Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James


BOOK INFO

Title: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe
Author: Lauren James
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publish Date: July 3, 2018
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Series: na
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.83


BOOK BLURB

A surprising and gripping sci-fi thriller with a killer twist

The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on the Infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth.

Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity.

Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone…

Now nominated as a YALSA Quick Pick!



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MY REVIEW

Romy is sixteen years old and alone in space. Her astronaut parents have died, and she’s left alone on a spaceship traveling to an Earth-like planet. She has been alone for years, but NASA has alerted her they are sending another spaceship to join her. Romy and J, the captain of the other spaceship, start exchanging messages. Their friendship grows and Romy starts to feel less alone. As J nears Romy, she learns his mission is not exactly well-intentioned.

Romy is a teen girl trapped on a spaceship. She’s smart and savvy. Her parents trained her well, and she’s competent with the ship. She has been alone for five years, and has her routine to stay busy. She studies, watches her favorite shows, and looks forward to her daily communication from Molly, a psychiatrist with NASA. She’s lonely though. She’s surrounded by darkness and has no escape. Communication exchanges takes years to reach Earth, so she’s truly alone. When she learns that someone is coming to join her, she feels a range of emotions. This story is all about Romy – her thoughts, emotions, and fears.

An entertaining YA sci-fi novel. This novel sounds fairly depressing, but Romy is stronger than most. For one, she was raised in space, so she’s never known anything outside her spaceship. The excitement really picks up later in the book, when Romy realizes J is not everything she imagined.

I don’t remember where I first heard about this book, but I’m glad I picked it up to read. It was an entertaining and well written book. Mysterious, absorbing, and surprising.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: #Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil

#murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil


BOOK INFO

Title: #Murdertrending
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Publisher: Freeform
Publish Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Young Adult – Mystery
Series: MurderTrending #1
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.77


BOOK BLURB

@doctorfusionbebop: Some 17 y. o. chick named Dee Guerrera was just sent to Alcatraz 2.0 for killing her stepsister. So, how long do you think she’ll last?

@morrisdavis72195: I hope she meets justice! She’ll get what’s coming to her! BWAHAHA!

@EltonJohnForevzz: Me? I think Dee’s innocent. And I hope she can survive.

WELCOME TO THE NEAR FUTURE, where good and honest citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society’s most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0.

When seventeen-year-old Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, she realizes she’s about to be the next victim of the app. Knowing hardened criminals are getting a taste of their own medicine in this place is one thing, but Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn’t commit. Can Dee and her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, prove she’s innocent before she ends up wrongfully murdered for the world to see? Or will The Postman’s cast of executioners kill them off one by one?



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MY REVIEW

Dee is a teenager who has been found guilty of killing her stepsister. Dee maintains her innocence, but ends up in Alcatraz 2.0 anyway. Alcatraz 2.0 is a prison where convicted murderers are sent and killed while the public watches. The inmates live in a town setting and never know when or how they will die. The executioners, known as the Painiacs, are brutal killers who take pleasure in elaborate kills to promote views on the web.

Soon after arriving at Alcatraz 2.0, Dee meets some other young people who also seem to be innocent. Dee knows not to trust anyone, but she needs help if she’s going to survive Alcatraz 2.0. Dee and the others suspect something is not right at Alcatraz 2.0, and set out to expose the corruption to the viewing public, while also trying to evade the Painiacs.

A disturbing story that seems like something that could happen. The idea of public executions is not new, but the brutal killings in this book highlight the bloodlust atmosphere found online. Also, the success of Alcatraz 2.0 depends on public opinion, which means videos/posts going viral and trending on the web. While there is plenty of blood and gore in this book, it also includes some humor. For example, Dee and her fellow inmates become known as the Death Row Breakfast Club – stereotypical characters like the jock, the nerd, and the princess.

This book is not all that well-written, but it is entertaining and fun to read. A fast-paced and exciting story of murder and mayhem.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

BOOK INFO
Title: Sword and Pen
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: September 3, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Great Library #5
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.51

BOOK BLURB
via Amazon:
With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it’s worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library… or see everything it stood for crumble.


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MY REVIEW
The fifth and final book in The Great Library series by Rachel Caine. This fantasy series involves an imaginative world where owning books is banned and information from books is controlled by the Great Library.

The world-building in this series is fantastic. The assorted cast of characters have really grown as the series has progressed. The characters have worked hard to bring down the corruption in the Great Library, but the future of the Library is unknown as multiple sides vie for control. Since this is the final book, everything comes to an end and the characters get closure.

