Book Review: The Sound of Drowning by Katherine Fleet

The Sound of Drowning by Katherine Fleet tells the story of Meredith Hall, a girl who is caught in a love triangle with Ben Collins, the sweet, dependable boy who she has known since she was a kid and Wyatt Quinn, the flirtatious famous Moto-Cross racer who is new to town. But will she be able to find love with either of them before the waves of her past come crashing down around her?

Katherine Fleet has written a beautiful book full of emotion. It is a novel full of grief, loss, hope and second chances.

I loved Fleet’s writing style. It flowed really well and was very poetic at times. I enjoyed how the book was structured according to present time and flashbacks which I thought was really unique and engaging.

The plot was much more complex and multi-faceted than I originally thought it would be which I really enjoyed. I really liked the fact that Fleet wrote two major plot twists into the novel. I didn’t see either of them coming and I was blown away by them.

The characters are so well-developed and all have individual stories and plot-lines and their own reasons for the decisions they make but they are all interconnected in such a heartfelt way. The emotions of the characters are very evocative and you almost feel the characters emotions reflected back onto you at times, which is a sign of excellent writing.

I also appreciate that Fleet does not shy away from dealing with difficult topics especially topics that are not often covered in Young Adult Fiction. The book deals with teen pregnancy, abortion, suicide and depression.

My two minor critiques are that I wish the book had been more diverse and I also felt that the pacing of the first half of the novel was a bit too slow but overall it is wonderfully written and I can’t wait to see what Fleet writes next.

I would recommend the book to anyone looking for a beautifully written book full of romance that also deals with difficult topics in a realistic manner.

The Sound of Drowning by Katherine Fleet will be released on March 12th 2019 by Page Street Kids.

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Book Review: Immoral Code by Lillian Clark

Immoral Code tells the story of four friends who band together to help another one of their friends, Bellamy in her dream to attend MIT. Bellamy’s non-existent father is a billionaire and as such she is not approved for financial aid. So, the five friends decide that the only way to solve this issue is to money launder funds from Bellamy’s father’s bank accounts. What results is a road trip, a lot of hacking and cyber-crime.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. I had read great reviews prior to reading and so expected a lot going in but I was underwhelmed.

I liked the overall plot which I found intriguing. I also feel like it had the right amount of suspension of disbelief while maintaining a noticeable realism which I enjoyed.

I appreciated that Clark took a lot of time to research coding, hacking and various aspects of science which are all referenced heavily in the novel. Mostly in reference to Nari, who is a computer genius and Bellamy, who is very knowledgable about science of any kind.

I appreciated that one of the main characters is asexual and aromantic; representation which is hard to find in any type of fiction including Young Adult literature. I think that ownvoices readers will definitely appreciate this representation.

However, I felt that the pacing of the book was far too slow and the main event (money laundering from Bellamy’s father) happened far too late in the novel.

I also felt that the writing style changed too much (which was not influenced by the change of character perspective). Throughout, the whole book I felt regardless of which character was narrating, the writing went from cliched and whiny to beautiful poetic metaphors in the same sentence and didn’t have a nice flow to it.

I also felt that the characterization was really shallow and one-dimensional and there was no depth to the character’s personalities.

Overall, I would recommend the book to anyone looking for a novel which deals with the nuances of teenage friendship and absent fathers but would not recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting page turning book about a money laundering heist.

Immoral Code by Lillian Clark will be released by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers on February 19th 2019.

Book Review: Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy is a diverse gender bent re-telling of the King Arthur Legend. Set in a futuristic universe, Ari Helix , an illegal immigrant from the planet, Ketch has to save the planet she grew up on and her people from the Mercer corporation, an overarching totalitarian regime.

Once & Future was one of my most highly anticipated books for this year and it definitely lived up to my very high expectations. Capetta and McCarthy have crafted a wonderfully complex universe which I loved to spend time in exploring all of the different planets and ideas they came up with.

I love re-tellings of legends especially medieval stories so I was very interested to see how Capetta and McCarthy brought this story to life and adapted it. I enjoyed that they took it out of its Medieval context and placed it in a futuristic space universe. It allowed their talents as writers to shine through while still maintaining the structure of the original legend.

I loved their combined writing style and found it flowed really nicely and was very descriptive. I could vividly picture the scenes and the characters which I loved.

The characters were very well-rounded and written and I felt very attached to them. I was always wondering how they were going to get out situations and was delighted when they managed to effectively evade the Mercer corporation.

As I have stated in my previous posts, I’m always on the look out for well-written diverse Young Adult books and this definitely fits that category. Ari is bisexual and so is her love interest, Gwen. This is very important to me as I am bisexual myself and love when it is represented in such a beautiful yet casual way. In fact I love that in this universe, all sexualities and all genders are accepted without questions, as it is just part of life. Val and Merlin are gay. Lam, Ari’s friend and childhood crush is non-binary and Jordan, Gwen’s knight is Asexual. I love that Capetta and McCarthy have managed to include so many identities in their novel and I think that many ownvoices readers will appreciate this as well.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a diverse, unique take on a classic legend.

I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy will be published by Little, Brown and Company on March 26th 2019.

Book Review: Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve

Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve tells the story of Z who has just survived a car accident which killed their entire family…. except they didn’t exactly survive. They are now a zombie and have to contend with the challenges this brings. Soon after their return to school, they befriend Aysel who is a werewolf and the two of them have to deal with the bigotry that exists in a town where magic exists but no one wants to accept that monsters do too.

