Showing posts with label ARC Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ARC Review. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

ARC Review: Floriography: An Illustrated Guide To The Victorian Language Of Flowers

50898143Title: Floriography: An Illustrated Guide To The Victorian Language Of Flowers
Series: n/a
Author: Jessica Roux
Source/Format: Publisher; eARC
More Details: Nonfiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Andrews McMeel Publishing; September 15, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
A charming, gorgeously illustrated botanical encyclopedia for your favorite romantic, local witch, bride-to-be, or green-thumbed friend.

The Language of Flowers is a full-color guidebook to the historical uses and secret meanings behind an impressive array of flowers and herbs. The book explores the coded significances associated with various blooms, from flowers for a lover to flowers for an enemy. The language of flowers was historically used as a means of secret communication. It soared in popularity during the 19th century, especially in Victorian England and the U.S., when proper etiquette discouraged open displays of emotion. Mysterious and playful, the language of flowers has roots in everything from the characteristics of the plant to its presence in folklore and history. Researched and illustrated by popular artist Jessica Roux, this book makes a stunning display piece, conversation-starter, or thoughtful gift.
Floriography was a very fascinating read. I’m not too well-versed on flower language, and this book turned out to be a good place to start. This book was arranged in a two page profile style format, with brief definitions to accompany the matching illustration. I do have to note that Roux’s illustrations were gorgeous. The book cover alone is enough of an example of the kind of work put into Floriography, and the overall presentation of the flowers and information was enjoyable to read. It was also cool to find out about all the meanings applied to the flowers and where that sort of came from. I also enjoyed the section on bouquets, as well as the parts that explained what each flower could be paired with and what kind of meaning would come from it.

Floriography was definitely a guidebook. I liked it, and I’m certainly interested in reading more about the subject. If you’ve wanted to learn a little about flower language, or were looking for a place to start—especially in a Victorian era context—then you might want to consider giving this book a try.

About the author....

Jessica Roux is a Nashville-based illustrator and plant and animal enthusiast. She loves exploring in her own backyard and being surrounded by an abundance of nature. Using subdued colors and rhythmic shapes, she renders flora and fauna with intricate detail reminiscent of old-world beauty. 

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Andrews McMeel Publishing) via netgalley for this review, thank you! 

Friday, September 4, 2020

ARC Review: Unbirthday by Liz Braswell

50358479Title: Unbirthday
Series: A Twisted Tale
Author: Liz Braswell
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Retelling; Young Adult
Publisher/Publication Date: Disney-Hyperion; September 1, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
What if Wonderland was in peril and Alice was very, very late?
Alice is different than other eighteen-year-old ladies in Kexford, which is perfectly fine with her. She'd rather spend golden afternoons with her trusty camera or in her aunt Vivian's lively salon, ignoring her sister's wishes that she stop all that "nonsense" and become a "respectable" member of society. Alice is happy to meander to Miss. Yao's teashop or to visit the children playing in the Square. She's also interested in learning more about the young lawyer she met there, but just because she's curious, of course, not because he was sweet and charming. But when Alice develops photographs she has recently taken about town, familiar faces of old suddenly appear in the place of her actual subjects-the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar. There's something eerily off about them, even for Wonderland creatures. And as Alice develops a self-portrait, she finds the most disturbing image of all-a badly-injured dark-haired girl asking for Alice's help. Mary Ann.
Returning to the place of nonsense from her childhood, Alice finds herself on a mission to stop the Queen of Hearts' tyrannical rule and to find her place in both worlds. But will she able to do so . . . before the End of Time?
I’m always on the lookout for a good retelling, especially for Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, which is one of my favorite classic stories. I’ve enjoyed a few retellings for it in the past—like L.L. McKinney’s Nightmare-verse series. So I had high expectations for Unbirthday. Unbirthday feels very much like a continuation of Disney’s 1951 film, Alice in Wonderland. The characters—Mad Hatter, Dormouse, and Dodo—have many similar characteristic (namely in appearance and behavior) to the characters of the movie or they could also more closely resemble those from the original story. With the story being set 11 years after Alice’s initial adventures in Wonderland, so there were differences, namely in the contents of the story. And overall I enjoyed Braswell’s take on an older Alice.

