Gemina

GeminaTitle: Gemina
Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date: October 18, 2016
Pages: 659
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The saga that began with Illuminae continues on board the space station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter, Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum may be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival. The fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.


Gemina was great! While I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Illuminae, it was a very strong sequel. We’re introduced to a new cast of characters (notably Hanna and Nik) and at first it’s not clear how the story relates to Illuminae. Once we get into the action though, the connection is obvious.

My favorite part of Gemina is the suspense and the overarching storyline. I literally freak out reading these books! I’m on the edge of my seat, frantically turning pages and trying to devour every word. It’s great! On top of that, the writing is really awesome. It feels like I’m reading a movie. The personalities jump off the page and the scenes are so detailed, it’s like you’re watching them.

As soon as I closed the book, I wanted more. I can’t wait to see where the story wraps up and I’m seriously hoping this gets optioned as a movie. Have you started this series yet?

How to Game the Walk of Shame

How to Game the Walk of ShameTitle: The Way to Game the Walk of Shame
Author: Jenn P. Nguyen
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Date: June 7, 2016
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Taylor Simmons is screwed.

Things were hard enough when her single-minded dedication to her studies earned her the reputation of being an Ice Queen, but after getting drunk at a party and waking up next to bad boy surfer Evan McKinley, the entire school seems intent on tearing Taylor down with mockery and gossip.

Desperate to salvage her reputation, Taylor persuades Evan to pretend they’re in a serious romantic relationship. After all, it’s better to be the girl who tames the wild surfer than just another notch on his surfboard.


How to Game the Walk of Shame is my kind of book. I adore the fake-dating trope. There is something about it, that just tends to work for me. I think it allows the characters to fall for each other slowly, and it creates a lot of adorably awkward moments.

Many of the elements of this story have been done before, but it just worked for me. I loved Taylor and Evan and the differences in their personalities. If it wasn’t for their little mix up, they wouldn’t even be friends. But it’s those same differences that make them work. Taylor needs to learn to chill out and enjoy life, while Evan desperately needs direction and some one to push him to do his best.

How to Game the Walk of Shame is not original in concept, but I still freaking adored it. It’s the kind of contemporary that pulls you in and just won’t let you go until you read the last page. If you’re looking for a romantic story you can fly through, How to Game the Walk of Shame is for you!

Dream On

Dream OnTitle: Dream On
Author: Kerstin Gier
Series: Silver #2
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Things seem to be going well for Liv Silver: she’s adjusting to her new home in London; she has a burgeoning romance with Henry Harper, one of the cutest boys in school; and the girl who’s been turning her dreams into nightmares, Anabel, is now locked up. But serenity doesn’t last for long.

It seems that Liv’s troubles are far from over—in fact, suddenly they’re piling up. School gossip blogger Secrecy knows all of Liv’s most intimate secrets, Henry might be hiding something from her, and at night Liv senses a dark presence following her through the corridors of the dream world. Does someone have a score to settle with Liv?


Dream On is even stronger than Dream a Little Dream,. Now that the initial world building is out of the way, we’re able to get a little deeper into the crazy dream world that Gier has created — and it’s awesome. With the way book 1 ended, you might assume that the creepiness is over and I am happy to say that is not the case at all. If possible, Dream On is even more creepy.

Dreams can be very happy and whimsical, but they can also be terrifying. As someone who is prone to nightmares, I enjoyed seeing the darker side of dreams — although, Dream On got much, much darker than my dreams. The elements I loved in Dream a Little Dream are still present (mystery, romance, awesome characters), but what’s really sucking me into the story is the exploration of the dream world.

While it was wonderful getting a more in depth look at the whole shared dreaming thing, I know we’ve just started to scratch the surface. I’m really looking forward to seeing how everything wraps up in the final book and seeing what fun secrets are in store for us!

Love, Lies and Spies

Love, Lies and SpiesTitle: Love, Lies and Spies
Author: Cindy Anstey
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Date: April 19, 2016
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.


Love, Lies and Spies is adorable. If you like Julianne Donaldson’s Edenbrooke or Blackmoore, you should definitely give this book of shot! Also a good choice for Pride & Prejudice fans. It had all of my favorite elements for a historical romance—a character that is strong and independent who chooses to defy the rules society has set for her, an innocent romance full of good banter, and of course some adventure! I also loved the “fake dating” aspect since that’s one of my favorite tropes.

The novel also had some really terrible characters. Don’t worry, they were the villains so we weren’t supposed to like them anyway. But they sucked so much I just had to mention how absolutely AWFUL they were. I actually didn’t really like too many characters throughout the novel. Our main characters, Juliana and Spencer were great and their best friends were fine, but other than that we just have a lot of sucky and unmemorable people.

My favorite aspect was the romance because it was just so cute and fun to read, but the “spies” element of the novel was a really fun addition. It added an air of mystery and it was really fun to try and guess who the enemy spies were. It was just a really enjoyable read and I highly recommend it for spring/summer.

