Book Review: The Red Labyrinth by Meredith Tate

Book Title: The Red Labyrinth
Author: Meredith Tate
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: June 4th 2019
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Trigger Warnings: physical & emotional abuse, death of a child, discrimination, border walls, one scene of (non-romanticized) forced kissing, description of PTSD

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The massive labyrinth was built to protect Zadie Kalvers’ isolated desert town. Unfortunately, living in the maze’s shadow makes her feel anything but safe. Even without its enchanted deathtraps and illusions, a notorious killer named Dex lurks in its corridors, terrorizing anyone in his path.

But when Zadie’s best friend vanishes into the labyrinth-and everyone mysteriously forgets he exists- completing the maze becomes her only hope of saving him. In desperation, Zadie bribes the only person who knows the safe path through-Dex-into forming a tenuous alliance.

Navigating a deadly garden, a lethal blood-filled hourglass, and other traps-with an untrustworthy murderer for her guide-Zadie’s one wrong step from certain death. But with time running out before her friend (and secret crush) is lost forever, Zadie must reach the exit and find him. If Dex and the labyrinth don’t kill her first.


I RECEIVED A COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY FOR REVIEWING PURPOSES. THIS DOES NOT AFFECT MY OPINIONS IN ANY WAY.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A thrilling, fast-paced book about a powerless teenage girl riddled with years’ worth of childhood trauma, as she goes on a literal life-or-death journey in the deadly labyrinth in hopes of saving her loved ones.

“I am brave. I am strong. And I am not afraid.”

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Book Review: Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren

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Book Title: Cold Day in the Sun
Author: Sara Biren
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: March 12th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

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Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

With the summer season just around the corner, a book about ice hockey and perpetual snow probably doesn’t seem all that appealing to most of you. I understand there are tons of other YA contemporary reads which are all summer-y and more appropriate for the season, but I ain’t about that right now. I personally prefer cold weather rather than hot, and this is a great book for escaping this heat that I dislike so much.

Set in a small town in Minnesota, Holland grew up with a special love (and skill!) for hockey. Growing up with three brothers who all share the same passion for the sport, she grew accustomed to playing with the boys. So this ultimately led to her decision to play for the boys’ hockey team of her school, instead of the girls’. Of course that doesn’t come easy as Holland constantly gets criticized and belittled because of her decision. So, she always has to try extra hard to prove them wrong and to “earn her spot” in the team. Regardless of the people who don’t believe in her and try to bring her down, what Holland doesn’t expect is that she has a passionate supporter in the form of their awfully crabby team captain, Wes. Now she’s not sure if that would complicate things, especially when feelings get involved.

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Blog Tour: Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs [REVIEW + GIVEAWAY]

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TwoLike.jpgBook Title: Two Like Me and You
Author: Chad Alan Gibbs
Publication Date: May 20th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Edwin Green’s ex-girlfriend is famous. We’re talking cover-of-every-tabloid-in-the-grocery-store-line famous. She dumped Edwin one year ago on what he refers to as Black Saturday, and in hopes of winning her back, he’s spent the last twelve months trying to become famous himself. It hasn’t gone well.

But when a history class assignment pairs Edwin with Parker Haddaway, the mysterious new girl at school, she introduces him to Garland Lenox, a nursing-home-bound World War II veteran who will change Edwin’s life forever.

The three escape to France, in search of the old man’s long-lost love, and as word of their adventure spreads, they become media darlings. But when things fall apart, they also become the focus of French authorities. In a race against time, who will find love, and who will only find more heartache?


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours.

MY THOUGHTS

My initial reaction upon finishing this book was relief, partly because the whirlwind of suspense (about the main characters’ adventures) was over and I don’t have to constantly worry about them anymore. But also, I felt relieved mainly because I ended up liking the book despite the few troubles I had with it.

Just to get it out of the way, let me tell you that I did not feel a connection to any of the characters so that’s a major turn off for me. At that point, I was starting to get worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this as much as I expected. Also, I felt that the book could have been a little shorter because it felt dragging for some times. But despite those, I carried on reading and I’m glad I did!

