SPOILER FREE REVIEW: HEROINE BY MINDY MCGINNIS

Title: HEROINE

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Pub. Date: March 12th 2019

Genre: YA Contemporary

Format: eGalley

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 419 Pages

๐Ÿ–คARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review๐Ÿ–ค

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLES | AMAZON

Mickey Catalan is a star player for the High School Softball team and on the fast track to making history. Her prospects for college softball are looking promising but that all changes as a result of a car crash that brings her dreams to a halt. Given Oxycodone for painkillers & a lengthy period of recovery from her life threatening injuries, Mickey is left feeling desperate for a quick fix. Her encounter with someone who offers her more of the drug that is quickly sinking its teeth into her is only the start of a downward spiral.  We see Mickey distance herself from her loved ones, making friends with others who like her have developed a co-dependent relationship with the drug. It starts with pain killers & escalates to other drugs, ultimately taking Mickey and leaving her a different version of the girl before the accident. 

Whenever I pick up a Mindy McGinnis book its safe to say I know what I’m signing up for. I’ve come to deeply appreciate this author for taking on such tough real themes and handling them so well. There is no shying away from the dark & ugly truths here, instead we get a raw accurate portrayal of what it’s like to fall into addiction. Whether we’ve experienced it first hand or not, we’ve all known someone or had a close loved one experience this battle. Here we see a young teen who has a promising future & loved ones she finds herself lying to in order to continue to feed her addiction. While reading this book I felt despair & a sense of loss of control that I’m sure only scratches the surface. Every time I thought she was close to being exposed & wasn’t I worried for Mickey because I knew it only drove her further to push the limits. The book almost feels as its written in the stages of addiction one experiences. Denial was a tough one because the desperation comes through as well as the lying, stealing, and cover ups. The only reason I didn’t 5 star it was simply because although the addiction itself was deeply fleshed out, Mickey could’ve used more depth. Besides knowledge of her place in the softball team, we don’t get much on her life prior to the accident which didn’t allow for me to connect with her character. Despite this however, I feel this book absolutely carries importance & most of all hope.

Content Warning: Detailed drug addiction, overdose, withdrawals, death, car accidents, separation, infertility 


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๐Ÿ‰Spoiler Free Review: As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows๐Ÿ‰

Title:ย As She Ascends (Fallen Isles #2)

Author:ย Jodi Meadows

Pub. Date:ย September 11th. 2018

Genre:ย YA FANTASY

Publisher:ย Katherine Tegen Books/Harper

Pages:ย 560

๐Ÿ‰ ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review ๐Ÿ‰ย ย 

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

ย ย ย ย 

The sequel I’ve been anxiously awaiting is FINALLY here & it was everything ย I was hoping it would be! If Before She Ignites was the breaking down of Mira’s reality, then As She Ascends lives up to it’s name with Mira rising like the Dragon Queen she really is! In the previous book we meet our Protagonist as she come across the cold hard truth about the government in Fallen Isles. A world entrusted by the Gods to take care of their children the dragons, has turned their backs on these creatures. Mira believes whole heartedly in The Great Abandonment, the belief that if the dragons aren’t fiercely protected, the Gods would truly abandon their people and devastation would spread across the islands. The problem is, not everyone believes in The Great Abandonment. Dragons are mysteriously dissapearing ย from their sanctuaries due to unexplained illnesses and acts of violence. Mira and friends are being hunted by Altan & his group of Drakon Warriors (Once were in a position of honor for being protectors of the Isles)ย all the while they search for truths & a way to save all Dragons.

Mira’s character is one that I hold near & dear to my heart for so many reasons. Mira struggles with anxiety and OCD, we see her thrown in a jail cell without access to her medications in the last book and the effects that had on her. Here Mira is learning how to cope with her anxiety and find peace within the chaos her life has been turned into. I’m glad to see her mental health challenges weren’t written away, instead Meadows gives us a very realistic MC who isn’t made of Teflon. Mira’s strength comes from deep within, she’s caring and loving to her friends and has a maternal love for dragons that even they can sense. To see that even those saving the day in our books, can struggle with mental health issues is appreciated & frankly something we need to see more of. Seeing Mira experience many of the episodes I myself deal with felt relatable. Seeing her have a support system of friends who understand & help her through them send such a positive message.

