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Monday, December 9, 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Kill Club by Wendy Heard @harpercollins #thekillclub @wendydheard

The Kill Club 
by Wendy Heard

Thank you to Mira Books for this copy and stop on the blog tour.

Publisher: Mira Books
Publish Date: December 17, 2019
368 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

Jazz will stop at nothing to save her brother.

Their foster mother, Carol, has always been fanatical, but with Jazz grown up and out of the house, Carol takes a dangerous turn that threatens thirteen-year-old Joaquin’s life. Over and over, child services fails to intervene, and Joaquin is running out of time.

Then Jazz gets a blocked call from someone offering a solution. There are others like her—people the law has failed. They’ve formed an underground network of “helpers,” each agreeing to eliminate the abuser of another. They’re taking back their power and leaving a trail of bodies throughout Los Angeles—dubbed the Blackbird Killings. If Jazz joins them, they’ll take care of Carol for good.

All she has to do is kill a stranger.

My Review:

This book reminds me of something that I just can't *quite* put my finger on and it's driving me crazy!  This is one of those ripple effect kind of books.  You do one thing then that thing make another thing happen and so on and so forth.  When you're desperate, why wouldn't you take what seems like a fairly reasonable, albeit deadly, deal? There are rules set in place of course... and you must follow them, but sometimes you're just damned if you do and damned if you don't.  

I flew through the first 75% of the this book.  When the big reveal came, I was like.. wait, who? Somehow I was at a complete loss - that's how little this character seemed to take my notice. Oopsie! So I was fairly disappointed there. But then of course, it hit me and I was all DOH!  In any case, regardless of a rather muted reveal and a couple of questionable things... I really enjoyed this book.

Moderately paced, addictive and I just fell in love with Jazz and Joaquin.  And I also really liked the ending, regardless of the slight predictability. Ya Heard? *wink*


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Review: Just Watch Me by Jeff Lindsay @duttonbooks @dexterjeff

Just Watch Me 
by Jeff Lindsay

Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: December 3, 2019
320 Pages
Series: Riley Wolfe #1
Genre: Thriller

A masterful thief plots an impossible crime—stealing the Iranian Crown Jewels.

From the author of the wildly successful Dexter series comes a new, mesmerizing bad guy we can root for: Riley Wolfe. He’s a master thief, expert at disguise, and not averse to violence when it’s needed. It’s no accident, though, that Riley targets the wealthiest 0.1 percent and is willing to kill them when they’re in his way: he despises the degenerate and immoral rich and loves stealing their undeserved and unearned valuables.
In this series launch, Riley aims for an extraordinary target in a heist that will make history. Riley will try to steal the Crown Jewels of Iran. Yes, these jewels are worth billions, but the true attraction for grabbing them comes down to one simple fact: it can’t be done. Stealing these jewels is absolutely impossible. The collection is guarded by space-age electronics and two teams of heavily armed mercenaries. No one could even think of getting past the airtight security and hope to get away alive, let alone with even a single diamond from the Imperial Collection.
No one but Riley Wolfe. He’s always liked a challenge.
But this challenge may be more than even he can handle. Aside from the impenetrable security, Riley is also pursued by a brilliant and relentless cop who is barely a step behind him.
With the aid of his sometime ally, a beautiful woman who is a master art forger, Riley Wolfe goes for the prize that will either make him a legend—or, more likely, leave him dead.

My Review:

Now this book was a LOT of fun!  As a fan of the Dexter show, I was thrilled to see that the author behind the novels is starting this new series. And Riley Wolfe is QUITE the character.

A thief who is SO good, he goes for the big guns and likes any challenge.  If you tell him he can't do it, he'll find a way.  With master forger Monique, how could he go wrong? But while he's very good at what he does, he's not so great at having a conscious (but no one who is good at this kind of thing really would now would they?).  You know who else is good at their job? Delgado.  And he just took his personal time from the force to go after Wolfe.  The chase is on.

What's fantastic about this book is the intricate detail in how Wolfe goes about trying to steal the crown jewels.  Every thing that he does. Just how deep he gets to find a way.  It's almost too easy!  The brilliance in the way it all comes together is truly remarkable.  But now what?

