ARC Review | Girls with Razor Hearts

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Girl with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks, #2)

Author: Suzanne Young

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: March 17, 2020

Categories: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Make me a girl with a razor heart…

It’s been weeks since Mena and the other girls of Innovations Academy escaped their elite boarding school. Although traumatized by the violence and experimentations that occurred there, Mena quickly discovers that the outside world can be just as unwelcoming and cruel. With no one else to turn to, the girls only have each other—and the revenge-fueled desire to shut down the corporation that imprisoned them.

The girls enroll in Stoneridge Prep, a private school with suspect connections to Innovations, to identify the son of an investor and take down the corporation from the inside. But with pressure from Leandra, who revealed herself to be a double-agent, and Winston Weeks, an academy investor gone rogue, Mena wonders if she and her friends are simply trading one form of control for another. Not to mention the woman who is quite literally invading Mena’s thoughts—a woman with extreme ideas that both frighten and intrigue Mena.

And as the girls fight for freedom from their past—and freedom for the girls still at Innovations—they must also face new questions about their existence…and what it means to be girls with razor hearts.

Thank you to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

This book is the sequel to Girls with Sharp Sticks and right away it picks off after the end of the first book. Mena and the girls have left Innovations Academy and are on a mission to take down the investors who made them.

  • I felt this second book was faster paced, at least, the latter half is and I enjoyed it very much.
  • This whole series has been about the harassment and abuse that women are subjected to because they are female but this time, Mena and her girls are doing what they can to find their power and make their own choices. It is inspiring!
  • We learn more about the history of women, yet at times this book felt very current because of the issues and situations that Mena and the girls at Stoneridge Prep experience. So I’m not really sure what time this series is set in – but it’s definitely a time when women have been reduced to being very insignificant. And now they are trying to replace women altogether with these perfect AI girls.
  • We find out more about the players behind Innovations Academy and as more secrets are revealed, I did find myself surprised. We meet some new people in this sequel, a lot of them are just more people who want to control the girls but Mena and her friends are fighting back, thank goodness.
  • Mena and her girls have an amazing bond and can love – even though they are considered machines. I love that about them.
  • Lots of times in this book it made me wonder where the story was going, but mostly in a good way. We meet new characters like Garrett, Raven, Adrian and Rosemarie and it makes the story more intriguing!
  • I think at times when Mena and Sydney was at the school investigating who the son of a investor could be, I wondered if there was a better to find out that information. 🤔 It definitely worked to show how awful the boys at this school was 😒 but Mena and Sydney were straight out of the academy and I felt like they were in danger so many times. But at times I felt not much was happening on their investigation part (going to Rugby games…) and I wanted a breakthrough to happen.
  • There are a lot of bad men and boys in this series…not a lot of good ones. I wish there were more good ones! Jackson is a good one, and there are feelings involved with him and Mena but their relationship is not the focus of this series.
  • Triggers: sexual harassment, assault, violence

This is a series with a message, that girls have been mistreated for way too long and they are fighting back against men. It made me angry, it made me feel helpless for these girls and I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series. Will they get their revenge on men and the investors? Will they become girls with razor hearts? 😟 We shall see.

ARC Review | The Sound of Stars

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Sound of Stars

Author: Alechia Dow

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 400

Publication Date: February 25, 2020

Categories: Sci-fi, Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

The Sound of Stars is a very interesting mesh of the sci-fi, dystopian and romance it’s infused with love of music, books and the love of love really. It explores so many subjects like race, and colonization plus it has aliens! There is a lot going on in this surprising book.

Janelle or Ellie, as everyone calls her, lives in New York City but the world has been taken over by aliens called the Ilori and their labmades. Say what? Yes, Earth’s problems have become insignificant with this way bigger threat taking over. Humans have been killed and are now undergoing a process where they will be given vaccines and their bodies will be husks. The Illori will be able to inhabit these husks to vacation on Earth. Yes…Earth is basically being colonized by these powerful aliens who have been colonizing planets all around the universe.

