|Pub Date: 11-9-21|
YA - Fantasy
All Of Us Villains- Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman: Every generation, the seven great families of Ilvernath compete in a tournament to decide who rules over the town's magic. At the coming of the Blood Moon, the seven chosen enter into a dangerous game where the stakes are high-- for only one champion makes it out alive. The tournament is usually a low-key affair, but this year, thanks to a salacious tell-all book that was anonymously published, the whole world sets its sights on the players. With new information about each other and long-buried secrets uncovered, the champions discover a choice no other has had before: they can either play the game and kill one another or they can break the curse and remake their histories.
Oh, man. I wanted to love this so badly. I'd seen so many glowing reviews about this that I went out and bought it without really knowing what the story was about. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it as much as everyone else either. My biggest feelings toward this are pretty much just meh. None of the characters are that likeable, but they're all compelling in different ways. I didn't think the story fully hit its stride until the tournament began, and even that wasn't as exciting as I was anticipating. I went in expecting a bloodbath but only got a sink full. I thought this was going to be like The Hunger Games on steroids, and while it was cutthroat and calculating, I felt a lot of the time we were just seeing the characters in their respective bases plotting about killing one another with little follow-through. I also felt the ending was a bit too abrupt for my tastes. That said, I did enjoy the magic system and all the different POVs that we got. I'm still on the fence about whether or not I'll pick up the second book, but I'd still recommend it if you're looking for a darker read.
|Pub Date: 6-1-21|
YA - Thriller
Ace of Spades- Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé: Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo are both students at the prestigious Niveus Private Academy. When they're both chosen as prefects for their senior class, they think it'll be a great opportunity to pad their college applications and get them in the running for valedictorian. But soon after the announcement is made, both Devon and Chiamaka start to get targeted by a vicious anonymous bully known only as Aces. Suddenly, all their secrets are being broadcasted to the entire student body, turning their entire worlds upside-down and threatening the futures they've worked so hard for. Try as they might, the pair can't ignore what's happening to them, especially when whatever game Aces is playing starts to turn dangerous. With the odds stacked against them and no one to trust, Devon and Chiamaka will have to work together to uncover who Aces is before it's too late.
I heard this described as Get Out meets Gossip Girl and that comparison is so spot-on. It's an absolutely wild ride from beginning to end. I was gripped right from the start and couldn't stop reading because I needed to know what was going on and who was behind it all. There were so many things about this I enjoyed. Firstly, the characters. Devon and Chiamaka are two people who come from entirely different worlds: Devon is a scholarship kid from the wrong side of town and Chiamaka has never wanted for anything. They're both put through the wringer and have no choice but to work with each other, and I liked watching them grow and forge this unique bond. I also enjoyed seeing them become open and vulnerable with not only each other but themselves as well. Secondly, the plot was fantastic. I was on the edge of my set the whole time. It was suspenseful and kept me guessing. I also appreciated how much representation was in this book and how the author wasn't afraid to shy away from hard or uncomfortable topics. The only reason I didn't rate this higher was the ending left me wanting just a little bit more. Other than that, I thought this was fantastic.
|Pub Date: 9-8-20|
Adult - Contemporary
The Real Deal- Lauren Blakely: April Hamilton is in a bit of a bind. Her friend had to back out of being her fake date to her family reunion, and she simply refuses to face her matchmaking-obsessed family alone. In a moment of desperation, April pays boyfriend-for-hire Theo Banks to pretend to be in a relationship with her. Theo didn't set out to be a fake boyfriend, but after some bad decisions in his past led to debts he can't seem to shake, he needs to take whatever paying gig he can get. So, if April needs a bad boy with a heart of gold to show off in front of her family, he's more than up for the job. What neither of them expected was to actually start falling for one another over hula hoops and scavenger hunts. Soon all the touches and stories they've spun start to feel very real, but when Theo's past comes to light, will April be able to trust that what they've shared wasn't part of some big con?
For whatever reason, I wasn't expecting much going into this, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. I can never get enough of the fake dating trope and this one was done fabulously. April and Theo had such great chemistry from the moment they met, so I was just waiting for when it'd turn into something more and I was not disappointed. I loved how the conversation and interaction between them felt natural and believable, and it was just fun watching them let loose and go all-in on the ridiculous games at the family reunion. April's family were all so caring even though they were busybodies about April's career and love life. Seeing as how her parents especially were a little overprotective, it did surprise me just how nonchalant they were when they found out who Theo really was so that was my only small issue with this. I didn't even mind how insta-lovey this was because Blakely made it work so well. If you're looking for a fun, steamy, addictive contemporary, check this one out.