This contemporary book is unlike any I’ve read before. Since I mostly read romances in this genre, Two Like Me and You was kind of like a breath of fresh air for me. I love how it does not entirely focus on the romantic aspect despite love having somehow a significant role in the story. Plus, this book is jam-packed with adventure that keeps me biting my nails in anticipation. Most of the happenings here are ludicrous and absolutely unbelievable which gets the excitement constantly flowing! Not to mention, the World War II references were very interesting for me to read about.

Overall, I enjoyed this one despite a couple of points for improvement. I’d recommend this one if you’re looking for a crazy and fun contemporary read.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Chad Alan Gibbs lives in Alabama with his wife, two sons, two dogs, and an embarrassingly large collection of Star Wars action figures. Two Like Me and You is his first novel.

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Blog Tour: Happy Messy Scary Love by Leah Konen [REVIEW, FAVORITE QUOTES + GIVEAWAY]

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Book Title: Happy Messy Scary Love
Author: Leah Konen
Published by: Amulet Books
Publication Date: May 14th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

As everyone at her Brooklyn high school announces their summer adventures, Olivia harbors a dirty secret: Her plan is to binge-watch horror movies and chat with her online friend, Elm. Olivia and Elm have never shared personal details, apart from their ages and the fact that Elm’s aunt is a low-budget horror filmmaker. Then Elm pushes Olivia to share her identity and sends her a selfie of his own. Olivia is shocked by how cute he is! In a moment of panic, assuming she and Elm will never meet in real life, she sends a photo of her gorgeous friend Katie. But things are about to get even more complicated when Olivia’s parents send her to the Catskills, and she runs into the one person she never thought she would see. This sweet and funny summertime romance is perfect for fans of Love and Gelato and The Unexpected Everything.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club.

MY THOUGHTS

Having read and loved the author’s other work, The Romantics (you can read my review here), I was pretty psyched to find out I was given the opportunity to read and review her latest book. The premise of this book was just as interesting for me as The Romantics’ premise was, so I had no problem getting into this one.

Olivia Knight, also known as CarrieRevenge on Reddit, is an aspiring screenplay writer and is a huge horror buff. That’s why, on her late night escapades on Reddit, she met a fellow horror fan on there with the handle named Elm. They’ve hit it off right from the start and after months of online friendship, Elm sends a picture of him to Olivia (or Carrie) and asks one in return. So, in typical teenage fashion, Olivia lets her uncertainties get the best of her so she sends a picture of Katie, her best friend, instead. It’s totally fine because there’s no chance in hell that they would meet, right? Wrong!

From the beginning, readers get to be well-versed on who our main character is and what events prompted the mess that would eventually befall her. Olivia was an okay main character for me. Because although I do enjoy her enthusiasm for horror films and understand the self-issues she’s been dealing with, she never really warmed up to me all that much. Still, I really loved getting to explore about her happy, messy and scary summer romance.

Elm, on the other hand, was a character in the book that I absolutely adored. For a fictional character, he just seemed so real to me. He is so charming, nerdy and an overall sweet guy. That, amongst other things! Katie was another one that made the book so enjoyable! Another touch of spice and realism to an otherwise fictional story. She’s honestly the best best friend anyone can ask for; the one that’s always got your back but isn’t afraid to let you know when you’re being too much. Her own character was explored for a bit in this book too, despite the story not revolving around her, which I appreciate a lot.

The romance itself was sweet, because Olivia and Elm are perfect for each other, and thrilling, in the sense that I have this anticipation of when Olivia’s facade will all come tumbling down. The banter that they had, both online and in person, were a delight to read and I can see how they get on so well together. However, I do think that the ending wasn’t what I hoped it would be. It was a bit rushed, in my opinion.

Overall, though, this was a good read! Happy Messy Scary Love is a cute and fun read whenever you’re in the mood for something quick, especially during the summer season!


FAVORITE QUOTES

“Photos are a different level. Photos have flaws, pimples, and pores. You can’t capture your witty banter, your love for 1930s noir, in a photo.

“I know I’m playing with fire. I know that this is unsustainable, that it can’t go on this way. Only it’s so lovely, it’s so wonderful, seeing every side of him like I do.”

“When it comes to romance, sometimes right and wrong isn’t always so black and white.”

