A Million Junes – Emily Henry

30763950Title: A Million Junes
Author: Emily Henry

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Blurb: In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

My Review:
This is the first book I’ve ever read from the First To Read program.  If you’re a blogger, you should check it out!   Anyhow, anytime I get a book that I am pretty much ‘required’ to review, I get nervous.  What if I don’t like it? What if it’s so bad I don’t want to finish it?  I pretty much enjoy being in a non-committed relationship with books; reading what I want and specifically NOT reading when I don’t want.  So I was a little apprehensive when I downloaded this book and started it.  Let me just say, my fears were 120% unfounded, from the very beginning I was absorbed into this book.

What I Loved:  A Million Junes is one of those books that in its own way, unfolds in multiple timelines while maintaining a consistent current timeline. It’s different than other books like it, because even on those multiple timelines, the time period can be pretty fluid.  You jump in and out of the story at a variety of points.  I’m hoping this isn’t considered a ‘spoiler’ because I wanted to bring it up to point out that there was not one point throughout this story where I was confused.  I find this pretty much amazing!

There is so much to really enjoy about this book, the friendship between June and her best friend Hannah for starters.  Their friendship seemed so real, and exactly how you would expect a senior in high school friendship to be.  It wasn’t too over-the-top teenagery, but they also behaved in a way that seemed appropriate for their age.  Again, I think that this is something that many authors struggle with, the characters tend to end up feeling too over the top in the rebellious teenage direction or way too mature for their age.

I enjoyed June and Saul’s relationship – the way it unfolded naturally, it wasn’t all heat and passion, but a slow moving thing that they felt around and pushed, pulled and formed it into something real.  It was perfect, specifically because of its forbidden element.  The blurb sort of compares it to Romeo and Juliet, but it’s not a retelling at all.  I loved that do not rush headlong into something, but really take time to evaluate each other and make the best decisions they can on their own.

So while all of those things are good, the best part of this book is the mystery, the curse, and the unwinding of information.  The flow of the words coming off the pages is intoxicating in itself.  This was a most excellently written piece of art!

Not So Much:  Some of the minor characters – specifically the creative writing teacher – and their motives I didn’t quite get, honestly.  I can understand, I suppose, needing another antithesis/pushing point, but at the same time I think that goal could easily have been accomplished without the additional character, or attempting to play up her importance.  She was a bit oxymoron-ish as a character as well, she seemed to serve a dual – almost conflicting – purpose in my opinion.  Anyhow, this is about the only kind of/sort of not wonderful thing I can say about this book.  I’d say that’s pretty good!

The Verdict:  I am in love with this book.  It was fantastic…if you couldn’t tell that’s what I thought already.  It’s a YA, very clean and tidy, and yet, nothing more was needed to make it…more.  If you like a lyrical style of writing, and settings that are kind of blurry in nature, very fluid and changing – this book is definitely for you, and if you don’t, I still implore you to give it a chance!

**This book was an Advanced Reader Copy from FirstToRead.com; other than the joy of reading – I was granted no compensation to review this book.**

Gemina – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

29236299Title: Gemina 
Authors:  Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminea Files

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published Date: October 18, 2016

Blurb: Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

My Review:
My husband and I both enjoyed Illuminea so much that we purchased the audiobook of Gemina almost immediately afterward.

What I Loved:  I’m still really enjoying this world that has been created, and the way that these books are laid out. This time we start out in a court room reviewing documents against BeiTech.  From there we are told a story once again through the IMs, documents and video surveillance cameras as we were previously.  Similar to Illuminea, we are dealing with not only BeiTech and another invasion, but another outside conflict – this time in the form of human-eating aliens.

The characters in this book grew on me as the story progressed, which was good because I didn’t care much for Hanna at all at the beginning.     The characters Hanna and Nik are both just as fun and witty as Kady and Ezra were, but very much their own people.  The best character by far, though, was Nik’s cousin.  I just LOVED her ‘voice’ throughout the entire book.  Hanna’s was kind of amazing when she applied all of her convenient training – and started scaling the ship like a super-spy. Nik was an awesome hero and ladies man <wink.>

Not So Much:  So there is some drug usage in this book.  It does play it’s part I suppose, but I never care for any kind of drug recreational usage in a YA novel.  It’s just a ‘thing’ for me.  I was also disappointed at first of the lack of Kady and Ezra in this book, as I had grown to love them in Illuminae.  I did really enjoy this book, but honestly, it really just followed the same exact outline of Illuminae – granted the story was different, and the aliens were some bad dudes, the general outline is there.  I really hope that the future book will not fall into the same rut.

