Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

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Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.

Review: The concept of this book sounded so super interesting. I’ve never read an Amanda Hocking book before, so I thought I’d start with this one. Unfortunately it took me 26 chapters to actually get into the story. Malin seems like a great character – albeit one who’s super confused about love. This turns out to make her relationships kind of annoying. I also wasn’t expecting the Valkyries to be like they were in the book. I guess I’m used to the Valkyries from Rick Riordan books and other mythological stories I’ve read, so this was kind of hard to wrap my head around. Once I got through the first 26 chapters, the action seemed to pick up for me, and I did start enjoying it more. Will I read the next book in the series? Yes! Only because I need to know what happens next! If you’re into Valkyries, you may want to pick up this book – just know it’s not the Valkyries you may be used to!

I received this ARC as part of Miss Print’s ARC Adoption Program.

Rating:three stars

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Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

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Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

Review: This book was pretty good. I was a little confused with all the characters, but after a few chapters I started feeling deeper connections with them. Obviously as Andi is the main character, I felt the most connection with her. Andi reminded me a lot of Celaena from Throne of Glass. Andi had something tragic happen in her past that she’s trying to run away from. Andi is a person who has taken to killing people (she’s a Space Pirate). I loved Andi through and through. She is terribly flawed and that made her all the more appealing to me. The plot was fast paced for me. I didn’t want to put the book down. Her mission that she is forced to undertake has made me wonder what’s really going on in the galaxy of Mirabel. I have a lot of questions left unanswered, so this makes me excited for the next book. Overall, this is a pretty good action adventure sci-fi novel!

Rating:four stars

Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

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Beautiful. Perfect. Dead.

In the peaceful seaside town of Cape Bonita, wicked secrets and lies are hidden just beneath the surface. But all it takes is one tragedy for them to be exposed.

The most popular girls in school are turning up dead, and Penelope Malone is terrified she’s next. All the victims so far have been linked to Penelope—and to a boy from her physics class. The one she’s never really noticed before, with the rumored dark past and a brooding stare that cuts right through her.

There’s something he isn’t telling her. But there’s something she’s not telling him, either.

Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed. 

Review: This book started out so good, but about half way through I guessed who the killer was. While I didn’t particularly care for Penelope as a character, I did care about Cass. Penelope was the typical mean popular girl – though she wasn’t as mean as her other friends seemed to be. At first I thought maybe Penelope was a nice girl, but that thought fled by the end of her first chapter. She treated everyone around her like dirt and was bratty throughout the novel. I liked that the novel was told from Penelope’s point of view with some chapters by the killer thrown in. I still have a lot of unanswered questions especially about Cass and his parents. Cass was the most interesting character in the book, and I kind of wish this had been told from him point of view instead of Penelope’s. I’m glad I got the chance to read this, but I’m not sure it’s one I’d ever reread.

Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for giving me a free eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating:three stars

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Bernard

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Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.

Review: This was a very powerful book. Steffi as a character with bad anxiety is very relatable. This is one of those books that has one of the best representations of anxiety I’ve read. My anxiety isn’t as bad as Steffi’s, but I feel similar things as she did throughout the book. One of the biggest things I liked was how her meeting Rhys didn’t magically “fix” her. Too many books use a boy to fix mental health problems, fortunately this book wasn’t one of them. Rhys was also an amazing character. I can’t say how it was for the deaf representation since I’m not deaf or know anyone who is dead, but I found Rhys to be very likable. I felt like they both grew as characters throughout the book and the author made them seem very relatable! Overall, I think this is a great book, and I’m very glad I got a chance to review this!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for giving me an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!

Rating:four stars

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

Rating: 

This was a very powerful book. Going into this I had no idea what Huntington’s Disease was. One thing I really liked was that the author described what it was like, but it wasn’t in overly medical terms that confused a person. Throughout the story we follow Adina and Tovah, alternating perspectives in each chapter. I liked that. While I did not like Adina as a character, I felt like she was such a well written character. The things she does in the book make you want to scream at her. Tovah I found to be a lovely character and I loved her immensely. There’s a lot of drama in this book. Adina and Tovah take a test to find out if they’ll have Huntington’s Disease like their mom does. This made me think if I could find out I have a disease and prepare for it, would I want to know? The answer is I wouldn’t want to know. I also liked Adina and Tovah’s mom Ima. The author described her so perfectly and made Huntington’s sound so scary. I related to Adina and Tovah though because I’ve seen my mom decline after having a stroke. So I felt like I could relate to their experiences with their mom. Overall, this was a great book.

Trigger warning: Suicidal ideation, Self-harm

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for giving me a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Rating: four stars

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

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Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Review: I’d like to start off by saying that I’m not a huge fan of Batman, but since Marie Lu wrote this book I thought I’d pick it up and give it a chance. What I didn’t expect was to love this much! This book gives such a fresh perspective on Bruce Wayne and what he was like as a teenager. After so many reboots of the Batman story, this was perfect. I didn’t know I needed this story in my life until after I had finished it! Bruce seemed like an actual human – something that to me the movies seem to miss (but after how many Batmans in my lifetime this isn’t a surprise). I also liked Madeleine a lot. She wasn’t the good girl that you’d think Bruce Wayne would go for. She’s smart, she loves technology, but she’s not a good person. But I loved her so much and just wanted more from her character! The ending had me wanting more from this story! This is a really interesting concept for DC to do. I’m not a DC comic fan (Marvel all the way baby), but these books have me hooked! Will I read the comic books? Probably not. Will I watch the movies other than Wonder Woman? Probably not. But if they have more YA writers write about these characters, I’ll dive right in!

Rating:four stars

Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

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Seventeen-year-old Serendipity “Pity” Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. She’s been offered a life of fame and fortune in Cessation, a glittering city where lawlessness is a way of life. But the price she pays for her freedom may be too great….
In this extraordinary debut from Lyndsay Ely, the West is once again wild after a Second Civil War fractures the U.S. into a broken, dangerous land. Pity’s struggle against the dark and twisted underbelly of a corrupt city will haunt you long after the final bullet is shot.
 

Review: If you go into this book thinking it’s the next Vengeance Road or Retribution Rails, you will be sorely disappointed. While I enjoyed this book, I was hoping for more of a Vengeance Road feel. This book takes place after a second Civil War, so it’s got a dystopian feel. Things are like they were in the 1800’s, but we have high tech cars, machines, weapons, medicines, etc. So there is the hint of the Wild West, but only with the lawlessness and the gun-slinging girl. While I enjoyed the plot line, I felt the modern machines took away from the western feel of the story. Pity bugged me a bit throughout the book, but she was a pretty good narrator. Will I pick up the second book to read? Yes. Will I have to remember this isn’t the regular kind of western I fell in love with previously? Definitely! If you read this book, don’t go in comparing it to other YA westerns and you should be okay!

Rating:three stars