[Blog Tour + Giveaway + Playlist + Review] THE EDGE OF ANYTHING by Nora Shalaway Carpenter, 5 out of 5 stars

About the Book

Title: The Edge of Anything
Author: Nora Shalaway Carpenter
Publisher: Running Press Teen (March 24, 2020)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Mental Health
Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Kobo | Google Books

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Blurb

Len is a loner teen photographer haunted by a past that’s stagnated her work and left her terrified she’s losing her mind. Sage is a high school volleyball star desperate to find a way around her sudden medical disqualification. Both girls need college scholarships. After a chance encounter, the two develop an unlikely friendship that enables them to begin facing their inner demons.

But both Len and Sage are keeping secrets that, left hidden, could cost them everything, maybe even their lives.

Set in the North Carolina mountains, this dynamic #ownvoices novel explores grief, mental health, and the transformative power of friendship.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Len

The first thing Len noticed was the floor. That was always the first thing these days, her eyes constantly scanning the places her feet had to touch. Unless she jumped about four feet, there wasn’t a single clean tile to step on.

She didn’t remember noticing them last year—all the streaks and brown bits littering the hallway—but that seemed impossible. Had she simply not cared?

“Move it, loser,” someone muttered behind her. She didn’t recognize the voice, but it didn’t matter. Len was used to the insults. She didn’t take her eyes off the floor.

“Weirdo,” the kid said. “Seriously, hurry up. Varsity’s already started.”

Len’s chest cramped as she tried to decide where to step.

“Come on!” Someone else groaned, and Len forced herself to move up in line, one foot, then two. The sole of her boot tracked through a dark brown streak, and she told herself it wasn’t dog shit. Someone else would have noticed if it was dog shit, right? And why didn’t anyone else seem to care?

The slick squeaks of soles on hardwood echoed from the gym. It’s just mud, Len thought again, repeating the word like a mantra. Mud, mud, mud.

“Three dollars, please. Four if you want the raffle.”

Len blinked at the librarian. When had he started taking ticket money? And what was Len even doing here? She didn’t like volleyball, not really.

The librarian held out his hand. “You coming in, Len?”

“I—uh . . .” Heat speckled her face and neck. Had she always had such trouble making decisions? She turned to leave when the memory of why she’d come to the game jolted her. The phone, ringing, ringing. Seven p.m. on the dot. Fauna.

Len couldn’t go back home. Not yet.

“Jesus, Lemon,” said the first voice. “You in or out?”

Len shoved her cash onto the table and pushed her way into the gym.

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Chapter Two

Sage

THWOPP!

Sage started forward, even though there was no way the ball would reach her. Probably wouldn’t even make it over the net. That hollow thud meant a too-slack hand, a poor serve. Still, she crouched low, weight on the balls of her fire-orange Asics, in case she needed to sprawl.

The ball kissed the net, skimmed a few feet sideways along the top then dropped back on the opponent’s side, sending Sage’s bench into near-hysterics. Sage’s Southview Rams hadn’t defeated their hometown rival Asheville High in three seasons, and that missed serve kept her team alive.

Go time. Sage walked back to the server’s box as the scoreboard ticked 13-14. Varsity matches went best out of five, and this one had gone to the last game. Match point for Asheville. Again.

Kayla Davis ran up to her. “You got this, Sage,” she said. “You got it.”

Sage nodded. The line judge tossed her the ball.

Coach Craig held up four fingers beneath his clipboard, but Sage wouldn’t have needed the signal. She knew Asheville’s weak-side hitter was just that—weak. Even if she hadn’t studied the game tape for the past three nights, a few plays into the match revealed who was most likely to shank her serve.

From the bench, her teammates shouted themselves horse.

“Pound it, Sage!”

“They can’t touch you!”

“Come on, baby!”

Sage twirled the volleyball in her hands, then bounced it once, her ritual. She heard the cheers, but also didn’t, like a person knows she’s breathing without thinking about it. She extended the ball onto her left palm.

If she mis-served, her rivals won.