I'm so curious to where this can go. What could possibly be his next step?  While some things seemed a bit out of this world, I absolutely was still riveted to the pages.  I have some lingering questions that I wonder if they'll be answered as the series continues.... or if they're just leaving me hanging.  But you're damn sure I'll be picking up book two as soon as it comes out.

I wonder how the author feels about the ending of the tv series but that's neither here nor there (tbh, I hated it but now I want to go back and read all the novels).  If you're looking for action and an Ocean's 11 type feel - this is definitely the book for you.


Friday, December 6, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher @SagaSFF @jessmapreviews @UrsulaV

The Twisted Ones by
T. Kingfisher

Thank you to Saga Press for these copies!

Publisher: Saga Press
Publish Date: October 1, 2019
385 Pages
Genres: Horror, Fantasy

When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods in this chilling novel that reads like The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show.

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.

From Hugo Award–winning author Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher, The Twisted Ones is a gripping, terrifying tale bound to keep you up all night—from both fear and anticipation of what happens next.

My Review:

This is one of those books that I was wondering how I was going to feel within the first 50 pages.  This reads as Mouse's writing of her experiences while cleaning out the hoarding house of her late stepgrandmother.  It starts off a bit slow as she gets there, tries to get settled and realizes just what kind of task she's actually in for.  We get to meet some of the tertiary characters and it sets the mood for the rest of the read.  My favorite character by far is Foxy... and Bongo (the first an eccentric older lady who lives nearby and the latter Mouse's dog).  They bring a lot of levity to the book that I actually thoroughly enjoyed.  

Tok - tok - tok - tok... then it starts to get REALLY interesting.  Look, I'm gonna be completely honest with you, the synopsis is creepier than the book itself.  While there are some great visual parts to the read, it (to me) wasn't really scary or creepy in the slightest.  I think I was expecting more in that category but THEN, I remember that it is described as a cross between The Blair Witch and The Andy Griffith Show. Okie dokie.  Expectations changed and YES!

The story definitely takes some turns I wasn't expecting and for that I give lots of credit to the author for surprising me.  If you enjoy folklore/pagan-ish type reads that are a bit on the lighter side, I think you'll really enjoy this story.  And do take a moment to read the Author's Note and maybe read a little more on where some of the story comes from.


Jessica's Review:

Don't even ask me why I went into this thinking it was a short story collection. I have absolutely no idea why - but man was I confused when I started. That being said, I did enjoy the book and was happy that it wasn't a short story collection (I think I got this confused with another horror/supernatural anthology I've had sitting in the TBR next to this one). THE TWISTED ONES by T. Kingfisher was not as scary as I was anticipating it be for the horror genre, but there were definitely some creepy and eerie moments.

This one did start out kind of slow for me. Mouse is tasked with having to clean out her deceased grandmother's home. Seems fine, right? Well, grandma was a hoarder and Mouse has her work cut out for her. This was where it felt slow for me - the first section of the book is the cleaning. It was starting to lose me, but then Mouse finds her step-grandfather's journal. This is when things start to pick up for me and what kept me reading.

Not only did I enjoy the story as it picked up, but I also liked the development of the supporting characters to Mouse. I mean, who doesn't love a dog sidekick, even if he isn't the best watchdog out there. These characters help create a balance with the creepy elements. If you're looking for a scary horror book, then this probably won't be it. If you want something on the lighter end of the creepy and almost folklore-ish genre, then this will work better for you!

3.5 stars

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Review: Regretting You by Colleen Hoover @amazonpub @colleenhoover

Regretting You 
by Colleen Hoover

Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publish Date: December 10, 2019
Kindle Edition
365 Pages
Genres: Contemporary, Romance

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

My Review:

FFS, Hoover... at least it took me to 88% for my eyes to spring a small leak with this one.

I never thought I'd ever say that I'm actually excited for contemporary romance now.  Maybe it's just Hoover.  Maybe it's me being older and "softer".  I don't know.  What I do know is that every Hoover book I've read so far has just pierced me in one way or another.  Here she does it... again.

We get two POVs between Morgan and Clara, mother and daughter.  When tragedy occurs, they have to transverse their relationship in a brand new way.  Not only dealing with their grief but what they learn in the process.  Let's look past the obvious of the drama that happens when secrets come to light and crack what seemed to be a perfect family.  Let's instead look at the relationship between Morgan and Clara and how making mistakes and growing WITH each other is what is important.

