Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

 

 

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Greenwillow Books

June 13, 2017

Our Dark Duet was a stunning conclusion to the Monsters of Verity duology. We get to go back into the world of Kate Harker and August Flynn.

At the end of This Savage Song we see August go dark and it was fascinating to see how a boy who once longed to be human changed from this experience. I loved that we saw him fall and not be the boy we all fell in love with in that first book. Getting to see him struggle in a different way than before was perfect. As I watched him walk around pretending to be this new version of August and even convincing himself at times, I could still tell that he longed to be who he once was.

We got to see a bit of Kate Harker outside of V-City for a bit and that was very nice. My only complaint is that we didn’t get to see her new friends again and we don’t know what happened to them. I feel like we spent some time getting invested in them only to have them never show up again. Yes, her time in her new city introduced us to this new big bad monster, but I still would have loved for those friends to pop up again or for her to connect with them somehow.

I loved so many aspects of this book from August’s character changes and growth to the way the battle came about. I love that there was this big bad monster that could turn people into raging nightmares. The new monster was a great addition to a story where monsters are already prevalent. He shows the chaos that already exists within all humans and even though he brought it out in the extreme it still showed that human beings exist with a level of chaos in them already.

One thing that was totally new to me and I like that Victoria Schwab introduced me a non-binary person. I have never ever read a book with someone who goes by the “They” pronoun before. At first, I will admit I was so confused! It took a while for me to get used to the fact that she wasn’t talking about multiple people. I love how Schwab explained Soro not only to her readers but to August and I love how August was like okay cool! And never questioned Soro about it. I can learn a few lessons from August!

My only complaint, and it’s not really a complaint (but kind of it is), but there are two major deaths in this book…and if you’ve read it you know what I am talking about. I felt like both of them were kind of given the Severus Snape treatment in that they could have been far grander because their characters deserved more. That being said, I feel okay with them because in war people do not always die in big grandiose ways. Both of these people died protecting those they loved or died doing something that would turn the tide in the war.

War is a terrible thing and I felt like this story really brought displayed that. I also feel like the conflict in this story could be applied to so many things today and that is so important! In America, we may not be living in an active war zone, but sometimes it feels like it and I like that this story, this fight, can represent so many things.

 

 

The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis

 

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Publication Date: November 7, 2017

Sky Pony Press

 

Adam Hawthorne is addicted to porn, not that he’ll admit that. We first meet Adam sitting outside the principal’s office after he did something so bad he is suspended for weeks. All we really get to know is that a group of girls in his high school have named themselves the Anti-Adam Order and they wanted him out of that school. His teacher and family friend, Mr. Cratcher takes him under his wing to try and get him back on track, something Adam absolutely doesn’t like especially since he’s not addicted to anything.

In the opening pages Adam informs us he will only be referring to Mr. Cratcher as Mr. Crotcher and that he hates him. What I enjoyed the most about this entire exchange is that when he dropped the “Crotcher” he didn’t even notice it. We were able watch him mature and change as a person without Adam even realizing and I loved it!

Another Adam quirk that I loved were the Golumn and Lord of the Rings references. In my reading of it the moments came out when Adam felt he was struggling or conflicted about something and aware of it. There was a span in the book where not a single reference was to be found and it was interesting to note during those pages Adam was just living as a teenager and not as an addict. The moment his addicts came back into his mind and he began to struggle again the references were back.

The cast of characters in the book were entertaining to watch. From Adam, to his father, and Dez, and the Knights of Vice, and Addy, I felt all these characters rooted to reality in an organic way. These are not characters that exist only on the books of a young adult novel about addiction, these are characters I can meet in my everyday life.

The second half of the book sends the characters on a road trip to Nashville and I was totally okay with it. I feel like this fit because these are teenagers who need to believe in something grander than what they are going through and for them that is rescuing Mr. Crothers long lost record. During this trip we see one character begin to spin out of control while the others have seemed to be able to almost overcome them. I liked this because this is a group of teenage addicts, they aren’t going to get better overnight and it was nice to see some overcoming, some still struggling, and some failing in their struggles.

Overall this book proves that people should not be put into a box because of their addictions. Addicts are still human with human struggles and I think that’s one of the biggest lessons here. After admitting his addiction to himself he identifies as an addict, but at the end of the book he identifies as a flawed human being instead of only an addict. As Dave Connis said, “Humanity is a uniquely shared experience.”

 

 

Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake

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Publication Date: May 3, 2016

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

“Just let it go.”

