ARC Review | Admission

Title: Admission

Author: Julie Buxbaum

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release date: December 1, 2020

My rating: ★★★.5

Synopsis via Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes an of-the-moment novel that peeks inside the private lives of the hypercompetitive and the hyperprivileged and takes on the college admissions bribery scandal that rocked the country.

It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer. She’s headed off to the college of her dreams. She’s going to prom with the boy she’s had a crush on since middle school. Her best friend always has her back, and her mom, a B-list Hollywood celebrity, may finally be on her way to the B+ list. It’s good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer–at least, it was, until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in smoke. Now her mother is under arrest in a massive college admissions bribery scandal. Chloe, too, might be facing charges, and even time behind bars. The public is furious, the press is rabid, and the US attorney is out for blood.

As she loses everything she’s long taken for granted, Chloe must reckon not only with the truth of what happened, but also with the examination of her own guilt. Why did her parents think the only way for her to succeed was to cheat for her? What did she know, and when did she know it? And perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be complicit?

Review:

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

Admission tells the story of high school senior Chloe. It’s the time of the year when she has to buckle down and start thinking about college. After multiple SAT tests with scores that aren’t as good as she hoped for, Chloe is told that her dream schools aren’t achievable. Her celebrity mother decides to hire an admissions conceder to help make the process easier. When Chloe is accepted to her first choice school, she can’t believe it. Fast forward to when her mother is arrested for bribing her daughter’s way into college. How exactly did this happen? And how much did Chloe actually know??

I have gone back-and-forth with my feelings on this book. For the most part it was an enjoyable read but I never felt like I was fully invested in the story. Admission is told through dual timelines… before the arrest and everything after. I found myself way more interested in the aftermath. Those chapters I couldn’t stop reading. I was so eager to know how things were going to end up for the family.

Admission really explores privilege in all of its forms. Chloe’s family is very well off. With her mom being an actor and her dad working in finance, they have everything they need plus way more. Throughout the story Chloe is put in eye opening situations that make her realize she is very lucky to be where she is. Her character growth, while it takes time, is exactly what I was hoping to read. Taking responsibility is another major part of the story. Chloe’s mom learns the hard way that you have to own up to your mistakes. Even if the consequences are scary, you still have to do the right thing.

I absolutely loved Chloe’s sister Isla. She is such a fierce person. Unlike Chloe, she takes the time to educate herself about the case against her mom. She basically has to tell Chloe what to do in order to protect herself from facing charges. Honestly, Chloe would not make it through this book if it wasn’t for Isla. I also liked Chloe’s best friend Shola. While their friendship is super awkward, I loved that she put Chloe in her place at times. When Chloe would say or do things that were not acceptable, Shola would make sure Chloe checked her privilege and understood what she did was wrong. Isla and Shola played a huge role in Chloe’s growth.

Overall, this story is thought provoking and so timely. I applaud the author for taking on such an infuriating topic. Admission will definitely make you look at the Lori Loughlin & Felicity Huffman cases with a whole different perspective. 

3rd Quarter Anticipated Releases | 2020

Hi friends! These are eight July-September release that I am SO excited for!

As always, if you want to know more about any of these, their Goodreads pages will be linked.

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy
Release date: July 7
A book about a plus size superhero?? Written by one of my favorite authors?? SIGN ME UP!!

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
Release date: July 7
This is a YA thriller from the author of Wilder Girls. I was lucky enough to read an ARC and I LOVED it. I can’t wait to have a finished copy on my shelves. Read my full review here.

Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters
Release date: July 14
I just recently came across this book by watching Lacey’s anticipated reads video. It follows a girl who can call ghosts from the grave by playing a fiddle. It sounds SUPER eerie.

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
Release date: August 4
I am BEYOND ready to get my hands on this book. I haven’t decided if I am going to physically read it or listen to the audio, but either way…I am so excited for a new Twilight book!!!

Fable by Adrienne Young
Release date: September 1
Can we just talk about how stunning this cover is?? I really enjoy Adrienne Young’s writing so I have high hopes for her first book in a new duology!

Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall
Release date: September 15
I’ve have my eye on this book for a while! It sounds super emotional which is my favorite type of YA contemporary! It follows Corinne who is in love with Maggie, but she isn’t ready for everyone to know that she is bisexual. When Maggie suddenly dies, Corinne is heartbroken and alone. The only person who she can turn to and who will understand her grief is Maggie’s ex…

Vampires Never Get Old
Release date: September 22
I’m here for ALL the vampires…thank you!

