eARC Review – The Sound of Stars

Title: The Sound of Stars

Author: Alechia Dow

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: February 25th, 2020

400 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Don’t miss this spectacular debut novel… Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity? This road trip is truly out of this world! A beautiful and thrilling read for fans of Marie Lu and Veronica Roth.

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and Alechia Dow for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

The Sound of Stars reminds me a lot of The Host by Stephanie Meyer, where alien forces invade Earth and take over the humans. There is a fun sci-fi twist where the aliens, Ilori, are labmade to resemble humans in order to survive the atmosphere. Ellie is a human looking to stay alive, M0Rr1S is a special labmade Ilori in command of Ellie’s quadrant in NYC. The universe brings them together in a way that they did not expect – and they become an unlikely pair.

I wasn’t sure how to rate this, because my feelings changed frequently during this book. I had a hard time getting into it, was very interested in the middle, and got lost again in the end. The end made it seem like this will be a duology, which I wasn’t expecting because it doesn’t look like any has been announced. I went in expecting a stand-alone, so the fact that it didn’t end well wrapped up threw me off.

I do love the concept, because I loved The Host. As more information is released you become more sympathetic to the Ilori, which was well thought out and constructed. I just wish for more in the beginning that would have captured my attention, and a less confusing ending.

The Sound of Stars brings a new voice into sci-fi with great LGBTQIA representation (all the aliens introduce themselves by name and gender identity). Many characters are non-binary and our female MC is self-reported as demi-ace… (makes me think this may be an Own Voices work?). There is also a lot of political, racial, and environmental discussions that draws direct lines to today’s climate, which is refreshing to read and an addition that caused me to rate this book higher.

Happy reading, bookish friends 🙂

eARC Review – The Stars We Steal

Title: The Stars We Steal

Author: Alexa Donne

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication date: February 4th, 2020

400 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

Review

**Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Netgalley, and Alexa Donne for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

I previously read Alexa Donne’s debut novel, Brightly Burning and wasn’t super thrilled with the book – but I loved the writing and when I see Bachelorette… coupled with SPACE… I know that’s a book I 100% need to read, and it did NOT disappoint. Leo is the Princess of her ship in space – where these titles are still used to create a classist society, even when it’s totally not necessary. The Valg is their way of creating marriages (that aren’t with your cousins…) among the elite, rich, and/or titled young people. Leo is participating in The Valg to find a rich husband, because her family is in dire need of funds, not because she wants to. As the oldest child of a man who spends money faster than it could possibly come in, she needs to be the adult and keep their spaceship afloat. Enter, her ex-fiance Elliot whom her family made her break the engagement to because he didn’t have money. Now? He is the sole heir to a prosperous whiskey ship and has plenty of money. Problem? He’s seriously pissed at her…

Ya’lllllll I loved this book. I read it all in one night because I could not put it down. Alexa Donne weaved so many elements together that you wouldn’t expect to work together, but pulled it off perfectly. I’m a huge sucker for Bachelor style plots, but it’s not JUST that. You have murder, intrigue, theft, Robin Hood-esque schemes, rebel groups, cyber attacks, AND wealthy extravagance from young people who have nothing better to do than be petty and make drama. Like, let’s gooo!

I am obsessed. Her writing worked so well with these elements and I found it SO much more enjoyable than her other classics spin in space. Currently starting a petition to re-write all the classics in a futuristic space society. Needs to happen.

The Stars We Steal, Alexa Donne’s second book, is a stand-alone space adaption of Persuasion by Jane Austen and will have you hooked from the first few pages. Leo is a strong character who is put in an untenable situation and trying to make the most of it. Pick it up if you enjoyed her first book, Brightly Burning, or are a fan of retellings and/or space!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – How to Build a Heart

Title: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: January 28th, 2020

352 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle.  

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.

Review

**Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers, Netgalley, and Maria Padian for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

How to Build a Heart follows 16 year old Izzy Crawford as she handles high school, prejudice, and being part of a low income family. Her Mami is super strict and won’t let her hang out with her best friend, she pretends to everyone she doesn’t live in a trailer park, and she secretly wishes her life was different – and she’s also ALOT jaded. In comes Aubrey, a new freshman at her school that she takes under her wing (also her older brother is the hottest boy alive, Sam). Izzy starts down the path of a double life, hiding who she is from her new rich friends. When her family is nominated to receive a Habitat for Humanity home, her double life comes back to haunt her and she has to escape to some long lost family.

I had a hard time getting into this book in the very beginning, but once it hooked me I was HOOKED. I stayed up late to finish it and I have #NoRagrets. It’s not exactly a rags to riches story, but it has some similar features. I think the prejudice situations were handled well and I loved all the characters (except Roz, and I don’t apologize). I feel bad for Roz of course, but her personality was really grating, and it felt like all Izzy did for awhile was seek her approval because she was “cool”. I loved Sam and Aubrey’s character and I was really happy the “rich” family wasn’t prejudiced against the trailer park girl.

