27 Hours (The Nightside Saga #1) by Tristina Wright #bookreviews #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero. – Goodreads.com

Kudos to the author for creating such a diverse and inclusive cast of lovable characters.  And boy, do these characters get put through the wringer – nearly nonstop action, incredible world-building, tense, heart-stopping moments.  All of this, along with strong themes of family, friendship, and acceptance make for a thrilling, engaging read.  Admittedly, I struggled with the pacing at times – it’s a tad over 400 pages – and some of the action scenes were quite long.

If you’re a YA sci-fi fan or searching for #ownvoices books, you can’t go wrong with 27 Hours.  Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

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The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan #bookreview #horror #YA #TuesdayBookBlog

Five boys attacked her.
Now they must repay her with their blood and flesh.

Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her.

One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers.

She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn.  – Goodreads.com

This story deals with a difficult subject – it’s mentioned in the book description and the author addresses it in the foreward – but it’s handled very well.  The actual rape occurs ‘off stage’, but that didn’t make it any easier to read.  Obviously, I knew it was going to happen, but kept hoping something would change – as if it could.

The first part of the story has a slower pace, but it allowed me to immerse myself in the Romani culture, learn more about it, and get to know the characters.  After Bethan is assaulted, things happen very quickly.  The author did a wonderful job in portraying her conflicting emotions.  She understandably wants revenge – and attains it in some graphically detailed ways – but, as Drina tells her, there’s always a price, and it’s something Bethan struggles with even at the end.

Drina is quite a character – demanding, stubborn, and ill-tempered at times, but also strong, humorous, and loving in her own way.  Martyn oozes goodness, sweetness, and integrity and it’s easy to see why Bethan fights to bring him back.

The Hollow Girl is a satisfying revenge tale dealing with a sensitive topic.  It contains gut-wrenching emotions and some graphic violence, but I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to older YA readers.  This novel is scheduled for publication October 10th, 2017.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

Last Star Burning (Last Star Burning #1) by Caitlin Sangster #bookreview #dystopian

Sev is branded with the mark of a criminal—a star burned into her hand. That’s the penalty for being the daughter of the woman who betrayed their entire nation.

Now her mother’s body is displayed above Traitor’s Arch, kept in a paralyzed half sleep by the same plague that destroyed the rest of the world. And as further punishment, Sev is forced to do hard labor to prove that she’s more valuable alive than dead.

When the government blames Sev for a horrific bombing, she must escape the city or face the chopping block. Unimaginable dangers lurk outside the city walls, and Sev’s only hope of survival lies with the most unlikely person—Howl, the chairman’s son. Though he promises to lead her to safety, Howl has secrets, and Sev can’t help but wonder if he knows more about her past—and her mother’s crimes—than he lets on.

But in a hostile world, trust is a luxury. Even when Sev’s life and the lives of everyone she loves may hang in the balance. – Goodreads.com

Like several other reviewers, the striking cover led me to believe this was a fantasy, but it’s definitely dystopian – being a fan of that genre, however, I wasn’t disappointed.

This was more of a slow burn for me.  The first couple of chapters or so were quite confusing, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to settle in with this book, but once Sev meets Howl and escapes the city, the story found its stride and hooked me.  The intricately layered and original world-building is done well and I enjoyed immersing myself in this world.

Sev is a likable protagonist – flawed, stubborn, bold, and intelligent.  The supporting cast is high in number and suspicion – trust doesn’t come easy for Sev or the reader, as it’s not made clear whose story is credible.

As with most books in a series, this ends on a cliffhanger and with several curve balls in the plot, I’ll be interested to see where the story goes from here.  Last Star Burning is scheduled for publication October 10th, 2017.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis #bookreview #YA #thriller

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

Edgar Award–winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a dark and gripping psychological thriller about a girl at war with herself, and what it really means to be good or bad. – Goodreads.com

In another review of one of this author’s books, I mentioned I’d read anything she wrote, because she’s just that good.  After reading This Darkness Mine, I firmly, concretely, couldn’t move me with a wrecking ball, stand by that statement.  This is one of those reviews where I can’t say much in order to avoid spoilers – pretty sure you’ll understand how I felt about it.

This novel is fabulously dark and disturbing, wonderfully twisted, and entirely unpredictable – it’s impossible to look away.  Sasha is blunt, manipulative, ambitious, cunning – and a highly unreliable narrator.  Or is she?  The supporting characters are incredible and the dialogue between them is clever and amusing – I’m such a fan of McGinnis’s writing style.

Block out a chunk of time to read this – then leave yourself some time upon completion to deal with the aftereffects.  You’ll need it.  This Darkness Mine takes complex psychological thrillers to a whole new level – and I’d love to sit down with this author and ask her how such an original concept was born.  This book is scheduled for publication October 10th, 2017.

Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the digital ARC.

One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) by Kendare Blake #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog #fantasy

The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

In this enthralling sequel to Kendare Blake’s New York Times bestselling Three Dark Crowns, Fennbirn’s deadliest queens must face the one thing standing in their way of the crown: each other. – Goodreads.com

Don’t go into this book thinking you know what will happen – I guarantee you’ll be wrong.  One Dark Throne is entirely unpredictable, and that’s just another reason I love Kendare Blake’s books.

After reading this novel, I now favor two of the queens for very justifiable reasons – but I don’t give away spoilers, so you’ll have to read it for yourself.  There’s a plethora of characters in this series, but all are so well-drawn and distinct, there’s no confusion.

Reading this book is a roller coaster of emotions with the intense pace, unforeseen developments, and daring action.  This dark, complex fantasy continues to enthrall.  One Dark Throne is scheduled for publication September 19th, 2017.

Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the ARC.

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller #bookreview #fantasy #YA

I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive. – Goodreads.com

Mask of Shadows is full of action, suspicion, lethal fights, and retribution – all good things in a fantasy novel.  The action sequences are exciting, well-written, and played out easily in my head.  I also applaud Linsey Miller for writing a gender fluid main character, a very underrepresented demographic.

However….

I struggled with the world-building and character development.  The beginning of the book was a bit confusing, with the explanation of Sal’s world almost an info dump, and I never felt as if I had a good grasp of that world.  I understood Sal’s need for revenge after living through such a horrid experience, but the decision to audition for Opal seemed quite sudden.  The other contestants are referred to by numbers only, and with so many, it’s difficult to keep them straight or even imagine them as actual characters, with zero information given.

Mask of Shadows contains a good story, but a familiar one.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen #bookreview #YA #scifi

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden–a planet that Babel has kept hidden–where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human. – Goodreads.com

With the competition between the recruits, think The Hunger Games or Divergent set in space, and you’ll get the general feel of Nyxia.  

I recently read a similar book in which several characters are pitted against each other in a tournament, but had difficulty distinguishing between them.  With Nyxia, it’s quite the opposite – the diverse cast of characters, whether friends or enemies, are fully realized, with a variety of motivations and flaws.

The story leans heavily on the competition, and there are some harrowing moments, but also includes heart-wrenching subplots, unexpected twists, and surprising discoveries, indicating all may not be as it seems.

Emmett made a couple of choices that surprised me – one a dangerous risk that seemed out of character, and the other something near the end that seemed sudden and out of place.

If you’re a sci-fi fan, Nyxia has much to offer with a fast pace, mystery, competition, and fantastic character development.  Be warned – it ends with a cliffhanger, and I’ll be needing that second book sooner rather than later.  Nyxia is scheduled for publication September 12th, 2017.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.