The referee whistled, signaling her.

Sage stared down the opposing setter, making her think she was the target. Then she tossed the ball and hammered a topspin directly at position four. The girl barely had time to protect her face before the ball hit her elbow and ricocheted out of bounds.

The Rams’ bench almost lost its mind. On the court, Sage performed the celebratory Ace ritual with her teammates—two stomps and a clap—but her face stayed stone flat. The ref tossed her the ball. Coach Craig held up another four.

This time Sage backed against the wall. She tossed the ball high, then leapt to meet it in a jump serve—more intimidating than her topspin, but not as fast. Asheville’s receiver got a better handle on it, but the ball shot into the net and dropped to the ground before her setter could even touch it.

15-14, Rams advantage. Unlike the first four games that went to twenty-five points, the fifth game of a match only went to fifteen. But you had to win by two. This was it, then. Or could be. Sage walked back to the service line.

“Timeout!” Asheville’s coach called. Kayla slung her arm around Sage as they joined Southview’s huddle. “You got this,” her best friend said, squeezing her shoulders. “I know you got it.” Sage allowed a tight nod.

“One point and they’re back in it!” Coach quieted the bench with a look. He pointed at Sage. “They’re trying to ice you,” he said, like she didn’t know. “Hit six this time.”

Sage made a face. “Four’s shanked it twice. I’m in her head.”

“She knows you’re coming for her. She’ll be ready.”

“Doesn’t matter,” said Sage. “She can’t hit it.”

Coach raised his eyebrows, daring her to continue arguing. Last year Sage had ignored a call, and Coach had benched her, star player or no. It probably cost the team the game. “Six,” he repeated. The whistle blew.

Sage held his gaze to let him know she disagreed, then cracked her neck and walked back to the server’s box.

“Just one more, Sagey.” Ella Cruz smacked her hip as she trotted past.

Only Ella could get away with calling her Sagey. But then, nobody fed her sets like Ella.

Sage picked up the ball, the team’s energy thrumming though her. Most of her teammates, good as they were, wouldn’t trade positions with her for the world. She sensed this instinctively, the same way she intuited when a player was going to tip almost before the player did. With the game in the balance, her teammates didn’t want the serve. Didn’t want the risk of failure. That was the difference between Sage Zendasky and the rest: these were the moments she felt most alive.

Sage slapped the ball with her palm, her mouth twitching a faint smile just to mess with Asheville’s players. This was why she showed up early to their three-hour practices and why she often stayed late. Why she played in an off-season travel league. Why she spent practically all of her free time with a volleyball in her hands.

The whistle shrilled. Sage tossed the ball . . .

and crushed it.

Asheville’s back middle—position six—dug the serve perfectly. Sage had a heartbeat of indignation—told you Craig—while she raced to position in the back row. She sunk down as Asheville’s hitter connected with the ball.

“Me, ME!” Lyz Greer called, causing Sage and Nina Marto to scissor away from her.

“THREE!” Ella shouted, flipping a short set to the middle. Kayla drilled it, but Position Six made another perfect dig. Five times the ball exchanged sides, Asheville’s hitters clearly avoiding Sage.

Come on, thought Sage. One time.

“Short!” screamed Ella, as Asheville’s middle flicked the ball over the blockers. Hannah Wainwright dove backwards, managing to punch it up with her fist, but the ball rocketed towards the back wall.

Asheville’s bench erupted as Sage took off. The ball was nearly a body length in front of her, but high, and she just might . . .

the wall . . .

She sprawled instinctually, hurling her fist upwards. It connected, sending the ball sailing back to the court.

“MEEEE!” called Nina.

Sage heard Nina the moment before her momentum took her into the wall. Concrete met her cheek as her ankle turned awkwardly. She cursed, but pushed herself back to position to see Nina’s free ball cross the net.

Asheville was disorganized, clearly thinking they’d won the point when Hannah shanked. They managed to get the ball back in three, but with an easy free pass right to Sage. Ella’s eyes lit as she set Sage’s perfect pass to Kayla.