The Verdict:  I don’t think it was possible for this to have been better than Illuminae no matter what way you shake it.  I really do love the world that has been established, and at this point I really want to see BeiTech go down – hard.  So I will be listening or reading anything else that comes up in this series.  As far as clean goes – the cussing was cut back by a LOT in this book (though as it was previously – all cussing is blanked out in the actual book the audiobook makes it clear what is being said).  I mentioned the drug usage previously – and that would really be my big hang-up with the whole YA genre.

 

Dangerous Lies – Becca Fitzpatrick

20909906Dangerous Lies
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Published: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Buy Link:  http://a.co/4zbtAHA

Blurb: A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

My Review:
I had two audible book credits when I picked up Dangerous Lies.  I’m not sure how I found it, but I have previously really liked Becca Fitzgerald’s books, her Hush,Hush series, but more so Black Ice.  The YA Thrillerish Romance is something I like a lot, actually, and hopefully I can find more of.

What I Loved:  I loved the action scenes, and the moments when you know that the suspense is building.  The knowledge that something is coming, but not exactly sure what it is just yet.

This is going to seem strange, but I was drawn to Stella a bit because I could relate to her on a small level.  Her life is, by far, more dysfunctional than mine was, but I understood her struggle with authority and trust due to her mom being an addict.  When you have a life full of empty promises, it is difficult to believe when people are being sincere.    So even though I would get frustrated at her indignant attitude at times, I also could understand where she was coming from.

The twists of the stories, and especially the scene where Stella and Chet are revealing their secrets.  I feel like this was the most exposed and sincere scene in the entire book.  Though I did feel like Chet was sincere to the degree of being overly intense all the time – this scene sort of finally won me over.

Not So Much:  First and foremost, and I think this is why I may have had a hard time getting into this book…because I did.  I actually started it in October and put it down for a long time before deciding to finish it off this week; I really didn’t feel the chemistry like I wanted between Stella and Chet.  All the right scenes were there and everything seemed like it should have been just right, but something was missing.  I don’t know if it was Stella’s hold on Reed, or what it was – but the relationship kind of fell flat for me all the way up until the end when it finally came together. (And no, it wasn’t because of the fade to black scene – that wasn’t even that great to me, either.)

While I enjoyed all the side stories happening in this book, I also kind of felt it added a lot of unnecessary length.  I really wanted more action and danger I think, when really only a small portion of the book was really thriller.

The Verdict:  I did enjoy Dangerous Lies, but I was really hoping for another Black Ice, I think.  That book was awesome in the ‘edge of your seat’ kind of way, and the blooming romance was a slow heat, while Dangerous Lies was kind of out there and open because of Chet’s nature.  In real life, I would probably fall in love with Chet, hands down.  This book was mostly clean, it had some intense kissing, and as I mentioned, a fade to black scene that was squeaky clean.  I think there was mention of the top of the bathing suit, and that was as graphic as it got.  YA-ok.

Book Review: Black Ice – Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Black Ice
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Synopsis from Goodreads:   

Danger is hard to resist in this sexy thriller from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.


Brit Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants;but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.


Britt is forced to guide the men off the mountain, and knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.


But nothing is as it seems, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?


Black Ice is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous.


My Review:
Black Ice was a wonderful YA Suspense novel.  I was entranced with this book from the very start, and was getting irritable because I wasn’t finding time to finish it (my poor husband can attest to this).  Although I found the “mystery” of the novel easy to predict, the journey was the entertainment of the book.  I enjoyed how Britt was viewed differently by each person she did life with; and feel that this is a testament to her being whoever she needed to be to fit the scenario, however I found it ironic that the person she was when she was lost in the woods with Mason was probably the best interpretation of who she is when she is allowed to reach her full potential.   On one hand, this book was way different from the Hush, Hush series Becca Fitzpatrick wrote previously, however the elements of the ‘bad-boy’ guys she writes are definitely still present in this book!

Rated:  PG-13, Some violence, mild cussing
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Suspense
Rating:  5 Stars

~* Books by Becca Fitzpatrick *~

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