Blog

Review: All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Image result for all-american muslim girl

*We received this book in exchange for an honest review*

Allie Abraham doesn’t like confrontation. But when she’s sitting on a plane and someone complains to a flight attendant that her dad was speaking Arabic on the phone, she stands up for him. When the man complaining sees that Allie and her father are related, everything is fine. That’s because Allie is a reddish-blonde girl with fair skin and light eyes. She also happens to be Muslim.

Allie is Circassian-American, an ethnic group originating near the Caucuses. Many Circassian were displaced after the Russo-Circassian War and largely settled in the Levant region of the Middle East. Allie’s mother is of European descent.

When Allie visits her family over the holidays, she feels out of place. All her cousins speak Arabic and Circassian, but her dad wouldn’t teach her either language. Her dad is secular and doesn’t follow religious traditions like the rest of her family. The problem: Allie feels she is too Muslim for her friends at home in Georgia and not Muslim enough for her extended family.

As Allie sees more discrimination of Muslims, she decides she wants to learn about the faith and start practicing it. She starts going to MSA at her school and later joining a Qur’an study group for girls. At the same time, she starts dating her crush Wells Henderson. He’s great and accepts her desire to learn more about her faith. However, she knows his dad would not be as understanding if he found out about her religion. Jack Henderson has a local news show where he spouts anti-immigration and racist rhetoric. At the same time, she’s lying to her dad about becoming a practicing Muslim. If all her secrets come out, everything could explode.

Courtney did an excellent job of taking her own experiences and using them as an opportunity to spread a message of tolerance. Like her MC, Courtney is a light-skinned blonde-haired Circassian Muslim. She gives her readers the chance to learn about a fairly unknown ethnic group and their culture and religion.

Allie was a relatable MC. As a high-school student, she struggles to fit in, especially since she has moved around a lot. Courtney highlights that Allie doesn’t feel “American enough” around her original school friends and doesn’t feel “Muslim enough” around her MSA and Qu’ran study group friends. It takes her a while to realize that she can be both a normal American teenager who dates and goes out with friends and be a practicing Muslim. Not everyone will agree with her, but she later becomes confident in her own beliefs.

One of the best parts of this book was how it explored the diversity of beliefs in Islam. When Allie spends time with her friends in the study group, they debate things like interpretation of the Qu’ran, the hijab and whether dating is prohibited in the religion. These girls are able to civilly debate their differences.

Also, the love interest, Wells, was adorable. Allie showed her own prejudice when she blamed Wells for his father’s divisive beliefs. She has to learn about tolerance as well when Wells convinces her that he and his dad are very different people. Wells is sweet, understanding and patient. Plus, he’s always there for Allie when she needs him!

The only thing we wish Courtney would have done is explain some of the Arabic words more. It should have been an opportunity to teach people who know little about Islam. We have both studied international relations and world religions, so we were familiar with most of the terms. But, a lot of readers will not be. If you read this and don’t know the terms, please look them up!

Overall, this is an important book for the current social and political climate in the United States. Allie’s story will stick with you and encourage you to try to understand people better. Plus, she will inspire you to be yourself and peruse what makes you happy. This book will be released on November 12, 2019!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


November 2019 Book Club: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Image result for 10 blind dates

The Book

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston was released on October 1, 2019. 

Why did we pick this book?

This has been on our TBR list and we did a Twitter poll to pick which four recent releases we would read this month. 

What is the book about?

Sophie is looking forward to her parents leaving to visit her sister so she can have time to herself. She has it all planned. She can finally be alone with her boyfriend Griffin. But Griffin has other plans, ones that don’t include dating Sophie.

Heartbroken, she runs to her grandparent’s house for the holidays, where she is greeted by her loud extended family. Her nonna helps her move on by devising a plan: 10 blind dates set up by different family members. 