Alice is eighteen in this story, remembers Wonderland fondly as a dream, and looks for magic in her every-day surroundings. Overall, I enjoyed Alice’s perspective here. There was a blend between her regular life as well as her fantastical adventures once she returns to Wonderland. The transition between the two settings was done quite well, and I enjoyed many of the new characters introduced early in the story. Wonderland was full of nonsense and whimsy, and it was all-around pretty fun to read about. Due to the story, however, there was a much darker tone to Wonderland as a whole—in fact, it was downright sinister.

There was a part of the story that dealt a lot with politics—elections, rallies, the candidate, and social injustice—and many of those aspects mirrored real issues that are currently happening. In Unbirthday, Alice was involved with it, and it did take over much of the story outside of Wonderland. However, I did enjoy the complicated connections Alice formed with those around her, and some of my favorite characters included her aunt, Vivian, as well as Katz.

Unbirthday was a great Alice retelling. It had the whimsy and the wonder—and the randomness that’s a hallmark of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—but it also didn’t shy away from the more serious aspects of its story.

About the author...

After the sort of introverted childhood you would expect from a writer, Liz earned a degree in Egyptology at Brown University and then promptly spent the next ten years producing video games. Finally she caved into fate and wrote Snow and Rx under the name Tracy Lynn, followed by The Nine Lives of Chloe King series under her real name, because by then the assassins hunting her were all dead. She also has short stories in Geektastic and Who Done It and a new series of reimagined fairy tales coming out, starting with A Whole New World—a retelling of Aladdin. She lives in Brooklyn with a husband, two children, a cat, a part-time dog, three fish and five coffee trees she insists will start producing beans any day. You can email her at

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Disney-Hyperion) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

ARC Review: Fangs by Sarah Andersen

50898148. sx318Title: Fangs
Series: n/a
Author: Sarah Andersen
Source/Format: Publisher; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Comic
Publisher/Publication Date: Andrews McMeel Publishing; September 1, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
A new gothic romance story from the creator of the enormously popular Sarah's Scribbles comics. 
Vamp is three hundred years old but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets a charming werewolf. FANGS chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different.
Fangs is short collection of slice-of-life style comics by Sarah Andersen. I know Andersen through her other series, Sarah’s Scribbles. I was particularly excited to give this one a read because of the paranormal elements—like vampires and werewolves—which are some of my favorite types of characters to read about. I have to say that I enjoyed reading Fangs. I had a lot of fun with this one, and it had a lot of the hallmarks of a good paranormal romance. By that I mean it was quite literally a romance between a vampire and a werewolf. The kind of jokes that came from that set up sometimes had me laughing out loud. So really, what’s not to like?

Fangs was a quick read. Each page was set up in an episodic format, where it had individual stories connected by a common subject to the rest of the collection. The relationship was the focus here. So it was good that I liked the main characters too. Jimmy and Elsie were both fun to read about, and I liked the design of their characters.

What was so great about Fangs was its delivery on characters and themes. It was done with the kind of wit, charm, and humor common to Andersen’s comics. And if you’ve read any of them before—like Sarah’s Scribbles—then you’ll likely like Fangs too.

About the author...

