Summary: Jake is just starting to enjoy life as his school’s first openly gay kid. While his family and friends are accepting and supportive, the same can’t be said about everyone in their small town of Barton Springs, Ohio. When Jake’s dad hangs a comically large pride flag in their front yard in an overblown show of love, the mayor begins to receive complaints. A few people are even concerned the flag will lead to something truly outlandish: a pride parade. Except Jake doesn’t think that’s a ridiculous idea. Why can’t they hold a pride festival in Barton Springs? The problem is, Jake knows he’ll have to get approval from the town council, and the mayor won’t be on his side. And as Jake and his friends try to find a way to bring Pride to Barton Springs, it seems suspicious that the mayor’s son, Brett, suddenly wants to spend time with Jake. But someone that cute couldn’t possibly be in league with his mayoral mother, could he?
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Small Town Pride follows Jake who has just come out to his parents. He’s told some friends, but then Jake’s dad raises a rainbow flag in their yard and effectively outs him to the rest of the town. Jake’s parents are overly supportive (it was so nice to see such loving and supportive parents, even if they still get things wrong sometimes), so when Jake floats the idea of having a pride parade in their small town, they’re all over helping him. I really loved this book. It was a wholesome and heartwarming story about a young gay boy that just wants to feel loved and accepted by the small town he lives in and loves. He’s shown that he has more supporters than he realizes in this story and I thought it was absolutely beautiful. Overall, I highly recommend this one. It really touched my heart getting to follow Jake through the ups and downs of creating and organizing an LGBTQIA event in a small town. I will be recommending this one to many in the future.
Summary: Amber McCloud’s dream is to become cheer captain at the end of the year, but it’s an extra-tall order to be joyful and spirited when the quarterback of your team has been killed in a car accident. For both the team and the squad, watching Robbie get replaced by newcomer Jack Walsh is brutal. And when it turns out Jack is actually short for Jaclyn, all hell breaks loose. The players refuse to be led by a girl, the cheerleaders are mad about the changes to their traditions, and the fact that Robbie’s been not only replaced but outshined by a QB who wears a sports bra has more than a few Atherton Alligators in a rage. Amber tries for some semblance of unity, but it quickly becomes clear that she’s only got a future on the squad and with her friends if she helps them take Jack down. Just one problem: Amber and Jack are falling for each other, and if Amber can’t stand up for Jack and figure out how to get everyone to fall in line, her dream may come at the cost of her heart. Dahlia Adler’s Home Field Advantage is a sparkling romance about fighting for what – or who – you truly want.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely loved Adler’s Cool for the Summer, so I was excited to read another one of her books. Home Field Advantage follows Jack and Amber, who both get their own chapters. Amber is a cheerleader in a small town. She has hopes to become captain next year when she’s a senior. Enter Jack, and she transfers in to be the school’s new quarterback. Now as if the fact that she’s a girl isn’t going to make things hard enough, the last quarterback died and their fellow students practically worship his memory. So, obviously, the cheerleader and the quarterback get romantically involved. But Amber’s not out, so there are lots of complications. I liked the characters because they were real. They made mistakes and didn’t always consider possible consequences, but they make amends and they do their best to be better in the future. The friendships were easy to root for. I love small queer friend groups that turn into found family. I’m not super into sports, so that was lost on me. Though I do want to mention that Jack’s love for the game really showed through. She uprooted half her family and changed everything for this thing that she loves. Adler did a great job showing the reader that passion. If you like sports romance, this book is for you. If you like sapphic books, this book is for you. If you like both of those things, then you should definitely add this one to your list.
Summary: Esta isn’t a stranger to high-stakes heists. She’s a seasoned thief who has no reservations about using her affinity for time to give her an edge, and she’s trained her whole life for one mission: travel back to 1902 New York, steal the ancient Book of Mysteries, and use its power to destroy the Brink and free the Mageus from the Order’s control. But the Book held a danger that no one anticipated—Seshat, an angry goddess was trapped within its pages. Now that terrible power lives within Harte, and if given the chance, Seshat will use Esta to destroy the world and take her revenge. Only Esta and Harte stand in her way. Yet in their search to recover the elemental stones needed to bind Seshat’s power, Esta and Harte have found themselves stranded in time with a continent between them. As Esta fights to get back to Harte, the Order is no longer the only obstacle standing in her way. Saving Harte—and magic itself—will put even Esta’s skills to the test. And all the while, another danger grows, one more terrible than both Seshat and the Order combined…
Review: The Serpent’s Curse is the third book in the Last Magician series. I’ve loved this series since it first came out, but honestly I’ve lost a little interest having to wait so long for the books. This third book was an enjoyable one. I’m going to be honest. It wasn’t an overly memorable story. But I enjoyed it. Esta and Harte had adventures, both together and apart. Things were incredibly serious, but everyone was alright in the end. I think I’ll finish this series since the final installment is out later this year, but I don’t think things needed to drag on as long as they have.
