Review – ‘Future Leaders of Nowhere’ by Emily O’Beirne

Title:  Future Leaders of Nowhere
Author: Emily O’Beirne
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT+
Date of Publication: 15th March, 2017
Page Count: 270 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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“Finn’s solid. Not in body, but in being. She’s gravity and kindness and all those good things that anchor.”

“Willa’s confusing. Sometimes she’s this sweet, sensitive soul. Other times she’s like a flaming arrow you hope isn’t coming for you.”

Finn and Willa have been picked as team leaders in the future leader camp game. The usually confident Finn doesn’t know what’s throwing her more, the fact she’s leading a team of highly unenthusiastic overachievers or coming up against fierce, competitive Willa. And Willa doesn’t know which is harder, leaving her responsibilities behind to pursue her goals or opening up to someone.

Soon they both realise that the hardest thing of all is balancing their clashing ideals with their unexpected connection. And finding a way to win, of course.

In short: I loved this book. The main characters were endearing and easy to root for, the love story was gradually developed and their relationship had a solid foundation based on adorably nerdy interactions (no insta-love here!) and their conflicts felt grounded in their individual personalities and beliefs instead of contrived for drama. ALL THE YES.

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At length: This is everything I want in a YA novel!

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ARC Review – ‘Daughter of the Burning City’ by Amanda Foody

Title:  Daughter of the Burning City
Author: Amanda Foody
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT+
Date of Publication: 25th July, 2017
Page Count: 384 pages (hardback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

I wanted to love this more than I did. I have a lot of respect for the author’s vision and her ambition, but I feel that the execution was a little lacking. This is only her debut novel and it’s such an exciting and promising start, but there are definitely areas that needed more work.

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Let’s start with the positives: this is a stunningly original premise unlike anything I’ve come across before – most fantasy novels will display at least a couple common tropes, but this was a most unique and unusual standout in my reading experience. I didn’t even read the reviews before I requested an ARC because it was so refreshingly different.

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ARC review – ‘Sovereign’ by April Daniels

Title:  Sovereign
Author: April Daniels
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT+
Date of Publication: 25th July, 2017
Page Count: 350pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Only nine months after her debut as the fourth superhero to fight under the name Dreadnought, Danny Tozer is already a scarred veteran. Protecting a city the size of New Port is a team-sized job and she’s doing it alone. Between her newfound celebrity and her demanding cape duties, Dreadnought is stretched thin, and it’s only going to get worse.

When she crosses a newly discovered supervillain, Dreadnought comes under attack from all quarters. From her troubled family life to her disintegrating friendship with Calamity, there’s no trick too dirty and no lever too cruel for this villain to use against her.

She might be hard to kill, but there’s more than one way to destroy a hero. Before the war is over, Dreadnought will be forced to confront parts of herself she never wanted to acknowledge.

And behind it all, an old enemy waits in the wings to unleash a plot that will scar the world forever.

I loved the first book so much that I gave it a 5-star rating and was absolutely thrilled to be approved for an ARC of the second book – so how did I fare?

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I thought after weathering all the ups and downs of Dreadnought, I was prepared for the sequel, but I was SO wrong. This book hurt me on a deep spiritual level because of how much pain and suffering the protagonist went through, and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I was up til 3am finishing this off because I needed to know how it ended and if it would all be okay for Danny at any stage EVER.

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Review – ‘Break Me’ by Tiffany Snow

Title: Break Me
Author: Tiffany Snow
Genre:  Contemporary, Romance
Date of Publication: 14th March, 2017
Page Count: 316 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Just a few weeks ago, computer prodigy China Mack’s typical night in involved Endor Star Wars pajamas and a sensible bedtime. Now she’s dating gorgeous tech guru Jackson Cooper—one of Forbes’s Top Ten Eligible Billionaires—much to the Twitterverse’s delight.

Turns out, going from socially inept hermit to poster girl for geek chic has its challenges. China’s relationship gets even more complicated because her role heading the top-secret Vigilance program—where she’s partnered with Superman clone Clark Slattery—makes her a target. And when ruthless businessman Simon Lu plans to co-opt Vigilance software to blackmail government and military employees, he’ll need China’s cooperation—willing or otherwise.

But not every enemy is so easily identified. Some hide in plain sight, in very high places, and mistaking foe for friend could be the last mistake China ever makes…

I adored the first book in the ‘Corrupted Hearts’ series – I gave Follow Me a 5-star rating! This sequel fell rather short of the lofty standards set by its predecessor and I felt a bit disappointed after having anticipated this so much. The writing is smooth and assured, the mystery plot is snappy and intriguging, and it honestly had me glued to the screen, gasping in shock at some of the twists and turns. But while ‘Follow Me‘ didn’t have an obnoxious love triangle, its sequel unfortunately doubled down on that aspect.

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Review – ‘Geekerella’ by Ashley Poston

Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date of Publication: 4th April, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages (hard cover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Well, don’t I feel foolish now! I have to admit I was completely wrong about this book – I mistakenly requested this on Netgalley when I was really after Queens of Geek (reviewed here); it’s an easy mistake as they both have the word ‘Geek’ in the title, both about nerdy fangirls, both set at conventions… I loved Queens of Geek and didn’t feel like this would live up to its rival, but now I need to declare that I did Geekerella an injustice because it was a fantastic read!