Hello! I’m Sarah and I’m a cartoonist and illustrator. I graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014 and currently live in Brooklyn. My comics are semi-autobiographical and follow the adventures of myself, my friends, and my beloved pets.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Andrews McMeel Publishing) via netgalley for this review, thank you!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Blog Tour: ARC Review Midnight at the Barclay Hotel by Fleur Bradley

Title: Midnight at the Barclay Hotel
Series: n/a
Author: Fleur Bradley
Illustrator: Xavier Bonet
Source/Format: Author; E-ARC
More Details: Mystery, Middle Grade
Publisher/Publication Date: Viking; August 25 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
When JJ Jacobson convinced his mom to accept a surprise invitation to an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway at the illustrious Barclay Hotel, he never imagined that he'd find himself in the midst of a murder mystery. He thought he was in for a run-of-the-mill weekend ghost hunting at the most haunted spot in town, but when he arrives at the Barclay Hotel and his mother is blamed for the hotel owner's death, he realizes his weekend is going to be anything but ordinary.

Now, with the help of his new friends, Penny and Emma, JJ has to track down a killer, clear his mother's name, and maybe even meet a ghost or two along the way.

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is Fleur Bradley’s most recent middle grade novel. It features beautifully crafted illustrations by Xavier Bonet. Five people are selected to enjoy a weekend stay at the Barclay Hotel. However, everyone ends up pulled into a murder mystery. When We saw the synopsis, we knew we would be into it.

Adri: The beginning got to the point, introducing the reader to all the important places and characters –like JJ, Penny, and Emma among others. Not too long after, I found myself sucked into the story and had a hard time putting it down. I wanted to get to the end to find out what was really going on at the Barclay Hotel. Even though I did predict a few things, it did not take away my enjoyment. I still found myself guessing with each reveal.

Andrea: I absolutely love Fleur Bradley’s writing style. She does an amazing job of writing middle grade books with just the right amount of suspense and adventure. I was first introduced to her work when I reviewed the Double Vision series, which was an exciting adventure that I highly recommend. As for Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, it didn’t disappoint. Each character’s profile added a layer of suspense. Although the story seemed predictable, it just wasn’t that simple.

Adri: The next thing I really like was the chemistry between the characters. JJ has a dislike of reading but loves ghost hunting; Penny loves reading but is skeptical of ghost; and Emma just wants kids her age to hang out with. This created a nice balance of personalities. And I can’t forget the relationship that that JJ has with his mother and Penny her grandfather. I have my reasons but I think they’re kind of spoiler-y, so…

Andrea: I have to agree with you the characters had amazing chemistry. JJ’s sense of adventure, Penny’s insecurities, and the fact that Emma was simply peculiar created an amazing team of Junior sleuths. I also liked the characters’ growth as the story progressed.

Andrea & Adri: Anyway, Midnight at the Barclay Hotel was a fun read. We recommend checking it out if it sounds interesting to you. We especially recommend it if a young reader is interested in murder mysteries and paranormal/ghost hunting.

Thanks for reading.

About the author...
Fleur Bradley is passionate about two things: mysteries and getting kids to read, and she regularly speaks at librarian and educator conferences on reaching reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, Fleur now lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two daughters, and entirely too many cats.

For more information on Fleur and her books, visit, and on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.

Follow along with the Midnight at the Barclay Hotel blog tour: 

Aug. 3rd: Book review at Always in the Middle

Aug. 11th: An interview at MG Bookvillage

Aug 14th: Book review at Charlotte’s Library

Aug. 16th: Guest post: Fleur talks about reaching reluctant readers at Unleashing Readers

Aug. 17th: Review at Secret Files of Fairday Morrow blog

Aug. 18th: Review and giveaway at MG Mojo

Aug. 19th.: Interview and giveaway at From the Mixed-Up Files

Aug. 21st: Book review at Our Thoughts Precisely.

Aug. 23rd: Interview and giveaway at Spooky MG

Aug. 24th: Interview at YA Booknerd

Facebook Live Book Launch on Aug. 25th!

