9 Best NetGalley Reads

I’ve been blogging for a while now and have requested MANY books from NetGalley. Over that amount of time, I’ve read quite a few duds unfortunately. That being said, I’ve also read some AMAZING books and have been introduced to some great authors and series as well.

Favorite NetGalley Reads

Here are nine of my favorite reads that I got approved for on NetGalley. I’ll just include a quick TL;DR review for each title with a link for my full review (so you’ll get to see some of my OG reviews haha).

180 Seconds by Jessica Park – Subtly diverse characters created an authentic atmosphere for our main character to develop realistically with her mental health.

Full Review

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – Action, action, action with likable characters. You’ll start reading for the motorcycle race and you’ll keep reading for Yael.

Full Review

Invictus by Ryan Graudin – The most realistic time travel I’ve ever seen with super likable characters that just make the book so much deeper and more emotional.

Full Review

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria – This book had such a great atmosphere and the two main characters are seriously #friendshipgoals.

Full Review

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno – This book will make you wish you had an abuela. The Cuban culture is so authentic throughout that it makes my heart hurt.

Full Review

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – The main character is tough as nails and I like how the book focused on her development as a character and her relationship with the women in her family instead of some rando boy.

Full Review

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy – The variety in the chapters was really fun despite the heavy topics explored in this book.

Full Review

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine – An amazing start to a great series with a fantastic cast of diverse characters and evil librarians. Highly recommend this whole series.

Full Review

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn – Flawed main characters have a surprising amount of depth. The author did a great job of creating emotion when I wasn’t expecting it.

Full Review

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8 Buzz Books for Fall/Winter 2019 [Netgalley Buzz Books]

Buzz Books Fall Winter 2019

NetGalley puts out this great compilation every season of some of the hot new Young Adult books that will be coming out. Here are my thoughts on the 8 books featured.

Legacy and the QueenLegacy and the Queen by Annie Matthew, created by Kobe Bryant (9/3)

GAME. SET. MAGIC.

Game – Tennis means life and death for the residents of the magical kingdom of Nova, and for twelve-year-old Legacy, it’s the only thing getting her through the long days taking care of the other kids at the orphanage. That’s all about to change when she hears about Silla’s tournament.

Set – Silla, the ruler of Nova, hosts an annual tournament for the less fortunate of her citizens to come and prove themselves and win entrance to the Academy, where they can train to compete at nationals. The prize is Silla’s favor and enough cash to keep open the orphanage, and Legacy has her heart set on both. 

Magic – What Legacy has yet to know is that the other players have something besides better skills and more money than she does. In Nova, tennis can unlock magic. Magic that Silla used to save the kingdom long ago and magic that her competitors have been training in for months already. 

Now, with the world turned against her and the orphanage at stake, Legacy has to learn to use her passion for the game to rise above those around her and shine.

Cover: While I like the cover, it doesn’t make me want to read it.  I quite like the concept though, just not a big tennis person. 6/10

Premise:  I like magical competitions as much as the next girl, but I’m not into a magic/tennis tournament hybrid. WHO ASKED FOR THIS. And, I’m sorry, but I just have a hard time taking this seriously when Kobe Bryant isn’t even listed as an author–they’re not even pretending that he made much of a contribution here. He was probably just like, “What if we have a tennis tournament but…it’s MAGIC.” 2/10

Excerpt: Immediate info-dumping and the tennis aspect sits as weird as I’d feared. 2/10

TBR?: No

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The Last True Poets of the SeaThe Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake (10/1)

The Larkin family isn’t just lucky—they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great-grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.

But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.

Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece-the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.

She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.

Cover: Like…I like it, but I’m getting serious The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe vibes. I literally thought this was a sequel until I saw that it was by a different author. 7/10

Premise: I am definitely intrigued by the premise. I like books with family legacies/curses and I also like the shipwreck hunting aspect of it. I hope that there are some flashbacks to Fidelia as well. 7/10

Excerpt: I like the quick back and forth between Violet and her uncle. It keeps the story moving, fills the reader in on some information, and doesn’t bog the writing down. I’m having a hard time deciding, though, whether Violet is going to be an enjoyable level of snarky, or if it’ll end up being too much. 7/10

TBR?: Yes.