Listen, as a daughters, we know what it's like to have that relationship with our mother.  It's frustrating at times, makes you want to scream and pull your hair out.  But there is also nothing quite like it.  Hoover does a fantastic job in bringing in both perspectives.  This feels even partially like a YA due to Clara's point of view.

I don't know, you guys.  Hoover just has a gift and turning the first page is like opening a new present.  While this one wasn't quite as hard hitting as some other books I've read (such as All Your Perfects), it certainly still gave all my feelings a work out. I still have unrealistic expectations of men now from her novels but isn't the point of reading books to launch you into a new world. *wink*

Just read it.  It's just romance enough to make your heart swell, but it's perfectly contemporary enough for you to take on the lessons within.


#ATBR2019 Review: Reputation by Sara Shepard @duttonbooks @jessmapreviews

by Sara Shepard

Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: December 3, 2019
Kindle Edition
384 Pages
Genres: Thriller

In this fast-paced new novel from Sara Shepard, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars, a tight-knit college town scrambles for answers when an e-mail hack reveals life-changing secrets and scandals.

Aldrich University is rocked to its core when a hacker dumps 40,000 people's e-mails—the entire faculty, staff, students, alums—onto an easily searchable database. Rumors and affairs immediately leak, but things turn explosive when Kit Manning's handsome husband, Dr. Greg Strasser, is found murdered. Kit's sister, Willa, returns for the funeral, setting foot in a hometown she fled fifteen years ago, after a night she wishes she could forget. As an investigative reporter, Willa knows something isn't right about the night Greg was killed, and she's determined to find the truth. What she doesn't expect is that everyone has something to hide. And with a killer on the loose, Willa and Kit must figure out who killed Greg before someone else is murdered.

Told from multiple points of view, Reputation is full of twists, turns, and shocking reveals. It's a story of intrigue, sabotage, and the secrets we keep—and how far we go to keep them hidden. Number one bestseller Sara Shepard is at the top of her game in this brand-new adult novel.

My Review:

Well cream my corn, smack my ass and call me biscuits.  What am I talking about? Hell, I don't know but that's how I feel after reading this book because my neck hurts and my brain is muddled from all the whiplash.

Told from multiple POVs, this is QUITE the roller coaster of a read. And it makes total sense as it was originally written to be for TV.  So yes to all the DRAMA MAMA BING BANG happening page after page after page!  Think about it.  Everyone has a reputation.  You have one throughout high school, through college and then while you think it lessens as you reach adulthood - it doesn't - it just changes course.  You're constantly comparing yourself to the other mother you think may have more advantages than you or is doing a better job, whatever that means.  Or to the family you're missing out on because you never had kids.  To the man you think you're not because you allowed this and that to happen.  There's always SOMETHING.  So you hide behind your secrets.  You chase what you think will complete you, but does that ever really work?  This is a fast lesson is learning that no matter what happens, eventually you WILL be found out.

If your emails got hacked, what would come out about you? Do you really think deleting your messages keep you immune?  You realize that the person who holds your "secret" with you means it's not REALLY a secret right?  Bring in this cast of characters where EVERYONE has some secret.  Emails have gotten hacked and shit is about TO GO DOWN.  No one is innocent.  The author does an amazing job of keeping you guessing.  There are little bombs dropped here and there and just when you think … THINK.. you have it almost figured out... BOMB DROPPED.  Now, normally having ALL these twists and turns would almost seem to much but it really works for me here.  Even while I was looking back and forth from character to character and all the messes they were in, I was still feeling for them... well... some of them.  But with every black cloud, there is that little silver lining.  Mostly.  Maybe.  Hell, I don't know.

Even with all the craziness that is going on, the book does touch on some very important subjects and it's all too real how certain things can easily be looked over when they shouldn't. And while, if I'm being completely transparent, the epilogue was nice to see where the characters ended up... it felt a little *off* after the crazy roller coaster... like I got stuck at the end for a few minutes, trapped, before I was let off. BUT... I do think it was necessary as well.  People, be as good as you can be but remember we're all human.  And in this day and age, be careful what you put out there.  And as the author notes in her acknowledgments: "People will always find out."


