G. Bianco, 2019
If action-packed historical fiction is your cup of tea, then might I direct your attention to Misleading the Duke by A.S. Fenichel? The second installment of The Wallflowers of West Lane Series, set to be released on September 29th, deals with spies, secrets, and revenge all while trying to develop a proper relationship.
Betrothed to a man she has barely met, Lady Faith Landon calls upon her three best friends—the self-proclaimed Wallflowers of West Lane—to help uncover the secrets of her mysterious fiancé. Her suspicions are aroused when she learns that he has recently returned from France. Is he a traitor to his country? The truth is quite the opposite. Nicholas Ellsworth, Duke of Breckenridge, is a secret agent for the English Crown who has just completed a risky mission to infiltrate Napoleon’s spy network. After his adventures, Nicholas craves the peace and quiet of the country and settling into domestic bliss with his bride. Until he discovers Faith’s deceptive investigation. How can he wed a woman who doesn’t trust him? But a powerful spark has ignited between Nicholas and Faith that could bring about a change of heart. Faith seizes her second chance to prove to Nicholas that they are a true love match but his past catches up with them when three French spies come to exact revenge. Surviving rather than wooing has become the order of the day.
I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I was going to!! I read the first book in Fenichel’s series and enjoyed it, but was hoping for a bit more. So going into this story, I didn’t have high hopes; however, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I fell in love with Faith and Nick’s story! I loved that there was communication between Nick and Faith, despite their marriage arrangement, and how they resolved early on to remain honest with one another. Their romance is sweet and saccharine, but there is also enough steaminess to satisfy your romance craving.
I also surprisingly enjoyed the dramatic action scenes. I wasn’t expecting so much adventure and peril, but it was phenomenally done! There was enough to keep the plot moving along without it seeming like it was only for the sake of filling pages. Additionally, even though there is some mention of torture and violence, Fenichel does a good job of keeping the gore to a minimum and using such scenes to emphasize the romance between Faith and Nick.
While this is the second book in a series, it could definitely be read as a stand-alone story. If you’re looking for a historical romance with drama, action, sexiness, and hilarity, then this book is a must read!! I cannot wait for the next book in the series to see what the Wallflowers will get up to next!
*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Following the success of their debut, Five Feet Apart, Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott are back with a new YA contemporary set to be released September 29th. All This Time follows a teen boy as he deals with loss, self-identity, and finding love after a harrowing accident.
Kyle and Kimberly have been the perfect couple all through high school, but when Kimberly breaks up with him on the night of their graduation party, Kyle’s entire world upends—literally. Their car crashes and when he awakes, he has a brain injury. Kimberly is dead. And no one in his life could possibly understand. Until Marley. Marley is suffering from her own loss, a loss she thinks was her fault. And when their paths cross, Kyle sees in her all the unspoken things he’s feeling. As Kyle and Marley work to heal each other’s wounds, their feelings for each other grow stronger. But Kyle can’t shake the sense that he’s headed for another crashing moment that will blow up his life as soon as he’s started to put it back together.
This book shifted from a three star read to a five star read to an ultimate four star read in the span of about 300+ pages! It basically just took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions! It starts off somber and then sweet until about halfway through the book. Without giving away spoilers, this book will shock and surprise you about midway through and will alter your entire perspective on the story in a good way.
In addition to the dynamic plot, I also really enjoyed the flower imagery and the meanings behind each flower. Marley and Kyle use flowers to convey their emotions or feelings for one another and it made the story a little bit sweeter and more meaningful.
On top of that, the message about believing in fairy tales and being a dreamer is inspiring and shows that the world is what we make of it. If we believe we deserve darkness, then that’s what our world will be filled with. However, there is always hope and light waiting for us too.
This book made me hopeful, sad, angry, happy and shocked all just gave me all of the feels! It will bring you a whirlwind of emotions and is such an easy book to read in one sitting. While it’s vastly different from Five Feet Apart, Daughtry and Lippincott definitely weave together a fabulous story that will stick with me for a long time.
*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a superhero? How about a villain? In Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots, readers take a deep dive into the world of superheroes, but hear the story from the point of view of a civilian who temps for villains. Set to be released on September 22nd, this novel will take all preconceived notions about good and evil and give readers a new way to view the world around them.
Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine that is a villain's headquarters. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured. And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one. So, of course, then she gets laid off. With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks. Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing. And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance. It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.
This book is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read and I don’t think I can express accurately enough how much I think this book should be on everyone’s bookshelf. This book takes the idea of superheroes and villains and turns it onto its head! It’s full of characters you’ll love to hate and characters you’ll hate to love, while crushing the stereotypes of good and bad people. Anna is a fabulous narrator and her character development is so interesting to see, especially from her first person point-of view. The entire cast of villains and heroes is so well written and helps keep the plot interesting and engaging. And even if you think you know what a character’s motives are, Walschots will turn those assumptions on their head and leave the reader gobsmacked with new developments and ulterior motives.
Jam-packed with action and scheming, this story also showcases themes like self-worth, vengeance, ethics, and morals. Above all, this book is about good and evil and how the only difference between the two is from which side you’re looking at the world from. Everyone believes themselves to be good. Even the villains in this story believe they are doing bad things for the right reasons. However, there’s a fine line between doing something for the good of humanity and doing something for your own self-preservation.
Walschots also makes a point to showcase how this battle between good and bad never truly ends. It’s just a continuous cycle of trying to fight for what you believe is right and how far you’ll go to get it. Yet, she also shows that regular people can be just as powerful as those with supernatural abilities if they learn to utilize their own skills and talents in the right ways.
Hench is dark, gritty, funny, raw, and just overall amazing! While there are some parts of this book that are dark and disturbing, the way Walschots creates the world of this novel is astounding and proves that it’s not just the heroes and the villains whose stories matter.
*I received an ARC from William Morrow and HarperCollins in exchange for my honest opinion.
In her bestselling memoir Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen chronicles her time living in a psychiatric hospital as a teenager. This book, which was adapted into a movie in 1999, has become a renowned look into mental health and the stigmas surrounding it.
In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele--Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles--as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary. Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties.
This book is masterfully written and the story flows from chapter to chapter really nicely. The way Kaysen describes her experiences is haunting as well as hopeful. Some of the stories of therapy and medication and the images she depicts of vegetative residents is sorrowful. However, the stories she tells of pranks and getting ice cream and the friends she had on her floor are funny and show that despite being in a mental hospital, she was just an 18 year old girl lost in the world.
This memoir also brings to light an awareness of mental illness. The fact that Kaysen was diagnosed with “borderline personality disorder” and sent to a mental hospital after meeting only 15 minutes with a new doctor is insane. Her deconstruction of mental illnesses throughout the book showcases both flaws and lack of understanding that clouded this area of medicine in the late 1960s.
Despite being a memoir, Kaysen’s story will enrapture fiction and nonfiction lovers alike. It is poignant, thought-provoking, and startlingly relevant for a modern reader. Girl, Interrupted will leave a lasting impression and make you question all that will make you question all stereotypical definitions of what it means to be mentally ill.
After the success of her novel We Are Okay, Nina LaCour returns to the YA world with her newest title, Watch Over Me. Set to be released September 15th, this haunting modern ghost story becomes an emotional and poignant read.
Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below. But she hadn’t known about the ghosts. Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the Northern California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Mila’s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.
This novel is beautifully written and so deeply evoking of what it means to deal with the things that haunt you. The ghosts in the book seem to represent the physical embodiments of Mila’s past and bit by bit the truth of what happened to Mila and why she is at the farm come to light. This book takes the notion of a ghost story and then puts on its head. Instead of ghosts needing something from humans, the humans need something from the ghosts in this book. It’s not a horror story; just a supernatural one with mentions of PTSD and dealing with the foster care system.
The way LaCour parallels past and present is fantastical and beautiful and showcases how it might be to feel truly alone in this world. The way Mila builds new relationships with the people on the farm shows how even the loneliest of people with the darkest of pasts can still find comfort in others. She is resilient in her wanting to help others and be a part of something, but Mila soon learns that she must first learn to help herself.
