Month: July 2017

ARC Review of Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

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Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Publication Date: August 8, 2017.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Mental Illness, and Romance.

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Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy Colbert.

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

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Thank you, Hachette Book Group, for my advanced review copy of Little & Lion. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Little & Lion is my favorite read this year and truth to be told, I love it in a way that is hard for me to describe. There are some books that you read that you just know will mean a lot to you and Little & Lion was definitely that for me. When I heard this book was being released, many months ago, I just knew I had to read it. My expectations were sky-high and for that reason, I was also scared to start it. However, as it turns out, the book exceeded all of my expectations.

Little & Lion is about Suzette, a black Jewish bisexual girl still trying to figure out who she is, and her brother Lionel, who is bipolar. Suzette and Lionel’s bond was formed as kids when Suzette’s mom, Nadine, and Lionel’s dad, Saul, started dating and then after two years decided to join their families and merge households. Despite the fact that there is a large dose of romance in this book, both for Suzette and for Lionel, Little & Lion is about family and Suzette’s and Lionel’s relationship as siblings. Their relationship is not always easy, especially with Lionel’s bipolar disorder. There are disagreements, secrets, and even distance. However, there is also so much love between the two. It’s clear that Suzette and Lionel’s bond is special and beautiful, which is further highlighted through flashback chapters, and I love that we got to see both the good and the bad of their relationship. It makes you root for them both that much more. Suzette and Lionel are characters you can relate to, and you will definitely question and cheer for decisions both of them make throughout the book. However, despite it all, by the end of it, they are in a good place with each other which is what I loved the most.

“It’s no big deal.” He looks at his feet, sticking up beneath the covers. “You’re my sisters.”

I know that’s what he’s saying every time he calls me Little—acknowledging that we’re siblings, even if we’re not related by blood. But I like hearing him say it so plainly. It makes me think there’ll never be a time when we question our bond.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of romance in this book and lots of drama that surrounds it. There is somewhat of a love square (instead of a triangle) at one point in the story, and I feel like it was done in such a way that it just made sense for the story and the characters. These teens are figuring out who they are, who they want to love and be and what that says about them. Teenage love is new and exciting and confusing, and it deserves to be just that. This also leads to me into Suzette and her bisexuality. First of all, I love how this story called out bisexual stereotypes and misconceptions. However, my favorite part of the story was definitely how we get to see Suzette realize that she is, in fact, bisexual. The reader gets to see Suzette’s doubts and thoughts, where she tries to decipher what her feelings for both girls and boys mean, and I think that will be meaningful for a lot of readers. Figuring out who you are is not always easy or instant, and I love how Little & Lion showed that.

Honestly, there is so much to love about Little & Lion. I love the way it makes me feel, I love that it made me both laugh and cry, and I love that there are so many characters to love in this book. Two people have gone unmentioned so far are the two love interests, Rafaela and Emil. I especially fell in love with Emil, who is black and Korean, because he is literally the sweetest guy ever. Moreover, another aspect I love about Little & Lion is what an important aspect Suzette’s Judaism had in the story. Suzette has to deal with a lot because of Jewish stereotypes that exist, particularly what it means to be both black and Jewish. However, she also mentions how her Judaism is her connection to Saul, her stepfather, and how she’s proud of it, and I thought that was really beautiful.

All in all, I love this story and recommend it to everyone who loves young adult literature (but also if you don’t, trust me, you won’t regret it). This book means a lot to me and even if this review appears to be coherent, I honestly just want to fangirl and scream over how much I adore this book. I will recommend this book for a long time to come and I’m sure I will be rereading my favorite parts whenever I want to experience the joyous feeling this book gave me, all over again. Don’t miss out on getting to know Suzette and Lionel, Little and Lion, and make sure this book is on your radar and TBR.

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Saturday Night Author Fever #10 with Sharon Roat

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Hi everyone and welcome to my interview series Saturday Night Author Fever, where I interview authors with a bit of a 70s music and diversity theme. I personally love 70s music, especially disco music, and sometimes on Friday nights when no one is looking you can find me dancing to classic 70s songs such as September, Bennie and the Jets and We Are Family. However, books are my true passion and because of this, I thought it would be a great idea to mix my two loves and start this interview series. The questions will be similar every week, but with a new author every time, and I hope you’ll enjoy the answers as much as I have. Now let’s get this party started!