Her dates don’t go exactly how she planned, but one guy peaked her interest. Just when she thought she could move on, Griffin waltzes back into her life, begging for a second chance. Sophie has to decide whether to take a chance on her past romance or leap into the unknown with someone new. 

What other YA books has the author written? 

She wrote The Rules of Disappearing series, This is Our Story and The Lying Woods

Which YA Book You Should Read Based on Your College Major 

We used common college majors to help you pick your next read. Sorry we couldn’t find a book for every college major out there. Let us know you thoughts on these books in the comments. Also, tell us what you are majoring in, will major in or majored in! 

1. Business/Marketing: Summer Constellations by Alisha Sevigny

Image result for summer constellations by alisha

The family business is hurting and Julie Ducharme doesn’t know what to do. The last thing she wants is for her mother to sell the camp ground lake property. Except, with her brother’s recent illness and her mom’s debt, it might be the only option. To make matters worse, her crush Dan returns for the summer with a new girlfriend. 

One night while looking at stars on the dock, Julie runs into Nick Constantine, a cute guy playing guitar. Instant sparks fly between the two and for the first time, the summer looks hopeful. However, Nick’s dad is a developer who wants to turn the lake into a casino resort. Nick doesn’t want to be associated with his dad’s project and tries to help Julie keep the family business. Can she truly ever trust him?

This story is really great for family relationships. Julie is very protective of her bother Caleb. Caleb and Nick developed a friendship that made the romance in the story even more genuine. While the romance makes you want to spend the summer at a lake with a hot guy, Julie’s first priority is her family. Julie enlists Nick and her family to come up with marketing ideas to boost the family business to prevent selling to the developers. 

2. Journalism/Communications: Sophomore Year is Greek to Me by Meredith Zeitlin

Image result for sophomore year is greek to me

Zona Lowell has always wanted to be like her big-name journalist father. His latest story requires him to move to Greece for six months. Angered at the thought of moving, Zona accuses her dad of trying to force her into spending time with her deceased mother’s family, who happen to live close to Athens. She never expected to actually like these relatives who shunned her dad and learn about an amazing culture.

This is a fun story for future journalists. Zona uses her new experiences in Greece to write practice articles. The best part is that you get to read her work. Hopefully this inspires you to go on an adventure and act like you’re a Pulitzer prize recipient. 

3. International Relations/Global Politics: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Image result for the conspiracy of us

If you want to study relationships between states and why countries act the way they do, then pick up the Conspiracy of Us trilogy. This series follows Avery West’s adventures as she goes from an average American teenager to pawn of a powerful secret society called the Circle of Twelve.  This society controls everything—politics, foreign relations and society. 

At a high school dance, she is ambushed by Jack and Stellan, two teenagers who work for the Circle of Twelve. Avery is whisked off to Paris, where she soon realizes that these people are more dangerous than she thought. She then finds out she’s a part of their prophecy and is determined to piece it together before anyone she loves is hurt. Follow the clues of an ancient puzzle that goes back to the time of Alexander the Great. 

4. Political Science: The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne 

Image result for the wrong side of right

Imagine living your whole life knowing nothing about your father and then suddenly, one day, you learn he is a U.S. Senator currently running for president. Kate Quinn got thrown into the political spotlight over night. At first, Kate doesn’t have strong policy opinions because she never learned about political science. However, the more time she spends with the her father and his hardliners, the more she realizes that they don’t see eye to eye.

Problem 1: her dad is anti-immigrant and Kate’s best friend is undocumented. Problem 2: her dad’s running against incumbent president Lawrence, who has a son her age named Andy…and he’s pretty cute. Kate has to learn that Washington is isn’t always forgiving and that the seemingly picture-perfect family might be too much to handle. After all, there is no such thing as perfect, even though her Senator father expects her to be. 