I loved the addition of the Habitat for Humanity plot line. I haven’t read a book where Habitat was mentioned, but it was so beautiful that this family was able to be built a Habitat house and I darn near cried when a lot of the town started pitching in – including long lost family.

I adored the little romance between Izzy and Sam – they had such a glorious connection and chemistry on paper. I think they brought out the best in each other and Same helped Izzy heal a bit. It was a really heartwarming and real feeling story, it just grabs hold and won’t let go.

Please go check this one out!

Book Review – My Favorite Half-Night Stand

“I should have been more offended. But I only have one emotion, and it’s hunger.”

Title: My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Author: Christina Lauren

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: December 4th, 2018

384 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Review

You’re honestly too good for me, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want you anyway.

Christina lauren, my favorite half-night stand

I’m back with another CLo read! I picked this up from Barnes and Noble because it was one of their half off sale books and I’ve loved all the CLo books I’ve read so far. Whereas this one was not my favorite, I still enjoyed reading it and I will still read everything they have, and will, write!

Millie is a college professor with not a lot of luck with dating. Neither does her 4 best friends, all straight men who also can’t seem to navigate the dating scene. Millie’s never considered any of her friends as possible romances, until she drinks too much wine one night and jumps Reid’s bones. Reid lets it happen, and they both end up confused afterwards. The gang decides to make a pact to use a dating app to find a date to the university’s black tie gala, and they can’t take each other. Millie doesn’t have much luck, so she creates a fake persona on the site and matches with Reid. She tries to play it off so he realizes it is her, but he doesn’t. What started as a fun gag gets out of hand, and Reid is starting to like her alternate persona more than her. What’s a girl to do when her best guy friend wants to date the fake, online version of her?

My major, major critique of this book is the catfish plot. It really doesn’t seem believable that this would happen. Also, Millie was kind of an annoying character as she got bad at Reid for being into the alt version of her… which is still actually her? It got a bit confusing what she was mad about after awhile. While this is happening, the real her is also still sleeping with Reid?? So confused.

The hook up happened too soon, as in the first 2 chapters. We barely have any information on these characters and they are already boning. It’s hard to believe they “never considered it before” when it happened almost immediately.

Frankly, the side characters were scads more interesting than Millie and Reid. I wanted more information on the other 3 guys, and hell even Reid’s parents after the scene where they all visit for Reid’s birthday. The side characters were somehow more fleshed out than the main characters, and I was rooting more for them than Millie and Reid.

Outside of all that, I still love CLo books. I read it all in one day and their books are always easy, breezy books that I don’t have to think so hard about. I love reading them after a heavy Fantasy novel just to come back to earth and real life. But honestly, this book just made me want to read The Unhoneymooners again.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – City of Lost Souls

Missing, one stunningly attractive teenage boy. Answers to ‘Jace’ or ‘Hot Stuff’

Title: City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: May 8th, 2012

536 pages

3.75/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

What price is too high to pay, even for love? Plunge into fifth installment in the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series and “prepare to be hooked” (Entertainment Weekly)—now with a gorgeous new cover, a map, a new foreword, and exclusive bonus content! City of Lost Souls is a Shadowhunters novel.

When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

Review

I hope you told him you were bitten by a gay spider.

Cassandra clare, city of lost souls

I’m back, and moving through my Cassandra Clare binge! Next up was City of Lost Souls, which continues to follow Jace and Clary while they try and save everyone from Sebastian. Unfortunately, I felt this book had classic middle book syndrome so I had to rate it a littler lower than City of Fallen Angels.

I feel like this book had a lot more potential. Jace’s plot in this had the possibility of being really interesting and deep – but it fell flat as he spent most of it just trying to get into Clary’s sensible pants (I mean, I know he’s a teenage boy but you spent 4 books giving him dimension, keep it going). Clary also fell deeper into the crazy girlfriend trope, and at one point makes a gigantic decision for Jace that she had no right making. This part was VERY annoying, because of how intensely wrong it was. But I digress.

This book was obviously just setting up the plot of the 6th book, City of Heavenly Fire. A big war is coming between the Shadowhunters and Sebastian and everyone will be affected. My fave characters in this book were Isabelle and Simon. I feel like Izzy’s character arc is really rounding out as we learn more of her background and what makes her who she is. Simon is going through a huge transition time and he still manages to keep up his dry humor, which is lovely and heartening. They took the award of primary ship from Jace and Clary in this book.

