*Arc Review* That’s Not What I Heard- Stephanie Kate Strohm

39983680    What did you hear?

Kimberly Landis-Lilley and Teddy Lin are over. Yes, the Kim and Teddy broke up.

At least that’s what Phil Spooner thinks he overheard and then told Jess Howard, Kim’s best friend. Something about Teddy not liking Kim’s Instas? Or was it that Teddy is moving to Italy and didn’t want to do long distance? Or that Kim slid into someone else’s DMs?

Jess told her boyfriend, Elvis, that he needs to be on Kim’s side. Especially if he wants to keep her as his girlfriend. But Elvis is also Teddy’s best friend.

Now, Kim’s run out of school for the day. Jess is furious. Elvis is confused. And half the lunch period won’t talk to Teddy. Even the teachers have taken sides.

William Henry Harrison High will never be the same again!

My Review:

“But maybe that was part of saying goodbye- you were never really ready.”

William Henry Harrison High is in total disarray. The “IT” couple has split up and everyone is losing their minds. But how did it happen? And why? I’ve heard that it was…. and she heard it was because….. As rumors start to fly and people start taking sides, will the school will never get back on track?

This book is the high school version of the telephone game. Someone tells a secret and it spreads to someone else with something else added to it and by the time it comes back to you, it’s not even what you said. That game is this book.

It was an interesting concept but kind of dull. I was hoping for more laugh out loud moments instead of eye-rolling hijinks. Some of the characters were quirky and absolutely hilarious, while others were just painful. I’m also kind of confused at why the entire school cared that two people broke up? It’s just a high school relationship, move on with your day!

Teens/tweens will resonate with this and enjoy the banter between the many points of view. As an adult, I found it exhausting. It just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you hear.

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stacy

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*ARC Review* Bright Burning Stars- A.K. Small

42288387  Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

 

My Review:

“Believe in the past and in destiny.”

I have never been this obsessed with the cover of a book and the synopsis as I am with this one. I’m guilty of judging this by it’s beautiful and dazzling cover. It captures your eye and squeezes your heart. With such a strong feeling, I was afraid that the story inside wouldn’t match the outside. But everything about this was mesmerizing and my obsession has grown fonder.

I won’t lie. I knew next to nothing about ballet but I wanted to learn. This gives an in-depth look at the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the world that is ballet. The way people act to get where they want to be and how they torture their bodies to get to that top spot. It was fascinating.

Going to a new school can be daunting, but having a best friend by your side makes a world of difference. And that’s how Kate and Marine feel. They became best friends and moon sisters within a very short period of time making it to the ballet school in Paris.

As the competition gets tougher and binds start to unravel, everything is pushed to its limits. Can things in the good life last forever?

Bright Burning Stars is a spectacular read that leaves your heart wrenched and tears running down your face. When you think things are getting better, something comes crashing down and you’re left in amazement. The pressure these kids are under is excruciating and your heart breaks as they try to become the best. Nothing about this book was dull, it kept me up at night. But just remember that there is a silver lining after all and boys might actually be the devil.

What would you do for “The Prize”?

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stacy

*Review* The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding Alexandra Bracken

33785202   I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness.

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type.

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.

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My Review:

“A jealous brother or sister will kill one of their siblings and hide their bones. But when the bones of the victim are found, they sing the truth of what happened.”

This was my first ever time reading a book written by Bracken and I wasn’t impressed. It had a lot of hype around it and it just didn’t live up to it. It had a really strong start but it fell too soon.

If you pay attention to some details in this book then you’ll pretty much have it all figured out. Hell, even the back of the book gives a lot away. Mysteries should stay that way up until the end but I had a lot figured out way too soon.

With a synopsis like what this has, this could have been amazing. But nothing stood out and I found it quite boorish. And writing a book for younger readers with this many pages is intimidating for that age range.

Alexandra Bracken has what it takes to blow my mind but this one wasn’t it. I won’t cast her off too soon but I’m not going to read one of her YA titles just yet.