Summary: Frey has spent her life in a family of deceivers, a stand-in for her sister, manipulated at her father’s command. Free from them at last, she is finding her own voice — and using it to question everything her family stood for. Tally was once the most famous rebel in the world. But for over a decade, she’s kept to the shadows, allowing her myth to grow even as she receded. Now she sees that the revolution she led has not created a stable world. Freedom, she observes, has a way of destroying things. As the world is propelled further into conflict and conspiracy, Frey and Tally join forces to put a check on the people in power, while still trying to understand their own power and where it belongs. With Youngbloods, master storyteller Scott Westerfeld decisively brings back his most iconic character and merges his Impostors and Uglies series into a breathtaking tale of rivalry, rebellion, and repercussion.
Review: Youngbloods is the final book in the spin off series of my childhood favorite, Uglies. This series stands up well on its own. If you haven’t and don’t want to read the Uglies series, then you will enjoy this fun dystopian series. But if you’re reading this because you’re a fan of the original series. Well, friends, do I have some bad news for you. Youngbloods essentially shits on the original series in a way that made me so mad I almost didn’t finish this book. I continued reading anyway, but Westerfeld really does Tally Youngblood dirty in this book. She’s so unlike the Tally we know and love from the first series. I’m very, very upset by how Tally was shown in this book and I don’t know if Westerfeld can make up for it. Outside of my huge issue with Tally, I liked this book. I think the overarching plot issues were wrapped up in ways that I was happy with. I liked the action and adventure. I liked getting to see the places we know and love from the first series. Overall, I liked this book least of all for this series. I don’t like what the author did to the original Uglies characters, but I liked how this story was wrapped up. I’ll go and reread my favorites now.
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is ten books that I pick up when I need a comfort read.
The Next Always by Nora Roberts
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten
These are some books I like to reread when I need something comforting. What books are on your list this week?
Summary: King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is. Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost. Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?
Review: Hook, Line, and Sinker follows Fox Thornton, the local playboy, and Hannah Bellinger, sister to the main character of the first book in this series. I really liked Hannah. I liked Fox but didn’t love him. I liked their romance well enough. I definitely liked It Happened One Summer better, but I still had a good time reading this one. It was nice to be back in this small town that we’ve come to love from the previous story. I’m going to keep this review short because I don’t have too much to say. I waited too long to write this review and there isn’t anything specific that II remember sticking it while reading. It’s a Tessa Bailey romance novel, so you know what you’re going to get.
Summary: Alyssa Farshot never wanted to rule the empire. But to honor her uncle’s dying wish, she participated in the crownchase, a race across the empire’s 1,001 planets to find the royal seal and win the throne. Alyssa tried to help her friend, Coy, win the crownchase, but just as victory was within their grasp, Edgar Voles killed Coy—and claimed the seal for himself. Broken-hearted over her friend’s death, Alyssa is hell-bent on revenge. But Edgar is well protected in the kingship. Alyssa will have to rally rivals, friends, and foes from across the empire to take him down and change the course of the galaxy.
Review: Thronebreakers is the sequel and conclusion to Crownchasers. Things are left pretty up in the air in the final pages of the first book. So, we open to Alyssa and Hellmouth a few weeks (maybe days, I don’t remember), later and they’re on their way to enact the first step of their plan to avenge their friend and save the empire. Without going into much detail about the plot, I can say that this book has the same action-filled and exciting plot. It was fast-paced and the stakes were high making the whole story a tense experience. I liked Alyssa. She felt like a real character. She was hurting and maybe not making the best decisions. But that made things more fun. The best part was the romance with Hellmouth. I just loved them both together so much. Overall, I highly recommend this duology. The whole and politics were interesting. I loved the competition to find their new leader and the repercussions of that competition. I loved the characters and their relationships. They were hurt and that hurt was shown, which I appreciated. I highly recommend these two books.
