Sidelined by Suzanne Baltzar

3.5 Stars

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Release Date: August 27, 2019

Publisher: Gallery

Synopsis: When Connor McGuire loses out on his dream job of being the head coach of the local high school football team, he thinks life can’t get any worse. Then he discovers just who got the coveted position—it was a handout to the kid of a well-known, successful college coach. Connor’s sure this is just a publicity stunt, but the kid turns out to be not only a sharp strategist, but a driven and sexy young woman, too. Frustrated in more ways than one, Connor realizes that he might have to step up his game or risk losing altogether.

Coach Charlotte “Charlie” Gibb calls a flag on the play when she finds out that her very male, very attractive, but definitely-rooting-for-her-to-lose assistant coach resents her for taking what he considers to be his rightful position. But never one to back down from a little healthy competition, Charlie is determined to prove her worth—both on and off the field.

Review: What I love most about this book is Charlie. The position of power, all the work she did to get there, and how she persists through all the crap thrown at her. She’s strong, but still expresses her emotions. She pretty much defies being categorized, and I absolutely love that too! She’s just a very real character. I was even annoyed with her at times, but her realness is what makes the story. Connor is slightly redeemable, but I could take him or leave him. I do like the friend group Connor has though. The story also has some relevant social justice issues that I appreciated. Overall, it was a cute romance read.

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Rock Rebel by Tara Leigh

5 STARS!!!

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Release Date: December 11, 2018

Publisher: Forever Yours

Synopsis:

He’s a rock star with a secret; she’s a pop princess with a painful past, can their forbidden romance survive, or will their lies destroy them both?

I’ve earned my bad reputation.

A few years ago, I was New York City’s hottest classical music prodigy. But I wanted something else, something more. So I chased my real dream, and now… I’m rock royalty. Dax Hughes, lead guitarist of Nothing but Trouble. But to my family and former Juilliard classmates, I’m an outcast. A misfit. A rebel.

They’re not entirely wrong. I don’t give a damn what other people think, and I’m all for breaking the rules… except when it comes to our new opening act, Verity Moore.

Rock gods don’t tour with pop princesses.

It’s not personal. Actually, under that fallen diva reputation, Verity’s incredibly talented. And her fiery redheaded personality is… intriguing. But I’m convinced the skeletons in Verity’s closet are as scandalous as my own, and when we’re not sparring, she has a way of drawing out all those secrets I’m determined to keep hidden.

Yeah. Verity Moore is definitely off-limits . . .
But since when do I give a damn about the rules?

Review:

I’m just really loving the Nothing but Trouble series! Hot and flawed rock stars, strong and messy women, and just a lot of awesome friendships. Verity was such a powerful character, and I just loved her strength and growth. It can be really hard to accept your past, and move onto a better future, and her character did exactly that. I also appreciate Tara Leigh addressing the #metoo movements impact, and how grey the incidents can be. It’s confusing and troubling, but women are resilient and so very strong. Verity is a wonderful representation of that strength with her own unique situation full of highs and lows. The characters were just so human, and I LOVED that. I’d definitely recommend this series, and I can’t wait for Jett’s story next!

 

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***Thank you so much to Forever Yours and NetGalley for the chance to read this early by giving me an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review!***

Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black

4 STARS!

The general plot of this book really intrigued me, as I love a good murder mystery. Valentine, the main character, lives her life in the shadow of her mother’s crime of murder over a decade ago. When new murders begin, she is of course the prime suspect. Oh, and let’s not forget the love triangle, which is making her life even more difficult! The historical setting, in the late 1800s, really interested me, because it played a part in how the story progressed and its characters reacted. I was also thoroughly impressed by the fact that I had no idea who the killer was! Not to mention the feminist themes that were thrown in. I really did enjoy this book. The only reason I wouldn’t give it five stars, is because of the readability. I felt like the book was going to wrap up, and then some other big event would happen. It seemed like some of the events could have been cut out, and the book would have been just as good. It was like there was just too much going on in the later part of the book, and I started to wonder if it would ever end. Overall, I enjoyed the story, and the happy ending was a pleasure.

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Counselor Considerations contain SPOILERS.

Do not read further if you don’t want to PLOT SPOILERS!

School Counselor Considerations:

Social/Emotional: Family: Mother put to death for murder, father travels for work, parents die Social: Judged for mother’s crime, strong friendships with males that are interested in more than friendship

College/Career: Desire to go to college, desire to work with change agents after high school, career planning

Academic: Valedictorian, Importance of high school and college, desire to be at school

 

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean (ARC Review)

4.5 Stars!!!!

Cover Reveal

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Synopsis:

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Publisher: HMH Teen

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My Thoughts:

I loved this book.