Asheville formed a double block, but Sage saw the hole behind it.

“Q!” She shouted the code letter. “Kayla, Q!”

Kayla attacked the net like she hadn’t heard, but at the last second pulled back her swing and tipped the ball into the gap behind the blockers.

The ball floated—movie-style-slow—and dropped to the floor.

“AHHHHHHHHH!” Sage screamed so her heart wouldn’t burst. Her teammates echoed her, high-fiving and jumping on one another. Kayla thrust her chest out, nodding like a pro-footballer while Ella punched the air.

“You!” Sage said, rushing Kayla. “That was perfect!”

“YOU!” Kayla said, shaking her. “I thought we were dead. Did you hit the wall?”

“Yeah, she did,” said Ella, slapping her back. “She be crazy.”

Sage smiled, light headed from the high of victory. Hannah raced toward her, and forgetting her ankle, Sage leapt to meet her in a shoulder bump. As she peaked, she registered it all simultaneously: Kayla’s whoops; her teammates converging; Coach’s wide and seldom-shown grin.

The thrill of it twitched her heart as she reconnected with the ground . . .

and fainted.

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Official Book Playlist

Check out the The Edge of Anything playlist, created by Nora Carpenter herself.

Young as the Morning, Old as the Sea by Passenger (Len)

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The Fighter by Gym Class Hero (Sage)

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Head above Water by Avril Lavigne (Len)

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Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys (Sage)

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Don’t Look Down by Ivan B (Len)

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Lash Out by Alice Merton (Sage)

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Breaking Down by Florence + the Machine (Len)

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Champion by Fall Out Boy (Sage)

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Everything I Wanted by Billie Eilish (Len)

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Wounds by Kid Cudi (Sage)

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Warrior by Demi Lovato (Len)

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Fight Song by Rachel Platten (Sage)

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Review

After a tragic incident, Len knows something’s gone wrong with her. But she can’t let anyone know, especially her parents. They barely make ends meet and she doesn’t want to add to their current emotional baggage. Sage knows exactly what she wants — to be a pro volleyball player. But after learning about her rare heart condition, she loses touch with family and friends. Sage meets Len and she is curious all of a sudden. She knows Len is being weird for a reason and wants to help her. The courage to push through brings them together and an unforgettable friendship starts.

This is not your typical YA read. It does a wonderful job of educating people and erasing the stigma on mental health and homosexuality. It’s heavy from the very beginning and lightens a bit toward the end. Carpenter does a good job in creating Len and Sage; they are opposites but similar. The story alternates their points of view and it’s amazing how Sage’s fast-paced narrative complements Len’s slow revelation. Touching hearts in many ways, this book teaches one of the most basic rules in human nature: always think about what you say and do, because they affect others more than you’ll ever know. It also shows how acceptance does not always heal, but it sure helps in dealing with the pain. Trigger warnings include bullying, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dementia, OCD, panic attacks, and miscarriages.

Thanks to NetGalley and Running Press for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.⁣⁣ For more bookish content and honest reviews, check my sidebar: follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts.

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Favorite Quotes

“Life wasn’t just unfair. Sometimes it was downright malicious.”

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“When you’re creative, your heart is more open. Your body’s more sensitive and alive. We feel everything deeper, even the bad things.”

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“We call our destinies to ourselves.”

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“Good intentions were worthless when no one knew what to do with them.”

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“And while the lie didn’t feel awesome, it made everyone happy.”

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“I don’t think I’ll ever be ready. But I’m going in.”
“You know that’s the definition of courage, right?”

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“Maybe people got more than one lifetime. Maybe she thought she only had one because she simply hadn’t found another.”

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About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Nora Shalaway Carpenter holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Before she wrote books, she served as associate editor of Wonderful West Virginia magazine and has been a Certified Yoga Teacher since 2012. Originally from rural West Virginia, she currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband, three young children, and one not-so-young dog.