5. Theatre: Fame, Fate and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Image result for fame fate and the first kiss

Like many aspiring actors, Lacey Barnes has spent years auditioning for movies. Finally, she’s cast in a Zombie film opposite movie star Grant James. However, Lacey is still in high school. The one thing she doesn’t want to deal with is school work. So when Lacey keeps blowing off her assignments, her dad hires her a relentless tutor…enter dreamboat, Donavan.

Lacey has to deal with someone breaking into her dressing room, messing up her wardrobe and stealing her props. She pretty much accuses most of the movie staff before enlisting her friends to catch the culprit. For anyone who dreams of becoming an actor, this book is the perfect read. Lacey learns how to balance work, school, friends and maybe…a relationship. 

6. Art: Paris, Modigliani and Me by Jacqueline Kolosov

Image result for paris modigliani and me

All artists know it is difficult to break into the profession. Julie Hankla got rejected from her dream art school and has to reevaluate what is next. Julie reevaluates her plans for the future, while experiencing the Parisian art scene and being an au pair to fashionable 10 year old, Genevieve. Through all of the choices she must make, the most interesting part of the summer occurs when the art galley that Genevieve’s mom works at acquires a Modigliani, one of Julie’s favorite artists. As a result of a lot of research, Julie believes that Modigliani’s wife, Jeanne was actually the artist behind the painting. Explore Paris with Julie as she makes choices regarding her future, her love-life and whether to see her father, all while discovering the truth about Modigliani’s past.

7. Psychology: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Image result for the naturals

The Naturals tells the story of gifted seventeen-year-old profiler, Cassie, who is recruited with other teens for the FBI’s newest project, the Naturals program. The Naturals program recruits only the best and brightest teens. Their task? Unlocking infamous cold cases using their special talents. Among the cast of characters is sarcastic Michael, who can read emotions, and broody Dean, who is also a gifted profiler. When a killer strikes, Cassie is sucked into a dangerous case that closely resembles that of her own mother’s murder a decade earlier. 

This story was very well written! The author is a psychiatrist, so Barnes infuses the story with insights into profiling. We love a good murder mystery, and this book did not disappoint! If you love psychology and thrillers, then this is the book for you. 

8. History: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton

Image result for my lady jane

My Lady Jane is a re-imagining of real historical events. The book tells the story of King Edward of England, a sixteen-year-old monarch being poisoned by his uncle. Edward has arranged for his brainy cousin, Jane (Lady Jane), to marry Gifford, a noble. The only problem? Gifford is an Eðian, meaning he has the ability to turn into an animal. Those possessing this gift are ostracized in society, and little does Jane know what her life holds with her new husband. Jane, Edward, and Gifford are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy, and they must fight to save the Kingdom of England before they lose power. 
This book is a fun take on history, and readers will be sucked into the ins-and-outs of England’s royal hierarchy. The banter between the characters is fabulous, so definitely do not miss out on this one! 

9. Sociology: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Image result for the maze runner book

Thomas wakes up Glade and he cannot remember anything, except for his name. Outside the Glade is maze that continues to change. At first he is trapped with only guys around his age. But eventually, one single girl is placed in there with. They have no idea why they are there and must all band together if they ever want to escape. 

We don’t want to give away too much, but this trilogy is about a sociological experiment. Some people have control over how everything will play out and Thomas and his friends are their pawns. Anybody who studies sociology will be interested in how certain people react when they are pushed to their limits. After all, everyone has a breaking point.  

10. World Religions: Internment by Samira Ahmed

Image result for internment book

Turn on the news and you’ll hear about people being discriminated for their religion. it’s not uncommon in the world. However, Ahmed writes about a not so distant future America. One where Muslims are put into internment camps. Layla Amin and her family are trapped in the camp. her goal: get out and go back to her life of freedom.

This book definitely touches on historical themes from Executive Order 4066 during WWII. She touches on the fact that those who refuse to learn history are doomed to repeat it. This is a perfect read for a world religions major because the book highlights the fears that people posses in this country because of discrimination. 