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CoralCoral by Sara Ella (11/12)

Coral has always been different, standing out from her mermaid sisters in a society where blending in is key. Worse yet, she fears she has been afflicted with the dreaded Disease, said to be carried by humans—emotions. Can she face the darkness long enough to surface in the light?

Above the sea, Brooke has nothing left to give. Depression and anxiety have left her feeling isolated. Forgotten. The only thing she can rely on is the numbness she finds within the cool and comforting ocean waves. If only she weren’t stuck at Fathoms—a new group therapy home that promises a second chance at life. But what’s the point of living if her soul is destined to bleed?

Merrick may be San Francisco’s golden boy, but he wants nothing more than to escape his controlling father. When his younger sister’s suicide attempt sends Merrick to his breaking point, escape becomes the only option. If he can find their mom, everything will be made right again—right?

When their worlds collide, all three will do whatever it takes to survive, and Coral might even catch a prince in the process. But what—and who—must they leave behind for life to finally begin?

Cover: The cover intrigues me and I really like the color contrast between the artwork and the title. I’m always down for a good fairytale retelling but I feel like there have been some duds lately. 7/10

Premise: Meh. I read one book where emotions were considered a disease and that was enough for me. I’m not really interested in revisiting that concept. On the other hand, it sounds like there could be some good mental health rep in here, so that’s something. 3/10

Excerpt: It’s a little too lyrical…is that the right word? The writing feels like it’s trying too hard to be beautiful and the story gets lost in it. 3/10

TBR?: No.

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I'm Not Dying With You TonightI’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal (10/1)

Lena and Campbell aren’t friends.

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.

Cover: This cover is pretty good, but doesn’t necessarily grab me. 5/10

Premise: This book sounds like it’s probably pretty intense. The summary gives some information, but I’m still not 100% what this book is going to be about. 6/10

Excerpt: I like when two authors write for different POVs. It makes the characters authentically sound like different people because it’s actually written by different people. The writing is nothing special, but it is extremely readable. I’d want to see what people say about this one. 6/10

TBR?: Maybe.

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Dear Haiti, Love AlaineDear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite (9/3)

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

Cover: This cover is great–I really like it. The title font is awesome and I love all the red. 8/10

Premise: This sounds so fun! And Haiti isn’t a country I know a lot about. I really like the epistolary format as well and I get the sense there could be a really great mother/daughter dynamic in this one? 8/10

Excerpt: I like the writing even if it doesn’t read like I would expect an epistolary novel to. It reads more like a normal book, so I’m not sure the epistolary format is actually adding anything to it yet. 8/10

TBR?: Yes.

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Harvey Comes HomeHarvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson (9/19)

A dog’s world is a world of scents, of adventure. When a runaway West Highland Terrier named Harvey wanders out of his old life guided only by his nose and his heart, lives begin to converge.

Austin, a young volunteer at Brayside retirement home, quickly finds that the audacious Harvey inspires Mr. Pickering, a bitter resident coping with memory loss, to tell stories of his childhood. Moved by the elderly man’s Dust Bowl recollections of grinding poverty and the perseverance of his friends and family, Austin begins to trade his preconceived notions for empathy. But is it enough to give him the resolve to track down Harvey’s original owner?

Cover: Beyond the puppy, this cover really holds zero appeal for me. 2 points for the good doge. 2/10

Premise: I don’t have anything against reading middle grade, but I personally don’t read a lot. The premise makes this sound like a pretty young book, so I probably wouldn’t pick it up. 2/10

Excerpt: I do like that part of the book is written more from the dog’s perspective (though still in 3rd person). 3/10

TBR?: No.

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Scars Like WingsScars Like Wings by Erin Stewart (10/1)

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. 

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. 

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

Cover: Another cover that reminds me of another book. This time I’m getting serious Death Prefers Blondes vibes. I still like it though, the contrasting colors are fun. 7/10

Premise: It sounds interesting since I’ve never read a book featuring a burn victim before. I’m just not sure if I’ll like it if the main character is too angry. It makes me tired when characters are SUPER angry at the world. 5/10

Excerpt: I find the writing to be super compelling and I like the character’s mixture of snark with her other emotions. I also think (and hope) that her relationship with her aunt will prove to be really interesting. 8/10

TBR?: Yes.