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Giveaway

Win a hardcopy of THE EDGE OF ANYTHING by Nora Shalaway Carpenter, a character art postcard by Kelsey Lecky of K. A. K. Lecky Illustration, a bookmark, and a pop-open card from Thoughtfulls (US-only). This giveaway runs from March 24 until April 7, 2020. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Click the banner below to learn more about this Fantastic Flying Book Club blog tour. For more bookish content and honest reviews, check my sidebar — follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts.

[Review] THE GLASS HOTEL by Emily St. John Mandel, 4 out of 5 stars

About the Book

Title: The Glass Hotel
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (March 24, 2020)
Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

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Review

Vincent’s life is full of surprising twists. She is a product of a forbidden love, with her mom falling in love with a married man. In her early teens, her mom suddenly disappears, leaving everyone asking if she drowned or committed suicide. Moving forward in her mid-twenties, Vincent now works as a bartender in Hotel Caiette, and helps her problematic half-brother get a job there too. One night, she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a wealthy man more than twice her age, and a relationship blooms based on conditions and convenience. What she thought was an easy way through the kingdom of money ends in a fiasco impacting many sorrowful lives.

This literary fiction with a hint of paranormal keeps a slow pace. While telling the story in a non-chronological order is necessary for the suspense build-up to make sure the revelations come at the right time, this writing style proves to be confusing at times. A lot of things are happening and you need to look out on several characters, but the ending explains everything and is unexpectedly satisfying.

A feminist book with a diverse set of characters, The Glass Hotel is sure to capture the imagination in a gripping way. Trigger warnings include drug abuse, multiple deaths, cheating, sex, blood sugar problems, financial scam, depression, drowning, and suicide.

Thanks to Edelweiss+ and Alfred A. Knopf for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.⁣⁣ ⁣For more bookish content and honest reviews, check my sidebar: follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts.

[Blog Tour + Giveaway + Review] ALL YOUR TWISTED SECRETS by Diana Urban, 5 out of 5 stars

About the Book

Title: All Your Twisted Secrets
Author: Diana Urban
Publisher: HarperTeen (March 17, 2020)
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Contemporary
Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Book Depository | Kobo

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Blurb

This thrilling debut, reminiscent of new fan favorites like One of Us Is Lying and the beloved classics by Agatha Christie, will leave readers guessing until the explosive ending.

Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

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Excerpt

My pulse raced as I stared at the syringe of poison and the bomb atop the gleaming silver platter. Within the hour, you must choose someone in this room to die. If you don’t, everyone dies.

“That’s one sick prank,” said Robbie. “Who the hell would do this?” He grabbed the note from me, his eyes darting across the page. Diego leaned against the edge of the table, studying the bomb.

“Wait, wait, wait.” Sasha clutched her throat. “Does that mean . . . if we don’t kill one of us, that bomb will go off in an hour?”

Scott burst out laughing.

“What the hell is so funny?” asked Sasha.

He leaned back in his chair. “It’s obviously a joke, and you fell for it like an anvil.”

“Doesn’t seem very funny to me,” muttered Robbie.

“Who would do this?” Priya cried. “Who would think up something so awful?”

“Did anyone see who shut the door?” I asked. Priya and Scott shook their heads.

“No.” Diego slumped back into his seat. “I didn’t see anyone.”

“Me neither,” said Sasha. “I was too busy talking to that creep.” She motioned toward Scott, and he scoffed.

“Someone probably stood behind the door and pushed it closed,” said Diego.

Priya visibly shivered. “Does that mean someone was hiding behind the door the whole time?”

“And are they still out there?” My voice shook slightly.

Robbie slammed the note on the table and scooted his chair back with a screech, making me jump. “This is ridiculous.” He rounded his chair and pounded on the door. “Hey! Unlock the door!” His jaw tightened when nobody replied. “This isn’t funny. Unlock the door now!”

“Oh my God,” said Priya. Sasha took slow, deep breaths, trying to keep calm, but her eyes darted around the room frantically.

“Robbie.” I rushed toward him, grabbing his hand. “Calm down. It’s just some morbid joke. I’m sure they’ll get bored and let us out.”

