The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (ARC)

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Becky Albertalli’s story about a young girl named Molly, who’s constantly falling in and out of love, is delightfully written and I’d also like to add that her penchant (as I understand it) for diverse characters is spot on in today’s climate. It’s refreshing to read about a family dynamic that’s both something originally new and still manages to convey the modern-day family that often consists of more than one “correct” version.

Molly’s a seventeen-year-old girl who’s never been kissed and has never had a boyfriend. What she has had though are multiple crushes and thus she’s avoided experiencing rejection. Molly doesn’t see this as a problem, she’s careful… that’s all. When her womanizing and somewhat cynical twin sister Cassie suddenly falls madly in love, Molly can’t deny that she’s lonely and longing for connecting with someone of her own. Maybe having a boyfriend will even help her reconnect with her sister, as well as gifting her with her first kiss. Luckily (or maybe confusingly) for her, two boys pop up catching her attention. Who will she choose? The cute hipster boy Will who’s best friends with Cassie’s new girlfriend or her coworker the charming nerd boy Reid. And will she have the guts to put herself up for potential rejection?

Some scenes in this book had me cringing, not in a bad way, but in the way that I was acutely embarrassed on behalf of a character. That’s some really good writing and makes me very keen to read her Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda!

4 out of 5 stars!

I received this copy from the publisher (Penguin Random House UK Children’s) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Once A Soldier by Mary Jo Putney (ARC)

This is one of my guilty pleasures… Romance novels. Because who doesn’t like some steamy storyline once in a while? It’s a pretty undemanding genre that allows for some shifty timelines and cheeky sappy dialogue. Perfect reads for both warm summer days and cold winter nights.

I read all manner of romance, but my favorite are the ones that are stamped mystery/paranormal/crime/thriller/fantasy/sci-fi (well, you get my point) as they most often have a story built around the relationship(s) that intrigues me and keeps me on my toes but still give me steamy scenes and that tingly lovey-dovey feel. Nora Roberts is one author who does this combination beautifully. Now I’ve found another author who does this really well.

Once a Soldier is a historical romance (bonus points) that takes place at the end of Napoleons reign. Will Masterson take one last mission before he intends to retire from the war to manage his estate and title. A mission that takes him to the little mountain kingdom of San Gabriel where he meets Athena Markham, the foreigner who acts as a governess to the princess of said kingdom. Together they must find a way to keep San Gabriel’s enemies from invading, whilst also coming to terms with their mutual attraction.

I received this copy from the publisher (Kensington Books) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. To see the pretty cover for this book, check it out on Goodreads or Amazon.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine (ARC)

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This wasn’t a book that made me feel highly excitable, where I was left feeling like the story was almost going too fast for me to keep up. This was a steady influx of tense adrenaline in the pit of my stomach. You know the feeling, the feeling of wondering when the other shoe will drop and there’s bound to be trouble afoot. Don’t mistake my description for a dull read, because believe me when I say that there’s plenty of action in this story. It’s the way it’s told that make you feel all anticipatory. There’s a sense of danger through the whole thing and the characters are well cemented to further strengthen it all. They are well thought through and oh so clever. I loved the whole thing from start to finish, though I do warn you of the prologue. It can seem a little dry, but you’ll need that backdrop to get familiar with the world of the Great Library. It’s worth every word of academic style dryness, as it gives you an overall perspective for when you meet the main character Jess and the other players in this story.

This is a different setting than Caine’s other books but her storytelling is as good as her Weather Warden series. It pulls you in and stays with you during the day when not reading. You’ll not be sorry to pick this up!

Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market dealer who specializes in acquiring and selling books in a world where books have been outlawed for the safety of both the humankind and the books themselves.