Aug. 25th: Writer's Digest Author Spotlight

Sept. 4th : Fleur talks about getting out of your comfort zone on Kirby Larson’s blog
Sept. 8th: Fleur outlines how to develop a compelling MG concept at Writer's Digest

Disclaimer: This E-copy of the book was provided by the Author for this review, thank you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

ARC Review: The Hidden Life of Ice by Marco Tedesco with Alberto Flores D'Arcais; forward by Elizabeth Kolbert

49150932. sy475 Title:The Hidden Life of Ice: Dispatches From A Disappearing World
Series: n/a
Author: Marco Tedesco with Alberto Flores D'Arcais; forward by Elizabeth Kolbert
Source/Format: Netgalley (publisher); eARC
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: The Experiment; August 18, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
One of the least known and least inhabited parts of the world, Greenland is a singular place on Earth from which to look for the future of our planet and question its history. Glaciologist Marco Tedesco, a world-leading expert on ice and on climate change, takes us along as he and his fellow researchers conduct all-important measurements to understand the dramatic changes afoot on the immense polar ice cap. Following the arc of a typical day as a working scientist, Tedesco tells us about improbable “polar camels,” cryoconite holes (the only place where life grows in the icy expanse), and gigantic meteorite debris. We also learn of the epic deeds of the great Arctic explorers (both men and, perhaps surprisingly, women) and about legends of the rare local populations. A Day at the Top of the World offers a vantage point on the future from a place in which temperatures are rising at double the average rate of the rest of the planet.
The Hidden Life of Ice is a short and fascinating—and cautionary—look at, well, ice. Specifically Greenland’s ice sheets and how the changes to it can be applied to the situation happening to the other, coldest parts of Earth, like the Artic. The book was more of the author’s personal experience of his time spent studying the ice. It was interspersed with historical facts, some mythology from Greenland, and the science behind the ice and the changes happening to it—caused by global warming and other natural climate changes and factors.

There are so many different parts of The Hidden Life of Ice that interested me. As a whole, I liked it. What I greatly enjoyed was the parts of the book when Tedesco dug his heels into the topic and really got into the science about ice. His enthusiasm about this subject was easy to read. It was present on the page, especially in the way he talked about his and others work in the field. There were also photos in the book, and it was pretty cool getting a look at some of the locations described by Tedesco.

Among my favorite chapters in the book, was the one on the color of ice. I already knew about the general concept of white surfaces being more reflective, due to personal experience with walking on a ground paved with white stones—it was extremely bright in comparison to, say, grass or concrete sidewalks. I can imagine what it was like to be surrounded by ice and snow. So it was interesting to learn about the way they studied the light (“spectral fingerprint”). I also enjoyed the chapters about the microscopic organisms, the polar camels, ice abyss, and the one about the lakes as well.

Given how timely the topic of climate change is, this book was well worth the read. It offered a direct look at the changes happening to ice, and what could result from it. While also taking a look at how these environments are studied. Overall, The Hidden Life of Ice was a fantastic read.

About the author...

Marco Tedesco is a research professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, located in Palisades, NY. Originally from Italy, he received his Laurea degree and PhD in Italy from the University of Naples and the Italian National Research Council. He went on to join the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a postdoc and later a professor and became the founder and director of the Cryosphere Processes Laboratory. Tedesco has been featured in Science and has spoken as a climate change expert for The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Wired, and others.

About the author...

Alberto Flores d'Arcais was born in Rome and graduated from the University of Rome with a degree in philosophy. He wrote for newspapers and magazines during the 1970s and became editor-in-chief of Frigidaire in 1980. He has reported on topics like civil wars, drug trafficking, the Arab spring, wars in the Balkans, and collapses of dictatorships since the 1980s; he is also well known for his interviews with world leaders and culture icons. In 2002, Alberto Flores d'Arcais earned the John S. Knight Fellowship for Journalism from Stanford University, and authored New York in 2007. He now spends his time between New York and Rome.

About the author....

Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999. Her journalism has garnered multiple awards, including a 2006 National Academies Communication Award for her three-part series "The Climate of Man," which investigated the consequences of disappearing ice on the planet. She is author of The Prophet of Love, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, and The Sixth Extinction, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2015. She received the Blake-Dodd Prize, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 2017.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (The Experiment) via Netgalley for this review, thank you!

