Review: Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist, #2)
Smoke in the Sun
by Renee Ahdieh

The author creates a truly magical and beautiful world in this, the conclusion to the Flame in the Mist duology, however there was just a little too much going on for me to really connect to this story. It has some wonderful moments but I’m sorry to say didn’t quite live up to expectations.


The Blurb

The highly anticipated sequel to Flame in the Mist—an addictive, sumptuous finale that will leave readers breathless from the bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn.

After Okami is captured in the Jukai forest, Mariko has no choice—to rescue him, she must return to Inako and face the dangers that have been waiting for her in the Heian Castle. She tricks her brother, Kenshin, and betrothed, Raiden, into thinking she was being held by the Black Clan against her will, playing the part of the dutiful bride-to-be to infiltrate the emperor’s ranks and uncover the truth behind the betrayal that almost left her dead.

With the wedding plans already underway, Mariko pretends to be consumed with her upcoming nuptials, all the while using her royal standing to peel back the layers of lies and deception surrounding the imperial court. But each secret she unfurls gives way to the next, ensnaring Mariko and Okami in a political scheme that threatens their honor, their love and very the safety of the empire.


My Review

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I can’t believe I’m only giving this book 3.5 stars. This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and having loved Flame in the Mist I fully expected this to blow me away but it just never happened.

I’d love to say it was me and not the book but I don’t think that’s the case I’m afraid. It’s true that I picked this up having just read some absolutely brilliant books and it was always going to struggle to compete but I’m sorry to say that this is a book with some problems and my more recent reads just highlighted them to me.

It did begin well and I loved the similarities in the first few pages to the opening scene in Flame in the Mist. My immediate thought was “YES!!! This is going to be so good” but within the first couple of chapters my hopes began to sink. It was wonderful being back in the beautiful, magical and dangerous world the author created but I just got so confused. In fairness this was, at least in part, my own fault as I couldn’t wholly remember the first book so should maybe have had a quick re read but it took me a while to figure out who was who again, what relation they were to each other and how they’d ended up in their current positions. It probably didn’t help that at the end of the last book there was a big reveal that certain characters weren’t who you thought and this book began with trying to recap that as well as introduce a few new(ish) characters. My poor brain which is rubbish with names and relationships at the best of times just couldn’t keep up.

I think the story just became too big for me and the author tried to bring in too many storylines and characters. There wasn’t enough space for it in one book and as a result it became too thin and lost focus. There are a lot of characters and it’s told from multiple pov’s so I struggled to connect with it or really feel anything. It’s so frustrating because I love the author’s writing, the world she has created is brilliant and there is potentially a great story there but I couldn’t get to it because it’s trying to do too much all at once. I kind of wish it’d just stuck with main character Mariko and let her be the star.

Mariko is a wonderful character and I love how she has developed over this duology. It’s great to see a female lead who doesn’t have any special powers or super fighting ability but instead uses her intelligence and wits. She has her doubts and her insecurities and that makes her incredibly relateable. I wish she’d been given a little more page time as she begins this story in enemy territory (the palace) and has to play a game she lacks skill in (lying and deceiving) to save the person she loves. The most memorable scenes in this are in fact when she’s either lying and scheming or with Okami, but then I do love Okami and the relationship between them.

The other characters are interesting and there are some welcome additions, Raiden and Kanaka for example, but I’m not sure all were necessary and it became confusing (for me at any rate). I loved when Mariko was amongst the Black Clan but they feature very briefly and instead we have a lot of new characters within the palace. We get to meet the new emperor Roku and his brother (and Mariko’s betrothed) Raiden. There is the old Empress, Roku’s mother and her ladies, Raiden’s mother, the various Lords and advisors and even some servants and soldiers. It’s a lot and there just isn’t the time to fully develop all of them, and to be honest I’m not sure they serve much of a purpose to the story.

The story itself felt quite slow to me but when I think about it there was a lot of action. There are twists and turns, political intrigue, betrayal, torture, battles and even executions/murder but for some reason I just never felt any excitement or emotion from it. Even deaths which should have triggered some kind of reaction passed me by and when I suddenly realized it was all over I felt a little let down. It seemed very rushed and not the ending the story deserved. So much was left incomplete and unfinished and it was just so unsatisfying.

Anyway, it isn’t all bad. The world the author creates is wonderful and there are some very lovely moments I just think it could have been more. I have however been a little down on YA fantasy lately though so please don’t let my review put you off. It is still a duology worth reading for the world building alone.

Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

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Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Ash Princess
Ash Princess
by Laura Sebastian

The story was a little too familiar for me to really love it but this was an enjoyable enough read and a promising start to a new series.


THE BLURB

The queen you were meant to be
The land you were meant to save
The throne you were meant to claim

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed Ash Princess.

When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can’t ignore her feelings and memories any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser’s warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn’t expect to develop feelings for the Prinz.

Forced to make impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she’s willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she’s willing to sacrifice to become Queen.

From author Laura Sebastian comes Ash Princess, a nail-biting YA fantasy debut full of daring and vengeance.


MY REVIEW

I wanted to love this but despite some edge of the seat moments this just never really hooked me. It’s not bad, in fact once I hit the halfway point I found it incredibly difficult to put down, it’s just that there’s nothing particularly new or exciting about it. I felt like this was a story I’d read before, more than once, and those parts that were original I wasn’t sure I wanted.

It’s a common story, a young princess whose kingdom was taken over by an evil tyrant has to fight to free herself and her people. Add in special magical powers, a love triangle involving the princess, her best friend from her childhood (boy next door) and the son of the tyrant and this is essentially the same story we’ve heard a number of times (it reminded me a lot of Red Queen).

There are of course some differences, the author has created an intriguing and well set out magic and belief system and I really liked how the main characters religious beliefs played into her actions. I loved how the ideas of one culture being overtaken by another were reflected. There are elements of eradication (bans on using the language for example) but also cultural appropriation and the impact of this on a “native” of the kingdom were very well presented.

What I wasn’t so keen on however was the level of abuse towards women within the story. I do understand why it’s there (and the author has been open in why she included it) but I’m not sure it was necessary to have main character Theodosia (Theo/Thora) being beaten regularly and subjected to mental torture from the age of 6. I generally don’t mind a bit of violence in books but this felt too much to me and while it did bring an edge to the story it was uncomfortable to read (even though very little occurs on the page).

I also think it raised questions over how believable Theo was as a character. I thankfully haven’t had her experiences but her general attitude, actions and responses just didn’t feel right considering the level of abuse she’s been subjected too. As a character there were aspect of her I liked, how she tried to hang on to her memories and beliefs, how she manages to survive and the insecurities she has but there was a lot about her that frustrated me. She’s too hesitant and too trusting and loyal and I just wanted her to act.

As I alluded to there is quite a bit of romance in this and yet another of those dreaded love triangles with one love interest the boy she was best friends with as a child and the other the son of her enemy. I don’t really mind a love triangle and this one is pretty inoffensive. There are some very sweet moments and I particularly loved the relationship between Theo and the Prinz with all of the questions over how much is real and the conflict between love and duty.

What I found especially intriguing romance wise in this book was Theo’s mothers life. She was romantically involved with a number of different men (leading to the question over who Theo’s father was) but committed to no one. It did make me wonder about her kingdom’s attitudes to love and romance and I would have loved for this to be developed further.

As far as the other characters go some were a little cliched but for the most part they were inoffensive. I didn’t really have strong feelings towards any of them with the possible exception of best friend Cress. She was just terrible and honestly I don’t know how Theo couldn’t see it (this was maybe my biggest frustration in this story). The characters I did find intriguing (the Kaiser’s wife for example) didn’t get enough time and I would have liked to see more from the women in the palace.

Story wise I did find this a little slow in the beginning but it does really pick up around the halfway point and from that point on I did find it difficult to put down. There aren’t a lot of surprises, a lot of it has been done before so you kind of know what to expect but I did still enjoy it.

The writing is pretty good and while there is a little bit of info dumping at the start as the author develops the world, the magic system and the religion, there is some real emotion conveyed. I found myself on the edge of my seat at times with the tension created, horrified with the violence and on one occasion I may have shed a tear.

Overall therefore I’d rate it as good but not great. It’s just lacking that little spark and bit of originality to make it something special. I will however no doubt read the sequel when it’s released as now the world building is largely out of the way I think it could really take off.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. This has in no way influenced my review.

ARC Review: Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval, #2)
Legendary
by Stephanie Garber

I had high hopes for the sequel to Caraval and Legendary surpassed them all. I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait for book three.

Spoiler Alert: As this is the second in the series there may be some spoilers for Caraval from here on in.


THE BLURB

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.


MY REVIEW

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wow this book was just so good. As soon as I finished I wanted to go right back to the beginning and read it all over again. Having read a lot of great reviews and very much enjoying Caraval I did have high(ish) hopes but wow this surpassed them all.