Jessica's Review:

This is my second book by Sara Shepard (I'm probably one of the few that hasn't picked up Pretty Little Liars yet) and the main thing I remember was all the drama in the story. Well, we weren't short on drama in REPUTATION! What would you do if all of your emails were available for the world to see? What if your entire reputation was at stake? As people always say, nothing is ever *really* gone form the internet. Even when deleted, there's still a record somewhere of it and any hacker can find it.

When this happens all hell breaks loose. What secrets are you hiding? What would happen if those secrets got out? All of this goes down with quite the cast of characters - just chaos and drama ensue and I loved it all. There were a lot of twists and red herrings throughout the book, and you definitely need so suspend some reality (but I'm sure that was expected). We had a lot of different POVs from characters and it did get a little confusing at times for me, but otherwise I thought Shepard did a great job creating characters that the readers just wouldn't particularly like. I did enjoy the epilogue at the end of the book - definitely one I would recommend reading as well (I'm sometimes guilty of skipping those, but I've learned I can miss a lot by doing so).

Considering how much I enjoyed all the drama that went down in this book, and with plenty of nudging from others, I might have to finally pick up Pretty Little Liars and get that started. Overall, if you want a crazy thriller that throws all kinds of curve-balls, then look no further. It's also a good reminder to be careful what we put out there because it will almost always come back.

4 stars

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell @atriabooks @lisajewelluk @jessmapreviews

The Girls in the Garden 
by Lisa Jewell 

Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: April 4, 2017
336 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Contemporary

Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense. 

My Review:

Lisa Jewell is one of my favorite authors.  I absolutely love her wicked mind and the way her stories unfold.  I had heard mixed things regarding this read - some say it's her BEST WORK EVER... while others didn't finish and couldn't understand the "hype".  Me?  I'm a bit in the middle with this one.

This book starts out STRONG with its opening. Then immediately reverts to the past so we see all the events leading up to the initial event.  There's a "communal" type property where everyone is basically in everyone's business and each family has their own issues.  There are multiple POVs and to be honest, at first, I had a little issue keeping up with who was who and what was happening.  As I read further, this became much clearer but I feel like maybe it could've worked a teensy bit better.  I also didn't see the point of the letters to Daddy. *shrug*

After the strong start, the book moved at a moderate pace, had a little bit of a lull and then began to unfold again once we got to the "After" section.  I can't say I'm the biggest fan of the ending.  HOWEVER, I also really liked it.  Can you have conflicting feelings about an ending? I hope so because that's where I'm living right now. 


Jessica's Review:

I had originally had this at 4 stars, but having some time to think about it since finishing I decided it was more at a 3.5 for me. Having read a few other books by Jewell now, I think this one was still great, just not my favorite of what I've picked up so far. Of course, 3.5 stars is still a great rating in my mind, so I haven't been disappointed yet by Jewell. I had heard great things about THE GIRLS IN THE GARDEN, and that's always the risk with reading something long after others have because there can be a hype built up and that can always set expectations higher.

We start out with a bang and a somewhat gruesome scene, then Jewell takes us back in time to see the events that led to this opening. We are brought through multiple POVs and while that's something I love in thrillers/suspense novels, there were a lot to keep up with. Things got a little muddled for me at first then I caught on to how everyone fit together with their character development.

While this did keep my attention throughout, there was a small lull for me but then it picked up again as the ending approached. Overall, I will continue to pick up anything I find from Jewell. I love her writing and how she unfolds these suspense/thrillers for us. There's just something about it that sucks you in from the beginning and you can't wait to fly through it.

3.5 stars

Monday, December 2, 2019

SPOTLIGHT: The Lost Tomorrows by Matt Coyle @oceanviewpub #crimenovels #mattcoyle @JKSlitpublicity

The Lost Tomorrows 
by Matt Coyle

Weaving the tragedies of the past into the realities of the present, Anthony-award winning author Matt Coyle’s gripping new mystery “Lost Tomorrows” (Dec. 3, 2019, Oceanview) — the latest installment of the beloved Rick Cahill series — carries revenge, redemption, and the hopes of new love in all one action-packed thriller.

When Rick Cahill receives an unexpected call that his former police partner, Krista Landingham, has been found dead, he realizes he can’t avoid his past any longer. Hired by her sister to investigate Krista’s death, Rick follows clues toward the terrible truth that his former partner’s death wasn’t an accident but rather a murder. Along the way, Rick unearths secrets long-hidden about the tragic death of his wife. 