One could easily finish this book in one sitting (as I did!) and feel a deep sense of peace after concluding the book. Metaphoric and ethereal, Watch Over Me is a truly remarkable book that is both unique and easy to fall in love with.
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
In her #ownvoices YA book set in Argentina, Yamile Saied Méndez’s new novel revolves around a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line to follow her dreams. Furia is a story of love, hopes, and trying to make something of yourself even when it seems impossible.
In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university. But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.
I loved Camila and her story! I loved that it was first person POV so that we really get a sense of what Camila is thinking and how she feels. She is passionate, determined, and such an easy character to fall in love with! On top of that, the little sparks of romance make this YA book even more binge-worthy!
The interweaving of soccer and the stigma behind being a female soccer player and a male soccer player is so interesting to read about and the little bits of Spanish and Portuguese made me learn a bit of a new language, too!
This is a fantastic YA story about following your dreams while living in a world that tries to bring you down! If your a fan of young adult books, ownvoices stories, or sports novels, then this is a great pick!
*I received an ARC from Algonquin Young Reader in exchange for my honest opinion.
With election season in full swing, Lori Goldstein’s newest young adult novel is a great book to read if you can't get enough of real-life politics. In Sources Say, which was released on September 8th, two exes go head-to-head in the most dramatic school election ever.
At Acedia High School outside of Boston, student council has always been nothing more than a popularity contest. Nobody pays attention. Nobody cares. But all that changes when the Frankengirls show up. During the very first week of school, someone plasters the halls with Photoshopped images of three "perfect tens"--images of scantily clad girls made from real photos of girls at school. The student body is livid. And the two presidential candidates, Angeline Quinn and Leo Torres, jump on the opportunity to propose their solutions and secure votes. After their messy break up, Leo and Angie are fighting tooth and nail to win this thing and their constituents are mesmerized as they duke it out. As if things couldn't be more dramatic, the school's two newspapers get involved. The Red & Blue is run by Angie's sister Cat and she prides herself on only reporting the facts. But her morals are tested when The Shrieking Violet--written by an anonymous source and based less on facts and more on fiction--blatantly endorses Leo. Rumors fly, secrets are leaked, and the previously mundane student election becomes anything but boring.
This book took a bit for me to get into. While the mixed media element (which includes news articles and tweets) is fascinating, it isn’t until about halfway through that the campaigns and mysteries start to develop and engage the reader. This novel gets into the dirty side of breakups, popularity, and what certain people would do to get what they want. And readers ultimately come to realize that everyone has ulterior motives in this story.
That being said, this is a strikingly relevant book for today’s day and age. With fake news, polarizing politics, and the rise of social media, this novel gets to the crux of what people want out of government officials: a yearning for their voices to be heard.
If you enjoy politics, journalism, or how the media affects the general public, then I highly recommend giving this book a read. Otherwise, it's just a classic YA book about people trying to find themselves in high school.
*I received an ARC from Penguin Teen in exchange for my honest opinion.
Based on her award-winning podcast, The Bright Sessions, Lauren Shippen tries her hand at book-writing with a story based on the world of Dr. Bright and the characters from the podcast. In Shippen’s debut novel, The Infinite Noise, the focus falls on two teens trying to navigate high school with the additions of love and supernatural powers.
Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.” Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb's ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb's life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam's feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb's feelings in a way that he can't quite understand. Caleb's therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.
I had never heard of The Bright Sessions and this book was literally a “judging a book by its over” purchase (because let’s be honest: it’s gorgeous)! But I really enjoyed learning about Atypicals and the way Caleb’s empathy works.
This debut is YA, romance, and sci-fi all wrapped up in one 300+ page book! Both Caleb and Adam are dealing with issues and use each other to help balance out their emotions. Shippen also places focus on self-harm, depression, and other mental health issues and weaves them well into the story.
The only thing that I would critique is that I wish there was more discussion about the AM and other Atypicals in the world, but it maybe because it’s either covered in the podcast or maybe the author is saving it for a different novel? Either way, the focus was mainly on the romance and the sci-fi was kind of in the background.
This book was engaging and 100% binge-worthy! I will definitely be reading more of Shippen’s works (including the second book in this series set to come out) and now really want to check out the podcast that started it all!
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!