 

stacy

*Arc Review* Your Own Worst Enemy- Gordon Jack

38563620   Three candidates, three platforms, and a whirlwind of social media, gaffes, and protests makes for a ridiculous and hilarious political circus in Gordon Jack’s second highly satirical novel. Perfect for fans of Andrew Smith and Frank Portman.
They say that with great power comes great responsibility. Unless you’re student body president at Lincoln High School. Then you get all the responsibility but none of the power. And the three candidates running for president know all about that.

Stacey Wynn is the front-runner, but she didn’t count on Julia Romero entering this race. Julia is challenging Stacey for the title while also putting the moves on Stacey’s campaign adviser and only friend, Brian. And then there is Tony Guo, the way outsider. Tony is usually oblivious to the school’s political campaigning, as he’s oblivious to anything that isn’t about getting high and drinking all the Space Cow chocolate milk he can stomach. But when his favorite beverage is banned at school, a freshman political “mastermind” convinces Tony to become the voice of the little guy. But what kind of voice is that, really?

If this were an ordinary high school election, the winner would be whichever candidate was the most popular. But this year, each candidate may have to sink to a new low to win an election that could change the course of…very little. 

 

My Review: 

“Here’s some change I can believe in.
Make America baked again.”

I devoured this book in less than a day. I could not put this down. It was clever and witty that I found myself laughing so hard that tears formed. But it also contained some serious subjects that made you look at the real world and what we’re currently dealing with. This was still a really fun read.

It makes you reminisce about the clown show we had to deal with with the last election. This was a lot more enjoyable since this was fictitious. The banter between the opponents was hilarious and a tad bit out there. But they were all enjoyable in their own way.

Tony has to be my favorite character. I mean, come on! I’ll never look at the bear-shaped honey bottle the same way ever again.

Gordon Jack is a genius. To take something that is still a tough issue to discuss and brings this creative pieces into our lives is beyond astronomical. And to perfectly get Stacey’s attitude and personality onto paper was amazing. We are quite the special species and this book will fill you in more.

With more boner jokes than you ever could imagine and a deep heartfelt look at unity, this book is definitely a must read. Maybe people will learn how to be beautiful human beings towards one another.

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*ARC Review* Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

34213319Title: Four Dead Queens

Author: Astrid Scholte

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery

Summary:

A divided nation. Four Queens. A ruthless pickpocket. A noble messenger. And the murders that unite them.

Get in quick, get out quicker.

These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:

Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition

Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment

Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature

Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism and harmonious community

When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.


“As the chips dissolved on my tongue, the embedded video links traveled to my brain….I was no longer in Mackiel’s office. I was in the palace. And I was covered in blood.”

*I received an uncorrected copy of Four Dead Queens. All quotes in this review are based on the uncorrected proof and may not be in the final book.*

Four Dead Queens has easily become one of my all-time favorite debut novels. I was not expecting to be completely immersed into this story from the first line, nor was I anticipating to have this captivating story stuck in my head weeks after I read the last line. Astrid Scholte’s book is truly a masterpiece.

I first heard about this book from a friend that went to BookCon in June. All I remember hearing was the title and I was immediately hooked (how can you not be hooked by that title?). I fell in love with the cover and the synopsis, so of course, I had to find a way to get my greedy hands on a copy, and I am very thankful I was able to get a copy. Once Four Dead Queens was announced at BookCon, people could not stop talking about the book. The hype from the book community was incredible, so I knew this book would be something special. And it is. Four Dead Queens is worth all the hype and more.

In Astrid Scholte’s author bio, she mentions how she’s a visual writer and works to capture the stories in her head that play like movies. Four Dead Queens had to be one of those vivid stories. The book played out like a movie in my head and it flowed so well on paper. Most books I can visualize in my head, but not all books have the ability to make me feel like I’m front and center in a movie. This book felt like a movie; it felt like I was watching the scenes play out right in front of me. Each chapter was a scene that produced some type of emotion from me; there were times where I thought about my love for Lord of the Rings while reading this book. And that’s because Lord of the Rings made me feel every emotion, just like this book.