Friday, July 24, 2020

ARC Review: Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

40078832. sy475 Title: Deal With The Devil
Series: Mercenary Librarians #1
Author: Kit Rocha
Source/Format: Bookish First; Bound ARC
More Details: Science Fiction; Romance
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Books; July 27, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers in the vein of Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha 
The United States went belly up 45 years ago when our power grid was wiped out. Too few live in well-protected isolation while the rest of us scrape by on the margins. The only thing that matters is survival. By any means. At any cost. Nina is an information broker with a mission: to bring hope to the darkest corners of Atlanta. She and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to help those in need. But altruism doesn’t pay the bills—raiding vaults and collecting sensitive data is where the real money is. Knox is a bitter, battle-weary supersoldier who leads the Silver Devils, an elite strike squad that chose to go AWOL rather than slaughter innocents. Before the Devils leave town for good, they need a biochem hacker to stabilize the experimental implants that grant their superhuman abilities. The problem? Their hacker’s been kidnapped. And the ransom for her return is Nina. Knox has the perfect bait for a perfect trap: a lost Library of Congress server. The data could set Nina and her team up for years... If they live that long.
Deal With The Devil is the first book I’ve read by Kit Rocha. It was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and it was a wild, action-packed dystopian novel. There were plenty of science fiction nuggets packed into this book too, including enhanced super soldiers, clones, and corporations that were up to some not so good things. It was dark and gritty story with hints of romance, set against the backdrop of a devastated and crumbling version of the US.

For starters, I enjoyed the world building in this story. Rocha did an excellent job of quickly establishing the rules of the world, while also maintaining a consistent level of ruin and corruption scattered throughout every part of the setting. Even the first chapter established how cutthroat and unforgiving society had become since an incident called the Flares, and the details about how certain areas were rebuilt and governed were also quite interesting.

In general, the story was a good one. There was a good deal of travel going on. That being said, the action started basically immediately, and there was a bit of a mystery about who had kidnapped the Silver Devils’ hacker. Needless to say, I was hooked from start to finish.

Another part of the reason why I enjoyed Deal With The Devil so much was because of the characters. The characters were personable. Nina was a standout in the story. I enjoyed the chapters from her perspective, and a highlight of the story was the dynamic between Nina, Maya, and Dani. They each brought a skill to the table, and honestly I just liked the friendship and camaraderie between the three of them. I also enjoyed the chapters from the POVs of the secondary characters. It offered a different perspective to the events of the story, and gave those characters a moment of much needed development outside of Nina and Knox’s perspectives.

Deal With The Devil proved to be an excellent start to the Mercenary Librarians series. I’m excited to see what Kit Rocha has in-store for the next book.

About the author...

Kit Rocha is the pseudonym if author duo/cowriting team Donna Herren (@totallydonna) and Bree Bridges (@mostlybree). They are best known for their gritty and sexy dystopian Beyond series. Bree and Donna met while writing X-Men fanfic in 200, which is the best meet-cute in history for writing BFFs and coauthors, and have been penning original work since 2007. They currently live three miles apart in Alabama and spend their nonwriting time caring for a menagerie of animals and crafting handmade jewelry, all of which is chronicled on their various social media accounts....

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Tor Books) via BookishFirst for this review, thank you!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