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‘The Edge of the Abyss’ by Emily Skrutskie

Title: The Edge of the Abyss
Author: Emily Skrutskie
Genre:  Young Adult, Sci-fi, LGBT
Date of Publication: 18th April, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to the ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she’d been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it’s not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It’s being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart.

But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers that Bao is not the only monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against creatures she used to care for and protect?

Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?

This was a hard one for me to review – objectively, the author is quite talented; her characters leap off the page, there’s a ton of action and adventure, this alternate reality she’s crafted is amazingly original and the plot had me hooked. BUT I found the lead character so frustrating and some of her reactions and decisions were borderline nonsensical, so it was painful reading certain parts and having to resist the urge to hurl my phone across the room and scream.

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ARC Review – ‘Marry In Haste’ by Anne Gracie

Title:  Marry In Haste
Author: Anne Gracie
Genre:  Romance (Historical/Regency Romance)
Date of Publication: 2nd May, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

31621184.jpgFrom the award-winning author of The Summer Bride comes the first in a charming new historical romance series where marriages of convenience turn into true love matches.

Major Calbourne Rutherford returns to England on the trail of an assassin, only to find he’s become Lord Ashendon, with the responsibility for vast estates and dependent relatives. Cal can command the toughest of men, but his wild half-sisters are quite another matter. They might just be his undoing.

When he discovers that Miss Emmaline Westwood, the girls’ former teacher, guides them with ease, Cal offers her a marriage of convenience. But strong-minded and independent Emm is neither as compliant nor as proper as he expected, and Cal finds himself most inconveniently seduced by his convenient wife.

Emm knows they didn’t marry for love, yet beneath her husband’s austere facade, she catches glimpses of a man who takes her breath away. As pride, duty and passion clash, will these two stubborn hearts find more than they ever dreamed of?

I adore Anne Gracie’s romances and had high expectations for this one – thankfully, it did not disappoint! I can’t believe I’m giving so many 5-star reviews lately, but I’m on a winning streak so far. 😀

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Book Review: ‘Queens of Geek’ by Jen Wilde

Title:  Queens of Geek
Author: Jen Wilde
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Date of Publication: 14th March, 2017
Page Count: 288 pages (paperback)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

51822382.jpgWhen BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

This was such a sweet and heartwarming read. I feel that at times the writing was a little too simplistic, but the plotting and heart of the story swept me away too much to care.

Normally I’m not a fan of two or more different character POVs, but it worked well for me here and it means the reader gets to enjoy two absolutely adorable romances for the price of one. It also means the author can more realistically delve into different issues that many people suffer without it seeming overly melodramatic the way it would be if they were to saddle a sole main character with a whole ton of baggage.

I know I’ve said this many times, but I’ll repeat – I LOVE books that deal with mental illness and LGBT+ relationships, and this one featured both! One of the protagonists, Taylor, is a recently diagnosed ‘Aspie girl’ and struggling with anxiety issues and intermittent panic attacks; the other protagonist, Charlie, is a bisexual WOC!

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Book Review – ‘ 10 Things I Can See From Here’ by Carrie Mac

Title:  10 Things I Can See From Here
Author: Carrie Mac
Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Date of Publication: 28th February, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Perfect for fans of Finding Audrey and Everything, Everything, this is the poignant and uplifting story of Maeve, who is dealing with anxiety while falling in love with a girl who is not afraid of anything.

Think positive.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.

Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.

Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?

I like to read other people’s reviews to see if I’m in the majority of minority with my opinion, and I’m really surprised to see that my overwhelming love for this book isn’t the norm on Goodreads where it currently has an average rating of 3.64. Reading through some of the criticisms only reinforced my affection for the main character and her story, and I’m going to stubbornly hold onto my 5-star rating for this one!

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I requested this from Netgalley because the protagonist, Maeve, combines two character traits I relate to and therefore find most interesting to read about: she struggles with mental illness and she’s a lesbian. And on both counts, I was very pleased with how the author portrayed Maeve.

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Review – ‘Making Love’ by Aidan Wayne

Title:  Making Love
Author: Aidan Wayne
Genre:  Romance, Paranormal, LGBT
Date of Publication: 30th January, 2017
Page Count: 92 pages (ebook)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)

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Carla the cupid is an excellent shot, but her chemistry is so bad that most of her matches don’t last. Her dream is to shoot a True Love pair, but until her scores improve, she’s relegated to the Puppy Love division of Aphrodite Agency.

Leeta, a succubus, is looking for a True Love match. Which is highly unusual, as most succubi are aromantic. But Aphrodite Agency—her only hope—turns her away because the receptionist can’t believe she’s not just looking for an easy meal.

Carla agrees to take Leeta’s case on freelance. She figures it’s a win-win: Carla gets to put a succubus’s True Love match on her résumé, and Leeta gets to find her True Love! Except as Carla tries to find a match for Leeta, she finds herself maybe . . . relieved when the matches don’t end well. And Leeta seems to be getting pickier and pickier. Things will never work out until Carla learns enough about chemistry to figure out who’s truly best for Leeta, and until Leeta can admit what—or who—she truly wants.

Word Count: 22,800

I’m not a fan of novellas and I didn’t realize that’s what this was when I requested it…but this story is so  treacly sweet and works best in a small dose, so that ended up being a positive!

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