THAT ENDING THO. Okay, so I need to know what happens with the vampires. That ending was the only truly shocking plot point in the book, along with the break up from one couple. The ending redeemed the book a bit for me.

Happy reading, folks!

2020 Reading Goals!

Happy New Year my bookish friends!! I’m so excited for 2020, and I have a bunch of goals I want to keep in mind while reading this year! Not to be confused with a typical resolution list, the below are some goals I want to reach toward to improve my reading habits, bookstagram, and blogging! I started my blog in 2019 as a method of getting my thoughts and feelings about my books down, and I’ve really loved it. At the end of 2019 I got into a slump and wasn’t really posting, so I want to work on that this year!

READING GOAL

I plan on reading at least 150 books this year. This is my Goodreads goal, and since I read over 160 this year I feel I can make it happen. I also want to complete the Popsugar Reading Challenge. I came as close as ever to completing it in 2019, so I’d like to be able to say I completed it in 2020.

BE MORE CONSCIOUS OF WHAT I’M READING

I know this can mean anything, so let me explain. I have a million TBR books, but I seem to be reading only new released and not backlist. So this year I can break this goal down to a few smaller goals

  1. Read 2 subscription box books a month until I am caught up
  2. Read a backlist book each month
  3. Binge series’ together

NETGALLEY READING/POSTING

This one is short and simple. I want to get my Netgalley percentage up to 80% and keep it there. I am currently at 75%, so I feel I can make this happen over the next year. On top of this, I’d like to be mindful about posting my promotional photos when I say I will, by actually using my planner like I said I would.

BLOGGING

I’d like to do a few things in this category. First, I’d like to review every book I read, and post them to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This one may not happen, but I figure I can at least review *most* of the books I read. I also would like to participate in Top Ten Tuesday, which I feel will help my blog be more diverse and interesting.

BOOKSTAGRAM

I would like to be more engaged in my bookstagram. I am incredibly shy and super awkward, so I don’t often interact with my fellow bookstagrammers. I want to reach out to at least a few a month to talk about books, and hopefully begin some friendships. I also want to continue talking to my Baltimore Bookstagram friends in our group chat. On top of this, I’d like to try and post daily, along with being more active in stories and highlights.

I think this about covers my plans for 2020. I thrive when I have a semblance of organization (the actual organization is unnecessary, so I already feel better with having this list written down for future reference.

Talk with me in the comments about your goals! Do we share any?

Happy 2020 reading, folks!!

eARC Review – Temptress

Title: Temptress (Manhattan Ten #2)

Author: Lola Dodge

Publisher: Ink Monster, LLC

Publication date: November 12th, 2019

126 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A seductress. A super brain.

She’s an indie operative who only works alone, stealing other super heroes’ powers with a kiss and bringing down the bad guys. Those stolen powers add up to a crazy arsenal, but Temptress isn’t built for super strength and shooting laser beams. Her body is falling apart and a teensy mission slip-up gets her tangled with the Manhattan Ten.

He’s the M10’s leader. The man, the myth, the Mensa-conquering legend. Nothing escapes Thinktank’s calculations… Until a run-in with Temptress leaves him powerless. Superpowers stolen with a kiss can only be returned with a kiss. 

Natural enemies can only get closer. And closer. And closer…

It’s love at first fight in the second volume of the Manhattan Ten Series.

Review

**Thank you to Ink Monster, Netgalley, and Lola Dodge for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Temptress is tasked with capturing Steel, a member of the Manhattan Ten accused of sexual assault by the LVPD. With her power she is able to suck other super’s powers out of their body with just a kiss, so she is used often when the police are dealing with a super. She also works at casino’s helping to monitor security situations. She is also able to USE all the others powers – but not without a price. In comes Thinktank, the leader of the Manhattan Ten. She isn’t supposed to steal his powers, but he gets in her way – what choice does she have? Problem is she can’t figure out how to return his powers, the usual quick kiss isn’t working. Guess they’ll have to keep trying…

In the second book of the Manhattan Ten short story series, a new superhero emerges to catch Thinktank’s eye. Temptress, or Jenny for her friends. I loved Ivory, so I knew I needed to get Temptress to continue on in the series – and continue reading the companion stories of the Manhattan Ten. Temptress’ character was so awesome – she was completely bad-ass and totally nonchalant about it. She just walks into a fight without a care. I also like getting to know Tank’s character more than what we got to see in Ivory.

As with the first one, this is an adult short story, so there is sexual content – but I would say less than there was in Ivory. The focus of this story was more about figuring out Temptress’ backstory and eventually saving her from her past. With her ability to steal other super’s powers – she really is a force to be reckoned with and I’m happy she got her ending.

Check this out if you want a super quick, fantasy novel with fun characters and interesting super powers.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