Ellie is just a teenager, who keeps a secret library. If she is found out by the Ilori it would mean a death sentence. But she meets an Illori, a labmade commander named M0Rr1S, or Morris, who wants to trade. He will keep her secret if she can get him some other kind of contraband – music.

This story is a journey of books, music, love and watching two different species find common ground.

  • Love for books and music is at the heart of this book. It reminds us that no matter what’s going on, how as people we can be divided or conquered, the written word in story form or music form transcends hate and can bring people or in this case species together.
  • I was intrigued about this alien race, the Ilori, and their labmades. This story lays out some of the problems on Earth from climate change, to race relations and the corrupt government (hmmm sounds very familiar!). But with the Ilori invasion (which didn’t start out as one really), the humans have pretty much united to fight the aliens. Learning that the Ilori have been colonizing planets for awhile made me want to learn more about their alien race and these planets that they have found in the universe.
  • Labmades are an interesting part of the Ilori. They aren’t true Ilori, they were basically, made in a lab. So in their society, they are looked down upon. So Ellie being black and Morris being a labmade shared the feelings of being inadequate and “less than” everyone else.
  • It’s a unique story all around with the romance between a human and labmade. The way the story unfolded reminded me almost of a space opera (though they are not in space) – but Ellie and Morris travel throughout America to get to their destination and it feels like this epic space journey…but on land. If that makes sense?
  • The romance at first for me…was totally cute. A labmade and human relationship? I was totally for it! And I think a lot of people will find it an amazing part of the story, but at the end it was getting a bit cheesy for me. 🤣 But that’s just totally a “it’s me” thing…Ellie and Morris totally fell for each other and I swear it started to become some space opera musical (yes with singing involved).
  • The first few pages was hard for me to connect to because it’s sci-fi (not my favorite genre) with a lot of technical jargon that just left me scratching my head. I just needed to be patient, because soon I was 40% done with the book without knowing I was reading that fast. I loved learning about this Earth as aliens take over and their plans for humans. The story kinda lost me again 75% in and maybe because of the romance and cheesy/cuteness.
  • I don’t know that I connected to a character most…maybe Morris because I was fascinated with his life as a labmade.

Even though it was sci-fi and dystopian, it had lots of romance and optimism because of the love between Morris and Ellie. They are seriously the sweetest couple. The world-building of the Ilori and Earth after an invasion felt realistic and I wanted to know more about the aliens! There is so much going on in this story. There is adventure, deception, humans on the brink of being hosts to aliens, Earth being made into a vacation destination, music, books and love. For me, The Sound of Stars was a very unexpected yet fun story to read.

Book Review | Scythe

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Format: Paperback (owned)

Pages: 435

Categories: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Young Adult

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price.

I finally read Scythe and I’m glad I waited this long to read it while the hype has died down. But now I know why there was hype around it. It is a thought-provoking story and it made me question a lot of things.

Here we have a utopian society, where it’s “perfection” is basically taken care of by the Thunderhead. It’s what we know as the “cloud” right now but in Scythe it eventually becomes a sentient being. Isn’t that why people are afraid of AI? Well it comes true in this world of Scythe.

But there is one domain the Thunderhead cannot intervene and it’s in the process of gleaning or killing for the sake of population control. Scythes are experts in the art of killing because it is their job to keep the human population under control, because in this future time, immortality has been achieved through science. When Citra and Rowan become apprentices to become a scythe they know only one of them will get the job. They train under different scythes and learn about killing but they also find out there are some serious issues going on in the Scythedom.