There are so many great characters to love in this book besides Mira but I have such a soft spot for Aaru.ย Silent in movement & speech, this Idrisi has stolen my heart. Strong in his beliefs & unwilling to bend or break his faith, Aaru finds himself unable to stay away from Mira. This character intrigued me so much inย Before She Ignites,ย so much so that when I realized Meadows had given him his platform to tell his story through a series of flashbacks I was elated. I figured Aaru had to have had a difficult past but I just didn’t imagine how hard its been. On Aaru’s Island, women aren’t allowed to work and are though of as the lesser sex. This is something he can’t wrap his head around & seeing him fight for what he believes in made me respect and appreciate him all the more. Aaru is the calm Mira seeks, when they’re together the whole world is a much quieter place where Mira feels at peace.

Last but not least, for those who wanted to see more dragons in Before She Ignites Meadows delivers & honestly has me obsessing! ๐Ÿ˜ย Not only are Lala & Crystal back ๐Ÿ‰๐Ÿ’“๐Ÿ‰ย but we get introduced to more amazing majestic dragons along the way. Lala & Crystal are given personalities and we get to see Mira & her BFF/Wing Sister train & take care of them.

There’s so much positive to say when it comes to this trilogy, mental health rep being at the forefront. Having a strong support system & practicing self-care even when you think it’s not possible. I love these characters with all of my heart & every time I step into this world is a real treat. Hella diverse, our MC is a POC as is her love interest and this time around we also have a Lesbian relationship between two of the supporting characters. The character growth is A+ if you’re looking at Before She Ignites as Mira hitting rock bottom. As She Ascends sees Mira finding real confidence, growing, and breaking away from those who’ve lied to her. Surrounding herself with genuine people & discovering inner strength. Aaru also had deep character growth while some of the others found new meaning & purpose in life.

The World Building was EPICCCC!!!! between the dragons & the culture/history we got from each of the Islands and the Gods that represent them/their people, I don’t know what I enjoyed most. This time around we see how these Gods affect the people & the power/strengths they draw from their Gods. I can picture the Fallen Isles so vividly & the ending left me with chills!!! to say that I miss this world having just been in it would be the understatement of the year for this bookworm. I am so curious to see where Mira goes next & the dragons she discovers along the way…


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Review: Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Title:ย Honor Among Thieves (The Honors #1)

Author: Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Pub. Date:ย February 13th, 2018

Genre:ย YA Sci-Fi

Publisher:ย Katherine Tegen Books/Harper

Pages: 309

Format:ย eGalley & Physical ARC

Trigger Warning: Physical/Child abuse

*HUGE thanks to Katherine Tegen Books/Harper, Edelweiss, Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

ย ย ย 

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past thatโ€™s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isnโ€™t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where sheโ€™s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathanโ€”a race of sentient alien shipsโ€”to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earthโ€™s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship sheโ€™s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

My first YA Sci-Fi of the year & I ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTELY LOVED IT! When we meet our MC Zara, she is on the streets trying to survive in a cut throat world. Her mother & sister have moved to Mars, she opted to stay behind as a emancipated young adult and her father…whelp more on that situation in the characters section of this review down below. I inhale read 90% of this book in 24hrs, sleep ended up winning the battle in the end but I picked it up as soon as I woke up the next morning & GAHHHH! well worth my time! as previously mentioned, Zara is on the streets and has turned to petty crime. She has one friend who is addicted to drugs & they have a very co-dependent relationship. Stealing & selling to street sharks is how she gets by until the day she steals from the daughter of a very wealthy & powerful man. Once she realizes she’s being hunted for a very specific gadget she stole, Zara goes ghost in an effort to avoid being captured. She goes through drastic measures to ensure she is tossed back into a rehabilitation program that focuses on “helping” youth by reconditioning them to go back into society as upstanding citizens. This is all in efforts to avoid the powerful clutches of those intent on squeezing her for info on the gadget she stole.

The story then truly begins while Zara is keeping her head low in the rehab facility where she realizes there really isn’t anywhere she can hide. The Honors program recruits her, a never before seen move. This program was created in partnership with the Leviathan who are Aliens that are credited for saving the human race from total annihilation. They have saved many planets from extinction and in turn, The Honors Program allows the recruitment of 100 youth from Earth & other planets. Until Zara’s recruitment, there was always a type the Leviathan chose. Selected in pairs, there is always 1 musician & 1 scientist…Zara is neither of these. Seeing as she doesn’t have much of a choice if she wan’ts to stay alive, she accepts her role. The Leviathan are aliens that act sort of like spaceships in the sense that the Honors all have to board a Leviathan. The Objective of the year long program is for humans & Leviathans to learn from each other in order to improve their quality of life. Of course there’s more than meets the eye to this program & finding out just what that is will be Zara’s real objective…