First, the world building is beautiful, especially the four seasonal rooms. The Japanese elements were new to me, and made the story that much more fascinating. The magic is alluring, yet can be deadly. The female competitors are just so strong and fierce when they enter these magical rooms. Every single female in this book is just trying to survive, and I love each and every one of them, even when they do despicable things.

Mari, the main character, is fighting societal norms, trying to do what is right, and kicking butt. She has insecurities, but she knows her strengths and uses them, which makes her that much more relatable. The other two perspectives are Taro and Akira. Prince Taro gives me so many mixed feelings, but I still kind of love him. As for Akira, talk about tugging on your heart strings. I just wanted so much more for Akira. Truly, I was invested in all of the characters, and the on-going fight between the humans and the yōkai. The underlying themes of social justice and feminism were woven in wonderfully.

The only reason this wasn’t a five-star read for me was that the ending seemed kind of abrupt, and I wanted so much more from this story (it definitely could have been a wonderful duology or trilogy). Also, there is a classic literature inspired part that I’ve never been a fan of, but I’ll let you read and figure out what it is, because maybe you’ll like it.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good fantasy, strong female leads, and the fight for equality and social justice!

Freshmen by Lucy Ivison & Tom Ellen (ARC Review)

4.5 Stars!!

I read this book in one sitting, that is how much I enjoyed it. I’ve also been in a horrific reading slump where I’ve started 5 different books, so this is saying something. I was completely invested in Phoebe and Luke, as well as their friends.

CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE STRONG FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS!?!?!

This is what I hope for my students, friends that have your back and accept all your quirky differences. I loved the scenes with Phoebe, Negin, and Frankie! Not to mention D Dorm just rocked. I wish I had experienced college like this group. I just really enjoyed the exploration of starting college/university, and trying to meet new friends that you actually wanted to be around.The exploration of the character’s identity was just so realistic–especially the element of trying to fit in, which can cost you and not really lead you where you want to go.

The ending. I did not see that coming, which made me enjoy it that much more. It left me wanting to know where the lives of these characters are going (Psssst. Please do a sequel). Anyway, I really enjoyed this burst of college freshmen life, and I’d definitely recommend this to YA readers!

Synopsis:

Getting in is just the beginning.

Phoebe can’t wait to get to college. On her own, discovering new things, no curfew . . . she’ll be free. And she’ll be totally different: cooler, prettier, smarter . . . the perfect potential girlfriend. Convenient: the only person from her high school also going to York is her longtime crush, Luke.

Luke didn’t set out to redefine himself, but as soon as he arrives on campus, he finds himself dumping his long-term long-distance girlfriend. And the changes don’t stop there. In fact, being on a soccer team is the only thing that stays the same.

Just when things start looking up (and Phoebe and Luke start hooking up), drama looms on the horizon. Rumors swirl about the Wall of Shame, a secret text chain run by Luke’s soccer team, filled with compromising photos of girls. As the women on campus determine to expose the team and shut down the account, Luke and Phoebe find themselves grappling with confusing feelings and wondering how they’ll ever make it through freshman year.

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Counselor Considerations contain SPOILERS.

Do not read further if you don’t want to PLOT SPOILERS!

School Counselor Considerations:

Social/Emotional: Family: Long distance/Away at college, Social: Meeting new people, searching for new friends, dorms, social identity, navigating social circles, peer pressure, strong female friendships, strong friendships, heavy drinking, sex, partying, marijuana,  adapting to college life, romantic relationships, casual relationships, standing up for what is right, feminism

College/Career: Responsibility, College Life, working while in college, joining on-campus clubs/sports

Academic: Studying, group projects

Adrienne Young signs Sky in the Deep, in Conversation with Mary E. Pearson

May 25, 2018

Mysterious Galaxy – San Diego, CA

Adrienne Young was a wonderful surprise! She spoke about her passion for feminism, and how a feminist theme is present throughout the whole book. Also, she talked about the ruthlessness of the main character (breaking our typical female gender role), which is right up my alley. Another goal was to write a ya story that didn’t feature so many of the same tropes, such as a romance as the end all, be all. I’m just overly excited for this book!

Adrienne was also in conversation with Mary E. Pearson, author of The Remnant Chronicles, and upcoming book Dance of Thieves (out August 7, 2018, Signing at Mysterious Galaxy on Release Day). Mary E. Pearson was so sweet and excited about Sky in the Deep. She said she wanted to ask questions that she would want to be asked, and I think she did a wonderful job.

Sky in the Deep Synopsis:

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield — her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Author Website: http://adrienneyoungbooks.com/