Summary: Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her. When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all. Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…
Review: Delilah Green Doesn’t Care follows our main character, named in the title. She grew up in a Cinderella sort of situation and has to return home for her stepsister’s wedding. While visiting, Delilah runs into Claire, a life-long friend of her stepsister. But it’s been years since Delilah has been home and they’ve all changed. I mostly liked all of the characters. I think the romance between Claire and Delilah was an interesting one. Blake did a great job making me feel the attraction between the two. But I especially liked the complex relationship between Astrid (the stepsister) and Delilah. I’m a sucker for interesting sibling dynamics and this was a good one. Overall, I highly recommend this one. It’s romantic but also gets hot and heavy. I liked the relationships on an emotional level and a physical one. The chemistry between the love interests was believable. I cannot wait to read Astrid’s story next.
Summary: Established in 2025, the purpose of the new organization was simple: To advocate for the world’s future generations and to protect all living creatures, present and future. It soon became known as the Ministry for the Future, and this is its story. From legendary science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson comes a vision of climate change unlike any ever imagined. Told entirely through fictional eye-witness accounts, The Ministry For The Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, the story of how climate change will affect us all over the decades to come. Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us – and in which we might just overcome the extraordinary challenges we face. It is a novel both immediate and impactful, desperate and hopeful in equal measure, and it is one of the most powerful and original books on climate change ever written.
Review: The Ministry for the Future follows several different characters over several different years. It was a strange story because I was never really sure where it was going outside of ‘how do we save the Earth?’ It seemed liked it was going to, and it did with character relationships, but the whole plot was about how to stop climate change. Now, I liked the story of climate change visibly worsening, and the sometimes-outlandish things that were tried to have any sort of positive impact. But we followed some characters really closely and got to know them really intimately. I thought all of these characters were unique and made the story more interesting. Overall, this book was enjoyable. I think that’s partly because I listened to the audiobook which has a full cast of narrators. I think they did a great job bringing this story to life. I think my issue with this book is that I wasn’t expecting it to be such a character-driven story. I still liked it, but it wasn’t what I expected. I will for sure recommend this one to other sci-fi lovers.
Summary: Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues. Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. A Mirror Mended follows Zinnia, who we know and love from the first book. The story starts off with her telling us about some of the adventures she’s been on since we last heard from her and how she’s burnt out on happy endings. But then, she’s pulled out of her story and into the story of Snow White. The evil queen is asking for her help. What ensues is funny and heartwarming. I loved with my whole heart that we got to see Zinnia get a happy ending. Even though it wasn’t a traditional happily ever after, I really loved the way it felt right for her after all the growth and learning her character had done. I absolutely loved the romance. That shriek you heard? That what me squealing when I realized this book was sapphic. The banter had me smiling to myself and laughing. I really loved the two of them together. The only complaint I have is just that I wanted more! I wanted to see Zinnia on all of the adventures she talks about at the beginning of the book. I wanted more banter and wild antics from Zinnia and the queen. Overall, I loved this. I will definitely be recommending both this and the first novella. I think Harrow’s writing was beautiful and lyrical as always. I just love the way that she writes. I loved the main character and I was happy to see Charm again. You don’t want to miss out on this one.
Summary: Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos. To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three. As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy. This May End Badly is a story about friendship, falling in love, and crossing pretty much every line presented to you—and how to atone when you do.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I ended up reading this book via the finished audiobook instead of the eARC I was provided. I think that This May End Badly was a fun and enjoyable YA contemporary. I liked the prank wars between the schools. I liked the romance between the main couple. I think the fake dating was silly but still made me smile. I liked the main character. Overall, I had a fun time listening to this book. It made me smile a few times. I was really engaged by the audiobook. But this wasn’t a new favorite or one that will likely stick with me.