No Love Allowed

No Love AllowedTitle: No Love Allowed
Author: Kate Evangelista
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Date: April 19, 2016
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
3 Stars

SYNOPSIS

It's all fun and parties until someone falls in love in this modern fairy tale from author Kate Evangelista.

Caleb desperately needs a fake girlfriend. Either he attends a series of parties for his father’s law firm with a pretty girl on his arm, or he gets shipped off to Yale to start a future he’s not ready for and isn’t sure he wants. And sadly, the last unattached girl in his social circle has just made the grievous mistake of falling in love with him. Fortunately, Didi, recently fired waitress and aspiring painter, is open to new experiences. As the summer ticks by in a whirl of lavish parties, there’s only one rule: They must not fall in love!


reallyreally wanted to like this one. But I just didn’t. I enjoyed the writing style and read the book rather quickly, but there were a few little things that just kept me from really enjoying it.

Let’s start with the concept of the book: two people fake date and promise not to fall in love. I love this trope! I’ve enjoyed every single book I’ve read that has this element in it. Well — every single book besides this one. It allows the characters to be together and form feelings naturally, while also  allowing them to resist their obvious attraction (for good reasons).

I liked the fake dating aspect of No Love Allowed a lot. The chemistry between the characters was great! What I didn’t like is all of the dramatics. Caleb just graduated high school. He seems overly paranoid about the people in his high-class society trying to marry him off. I just couldn’t take all of the settling down comments. He just finished HIGH SCHOOL!

If the characters had been aged up and just finished college, I would have found it a lot more believable and enjoyable. While No Love Allowed definitely got on my nerves, I’m actually looking forward to reading more books by Kate Evangelista in the future. I really enjoyed her writing style and I think I’ll enjoy other books by her. This one just wasn’t for me.

Assassin’s Heart

Assassin’s HeartTitle: Assassin's Heart
Author: Sarah Ahiers
Series: Assassin's Heart #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 420
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
2 Stars

SYNOPSIS

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.


I thought Assassin’s Heart would be right up my alley. I love revenge stories and forbidden love is usually a nice addition, but this book was a total miss for me. From the very beginning, I found myself wishing the story was something else altogether.

We know from the synopsis that the main character, Lea, loses her entire family because of her boyfriend’s betrayal. This happens in the first few chapters and you know what? I felt nothing. NOTHING. We only saw Lea and her boyfriend, Val, together for a chapter or two and we saw her family very, very briefly. They were slaughtered and I wasn’t sad. I didn’t even feel shocked or angry by Val’s actions. I felt nothing.

This book would have worked a lot better if it was the second in the series and not the first. If book 1 had spent time on world building, learning about the assassin culture, getting to know Lea’s family and watching Lea and Val falling madly in love, followed by Val’s massive betrayal, I would have felt a lot more. I would have been surprised at Val’s actions and saddened by the loss of characters I’d grown to love. Well, I hope I would have anyway. 🙂 Really all depends on how good the writing is!

Since the book is pitched as Romeo & Juliet meets The Godfather, I was expecting a ton of romance and revenge. It was light on romance, and while the revenge theme was present, it was boring. It took roughly 100 pages for our main character to stop traveling alone (boring) and the rest of the book was spent on revenge preparations (surprisingly boring), followed by some action at the end (not boring, but a lot of eye-rolling moments).

I guess you could say I’m not a fan. Since I didn’t completely hate this book, I’m giving it 2 stars instead of 1. It was boring, but it wasn’t completely awful. The sad part is that it really did have potential. I just don’t think it was well-executed.

What You Always Wanted

What You Always WantedTitle: What You Always Wanted
Author: Kristin Rae
Series: If Only . . . #8
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Date: March 29, 2016
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

If only…he was the boy she’s been dreaming of.

Theatre girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she’s struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family—but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theatre’s dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball—not dance—is Jesse’s passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?

This fun, high school theatre romance in the If Only line is for anyone who has ever wished for that impossibly perfect guy.


What You Always Wanted was really cute! This is exactly the type of book I look for when I pick up a contemporary: fast, fun, and full of the cute, innocent type of love.

I am happy to say that the characters didn’t get on my nerves! Sometimes when I pick up a YA contemporary, it’s perfect in every sense with the exception the characters. I hate overly whiny, angsty characters that are just way too dramatic. They’re not fun to read about. The characters in What You Always Wanted are young, but fortunately Kristin Rae knows that young doesn’t have to mean dumb!

I loved that both Maddie and Jesse were future-oriented. They both had career goals and dreams they were actively pursuing. Maddie managed to create a bit of drama regarding Jesse’s goals, but it was just enough to push the story forward and keep the reader interested without being over-the-top.