It’s about a world obsessed with words, with books, with knowledge. It’s a world where these things are strictly controlled by an organization named the Library who believes that the wrong kind of information can corrupt the denizens of the world and that humans thus need to be protected against themselves. Though no one may own a real book, it’s thought of as a sin to deprive the masses of the wisdom of the written word and so when the discovery of alchemy produced the mirrored tablet, the Library enabled everyone, even the lowest of the low, to have access to all the great (approved) works that’s ever been written. It’s a time of enlightenment where everyone can read and write, and to be chosen by the Library to preserve and protect the written word is an honor and a privilege.

For Jess, this means a life of constant danger. As his father’s son he’s meant to spy for the family business of black market dealings and no things are as valuable as original books in a world where they are the rarest item out there. And the best and worst place to acquire these rare books? The Library’s HQ of course, in Alexandria.

I’m really looking forward to read about how Jess and his friends fare in the next installment of the Great Library series, Paper and Fire. 🙂

I received this copy from the publisher (Berkley Publishing Group) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. To see the beautiful cover for this book, check it out on Goodreads or Amazon. It’s amazing!

Amber Smoke by Kristin Cast (ARC)

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Spontaneous reaction upon finishing this book? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! That ending was the major of cliffhangers with some author-snark thrown in at the end. “The End…For Now.” I mean, come on! First she gets me invested in the characters, builds up the drama and basically uses the epilogue as a cliffhanger of evil? Genius! The gauntlet has been thrown and I must get my hands on the sequel pronto.

So, to move on and summarize… I loved Amber Smoke!

It’s about Eva and Alek finding their way to each other, their destinies being intertwined with that of the ailing Tartarus. In the realm of the Underworld the prison Tartarus is failing under a curse and tormented souls of the damned are escaping to the mortal realm, wreaking havoc and heralding an apocalypse. Alek, warrior son of the Furies, is sent on a mission by his mothers to find Eva, the descendant of Pythia, who is not yet aware of her ancestry or destiny, before everything falls apart. Though finding this lost daughter of the Oracle proves harder than Alek thought.

The whole story, characters and feel of the world is (not the same but) precisely what I was expecting after having read the first 3 books in the House of Night series which Cast co-authored. I did feel as though the story could have used a bit more something to solidify the relationships and given the whole thing more fluidity. Like a couple of more events to give the characters (and reader) a chance to feel the connection between both them and the plot. To get a more solid grip on everything. Or maybe that’s just me being greedy for more and not ready to let go of the story about Eva and Alek.

If you’ve read The House of Night series, or The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop, that may not have anything in common other than being built on the premises of other mythological dimensions, the characters that move between and their impact on one another plus the general feeling of them, I think you’ll really like Amber Smoke.

I received this copy from the publisher (Diversion Books) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond (ARC)

I haven’t read that many books with a circus as a backdrop and having read this I don’t understand why, because this book was entertainment of the highest trapeze. Suspenseful with a hint of darkness, but an easy read and quite lovely all together. I loved every minute of this!

It’s about a girl named Moira who dreams of becoming a great magician, performing intricate showy illusions in Las Vegas like her father. There’s one small hitch though. Her father is not keen on the idea of his beloved daughter following in his footsteps, in fact, he won’t even give her a chance to show her skills and shuts her down every time she tries. So, when an invitation to the great Cirque American lands by her feet by accident she takes her chance and who could blame her?

The Miraculous Moira gets a shot at her dream. Little does she know there might be a reason her father was so adamant about keeping her away from magic all these years. Any magic at all…

This book is a stand-alone, though technically Girl in the Shadows is the second book set in this world. The first book published was Girl on a Wire. In retrospect I would have read Girl on a Wire first, because this story’s somewhat based on the first one and both revolve around the same artefact. It made me very curious about Jules, Remy and Dita from Girl on a Wire who Moira befriends upon arriving to the Cirque American, and their adventure.

BUT! This does not diminish Girl in the Shadows at all! So, if you have a chance to read Girl in the Shadows? Take it! 🙂

I received this copy from the publisher (Amazon Skyscape) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. To see the beautiful cover for this book, check it out on Goodreads or Amazon. It’s gorgeous!