Summary: Arlee Gold is anxious about spending the summer at the college prep Camp Rockaway—the same camp her mother attended years ago, which her mother insists will help give Arlee a “fresh start” and will “change her life.” Little does Arlee know that, once she steps foot on the manicured grounds, this will prove to be true in horrifying ways. Even though the girls in her cabin are awesome—and she’s developing a major crush on the girl who sleeps in the bunk above her—the other campers seem to be wary of Arlee, unwilling to talk to her or be near her, which only ramps up her paranoia. When she’s tapped to join a strange secret society, Arlee thinks this will be her shot at fitting in…until her new “sisters” ask her to do the unthinkable, putting her life, and the life of her new crush, in perilous danger.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review. Primal Animals follows Arlee who is being dropped off at the same summer camp that her mother went to when she was Arlee’s age. Her mother hopes that Arlee will make some life long connections, but Arlee is just hoping to survive her extreme bug phobia since she will be spending the summer in the woods. This summer camp is full of secrets and we follow Arlee as she reveals them and wishes she hadn’t. I think this author nailed the horror aspects of this book. Definitely do not read this if you have any sort of issues with bugs. And while I liked the summer camp setting, I really wish the plot had gone a different way. I think the story would have been way better had the plot leaned into Arlee’s phobia of bugs. Things just escalated very quickly plot-wise. Also, I could really relate to Arlee, but I actually didn’t like her very much. Overall, definitely, an atmospheric horror novel that involves a fear of bugs. The rich kid summer camp was a really engaging setting. I just wasn’t very compelled by the plot sadly. I also absolutely hated the ending. It had an ending similar to Wilder Girls by Rory Power or Horrid by Katrina Leno which is my least favorite kind of endings for books. I definitely think some people will really love this, but I’m not one of them.
Summary: Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington. Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face. Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.
Review: It Happened One Summer tells Piper’s story. She had just been dumped and arrested. But her stepfather isn’t feeling sympathetic. He cuts her off and sends her away from L.A. She’s sent to Westport, the small town she grew up in before her father died. It’s here that she meets Brendan and falls for more than just Westport. I really didn’t think I was going to like Piper. I thought she was going to be a really spoiled and unlikable rich girl. Piper was some of those things. She’s spoiled, but she quickly showed that she’s willing to work for what she wants. She starts fixing up the bar that they technically own. She didn’t annoy me like I thought she was going to. Brendan also surprised me because I thought he was going to be mean to Piper and he ended up being a total marshmallow. I loved the two of them together. They were an easy couple to love. I’m excited to read Hannah’s story and see more of Westport.
Summary: If a magical button and a mysterious cat could transport you to the past…would you save the future? After Jewish fifth-grader Ava and her Muslim cousin Nadeem are called hateful names at school, Granny Buena rummages in her closet and pulls out a glittering crystal button box. It’s packed with buttons that generations of their Sephardic ancestors have cherished. With the help of Granny’s mysterious cat Sheba, Ava and Nadeem discover that a button from the Button Box will whisk them back in time. Suddenly, they find themselves in ancient Morocco, where Nadeem’s ancestor, Prince Abdur Rahman, is running for his life. Can Ava and Nadeem help the prince escape to Spain and fulfill his destiny, creating a legendary Golden Age for Muslims, Jews and Christians?
Review: The Button Box was a fun and adventurous time travel fantasy. I thought this was a middle-grade novel, but it’s more of a chapter book. I think it was a short, but satisfying story. It had character development, world-building, and a fast-paced plot. I would definitely buy this for any chapter book readers in my life. It shared knowledge about Ava being Jewish and Nadeem being Muslim in an easy-to-understand way that felt like a part of the story instead of info-dumping.
Summary: As book three of the Greystone Secrets series opens, the Greystone kids have their mother back from the evil alternate world, and so does their friend Natalie. But no one believes the danger is past. Then mysterious coins begin falling from unexpected places. They are inscribed with codes that look just like what the Greystones’ father was working on before he died. And with the right touch, those symbols transform into words: PLEASE LISTEN. And FIND US, SEE US, HELP US. . . . The coins are messengers, telling the Greystones and their allies that their friends in the alternate world are under attack—and that the cruel, mind-controlling forces are now invading the better world, too. After another spinning, sliding journey across worlds, the Greystone kids must solve mysteries that have haunted them since the beginning: what happened when the Gustanos were kidnapped, what created the alternate world, and how a group of mismatched kids can triumph once and for all against an evil force that seems to have total control.
Review: The Messengers is the third and final book in the Greystone Secrets trilogy. I really liked the first two books and I actually reread them before finishing the series with this conclusion. We are still following the three Greystone siblings, Chess, Emma, and Finn. They tell us about how their mom’s double knocks on their door with her three kids that were just like Chess, Emma, and Finn, but maybe they actually weren’t. The two families work together to change things for the better before the mayor takes over both worlds. I really loved this book and this whole series. I’m glad I reread the first two before this one because the series as one long story is a good one, but also each book is its own great adventure. This finale was no different. The kids faced tough challenges and had to think quickly and cleverly. Overall, I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more new books by Haddix and probably even rereading some of her backlist.