“I know I’m playing with fire. I know that this is unsustainable, that it can’t go on this way. Only it’s so lovely, it’s so wonderful, seeing every side of him like I do.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

p-1Leah Konen is a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied journalism and creative writing. She’s the author of the forthcoming HAPPY MESSY SCARY LOVE, LOVE AND OTHER TRAIN WRECKS, THE ROMANTICS, THE LAST TIME WE WERE US and THE AFTER GIRLS. She lives in Brooklyn and Saugerties, NY, with her husband and their dog, Farley.

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Blog Tour: Alien Minds by Christina Bauer [EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY]

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Book Title: Alien Minds
Author: Christina Bauer
Series: Dimension Drift #1
Published by: Monster House Books
Publication Date: April 23rd 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

DIVERGENT meets OCEAN’S EIGHT in this urban fantasy heist!

On my seventeenth birthday, I wake up in the hospital to find I just survived a sketchy but terrible accident. My parents stand by my bedside—both are beautiful, wealthy, and super-nice. They tell me that once I leave the hospital, I’ll attend the prestigious ECHO Academy, where I’ll churn out equations for the government along with my mega-smart peers.

So, I’m living the perfect life.

Then why does everything feel all wrong?

My parents, my house and even ECHO Academy…none of it fits. Plus, what’s up with Thorne, my brooding yet yummy classmate who keeps telling me I need to remember my true past, which seems to have included a lot of us kissing? That’s one thing I’d really like to remember, except for the fact that I’m pretty sure Thorne is hiding a ton of nasty secrets of his own, including the fact that he may not be from this world. But considering how my own past seems alien to me, it’s not like I can judge. Plus, Thorne has dimples. That’s a problem.

And worst of all, why does it feel so yucky to work on these calculations for the government? It’s all supposed to be part of ECHO, but my heart tells me that I’m helping something truly terrible come to pass. Thorne seems to think that kissing him again will release my real memories.

Maybe it’s time to pucker up.

“Appealing and engaging. Love the strong female character!” – Arlene’s Book Reviews

This new series is perfect for: fans of urban fantasy, action & adventure, cool science, evil corporations, forbidden romance and hot new classmates who may or may not be aliens.


EXCERPT

Excerpt – Opening Chapter
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In this moment, I know four things.

One, I just woke up in a hospital bed.

Two, I don’t remember anything about my life before today. Hello, amnesia!

Three, I want out of here now because …

Four, there’s a creepy couple in my room—Luci and Josiah—who claim they’re my sponsor parents. According to them, I’m a seventeen-year-old science prodigy called Wisteria Roberts.

Huh. That name rings zero bells.

Plus, these two make my skin crawl.

“We sponsor you financially,” explains Josiah. “Then in the fall, we’ll fund your senior year of high school at ECHO Academy.” Josiah’s a lanky guy with slicked-back hair, a frayed suit, and an overly large Adam’s apple.

“Afterward, you’ll pay us back with interest,” adds Luci. “Forty percent. Compounded annually.”

Luci is tall and willowy with white-blonde tresses. By contrast, I’m a curvy girl with brown hair and green eyes. I’m also wrapped up mummy-style with bandages. According to Luci and Josiah, I took a spill on Newbury Street and lost my memory. So sketchy.

Some small voice in my head cries that I should be terrified right now. Instead, I just feel numb. Must be a happy side effect of having no memory. Like an amnesia bonus.

“You’ll love living in our dorm,” says Josiah. “In fact, think of me more as your sponsor friend than your sponsor parent.”

At this point, that small part of me screams how Josiah is a disgusting pig. But more of me is still happily numb, so the warnings go nowhere.

Screech, screech, screech!

A chorus of alarm bells sound. Red lights flash in the outer hallway. An overly calm female voice drones through hidden speakers. “Cleansing search commencing … cleansing search commencing. All hail the Authority … All hail the Authority.”

With that, the inner cogs of my brain connect and whir. Feelings return. My blood chills over with fear. I may not recall my personal history, but I do remember how our evil government—what we call the Authority—conducts cleansing searches. They find the sick or poor, label them as undesirable, and slate them for cleansing. It’s a fancy word for murder.

The alarms wail louder. My heart rate skyrockets. If there’s a cleansing search, I’m a slam dunk to be undesirable. Yipes.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AB Christina Bauer pic.jpgChristina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Be the first to know about new releases from Christina by signing up for her newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/CBupdates

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