11. Computer Science: Warcross by Marie Lu

Image result for war cross book

Talented teenage hacker, Emika Chen, works as a bounty hunter. She tracks down Warcross players— the latest gaming obsession— who bet on the game illegally. To make some extra cash, Emika hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships, but is accidentally glitched into the game and finds herself joining a Warcross team after being approached by the game’s creator, Hideo Tanaka. He offers her the chance to spy on the tournament from the inside to uncover the security breach that allowed Emika to glitch into the game. What she uncovers is beyond her wildest dreams, and may put her in danger. 

This book goes super in depth into hacking and computer science methodologies. The world of hacking is an exciting one, and Amika’s skills were impressive. Not to mention that her quick wit and intelligence made her a super badass MC. 

12. English/Creative Writing: Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

Image result for again but better

Shane wants nothing more than to do creative writing for a living, but her parents want her to be a doctor. This forces her to lie to not only her family, but everyone around her; and her dream of succeeding at her internship at a magazine and becoming a writer is out of reach. Readers follow Shane on her adventures around Europe, where she makes new friends, falls in love, discovers herself…and fails (like, epically) along the way. Shane’s 2011 semester abroad may have come to a close in the first half of the book, but this definitely was not the end for Shane and her adventures!  She gets a chance to redo her past. 

Again, but Better gave us major 17 Again vibes, which we didn’t hate! We admit, the time travel aspect of the plot was unexpected, but thoroughly enjoyable. Riccio had us engaged the entire time and we were rooting for Shane on her journey of self-discovery. if your dreams are to be a creative write and you don’t have family support, you’ll relate to Shane. She has to realize that she cannot liver her life according to her parents unrealistic goals. 

13. Foreign Languages: Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Image result for wanderlost

Aubree Sadler never left the country, doesn’t speak a foreign language and has no desire to leave her comfort zone. Unfortunately, her older sister was supposed to be a tour guide in Europe, but when she faces legal trouble, Audree must go in her place. Problems quickly arise when Aubree loses her phone and itinerary and one of the senior citizens gets injured. Plus, the bust driver only speaks Spanish, which Aubree’s sister is fluent in! The injured senior citizen just happens to be the travel company owner’s mother. The owner sends her son Sam to lookout for his grandmother. Since she’s pretending to be her sister, Aubree cannot fall for him, but she can’t help to develop feelings for him as he shows her some of the most beautiful places in Europe. 

Sam spent his life traveling and is fluent in many languages. Aubree gains a lot more confidence once she’s thrown out of her comfort zone as she explores Amsterdam, Braubach, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Venice, Cinque Terre and Monaco.By the end, she has an appreciation for travel and even wants to learn the languages she heard through her journey. 

14. Chemistry: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Image result for the distance between us

Caymen realizes her future is planned out for her, to take over her mother’s doll shop. However, Caymen dreams of going to college and majoring in Chemistry. When Xander Spence walks into her mother’s doll store, she has her mind made up about him. Despite his interest in Caymen, she believes that he will eventually get bored. Still, he keeps coming around and she finds herself more and more invested in their possible relationship. Xander is being forced into his family business too, so they decide to help each other learn about their intersts by planning “career days.”

This book talks about chemistry, the subject and relationship chemistry. While a quick, easy read, it’s definitely a West book you won’t want to sleep on. If you don’t find yourself falling for Xander by the end of the book…well, then we can’t be friends. If you want to read a book about an intelligent, dry-humored, girl interested in STEM, this one is for you. 

15. Pre-Med/Biology: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Image result for american panda

Seventeen year-old Mei is a freshman at MIT studying pre-med. Her parents have high expectations for her: become a doctor, marry a pre-approved Taiwanese Ivy leaguer, and have kids. She is afraid to tell her parents the truth: that she is afraid of germs, hates biology, and has a crush on Darren Takahashi, her non-Taiwanese classmate. Searching for support, she reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from their family after dating the wrong type of woman. 