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Home GirlHome Girl by Alex Wheatle (9/3)

New from the winner of the Guardian Children’s Book Award: Home Girl is the story of Naomi, a teenage girl growing up fast in the care system. It is a wholly modern story which sheds a much needed light on what can be an unsettling life – and the consequences that can follow when children are treated like pawns on a family chessboard.

Cover: I’m not as much a fan of photos for covers compared to illustrations. Also, something about this cover has a low-budget, self-published feel to it. 0/10

Premise: Seems like it could be a really important story, but we’re really not given much to go off of. Just from this premise, I probably wouldn’t pick it up. 3/10

Excerpt: The flow is fast-paced with a lot of British slang, some of which I didn’t really understand. I can see the appeal, but I’ll probably pass on it. 4/10

TBR?: No.

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Let me know in the comments what you’ve heard about these books and which ones you’ll be adding to your TBR!

12 Buzz Books for Spring/Summer 2019 (NetGalley Buzz Books)

NetGalley puts out this great compilation every season of some of the hot new Young Adult books that will be coming out. Here are my thoughts on the 12 books featured.

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RomanovRomanov by Nadine Brandes (5/7)

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

Cover: This cover is beautiful! I love the colors and the castle especially. I am so IN for anything about the Romanovs. 7/10

Premise: Very intriguing. I like the element of magic coming into this story. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the Bolshevik romance…but who am I kidding? I’ll probably love it. 7/10

Excerpt: This sounds great so far! It sounds like they’re painting Rasputin to be a good guy at this point? I mean, maybe I’m biased from the Anastasia movie, but that guy seriously gives me the creeps, so I hope we find out later he’s a villain. 8/10

TBR?: Yes

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Once and FutureOnce & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (3/26)

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Cover: I mean…I kind of like the cover, but I feel like it also looks like a ton of other covers I’ve seen. 6/10

Premise: This book is being sold as “inclusive” and as a “bold original retelling”. This is definitely not the first “King Arthur as a girl” book that I’ve seen or read. I don’t really know how King Arthur being a girl is “inclusive”? That stuff aside, though, it does sound interesting. 6/10

Excerpt: I’m not super impressed by the excerpt. The main character seems kind of annoying and the book is supposed to be set in the future, but it doesn’t really feel like the future. 4/10

TBR?: Probably not

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The Missing of ClairdeluneThe Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos (5/7)

Book 2 of the Mirror Visitor Quartet

When our heroine Ophelia is promoted to Vice-storyteller by Farouk, the ancestral Spirit of Pole, she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into the public spotlight and her special gift is revealed to all. Ophelia knows how to read the secret history of objects and there could be no greater threat to the nefarious denizens of her icy adopted home than this. Beneath the golden rafters of Pole’s capitol, Citaceleste, she discovers that the only person she may be able to trust is Thorn, her enigmatic fiancé. As one after another influential courtier disappears, Ophelia again finds herself unintentionally implicated in an investigation that will lead her to see beyond Pole’s many illusions to the heart of the formidable truth.

Cover: I quite like this cover. It’s deceptively simple by just being one color, but there’s a lot going on. 7/10

Premise: I haven’t read the first book yet so I’m skipping both the premise and excerpt.

Excerpt: Skipped

TBR?: The first book is called A Winter’s Promise and it sounds very intriguing. So the first book is on my TBR, at least. Also, this book was originally written in French, so this would be great for any “books originally written in another language” challenges.

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Much Ado About Mean GirlsMuch Ado About Mean Girls by Ian Doescher (4/23)

Power struggles. Bitter rivalries. Jealousy. Betrayals. Star-crossed lovers. When you consider all these plot points, it’s pretty surprising William Shakespeare didn’t write Mean Girls. But now fans can treat themselves to the epic drama–and heroic hilarity–of the classic teen comedy rendered with the wit, flair, and iambic pentameter of the Bard. Our heroine Cady disguises herself to infiltrate the conniving Plastics, falls for off-limits Aaron, struggles with her allegiance to newfound friends Damian and Janis, and stirs up age-old vendettas among the factions of her high school. Best-selling author Ian Doescher brings his signature Shakespearean wordsmithing to this cult classic beloved by generations of teen girls and other fans. Now, on the 15th anniversary of its release, Mean Girls is a recognized cultural phenomenon, and it’s more than ready for an Elizabethan makeover.

