Final Draft #Bookreview #Netgalley #FinalDraftBook

📓 Final Draft is a Young Adult Contemporary novel written by Riley Redgate. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review. 📚 😌

35960813

Title: Final Draft

Author: Riley Redgate

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publisher: Amulet Books

Date published: June 12th, 2018

Page Count: 272

🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

 

synopsis

The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35960813-final-draft

My Review

Set in Brooklyn, Final Draft is a third-person story about friendship, grief, mental health, and sexuality, with a DIVERSE cast. The main character, Laila, is a biracial, pansexual, Ecuadorian/French-Canadian teenager. Her inner thoughts remind me of things I said to myself as a teenager. Laila’s soft-spoken teacher, Mr. Madison, reads her stories and encourages her to keep writing. He’s the kind of teacher we’ve probably all had. This is a purposefully slow story that takes place the summer before Laila and her three friends leave for college. I didn’t like Nazarenko’s character, but it didn’t ruin the story for me.

Beautifully introspective. Redgate isn’t afraid to speak the truth, writing about big things like sexual orientation, female sexuality, and racial identity.

 

I was annoyed when descriptions of people mentioned they didn’t look “normal”, or that it was shocking for a larger person to have confidence. Throwing homeopathic remedies and healthy food under-the-bus was also unnecessary. Having a teenager complain about healthy things has been done, and I feel that it’s not authentic.

This would be a great Summer read. Be sure to visit your local bookstore or library and check out this brand new novel.

About the author.jpg

According to Amazon, Riley Redgate is a graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio. She’s the author of Seven Ways We Lie (2016), Noteworthy (2017), and Final Draft (2018).

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Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) #BookReview #SpoilerFree

Crooked Kingdom, the conclusion to the Six of Crows duology, is an epic Fantasy novel that has the magic of Harry Potter and Sword of Truth, mixed with the friendships of The Lord of the Rings, the adventure of The Wheel of Time, and the sneaky, twisty plot of Game of Thrones. 📚

Crooked Kingdom

 

Title: Crooked Kingdom

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, LGBTQ

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Date published: Sept 2016

Page Count: 546

 

 

synopsis

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.”

My Review

photography – READING UNDER THE RAIN

After hearing I didn’t need to read the Grisha Verse trilogy before reading Six of Crows, I decided to go ahead and give it a go. The first book of the duology, Six of Crows, was great, but Crooked Kingdom mashed together everything I love about all my favorite books.

Let’s start by talking about the beautiful cover, and unique red pages which clearly represent bloodshed and love. The maps at the beginning of the book help immerse the reader into this world. Crooked Kingdom is divided into six parts: Forsaken, A Killing Wind, Brick By Brick, The Unexpected Visitor, Kings & Queens, and Action & Echo.

Mohammed Arabey’s review of Crooked Kingdom

Angela Jones-Cuéllar on Twitter: "I'm so pumped for ...

Crooked Kingdom starts one month after Kaz Brekker and his crew left Djerholm. They have been back in Ketterdam, a city on Kerch island, for a week. Told with multiple perspectives, I enjoyed learning more about each character through another’s eyes.

The Six of Crows

Kaz Brekker, 17 year-old gang member of The Dregs, ruthless, resourceful, devious Leader of the Six of Crows, focused on getting revenge against Van Eck and Pekka Rollins. I love his witty sarcasm: “It was that or snap her neck and make it look like she fell down the stairs, Wylan. I think I showed remarkable restraint.”

 

 

 

 

 

Inej: 16-year-old tenacious, talented, and nicknamed the Wraith. She has a strong connection to her Suli heritage. To one of her captors, also a Suli, she said, “You are forsaken. As you have turned your back on me, so will they turn their backs on you.”

 

 

 

 

Jesper: 17-year-old carefree, comical, Grisha sharpshooter with a gambling addiction. Crooked Kingdom gives us Jesper’s heart-breaking story of losing his mother as a child. He moved to Kerch to study at University, but was drawn to the other part of town where he met Kaz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nina: 17-year-old confident, beautiful, Grisha Heartrender. In Six of Crows, Nina was able to make Wylan look like Kuwei by using jurda parem, an addictive drug that boosts a Grisha’s power. The withdrawal from the drug almost took her life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthias: 18-year-old big, tough, former Grisha hunter, in love with Nina. She helped open his mind so he could better understand the good of Grisha abilities. He helped her through the jurda withdrawal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wylan: Van Eck’s 16-year-old son, illiterate, with exceptional demolition skills. His father tried to have him killed, he ran away and joined the Six of Crows.

 

 

 

 

 

Other Characters
Van Eck: powerful, Ketterdam mercher (Wylan’s father).

Pekka Rollins: leader of the Dime Lions (another gang in Ketterdam) who swindled Kaz and his brother Jordie when they were new to the city.

Kuwei: Grisha Inferni. His father helped to create jurda parem, a powerful drug that enhances Grisha power, and now that his father is dead everyone wants to know where Kuwei is so they can gain access to the recipe.

Colm Fahey: Jesper’s father, jurda farmer.

Throughout Six of Crows I struggled to care about Wylan. Crooked Kingdom gave me everything I needed to add him to my long list of favorite characters. We get to see just how horrible his father treated him and it broke my heart.