Zara-ย at first I thought we’d be getting the same kick a** strong female MC we’ve grown accustomed to in YA. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Zara is the first of her kind I’ve seen in any of the books I’ve come across. To say she’s had a rough life would be downplaying it. From the age of 6 she’s suffered from chronic headaches & having a hardcore religious father meant being subjected to unorthodox methods of healing. As a survivor of child abuse, Zara has detached herself from her parents. Her only loyalties are to herself & she’s managed to stay alive on the streets by always being on the move. Getting recruited into the Leviathan program has a major effect on her fierce need to not be tethered to any person,place, or thing. She’s also not used to having anyone care for her & I really enjoyed seeing the character development with Zara as the story progressed.

Parents & Sibling-ย We see that Zara does love her mother but unfortunately, her mother didn’t know how to protect her when she had the chance. It leads to sort of a love from afar type of situation that aches whenever they’re close & things are great because it’s temporary. Zara does have a younger sister she loves deeply & plays the overprotective sister role to.It’s her relationship with her father that is beyond repair. There were some tough scenes where she recollects moments of physical abuse at the hands of her very religious father. Zara’s dad really gives a whole new meaning to scumbag.

Beatrice-ย Zara’s partner on the Leviathan she is assigned to. Beatrice aka Bea is musically inclined, with a beautiful voice it makes sense why the Leviathan have chosen her to join the expedition. Bea is Brazilian and knows 4 different languages, with a large family waiting for her return to Earth, she is the exact opposite of Zara. Thankfully, their friendship was very positive & I LOVED seeing how well they meshed together.

Nadim-ย Saved the best for last! The Leviathan Zara & Bea are assigned to could not have been a better match. Nadim is a young alien & shares one thing in common with Zara…an aversion to following the rules. Nadim does try to adhere but more often that not, he goes off course. In this book Nadim is referred to as being a “he” but I loved how that was discussed because Leviathan don’t really have a assigned gender. The relationship that develops between Zara & Nadim can be described as unconventional & I still can’t tell you what exactly these two have going on LOL! but ummm…it gets innnneresting ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m going to keep this sections short cause when I love a book it’s really tough for me to pick it apart. I think it’s so bad a** when I come across a book collaboration where the synchronocity between the authors make for a seamless reading experience. I really couldn’t tell you where Rachel Caine’s writing stops & Ann Aguirre’s begins. I’ve read books in the past that take place in one specific setting for the entirety of the story & it just didn’t work. Honor Among Thieves takes place for the most part inside of Nadim the Leviathan in outer space & I could not get enough of these characters & their world. The only thing I would’ve liked to have a bit more insight on is the subplot involving Zara & the very powerful man she stole from when we first start this journey. Since I feel as if this will be explained in the follow-up, It didn’t take away from the story for my reading experience. We know early on that there’s more than meets the eye to the whole Leviathan program & Zara is hell bent on discovering their secrets & whether or not they have a hidden agenda. This plot progresses at a steady pace but it’s the evolution of Zara & Nadim that made for a story I just couldn’t put down. I also love the fact that we get to see some of the aliens that inhabit other worlds who have joined the Leviathan program. We get introduced to a diverse set of characters that represent all corners of the worlds & who will need to band together if they want to survive what’s to come. I HIGHLY reccomend this book to anyone who loves Sci-Fi, I’m probably going to be gushing about this one for a while & have already sent my arc copy along to another blogger buddy who I know will LOVE this book to pieces! I’ve also gone ahead & added both Rachel Caine’s & Ann Aguirre’s previous series to my TBR cause they’re my new favorites! โค โค โค


Hello Bookworms! Hope you’re having a wonderful day <3’s! Honor Among Thieves hits shelvesย tomorrow 2/13 & I’ve been bitten by the Sci-Fi bug. Please leave anyย reccs you may have for me down below in the comments & in return I ask you pick up this AWESOME book cause I’dย like to fangirl haha! โค โค โค


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Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Published by: Katherine Tegen Books

Date of Publication: June 27th 2017

Genres: Historical YA/LGBTQIA+

Pages: 528

Format: eGalley

Rating:โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 5 Stars

*HUGE thanks to Katherine Tegen Books/Harpercollins, Edelweiss & Mackenzi Lee for the eGalley copy of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, all opinions are my own.