Astrid Scholte’s world building helps to bring this book alive. The world building is phenomenal, especially for this being a standalone. The book takes place in a land called Quadara. From there, Quadara is separated into four distinct quadrants. Each Queen is from one of those quadrants. Four Dead Queens has world building that is not overwhelming or filled with descriptive information, but rather it touches on the surface of the world, which to me, is perfect for this standalone. The reader is aware of the world and the difference between the quadrants, and that’s really all they need to know.  If this were a fantasy trilogy, then the world building would be slightly different, but the world building for this book is just right. There was never too much information nor too little. There was always a clear picture of this world and the characters in my head.

“I was used to putting myself above everyone else. Stealing what I wanted, doing what came naturally. Looking for quick and easy wealth. Thinking that my wants and desires were more important than everyone else’s. But now I had the opportunity to be someone different. Someone worth my parents’ love. The girl they’d raised me to be.”

I thoroughly enjoyed all the points of views, which consisted of Keralie and the Queens. They were all so uniquely different from one another, so it made it quite easy to determine which point of view I was reading from (yes, the name at the top of each chapter helped, but trust me when I say you would have been able to determine each character from their distinct voice). Just like in movies, you rarely follow one person’s story, but many, and they all connect by the end of the movie. Four Dead Queens is exactly like that, which is, in my opinion, not an easy feat. But Astrid Scholte did it wonderfully and so intricately well.

I took every available chance to devour this book. I wish I could have in one sitting, but my days are, unfortunately, always busy. But this book produced so many facial expressions from me, from surprise, to laughter, to sadness. I feel as if there was not an emotion I did not feel while reading Four Dead Queens.

I have easily become one of Astrid Scholte’s fans, and I cannot wait to read her next work. She is incredibly talented and knows how to capture the reader’s attention.

Four Dead Queens comes out February 26, 2019. If you are a fantasy genre lover, then I highly recommend not missing out on this fantastic read! And if you are not, I still recommend this beauty, as the fantasy is not the main part of this book!

My rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

♥Nikole

 

*ARC Review* Kingdom of Ash and Soot – C. S. Johnson

Cinderella meets Mission Impossible in this spy adventure series full of political intrigue, family secrets, and a determined heroine.

39604038Title: Kingdom of Ash and Soot

Author: C.S. Johnson

Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Page Count: 352

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

“I want to be free.” The words came rushing out of me before I could think through their implications and consequences.

“There are two things you need to know about yourself if you want to be free—what you stand for, and what you stand against.” Lady Penelope held up her hands, brandishing a pair of daggers that had been hidden in her skirts. “This world lives enslaved to its destruction, and so long as you are living, as long as you are fighting, you will be free.”

I gazed at the daggers, transfixed. Each blade was clothed in a leather scabbard, but the silver and obsidian of the daggers’ hilts winked at me, as though it was calling for me.

PRAGUE, 1870.

For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.

But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup. As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to mete out the perpetrators. Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.

Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?

With a fun blend of historical fiction, true love, castle intrigue, and family dysfunction, The Order of the Crystal Daggers is the latest adventure series from C. S. Johnson.


Kingdom of Ash and Soot is beautifully written, offering alluring and intense character-driven scenes that make you feel like you are standing next to Eleanora the entire time. The historical parts of the novel are compelling and so intricately woven into the plot. The twists and turns will leave you guessing and when the pieces finally come together, you won’t be disappointed.

I’ve read a ton of books that have traces of Cinderella, but never one that includes action scenes, political intrigue, and the incredible spy component like Mission Impossible. There’s the stepmother and the god-awful stepchildren that torment Eleanora and her brother, Ben. And then there’s the wonderfully stubborn grandmother that comes to their rescue, to take them out of servitude and give their lives more meaning and to give the two siblings what they have always wanted: freedom. But as some know, freedom comes at a cost. Always.

