Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

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Review: Invaded by Melissa Landers

January 26, 2017 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: Invaded by Melissa LandersInvaded by Melissa Landers
Series: Alienated #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on February 3, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Sci-fi
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-half-stars
The romantic sequel to Alienated takes long-distance relationships to a new level as Cara and Aelyx long for each other from opposite ends of the universe...until a threat to both their worlds reunites them.

Cara always knew life on planet L’eihr would be an adjustment. With Aelyx, her L’eihr boyfriend, back on Earth, working to mend the broken alliance between their two planets, Cara is left to fend for herself at a new school, surrounded by hostile alien clones. Even the weird dorm pet hates her.

Things look up when Cara is appointed as human representative to a panel preparing for a human colony on L’eihr. A society melding their two cultures is a place where Cara and Aelyx could one day make a life together. But with L’eihr leaders balking at granting even the most basic freedoms, Cara begins to wonder if she could ever be happy on this planet, even with Aelyx by her side.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Aelyx, finds himself thrown into a full-scale PR campaign to improve human-L’eihr relations. Humans don’t know that their very survival depends on this alliance: only Aelyx’s people have the technology to fix the deadly contamination in the global water supply that human governments are hiding. Yet despite their upper hand, the leaders of his world suddenly seem desperate to get humans on their side, and hardly bat an eye at extremists’ multiple attempts on Aelyx’s life.

The Way clearly needs humans’ help . . . but with what? And what will they ask for in return?

Diversity: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Tori remains the token Latina friend, complete with occasional Spanish)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Aelyx’s bodyguard and friend has an unspecified disease he gives himself injections for)
Intersectionality: 0

One of the perks of being a book reviewer is that, if you choose to pursue review copies, you can read a book a while before the general populace does. Downside: if there’s a sequel, there’s a good chance you’ll spend more time waiting for it than the general populace does.Still, the three years between me reading Alienated and me reading Invaded is entirely my fault. Once the TBR Jar spat its name out Goblet of Fire-style and I got into the book, I wondered why I hadn’t read it pre-jar system. It’s everything you could want in a sequel: complications and extensions of everything set up in the first book as well as the exploration of new ideas and places.

Read more »

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Review: This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

January 16, 2017 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review: This Is Our Story by Ashley ElstonThis Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Published by Disney-Hyperion on November 15, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Five went in. Four came out.

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.

Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the district attorney’s office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.

Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As investigates with Stone, the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot, she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (one minor black character)
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 4 (Kate’s boss has macular degeneration and remains a top-notch attorney)
Intersectionality: 0

Sometimes, you’re sold on the cover moreso than the book’s description. That’s somewhat the case with This Is Our Story, where the choice to depart from the white font to put “his story” in a darker font got me thinking like an academic. Might the book focus on how in patriarchal societies, men’s versions of events often define everyone else’s as is often the case with our history books? After all, history is just “his story” smashed together into one word. I also happen to love YA mysteries. This Is Our Story managed to hit the spot pretty well. Read more »

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Review: The Hunt by Stacey Kade

April 24, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: The Hunt by Stacey KadeThe Hunt by Stacey Kade
Series: Project Paper Doll #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on April 22, 2014
Genres: YA Sci-fi
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
three-stars
Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life.

But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger.

Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?

While reading The Rules, I was pleased the author of the flufftastic, fun Ghost and the Goth series could write such a good, serious sci-fi novel. That kind of authorly flexibility isn’t easy to achieve! (Plus I didn’t want one of my favorite authors to disappoint me. I don’t think anyone wants that.) Fans of The Rules are sure to find more to love in The Hunt, but they may have problems with the mess of an ending. Read more »

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Review: Dramarama by E. Lockhart

April 14, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Review: Dramarama by E. LockhartDramarama by E. Lockhart
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 1, 2007
Genres: YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
five-stars
Two theater-mad, self-invented
fabulositon Ohio teenagers.
One boy, one girl.
One gay, one straight.
One black, one white.
And SUMMER DRAMA CAMP.
It's a season of hormones,
gold lame,
hissy fits,
jazz hands,
song and dance,
true love,
and unitards
that will determine their future
--and test their friendship.

E. Lockhart is like my YA queen. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks helped me define myself as a feminist and a woman, the Ruby Oliver series is sweet as candy with so much heart it hurts yours, and Fly on the Wall was… okay. Dramarama marks me reading all her backlist novels and it was a good note to end that journey on considering I have an ARC of her next novel I’m planning to read soon. Dramarama is exactly as dramatic as it sounds, but it actually kinda stabbed me in the heart. In a good way.

Between the lack of chapters and the slow beginning, it’s a difficult start, but Demi and Sayde’s endearing friendship is worth sticking with even though their friendship is clearly going to be hitting a lot of icebergs soon. Sayde herself is worth sticking out the novel for because she’s such a conflicted character that reminds me of Frankie Lauda-Banks in all the best ways. She is combative and negative and consistently challenging people who know the world of theatre much better than she does when she shouldn’t, but she almost never does it maliciously. She wants to contribute and is trying to figure out where she fits after her sudden realization she doesn’t have as much talent as she thought.