Cover: The cover doesn’t THRILL me. I’m not making grabby hands at it, but it’s okay. 5/10

Premise: I don’t know how I feel about this book…I feel like there’s definitely a group of people out there who will love this book. I’m just not really sure it’s for me. The original movie is so good, I have a hard time believing that iambic pentameter is really going to make it better. 4/10

Excerpt: The writing just doesn’t flow like Shakespeare. Sure, it might technically be in iambic pentameter, but it still reads kind of jerkily. I’m sure the author worked really hard on it though. 3/10

TBR?: No

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Please Send HelpPlease Send Help by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin (7/16)

In this hilarious follow-up novel to the New York Times bestseller I Hate Everyone But You, long distance best friends Ava and Gen have finally made it to the same time zone (although they’re still over a thousand miles apart).

Through their hilarious, sometimes emotional, but always relatable conversations, Ava and Gen are each other’s support systems through internships, relationship troubles, questionable roommates, undercover reporting, and whether or not it’s a good idea to take in a feral cat. Please Send Help perfectly captures the voice of young adults looking to find their place in the world and how no matter how desperate things seem, you always have your best friend to tell it like it is and pick you back up.

Cover: I’m not a huge fan of the cover. The colors and font just aren’t doing it for me. 3/10

Premise: I was NOT a fan of the first book (I DNF’d after 115 pages). This book claims that it’s going to be relatable, but I did not find the characters relatable at all in the first book so…not buying that. 1/10

Excerpt: Nope. 1/10

TBR?: No

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VoicesVoices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott (3/26)

Told through medieval poetic forms and in the voices of the people and objects in Joan of Arc’s life, (including her family and even the trees, clothes, cows, and candles of her childhood). Along the way it explores issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices.

Cover: Not a huge fan of that cover. For some reason it looks a little old-fashioned to me. 3/10

Premise: The premise is interesting…I could see it either being really good or really weird.  But I’m betting more on weird. 4/10

Excerpt: The writing is actually quite beautiful. I’ll admit that I don’t know that much about Joan of Arc, so this might be a good read for me. 6/10

TBR?: Yes

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Descendant of the CraneDescendant of the Crane by Joan He (4/2)

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant and alluring investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

Cover: This is a great cover. It’s very reminiscent of classic Asian artwork that I’ve seen. It also gives me Alice in Wonderland vibes? 7/10

Premise: Yeah. I’m into it. 8/10

Excerpt: The writing is good and I like the use of alliteration (not sure if it’s intentional, but I like it). 8/10

TBR?: Yes

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A Place for WolvesA Place for Wolves by Kosoko Jackson (4/2)

James Mills isn’t sure he can forgive his parents for dragging him away from his life, not to mention his best friend and sister, Anna. He’s never felt so alone.

Enter Tomas. Falling for Tomas is unexpected, but sometimes the best things in life are.

Then their world splits apart. A war that has been brewing finally bursts forward, filled with violence, pain, and cruelty. James and Tomas can only rely on each other as they decide how far they are willing to go―and who they are willing to become―in order to make it back to their families.

Cover: I like this cover quite a bit. I like the contrast of the black and white photo in the background and the bright font colors. 8/10

Premise: It’s described as Aristotle and Dante meets Code Name Verity. I’m not necessarily buying that since Code Name Verity is one of the greatest best friendship stories I’ve ever read and this is definitely a romantic relationship… I think they just said Code Name Verity because there’s a war? 3/10

Excerpt: The writing is good, but I still have no sense of what the plot might be. It seems like the book might be told in the “present” and in flashbacks provided by letters that James has written to his sister and I do like that. 4/10

TBR?: No

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OperaticOperatic by Kyo Maclear illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler (4/2)

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, from hip-hop to metal to disco, but it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks. On top of everything, she has been talked into participating in an end-of-year performance with her best friends.

Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?

Cover: I like the top half of the cover, but not so much the bottom half and I can’t really articulate why. 5/10

Premise: I like the premise quite a bit. I like the idea of our main character discovering and delving into a new passion. I also like that this is a graphic novel. I don’t like the possibility of a love triangle that has been presented. 6/10

Excerpt: Yes. I loved it. I love that the drawings don’t feel super finished–they mostly seem like just pencil drawings and I think it’s a really good feel for the book. I’m invested in Charlie’s story already. 8/10

TBR?: Yes

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OutcastsOutcasts by Claire McFall (4/23)

Book 3 in the Ferryman series

Tristan and Dylan have escaped death and conquered destiny. Nothing is stopping them from being together.