  • This story made me think and question many issues like immortality and if we ever achieve it. It is all achieved in Scythe and yes I had to suspend my belief a lot because I barely know anything about nanites (though I’ve heard of it before). It’s crazy, and wondrous to think immortality can be achieved through science and yet as you read the book…it gets a bit frightening too. Because humans experience boredom and even in the story we have a teen jumping off rooftops, getting a good “splat” and being revived. Over and over again…and I was like…say what? 😳
  • This book is about killing, because it is the Scythe’s job to glean. It’s a sacred job to some and others take it very to the next level of crazy but I thought it was interesting to see how different the scythes were in their methods of gleaning, their approach to gleaning and what they believe is their purpose when gleaning. They make the choice of WHO gets gleaned, and in our day and age, we’d say they are playing God. Scythe Goddard definitely thought he was a god. 😒
  • I enjoyed the twists and turns in the story. It moved the story along. The beginning of story was a bit slow because of the world building and Citra and Rowan going through training but I didn’t mind that. I found myself enjoying the slow reading.
  • I like how we get two apprentices that give us a glimpse into how different scythes go about their business. But I was bummed for Rowan going through what he did. 😞
  • Triggers: KILLING. And I mean, suicide (of course they get revived), all manners of killing with knives, guns, poison, flamethrowers, mass killings. Abuse. I didn’t think I could read this book because of the subject matter.
  • Citra and Rowan’s romance – if you are looking for a love story in this book – this book isn’t it. Their relationship grows but it’s kind of unnecessary to make them fall for each other, yet they do declare their love for each other. There are no romantic parts whatsoever.
  • Did I connect with the characters? Not on a deep level, I felt the most for Rowan because he got a bad deal with Scythe Goddard. And he changed a whole lot in the book. He is probably my favorite character.

Even with all it’s imperfections, this story stays with you, at least it did with me. I love how it made me question our lives as humans and also wonder about the future of AI and a world of immortality (not through vampiric means, which to me is WAY more romantic 😂). Would I want to reset my age to 21 again, three times over? What would I do with all that time? And the scythes…oh man, I would not want to become one and I wouldn’t want to be in a room with one. As for Citra and Rowan’s journey, I need to see what happens to Rowan and I need to learn more about the Thunderhead. How did it come to be? I have so many questions and with that said, I’ll be reading Thunderhead right away! I think I did good finding these two books on discount from Bookoutlet! 💃🏻

Book Review | Girls With Sharp Sticks

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Girls With Sharp Sticks

Author: Suzanne Young

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 393

Categories: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Suspense

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Girls with Sharp Sticks is a really interesting book and I don’t say that just to say something about it. It’s a book that made me think a lot after I read it, because of the some elements to it (and yes I’m trying not to spoil it 😅).

Philomena “Mena”, and her friends are students at a boarding school called Innovations Academy. They are all very beautiful girls with perfect bodies and looks. Something small like having a scar devalues a girl’s beauty. They attend classes and learn subjects to assimilate into society but they aren’t allowed independent thoughts. Thinking is a bad thing. They aren’t allowed excessive emotions, like regular girls, and take vitamins every night to keep them functioning the way the Academy wants them to.

The further into the story I got, it just made me feel creeped out because the way the men treat these girls is just wrong. And when I say men, I’m talking about their professors, their Guardians, and the administrator, Anton. They threaten, then smile at them, blame them if they don’t “obey”, and then praise them. And then if they really do something bad, they get impulse therapy. Ugh. They are grooming these girls, but for what? Apparently for investors interested in them- but we don’t know what they need them for. It reminded me of The Stepford Wives and when I mentioned the premise of the story to my husband, he said it sounded like Westworld.

One by one the girls start to “wake up” and then we find out what’s really happening at this school. The story kept me interested enough but it is slow going because we keep learning about the girls’ regiment and their life at the Academy. It unfolds like a mystery actually and hardly anything happens outside of the Academy. Mena is a daydreamer, kind of bland, but I see why since she wasn’t woken up yet. She loves her friends very much though – but emotion as well, isn’t something appreciated as a quality for these girls.

The meat of the story is at the end. There is action, a plot twist, questions and some answers but I’m hoping a lot more will be answered in the second book.

If you read the book and feel creeped out, it did its job. The book is supposed to make you uncomfortable like how girls or women feel when boys and men treat females a certain way. The grooming, the abuse, the assault, the constrictions, the expectations and rules placed on these girls is wrong. It is a book for right now with all the issues we are presently dealing with in society.

