ARC Review – ‘A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor’ by Hank Green

TITLE: A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor
AUTHOR: Hank Green
GENRE: Contemporary, Science Fiction
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 320 pages
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Hachette Australia on July 14th, 2020
RRP: $29.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

April May and the Carls are back in the much-anticipated sequel to Hank Green’s #1 New York Times bestselling debut novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing.

The Carls disappeared the same way they appeared, in an instant. While they were on Earth, they caused confusion and destruction without ever lifting a finger. Well, that’s not exactly true. Part of their maelstrom was the sudden viral fame and untimely death of April May: a young woman who stumbled into Carl’s path, giving them their name, becoming their advocate, and putting herself in the middle of an avalanche of conspiracy theories.

Months later, the world is as confused as ever. Andy has picked up April’s mantle of fame, speaking at conferences and online about the world post-Carl; Maya, ravaged by grief, begins to follow a string of mysteries that she is convinced will lead her to April; and Miranda infiltrates a new scientific operation . . . one that might have repercussions beyond anyone’s comprehension.

As they each get further down their own paths, a series of clues arrive—mysterious books that seem to predict the future and control the actions of their readers; unexplained internet outages; and more—which seem to suggest April may be very much alive. In the midst of the gang’s possible reunion is a growing force, something that wants to capture our consciousness and even control our reality.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor is the bold and brilliant follow-up to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It’s a fast-paced adventure that is also a biting social commentary, asking hard, urgent questions. How will we live online? What powers over our lives are we giving away for free? Who has the right to change the world forever? And how do we find comfort in an increasingly isolated world?

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was an exciting rollercoaster ride of a book that gave me thrills and chills, a barrel of laughs and then caused me to internally screech in agony with a killer cliffhanger. I’ve been desperately craving this sequel for 18 months so it had a LOT of expectations to live up to…but wow, this book completely smashed through and exceeded them! ❤

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Book Review – ‘Chosen Ones’ by Veronica Roth

TITLE: Chosen Ones
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth
GENRE: Fantasy
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 400 pages (paperback)
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Hachette Australia on April 7th, 2020
RRP: $29.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

The first novel written for an adult audience by the mega-selling author of the Divergent franchise: five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons–and reconsider what it means to be a hero . . . by destiny or by choice.

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

The ‘Chosen One’ is a staple trope of the fantasy genre, a well-worn path that many writers have taken before. Refreshingly in Chosen Ones, Veronica Roth veers away from this trend by having her protagonists already defeat the Dark One and focusing on their lives ten years after this momentous event. It’s something that feels completely original to me and breathes new life into this trope by looking at the aftermath long after the dust has settled whereas most books end once the final battle has concluded, leaving us with the presumption that our heroes live Happily Ever After.

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Book Review – ‘The Midnight Lie’ by Marie Rutkoski

TITLE: The Midnight Lie
AUTHOR: Marie Rutkoski
GENRE: YA Fantasy, LGBT
WORD/PAGE COUNT: 400 pages (paperback)
PUBLICATION DETAILS: by Hachette Australia on March 10th, 2020
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

Although Marie Rutkoski is a well-established author, I haven’t read any of her prior books and had no idea what I was in for when I started this. Now that I’ve finished The Midnight Lie, I’ve been converted to the status of new fan!

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ARC Review – ‘Only Mostly Devastated’ by Sophie Gonzales

Title: Only Mostly Devastated
Author: Sophie Gonzales
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 368 (paperback)
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on March 10th, 2020
RRP: $17.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets CLUELESS in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease

Summer love…gone so fast.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he’s fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairytale ending, and to complicate the fairytale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.

The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.

Right? Right.

Although the year is young, I’ve been fortunate to have come across some FANTASTIC YA books already, and you can add Only Mostly Devastated to that list! This is a wonderfully engaging story with a lot of heart focused on a witty and endearing protagonist who is now one of my favorite male characters in YA.

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Book Review – ‘Break The Fall’ by Jennifer Iacopelli

Title: Break The Fall
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 400 (paperback)
Publication Details: February 11th, 2020 by Hachette Australia
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)

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Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.

A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?

Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?

I loved the concept of this book as I used to be addicted to the gymnastics series Make It or Break It, but I wasn’t sure if such a visual medium could be conveyed well in words. Rest assured, the writing effortlessly portrays the gymnastics routines taking place and more importantly, places you in the protagonist’s mindset so vividly that you feel the weight and importance of what’s unfolding in the different events. This is such an incredible rollercoaster ride of a book – I chuckled, I got teary and my heart pounded frantically through the highs and lows.

