The Lady Rogue: Review

Huge thanks to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

This book was everything I was looking for, which is to say I was looking for a sassy protagonist, a sexy Irish lad, and an Indiana Jones-like adventure. I sure got it.

Theo’s dad is a treasure hunter who suddenly finds himself wrapped up in a mystery and goes missing. Along with the boy named Huck who broke her heart years before and a journal, Theo sets out to find her father, as well as crack the secrets of a ring, reportedly worn by none other than Vlad the Impaler. Or Dracula for you simpletons. What starts as a simple task, their journey takes them deeper and deeper into some shady and dangerous stuff. All while running from a weirdo with a wolf and dodging feelings, Theo and Huck take their travels through Romania and into some creepy places to find both the ring and Theo’s dad.

So, when I said this book was like Indiana Jones, it WAS like Indiana Jones, but for the YA crowd so I was here for it. I mean, I was there before the line even formed. We got an angsty teen and the boy who left her, for reasons we come to know, who have to team up together. I mean, this is GOLD. We’ve got train rides, and boat rides, and camping, and lots of hiding. We have protagonists who bounce dialogue off each other like it’s nothing. I loved it all.

Theo was an unapologetic go-getter; she likes what she likes and she finds a way to get what she doesn’t. Huck was also adorable. They have a tumultuous history which adds to the tension. I probably would have liked a little more about their history as it did seem a little vague, but that wasn’t a deal breaker. I would have liked more of a character arc for both of them, especially Huck. One bug that I kept having to swat was the history with these two and why Huck had left Theo before. For some reason, it was sort of strange seeing as they had lived together and decided to take their relationship a step further, which resulted in Huck’s banishment from the household. There’s some immaturity in the situation, which this is a book about teens, so it’s whatever.

The treasure hunting had a Da Vinci code feel to it, and Bennet did take liberties with some aspects of Vlad The Impaler history, but that was all good.

What I didn’t feel like I was completely sold on was the ending. I felt like Theo’s dad was glossed over a bit, even though he was the main reason (as well as the ring of course) for the journey. I wanted him to have a bigger part. I wanted Huck to hash it out with what her father had done to him as well as to Theo, and I felt it was glossed over a bit. Maybe I’m asking for too much. I don’t know…

Other than those minor issues, I loved reading this book. I love European settings, funny banter, and romance so I give this book 4/5.

Scars like Wings: review

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a chance to review this book ahead of its release date.

So, sometimes there are books that you may think, well, I just can’t relate to that. But books are not just for you to relate to personally. They are for you to open your eyes to others and what they might be going through. They teach you empathy and how to switch your perception of what you only see on the outside. This book is one of those that I digested in such a way.

SCARS LIKE WINGS follows Ava, a year later after a horrific house fire that killed her parents and left her burned on 60% of her body. She lives with her aunt and uncle as she navigates life feeling lost and hideous. She makes a deal with Cora, her aunt, and attempts to go back to school for a sense of normalcy. Ava knows her life is no longer normal, and the stares and whispers about her appearance do not sneak by but are amplified in her already fragile mind.

She meets a girl named Piper, who’s recovering from a car accident and together, along with a boy named Asad, they form bonds that seem unbreakable, but are just as splintered. Piper may push Ava to become more confident, but it can only go so far. Ava realizes the trauma that Piper is going through behind closed doors and learns to look past her problems. Behind the backdrop of a theater group and secrets, she must come to terms with; Ava must find a way to break free of her scars.

I finished this book in less than a day. The characters and their journies were so heartbreaking. Having scars of my own (car accident, thyroid surgery, throwing my arm through a window), I felt a little bit what Ava was going through. People who ask about the scars on my face as a child and when we’re children we don’t know how to process it. We sink into ourselves, feel ashamed, or just get angry. These feelings are normal and are some of the things Ava goes through. What I learned as I grew, is what Ava learns in this book, is that you are not your scars and that you can rise above the stares and the questions and comes to terms with your past because scars, unseen or not, are there to stay. It’s what you do with them that defines you.

I cannot wait to see what else Erin Stewart has in store. I cannot believe this is a debut because it is just phenomenal!. Congrats on a fantastic book. I hope teachers and librarians stock this book and use it as required reading.

Expected publication is October 2019 from Delacorte

Wild and Crooked: Review

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the chance to review this title ahead of its release date.

WILD AND CROOKED, like the last book I read of Leah’s WHEN LIGHT LEFT US, was stunning. I went in thinking one thing and getting another. I love books like that. It’s like reaching into a Halloween bucket of candy and coming out with the peanut butter cup prize.

This story follows three POV’s, but mainly the focus is on two. Gus, who has cerebral palsy, and Kayln, who is the daughter of a murderer. The two kids strike up a nonconventional friendship which leads them down a path of self-discovery and solving the mystery of a decades-long murder cover-up.

The first half of the book seemed very much almost a love story but not. I caught on pretty quickly what was happening. There were tense moments where some secrets threatened to spill, and when they did, it was a like a bomb exploded. I was biting my lip as I was reading, on edge. The second half took a bit of a detour and focused more on the past and how to right the wrongs of their families and town.

I loved the characters. Every one of them. We have some serious queer reps, as well as mental and physical illnesses that you think would impede out heroes, but it only makes them stronger in the long run. Leah Thomas has a way with her characters that puts me in awe. Her talent is flawless. She weaves stories through complicated narratives with ease. She gives us a glimpse into the lives of flawed and fierce teens who lean on each for support.

The platonic queer friendships are something rare in YA books, so this book was refreshing. The murder mystery reminded me a lot of Making a Murderer and had me hooked from the first chapter.

I can’t describe how much I love Leah Thomas and all of her novels. If you haven’t read WHEN LIGHT LEFT US or her earlier works, do so, and add this one to your WANT TO READ. You won’t be disappointed.