I wanted the pacing to pick up a bit more because I wanted the girls to start fighting back. Like, enough of this treatment! Let’s kick these guys’ butts already, I was getting so mad. 😤 But I was also getting mad because I was afraid for these girls, they needed help and there seemed to be no one they could turn to. The ending was gripping and it makes me curious as to what will happen in book two. Let’s hope the pacing in book two is quicker and Mena and the girls are equipped with more than just sharp sticks to fight back.

So be a girl to make them proud afraid.”

Girls With Sharp Sticks by. Suzanne Young

Get it here: Amazon

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Top Ten Tuesday: Fierce Female Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl – definitely check out her awesome website.

This Top Ten Tuesday was a free topic about Characters. I had such a hard time picking a topic. 😫 But eventually I ended up with this one to celebrate some of the badass female characters I’ve read throughout the years. I’ve read SO many books over the past thirty years that I chose the ones at the top of my head. Now this list is mostly from YA Books because it’s what I read most of lately. But this is a super short list folks, and not listed in any ranking at all. There are so many fierce female characters that I love and I keep adding to my mental list.

Feyre Archeron from A Court of Roses and Thorns Series. The first chapter where we meet Feyre, I was like, YASS..this is going to be good. She’s starving, hunting her next meal and dealing with family that don’t appreciate her. She’s a survivor and fighter from beginning to end.

Caelaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass Series – Now before ACOTAR there was Throne of Glass. I thought TOG, the first book was just okay. Wasn’t totally in love with it, thought it was a light fantasy read but the sequels after were pretty amazing. Caelaena is a beautiful, fierce assassin.

MacKayla Lane “Mac” from the Darkfever Series. This one is not YA but Adult Urban Fantasy. Years before any Feyre, Caelaena and anyone on this list came along I was obsessed with Mac. On the chase for her sister’s killer, Mac meets enigmatic Jericho Barrons and she gets introduced to the Fae world. I think Mac’s appeal was she was this Barbie girl who loved bright colorful clothing and she gets thrown out of her comfort zone into this world with Fae and Alpha Males. She learns to fight but still keep her love of all things pink. She’s fierce and still a girly girl and there is nothing wrong with that!

Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone Series because she’s like a dream. When I first read this book years ago, it transported me to a magical world with angels and Chimeras and other creatures. Karou was like a unicorn to me with her blue hair, sketching all the time and living in Prague. All of it: the setting, the characters, the wishes, the story was just MAGIC. And Karou was the perfect centerpiece.

Jude Duarte from The Cruel Prince Series. I can’t make this list without Miss Jude Duarte! What can I say about Jude? I love her. She isn’t charming, she’s flawed, she’s bold and brave too. I like how committed she is to her task no matter what happens, she is cold as ice sometimes! She’s smart and fierce and I’m addicted to her and Cardan!

Allison Sekemoto from The Immortal Rules Series. Some characters just stay with you and in a time when vampire stories were about dying out in popularity, Julie Kagawa published this book. This story blew me away – it was a vampire dystopian story and Allison Sekemoto wasn’t only an Asian character I could fangirl about, but she carried a Katana. I mean…YES, please! She’s an Asian vampire who is gritty, snarky, means business and oh so fierce.

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games Series. The series that started my love of young adult dystopian novels. Katniss had a unique name, so I already knew she was going to be special. How can you not love a character who will take her sister’s place in an event where most people don’t survive? She’s a survivor until the very end.

Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy Series. Speaking of vampire stories, I was obsessed with the Vampire Academy series! Rose isn’t a full vampire, which was nice – she’s a Guardian, basically a bodyguard for vampire royalty. She got some butt kicking skills, and it helps to be trained by a hottie, right? 😅 Rose is fun, brave and totally fierce.