This book touches on the reality of being pre-med in college, and definitely provides some inside knowledge! The book is taking the YA world by storm, so don’t skip out on this one! if you do major in biology/pre-medicine, make sure you do it for yourself and not your family! 

16. Philosophy: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Image result for aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe

Aristotle (Ari) and Dante initially believe they have nothing in common. Two different teens meet at a pool and their lives change forever. Ari struggles with the fact that his brother is in prison. Dante can be arrogant and egotistical. Together, the two discuss their struggles with identity. 

Those who study philosophy will love the deep discussion between these two. “Another secret of the universe: Sometimes pain was like a storm that came out of nowhere. The clearest summer could end in a downpour. Could end in lightning and thunder.” Contemplate the meaning of life with Ari and Dante as they try to find themselves. 

17. Criminal Justice: Truly, Devious by Maureen Johnson

Image result for truly devious

Resident true crime expert, Stevie Bell, attends the Ellingham Academy— site of the infamous Ellingham kidnappings of the early 1930’s. The case’s only real clue was a mocking riddle signed by ‘Truly Devious.’ Flash forward to modern time, and no one has solved the case— that is, until Stevie Bell makes the decision to attend the Academy with the sole purpose of busting it wide open. Stevie’s plan is complicated when a new murder occurs on campus. Will Stevie solve the mystery of Truly Devious and the latest Ellingham murder before its too late? 

This book literally had us on the edge of our seats wanting more. The second book is even better than the second, and we gobbled this story up. If you love criminology and crime solving, then this is the book for you. Stevie is a first-class sleuth and she goes into detail about how to solve a crime. Do yourself a favor and read this ASAFP! 

18. Broadcasting: Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

Image result for listen to your heart by kasie west

Kate Bailey loves the lake and her family’s business. Yet, her parents are always trying to get her to try something new and get out of her comfort zone. Her best friend Alana convinces her to join the school’s podcast. Thinking she can work on the technical aspects of the podcast, Kate agrees. The last thing she expected was to get picked as one of the hosts, dishing out relationship advice to her peers. She is pretty sure one of the first calls she gets is from her best friend’s crush, Diego. The problem, she thinks she is falling for Diego, even though she’s pretty sure he has feelings for Alana.

Kate realized throughout the story that trying new things could be fun and exciting. She builds up confidence and wonders if podcasting, or other careers in the broadcasting area, could be for her. Plus, Diego helped her build up this newfound confidence and serves as a swoon-worthy love interest. 

19. Math: A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan

Image result for a girl named digit by annabel monaghan

Farrah “Digit” Higgins is a high school genius and major math geek. Off to MIT in the fall, Digit is just trying to get through her senior year of high school. When Farrah unknowingly cracks a terrorist group’s number sequence, she gets sucked into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. She tries to solve the case herself, but runs into trouble when the terrorists catch on to her. With the help of a young, hot FBI agent, Digit tries to solve the case and make it through senior year in one piece…literally. 
This book is super interesting if you love code cracking and numbers. Farrah is a literal genius, and the author does a good job of weaving in math/probability insights into the narration. Definitely read this book if you love a fast-paced action book! 

20. Intelligence Analysis: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Image result for i'd tell you i love you but then i'd have to kill you

A cult classic YA series, Aly Carter’s Gallagher Girls series tells the story of Cammie Morgan, a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. The Gallagher Academy most definitely is not your typical school— its an academy for spies in training.  Cammie tries to piece together the mystery behind the death of her father, a fellow spy. She also finds herself in a number of “thrilling” situations, and you are left desperately waiting to get your hands on the next book. Lucky for you, this is a long series, and you will most definitely gobble them all up! 

This series (though unrealistic at times) gives you a quick peak into the life of a spy! The girls are literal geniuses and Carter does a fabulous job of demonstrating surveillance techniques, etc. Definitely pick this series up! 