Well Played by Jen DeLuca
Release date September 22
The companion/sequel to Well Met which I absolutely adored.


What new releases are you excited for??

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ARC Review | It Sounded Better in My Head

Title: It Sounded Better in My Head

Author: Nina Kenwood

Publisher: Flatiron Books (US) / Text Publishing (Australia)

Release date: April 7, 2020

My rating: ★★★★.5

Synopsis via Goodreads:

From debut author Nina Kenwood comes a tender, funny, and compulsively readable novel about first love and its confusions, and all of the awkwardness of teen romance.

When her parents announce their impending divorce, Natalie can’t understand why no one is fighting, or at least mildly upset. Then Zach and Lucy, her two best friends, hook up, leaving her feeling slightly miffed and decidedly awkward. She’d always imagined she would end up with Zach one day―in the version of her life that played out like a TV show, with just the right amount of banter, pining, and meaningful looks. Now everything has changed, and nothing is quite making sense. Until an unexpected romance comes along and shakes things up even further.

It Sounded Better in My Head is a compulsively readable love letter to teenage romance in all of its awkward glory, perfect for fans To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Emergency Contact.

Review:

I had an absolute blast reading It Sounded Better in My Head! This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down. When I had to take breaks all I thought about was these characters. I could honestly read 500 more pages about their lives!

In this book we follow Natalie, who’s parents just told her they are separating. To make matters worse, her two best friends hooked up. Everything is changing and nothing makes sense anymore. Then an unexpected romance comes along and shakes things up even more…

Our main character Natalie had a very rough time during puberty. It was not kind to her at all. She developed severe acne. I really appreciate that the author chose to discuss this topic. I was very lucky not to experience much acne growing up so this story showed me exactly how much of a toll it can put on someone. It affects not only your appearance, but your mental health. Natalie talks about having to take medication to calm the acne. She also shares all the side effects she had because of the medication. It is a lot and I couldn’t imagine being in her position. 

Her self confidence is also affected by her troubles with acne. She doesn’t like wearing certain clothing because it shows her scars. She has to make sure her makeup is applied well so it covers everything. She will cancel plans if she has a pimple. So much of her time is consumed by worrying and second guessing everything. It broke my heart. Throughout the book though, she really grows and starts to love who she is. 

Natalie‘s parents were the best! I loved how supportive and involved they were. They wanted her to experience all the good and bad that life has to offer. At the very beginning of the book, they tell Natalie that they are separating. She takes it pretty well at first, but of course deep down she is truly upset. There is a point when her mom decides to start dating again and Natalie is very angry about it. I understand why she felt the way she did, but there was no reason to make her mom feel like a terrible person. She was just trying to be happy. I don’t feel like their argument was ever really resolved so that is my only issue I had with the book.

The friendship between Natalie, Lucy and Zach was interesting to read about. I mean, I have been in Natalie’s place. It sucks to have a friend group of three and then the other two friends start dating. There’s nothing fun about being the third wheel. With all the changes going on, things get pretty rocky. Every friendship has its ups and downs, but at the end of the day, the three friends were always there for one another. I loved how protective Zach was and how encouraging Lucy was. Such a great group!

Okay now for the best part of the book…the romance! I don’t want to spoil who Natalie meets, but ugh they were so cute. The love interest is swoon worthy for sure. The chemistry between the two is 10/10. Natalie is very new to everything that comes with dating so I loved all the awkward things that happened. It was so realistic. The couple’s relationship isn’t perfect by any means. It gets messy, but you can bet that I was rooting for them the whole time!

Overall, It Sounded Better in My Head was everything that I wanted it to be plus more. If you are looking for a fun and quick contemporary that has depth and a sweet romance…look no further!

2nd Quarter Anticipated Releases | 2020

These are ten April-June releases that I am SO excited for!

As always, if you want to know more about any of these, their Goodreads pages will be linked.

The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
Release date: April 7
This is a gut wrenching contemporary that follows the aftermath of a school shooting. I have already read this and you can read my full review here.

What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
Release date: April 7
This book involves anonymous friendships and a character who has a book blog. I’m sold!

