I’ve got three reviews for you today, one YA fantasy, one adult sci-fi, and one YA contemporary. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga
Published by Entangled Teen on July 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: NetGalley, Blog Tour
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing; Some violence)
In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.
Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.
With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan—but try convincing their hearts of that.
I really enjoyed this fresh take on fairy tales. The book takes place in a world where a Kiss holds power to fight evil. It’s used as a weapon in war, completely devoid of the outdated concept of love. But there is a faction of people (the Romantics) who have rebelled—they believe that the kiss is being misused, that the meaning of True Love’s Kiss is much more important (and more powerful) than a kiss being used in war. I loved seeing Ivy’s views on the possibility of love change and grow—and her understanding of her way of life evolve as she learns that many of her basic beliefs are not only wrong, they’re dangerous. The romance is sweet, if somewhat predictable, and I appreciated that it moved slowly for the most part. (We find out that from Zach’s perspective things moved quickly enough to warrant the dreaded instalove label, but the book is saved by the fact that the book isn’t told from his POV and he doesn’t declare his feelings early on.) Overall, I thought this book was a win!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley and Fantastic Flying Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Fukusha Model Eight by S.J. Pajonas
Series: The Hikoboshi Series #3
Also in this series: , Crash Land on Kurai
Published by Onigiri Press on May 18, 2018
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
My content rating: Adult (Characters have sex, but it's not described in this book; Some violence)
"Being human is the apex of life. It’s the top, not the bottom.”
Yumi is pretty sure someone's trying to kill her... and she can’t remember who. Undercover and alone in one of the most dangerous cities on the Southern Continent, she's struggling to live through every day until she can find her new allies and get back to Rin. But when the mission goes wrong and Rin is kidnapped and held for ransom, Yumi must act fast. Not only are the yakuza on her tail, but the fearsome Fukusha Model Eight androids are after her too. With her short-term memory failing and war just around the corner, she can only stay alive by determining who’s telling the truth and who will do anything to lie to her and steal everything she has, including her life.
Fukusha Model Eight is the third book in the Hikoboshi Series, an action adventure, space opera series that explores the worlds settled by the Japanese who fled Earth a century ago. Culture, history, technology, and swords clash in a fast-paced future society on the brink of war.
Fukusha Model Eight is the third installment in Pajonas’s unique sci-fi adventure series. Once again, Pajonas explores what a world completely run by corporations would be like—it isn’t pretty. One of the things I love most about these books is the way that the main character’s vulnerabilities are explored without making her seem weak. She’s put in circumstances that would make anyone start to doubt themselves (and others around her). This book kept me guessing, with several twists I wasn’t expecting as Yumi learns more about what she’s up against. And, as always, the world building is exquisite—I feel like I know these alien planets so well! These books have a lot to love, even for a sci-fi dabbler like me. If you’re at all a fan of adult sci-fi, I highly recommend this series. You will not be disappointed!
Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 22, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: YA (Some mature language and themes---see review for details)
Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he's so enormous-6'6" and 250 pounds to be exact. He has no one at school and life in his trailer park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother's suicide.
There's no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there's only one person who can help: Neanderthal.
To his own surprise, Cliff says he's in. As he and Aaron make their way through the List, which involves a vindictive English teacher, a mysterious computer hacker, a decidedly unchristian cult of Jesus Teens, the local drug dealers, and the meanest bully at HVHS--Cliff feels like he's part of something for the first time since losing his brother. But fixing a broken school isn't as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they've completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined.
This book is incredibly complex because it touches on quite a few issues that teens face today: bullying, religion, drug use, homosexuality, suicide, abuse, and more. I’ll confess that there were times I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the book: It definitely has a grittier style than I prefer (a lot of swearing, some crude jokes, drug use, violence to solve problems, etc.), but I know that this is reality for a lot of YA readers today. And in the end, the positive messages won out for me. This book is really about making the world a better place, even if I didn’t always 100% agree with the choices the characters made to get to that place. Sometimes they floundered (like teenagers—and the rest of us—do), and sometimes they wondered if they had any chance at all. Sometimes it felt like life’s problems were just too big for them. But they didn’t give up (for long) and the overall message of hope is what I was left with.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
I’m so glad you enjoyed Fukusha Model Eight. That’s a fun world to explore. I’m looking forward to getting back to it next year. 🙂
I’m excited to keep reading! I love the fact that the corporations rule the world–it’s doesn’t seem all that far-fetched, does it?
Agreed on Kiss of the Royal and Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe. Hadn’t even heard of the second book, but if you liked it enough to review it, then I’ll have to at least look into it! Great reviews!
You should definitely check out Pajonas! My favorite of her books (I may be biased) is the one I edited called Summer Haikus. But all of her books are fantastic! 🙂
I’ve been really curious about Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe. This is the first review I’ve seen for it, and I’m glad the positive messages were strong enough to balance out the rougher aspects of the story. I’ll definitely be giving it a shot when I can! It’s sad that those things are a reality for people today, and I can only hope that things start to improve.
L @ Do You Dog-ear?
I think with that book, it’s really a matter of preference of style. This might be one of those where I’m showing my age because it’s probably pretty accurate with how teenagers act and talk today. 🙂
Lovely reviews, Nicole! <3 That first book has such an interesting concept, I'm so glad you ended up enjoying it so much 🙂 I was also very curious about that one, Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe. I'm sorry the writing wasn't entirely for you, but glad it still ended on a positive note. I think I might give it a try 🙂
As I’ve said to a couple of other commenters, Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe is probably a case of personal taste when it comes to the aspects I wasn’t crazy about. I feel like this might be one of those cases where I’m a bit old-fashioned. 🙂
I mostly don’t read series so I haven’t heard of the first two books but Neanderthal I was able to read and review. It’s funny and addicting read for me. I’m glad the positive and hopeful message of the book won out for you. It was also the most endearing part of the book for me.:)
Yes, I think it’s the type of book that a lot of people will LOVE because of the humor. I found some of it a teensy bit off-putting, but this s one of those cases where I realize I’m not the target audience. And the overall message really did win me over.
I kept going back and forth over reading Kiss of the Royal and I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed that story! I’ve seen nothing but positive reviews so it looks like I need to check it out. 🙂
It was an interesting take on the fairy tale trope. I enjoyed it!
I hadn’t heard of any of these before excepting Kiss The Royal but it sounds like you were able to enjoy all of these books a lot. Kiss the Royal sounds fun but the second book is what really caught my eye because it is about when corporations take over the world. I sort of believe they are well on the way to that so I would be interested in seeing the world portrayal as well as getting to see how those vulnerabilities are explored in the good way you mentioned 😉 Great reviews!
Yes, that series has a really unique take on the world. Corporations taking over the world doesn’t seem that far-fetched.