He shook me off and knelt, peering with one eye into the large keyhole below the doorknob. “There’s no key.”

“I didn’t hear a lock click or anything,” Sasha added.

“It all happened so fast.” I touched the oak door, the wood cool under my palm, and turned back to the group. “Think they’re still out there?”

Robbie shrugged. “Who the hell knows?”

“Hello?” I called out. “Is anyone there?”

“This is bullshit.” Robbie kicked the door. “What kind of sick psycho would—”

“Shhh.” I waved him off and pressed my ear against the door, but all I could hear was Priya muttering, “Oh my God, oh my God,” over and over again. “Priya, shut up,” I said. She clamped her lips shut, her eyes glassy.

I pressed my ear against the door again, straining to hear something. A voice. Footsteps. Someone breathing. Anything. But all I could hear were the muffled baritones and strings from the orchestral music playing in the main dining room.

“Nothing?” asked Diego.

I shook my head and knelt, peeking through the keyhole. My heart raced as I held my breath. Years of watching horror movies had trained me to expect an eyeball to appear on the other side. My whole body tensed, ready to leap backward.

But all I could see was one of the red-cushioned booths across the main dining room. There was no movement of any kind. “There’s nobody there.” I stood and turned back to the group. “I don’t see anything.”

“Damn, it’s so hot in here.” Sasha touched the back of her hand to her forehead.

“It really is.” I wiped my upper lip and scanned the walls. “Crap. The thermostat must be out in the main dining room.”

“It’s gotten worse since we got here.” Priya tugged on her hair. “I just want to go home.”

I gasped and bit my lip. Home. I forgot to text Mom when Robbie and I got here. “Oh, no.” I grabbed my phone from the table and raised it toward the ceiling, but I had no signal whatsoever. Sasha tried the same thing, stretching toward the windows facing the alley.

“Nothing,” she confirmed. “I can’t get anything.”

“Crap, crap, crap.” My chest tightened like a vise squeezing my heart. What if something terrible did happen here tonight? What was the last thing I said to my mother as I ran out the door? Did I tell her I loved her? When was the last time I told my parents I loved them? A chill tore through me despite the room’s warmth, and I shook the morbid thought away. This was just a prank. It wasn’t real.

“Oh my God.” Sasha hunched over, hugging herself around the middle. “This can’t be happening.”

“So what do we do?” asked Robbie.

Sasha straightened and rubbed her forehead with trembling fingers. “I can’t believe this is happening. What if we’re really going to have to do this? What if they really make us kill one of us?”

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Review

Amber and five of her friends have been selected for the Brewster Town Hall Scholarship. They get invited to dine with the mayor to celebrate this achievement. What they’re hoping to be a night full of warm smiles and delicious food turns out to be a disaster. The mayor doesn’t show up and they get locked up in a private dining room with no reception at all. What’s worse is that they are the only guests for the evening and there’s no way to escape.

On the table are a poisoned syringe, a note, and a bomb that goes off in an hour. The note says they have to pick someone to kill with the syringe, or the bomb goes off and they all die. They assume that this is just a prank but can’t help but panic as the countdown goes. What if it’s real? Secrets are spilled and true colors are revealed. Can one life be measured by success and appearance? Who’s to say that one life is more worthy of saving than the rest?

This YA mystery is fast-paced and hard to put down. The writing is crafty as the story mostly deals with six people contained in one room. That is hard to pull off but the interaction is balanced and no one gets left behind. It starts with the present and then flashbacks. The past reconnects to the present, and the pattern continues. Each chapter is a revelation; the characters are well-written and their backgrounds are realistic. This Breakfast Club/Saw/Mean Girls is highly recommended to all the mystery fans out there. TWs include bullying, suicide, car accident, hypoglycemia, abusive parents, drugs, gaslighting, and depression.