It comes at a cost that Eleanora is willing to pay.

Eleanora is a strong and courageous character and refuses to let anything, and anyone, break her. She controls her own destiny and refuses to let anyone tell her otherwise. Family is important to her, and putting up with her stepfamily is what she does to ensure her and Ben have a future. She’s a lovable main character and one that deserves a happily every after.

Though I loved Eleanora and her bravery and her desire to do what’s right, I loved Ferdy more. Ferdy is such a lovable and fun character and, of course, he sounds so attractive on the page. I was more excited about the scenes with Ferdy than I was for any other scenes (I’m hoping there’s a ton more of Ferdy in book two). He showcases charm and his dazzling intellect, all the while trying to sweep Eleanora off her feet. Ferdy brings a giddiness to the book that I feel would be missing if he didn’t exist. All in all, Eleanora is one lucky girl to have a character like Ferdy vying for her attention. I also very much enjoyed Lady POW in all her stubborn and sassy glory. There were so many enjoyable characters in Kingdom of Ash and Soot that once I finished the first book, it felt like I was leaving family.

When I read the last line of the book, I was like, “That’s it?!” I craved more of Eleanora’s story (and Ferdy, of course), and I cannot wait to read the second book. Eleanora’s journey is no where near its end; her journey has just begun, and I’m determined to watch her finish it.

Kingdom of Ash and Soot comes out Tuesday, July 3 (only a few more days!). But you can pre order the book today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I have my copy on pre order; I loved the story of Eleanora so much that I had to order a paperback copy!

If you love the spy element, romantic intrigue, fierce action scenes, swoon-worthy love interests, and character-driven plots, then I highly recommend Kingdom of Ash and Soot.

*Arc Review* Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf

Title: Bring Me Their Hearts

Author: Sara Wolf

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

Release Date: June 5, 2018

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Zera is a Heartless – the immortal, unageing soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a Prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum; if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy her heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him – every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him – until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The Prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

Thank you Entangled Teen for sending me a copy of Bring Me Their Hearts! 


My Review

This book was phenomenal. A one-of-a-kind story that will captivate you and leave you wondering: “where has this book been all my life?” I’m pretty sure after reading Bring Me Their Hearts, I became a Heartless. Or, at least, I’ll be one until I get the next two books. My life currently feels incomplete without them.

Sara’s book will be one I will never forget. The story is wholly original and unlike anything I’ve read in YA. Bring Me Their Hearts will take hold of your heart (not literally, but figuratively) and won’t let it go. I was (and I still am) so enthralled with this book.

1Zera is one of the best fictional characters I have ever read. She’s sassy, witty, brave, stubborn, unique, and so much more. She knows what she wants, even when it means doing something that could hurt the people closest to her. She’s the type of girl I looked up to when I was little, and still kind of do. Zera’s main goal is to get her heart back, no matter the cost. She thought it was going to be easy, stealing the Prince’s heart. But no heart is every easy to steal.

I really liked the world building, especially when it came to learning about the witches and Heartless and where magic comes from. The history about the Royal Court and the Heartless is wonderfully juicy. The interactions between Zera and her peers, especially Lucas, are mesmerizing and sometimes hilarious. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much while reading a book than I did during Sara’s.

Bring Me Their Hearts is everything I thought it would be and more. Breathtaking. Addictive. Charming. Captivating. Enchanting. There’s not enough words to describe this book. And that twist toward the end…OH.MY.GOSH. I was on the train when I read the last few chapters and I had the hardest time being quiet and not being an emotional wreck.

I wish there was more I could say, but this book left me speechless (and it appears just writing about the book is doing the same thing). You are most definitely not going to want to miss out on this beauty, trust me.

Bring Me Their Hearts comes out TOMORROW, so make sure to pick up your copy! And check out Sara Wolf’s tour schedule below!

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