eARC Review – The Code for Love and Heartbreak

Title: The Code for Love and Heartbreak

Author: Jillian Cantor

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: October 6th, 2020

304 pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Emma Woodhouse is a genius at math, but clueless about people. After all, people are unreliable. They let you down—just like Emma’s sister, Izzy, did this year, when she moved to California for college. But numbers…those you can count on. (No pun intended.)

Emma’s senior year is going to be all about numbers, and seeing how far they can take her. When she and George, her Coding Club co-president, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born—a matchmaking app that goes far beyond swiping, using algorithms to calculate compatibility. George disapproves of Emma’s idea, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other and her own feelings defy any algorithm? Emma thought math could solve everything. But there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

Review

A retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, The Code for Love and Heartbreak follows math nerd Emma as she is beginning her senior year. She is co-president of the coding club, along with George, her sister’s boyfriend’s little brother and her prime rival for valedictorian. Emma doesn’t understand people, but she does understand numbers, and she needs a great idea for her coding club project so she can win in her senior year and get into Harvard. So, she comes up with the idea to create a system to match couples up in her school for dances. It starts off so well, but when couples start breaking up, Emma must rethink her approach to the math, and maybe even love.

This book was super cute, and reminded me of high school when we did matching services. I love reading about coding, I have no idea why but it really interests me in books. I liked the competition aspect of the plot line, and how the lessons in this book aren’t just about life and love, but also about friendship and what it means to be a friend. Emma really grows and changes during the book, which is always a great plot line.

One thing that I didn’t like is that Emma was unnecessarily mean at points in this book. Like, in most stories there is a conflict, where the MC loses friends, alienates people, etc. But I felt like it went too far in this book, and bordered on actual bullying. The same effect could’ve been manufactured without turning Emma into someone who says horribly mean and rude things to her friends.

Overall, the story was adorable and the way the love story progressed was super cute. It was a solid friends to lovers, and the big romantic gesture was super nerdy yet adorable. The main themes of this book were good, I just couldn’t give it a full 4 stars due to the issues I had with Emma.

Thank you to Inkyard Press and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Kingdom of Sea and Stone

Title: Kingdom of Sea and Stone (Crowl of Coral and Pearl #2)

Author: Mara Rutherford

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: October 6th, 2020

pages

3.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

Review

Sequel to Crown of Coral and Pearl, Kingdom of Sea and Stone is a direct follow up to the events of the first book. I do like when sequels start up right at the end of the first, without having to wonder really what happened in the midst of the two books. The story is still told from Nor’s POV exclusively.

I love the concept of the duology so much. The villain is the perfect, no redeemable but you still feel kinda bad for him, character. Nor is a super capable and intelligent main character. Tallin is the hero you live for as a YA reader. The setting is rich and beautifully told, and the magic system that was only slightly touched on in book one is expanded in this one in amazing ways. It is truly unique and I would love to have more information and stories about it, even in companion novels!

I found myself less invested in the romance in this book. I actually felt like a background character would be a better love interest for Nor than Tallin. I knew it wouldn’t happen, but Tallin was not great in this book. I also felt like the ending left much to be desired. It is fairly open ended, so I could see the author returning to the world in the future – which would be open to and would read. Some of the scenes and writing in this book just felt disjointed and off pace compared to the first book.

Thank you to Inkyard Press and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – These Vengeful Hearts

Title: These Vengeful Hearts

Author: Katherine Laurin

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: September 8th, 2020

336 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Anyone can ask the Red Court for a favor…but every request comes at a cost. And once the deed is done, you’re forever in their debt.

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members–the most elite female students in the school–deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities a secret known only to their ruthless leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Two years ago, they caused the accident that left her older sister paralyzed. Now, Ember is determined to hold them accountable…by taking the Red Court down from the inside.

But crossing enemy lines will mean crossing moral boundaries, too–ones Ember may never be able to come back from. She always knew taking on the Red Court would come at a price, but will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and Katherine Laurin for an early copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

These Vengeful Hearts is set in Heller High, a school that is ruled by a secret society named the Red Court. Headed by the Queen of Hearts, they sell favors in which you can ask for a rigged election, a breakup, a love connection, or even a takedown – where that person is destroyed socially. The Red Court has access to a stunning amount of information, but you will owe them for giving you a favor. When a takedown went wrong, Ember’s older sister April ended up paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Since then, Ember made it her mission to get invited to the Red Court, find the Queen of Hearts, and destroy everything once and for all. But what will she sacrifice in her journey?

If you are as obsessed with books about secret societies as I am, you will definitely want to read this books. I found it completely captivating and thought provoking. It makes you think about whether the ends justify the means, and where the line is between retribution and hurting others. I loved learning about the set up to the Red Court and how it works. I loved the road to finding out who the Queen of Hearts is and the fact that Ember had a corkboard in her room filled with string and pictures and she identified members of the court a la detective shows. I loved just about everything about this book.

The ending stopped me cold though. There could be a potential for the author to revisit this story to create another book, though I’m not sure she will. I can’t say the ending was a total surprise, but it was chilling all the same.