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About the Author

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

I’m Diana Urban, and I write dark, twisty thrillers for teens including All Your Twisted Secrets (HarperTeen, March 17, 2020). When I’m not torturing fictional characters, I’m a marketing manager at BookBub, a leading book discovery platform. Outside the bookish world, I live with my husband and cat in Boston, and enjoy reading, video games, fawning over cute animals, and looking at the beach from a safe distance.

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Giveaway

Win 1 of 2 copies of ALL YOUR TWISTED SECRETS by Diana Urban (US-only). This giveaway runs from March 17 to March 31, 2020. Click here to enter.

For more chances of winning, you may also join the giveaway on Instagram. Follow @books_andpoetrii and check my All Your Twisted Secrets post.

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Tour Schedule

Click the banner below to see the complete schedule for this Fantastic Flying Book Club blog tour.

[Blog Tour + Review] SULLY’S GLOW by Simi Godagama, 5 out of 5 stars

About the Book

Title: Sully’s Glow
Authors: Simi Godagama
Illustrator: Nicole Bartlett
Release Date: 5th March 2020
Genre: Picture Book
Page Count: 294
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon

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Blurb

Harpi the eagle discovers her inner voice that guides her to Sully, a boy with a glow. Sully is unaware of his glow until he discovers he has the capacity to help someone in need. After he meets Harpi, together they meet more friends who each in turn have their own issues that heal and transform through their encounters with one another. Eventually with their combined energy, they transform the world they live in. Sad Sully becomes Smiling Sully, Hopeless Harp becomes Hopeful Harpi, Perfect Parrot becomes Pitch Perfect Parrot, Greedy Giraffe becomes Grateful Giraffe and Cranky Croc turns into Courageous Croc.

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Review

Hopeless Harpi is feeling sad and lost. Her home has been destroyed and she can’t find anyone to help her build a new one. Her inner voice tells her to look for a boy with a mystic glow. She then looks for and finds Sad Sully in a nearby town. With a little help and kindness toward each other, Sad Sully becomes Smiling Sully and Hopeless Harpi becomes Hopeful Harpi. Moving forward in the story, they help more friends find their spark. The group forms a bond and shares the happiness they found in each other to brighten up this lonely world.⁣

This children’s book has amazing illustrations. They vary from majestic full-page to simple single drawings, which make the book more interesting for toddlers to read. The story is written like a long poem and the rhymes bring magic in every line.⁣

It has four short chapters that can be read separately but chronologically. This makes the reading experience flexible as moms (or dads) can read the book as one big bedtime story, or they can just pick one chapter if the little one is already dozing off to dreamland.⁣

It’s wonderful how a children’s book like this can discuss longing, worthlessness, depression, and isolation in such a fun and easy way. The young ones will not only go to bed smiling; they will also learn a lesson or two on how to be compassionate.⁣

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About the Author

Instagram | Facebook

Born in Sri Lanka in 1979, Simi Godagama moved to England at the age of two and has lived in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, ever since. She studied Osteopathic, Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine and today runs the Milton Keynes Acupuncture Clinic where she specialises in women’s health, mental health and fertility. Godagama founded the RuRi Foundation in 2019 which supports educational initiatives in Sri Lanka. She is the mother of six-year-old daughters conceived through IVF.

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Tour Schedule

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Thanks to Authoright and Clink Street Publishing for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.⁣⁣ Check my sidebar; follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts for more bookish content and honest reviews!

[Review] THE LAST TOURIST (Milo Weaver #4) by Olen Steinhauer, DNF

About the Book

Title: The Last Tourist
Author: Olen Steinhauer
Publisher: Minotaur Books (March 2020)
Find it on: Goodreads | B&N | Google Books | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

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Review

Abdul Ghali, a CIA analyst, is tasked to go after Milo Weaver — the head of The Library. The Library is a private organization collecting classified information all over the world. It does not trust the authorities, hence its creation, and is often involved with terrorists and violence.⁣

But Abdul is not a field agent. For the longest time, he’s been sitting behind his desk and computer analyzing data. So the big question is, why is the CIA sending him and why now?⁣