21. Greek/Latin Translation/Mythology: The Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

Image result for the covenant series

This was the first JLA series we both read, and trust us when we say it is fabulous! Claire ranks this series in her top five favorite books of all time. The series is a mix of action, Greek mythology, and romance. What would happen if Greek gods and mortals produced children? Well, in this story, it is definitely possible, and their descendants are called hematoi. 

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria is a half-blood, the daughter of a pure blood hematoi and a human. Alexandria attends the Covenant, a special school for pure bloods and half bloods, located in North Carolina. Half-bloods can either train to become Sentinels who hunt daimons or become servants in the homes of pure bloods. After her mom– a pure blood– is captured by daimons, Alex will stop at nothing to get her back. Along the way, she falls for her hunky instructor, Aidan (*Swoon*) and discovers she has some crazy freaky powers. As it turns out, Alexandria’s fate was written by the Gods, and her life changes forever once she discovers the secrets behind her powers. 

This series is action packed from start to finish! You will find yourself completely immersed in Greek mythology, and we guarantee each book will leave you dying for the next. There are also translations of Ancient Greek prophecies, which are very interesting. The romance in this series is A+++, and Aidan is one of Claire’s top YA love interests of all time. The ending to the series was also beautiful. Do yourself a favor and definitely pick this series up! 

22. Music: Love Songs and Other Lies by Jennifer Pennington

Image result for love songs and other lies

Vee Miller manages her friend’s band, while secretly writing her own music and posting songs online anonymously. When her best friend’s band gets offered a spot on a TV show for discovering the next great band, he offers Vee a chance to be an intern on the show. There’s only one problem…her friend forgot to tell her that her ex-boyfriend, who left without a word, recently joined the band.

This story is about first love, second chances and going after what you want. Anyone interested in the music industry will want to follow Vee’s journey to find the courage to play her own songs.  

23. Fashion: Everyday Magic by Emily Albright

Image result for everyday magic

A lot of stories are about going against your parent’s wishes and perusing your own passion. That’s also true for Maggie McKendrick, who dreams of becoming a fashion designer, when her dad wants her to become an entertainment lawyer. 

Maggie, however, managed to attend Thrippletons School of Fashion and Design in England. While she excels at school and has the opportunity to make close for British royalty, she still can’t find the courage to tell her dad the truth. Then something happens that threatens to destroy both her personal and budding professional life. Maggie has to decide if going against her dad’s plan is worth it and whether she could be a big name in the fashion industry. 

24. Culinary Arts: The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. Shrum

Image result for the art of french kissing book

Carter Lane dreams to be a famous chef. She has her opportunity: a culinary competition for a full-ride to one of the best culinary schools in the country. A group of teens compete in competitions similar to those found on Chopped. One problem: Reid Yamada won’t leave her alone. He tries to sabotage Carter to ensure himself as the winner. But, Carter won’;t let this stop her…until they learn they have to work together. 

For chefs who dream of competing on TV, read this book! nerd out about all the culinary talk and dream about one day being able to show off your skills. Plus, the cover has adorable macarons which make us hungry! Chefs, let us know if you ever audition for a cooking show. We’ll be sure to watch. 

Review: The Burning Shadow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Image result for burning shadow jla

The Burning Shadow picks up after the events of the first book, with Evie and Luc trying to get back to normal after Mica’s devastating attack. 

After finding out that she is really Nadia, Luc’s childhood friend and the love of his life, Evie must piece together the pieces of her past…if only she could remember what happened to her in the immediate months after she became Evie Dasher. She has an inkling that her mom is keeping her out-of-the-loop, and with Americans contracting deadly cases of the flu, Evie knows there is more to her story than meets the eye.

With the help of Luc, the broody and charismatic Origin Evie cannot manage to stay away from, and her friends, Zoe, Heidi, and Emery, Evie discovers that she may not be exactly human after all. The government is insisting the new flu is being spread by Luxen, but Evie and her friends discover that the virus is more than the flu: it changes whoever contracts it at the molecular level, creating a new— and dangerous— breed of alien species never seen before. Is the Daedalus back, or is there a new threat brewing? 