 

Henry โ€œMontyโ€ Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father havenโ€™t been able to curb any of his roguish passionsโ€”not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the familyโ€™s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isnโ€™t in Montyโ€™s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Montyโ€™s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

What was supposed to be a tour of Europe in which our main protagonist Henry Montague is to be cultured & introduced to many prominent figures, turns out to be the adventure of a life time. When we first meet Henry he is drunk and used to waking up mid-afternoon with little to no recollection of his dalliances with women & men during his night time excursions. His dad who is already a very strict man with no tolerance for Henry, decides that he is going to give Henry one last shot to prove himself a worthy heir. He arranges for Henry to tour Europe with a chaperone, his younger sister (to be dropped of at a school for manners), and his best friend Percy (to be dropped off at law school). Henry however, sees this as an opportunity to tour Europe with Percy drinking and sleeping with whomever along the way. The opportunity also seems appealing since he’s been harboring some secret non-platonic feelings for his BFF Percy. Henry quickly realizes that his idea of fun is a no-go now that he is being chaperoned & groomed to meet with certain political figures along the way. As a matter of fact, the whole trip is being controlled by his father & the rules squash any of his plans for debauchery. It isn’t until their caravan is raided & they are separated from their chaperone that their real adventure begins. Henry’s penchant for bad decision making leads them from one crazy situation to the next ultimately preparing him to make some grown up decisions of his own ๐Ÿ˜‰

The characters in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue have easily become faves for me for all their imperfections. Make no mistake, they are flawed & have prejudices they themselves aren’t aware of until life happens. Starting with our main protagonist Henry who honestly reminds me a bit of Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries circa first being bitten (meaning somewhere around the 1700’s).

Who I envision Henry as…Bahhha!

Henry loves his liquor, guys, gals, and Percy. Henry is funny and loves to have a good time. He’s also been dealt a bad hand when it comes to his dad who doesn’t accept Henry’s bi-sexuality and thinks he can lay hands on him whenever he is disappointed in Henry’s choices. Their relationship is one made of fear & acquiescence (safe to say the dad was my most loathed character). Henry as a person does have a lot of growing up to do especially when it comes to his love interest since Percy is a person of color. I loved Percy for many reason but especially for the unconditional love he shows for those he cares about. He’s known Henry since they were kids and has stood by watching Henry make many mistakes without judgment. Percy was taken in by his aunt & uncle who are wealthy but is often looked down upon by others for the color of his skin. There are many scenes that left me livid with how he was being treated & yet it is an accurate portrayal of how POC were treated during that time period. Henry who is attached to the hip to Percy doesn’t fully grasp what Percy feels when certain things are said about him being a POC. Seeing these two characters grow & the veil of many prejudices being lifted from Henry’s eyes leaving only understanding felt like a small victory. We also get to meet Henry’s sister Felicity who was my FAVORITE character (next to Henry of course) in the entire book!!! Here we have a young woman who knows exactly what she wants from life & is very aware of the obstacles standing in her way. She knows her gender all but limits her to studying her area of interest & that she will have to use her intelligence to work around that. Felicity is STRONG & INTELLIGENT with no patience for weakness. She is very observant of her surroundings and refuses to accept the future laid out by her father. Felicity isn’t without prejudices and we get to see her make the effort to understand Henry’s bi-sexuality & accept him for who he is. In many ways Felicity & Henry are rebel souls but Felicity is discreet & stealthy where Henry is a train wreck you can’t stop watching smh lol. This cast of characters provided me with hours of non-stop laughter & cheering โค โค โค

I LOVE historical Fiction & seeing it in YA has been so much fun. When I first stumbled across the cover to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue I knew that we’d be going waaaaaaaay back just based on Henry’s clothing. When I looked into this book & saw that it was set in 18th Century Europe I nearly jumped out of my chair to request for review. I wasn’t sure what to expect but when I realized how much history I was getting alongside this story, I was pleasantly transported. Everything from the clothes to race relations was covered in this book. There were many times I was vexed by the fathers homophobic treatment of Henry & the racist remarks made by others towards Percy & I had to remind myself that this is a accurate portrayal of those times. I loved seeing the growth of these characters set against such a difficult time period in history for people of color & people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. I look forward to reading more from Mackenzi Lee in the future now that I’ve read & loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue ๐Ÿ™‚

Have any of you readers picked up The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue? if so, did you love it? who’s your fave character?