This book is the fourth installment in the Milo Weaver series, but it can’t be read as a standalone. It uses jargon, most of which I would not have understood had I not read similar spy books before.⁣

The story-telling is dry and cold. The characters are two-dimensional. It’s easy to get confused between Milo and Alan, between Leticia and Alexandra because sometimes it’s not clear who’s speaking. There are no chapter headings to indicate whose POV it is.⁣

There is no clear mission to the point that it gets frustrating. At first, they are tracking Milo, then Abdul, the Milo again, then someone else. The story is dragging, and things only quicken at ~30%. ⁣

On a positive note, the book tackles relevant issues, is backed-up with good research, and is feminist.⁣

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me a copy in exchange for an honest review.⁣⁣ Check my sidebar; follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts for more bookish content and honest reviews!

[Review] PRINCESSA by Joslyn Westbrook, 5 out of 5 stars

About the Book

Title: Princessa
Author: Joslyn Westbrook
Publisher: Fifth Avenue Publications (November 2019)
Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Bub | Book Depository

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Official Book Playlist

Check out the Princessa soundtrack on Spotify, created by Joslyn Westbrook herself.

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Review

Joslyn Westbrook’s Princessa is a much-needed light-read rom-com in these anxious times. Prince Grayson of Andorra hides like a fugitive on the run. He has recently turned thirty-five and is still without a girl to marry. As per the Andorra Royal Decree, he is now left with only two choices — marry his betrothed or someone approved by the king and queen. But Grayson’s not the type of royalty to marry for power or money; that’s why he has left. Arabella Princessa Royale, the ‘Princess of Savannah’ and heiress to the Royale Resort hotels, gets dumped by her long-time boyfriend. Seeing her agony, her father sends her to Royale Resort France to get her mind off the devastating break-up and asks her to oversee the hotel’s events. In one embarrassing moment, the two meet and it’s love (or lust?) at first sight. But Grayson knows he can never hide for long. How can he escape his destiny while Arabella is making him fall head over heels?

The cover is alluring and the chapter headings are cute. Told in multiple POVs, this book is hard to put down as it takes you on a royal adventure. While the premise is not so original, the narrative develops into something cheesy and squeal-worthy. Although the ending feels forced, in general, it is still a great slow-burn romance. It is also feminist and is highly recommended to all the bad-ass women (and men) out there. Trigger warnings include profanity, sex, homosexuality, and panic attacks.

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This book was reviewed for Readers’ Favorite. Check my sidebar; follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts for more bookish content and honest reviews!

[Review] WAKE OF DECEPTION by Sasha DeVore, 4 out of 5 stars

About the Book

Title: Wake of Deception
Author: Sasha DeVore
Publisher: Red Pendulum Press (January 2020; first published on November 2016)
Find it on: Amazon | Goodreads | Google Books | B&N

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Review

Sasha DeVore’s Wake of Deception is the first installment in The Wake trilogy. This dystopian thriller is a satirical take on how power-hungry authorities manipulate the thoughts and feelings of the public to support their selfish cause. Hanu is a fourteen-year-old boy with schizophrenia who has spent half of his years in The Flush — a facility that “cures” children showing symptoms of difference and resistance. After all these years, Hanu is already sick of all the medications they are giving him and is convinced that they are only feeding them lies. He finds a way to subtly trick the staff, but his tricks do not hold for too long. He and a few other kids are then sent to The District for some kind of punishment. Little did they know that this punishment is nothing less than death itself.

Wake of Deception shows that being different is not always a bad thing and that it can be an amazing feat, because nobody else can think or act like you. You can either choose to believe what others are saying or you can look deeper inside you, embrace your uniqueness, and use it to rise up and help others. The cold and dry imagery adds to the overall eerie feeling of this dystopian fic. Fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner series will surely enjoy this trilogy. Other than the ones explicitly stated or implied above, trigger warnings also include violence and death of a friend.

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This book was reviewed for Readers’ Favorite. Check my sidebar; follow me here and on the rest of my social media accounts for more bookish content and honest reviews!