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Book Review – ‘Strange Planet’ by Nathan W. Pyle

Title: Strange Planet
Author: Nathan W. Pyle
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comics
Word/Page Count: 144 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on November 26th, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (hardcover)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

Straight from the mind of New York Times bestselling author Nathan W. Pyle comes an adorable and profound universe in pink, blue, green, and purple. Based on the phenomenally popular Instagram of the same name, Strange Planet covers a full life cycle of the planet’s inhabitants, including milestones such as:

The Emergence Day
Being Gains a Sibling
The Being Family Attains a Beast
The Formal Education of a Being
Celebration of Special Days
Being Begins a Vocation
The Beings at Home
Health Status of a Being
The Hobbies of a Being
The Extended Family of the Being
The Being Reflects on Life While Watching the Planet Rotate

With dozens of never-before-seen illustrations in addition to old favorites, this book offers a sweet and hilarious look at a distant world not all that unlike our own.

I adore the Strange Planet comics on Instagram so I was super excited to find out a book was being released with a collection of old favorites as well as some brand new ones!

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ARC Review – ‘Starsight’ by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Starsight
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Word/Page Count: 528 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on November 26th, 2019
RRP: $29.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing.

Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars–and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.

If you’re reading this review, I’m assuming that you’ve read Skyward, which is book 1 in this series. And in that case, you’ll recognize that 95% of that blurb is a recap of Skyward…because to say anything else about what happens is a pretty big spoiler!

Which makes this a bit tough to talk about when I really want to flail about how amazing certain plotlines and characters are, but it blew my mind when I read the massive turn that this story took and I want everyone to go into it unspoiled so they can feel the same sheer glee and heart-pounding anticipation as I did (with maybe a teensy bit of agitated  concern for Spensa, haha). :O

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Blog tour: ‘SLAY’ by Brittney Morris

Title: SLAY
Author: Brittney Morris
Genre: Contemporary YA
Word/Page Count: 352 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on October 9th, 2019
RRP: $17.99 AUD (paperback)

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Blurb from Goodreads:

‘We are different ages, genders, tribes, tongues, and traditions … but tonight we all SLAY’

Black Panther meets Ready Player One. A fierce teen game developer battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther-inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for black gamers.

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is a college student, and one of the only black kids at Jefferson Academy. By night, she joins hundreds of thousands of black gamers who duel worldwide in the secret online role-playing card game, SLAY.

No one knows Kiera is the game developer – not even her boyfriend, Malcolm. But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, the media labels it an exclusionist, racist hub for thugs.

With threats coming from both inside and outside the game, Kiera must fight to save the safe space she’s created. But can she protect SLAY without losing herself?

SLAY is a fantastic YA novel that celebrates girls in STEM and black culture while also exploring sensitive topical issues and shining a light on different aspects of the black experience. If you enjoyed Black Panther for the dizzying amount of representation where there was no such thing as the ‘token black character’ in a cast which was dominated by POC, you’re going to LOVE this.

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ARC Review – ‘Ninth House’ by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Ninth House
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy
Word/Page Count: 400 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on October 9th, 2019
RRP: $29.99 AUD (paperback)

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The mesmerising adult debut from Leigh Bardugo. A tale of power, privilege, dark magic and murder set among the Ivy League elite. Alex Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. A dropout and the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved crime – the last thing she wants is to cause trouble. Not when Yale was supposed to be her fresh start. But a free ride to one of the world’s most prestigious universities was bound to come with a catch.

Alex has been tasked with monitoring the mysterious activities of Yale’s secret societies – societies that have yielded some of the most famous and influential people in the world. Now there’s a dead girl on campus and Alex seems to be the only person who won’t accept the neat answer the police and campus administration have come up with for her murder.

Because Alex knows the secret societies are far more sinister and extraordinary than anyone ever imagined.

They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living . . .

Going in, let’s be clear – this isn’t a young adult novel, it’s Leigh Bardugo’s adult debut; it’s extremely confronting at points with references to and on-page depiction of sexual assault, child rape and statutory rape as well as mutilation and general gore. If you feel this may be a potential trigger, please search for more specific posts which outline exactly content is included so you can decide whether this is suitable to read.

I’m really glad that I knew of the trigger warnings going around on social media so that I wasn’t blindsided going into this. I had some qualms about the focus on sexual trauma, but Leigh Bardugo’s tweet discussing how the protagonist’s experiences in Ninth House were drawn from her personal life made me feel that it would be handled sensitively. I’m really glad that I read this book after all because it’s certainly NOT misery porn and none of the scenes depicted are at all gratuitous or feel like they’re included for shock value (although I can only speak for how I perceive it myself).

Now that’s out of the way! How was the book? In a word: AMAZING. 😍

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ARC Review – ‘The Deathless Girls’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Title: The Deathless Girls
Author: Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word/Page Count: 368 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on September 24th, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Gothic, intoxicating, feminist, darkly provoking and deeply romantic – this is the breathtakingly imagined untold story of the brides of Dracula, by bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave in her much-anticipated YA debut.

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.

On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…

The first thing that drew me to this book was the absolutely stunning cover. And in this case you should ABSOLUTELY judge the book by its cover because the story within is beautiful, lushly drawn and will inextricably twine around your heart.

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