(Review) The Dark Intercept

The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller
Publication Date: October 31st, 2017
Pages: 320 (kindle)
Genre: Young Adult
My Goodreads Rating: 2 stars

Goodreads Synopsis: When the state controls your emotions, how hard will you fight to feel free?
In a radiant world of endless summer, the Intercept keeps the peace. Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, has spent her life in comfort and safety. Her days are easy thanks to the Intercept, a crime-prevention device that monitors and provokes emotion. But when her long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a dangerous altercation on Old Earth, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he's hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she's ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept.

Much like the device itself, The Dark Intercept might get under your skin.

My Review: 
I...did not like this book. I gave it two stars because it had a lot of promise. But other than that I had to force myself to read it. It took me almost two weeks to finish this book and it never takes me that long to read something. 

Violet is a boring character, first of all. I almost feel like she's got some social anxiety disorder because she is very, very awkward. Especially around Danny, the boy she's "in love with". Violet's dad is the ruler of New Earth and she works in Protocol Hall helping monitor Old Earth. 

Their weapon of choice is people's memories, courtesy of the Intercept. The Intercept was created by boy genius Kendall Mayhew only he killed himself and that story just turns into one big trash pile toward the end of everything. 

Here's my main problem: it took until I was about 60% through this book that something actually happened. For the first part it was Violet following Danny. Or pining after Danny. Or sitting at her father's feet. It was boring. I loved the idea of New Earth but it wasn't expanded. The Intercept sounds like a great threat, but I didn't get it. Maybe it's just me? 

The end of this book happened SO FAST that I feel like the build up (the first 60%) could have been done a little better. Too little action at the beginning and too much at the end. There was no balance and not really enough depth of the characters for me to enjoy them. 

Thanks to Tor Teens and NetGalley for the ARC. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'm Thankful For

Y'all. It's been a hot minute since I've done a Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish. I'm celebrated being off work for five days with a glass of wine, my kitten, and some books I'm thankful for.

I have copy of this book from when I was in second grade that I show my second graders every year. There is no cover and there are pages missing, but I keep it to show them how much I love reading. I can still recite some of these poems by heart. 

Before you scoff, there are a lot of reasons I'm thankful for Twilight. It opened me up to a new genre that I hadn't read before, but it also opened me up to a plethora of amazing people. I've made some of the best friends because of this book. 

Always a classic. Always a favorite. 

Also thankful to my mom for buying me all of the BSC books ever. 

I read this to my new class every year. Every year I cry. 

I love Emery Lord's words. Reading about working through your grief and still be strong in your faith resonates with me on a deeply personal level. 

I love this book. That's all. 

I love this book for bringing a strong, but broken male lead into the YA dystopian world. 

This series is perfection to me. 

How could I have a list like this without Harry? 

There it is. I'm sure after I post this I'll have a ton of ideas about what I should have posted and what else I love, but that's what I've got for right now. I'm thankful for books, the freedom to read them, and for anyone who reads this little old blog of mine. Thank you! 

I remembered this just as I was publishing. I love this book. And it's sequel. You'll laugh and cry and then cry some more. 

(Review) Beneath Northern Lights

Below Northern Lights by Ashlee Cowles
Publication Date: November 30th, 2017
Pages: 368 (kindle)
Genre: Young Adult
My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Nineteen-year-old war veteran Lucas Santiago is grappling with the knowledge that he’ll never walk again when he learns his best friend, Seth, hasn’t returned from his solo trek through Scotland. If Seth doesn’t report back soon, he’s risking an AWOL charge that could end his military career.
Lucas has no desire to leave the house, let alone brave a foreign country in a wheelchair, following bizarre clues Seth left behind. But Lucas’s sister, Gabi—who has feelings for Seth—won’t take no for an answer. The one thing Lucas never expects when he agrees to Gabi’s harebrained scheme is meeting Skye, a young British veteran with a traumatic past of her own. Skye also has unwavering confidence and a thirst for adventure—qualities Lucas sorely lacks as he struggles to adjust to his new life.

The trio sets off on a road trip to search for Seth in the Scottish Highlands, where it becomes clear to Lucas that if he ever hopes to win the heart of an irresistible force like Skye, he’ll need to resurrect the fearless fighter he used to be. He’s falling hard for Skye, but can he again fall in love with life?

My Review: 
When I was contacted by the author about reading the companion to Beneath Wandering Stars I jumped at the chance. I loved Gabi and Seth in BWS and was definitely looking forward to more of their story and learning about Lucas.

Lucas is a a wounded veteran, trying to get his life back together...kind of. He's obviously angry and sad at how things have happened to him and has a lot of issues to work through. 

When Seth's dad calls, worried that Seth has gone AWOL, Gabi immediately formulates a plan to find him. This plan, of course, involves Lucas, a new wheelchair, and a trek to find their lost friend.  Lucas is clearly not excited about the trip. He feels bullied by his whole family and angry at Seth somehow. 