The story picks up not long after Caraval and this time around follows younger sister Tella as she tries to fulfill her side of the deal she made to rescue her sister Scarlett from their abusive father and discover who Legend really is (something I very much wanted to know too). It’s not long before she discovers the only way to find Legend is to take part in the game and win. Tella may think that she’s been behind the scenes and knows it’s not real but this is a very different game from the one her sister played and the stakes have never been higher.

I did wonder how Garber could follow up Caraval and keep the mystery when the reader knows the truth behind it but she does it masterfully. From the very start it’s made clear that this is not the same. There’s no warning that it’s only a game and not to get swept away but instead that this time it’s real. But, is it or is the “it’s all real” just another part of the game? It’s such a wonderful spin that you still can’t help wondering what’s real and what’s not. We know some of the characters from the previous book and we know they’re actors playing a part but there are a few new characters and Legend is known for setting the scene well before the game begins so just what is an act and what is true, is anyone who they appear and just who is Legend? It’s even more confounding when it turns out that one thing we thought we’d discovered in Caraval was not remotely true.

I was right there with Tella as she quickly began to doubt her own convictions and started to question if everyone was in fact playing some kind of game with her. At moments it seems as if even sister Scarlett could be in on the game and don’t even get me started on love interests Dante and Jacks.

While picking up this book felt initially like sinking into a familiar and reassuring world with characters I knew and cared for Garber takes it to a whole new level, developing both the world and the people in it into something completely new, strange and unsettling but consistent with what came before. The magic system is further developed but there’s also more insight into the wider world, its people and the various religious and belief systems which added so much depth and detail I found myself completely immersed in this magical world.

For the most part I also loved how the characters were developed. I hadn’t been keen on Tella in the first book but she really made this story for me. She’d always seemed quite a selfish and shallow character, thoughtless and determined to get her way but it’s not long until we find her motivations were very different from what I believed. I adored how forthright she was. There’s no hesitation. She may be scared or have doubts but she makes a decision and she goes for it, putting on a show that nothing gets to her and relying on the fact that most people (myself included) underestimate her. She is a little reckless and her actions are frustrating at times but she’s young (something I kept forgetting) and it makes for such an exciting and engaging read.

Tella is also incredibly self reliant and I loved how she didn’t look to anyone else to solve her problems. She’s not looking for romance but that’s not to say she doesn’t find some and when she does it is truly swoon worthy. There were more than a few occasions when I just wanted to melt into a big puddle on the floor. I should add a warning that there’s a bit of love triangle going on but both of the love interests are just yummy and not necessarily what they seem. Dante may be flirty and sweet but he’s one of the performers so may be playing a game and Jacks is probably not part of the game but is very mercurial and changes from cold and nasty to charming from one moment to the next. I found myself completely hooked every time Tella had a scene with them.

To be honest though I found myself completely hooked on the story as a whole. It’s full of mystery and intrigue and there were so many sudden reveals and twists my jaw was almost constantly on the floor. There was more than one occasion when I was seriously considering just staying on the train and not going to work so I could keep on reading.

If I had one criticism, and it is pretty minor, I would have liked to see more in terms of the game and the other players. It feels like a very personal game this time and the focus is almost solely on Tella. I couldn’t help wondering what everyone else was doing, what the game was for them. I was also a little disappointed in Scarlett, how little she featured and how she acted. We are seeing her from Tella’s pov but she felt like a very different character than in Caraval.

This is however an absolutely brilliant read and moved the story on so well. The conclusion when it comes is fantastic but left me wanting more. I hope we don’t have too long to wait for the next book, Finale.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own

Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Dear Martin by Nic StoneA fascinating read that really opened my eyes to some of the issues around race relations in the US. I did think it was maybe a little on the short side but well worth reading.


THE BLURB

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.


MY REVIEW

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an ever so slightly older than teenage white woman who lives in a small town in Scotland I don’t think this book was really aimed at me, and I suspect I didn’t “get” it in the same way it’s intended audience would, but I did find it an absolutely fascinating read. My experience of the impact of racial stereotyping is very limited and gun violence isn’t really a thing here (although gang culture is) so this really opened my eyes and highlighted a lot of the issues in a very real and natural way.

At only 210 pages, I did find it a surprisingly quick read (I finished it within a couple of hours) but while I appreciated the fast pace and ease of reading it I think I would have preferred a little more depth and detail. It moves at such a speed that I never felt connected to the characters or emotionally invested in the story. That’s not to say that this is not an emotional read (there were a few truly heartbreaking moments) but I think if there had been more background to the characters and more relationship building I would have felt so much more.