This was an excellent book that did not fall victim to the sophomore-slump phenomenon most YA series experience. The book was action-packed from start to finish and we were dying to see where the book would take us next! Armentrout is a writing goddess, possessing the unique ability to keep her readers engaged with wicked plot and character development…and swoon-worthy romances! 

The romance between Evie and Luc was off-the-charts adorable, and we found ourselves falling for Luc right along with Evie. We may even prefer him to Daemon from the Lux series, which is….*gasp* sacrilegious, we know— but its hard not to love Luc! Their banter was great, and Evie is a strong heroine that definitely does not need a man. The side romance in the series between Emery and Heidi was also adorable, and we are rooting for these two. 

The book ended on a major cliff hanger, and we are dying for the third book. JLA cranks out books like nobody’s business, so JLA, if you read our blog, please write quickly! 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Review: The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

Image result for the beautiful by renee ahdieh

Seventeen-year old Celine Rousseau arrives in New Orleans in 1872. Looking to leave her dark past behind in Paris, Celine boards a ship to America to reinvent herself with the help of the Ursuline convent. But when she arrives in America, Celine finds that the city of New Orleans is nothing like she imagined. She becomes enamored with the city’s glamorous parties, delicious food, and lively atmosphere. 

After one of her fellow sisters at the convent is murdered by a serial killer, Celine finds herself sucked into the underworld of New Orleans, known as La Cour des Lions. As she falls for the society’s handsome and fearless leader, the elusive Sebastien Saint Germain, Celine uncovers the deadly secrets of New Orleans…realizing along the way that nothing about this city is as it seems. She discovers an ancient feud between members of the underworld, and that her new friends may be less human than she thought. 

When Celine becomes the murderer’s latest target, she turns to Sebastien and Les Cours des Lions for help in capturing the murderer. Will she uncover the killer’s identity before it’s too late? 

This book was….average. Don’t get us wrong, the book’s plot development and setting captured our attention immediately. Ahdieh did a fabulous job of world building, and we can tell that she did her research on 1870’s New Orleans. The cultural references were spot-on, and we really felt that we were traveling back in time with Celine to 1872. Moreover, the book touched on themes of racism and sexism in 1870’s New Orleans, which we really enjoyed and felt played an important role in furthering the story and character development. Her attention to detail and history should be commended and definitely did not go unnoticed. 

All this being said, the plot did drag at times, and it did not entirely pick up until three-quarters of the way through the story. Also, the love story between the main characters felt a bit insta-lovey, but it was not nearly as bad as other YA books. Celine was a witty, independent, and strong female protagonist, and we truly enjoyed her narration. Her chemistry and banter with Bastien was great, and really added to the development of their love story. Also, we can’t help but mention Michael Grimaldi, the dashing and charming detective in charge of solving the murders. Michael and Celine also had incredible chemistry, and we are excited to see where their relationship goes in the next book. 

We were a bit conflicted on how to rate this book. We loved the world building, Celine’s character, and the shocking twist at the end of the story. Don’t get us wrong, we definitely are going to read the second book after that ending— who wouldn’t?! But, she could also have done without some of the insta-love moments and the unnecessary chapters that made the book drag out. Hopefully Ahdieh removes some of the fluff in the next book. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐.5/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review: Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Image result for capturing the devil

We followed Audrey Rose and Thomas from the streets of London, to the mountains of Romania and on a ship across the Atlantic ocean. Now, we watch them discover New York City and Chicago.

After all of the drama from the RMS Etruria, Audrey Rose and Thomas are ready to rekindle their romance. In fact, Audrey Rose’s dad and aunt, plus Thomas’s sister are on the way to New York so Thomas can officially ask Audrey Rose to marry him.