I thought this book was amazing. I found it to be thought-provoking and enjoyable, page-turning and suspenseful and I did not see a few of the plot twists coming.

Schrieve has written excellent multi-faceted characters which are incredibly realistic. The dialogue in the novel is really well written and made the characters seem more relatable even though none of the main characters are human. The emotions the characters felt was palpable and I really felt for them as I was reading.

The novel also draws parallels to current social issues including xenophobia, Islamophobia, racial profiling and police brutality. Schrieve has woven this into hir novel effortlessly and tied it to the fantasy world xie has crafted. There are also parallels to dysphoria and what is essentially werewolf conversion therapy.

Diversity in Young Adult literature is very important and this novel includes so much representation which I definitely appreciate. Z is genderqueer and Aysel is a Muslim lesbian. Two of the secondary characters who end up having quite major roles in the plot are transgender. Elaine is a trans woman and Chad is a trans man. Additionally, there is also a Jewish secondary character.

One final comment I would like to make is that the book does deal with some potentially triggering content. Specifically misgendering, dead naming, police brutality and brief suicide ideation.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a diverse, thought-provoking fantasy novel which draws parallels to current social issues.

I love Schrieve’s writing style and can’t wait to see what xie writes next.

Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve will be published by Triangle Square Publishing on March 5th 2019.

Blog Tour: Book Review: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume II by Collins Hemingway

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume II by Collins Hemingway is a continuation of the trilogy about what could potentially have been the life of Jane Austen in the “lost years” of her life when she was in her twenties.

As I stated in my post about the first book in the trilogy I find this series fascinating because it provides questions, explanations and threads of inquiry which could explain what Jane Austen’s life was truly like, especially because there was not much known about her personal life.

I really did feel like I was reading a Jane Austen novel and Jane’s independence and self-assurance are definitely traits that I would imagine her to have. I liked how this novel made a point of exploring her interest in writing.

I enjoyed how this book referenced characters and events from the first book in the series and was disappointed to learn that some of the characters were not as amiable as they first seemed. However, that exemplifies how Hemingway has written compelling multidimensional characters, which I definitely appreciate.

I also loved the fact that in this novel, Jane is involved with scientific advancement and political causes such as the abolition of the slave trade, which I imagine Jane Austen being very involved in.

One critique that I have is that I felt the second novel dwelled too much on Jane’s pregnancy. Additionally, I also feel that it doesn’t logically fit in with Jane Austen’s “lost years” as I feel that it would be factually known by now, if she had had a child. This part of the novel for me was too fictionalized and unrealistic for the time period of Jane Austen’s life.

However, I do recommend this book, overall, to any people who love Jane Austen novels or who enjoy Regency Era Romances.

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume II by Collins Hemingway is available now from CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

Book Review: Spectacle by Jodi Lynn Zdrok

Spectacle by Jodi Lynn Zdrok tells the story of Nathalie, who is the morgue reporter for the local newspaper in 1887 Paris. When a serial killer starts targeting the city, Nathalie starts having visions connected to the bodies. Will she be able to find out who the killer is?

I had seen great reviews of this book so I was highly anticipating it and looking forward to reading it but I was very disappointed.

The writing style was very monotonous and difficult to become invested in and I thought the characters were very one dimensional.

I also thought that the plot was pretty mundane and seemed like something that had been written before. It reminded me a lot of The Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd which made it seem like a story that I read before and found it hard to remember that I was reading a different novel.

The only part of the novel that I can say I enjoyed was the historical facts about Paris in the 1800s. I also liked the significance of the title and the cover.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book, which pains me to say as I had heard such great opinions of it.

Spectacle by Jodi Lynn Zdrok will be released by Tor Teen on February 12th 2019.

Book Review: The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee

The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee tells the story of Noam Alvaro, a boy who lives in a world where magic is a disease which very few survive. The ones who do become witchings. Noam is also a refugee in the city of Atlantia and is there when an outbreak of the magic virus occurs… except he survives and is suddenly thrust into the world of the government which is set on keeping Atlantia separate from the city of Carolinia and where nothing and no one can be trusted.

I loved this book. It was a wonderfully diverse, fantastical universe with corrupt politicians which had eerie similarities to the current political climate.

Lee has crafted a fascinatingly complex story with plot twists I did not see coming and well-developed characters. I was never entirely sure of what the characters would do next or who could be trusted and I really enjoyed constantly being surprised by their actions.

I really loved the structure of this novel as well. I liked how Lee interspersed the story with Press releases, e-mails and transcripts related to the government’s history in the story. It added a unique dimension which I really enjoyed. I also thought Lee’s writing style was very poetic and loved their use of metaphors.

The book was also very diverse which I appreciated as I am very passionate about the importance of diversity in Young Adult novels. Noam is Latinx and his love interest, Dara is black. Noam is also bisexual and actually states this explicitly in the book which is very important to me as I am bisexual myself and am always looking for representation in fiction. His love interest, Dara is gay.

One minor critique I had of the novel is that I feel that Lee could have been more creative in their use of swear words. There are a multitude of possible swear words and I thought that they used the word fuck far too much.

One final comment I would like to make is that there is discussion in quite a bit of detail of sexual assault of a minor in the novel, so if that may be triggering to you I would suggest skipping over those parts of the book.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a diverse book full of magic with parallels to the current political climate. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee will be released by Skyscape Publishing on March 1, 2019.