As far as main character Justyce goes I can’t say that I ever connected to or fully understood him and his actions although I suspect this is likely more to do with our relative backgrounds and ages rather than the writing as he is very convincingly portrayed by the author. In fact I think the author did a brilliant job of portraying all of the characters in this story and the dialogue and interactions between them felt especially real.

I also have to give the author praise for presenting the issues in a very clever way so that they’re clearly demonstrated without the story ever becoming preachy. The use of Justyce’s letters to Martin Luther King combined with the discussions at the debate club and his experiences were ideal ways of getting points across and combining both the facts/statistics and the emotional impact on Justyce in a natural way. I do think the author could have gone deeper in certain areas and developed them a little further but there is no doubting that the key messages come across loud and clear.

This is a book with a lot of buzz around it and a very important message so I am glad to have been given the opportunity to read it. It’s definitely one I would recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. All views are, as always, my own.

Review : Genesis (Project Nemesis #2) by Brendan Reichs

Genesis (Project Nemesis, #2)

I wasn’t sure Project Nemesis by Brendan Reichs was a series I wanted to continue with but I’m so glad I did as book 2, Genesis, is absolutely brilliant. Packed full of action from the very first page to the very last and with more than a few twists this is seriously addictive reading.

Note: as this is the second book in a series there will be spoilers for the first book from here on in.


THE BLURB

Noah Livingston knows he is destined to survive.

The 64 members of Fire Lake’s sophomore class are trapped in a place where morals have no meaning, and zero rules apply. But Noah’s deaths have trained him–hardened him–to lead the strongest into the future . . . whatever that may be. And at any cost.

Min Wilder knows that survival alone isn’t enough.

Trapped in a violent world where brute force passes for leadership, it’s tempting to lay back and let everyone else fight it out. But Min’s instincts rebel against allowing others to decide who lives and who dies. She’s ready to fight for what she believes in. And against whomever might stand in her way.


MY REVIEW

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I finished the first book in this series I have to admit I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue. I loved the premise but didn’t connect to any of the characters and felt there was maybe too much going on. I couldn’t however resist Genesis when it popped up on NetGalley as I was just too curious about where the story would go.

It turned out this was a very good decision as this is a very enjoyable read. It picks up not long after the dramatic conclusion of the first book with a bang (literally) and the pace never lets up. I will admit that I’d forgotten some of what happened (and what was revealed) in Nemesis so was a little confused in the beginning but it didn’t take long for me to get back up to speed.

I’m not going to say much about the plot but there are elements of Lord of the Flies, the Hunger Games & Battle Royale all mashed up with something quite unique and different. There are more than a few twists and turns and I loved how the dynamics of the various groups of characters changed and developed with each new reveal. I will admit I’m not wholly convinced by some of the science behind it but I was willing to go with it and it did answer a lot of the questions that I had from the first book.

There is a lot more action in this book and, I should warn, a lot more violence and death, some even I found shocking. It does however raise a lot of issues over how far you would go to survive or to gain power but also what you’d be willing to sacrifice for your beliefs and those you care about. I thought the way the author used a diverse mix of characters to demonstrate this was very well done.

Unfortunately though the number of characters in this book was also something I struggled with. There are various different groups and a lot of different names and changing allegiances to keep track of. I don’t have the best memory for names I’m afraid so I did get muddled on who was who from time to time before deciding it didn’t really matter and focusing on the main ones.

Like Nemesis, this book is told in alternating chapters from the povs of Min and Noah and they really are intriguing characters. Both have had similar experiences but react in different ways. Min is the steadier and more stable of the two and I loved how she held onto her morals and beliefs. Noah was however much more erratic and therefore interesting. It is so good to see a male lead who is so uncertain and anxious. He makes mistakes and deals with things badly but I still found myself rooting for him and hoping he’d come good.

I did feel some of the other characters were a little stereotyped and I would have loved to get to know them better but with so many characters and so much going on there just wasn’t time.

This is a seriously action packed and fast paced story and I pretty much read the whole thing in a day, I couldn’t put it down. It’s not perfect but it is a series I’d recommend. I’m hoping that there’s a book 3 as I want to know what happens next.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

Review: Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn


THE BLURB

Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing dinner parties, and now they’ve prepared their final blowout, just before graduation. The rules for the twins are simple: they each get to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn’t know who’s coming until the guests show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right – in rather surprising ways.


