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1/31/2022 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Publication date: February 1st 2022
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
ISBN: 1616205067

Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . .

Time is running out in the empire of Rheinvelt.

The sudden appearance of a strange and frightening statue foretells darkness. The Hierophants—magic users of the highest order—have fled the land. And the shadowy beasts of the nearby Hinterlands are gathering near the borders, preparing for an attack.

Young Prince Alphonsus is sent by his mother, the Empress Sabine, to reassure the people while she works to quell the threat of war. But Alphonsus has other problems on his mind, including a great secret: He has a clock in his chest where his heart should be—and it’s begun to run backwards, counting down to his unknown fate.

Searching for answers about the clock, Alphonsus meets Esme, a Hierophant girl who has returned to the empire in search of a sorceress known as the Nachtfrau. When riddles from their shared past threaten the future of the empire, Alphonsus and Esme must learn to trust each other and work together to save it—or see the destruction of everything they both love.

Thank you so much for to Algonquin Young Readers and Brian Farrey for having me today on the blog tour for The Counterclockwise Heart! I’m so excited to be featuring and reviewing this book in today’s post.

It’s been such a long time where I’ve been able to sit down with a middle grade novel, and not only that, but just sit down and enjoy myself. So much of my reading lately has been just . . . not fun and that’s entirely my fault, but to say this book was a breath of fresh air after starting and stopping so many other books over the past few months would be an understatement.

I kind of knew from the opening chapter that I was going to love it; it reminded so much of the books that made me fall in love with reading when I was younger. The mystery, the centering of a story on anything involving a clock always drew me in and still does. The setting was vast and varied, exploring numerous parts of the kingdom that Alphonus’ mother ruled over; I hate to call it a fun adventure, given the reasons the characters were doing it, but the exploration really did make it more fun.

Perhaps my favorite part though was the heavy German influence woven throughout the story. As a descendent of someone who was a burgermeister in the old country, I was ecstatic when I first saw the word pop up in the book. Then to notice details, big and small, throughout that hinted at said German influence . . . it was so cool to see. I can’t say I’ve read other books like that so an MG novel having it was exciting!

I wish I would’ve had this book when I was ten. I think that’s the age when I would’ve really loved and enjoyed it most, but I’m so glad I was able to read it now. Brian Farrey is an incredible storyteller and that shines brightly in The Counterclockwise Heart.

The Counterclockwise Heart releases tomorrow, February 1st! You can click the links* below to order your copy! <3 You can visit Brian on his website and on Twitter.
IndieBound
Books-A-Million
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Indigo
Book Depository
(*links are not affiliate links.)


1/18/2022 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Adult Fiction, Romance

Publication date: January 18th 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
ISBN: 1250624185

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.

I realize it’s been . . . forever since I last posted. Oopsies. It’s not like I haven’t posted on Instagram but posting here has been a chore I haven’t managed to get done. It’s a promise you’ve heard before but that is changing! Lots of content and change is coming to this website super soon and I’m thrilled about it. More on that later. For now, though, let’s talk about a book for the first time in 2022.

First of all, thanks so much to St. Martin’s Press for providing me an e-galley of How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan! I haven’t read a lot of chicklit/romance, not for lack of trying—more just because I’m typically set in my ways (which has long been various YA genres) and haven’t really read outside of it. Bookstagram has made me realize I need to branch out so I was ready to jump the second the email came in!

A few chapters in, I got super nervous about what I’d gotten myself into, namely because I had an exceptionally bad neighbor up until 2020 and it began to bring out some . . . harsh feelings. To say the least. Noah was a jerk and it was so hard to like him for a long time. He was a spoiled rich boy with no regard for anyone else; even being described as attractive really wasn’t doing it for me! Yet.

I was startled by just how much I related to Grace and I think that was what really made me fall in love with this book. She’s a 27-year-old college student nearing graduation with no money, no relationship and still trying to figure out her life. I rarely see myself, at the stage I’m at, represented in the media I take in; normally 27-year-olds are married or divorced with kids and are beginning their lives again. From my perspective, life hasn’t even really started. And that’s how it was for Grace. I loved her so much! Not just because of those things; she was independent and strong-willed and flawed and I understood her all too well.