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This Saturday Night we welcome Sharon Roat. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today in my galaxy of books.

Sharon, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books? What do you think about 70s music?

About Me: I grew up in Lancaster County, Pa., and now live in northern Delaware with my husband and two kids. I started writing young adult novels after spending 20+ years working in public relations, and I feel so fortunate to be constantly learning (about the world, the lives of others, myself) from the writing process and the YA community. I grow vegetables. I take naps. I read a lot. I also co-chair the Delaware Festival of Words which is an annual event for teens, teachers, and librarians that features diverse authors and ideas.

About My Books: My contemporary YA novels feature characters who are faced with difficult changes in their lives:

  • In Between the Notes, Ivy’s family loses their home and her beloved piano (due in part to medical costs for her disabled little brother). She tries to keep it a secret from her friends and a new boy she likes, so they won’t treat her differently. But a bad-boy-next-door threatens to ruin everything, and Ivy’s lies start to unravel.
  • In How to Disappear, Vicky’s best friend moves away, leaving her isolated due to severe social anxiety. Her mother pressures her to make new friends, but even the prospect of saying “hi” to people in the hall at school is terrifying. So, she creates a new identity on Instagram, and lives vicariously by Photoshopping herself into other people’s pictures.

How I feel about 70s music: I was alive in the 70s, and my first album was the Bee Gees’ Stayin Alive and OMG I just watched the music video and it is epic. (I still believe my crush on Barry Gibb was warranted, because he was pretty freaking cute, even with those tight, high-waisted, white pants!)

Continue Reading ➞

ARC Review of The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

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thelittlequeen1The Little Queen by Meia Geddes

Publication Date: August 1, 2017.

Publisher: Poetose Press.

Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, and Fantasy.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: When her mother and father pass away, the little queen must figure out how to be a little queen. And so she begins her adventures, journeying away from her palace and into the world to determine how she should go about going on. The little queen soon encounters numerous folks who teach her a thing or two: the book sniffer, the dream writer, and the architect of silence are just a few. Along the way, the little queen finds friendship, love, and meaning in being a leader in her world. The Little Queen is a magical exploration of self-discovery, vocation, community, and home.

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Thank you, Poetose Press, for my eARC of The Little Queen. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

The Little Queen by Meia Geddes starts with two simple sentences that lay the basis for the entire story: “On a little world, upon a little hill, a little tear fell down a little face. A little girl was now a little queen.” The story follows a little queen who lost her parents and is now trying to figure out how she can be a little queen, and if it’s something she can be. She is filled with insecurities and a bit of sadness too. To figure it all out, the little queen goes on several adventures and meets a lot of different women that teach her lessons about life and about who she is. Along the way, she even falls in love with a girl.

“Each of them admired the other’s ears and eyes and smiles, and in that moment both of them knew that they had fallen in love.”

The Little Queen is a book I truly want everyone to read. It is basically the sapphic fairytale everyone deserves in their life. Not only is the story suitable for everyone, both young people and the old, it is also a story I feel will bring light and warmth to everyone who reads it. The story is simple, pure and just beautiful. The Little Queen is a novella, unlike anything I have read before which is also why I fell in love with it. I can with confidence recommend it to everyone who likes fantasy books, to people who love it when a book reads like a fairytale and to everyone who loves a story that is both unique and adorable. The Little Queen is the fairytale we all deserve, one written by a woman of color and is about girls loving other girls. Meia Geddes is definitely on my radar from now on. I want to buy a physical copy of this book just so that I can read it to my children one day if I were to have them.

“When the little queen moved her hands through air and earth and swung her legs forward in long, steady strides, she felt a tingling. Lying in fields, she looked up at the sky and thought how the clouds looked like clusters of stars and how the stars looked like tiny suns.”