ARC Review: Axiom's End by Lindsay Ellis

51171377Title: Axiom's End
Series: n/a
Author: Lindsay Ellis
Source/Format: Publisher via Netgalley; eARC 
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Press; July 21, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
An extraordinary debut from Hugo finalist and video essayist Lindsay Ellis... 
Truth is a human right... 
It’s fall 2007. A well-timed leak has revealed that the US government might have engaged in first contact. Cora Sabino is doing everything she can to avoid the whole mess, since the force driving the controversy is her whistleblower father. Even though Cora hasn’t spoken to him in years, his celebrity has caught the attention of the press, the Internet, the paparazzi, and the government—and with him in hiding, that attention is on her. She neither knows nor cares whether her father’s leaks are a hoax, and wants nothing to do with him—until she learns just how deeply entrenched her family is in the cover-up, and that an extraterrestrial presence has been on Earth for decades. Realizing the extent to which both she and the public have been lied to, she sets out to gather as much information as she can, and finds that the best way for her to uncover the truth is not as a whistleblower, but as an intermediary. The alien presence has been completely uncommunicative until she convinces one of them that she can act as their interpreter, becoming the first and only human vessel of communication. Their otherworldly connection will change everything she thought she knew about being human—and could unleash a force more sinister than she ever imagined.
Axiom’s End is not the first book about first-contact that I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. It was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020—so my expectations were on the higher side. The story had a lot of promise in its premise from the beginning, and I ended up having an inordinate amount of fun reading this novel. Plus I thoroughly liked Ellis's take on first-contact.

Axiom’s End was good. It deals with first contact alongside an alternative and politically tumultuous version of 2007, where a memo about aliens gets leaked to the public. During the ensuing fallout is where the story begins and where the main character, Cora was introduced. From the start, the premise was a pretty exciting one, and I thought the author did a good job with developing the different parts of the story. In particular, I liked the details about Cora’s connection to the memo—through her estranged father—because it added tension to the earlier parts of the story even before aliens got involved. It also added a personal edge to the conflict, and I thought it presented an interesting contrast between Cora and other characters in the story—particularly for those who weren’t her family members—and how different their reactions to the memo were.

I also enjoyed Ellis’s take on aliens. The ones features in the story were kind of cool to say the least, and they were by far one of my favorite aspects about Axiom’s End. Since Cora becomes an interpreter for one of the aliens, there were plenty of details about them—such as how they looked, some of their societal norms, the reason why they were there, and their technological advancements. It was an interesting bit of world building that fleshed-out the aliens.

Cora was a pretty entertaining protagonist, and I enjoyed reading from her perspective. I liked how the author approached her character, including her conflicted feelings about the aliens as well as her father. It grounded her character amongst the extraordinary circumstances of the story. It was also an interesting emotional contrast, with the fear, confusion, and determination she experienced throughout much of the story. I did enjoy the few scenes Cora had with her other family members though, particularly with her aunt. Cora’s father was a different story. Some of his tactics and writings leaned more towards manipulative, and it was clear where his concern was focused.

Overall, I enjoyed Axiom’s End. There was a lot to like about the story, and the end wrapped up the plot in a satisfying way. I will definitely check out more work by this author in the future. Have you read Axiom’s End? Do you plan on reading it?

About the author...

LINDSAY ELLIS is an author, Hugo finalist and video essayist who creates online content about media, narrative, and film theory. After earning her bachelor's in Cinema Studies from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, she earned her MFA in Film and Television Production from USC's School of Cinematic Arts with a focus in documentary and screenwriting. She lives in Long Beach, California, and Axiom's End is her debut novel.

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by St. Martin's Press (publisher) via netgalley for this review, thank you!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

ARC Review: Haunted Heroine by Sarah Kuhn

40740848Title: Haunted Heroine
Series: Heroine Complex #4
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Source/Format: Netgalley (Publisher); eARC
More Details: Urban Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW Books; July 7, 2020