Tea from The Bone Witch Series because a necromancer like her has to be mentioned as a fierce character. And yes she had the power to raise the dead and bond with scary creatures but what was super fierce about her was her love for her brother. Even just thinking about it breaks my damn heart. UGH. 😭💔

Roselle St. Sismode from Secondborn Series rounds up this list. What a fighter in this sci-fi/fantasy world. I love her and though she’s a badass with a fusion blade, she suffered from anxiety as well. Killing and seeing death is traumatic and I liked that she shows vulnerability because we all break down sometime, right? But no matter how many times she gets beaten down she gets back up and keeps fighting.

And that’s my list *whew* that was hard! I love so many characters!

Have you read any of these series? What fierce female characters do you love? Leave me comment below!

Friday Five: 5 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Book Series – I Read On Kindle Unlimited

I’ve been meaning to do some fun Top 5 or Top 10 list post and sometimes I just don’t have the time! How do you awesome bloggers do it? 😘

So Kindle Unlimited – let’s talk about it. For a monthly subscription you get to read unlimited books in the Kindle library. When I had no kids, I bought books like crazy! When we moved into a small house, I had to donate my books, keeping only a few. When I had kids, and a bigger mortgage – I had to be on a budget! Thank goodness for libraries!

I tried out Kindle Unlimited because of one author, Christi Caldwell. I was looking for new romance authors because it was my favorite genre but I was having a hard time finding ones that appealed to me. I read one of her books and wanted more so I got a subscription. But because it’s a monthly subscription, there were times I was in a reading rut trying to find something good there – and cancelled. I joined again, cancelled and joined again! 😅 Then I tried some of the fantasy ebooks…and I’ve had a steady subscription since. So here are my 5 fantasy/sci fi (mostly fantasy) book series I’ve found on Kindle Unlimited that I’ve enjoyed so far!

The Spoken Mage Series by. Melanie Cellier

This series is pretty good. I enjoyed seeing Elena, the spoken mage, learn, grow and fall in love. My favorite thing though is the friendships she’s made along the way. I’m going to be finishing up the series soon, so hopefully it ends on a good note.

The Tainted Accords Series by. Kelly St. Clare

I read this series last year and really enjoyed it! I was transported to a fascinating fantasy world. Princess Olina has worn a veil over her face since her infancy and watching her transform from a girl with a veil to one without is pretty awesome.

Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles by. Elise Kova

I should feature the Air Awakens series but honestly it’s been four years since I’ve read it. So instead I’ll talk about Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles, the re-entry into Elise Kova’s fantasy world filled with magic and political intrigue. I’ve only read book one, and will get to book two eventually when I get this TBR list down a little. 😅

The Culling Trials by. K.F. Breene & Shannon Mayer

These academy books always get me! I’m serious! Haha – but this series is very addicting. I’m in the middle of book three right now and can’t wait to see how it ends. Sometimes these indie book are so short, they could have mashed these three books to make one book! But I don’t mind the short wait between the books. In this series we have a very strong female character who is surrounded by vampires, necromancer, goblins, magic users and assassins. It’s so fast pace and fun! It’s a wild adventure throughout the whole series. Speaking of “Wild” that’s our character’s nickname and I can see why! Loving this series so far!

Secondborn Series by Amy A. Bartol

I am not a big sci-fi fan. Actually this was the series that got me saying, oh, okay maybe I like sci-fi, maybe… I love Amy A. Bartol’s stories because they are creative even if they go off a bit tangent and wild, there is something about them that is addictive. Secondborn is cool, Traitor Born is my favorite and Rebel Born – though I gave it 4 1/2 stars because the romance part came together the way I wanted and I’m obsessed with Reykin haha, this book goes almost into another dimension diving into sci-fi/mythology/fantasy it made my head spin. It works for some people and others hated. I actually understood what the author was trying to do – but there was a lot of info dump about parallel universes, mind control and then add the mythology…it’s a whirlwind. It would have played out better if we had hints of these things in book one and two for sure! I still love it though. 😬

Have you read any of these books? Are you a Kindle Unlimited subscriber? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Reading! 😘