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass
Release date: May 5
I really loved The Selection series so I’m really excited for a new royal book from this author!

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
Release date: May 12
This is about a girl who is cursed by being poisonous to the touch. It sounds very fairytale like but I do believe there are also demons in the story so that should be interesting!

The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton
Release date: May 5
I recently found out about this book and it’s now very high on my list. Kit works as a wench at a medieval themed resarsunt. She really wants to be a knight, but company policy says that only guys can. Kit goes on a quest to prove that girls can be knights too. How amazing does that sound??

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston
Release date: June 16
This is the third installment in the Once Upon a Con seres. If you couldn’t tell by the title, this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I have absolutely LOVED this series. I am a true blue nerd and these books just make my heart happy. Also, I adore the cover!

The Mall by Megan McCafferty
Release Date: June 9
Set in 1991, this book follows a girl who works at….you guessed it, a mall! I have tried so many times to get an ARC of this, but I have zero luck. It seems like this is going to be a really fun read!

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
Release date: June 2
This is without a doubt my most anticipated release! It involves missing magicians and the circus. It’s kind of giving me Caraval vibes which I LOVE! Beyond excited to pick this up. 

My Calamity Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
Release date: June 2
This is the last book in The Lady Janies series. These books are historical fiction wth a fantastical twist and they are so much fun. I am not very foamiliar with Calamity Jane but I still can’t wait o see what the authors have come up with this time around!

What books are you looking forward to in the next three months??

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ARC Review | Bent Heavens

Title: Bent Heavens

Author: Daniel Kraus

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co

Release date: February 25, 2020

My rating: ★★

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Liv Fleming’s father went missing more than two years ago, not long after he claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Liv has long accepted that he’s dead, though that doesn’t mean she has given up their traditions. Every Sunday, she and her lifelong friend Doug Monk trudge through the woods to check the traps Lee left behind, traps he set to catch the aliens he so desperately believed were after him.

But Liv is done with childhood fantasies. Done pretending she believes her father’s absurd theories. Done going through the motions for Doug’s sake. However, on the very day she chooses to destroy the traps, she discovers in one of them a creature so inhuman it can only be one thing. In that moment, she’s faced with a painful realization: her dad was telling the truth. And no one believed him.

Now, she and Doug have a choice to make. They can turn the alien over to the authorities…or they can take matters into their own hands.

Review:

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a finished copy.

Unfortunately Bent Heavens just wasn’t for me. I went into this thinking it was going to be a really cool alien science fiction, but what I got was something completely different. I’m really bummed out honestly.

I am going to start with the one thing that I did really like about the book. There were quite a few twists and turns at the end that I was not at all expecting. They definitely kept me on he edge of my seat. The stakes were so high so I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know how things were going to end up.

Okay now for the things that didn’t work for me. This book is Young Adult, but I think it reads more as an Adult. While the characters in this story are teenagers, I feel like the content is better suited for a more mature audience.

I didn’t really care for any of the characters. Liv was so unlikeable.. She had such a bad attitude and with that came random bursts of anger. She was also very disrespectful especially to her teachers, who literally did nothing to deserve it. In the begging, I liked Doug. He was misunderstood and I felt really bad for him because Liv was such a terrible friend. As the story unfolded, his character went in a direction that I didn’t like whatsoever. Bruno was another character that I could have really liked, but sadly he was so underdeveloped. There were other side characters that we could have done without. We learned nothing about them except for their name and relationship to Liv.

Liv’s home life hasn’t been the same since her father’s disappearance. Her mom works two jobs to pay the bills and when she comes home she drinks pretty heavily. There is a point in the book where Liv pushes her mom to drink even after seeing that she was trying to make the better choice of drinking water. Not only that, but Liv mixes some pills into the drink. There’s a reason why Liv thought she had to get her mom drunk, but I didn’t care. That whole scene was not okay and definitely not needed. It left a really bad taste in my mouth. 

Bent Heavens has a massive amount of torture scenes. I mean, it’s a lot and it’s brutal. I’m not usually one to get triggered by anything, but I honestly couldn’t read certain parts. It was just way too much. I ended up scimming through those sections. I also couldn’t get over the fact that teenagers were performing some of the torture. Like they literally had a book of the ways to torture someone and just went down the list. I was so uncomfortable reading this. 