If you’re a fan of innocent romances, What You Always Wanted is a great book to pick up. I’m looking forward to checking out more of Kristin’s work in the future!

Into The Dim

Into The DimTitle: Into the Dim (Into the Dim, #1)
Author: Janet B. Taylor
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.


I really enjoyed Into the Dim! The time travel and family drama aspects were amazing and it definitely left me wanting more! I was a bit disappointed in the romance, but it is such an insignificant part of the novel that I was ok with the love story being less than stellar.

Let’s start of with time travel. For those of you who don’t know, I love time travel books! I’ve read quite a few over the years, and the time travel in this book was pretty good. There were some things that didn’t quite make sense to me about how the time travel process actually worked, but that’s ok. While I would have preferred a better explanation and rules that made a little more sense, a big part of time travel novels is the setting and adventure.

Janet B. Taylor did an excellent job of making me feel like I was in the time and place the characters went to. I felt the danger of the 12th century and the shift in attitudes towards women and Jews. PS – the 12th century sounds terrible and I definitely wouldn’t want to live there. I enjoyed the imagery and the inclusion of historical details though.

And then of course we have the adventure!  I love books with quests in them because they tend to be fast-paced and exciting — Into the Dim was no exception. From the moment we step into the past, it’s pretty non-stop. There are tons of things to explore,  new sights to see, and of course there is the business of finding Hope’s mom.

I’m excited to see how everything plays out in book 2 and if you’re also a time travel fan, I would definitely give Into the Dim a shot.

These Vicious Masks

These Vicious MasksTitle: These Vicious Masks
Author: Tarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas
Series: These Vicious Masks #1
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Date: February 9, 2016
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
4 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.


I really enjoyed this one! It had a Jane Austen feel to it with a lot of magic — a combination I was bound to adore. I actually had a little bit of trouble getting into it at first because the main character felt a bit juvenile and whiny in the first chapter or two. I’m happy to say that quickly changed and we end up on a really good adventure.

Once her sister (Rose) goes missing, Evelyn will stop at nothing to figure out what happened to her. I loved her strength and determination, as well as her refusal to sit back and let the men in her life try to solve her problem for her. The supporting characters were also fun to read about – they weren’t all likable or even smart, but they were certainly entertaining!

The world building was intriguing, but I have the feeling we’ve only scratched the surface and there is a lot more to come. I’m very much looking forward to getting deeper into the dark, sinister parts. Based on this book, we definitely know there is more danger coming!

My favorite part of These Vicious Masks was, without a doubt, the adventure. The quest to find the missing sister was chalked full of twists and turns. We ended up seeing a lot of seedy and dangerous places as Evelyn attempts to locate Rose and I was definitely surprised at the circumstances the characters find themselves in.

If you like books with magic, fast-paced quests, and a Jane Austen feel, you should absolutely give These Vicious Masks a shot.

The Shadow Queen

The Shadow QueenTitle: The Shadow Queen
Author: C.J. Redwine
Series: Ravenspire
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Date: February 16, 2016
Pages: 387
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
4.5 Stars

SYNOPSIS

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.


The Shadow Queen combined all of my favorite elements from other Snow White retellings with some cool new twists (dragons and extra magic)! I really enjoyed Redwine’s take on the story, and thought the characters were endearing. The pacing was wonderful (especially once our main character finds the extra motivation she needs to take on the evil Queen) and I found myself eagerly waiting to find out how it would all end.

Let’s start off with the characters because it was one of my favorite parts of the story. We have a very strong Snow White (Lorelai), an odd huntsman/Charming mash-up (Kol), evil Queen (Irina), and the most adorable brother ever (Leo). Leo was my favorite by far — he was daring, smart, brave, and funny. I definitely wish we’d seen more of him. Lorelai was a perfectly respectable, kick-butt Snow White. I loved her anger and determination. Kol was a bit cliche – he had that whole playboy, party-hard but with a heart of gold thing going on. Not a huge fan of the type of character, but I liked that he was a dragon!

Then there’s Irina. Similar to Regina from Once Upon a Time, we find that there are things in Irina’s past that “caused” her to turn wicked. There are a lot of parallels between their characters and storylines, but Regina ends up being a sympathetic villain while Irina is just plain unlikable. The attempts to make Irina more understandable and perhaps a bit pitiable just didn’t work.

Characters aside, C.J. Redwine gives us some cool world building with magic and dragons. I love magic and dragons, so seeing that incorporated was definitely fun! I’m also a fan of the writing/pacing. Redwine knows how to keep you turning pages. The war between Irina and Lorelai was intense and every battle left you wanting more. I loved the strategy Lorelai used and how we saw her growing stronger with each victory.

If you’re into fairy tales or fantasy, you’re going to want to pick up The Shadow Queen. It’s a strong take on the Snow White tale and incorporates some of my favorite aspects of other Snow White retellings, while also adding in a few original twists.