But every action has a consequence, and their exile to the real world has caused an imbalance in the afterlife. It’s owed two souls – and it wants them back.

When the world of the dead claims Dylan’s parents to restore the balance, Dylan and Tristan are offered a terrible bargain: stay together and condemn innocent souls to death, or return to the wasteland to take their place and be separated. Forever.

Are they willing to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Cover: I like the cover–I like the simplicity and the colors. I don’t like the title font. 7/10

Premise: I haven’t read the first two books so I’m not going to rate the premise or excerpt.

Excerpt: Pass.

TBR?: I feel super torn regarding the premise of the first book. On one hand, it’s a little intriguing. On the other hand, it reads like a bunch of other supernatural romance books I’ve already read. Back on the first hand, it has a semi-high rating on Goodreads (3.87). I just don’t know.

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BloodleafBloodleaf by Crystal Smith (3/12)

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her.

But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

Cover: The cover looks dark and mysterious and exciting. For some reason I really like the title font and the background color really speaks to me. 8/10

Premise: We’ve had an ARC of this book sitting in or workroom for the last two months. The premise isn’t super compelling to me and that’s why I haven’t picked it up before now. I just doesn’t feel very original? Heir that has forbidden magic that they must keep hidden…I just feel like I’ve heard it a couple times before. But, like it’s got a 4.02 on Goodreads? 4/10

Excerpt: I feel like the author’s trying too hard. Something about the adjectives used just doesn’t feel very smooth. 4/10

TBR?: No

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To Best the BoysTo Best the Boys by Mary Weber (3/19)

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

Cover: Yes. THIS is a good cover. 9/10

Premise: I am all in for this premise! A labyrinth sounds so deliciously twisty and full of puzzles (I love books with puzzles). I was actually so close to requesting this on NetGalley already, but I was worried it won’t live up to my expectations. 9/10

Excerpt: The writing is not as compelling as I would have hoped. That dampens my enthusiasm for this book a little. 7/10

TBR?: Yes

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Let me know in the comments what you’ve heard about these books!

Probably the weirdest scavenger hunt ever | In the Hope of Memories by Olivia Rivers [ARC]

In the Hope of MemoriesHope knows that she’s dying, but before she does, she wants to make sure her friends receive one last gift: a scavenger hunt. Erik, Aiden, Kali, and Sam are all thrown together on this crazy adventure and they’re not sure exactly what Hope is trying to do. As they make their way through the scavenger hunt’s various tasks, they’ll learn something about themselves, their relationship with each other, and even some things about Hope.

TL;DR – Unlikable characters and an unbelievable plot make this book hard to read despite its great premise.

What a gorgeous cover, amiright? Unfortunately, this book did not live up to my expectations. I thought the premise was so promising! I love scavenger hunts and so I was excited to read this book, but at the end of the day, I was let down. My issue with this book mainly centers around the characters and the plot. First, I felt the plot was completely unbelievable. These four teenagers pretty much just take off to New York for a few days and then face almost no repercussions when they get back. And also, the scavenger hunt was EXTREMELY HARD. I literally have no idea how they were able to solve any clue.

The characters themselves were super flat and felt inconsistent. We get narrations from all four of the main characters, but I still didn’t feel myself connecting with or really liking any of them. When it was their turn to narrate, they were okay, but then from everyone else’s perspectives they were complete butts. It’s hard for me to figure out which perspective is the real character and they were all annoying anyway.

I thought the writing was pretty good, though, and I did enjoy wandering around New York City. I definitely would like to visit a few of those places. This book also includes a lot of diversity–each character kind of has their own thing going.

Overall, I just thought this book was too unbelievable. Hope is portrayed as being this perfect person with literally no faults (except for her penchant for graffiti, but even that isn’t so bad). I think the book would have been better if just one aspect of it had been more believable: 1) The characters weren’t so flat, 2) An easier scavenger hunt, 3) Hope was less perfect. Any of those things, I think, would have made the book more enjoyable for me.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Buzz Books 2018 | Young Adult Spring/Summer (part 2/2)

NetGalley puts out this great compilation every season of some of the hot new Young Adult books that will be coming out. Here are my thoughts on the last 6 books featured and here’s a link to my thoughts on the first 6. As always, covers link to Goodreads.