I love The Little Queen, the writing is both beautiful and lyrical and the book itself explores topics revolving who and what we are, where we belong in the world, and where we want to go. Moreover, when The Little Queen goes on a journey of self-discovery and love, you find yourself doing the same. The book is feminist and filled with strong women so sure of themselves and I think no matter your age or preferred genre, this book has something to give to everyone. Don’t miss it when The Little Queen by Meia Geddes comes out August 1, 2017.

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How To Read More On a Budget ✯ A Guest Post by Maria Hollis

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Not everyone can buy thousands of books every year to read or can easily access a library where you can find these books available for everyone. It can be quite upsetting to see your friends reading all the cool stories while you just stare at their Goodreads status wondering if you’ll ever be able to read that one book you are waiting eagerly for. People probably see how much I read in a year and think that it’s impossible for them to read even half of what I read, but that’s not entirely true. So I’m here to try to help other readers who may live in this same budget situation. Trust me, I know how it is when you can’t find anywhere the books you want. When I was a teen we didn’t have all these ebooks options out there for us so I feel like maybe the options aren’t as clear for everyone else who is in need.

Because there are options! And I’m going to share how I get to read as much as I do now.

Continue Reading ➞

Saturday Night Author Fever #9 with Maria Hollis

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Hi everyone and welcome to my interview series Saturday Night Author Fever, where I interview authors with a bit of a 70s music and diversity theme. I personally love 70s music, especially disco music, and sometimes on Friday nights when no one is looking you can find me dancing to classic 70s songs such as September, Bennie and the Jets and We Are Family. However, books are my true passion and because of this, I thought it would be a great idea to mix my two loves and start this interview series. The questions will be similar every week, but with a new author every time, and I hope you’ll enjoy the answers as much as I have. Now let’s get this party started!

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This Saturday Night we welcome Maria Hollis. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today in my galaxy of books.

Maria, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books? What do you think about 70s music?

I’m Maria Hollis and I write F/F stories, usually romance and paranormal. My contemporary New Adult series is called Lillac Town and has two novellas published so far. The Melody of You and Me is about a girl who dropped out of school, is feeling a little bit lost in life and suddenly finds herself falling for her new coworker. And The Paths We Choose is about two girls who have a one night stand and need to figure out if they want something beyond that. It also touches in the subject of homophobic families and how the main girl had to leave her home because she wasn’t accepted there. All of them have happy endings and hopeful stories for women who love other women.

I love 70’s music! I grew up listening to this kind of sound because it’s the music from when my parents were young. So, I was used to it since I was a kid and until today they are still listening to it and influencing my taste.

Continue Reading ➞

Everything You Need To Know About Reading Contemporary Poetry (with 40+ Recommendations)

Hi, galaxy travelers and book readers! Today is all about poetry, contemporary poetry to be exact. Have you been wanting to read poetry, especially contemporary poetry, but have no idea where to start or what books to read? Look no further, I’m here to help. Let’s start with the definition of poetry if you’re a newcomer to the subject.

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language — such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre — to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning (Wikipedia).

First of all, here are some quick facts that are good to remember about poetry. The thing about poetry is that it’s an art form you can consume in any way you like. There are poetry collections about love, about nature, self-growth and so much more. There are long poems, short poems, poems written in the form of a sonnet, haiku or in free verse. The possibilities when it comes to poetry are endless. What I personally love about poetry is the fact that I find them easy to read and that the really great ones have both inspired me and made me take a deeper look at myself and my life to relate to what is being said on the page. That’s why I prefer contemporary poetry over older poetry because it feels that much easier to relate to. Because of this, I have a couple of contemporary poetry collection recommendations for you all.

To make it easier to navigate the recommendations I’ve marked the books written by LGBTQIA+ authors with () and authors of color with (). I have marked my personal favorites with () and the free ones are marked with (ツ).

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The first six poetry collections I have to recommend you are,

Continue Reading ➞

ARC Review of Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

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bearlyalady1.jpgBearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

Publication Date: July 18, 2017.

Publisher: Book Smugglers Publishing.

Genres: Romance and Paranormal.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it).

The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month. Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks.

Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to? Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague. What’s a werebear to do?

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Thank you, Book Smugglers Publishing, for my eARC of Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

I love Bearly a Lady and the main character Zelda McCartney. This book is funny, cute and sexy. It is impossible not to enjoy the characters and their banter, chemistry, and tension. I love the world Cassandra Khaw has created, with shapeshifters, vampires, and fae etc., and I want to see more of it. Seriously, give me more of both the main ship and the world. Not to forget, the book is also really feminist and calls out bullshit like no other. We deserve to see more of that, especially in romance.

“I breathe in. Calm. I am above all of this. I am a werebear. I am a goddess. I am a woman, large and in charge, a captain who is in control of her ship. This is nothing. I am above this.”

Zelda is a fat, bisexual werebear, a woman of color, and the most amazing book character ever. She works at Vogue and is a fashionista, which is honestly just the coolest. However, what makes her so amazing is the fact that she embraces herself and her body. Zelda’s confidence is incredible. To see a woman owning her body, her looks, her fashion sense and being “I’m a goddess” is so great because we need to tell women that that’s how you’re supposed to feel about yourself. You loving yourself is the most beautiful thing and I love it when we get to see female characters doing just that despite their insecurities, insecurities we all have. There is also, of course, Zelda’s love interest(s). Truly, there is only one that counts (squeals over them and their cuteness) but throughout the novella, we get to see Zelda with a couple of potential matches which makes the endgame that much sweeter. This is an f/f romance and I selfishly want more.

The ending, though sweet and happy, was way too short for my taste and that’s partly why I want a sequel. However, I also feel like a sequel is wanted because there are a lot of unanswered questions for me. At first, I wasn’t sure whether Janine was human or some supernatural being, and the whole mechanics of how humans interact with the supernatural beings and who is allowed to know and not know about their existence was really something I wanted to know more about.

“Long story short, cross-species romances are rare and occasionally fatal. Antelope and crocodile? Nope. Wolf and dog? Horrible, horrible idea.”

I would recommend Bearly a Lady to everyone who loves romance and the paranormal. I love the fact that we get to see shapeshifters and vampires in an “everyday” environment and not in some sort of bubble where the rest of the world doesn’t seem to exist. If you’re craving a book that is sweet and hilarious and also nails the perfect blend of all things supernatural and fashion, look no further, Bearly a Lady is just for you.

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Saturday Night Author Fever #8 with Jay E. Tria

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Hi everyone and welcome to my interview series Saturday Night Author Fever, where I interview authors with a bit of a 70s music and diversity theme. I personally love 70s music, especially disco music, and sometimes on Friday nights when no one is looking you can find me dancing to classic 70s songs such as September, Bennie and the Jets and We Are Family. However, books are my true passion and because of this, I thought it would be a great idea to mix my two loves and start this interview series. The questions will be similar every week, but with a new author every time, and I hope you’ll enjoy the answers as much as I have. Now let’s get this party started!

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This Saturday Night we welcome Jay E. Tria. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today in my galaxy of books.

Jay, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books? What do you think about 70s music?

Hi, my name is Jay E. Tria. I’m an author born and bred and living in the Philippines. I like walking and flying (via plane, no wings), so I try to do those as often as I can. I am a proud and grateful member of #romanceclass, a community of Filipino authors and readers. I write contemporary romance, these days mostly about Pinoy indie rock boys and girls and a Japanese idol. I’ve written YA too, a Japanese high school romance where I poured out all my J-dorama/manga dork feels. Also YA urban fantasy, about a beautiful ghost haunting the best friend she left behind.

I think 70s music is funky and bright and edgy and is the perfect soundtrack to get people up and dancing. My parents are fans of this music era, so I have fond memories of waking up every Sunday hating that the radio is so loud and that the songs are so big but eventually getting into the vibe and learning all the lyrics.

Continue Reading ➞

ARC Review of Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

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fragilechaos1.jpgFragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

Publication Date: July 11, 2017.

Publisher: Radiant Crown Publishing, LLC.

Genres: Young Adult, Mythology, and Fantasy.