I’m not sure at what point I started to like Noah but there was this switch moment where I found myself rooting for them so hard. The beach setting was cozy but I found myself loving the character more than I cared about the setting. This was such a fun, fluffy read and, especially in the last 40%-ish, I was giggling and enjoying myself so much. If there’s one thing I learned out of this book, it’s that I really, really love fluffy romances. It was pointed out to me that this is a “Grump meets Sunshine” trope and I totally agree. If you love that trope—I found out that I do—then this is the absolute perfect book for you.

I also found out that Sophie Sullivan is a Disney fan like me and seeing that made my LIFE. How to Love Your Neighbor is out today!

Currently Listening To: Daylight - Taylor Swift

9/07/2021 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult

Publication date: September 7th 2021
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN: 0593403967

La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide.

This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World–and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier.

Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something – her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave.

When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou – a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history – Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent–and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

I read this book back to back with The Dead and the Dark, and when I first went into this one, I thought for sure they’d be incredibly similar. The premises, after all, were pretty alike. Missing kids, small towns, etc. and so forth. But oh my god was I wrong. Though the elements are there, the differences between the two stories is miles and miles.

I spent a lot of time both in Louisiana and talking to people from the state so slipping into this story felt like meeting an old friend. I never considered that there were towns south of New Orleans, however, until the main character, Grey, explains the location of her hometown. I’ve always been fascinated by the wet, swampy lands of Southern Louisiana, so I was in love from the get-go with the rich setting.

I’m caught somewhere between feeling like a whole lot of nothing happen for a good portion of the story, and feeling like it was just the right length. There was a few moments where the story seemed to drag, but whenever I felt that way, the story shifted or something happened that made me want to keep reading.

I was left thinking about the ending for days and day after reading the last page. When I closed the book, I stared into the nothing for a few minutes before quietly swearing, “What the fuck was that?” I can say without reservation that I didn’t see that ending coming for a second. It left me wanting more; I actually checked to see if this was a standalone when I was done. Don’t think that there’s a cliffhanger ending because there’s not. I just needed some more time with the characters and setting. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you’re looking for an atmospheric, creepy read with lots of speculative elements to be apart of your Fall reading, I can’t recommend this one enough. I won my review copy in a contest from the publisher, but this did not influence my opinion of the book. Thank you PenguinTeen/Razorbill for the free copy!

Currently Listening To: Hollow - Breaking Benjamin

9/05/2021 • 0 comments • Filed Under: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult

Publication date: November 17th 2020
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
ISBN: 1534457690
ISBN13: 9781534457690

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

*Note: The edition I read was the UK Fairyloot edition; the ISBNs above are for the US hardcover.

This book took me ages to read, and I still have no clue why. I’d love to say it was a conscious decision to savor it, or I was just too busy—both are true in their own ways—but I found myself in a reading slump while trudging through this that was incredibly hard to break. I thought for sure I wouldn’t finish it. Feeling that way was absolutely zero to do with whether I loved the book, though.

The plot reminded me of something directly out of The X-Files, a personal favorite, so I was destined from the start to enjoy this, I think. The concept of a river monster spewing little brain-eating bugs everywhere? Gross! I loved that. It was disturbing, tragic, and downright terrifying.

As I was reading, I found myself entranced by the writing. Chloe Gong is incredibly skilled at pulling you into the story; it was crazy to learn that not only was this her debut, but that she’s several years younger than me. Not me having a crisis and wondering what I’m doing with my life because of this book. >.< LMAO, anyways. She painted a stunning picture of 1920s Shanghai, of the characters, of the fear gripping the city. The character development was so good; I was obsessed with Juliette. The story wasn’t about a bunch of good guys; it was about all the bad guys having to come together to do something good. I haven’t read a lot of books like this, and to say I’m obsessed with that kind of storytelling is an understatement.

I went in expecting the romance to be… spicier. Truthfully, it was probably the result of Instagram and TikTok so this is less a critique of the book and more of a “manage your expectations that come from social media” PSA. With that said, I felt the romance is absolutely perfect: a slow burn, enemies-to-lover trope with a pinch of spice. Chef’s kiss. ♥

Throughout the story, I had my theories about the cause of the epidemic, but I definitely got whiplash towards the end, where it twisted and turned and twisted again. With that said, I still guessed who was causing the epidemic. I usually try not to stray too far ahead in my theories, or try to guess at all, but since I took so long to read it, I found myself thinking about it a lot while not reading. I only have myself to blame… *sigh*

This was one of my favorite reads of the summer. While I wasn’t, in the end, absolutely obsessed like so many of my friends, I adored every word I read and had so much fun theorizing the outcomes. I’m glad I don’t have long to wait for the sequel (so long as Fairyloot doesn’t delay for too long…), as it comes out November 16th! The day after my birthday!