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
The fourth book in the smart, snarky, and action-packed Heroine series follows Evie Tanaka, Aveda Jupiter, and Bea Tanaka as they combat a new supernatural threat. 
Everything in Evie Tanaka's life is finally perfect. As a badass superheroine, she defends San Francisco from demon invasion on the regular. Her relationships with superhero partner Aveda Jupiter, little sister Bea, and hot, half-demon husband Nate have never been stronger. Maybe it's possible for a grad school dropout turned put-upon personal assistant turned superhero to have it all? As if things can't get any better, Evie learns she's pregnant. She's overjoyed, but also worried about whether she's cut out for motherhood. Before she can dwell on her dilemma too much, a women's college reports a string of mysterious "hauntings," and Evie and Aveda are called in to investigate. When the hauntings turn deadly, they decide to move into the dorms full-time, going undercover as grad students. As she lives out a bizarre version of her grad school life, Evie can't help but wonder about the road not taken: what would her life be like if she'd stayed here instead of pursuing superheroing with Aveda?
If there was ever a series that needed more books, it was this one. I was excited when Haunted Heroine got announced, and now that I’ve read it I can say for certain that the excitement was well deserved. Haunted Heroine was a fantastic addition to the Heroine Complex series. It was an excellent continuation for the characters of the series—and as they embarked on the next chapter in their story, they were literally and figuratively being haunted by things from the past and present. With this kind of story, it was an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, and I was rooting for the characters every step of the way.

Haunted Heroine is told from the perspective of Evie Tanaka, one of my favorite characters. Her POV is what introduced the series, and her perspective was just as delightful to read from as the first time around, in Heroine Complex. While the beginning was looking at her future—with her husband, Nate, and her pregnancy—much of the story explored Evie’s past. That also included an old relationship that has haunted (no pun intended) Evie in previous books in the series. It had affected her relationships with others, as well as how she saw herself. So it was great to see it finally addressed. Plus Kuhn’s handling of the emotional side of the character arcs was fantastic. It was one of my favorite aspects about the story, and I felt like a lot of the lingering plot threads from previous stories reached a satisfying resolution.

It was also great to see how the other characters in the series were adjusting to changes in their lives/ what they were currently doing after the end of the third book—including Evie’s younger sister, Bea, Aveda, and everyone else. Evie and Aveda’s friendship has always been one of the highlights of the series, even with the ups and downs. I liked how they were both still working on their friendship, but there was never a doubt that there was a bond there.

Overall, I liked Haunted Heroine’s story. It took place in October, and the setting—Morgan College—was different from the more familiar urban city setting of San Francisco. The grounds of the college afforded for something of a spooky atmosphere, and it was a perfect place for the latest mystery to play out.

Haunted Heroine is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. If you’re a fan of this series, then this one should be on your TBR list.
About the author....

Sarah Kuhn is the author of the popular Heroine Complex novels—a series starring Asian American superheroines. The first book is a Locus bestseller, an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee, and one of the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog’s Best Books of 2016. Her YA debut, the Japan-set romantic comedy I Love You So Mochi, is a Junior Library Guild selection and a nominee for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. She has also penned a variety of short fiction and comics, and her hotly anticipated graphic novel Shadow of the Batgirl is coming out in early 2020 from DC Comics. Additionally, she was a finalist for both the CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment) New Writers Award and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. A third generation Japanese American, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and an overflowing closet of vintage treasures.
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Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (DAW Books) via netgalley for this review, thank you!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Review: The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire

43233639Title: The Unkindest Tide
Series: October Daye #13
Author: Seanan McGuire
Source/Format: Publisher; Bound ARC
More Details: Urban Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW Books; September 3, 2019

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong. When the Luidaeg—October "Toby" Daye's oldest and most dangerous ally—tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can't refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren't the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg's price...or face the consequences. Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden's brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that's when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour. Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim?
I took The Unkindest Tides with me while I had jury duty, and suffice it to say, the story kept me thoroughly entertained during breaks. It’s not the first book I’ve read by Seanan McGuire, but it is the only one I’ve gotten around to reading from the October Daye series. Even though it was the 13th book, I read it anyway—partially because I had no time to get to the other 12 novels in the series before the start of my jury duty. Regardless, I had no trouble following the story, getting invested in the characters, or interested in the world. I loved the story, and it’s probably my favorite book I’ve read by McGuire to date.