A series that readers can easily get lost in. Diverse characters, plenty of action, and intriguing story. Recommended to fans of YA fantasy and dystopian series. Creative, adventurous, and engaging.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: They Could Have Named Her Anything by Stephanie Jimenez

They Could Have Named Her Anything by Stephanie Jimenez


BOOK INFO

Title: They Could Have Named Her Anything
Author: Stephanie Jimenez
Publisher: Little A
Publish Date: August 1, 2019
Genre: YA – Contemporary
Series: n/a
Goodreads Ratings: Me 2.0 / Community 3.21


BOOK BLURB

Racism, class, and betrayal collide in this poignant debut novel about restoring the broken bonds of family and friendship.

Every morning, seventeen-year-old Maria Anís Rosario takes the subway an hour from her boisterous and close-knit family in Queens to her private high school on the Upper East Side, where she struggles to fit in as one of the only Latina students—until Rocky welcomes her into this new life. White, rebellious, and ignored by her wealthy parents, Rocky uses her money toward one goal: to get away with anything. To Maria, it’s a dazzling privilege.

As a bond develops between these unlikely friends, neither can see what they share most—jealousy and the desire for each other’s lives. But crackling under the surface of their seemingly supportive alliance, the girls begin to commit little betrayals as they strive to get closer to their ideals regardless of the consequences.

Told from the perspectives of Maria, Rocky, and their fathers, They Could Have Named Her Anything explores the heartfelt expectation of what it means to live up to the name you’ve been given and the more rewarding discovery of what really matters.


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MY REVIEW

Maria and Rocky form an unlikely friendship. Maria is a scholarship student at a private school, where Rocky is one of the more privileged students. Both Maria and Rocky have struggles in their lives.

Told mostly from Maria’s point of view, but also includes POVs from Rocky, Miguel, and Charlie. Maria’s family is struggling financially, she is in an unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend, and she suffers from depression. Rocky’s parents are going through a divorce, and she feels lonely and neglected. Miguel is Maria’s father, who has recently lost his job. Charlie is Rocky’s father, who is attracted to Maria.

I’m not sure what the point of this books is. It covers a lot, but doesn’t go deep into anything. There is a lot of inappropriate behavior, and it all seems to be ignored or normalized. Add in an abrupt ending that doesn’t show much growth in the characters, and this novel leaves a lot to be desired.

A contemporary young adult novel. Flawed characters and lots of drama.

This was my Amazon First Reads pick in July 2019.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

Book Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Finale by Stephanie Garber

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: Finale
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: May 7, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Caraval #3
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.30

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in Stephanie Garber’s #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series!

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…

Finale by Stephanie Garber
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MY REVIEW
The third and final book in the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber. Caraval may be over, but there is more to Tella and Scarlett’s stories. Favorite characters are back, and new characters are introduced.

Told with the alternating points of view of Tella and Scarlett. They have individual storylines, but they are also part of the same larger story. Their individual stories mostly focus on their love lives. In the larger story, the Fates have been freed and are a tremendous threat to Valenda.

This is a series that must be read in order. I enjoyed my time in the world of Caraval and Valenda. The worldbuilding is creative and vivid. The characters are intriguing. While I enjoyed this final book in the series, I liked the first two books, Caraval and Legendary better. A fantastic young adult fantasy series. Magical and enchanting.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: King of Fools by Amanda Foody

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: King of Fools
Author: Amanda Foody
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publish Date: April 30, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Shadow Game #2
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 4.24

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all…

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Séance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with the estranged son of mafia donna Vianca Augustine. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by Vianca’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…



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MY REVIEW
The second book in The Shadow Game series by Amanda Foody. This book picks up where the first book, Ace of Shadows, ended.

Favorite characters are back (Enne, Levi, Jac) and new characters are introduced. The characters in this series are so intriguing. This novel is told using multiple points of view, which gives insight into several characters. I especially love the strong female characters.

The fun thing about this series is the politics in New Reynes. With so many people trying to be in power, nobody can be trusted. That’s made very clear in this book.

This YA fantasy series is action-packed and fun to read. I can’t wait for the next book… especially after that ending.

I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: Four Dead Queens
Author: Astrid Scholte
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publish Date: February 26, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 3.79

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Four dead queens. Three days to catch a killer. Two forbidden romances.
One shocking twist you won’t see coming.

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.


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MY REVIEW
Keralie is a skilled thief. Varin is a on a mission to deliver a package. When Keralie steals the package, both Keralie and Varin are caught up in a conspiracy that results in four dead queens.

A standalone young adult fantasy novel. I enjoy YA fantasy, and am always happy to see standalone reads for those of us not wanting to get into another series. Anyway, I enjoyed the world in this one. Quadara is divided into four quadrants – Archia, Eonia, Ludia, and Toria. Each quadrant has a queen (Iris, Corra, Stessa, and Marguerite) and a specialty/trade (agriculture, technology, arts, and commerce). This is reminiscent of Divergent, but it works in a different way for this novel.