Currently Listening To: Laughter Lines - Bastille Currently Reading: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

6/28/2021 • 1 comment • Filed Under: Adult Fiction, Reviews, Science Fiction

Publication date: May 4th 2021
Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press
ISBN: 198214274X
ISBN13: 9781982142742

New Liberty City, 2134.

Two corporations have replaced the US, splitting the country’s remaining forty-five states (five have been submerged under the ocean) between them: Stellaxis Innovations and Greenleaf. There are nine supercities within the continental US, and New Liberty City is the only amalgamated city split between the two megacorps, and thus at a perpetual state of civil war as the feeds broadcast the atrocities committed by each side.

Here, Mallory streams Stellaxis’s wargame SecOps on BestLife, spending more time jacked in than in the world just to eke out a hardscrabble living from tips. When a chance encounter with one of the game’s rare super-soldiers leads to a side job for Mal—looking to link an actual missing girl to one of the SecOps characters. Mal’s sudden burst in online fame rivals her deepening fear of what she is uncovering about BestLife’s developer, and puts her in the kind of danger she’s only experienced through her avatar.

Thank you for Saga Press via NetGalley for the free copy! I’ve since bought my own copy to keep forever.

I finished this book on June 10th, and as I write this review, it’s eleven days later. I’m still living inside this book.

The past few years, it’s been difficult to really get into books. Gone are the days where I could stay up all night and read, and feel completely transported by the experience. The characters rarely jump off the page, the plot is usually good but not enough to suck in me; none of the books have been bad, it’s just how my experience has changed as I’ve passed into my twenties. I still love reading—it’s my favorite form of entertainment—but I have had to adjust to a new normal. Or so I thought.

From the moment I picked up Firebreak, I needed to know what came next.

From the very first page, I felt sucked into the story. It wastes no time in getting straight to the plot, which I really enjoyed. So many sci-fis feel the need to explain a lot up front, instead of weaving it throughout the story, and it ends up being a lot to process right away. Kornher-Stace feeds enough info to you to help you understand what’s going on, but not so much that I found myself overwhelmed. It was the exact pacing I needed to be able to dig myself a home within the story.

I’m a huge fan of Ready Player One but I don’t think the comparison is fair. Sure, it has a gamer as its protagonist, but RPO pretty much entirely takes place in the Oasis (at least, the most important parts do). Firebreak does not take place inside its game nearly as much. In fact, the latter half of the book spends most of its time in the real world, and for good reason. I understand the comparison from a marketing standpoint (that is, in fact, what initially drew me in) but do not go into it expecting something similar. Firebreak is a much more serious, higher stakes read that rocked me in a way that Ready Player One never could. Mal is a more likable character than Wade Watts; where Wade clearly develops a massive ego (especially in Ready Player Two) and spends a whole lot of time doing nothing, that’s not an option for Mal. It’s not filled with nostalgia and there’s no grand inheritance. It’s a story of war, loss, and the effects those things have on the people who survive them. The game is just a catalyst to the overarching plot.

As with any story about war, or any actual war, there are senseless deaths that are unreconcilable throughout the story. There are two, in particular, that devastated me. There are events that go unexplained, as Mal has no way to know the outcome, and that I appreciated. In another book, it might’ve annoyed me but when I considered the perspective from which this is written, I found no way for them to be explained. Mal is just a girl, not a soldier. She was thrown into this path without preparation or real knowledge of what it would mean later on. And goddamn did she fight like hell.

When I first finished the book, mixed emotions settled into my brain. I was pissed off; I was beside myself with grief. I wished there was more to the story… I needed there to be more. In the days that followed, I found my mind drifting back to the story until I suddenly just started crying. Like, in the middle of the work day, full on tears. That was the moment I realized that the book was my new favorite. That is what I really desired from books, I realized: ones that leave me thinking, searching for answers to the unanswerable long after it’s over.

I have yet to shut the fuck up about Firebreak. I’m pretty sure that my friends are a little annoyed with me but I don’t mind. I will scream it from the rooftops because this book is too underrated for how absolutely amazing it is. It is, without a doubt, my favorite book of 2021. I’ve read some really good ones this year but this one is really special.

If you’re looking for a good song to transport yourself into the story, listen to the one below! I definitely maybe might have cried when I first listened to it…

Currently Listening To: Fragile Bones - Palisades