MY REVIEW

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have a feeling this is one of those books you’ll really like or really won’t. I am a big fan of this writing partnership (I loved Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares) so I knew just what to expect and it didn’t disappoint. It feels like quite a short book, I seemed to fly through it, but given the whole novel takes place over the course of one pivotal night this is possibly no bad thing.

This is Sam and Ilsa’s last hurrah, the final dinner party they will hold in their Grandmother’s apartment in New York before she sells up and emigrates to Paris. This is also the last party before Sam and Ilsa and their friends head off to college or whatever adventure their future holds. It’s a chance to say goodbye but also to resolve their issues, get their revenge and settle scores.

They each invite three guests and it’s safe to say their choice of guests are interesting. There are best friends, potential love interests, ex boyfriends and a couple of wildcards (strangers they met and invited). It certainly makes for a rather charged and volatile evening.

I did love the amount of diversity in the characters, some of them are just so wonderfully out there. I will admit that at times it’s a little pretentious and a little over the top but I didn’t mind that. In some ways it’s like watching an episode of Dawson’s Creek. The language, emotional maturity and self awareness is a little unbelievable for a bunch of 18 year olds (would 18 year olds even throw a dinner party?). It is however very typical Cohn and Levithan, complex, emotional and incredibly engaging.

I’m not sure I could really say there was any character I particularly loved or could relate to, hence the 4 stars, but they all had interesting stories and backgrounds which were fascinating to read. I did find myself becoming emotionally invested, particularly in Sam’s story.

What I particularly loved though was how despite taking place within one building in one night the authors brought so much into the story and somehow managed to give such a sense of being in New York. The mix of characters, the building and its residents all just felt so right and so real you didn’t ever have to step outside.

I very much enjoyed this book. It may not have stolen the place of Dash and Lily in terms of favorites but with such an interesting mix of characters it’s still a pretty good read.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. As always all views are my own

Review: The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
The Exact Opposite of Okay
by Laura Steven

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Possibly one of the most open, frank and honest YA books I’ve come across. It’s not a perfect read but it’s one that challenges expectations and I’m sure will generate discussion around some very current and relevant issues.


THE BLURB

Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…


MY REVIEW

Hmmm… I have to admit I’m finding this book rather hard to rate and review. I do think it’s an important read, and I’d certainly recommend for the very current and very real issues it highlights but I’m not sure I would say I really enjoyed it.

It’s probably one of the most frank, open and honest books I’ve come across which is fantastic but it didn’t make for a particularly comfortable read. This is most definitely a good thing as it brings a lot of issues out into the open and makes you question your own views and judgments but I do feel like things were a little over exaggerated and the story occasionally lacked balance.

It possibly didn’t help that Izzy is pretty much the exact opposite of me, extroverted, always wanting to be the center of attention, open about everything, tells a lot of crude jokes and thinks nothing of getting drunk and having sex with someone (or two someones) she barely knows at a party. I couldn’t relate at all especially in the first half of the book and honestly if I met her in real life I’d be terrified (and probably a bit in awe) of her.

She is however the perfect character for this story as she challenges expectations. She’s not afraid to admit to what she does and is very open about her attitudes to sex and her body. I will admit I found some of her attitudes kind of shocking but only because it’s so completely different from what I know and expect, but again, I think this is the point. It shouldn’t be shocking for her to have those types of attitudes and my reaction just proves how ingrained this double standard is in our society.

There have been quite a few books recently which have dealt with this double standard, how boys will be boys while girls are sluts if they do, prudes if they don’t but I think this is the first book I’ve come across with a female character who is so sexually experienced and open about her enjoyment of sex. More often than not in these types of stories someone is falsely accused or slut shamed for something relatively minor like the way they look or a one off event. This book proposes the wild and wacky notion that actually some girls enjoy sex and are not ashamed of it (and they shouldn’t feel like they should be).

I also love how it raises the lesser known issue of the nice guy and the friend zone. The guy who believes you should be grateful to them (aka sleep with them) just because they’re decent and if you don’t there’s something wrong with you.

There’s a lot to think about in this book and it is a fast paced and easy read. I found my attitude towards Izzy changing over the course of the story and I really liked how she developed. I also have to say how much I loved the strong female relationships in the book, Izzy and BFF Ajita, Izzy and her grandmother and even Izzy’s relationship with a teacher.

There were a few elements that stretched credibility, I can’t believe this would have blown into such a big story and I can’t believe a school would act the way they did and there would be so little consequences for the person responsible for what is essentially revenge porn.  I also found Izzy’s voice a little too extra at times but overall this is an excellent read.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. All views are my own.