“The letters from his father continued to arrive, once, sometimes twice a week. Wylan didn’t know what to make of them. Were they threats? Taunts? He stashed them in a stack beneath his mattress, and sometimes at night he thought he could feel the ink bleeding through the pages, up through the mattress and into his heart like dark poison.”

I will also admit that I wasn’t a fan of Kaz after reading the first book. Crooked Kingdom unveiled a new Kaz that I fell for.

“He was going to break my legs ,” she said, her chin held high, the barest quaver in her voice. “Would you have come for me then, Kaz? When I couldn’t scale a wall or walk a tightrope? When I wasn’t the Wraith anymore?”
Dirtyhands would not. The boy who could get them through this, get their money, keep them alive, would do her the courtesy of putting her out of her misery, then cut his losses and move on.
“I would come for you,” he said, and when he saw the wary look she shot him, he said it again. “I would come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together—knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

Jesper + Wylan ♥ I love how Bardugo wrote about the attraction between Jesper and Wylan. It’s always refreshing to see LGBTQ representation in popular Young Adult books.

My one and only complaint is that there was too much romance for me. Nina + Matthias, Wylan + Jesper, Inej + Kaz…did they really need to pair up romantically? However, they are a group of teenagers, so it is realistic for them to pair up I suppose.

Quotes

“Sometimes,” said Kaz, “a proper thief doesn’t just take. He leaves something behind.”

“When fear arrives, something is about to happen.” – Inej

Suspenseful, surprising, and filled with action, Crooked Kingdom weaves important topics such as race, freedom, and slavery within a story that will keep you thoroughly entertained and leave you heart-broken, but satisfied.

About the author.jpg

Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the Six of Crows Duology and the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, as well as the upcoming Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Aug 2017) and The Language of Thorns (Sept 2017).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

http://www.leighbardugo.com/index1.html

https://twitter.com/Lbardugo

Stray City #bookreview #MarchBookRelease #LGBTQ

All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE 🙂

I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and Edelweiss, for allowing me to review.

Stray City

 

Title: Stray City

Author: Chelsey Johnson

Genre: Adult Literary Fiction, LGBTQ

Publisher: Custom House

Date published: March 20, 2018

Page Count: 432

 

 

synopsis

“A warm, funny, and whip-smart debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable motherhood, and the complications of belonging—to a city, a culture, and a family—when none of them can quite contain who you really are.

All of us were refugees of the nuclear family . . .

Twenty-four-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her utter shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant—and despite the concerns of her astonished circle of gay friends, she decides to have the baby.

A decade later, when her precocious daughter Lucia starts asking questions about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.

A thoroughly modern and original anti-romantic comedy, Stray City is an unabashedly entertaining literary debut about the families we’re born into and the families we choose, about finding yourself by breaking the rules, and making bad decisions for all the right reasons.”

 

My Review

 

Stray City is a nostalgic read, especially for those born in the 80s, teens who listened to music on walk-mans, made mixed tapes, and had Myspace profiles. There are parts of this story that are heart-wrenching, but also humour, and a big dollop of quirky-ness.

Gender, sexism, sexuality, family, acceptance, and identity are some big themes talked about, but not in a preachy way. I think we all struggle with identity, and many of us change how we act in front of different groups of people. Even if you’re not gay, I think you’ll find you can relate to the main character’s feelings.

The main character is Andrea, raised in Nebraska by an extremely religious mother, forced to hide the fact that she is a lesbian. Nebraska was a great choice for her birth place because it gave the opportunity to share Brandon Teena’s story, a trans murdered in Nebraska. Having the reader reminded of that heart-breaking story brings a heavier, darker, authentic feeling to Andrea’s stress of living in Nebraska and helps to explain why Portland was such a haven for her.

I admire how independent Andrea is. As a young person, on her own, with no family financial support, she is working three jobs, successfully paying her rent and doing okay. She has created a new family in Portland, a family that accepts her for who she is. During a night out with her friends she sees two of her ex-girlfriends flirting with each other. Devastated, she meets Ryan at the bar, and after a drunken kiss she finds herself in a secret relationship with him. Forced to hide her true self from her friends, like she did while living in Nebraska. Just when her life couldn’t feel more complicated, she gets pregnant.

 

“Smart and delightful . . . A chief pleasure of the novel is its shagginess, reflected in Andrea’s ‘mostly hopeful,’ unambitious, but inquisitive life. Johnson taps into a nostalgia for a reader’s youth and a simpler time, and the story keeps its vitality and humor throughout.” -Publishers Weekly

“Stray City has it all; as funny as it is moving, as joyful, as radically communal, as it is lonesome, the story covers the varied complications of place, home, sex, city—but mostly it’s about the necessary and unexpected revolutions of the self, and about how queerly we make our way through this world. Honestly, one of the most absorbing, finely-tuned books I’ve had the pleasure of falling down into. Chelsey Johnson is a wonder.” -Justin Torres, bestselling author of We the Animals

 

The plot is a little predictable and I really didn’t like Ryan leaving, it felt completely out of character to me. I would have loved to know more about his family and upbringing, perhaps that would have made his choices a bit more believable. That’s about the only fault I can find. Absolutely loved this book! I devoured Stray City in two days and cannot wait to read more of Chelsey Johnson’s writing.

About the author.jpg

“Chelsey Johnson received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. Her stories and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, and on NPR’s Selected Shorts, among other outlets. She has received fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Signal Fire Arts. She currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, and is an assistant professor at the College of William & Mary. This is her first novel.”