With his past colliding with his present, Rick must make a decision: Will he embrace the terrible actions necessary for revenge and redemption, or is he a different kind of man?

Early praise for Lost Tomorrows:

“Sharp, suspenseful, and poignant, LOST TOMORROWS hits like a breaking wave and pulls readers into its relentless undertow. Matt Coyle is at the top of his game.”
Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning author of the Unsub series

"Private investigator Rick Cahill returns in Matt Coyle's new book, LOST TOMORROWS.  Cahill has been run out of town, wrongly accused of killing his wife. He's depressed, drinking and emotionally wrung out. A new murder investigation draws him back to the town that hates him, and he's forced to partner up with his primary accuser. Like the entire Cahill series, the story is suspenseful, tightly written, full of curveballs and memorable characters and very, very smart.  Welcome back, Rick. We're really glad to see you."
Joe Ide, author of the award-winning IQ series

“. . . For those who admire old-school PI style, there's plenty to savor here.”
— Booklist

“Coyle’s sixth ‘Rick Cahill’ novel (Lost Tomorrows) will please noir enthusiasts with its staccato prose, evocative descriptions, and hard-nosed protagonist.”
Library Journal

“In Rick Cahill, Coyle has created a deeply flawed, but eminently sympathetic, protagonist. Who among us isn’t demonized by our failures, and who isn’t occasionally overtaken by a deep-seated need for redemption? And who wouldn’t be envious of Cahill’s panache in dealing with both?”
New York Journal of Books

MATT COYLE is the author of the Rick Cahill mysteries. His books have won the Anthony Award, Ben Franklin Silver Award, Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Silver Award, and San Diego Book Award, and have been nominated for multiple Anthony Awards, Macavity Awards, Shamus Awards, Lefty Awards, and San Diego Book Awards. Matt has a degree in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Private Eye Writers of America, and the International Association of Crime Writers. Aside from writing novels, Matt hosts the Crime Corner podcast on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network and lives in San Diego with his yellow Lab, Angus.

  1.  “Lost Tomorrows” is the sixth installment of the Rick Cahill mysteries. What compels you to continue to explore Rick’s story?
Since the death of his wife 14 years ago, Rick’s whole life has been a quest for redemption. Each case he takes, each story I write, is a chance for him to get closer to completing his quest. Sadly for Rick, he rarely feels close to achieving redemption.

  1. Where did the idea for your protagonist, Rick Cahill, come from?
I knew I wanted a disgraced ex-cop with something dark and unresolved in his past. However, it wasn’t until a sentence came to me for the ether (my subconscious) while I was revising the first draft of the first book that I really began to get a sense of who Rick Cahill was. The sentence, which became the first sentence in “Yesterday’s Echo”: The first time I saw her she made me remember and she made me forget. With that line, I realized Rick’s past was much darker than I originally anticipated. Something truly awful had happened to him that changed his life irrevocably.

  1. Last December, you quit your job to become a full-time writer. How has this decision shaped your life and work?
It’s given me much needed time to tackle all facets of a writer’s life. Not just the writing but the marketing necessary to build a career. 

  1. You have quite the resume when it comes to the genres of mystery and crime fiction. Why do you love mysteries so much?
I love mysteries/crime fiction because it allows you to explore character, solve a puzzle, and seek justice all in one story. Justice may not be achievable, or if it is, it may not be the criminal justice system’s version of it. I write P.I. fiction because I like the idea of one man or woman fighting powerful forces to find their own justice. 

  1. In “Lost Tomorrows,” you dive into some ways that the past interacts with the present. Why did you choose to explore this idea, and have you seen it play out in your own life?
I don’t think it started as a conscious decision, but the more I wrote Rick Cahill the more I realized that every action he took was an effort to get square him with the past. Beyond that, I realized that every bad decision he’s made in his past has to have repercussions that affect his present. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the title of the first book, “Yesterday’s Echo,” is really the arc of Rick’s life. The echos are always chasing him. 
Sadly, an aspect of this played out in my own life. No details, but a knee jerk action I took in a dispute when I was young had lasting consequences for me and my family. Nothing violent, tragic or illegal, just something I wish I hadn’t done.