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (3/20)

Orphan Monster SpyCover: This seems like a historical fiction war thriller maybe? Which is potentially intriguing, but just based on the cover I don’t know that I would pick it up off a shelf. 4/10

Premise: OKAY. This premise is actually super interesting to me. As we all know, I love books about boarding schools and this sounds like it’s right up that alley. This book sounds like a cross between Wolf by Wolf and the Finishing School series. 9/10

Excerpt: The book starts off pretty fast-paced and I really like the German that’s sprinkled throughout. I’m definitely interested in reading more–hopefully the main character continues to hold my interest. 8/10

TBR?: Yes

Furyborn by Claire Legrand (5/22)

FurybornCover: I don’t know…this just looks like a lot of books that are being published right now. Some kind of high-ish fantasy land where a girl comes from nothing to become a super powerful queen/leader/ruler. It just seems a little generic at this point? I think a few years ago this would have really appealed to me though. 6/10

Premise: Does this book involve some kind of time travel too? I don’t know, I’m really not interested in this. The premise does not appeal to me at all. 2/10

Excerpt: I can already tell that this world is going to take way too much set-up time than I would want to invest. And the writing was fine, but not good enough to keep my attention. Also, already knowing that it’s a trilogy is another strike against it imo. 2/10

TBR?: No

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn (3/13)

Twelve Steps to NormalCover: I feel very neutral about this cover. I like the simplicity of it and the overall design, but it just doesn’t really look like it’s going to be about something that I’m interested in. 5/10

Premise: The summary makes me slightly more interested in this book. I like the idea of the main character having to come back to her old life and reevaluate things. I’m less certain about the fact that it’s written by a Buzzfeed writer. I’ve read some really great things on Buzzfeed, but also some things that weren’t so well-written. 6/10

Excerpt: The writing feels fresh, in a way. I think the main character will be interesting and difficult at times, but overall likable. I also think we’re going to see some really complicated interactions between her and her dad and that’s kind of exciting to explore. 7/10

TBR?: Yes

Frat Girl by Kiley Roache (3/27)

Frat GirlCover: This book just feels like it’s trying too hard. The tagline on the cover is “there’s a feminist in the frat house”. That just seems like it’s going to come with such obvious complications. In my opinion, a book could have the same overall topics and themes but handle it in a much more subtle and mature way. This feels like too much. 2/10

Premise: Yeah okay, that summary is pretty much exactly what I thought it might be. It just leaves me with a big, sarcastic, “Gee, wonder how this is going to turn out?”. It has the slightest potential of becoming a cute college romance, but I can just tell that the main characters are actually going to bug the crap out of me. 4/10

Excerpt: I can already tell that I don’t like any of these characters. The main character herself is fine, but her two friends are too snarky and rebellious to feel realistic. 3/10

TBR?: NO

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber (3/6)

Reclaiming Shilo SnowCover: This looks like it will be some kind of sci-fi book with probable romance between a human girl and a not-quite-human boy (my money’s on cyborg, but could be alien I suppose). Again, maybe would have appealed to me a few years ago, but now…yawn. 4/10

Premise: The summary told me nothing except that this is actually the second book in a series. That is not necessarily something that is in this book’s favor. After reading the summary for the first book, I am still not very interested. 3/10

Excerpt: I’m going to skip the excerpt since the book is not the first in a series. Wouldn’t want to spoil anything.

TBR?: No

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (4/24)

Sky in the DeepCover: This cover is slightly intriguing. Why does she have an axe? It’s kind of giving me Thor/Norse vibes. What exactly is this book about? 5/10

Premise: Hmmm…I can’t tell if this is going to be like a resurrection book or zombies or something else…dark magic maybe? I’m a little more interested than I was before. 6/10

Excerpt: I’m just not sure about this one. Again, I’m not sure that the time it takes to setup this new world is worth my investment. The main character seems okay though. 6/10

TBR?: Maybe, we’ll see what other people say about it.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve heard anything about these books!