Told with alternating points of view – Keralie and the four queens of Quadara (Iris, Corra, Stessa, and Marguerite). Based on the title, the reader knows the queens are expected to die. Keralie is a thief who gets caught up in the conspiracy around the deaths of the queens. An interesting idea, but the multiple viewpoints didn’t completely work for me. I know multiple POVs are popular, but, for me, it often makes the story not flow as well. Keralie is well-developed and I enjoyed learning about her. The queens are not as well-developed, but there were glimpses of very interesting characters in them.

A murder mystery fantasy. I enjoyed the mystery and fantasy aspects of this novel. I was not a big fan of the romance. It was unnecessary and lacked chemistry.

A great debut novel. I look forward to more from this author. Exciting, fun, and imaginative.

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.

Book Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publish Date: January 8, 2019
Genre: Young Adult – Mystery
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 4.01

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone has declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.


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MY REVIEW
Twins Ellery and Ezra move to Echo Ridge to live with their grandmother. They’ve never been to the small town, but they’ve heard about it. When their aunt was a teenager, she went missing from there. Then, five years ago, the homecoming queen was killed. Before the twins even get settled in their new town, someone starts threatening the newest homecoming court.

Told using the alternating points of view of Ellery and Malcolm. Ellery is not happy with the move to Echo Ridge. She has a hard time adjusting to the new town and finding where she fits in. Ellery loves true crime, and soon becomes interested in the town’s past mysteries. Malcolm’s a decent teen with a sordid connection – his brother was the prime suspect in the death of the homecoming queen five years earlier. For that reason, Malcolm feels like people judge him and expect the worst.

Ellery and Malcolm hit it off, and are soon working together to solve the local mysteries. As Ellery tries to discover who is behind the current threats, she learns of her family’s connections to various town residents. It seems everyone has secrets.

A solid YA mystery with intriguing characters. Fast-paced, compelling, and entertaining.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase.

BOOK INFO
Title: In an Absent Dream
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: Tor.com
Publish Date: January 8, 2019
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 3.0 / Community 4.28

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
A stand-alone fantasy tale from Seanan McGuire’s Alex award-winning Wayward Children series, which began in the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List Every Heart a Doorway

This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.


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MY REVIEW
Lundy is smart, serious, and lonely. When she finds a doorway leading to a world based on logic and reason, she thinks she has found home. In this world, everything has a cost and must be given fair value. Everyone who doesn’t pay what they owe or tries to outsmart the system is punished.

The fourth book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. This book is Lundy’s story, and tells of the magical world she entered through her doorway. Lundy was introduced in the first book, Every Heart a Doorway. I recommend reading Every Heart a Doorway first, but In an Absent Dream can be read as a standalone.

I enjoy the imaginative worlds in this series. This book continues the magic with the unique world of the Goblin Market. Lundy is an interesting character, and I enjoyed reading her story. Admittedly, this isn’t my favorite book in the series, but I did enjoy it. A good addition to this YA fantasy series.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review: Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle

Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle

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BOOK INFO
Title: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: February 14, 2019
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Goodreads Ratings: Me 4.0 / Community 3.80

BOOK BLURB
from Amazon:
Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent.

When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.


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MY REVIEW
It has been arranged for Princess Charlotte of Besmium to marry Prince Young of Vires. Charlotte is not excited about marrying Young, and their relationship gets off to a rocky start. However, before the nuptials take place, Besmium is attacked. It is up to Charlotte to decide what is right for her kingdom.

Told with alternating points of view from Princess Charlotte, Prince Young, and a a few other characters. Most of the story is from Charlotte and Young’s POVs, but a few chapters are from other characters – Minseo, Emmett, and Milly. Minseo is Young’s brother. Emmett is a prince competing for Charlotte’s hand in marriage. Milly is Charlotte’s lady-in-waiting. I enjoyed the alternating POVs from Charlotte and Young, and felt it added to the story.

Charlotte is a spoiled and selfish princess. Unfortunately for her, her kingdom is on the verge of war, and she needs to marry to help save Besmium. Prince Young is a kind and honorable prince. With their union, his family’s kingdom of Vires will have a strong alliance with Besmium. When Besmium is attacked on their wedding day, the future of their relationship and the kingdom of Besmium is at risk.

This is a standalone young adult fantasy novel. With so many YA fantasies being part of a series, it was refreshing to read a standalone novel in this genre. The characters are diverse, and I enjoyed that the multi-cultural aspect of the story was written simply and without fanfare.

I found this book to be light and entertaining. It’s not very long, and made for a quick read. My only complaint is that the characters were not very well-developed. I would have liked to go a little deeper into some of their stories. Due to that aspect, I would say this is more geared toward younger teens. Overall, a fun, charming, and fast-paced book.

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.