Join Matt Coyle in events across the country:
Warwick's on Dec. 3
7812 Girard Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037
Book Passage on Dec. 6
51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925
Book Carnival on Dec. 7
348 S. Tustin St., Orange, CA 92866
Poisoned Pen on Dec. 10
4014 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Vroman's on Jan. 7
695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101
Chaucer’s on Jan. 8
3321 State St., Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Murder by the Book on Jan. 10
2342 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005
Mystery People on Jan. 11
603 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 787
Huntington Beach Library on Jan. 16
7111 Talbert Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92648
San Carlos Branch Library on Jan. 24
7265 Jackson Drive, San Diego, CA 92119

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Review: Wildcard by Marie Lu

by Marie Lu

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publish Date: September 18, 2018
Kindle Edition
352 Pages
Series: Warcross #2
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo's new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she's always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo's grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone's put a bounty on Emika's head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

My Review:

I would like to thank myself for buying this one immediately when I was done with Warcross because WHY WOULDN’T I?!

I will say that when I read a sequel after being blown away by the first book, it’s hard to match. This one started a little slower and I lost Emika for a majority of it. However, there were still plenty of twisty goodness that kept me engaged. I love the dynamic of Emika and her team and my favorite character is now Jax.

I really appreciat the diversity Lu brings with the characters and the layered character development. While I think this isn’t as good as Warcross, I’m still fully engaged and hope a third is coming because it certainly opened it up to one. However, if not, I’m pretty happy overall with these two books.

It’s been a while since I’ve delved back into YA sci-fi and I love the world the author has made here. 🖤 (I do wish this cover was better thought because Eesh)


Friday, November 29, 2019

Review: No True Believers by Rabiah York Lumbard @crownpublishing @RabiahLumbard

No True Believers 
by Rabiah York Lumbard 

Thank you Astoria Bookshop and Crown Books for this advanced copy.

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: February 11, 2020
304 Pages
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Fans of the riveting mystery in Courtney Summers's Sadie and the themes of race and religion in Samira Ahmed's Internment will be captivated by this exploration of the intersection of Islamaphobia and white supremacy as an American Muslim teen is forced to confront hatred and hidden danger when she is framed for a terrorist act she did not commit.

Salma Bakkioui has always loved living in her suburban cul-de-sac, with her best friend Mariam next door, and her boyfriend Amir nearby. Then things start to change. Friends start to distance themselves. Mariam's family moves when her father's patients no longer want a Muslim chiropractor. Even trusted teachers look the other way when hostile students threaten Salma at school.

After a terrorist bombing nearby, Islamaphobia tightens its grip around Salma and her family. Shockingly, she and Amir find themselves with few allies as they come under suspicion for the bombing. As Salma starts to investigate who is framing them, she uncovers a deadly secret conspiracy with suspicious ties to her new neighbors--but no one believes her. Salma must use her coding talent, wits, and faith to expose the truth and protect the only home she's ever known--before it's too late.

My Review:

Wow.  This book is pretty powerful.  Salma is quite the character and I give her SO much love for dealing with things the way that she did.  Unfortunately this is all too real, especially in this day and age which is really sad.  Dealing with Islamophobia, Salma and her family have to deal with white supremacy and hatred within their own neighborhood.  

As we all know, kids are especially mean and don't really think about the repercussions of their actions.  Salma being bullied in school, physically pushed and stalked and provoked outside of the classroom - oh my blood was BOILING.   Especially when reading the part where there was a POINT SYSTEM to the hatred, like it was a fucking game. GRRRRR.  To see how the staff reacted - some not at all and others truly wanting to make a difference.  UFF.  People.  I loved that Salma did have a support system, not just with her family but with her two close girlfriends.  That was a lease a bright side within.

It's interesting to see that it's "easy" to take these types of behaviors from people *easier* when it's just happening to you... but when it upsets your family (sisters), then it's full on seeing red and now something needs to be done.  But what's worse? Hoping it'll go away? Or reacting?  When Salma thinks there's a conspiracy, now she has to figure out how to make people hear her before something really bad happens. 

This is the author's very personal debut novel and one I would definitely recommend be read.  It's a pretty powerful YA novel and while there was a part that seemed a bit too seamless, I thoroughly enjoyed this read.  It provoked a LOT of feelings from me and is pretty educational.