The details are set and their families have put together the perfect wedding, when Thomas’s father’s meddling stands in the way of happily ever after. Out of anger, Audrey Rose and Thomas try to come up with solutions to get their perfect love story.

However, at the same time, bodies have been found across the city and the killer has a similar style to Jack the Ripper. But Jack the Ripper is dead, isn’t he? After going through the journals of the man who died claiming he was the notorious murderer, dark secrets come to life and the mystery might not have been as simple as they originally thought.

They follow the killer from New York to the World’s Fair in Chicago, where a lot of young women have gone missing, but no bodies have been found. The real Jack the Ripper might be closer than they think, having more of a connection with the two forensic scientists than they ever thought possible. Will Audrey Rose and Thomas be able to stop the person who has been watching them for months and finally walk down the aisle?

This book did not disappoint. We loved this series overall, even though portions of Escaping From Houdini annoyed us. This book made up for it, with Cressworth being stronger than ever.

We won’t spoil the ending, but Maniscalco wrapped everything up nicely. Although, we’d love to see more of Cressworth’s future endeavors, we accept that this story has come to an end. 

Maniscalco also did a good job of tying the books together. We loved how she brought back Jack the Ripper and that she still had surprises in store from that mystery. 

Overall, the plot moves quickly and the reader can see how much these characters developed from the beginning of the series. Audrey Rose is strong, intelligent and ahead of her time. Thomas is witty, loyal and the perfect companion. Their unconventional love story set among forensics and dead bodies was the story YA readers needed.
If you haven’t tried reading this series, go out and buy them immediately. Now that all of the books are out, spend your weekend binge-reading. You know you want to! 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Cressworth forever!)

Review: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tweet Cute

*We received this book in exchange for an honest review*

Pepper’s mother owns a fast-food chain called Big League Burger. It used to be a mom and pop place in Nashville, but when it got popular, it expanded throughout the country, leading to Pepper and her mom trading in country life for the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Jack attends the same fancy private school as Pepper, but he doesn’t have the same money as his classmates. His twin Ethan, mom, dad and grandma, all run a deli called Girl Cheesing in the East Village. They are famous for their Grandma’s special grilled cheese sandwiches.

One day Jack wakes up to find out that Big League Burger stole Girl Cheesing’s special grilled cheese recipe. Out of anger, he starts a Twitter war with Big League Burger. Big League Burger replies instantly, starting a back and forth that gains national attention through its thousands of retweets. Little does Jack know that his classmate, Pepper, is behind most of the criticizing tweets.

At the same time, since Pepper is on the swim team and Jack is on the dive team, the two find their lives intertwined. The two end up realizing quickly that the other is behind the tweets and they agree to keep things as civil as possible. Except, Pepper’s mother keeps trying to be hostile. Plus, the internet found out who the two people behind the accounts are and it seems the whole country starts shipping Jack and Pepper. Will these two be able to start a real relationship, or will the conflict between their parents over business and twitter war cause an irrevocable rift?

We had high expectations going into this. The summary sounded cute and the reviews so far have been great. But, we were left disappointed. This book can be described best as cheesy (pun not intended). First of all, their names are Pepper and Jack (pepperjack cheese) and the war is over a grilled cheeses recipe. Second, Pepper’s mom was the worst! She wanted her daughter to forgo school responsibilities to tweet for her company, when she has a hired social media team. Third, there wasn’t a ton of character development. We didn’t feel like we got a sense of who Pepper was. She liked making dessert and was described as a constant over-achiever, but she lacked depth.

However, we did like Jack’s character a lot and his point of view was much more interesting to read. He felt his family had his life planned for him by wanting him to take over the Deli. Plus, he struggled with having a popular identical twin, who everyone mistook him for. He had to work hard to be seen as an individual.

Overall, this was a fun and lighthearted story, but don’t expect any plot twists or tons of swoon-worthy chemistry. It’s a quick read with a decent ending that resolves everything. Tweet Cute will be released on January 21, 2020. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