That’s what everyone keeps telling Hadley St. Clair after she learns that her father cheated on her mother. But Hadley doesn’t want to let it go. She wants to be angry and she wants everyone in her life—her dad most of all—to leave her alone.

Sam Bennett and his family have had their share of drama too. Still reeling from a move to a new town and his parents’ recent divorce, Sam is hoping that he can coast through senior year and then move on to hassle-free, parent-free life in college. He isn’t looking for a relationship…that is, until he sees Hadley for the first time.

Hadley and Sam’s connection is undeniable, but Sam has a secret that could ruin everything. Should he follow his heart or tell the truth?

I really love the idea of Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake. Hadley father and Sam’s mother had an affair that was revealed explosively when someone literally plastered the truth to Hadley’s front door.
Fast forward a few months and both families have been shattered by the affair. The twist of the story is that Sam knows all about Hadley and the fact that it was her father that his mother had the affair with. Hadley on the other hand has no idea that Sam is entwined in her familial pain at all.
It is interesting to see their romance unfold. It’s certainly complicated not only by their parent’s history with each other, but also just the fact that they are teenagers trying to navigate through their own lives while having feelings for each other.
One of the things that I really love is that Sam and Hadley are both developed in their own right and not just as part of a romance. We know about each of them individually, their wants and needs on their own outside of a relationship. It felt like this book was more about two teens trying to navigate life in new towns and new family dynamics who just happened to develop feelings for each other. I feel like that just serves to strengthen each of the characters and the story.
I would have liked to see more of the friendship between Ajay and Sam. We saw a little bit of it, but in comparison to what we got from Hadley and Kat I feel like it wasn’t as developed. We only really got to see glimpses of Ajay and in all honesty that may have been because he lived in a different town while Kat lived and went to the same school as Hadley and Sam.
Something that kind of got on my nerves was the friction between Kat and Hadley. Hadley is making life decisions that Kat does not agree with and for the most part Kat stays silent. It isn’t until a bit of the way through the story that Kat begins to reveal her true feelings. From a perspective not in the book Hadley annoyed me during this whole argument. Hadley herself knows that her actions would not have been made if she hadn’t been in a desperate state of mind trying to escape the problems of her real life, but when someone points this out to her she just becomes angry. But I feel like that is so real, which is why even though it got on my nerves I feel like it added value.
Herring Blake is not writing a book that is supposed to be overly romantic or that’s easy to read. She is writing a book about what happens to people when families fall apart and the effect that adult’s actions will have on their children.


Isolation (Partials Sequence 0.5) by Dan Wells

Okay you guys I have now done something I never have before! I bought one of those add on novella’s that authors write! In case you aren’t familiar, but really unless you’re under the rock I just came out I am sure you are aware, but over the last maybe half decade authors have really started to write little novella’s that go along with their novels. These are things that I always thought were really fun, but I couldn’t see shelling out money for a 50 page story before.

 

 

A few days ago I did it though! I bought Isolation which is part of the Partials Sequence by Dan Wells. If you don’t know already, I love those books! It had one of the best conclusions to a series that I have ever read. I really wanted to have this story off of my “To Read” list on Goodreads so I figured, hey why not? lol It was going to be a short read anyway and if I can shell out a few dollars a paycheck for some music, why not get a short story?

 

As many of you will know by now I don’t like to read any information about a book before I read it and this was no different. Just the fact that it was part of the Partials Sequence was enough for me so I didn’t realize this story was going to be set in the Isolation Wars! It was an amazing, pleasant surprise. It was more perfect than what I originally thought which was that it would take place between books one and two.

 

For those who haven’t read the series yet, the Isolation War was this massive war that pretty much ended world as humankind knew it at the time. It’s talked about a lot in the series, but I never expected that we would get to see it or really to see the rise of the Partials. This story brought us all of that.

 

In Isolation we get to follow Heron and learn more about her backstory which was so awesome! The only terrible thing for me was that since I read the books so long ago I remember Heron but not too much about her. More specifically I cannot for the life of me remember what happened to her in the 3rd book :/ but…it was still really cool to see her origin story because her origin story is actually part of the origin of this whole new world we get to see in the actual series.

 

It was just as well written as the series was and as always I feel like Dan Wells just crafts the most perfect characters and settings. Another thing I loved was that he crafts strategies like I could never have done! Heron is a spy and her brain works differently than the others and it was so cool to see her figuring out and calculating things in her mind as if it were all a puzzle that was easy to her!

 

Overall this was a really fun way to add depth to an already amazing story. This novella fits perfectly with the story, but it can also be read just by itself which is pretty cool!