Overall, if you read and enjoyed the Private series or Good Girls Lie by J. T. Ellison, These Vengeful Hearts will be a good book for you.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Night of the Dragon

Title: Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3)

Author: Julia Kagawa

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: March 31st, 2020

384 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Master storyteller Julie Kagawa concludes the enthralling journey into the heart of the fantastical Empire of Iwagoto in the third book of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. As darkness rises and chaos reigns, a fierce kitsune and her shadowy protector will face down the greatest evil of all. A captivating fantasy for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Sarah J. Maas and Marie Lu.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.

Review

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

In the thrilling finale of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy, Yumeko and the gang are still working on stopping the Wish from being made to the Great Kami Dragon by the evil Master of Demons. Night of the Dragon is action-packed, more so than other books. The action really started at the halfway mark and did not stop until the very end. I finished this book all in one day and it just flowed so easily.

By this point, I love all the characters. This group of fighters mesh so well and each bring something different to the table. They all have their own skills and abilities, while working together seamlessly to achieve their goals. I also love the ships that sail during this book, but no spoilers as to which ones!

The plot of this series was really top level, and it culminated in a very well scripted final action scene… which basically was the last half of the book. The ending made me feel so many emotions, all at the same time. I even cycled through several emotions a few times. It was back and forth, give and take, with so many twist and turns. The epilogue was SO needed and continued the emotions.

Seriously, read this series if you love Asian inspired fantasies such as Wicked Fox and Descendant of the Crane.

Happy reading, folks!

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 – Don’t Read the Comments

Title: Don’t Read the Comments

Author: Eric Smith

Publisher: Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 28th, 2020

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight. 

Review

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

Divya is a high school student who spends her time on Glitch, a gaming website where she is an influencer. She has thousands of followers and plays the game, Reclaim the Sun, a space exploration gaming program. This is her income as she attempts to support her mom financially through grad school after her father leaves them to start a new life. Divya is known online as D1V, and is always super careful about how much personal information she gives out. Unfortunately, she is attacked in the game by some racist, sexist dudes who send her a photo of her house to scare her. Don’t Read the Comments follows Divya as she deals with online trolls who take the trolling off the internet and into her life, while she is also trying to learn how to trust people. It’s a hard task for her, let me tell you.

Divya meets Aaron, the other POV in this book, within the game and over the book she learns to trust him even which the attacks happening to her and her family. Aaron is a gamer whose dream is to write the scripts for games, not be a doctor like his mom wants. He works for his friend who owns a gaming company, even though the money for his work hasn’t come around yet. His story follows him helping Divya and dealing with his career and life within the gaming community.

I enjoyed this book, even though gaming is not my style. It was a great story about online trolling, the rampant racism and sexism in the gaming community, and find friendship among the fray. There is assault, harassment, and hurtful comments thrown at Divya because “she deserves it” for being well known on the internet and being a brown girl in gaming. It’s super annoying, but unfortunately accurate to how people are treated in male dominated areas.

I enjoyed the dual POV’s a lot, it was nice to see the story from both Divya and Aaron’s perspectives. Their stories intertwine but are still very separate. The love story is nice and simply, not much because they are high schoolers. The focus is more on the friendship and trust between two people who met online rather than the romantic nature that could happen between them.

For fans of video games and contemporary novels, Don’t Read the Comments will be the nerdy book you’ve been waiting for.

happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – A Love Hate Thing

Title: A Love Hate Thing

Author: Whitney D. Grandison

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

448 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.

Review

**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Netgalley, and Whitney D. Grandison for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Tyson Trice recently underwent a terrible family tragedy, which has left him broken and confused living with the family of a childhood friend he hasn’t seen in 10 years. He is from Lindenwood, a notoriously dangerous area of town, and is now living in Pacific Hills – the rich area. He sticks out like a sore thumb, and he knows it. Nandy is not happy her parents decided to take Tyson in after 10 years, she has perfected her Pacific Hills Queen image and wants nothing that will tarnish that. Also, Tyson is not the 7 year old boy she remembers, this Tyson is hard and scary – and she wants none of that in her life.

Tyson and Nandy go through a whole lot in this novel, and it really is a tale of learning to look past prejudice and bias while recovering from personal loss. This story is not simple or easy, but it’s theirs. It is important to see how far Tyson is able to come back from the brink, and what Nandy can do to grow past her misconceptions. Both learn from each other throughout the novel, even if they aren’t on good terms.

A Love Hate Thing reminded me of the movie The Blind Side. Rich family takes in an underprivileged boy from a rough background. It’s not exactly a 1:1 comparison because there’s no sports involved and the family knew Tyson before he was taken in – but the gist of it was similar. Similar acceptance themes in the affluent community is seen, and I almost think the side character’s interactions with Tyson were more important that Nandy’s. It’s easy to assume Nandy will come around and break barriers (because she’s a MC) but to have the side character’s also noticeably learn from the experience was fun.

This book is LONG. Almost 500 pages focused on Tyson and Nandy’s summer before senior year of high school. There were times that I felt the book continued on past what it needed to, or parts of it could be cut out. It just felt like too much. The story is told in alternating chapters between Tyson and Nandy’s POV – so you get different side characters depending on who’s POV you’re reading at the time – but they do all overlap. I love contemporaries that have a romance component, and especially love when part of it is told from the male (or alternate) partner’s perspective. I feel like it rounds out the book to get both sides.

Go check out A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison, her debut novel!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