Buzz Books 2018 | Young Adult Spring/Summer (part 1/2)

NetGalley puts out this great compilation every season of some of the hot new Young Adult books that will be coming out. Here are my thoughts on the first 6 books featured and be on the lookout for my thoughts on the next 6. As always, covers link to Goodreads.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes (7/10)

FawkesCover: I’m not super jazzed about this cover. It looks like it’s going to be a bad fairy tale retelling. Other than that, I have no indication of what this book might be about. What genre is it even? Fantasy? Historical Fiction? It could be horror for all I know. 3/10

Premise: This is literally the summary, “Nadine Brandes thrusts readers back to the time of anarchy and Guy Fawkes, with fantastical twists and unlikely love in Fawkes.” That still gives me almost nothing. I’ve heard of Guy Fawkes, but I have no idea who he is or what he did. I guess this is historical fantasy? Maybe? 3/10

Excerpt: I can already tell that the magic used in this world is too complicated. There are masks and colors that respond to types of voices…on top of that, I think the author’s trying a little too hard to be poetic in the descriptions. I also found the main character to be annoying and whiney after just the first few pages. 4/10

TBR?: No. This one just isn’t for me.

The Boy from Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis (5/8)

The Boy from TomorrowCover: Just from the cover I think I can tell that this one is more middle grade than YA. It looks like it might be about a kid who time travels to the past? If I was in the target age range I think this cover would definitely appeal to me. 7/10

Premise: This sounds a lot like the movie Frequency. Again, if I was younger, I think I would really dig it. 6/10

Excerpt: It’s kind of interesting…even though this is clearly a middle grade book, I think the author has written in a very mature tone. The characters act like they’re 12, but think as if they’re older. I also like the aspect of having some interesting historical facts included since one of the characters lives in the past. 7/10

TBR?: Maybe. I wouldn’t usually add a middle grade to my TBR, but since this one reads a little older, I might.

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne (5/1)

Brightly BurningCover: This cover does not appeal to me at all. Something about the text…the font that was chosen and the image…the colors… It just doesn’t look interesting to me. Probably some new space book where a girl from Earth falls in love with some guy from space. 2/10

Premise: Okay, well I was right about it being a space book. For some reason this seems like it might be a retelling of an old classic? But I think it’s probably one I haven’t read because the names and overall premise don’t sound very familiar to me. I’m just going to say, though, that having a 19-year-old boy be “notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk” seems a bit of a stretch. I mean, how long could he really have had that reputation for? Already I can tell that I’m going to want the characters to be older. 5/10

Excerpt: Not really a smooth beginning. It’s hard to join a story already in progress, but I feel like right off the bat there was a conversation between two characters that didn’t feel genuine and only served to catch the reader up to speed. It just didn’t feel as organic as it should have. Props to the author for including a diverse character right away, though. 5/10

TBR?: Nah.

Unbreakable by Sara Ella (5/1)

UnbreakableCover: Man, what is with these covers? None of them are speaking to me. This looks like a fairy book that I would have read 10 years ago. I don’t like the font and the imagery gives me no clues as to what this book might be about. 2/10

Premise: I guess this is the third book in a trilogy that I have never heard of before. Other than that, no clues from the summary. 3/10

Excerpt: The writing doesn’t seem too bad, but I just did a quick skim since I haven’t read the first two books. 5/10

TBR?: No and not just because I haven’t read the first two books. I read the synopsis for the first book and just wasn’t interested in that one either.

Legendary by Stephanie Garber (5/29)

LegendaryCover: Yes. HECK YES. I loved the cover of Caraval so much and this one is just as intriguing and magical. I love the colors and the text and how it looks both simple and complicated at the same time. 8/10

Premise: For the most part, I really liked Caraval, but I did have some issues with it. I hope that this book is able to build on the first instead of repeating elements. I like the idea of Elantine’s Day, but if it’s too much like Caraval then I’ll be disappointed. 7/10

Excerpt: Some of my issues from the last book stemmed from Scarlett as a character/narrator. So maybe with Tella as the new main character and narrator some of those issues will go away? I’m as intrigued as Tella by the deck of cards and I really liked the way her mom talked about fortune telling. 8/10

TBR?: YES. Actually, it already was. But if it hadn’t been, it definitely would be now!

Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein (6/19)

Chemistry LessonsCover: Okay, this looks like it has the potential to be a really cute and fluffy contemporary romance and I am HERE for it. I like the font choice, I like the periodic table in the background, I like that the droplets are little heart shapes…I’d definitely pick it up off the shelf and read the back. 7/10

Premise: Oh man, this premise seems a little risky. It could go well, or it could be extremely over the top and annoying. All I want is a smart girl main character who ISN’T a spazz. Up to this point, that has been too much to ask for apparently, but we’ll see with this book. 6/10

Excerpt: Just from the excerpt I think that I’ll like Maya as a character pretty good. It seems like she’s surrounded by a quirky cast of diverse secondary characters as well. I also like that the book really feels like it’s set in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 7/10

TBR?: Yeah, I’ll give this one a shot.

Let me know in the comments what you’ve heard about these books!

7 ways to keep yourself from going crazy on NetGalley

For book bloggers, NetGalley is a magical place where maybe, just maybe you might get a chance to read the next Sarah Dessen/Morgan Matson/”insert author here” book before everyone else. In my experience, it’s a lot easier to get approved for digital galleys on NetGalley than it is to get publishers to send you physical copies (I’ve only succeeded at that like twice). Perhaps this is why it’s so hard to practice self-control once you get on the site. There’s just an enormous potential to receive free books.

book pile gif
Me with all my free books from NetGalley

So how do you keep yourself from requesting every book that you see? Well, after a couple of years, here are some tips that I’ve come up with to (hopefully) keep your ARC load manageable.

1) Only request books that you actually want to read.

Baby Reading

This seems like a no-brainer, but I have definitely found myself being approved for a book and then wondering why the heck I requested it in the first place. Getting on NetGalley when you’re bored is sometimes like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry. EVERYTHING SOUNDS GOOD. But then when it actually comes time to eat (or read/review) you’re left with a bunch of things that don’t really sound that appetizing. So make sure when you’re requesting that the book actually sounds really good to you. Not just pretty good or okay.

2) Keep a record of books that you’ve requested.

List

Even though you can view all of the books that you’ve requested on NetGalley, it’s easy to forget just how many books you might have already requested or when they’re all being published. I’ve had times where I’ve been approved for books weeks later. All of the sudden, I have 7 books to read and review for April and I’m not really sure how that’s happened. I suggest keeping a list in a more visible place as you’re requesting books. That way, if you’re on the fence about a book, you can see if you’ve already requested a lot of books being published in the same month and use that to help you make your decision.

3) Only request books that have a future publishing date.

Sometimes NetGalley has books on it that have already been published. I fell into this trap early on where a book would sound good, I requested it, but then found out that it had been published the year before. It didn’t seem so bad at the time, but when I also got approved for future books, the ones that had already been published got pushed to the back burner. For me, there just isn’t the same urgency to review already published books as there is to review books that are still to come. Eventually I created a rule for myself that I could only request books that were going to be published in the future.

4) Get to know which publishers you like and which ones you don’t.

reading gif

There are certain publishers that will almost always produce good quality books (HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, etc.). I feel pretty safe requesting books from these publishers. But there are other publishers that I have found to be hit or miss for me (SOURCEBOOKS) and still others that I don’t request books from anymore (Entangled Publishing). It might take you a little bit to establish which publishers you like, but eventually you’ll figure it out. I know that no matter how cute and fluffy a book sounds, if it’s published by Entangled Publishing, I’m most likely going to end up regretting my request.

5) Keep a schedule of ARCs that you’ve already been approved for.

This is similar to keeping a record of ARCs that you’ve requested, but even more important imo. These are books that you’ve already committed to reading and reviewing. If you’ve already got 5 books scheduled for this month, maybe rethink that book you’re about to request that comes out next week. Really consider if you have the time to read and adequately review all of the books on your schedule before potentially adding another one.

6) Set a request limit for yourself. AND STICK TO IT.
limit gif
It does Lindsay, it really does

Setting a limit for how many books you can request on a given day will keep you from requesting every book that sounds remotely good. Instead, you’ll have to prioritize which books you actually want to read. Having a limit will force you to actually consider if it’s worth it to request a book or if you should save your request for something else.

7) Do judge a book by its cover.

This is so superficial, I know. But it’s a really easy way to keep yourself from going overboard since it eliminates a number of previously eligible books. If a cover doesn’t look interesting to you, don’t even look at the description. You might miss out on a great book here or there, but I think it’s worth the “risk”.

Now that you’ve figured out how to effectively use NetGalley…go forth, request, read and review!

Chang reading community gif

Did I miss any NetGalley tips? Do you have any NetGalley horror stories? Let me know in the comments!