I really am sad that Bent Heavens didn’t work out for me. It had so much potential in the beginning, but wow did things go south very quickly.

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ARC Review | Harley in the Sky

Title: Harley in the Sky

Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: March 10, 2020

My rating: ★★★★

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams. 

Review:

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a eARC in exchange for an honest review.

After finishing Harley in the Sky, all I want is circus related contemporaries! This was my first time reading anything by Akemi Dawn Bowman, but I can say with certainty that it will not be my last. Her writing was so beautiful and she knows how to pull at your heart strings. 

Our maim character Harley wants nothing more than to train to become a trapeze artist. While she is passionate about her dream, her parents don’t think it’s a great idea. They only want what is best for her but Harley feels like they aren’t listening or supporting her. Because of this, she really will do anything and everything to be in the circus. Harley is not perfect by any means, but I still loved her. She makes multiple mistakes and she hurts the people she loves. She has good intentions, she just goes about things the wrong way. I really couldn’t help but root for her though.

This book comes with an amazing and diverse group of characters. I loved all the circus crew that Harley mets along the way. In particular, Dexi and Vivien were there for her when she really needed it the most. Also, Vas was sweet and helpful in his own quiet way. 

The circus setting was perfect. I loved getting to see behind the scenes and learning how much hard work goes into each performance and event. It brought back memories of going to the circus as a kid. It was always so magical. The author really made everything come to life!

Of course there was a romance and it was really cute. Being that it wasn’t the main focus, I felt like it took a while for the chemistry to appear, but when it did, it was THERE! I love that their relationship kind of mirrored Harley’s parents in a way. I can’t really explain what I mean by that because of spoilers, but if you read this book then you’ll know. It was a sweet thing to add.

Harley in the Sky touches upon mental health and the stigma surrounding it. Harley struggles with what seems like depression (it wasn’t labeled or diagnosed as far as I can remember). Her family believes that it is something that will just pass and it can be ignored. Harley though, wants them to understand that it’s a part of who she is. It is her normal. I want to mention that there is a brief discussion about suicide. It is only a small part, but if it’s something that triggers you, read with caution!

Overall, this book was a delight to read. The setting was stunning, the characters were complex and the writing flows so well. I can’t recommend Harley in the Sky enough. You will get lost in the beauty and magic of the circus!

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1st Quarter Anticipated Releases | 2020

Hi everyone!

 I am doing this post a little bit different than I did in 2019. There are so many titles that I’m interested in this year and there is no way I can pick just a few. So I am going to break this down and do an anticipated releases post every quarter. 

These books will be released from January-March!

As always, if you want to know more about any of these, their Goodreads pages will be linked.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Release date: January 7

I have actually already read this, but I am SO excited to have the book in my hands. This is the second book in the Cursebreaker series. 

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

Release date: January 7

This is the fifth book in the Wayward Children series. I am so excited to see what these characters are up to.

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

Release date: January 14

I swear Emma Mills always has the most beautiful covers. Lucky Caller involves radio broadcasting and fandoms so that is right up my alley. I am expecting this to be a fluffy contemporary with an adorable romance and amazing friendships.

Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

Release date: January 14

This story follows two time periods where women fall ill to a sickness that makes them dance in the streets until their death. I have never read anything by this author and honestly their backlist titles don’t interest me very much, but Dark and Deepest Red sounds so good! The cover is gorgeous as well.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

Release Date: February 4

I literally have no idea what this book is about but it is partially written by Becky Albertalli and that is enough for me to be excited about.

Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller

Release date: February 4

This is another one that I have already read! I really loved this and I want everyone to read it!! My review will be up very soon.

The King of Crows by LIbba Bray

Release date: February 4

The fourth and final book in The Diviners series. I have to admit, I am not caught up to it yet, but I absolutely loved the first book and I can’t wait to read more.

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Release date: March 3

Okay so before I get real excited for this book…can anyone tell me if this has anything to do with her other series?? I have only read Throne of Glass and I really don’t have an interest in continuing on. Help me out here!

Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

Release date: March 10

I am literally obsessed with this cover.

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

Release date: March 31

I am not caught up with this trilogy either, but I am still looking forward to the final book! I actually haven’t seen the cover until now, and oh my gosh I love it.

I am sure there will be others along the way that will interest me, but for now, these are the ten that I am so ready to read!

What are some of your most anticipated release from January to March?

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