To be honest, I was feeling disillusioned with the novel for a long time and felt certain it would be another Fly on the Wall until pretty close to the end. Sayde makes it clear she loves Wildewood, but that the same time, a conversation with Reanne makes it clear Wildewood hurts her at the same time. The drama people are her people, but she doesn’t have the kind of talent all of her friends do. While bonding with them over ten-day shows and hectic rehearsal schedules, she’s constantly insecure about how much more skilled they are at acting and singing.

My college’s Honors Program is like that, so I totally get here. I love being part of it and love being able to shape what it will become in the future through being part of its leadership board, but at the same time, it hurts. Like Sadye, I imagine myself to be a pretty stellar student, but then I meet other Honors students and hear what they’re up to and I have to accept I’m not that special. I’m nowhere near the top of the pyramid. Sadye coming to that realization made me cry, but I ended up crying again for her in happiness when she started to figure out that theater was her place but was not necessarily where she thought it was.

Outside of Sadye, we’ve got a pretty diverse, well-developed cast. From what I’ve heard, living the theatre life isn’t easy and there can be a lot of jealousy going on behind the scenes. With Sadye’s roommate Nanette, already an established Broadway actress, we see what living in that world can do to a person and how having that kind of star-making talent can be a curse. Her two other roommates have their own intriguing situations going on, but I’ll withhold info on those to keep spoilers away. Then there’s Lyle and Demi’s relationship, which = love. They’re such a sweet couple and though characters like Sadye try to erase parts of their identities (Demi is of course black, Lyle is overweight), both of them own who they are.

E. Lockhart is probably going to be one of my favorite authors for a very long time and I’m happy to say this is another gem from her. Here’s hoping her next book We Were Liars can meet the same standards.

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Review: Burn Bright by Bethany Frenette

February 6, 2014 Reviews 3 ★★★★

Review: Burn Bright by Bethany FrenetteBurn Bright by Bethany Frenette
Series: Dark Star #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on February 25, 2014
Genres: YA Paranormal
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from a swap
four-stars
Audrey Whitticomb saved her entire city.

Well, kind of. The superhero Morning Star (who just happens to be Audrey's mom) might have played a small part, and her sidekick, Leon—Audrey's sort-of boyfriend, who is gorgeous... and frustrating—maybe helped, too.

But after two peaceful months, there is a vicious new threat in Minneapolis. Her name is Susannah, and she's a Harrower, a demon hell-bent on destroying people like Morning Star, Leon, and Audrey—the Kin. Like others before her, she seeks the Remnant, a Kin girl who has the power to unleash the inhabitants of the Beneath. But to what end?

Audrey already has a ton on her plate: dealing with her best friend Tink's boy drama, helping her other best friend Gideon figure out his nightmares, and exploring the highs and lows of "dating" Leon. But when she develops a powerful new ability, Audrey seizes on the chance to fight, despite her mother's protests and Leon's pleas.

As Audrey gets closer to figuring out Susannah's motives and tracking down the Remnant, she'll uncover more than she bargained for. The terrible truth is staring Audrey in the face. But knowing the truth and accepting it are very different things.

Well now. Burn Bright is a difficult one to talk about; in fact, it’s so difficult to put words to it that I originally intended not to review it. Then suddenly, all the words hit me and I’ve got to say something even though there still aren’t as many words as I wish there were. It’s a huge step up from the mixed bag that was Dark Star and a worthy sequel, but at the same time, it has a touched of the dreaded Second Book Syndrome. Read more »

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Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers

January 20, 2014 Reviews 4 ★★★★

Review: Alienated by Melissa LandersAlienated by Melissa Landers
Buy from AmazonPublished by Disney-Hyperion on February 4, 2014
Genres: Comedy, YA Sci-fi
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
four-stars
Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

From the moment of the cover reveal for this book, my gut screamed two things at me: “FLUFFY FLUFFY” and “GET IT GET IT GET IT.” My gut was very right: this was a fluffy book and I desperately needed it, the latter of which I didn’t fully realize until I started it and just about fell in love with it. It’s a serious book too and gets almost overwhelmingly intense toward the end, which makes the long wait for the next book feel even longer. Read more »

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Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

November 11, 2013 Reviews 3 ★★

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerThese Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner Published by Disney-Hyperion on December 10, 2013
Genres: YA Sci-fi
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via NetGalley
two-stars
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

--

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

Just about everyone I know has been gushing about this for ages. Between the romance, the feels, the swoons, the “Titanic in space” pitch, and everything else, it sounded great. What I got? Not as great as expected. These Broken Stars is a likable enough story with strongly written characters and equally well-written sci-fi elements, but it doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Read more »

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