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Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.

AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.

BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.

“Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

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Thank you, Amber R. Duell, for my eARC of Fragile Chaos. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Fragile Chaos is a book I’m in love with and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to read this one early. It took me a while to get into the story but once I was in, there was no going back for me. The entire concept of Fragile Chaos intrigued me and while I was scared it wouldn’t deliver I can definitely say it did and then some. The story follows Theo, the God of War, and Cassia, a female sacrifice meant to become Theo’s bride. From their first scene, there is a clear connection between the two and the more you see of them, both individually and together, the more invested you become in their fates. If you are a fan of young adult books with strong mythical elements and romance that is fought for then Fragile Chaos is a must read.

“War is a captivating, magnetic disorder. And it’s mine. Only the God of War can decide when and how it ends, and right now I’m perfectly happy to let it rage on despite what my brother wants. He may be older, and the King of the Gods, but this is my decision.”

I love the mythology aspect of the story. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Greek and Roman mythology. However, despite the similarities, the mythology present in Fragile Chaos is that of its own. In Fragile Chaos, there are six realms of the gods and goddesses and all of the gods are siblings. The siblings are Ebris, the King of the Gods; Drea, the Goddess of Life; Brisa, the Goddess of the Sea; Leander, the God of Death; Astra, the Goddess of Love, and lastly, Theodric, the God of War and the protagonist of the book. The thing about Fragile Chaos is that it feels new and different in comparison to a lot of other books I’ve read based on mythology. First of all, Fragile Chaos focuses on the God of War which I have never seen before. Moreover, the whole world that Amber R. Duell has created is intriguing, draws you in and makes you want to see more of it. I have always loved books that feature gods and goddesses and I’m really happy that Fragile Chaos managed to surprise me, which I didn’t think it’d do. Fragile Chaos is gritty and manages to keep you at the edge of your seat until the very end.

However, what made me really fall in love with Fragile Chaos is definitely the main characters. We have Theo, the God of War, who is misunderstood by his siblings and wants them to see him for who he is, and for them to trust his judgments. Then we have Cassia, who despite being all alone in the world is strong and never gives up without a fight. Both of them are headstrong and have a soft side to them not everyone gets to see and that is what makes them such interesting characters.

To see Theo and Cassia fall in love was seriously a pleasure. My heart was weak the entire time, especially during the moments when Theo turned soft in the presence of Cassia while at the same time everything was on fire between them. The tension between Theo and Cassia was electric, and their chemistry and the way they were around each other throughout the book will make you fangirl. Another aspect of their story that I love was the fact that their love didn’t come easy. They both struggled with their emotions for each other and that made their connection that much deeper in the end. Theo and Cassia made me root for them, fangirl over the way they looked at and thought about each other, and their kissing scenes had me squealing. I just love it when a book does that.

“She collides against my chest. My breathing hitches. Each place her body touches mine feels as if it’s exploding. I push her away, stepping back at the same time, and drag in a breath.”

The one aspect of the story I think could have been written differently is the way Cassia’s skin color is described. She is clearly a woman of color, especially based on the book’s cover. However, in the book her skin color is described as tan and bronze. Tan is a very ambiguous word. Anyone can be tan no matter if your skin color is pink, beige, brown and black etc. and that’s why I thought her skin color could have been described better and therefore clarified. Two quotes from the book that highlights this issue are the following,

A girl in an oversized khaki jacket is sitting at the edge of the firelight’s glow. Shadows flicker over her tan skin, dancing in time to the flames. She can’t be more than sixteen. “Last roll,” she says.

and

My skin is almost as bronze as hers, my hair just as black, and if it weren’t for my blue eyes, I could easily pass as a fellow islander.

All in all, Fragile Chaos is a great young adult book about six gods and goddesses and the world they are a part of, for better and for worse. This book will make you fangirl and root for the protagonists until the very end. Theo and Cassia’s story has its ups and downs, nothing is ever easy for them, but their chemistry is amazing and you will want them to end up together despite all their flaws. If you love a good young adult romance, mythology, and a story with high stakes then you definitely need to read Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell.

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