want to be touched? CHECK. He dressed her AGAIN (this time for a rave) CHECK. He forces himself on her in school? CHECK. Just… ugh. All of her interactions with Reece felt SO CONTRIVED. Nothing felt natural, nothing flowed, and while it wasn’t insta-love she DID end up falling in love with him and I was just like WHY????

The mystery WAS pretty cool though. I will give this book credit for a suspenseful and creative mystery. I didn’t see the killer coming and I didn’t even SUSPECT him/her from the beginning. So that was cool. I just wish that the actually mystery would have been more of a central focus than her relationship with Reece and how he could make her do dumb stuff to force them together.

And I really liked a lot of the characters. Some of them were surprising, and I even think that Lonny was my favorite (which is quite questionable self…)