Lucas meets Skye early on in the story. She's damaged, just like him, so he's quickly drawn to her. They agree to give Skye a ride to her starting point, but more it turns out to be more than what any of them bargained for. 

Ready about Lucas' journey and healing is truly heartwarming. I love that they take the same steps, kind of literally, as Gabi and Seth did in the first book. Lucas pushes himself physically and emotionally during the trip, as well as learns some things about himself...and about Skye. The two of them together are fun, but also serious. They both have their own issues to work through and it works well with them. 

Of course, the ending and epilogue left me swooning because of the Gabi and Seth moments. If Ashlee ever writes more of them, I'm definitely in! 

Huge thanks to the author for a copy of this book. 

(Review) Haunting the Deep

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather
Publication Date: October 3rd, 2017
Pages: 368 (kindle)
Genre: Young Adult
My Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads Synopsis: Samantha Mather knew her family’s connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she’d find herself at the center of a new one.

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she’s been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam’s waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship.

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers.

My Review:
When I requested this one I didn't realize it was a sequel, so I had to request the first book from the library to make sure I was up to speed on things. 

I was pleasantly surprised with both of the books. While the topics are farfetched and a little silly, the magic kind of weird, and the characters annoying at times...I really enjoyed this series. 

Like any YA series, it's got its tropes. There are your mean girls and your brooding boys (ghosts!) but deep down its a decent story. 

I like Samantha a lot as a character. She's kind of a loner, but is trying hard in the second book. She's realizing that things are happening around her and to her that she can't control on her own. Although she's stubborn, she knows that she needs her friends and they need her. It's interesting to read about her realizations and watch how she grows. 

The supernatural and magical part of the story is fun. There's not too much explanation about how it all works, but I didn't really need too much of it. I loved the history of the Titanic mixed in with the storyline. History is the way to my heart and this was a great way to get it all in. 

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what else this series has to offer. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Books for the ARC. 

(Review) Sweet Tea and Sympathy

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper
Publication Date: November 21st, 2017
Pages: 320 (paperback)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Beloved author Molly Harper launches a brand-new contemporary romance series, Southern Eclectic, with this story of a big-city party planner who finds true love in a small Georgia town.

Nestled on the shore of Lake Sackett, Georgia is the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. (What, you have a problem with one-stop shopping?) Two McCready brothers started two separate businesses in the same building back in 1928, and now it’s become one big family affair. And true to form in small Southern towns, family business becomes everybody’s business.

Margot Cary has spent her life immersed in everything Lake Sackett is not. As an elite event planner, Margot’s rubbed elbows with the cream of Chicago society, and made elegance and glamour her business. She’s riding high until one event goes tragically, spectacularly wrong. Now she’s blackballed by the gala set and in dire need of a fresh start—and apparently the McCreadys are in need of an event planner with a tarnished reputation.

As Margot finds her footing in a town where everybody knows not only your name, but what you had for dinner last Saturday night and what you’ll wear to church on Sunday morning, she grudgingly has to admit that there are some things Lake Sackett does better than Chicago—including the dating prospects. Elementary school principal Kyle Archer is a fellow fish-out-of-water who volunteers to show Margot the picture-postcard side of Southern living. The two of them hit it off, but not everybody is happy to see an outsider snapping up one of the town's most eligible gentleman. Will Margot reel in her handsome fish, or will she have to release her latest catch?

My Review:
I've never read any of Molly's books and I kind of requested this one on a whim as I was looking for something sweet to read. I'd just had a bad experience with a book and was a little frustrated and wary going into this one. (See previous review of romance novel gone wrong if you want to know how that worked out.) 

But, as you can see from my Goodreads Rating, I loved all parts of this book. As someone from a small southern town (some of us consider Florida the south) I completely fell in love with this town and pretty much every single one of these characters. 

The book's opening scene is hilarious and enough to catch your attention. At first you sense that Margot is a little uptight. She's a big city girl with a big city job so you know right off that she's going to clash with her small-town family. 

This does happen, but not in the sense that she thinks she's better than any of them. I don't recall any instances of Margot feeling superior to the residents of the town and I loved that about her. If anything she worried about what they thought about her. 

This, to me, is not your typical "love at first sight" romance. Sure, there's definitely chemistry between Margot and Kyle, but it isn't thrown in your face and sexualized throughout the pages. Kyle is a complex character, but in the best way. I love that he puts his family first, doesn't try to control Margot, and is always honest with her. Kyle had me swooning many times with just his words. 

What I loved most about this is how Margot comes to know and love the family she's never met. From her father to her aunts and uncles and cousins. So many of these moments made me smile, almost as much as reading about Margot and Kyle. 

So, five stars from me for making a romance also about family and not making me hate any of the main characters. I'm impressed. 

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