The synopsis tells a lot about the book, and the story pretty much delivered on every front. The story starts calmly, but it takes off when the Luidaeg arrived and announced that she intended to collect on debts owed to her. There was mystery, action, and a cast of wonderful characters. The world McGuire has created is probably one of my favorite urban fantasy takes on the fae. It was often a strange and interesting world, particularly with how the everyday side you and I would know met with the magical side. One location that was of interest to me was the Duchy of Ships, which is where the book primarily took place. It was such a creative place to set a story, and I thoroughly like all the details about it from the politics to the architecture, and even some of what local life was like for the people who lived there. Also, I like that there were unique characteristics to each kind of fae and the magic present in the story.

Generally speaking, I liked all of the main characters. October Daye was interesting enough, and I liked the relationship she had with Tybalt. They clashed over certain subjects, but I was a fan of the way they talked it out with one another. The Luidaeg was another one of my favorite characters from the story. Her history and that of her children was long and tragic, and I understood why she would want to be “Cousin Annie” as an escape.

I don’t know everything there is to know about the series, and I probably missed a few references to previous books, but overall The Unkindest Tide was a great story. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to diving into the previous books in the series and other novels by Seanan McGuire. Have you read any books from the October Daye series? If so, are you planning to read The Unkindest Tide?

Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by the publisher for this review, thank you!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

ARC Review: Word to the Wise by Jenn McKinlay

43203098Title: Word to the Wise
Series: Library Lover's Mystery #10
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Cozy Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; September 3, 2019

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Synopsis from Goodreads...
It's no-holds-barred murder, in the latest page-turning Library Lover's Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Hitting the Books. 
Lindsey Norris is finally getting married to the man of her dreams--but it's not all roses for Briar Creek's beloved library director, as gardening enthusiast and town newcomer Aaron Grady gives the term "book lover" a whole new meaning. Inappropriate looks and unwelcome late-night visits to Lindsey's house have everyone from the crafternooners to Lindsey's fiancé, Sully, on edge. When Grady's dead body is found staged outside the library and all the clues point to Sully, Lindsey knows it's up to her to dig through the hidden chapters of Grady's previous life to find the real culprit and clear Sully's name. But becoming a thorn in the killer's side is not without its consequences, and the closer Lindsey gets to the truth, the more determined the murderer is to make her just a footnote....
I’ve been looking forward to Jenn McKinlay’s follow-up to Hitting the Books since I read it last year. In Word to the Wise, some of the themes—like harassment and climate change—leaned toward the more timely side. McKinlay nailed the unusual weather patterns, enabling actions of others, the emotional toll, and the disconcerting characterization of characters like Aaron Grady. Because of that, there was an eerie—and sometimes exasperating—feel to the whole story. The mystery was anything but straight forward, and the twists were especially twisty in this one. As such, Word to the Wise was a page-turner. It also turned out to be one of my favorite installments in the Library Lover’s Mystery series.

At first, everything seemed great for Lindsey Norris. She had her job at the library. She was getting married to Sully. And I was happy about the development, because it meant that the romantic subplots of previous books were finally beginning to pay off for the characters. Plus, the stages of wedding preparation were fun, okay. However, once the mystery of who killed Aaron Grady began, some of that happiness evaporated. I liked the mystery here, because the suspects had sufficient motive to want Grady gone. He was a creep who used his reputation as an upstanding citizen as an excuse, a cover, to get away with harassment and stalker behavior. But, just like there was more to Grady, the mystery was also a complex issue. Nothing was as it seemed, and the twists kept coming.

The characters were as great as always. In particular, I liked the library staff who worked for Lindsey, as well as many of the other reoccurring characters. I liked the setting as well. Briar Creek is a small, idyllic coastal town: if you’re familiar with this series, then you know what it’s like, and there isn’t much more to say about it.

Overall, Word to the Wise was an excellent addition to the series. If you’ve read any of the previous books, then this one should be on your TBR List.

About the author...

Jenn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several mystery series and will be debuting a new women's fiction series in June 2017, starting with the title About a Dog. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets and her husband's guitars.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review, thank you!

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