ARC Mini Review – Rise of the Renegade Child

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Rise of the Renegade Child by Robert Roth, which is the second book of The Gates Saga. I enjoyed the first book of this series quite a bit, and I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel ever since.

While Cameron Maddock celebrates the rescue of his best friend Tony, his budding relationship with the Turani Protector Jerusalem Finn, and the surprising demise of his murderous nemesis Omni, the lingering question of his true origins still haunts him.

Years after the tragic loss of his last love, Jerusalem Finn has finally opened his heart to someone new. But a fresh mystery reveals how complicated that’s made things, forcing him to reckon with where his feelings and loyalties truly lie.

Renowned physicist Dr. Ella Carvallo is determined to discover the answers behind a series of unexplained quantum events, even if it means a journey into the shadows with the charming but enigmatic NSA Special Agent Edison Lloyd.

And the mysteries only deepen when surprising new enemies and an unexpected ally send Cam and the gang on a multiverse-spanning thrill ride in this explosive follow-up to the critically acclaimed queer sci-fi thriller Into the Lightning Gate.

***Thank you to the author for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I’ve been wanting this sequel for a year now. Rise of the Renegade Child was definitely worth the wait and expanded on many of my favorite elements of the first book in the series. The world-building was, once again, very interesting, and I loved getting to see some new locales while also learning a lot more about the political structures of the different alternate realities. The science in this installment was really cool, as well, and I appreciated that the author included a lot more information about how everything works. The inclusion of the new character, Ella, was a great way to do this, and I really loved her character. I enjoyed the plot of this book even more than the first. I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy, and this book had one that spans at least several different realities, which led to plenty of fun twists and turns as the story progressed. The pacing was intense throughout, and the book felt like one long thrill ride. The characterization was also on point. Each of the main characters had a discernible arc that resulted in a great deal of growth even with all the action going on around them. My favorite arc was probably Omni just because of her badass personality and super fascinating background, which was explored in more depth. I also loved the banter between Cam and Finn and wish there had been more of it and their relationship. I get why it couldn’t happen in this one, though, but I’m hopeful the next book will focus at least a little more on the romance. I did like that the author directly addressed the insta-loveyness? of their relationship despite not being able to spend a ton of time on exploring their dynamic. Additionally, this book continued to center thought-provoking social/political commentary and queerness throughout the story. So, if you enjoyed those aspects of the first book, I’m sure you’ll love it in this one as well. The main thing I didn’t really love was the way the AI was able to fix almost anything. It felt like a major crutch at times. I also didn’t care for the narrative choice of re-hashing the same scenes from different POVs. There were a couple times that I was annoyed by it because I just wanted the story to keep moving forward, which led to skimming through some of the sequences. Overall, though, this was a great sequel that improved upon the first book, which was already good, in so many ways. If you are looking for a new queer sci-fi series with intense pacing, pulse-pounding action, and fascinating world-building, then you need to be reading The Gates Saga!

Book Haul – June 2022

After the buying sprees last month, I really wanted to have more self control in June, and I succeeded, for the most part. I only received five eARCs, which is so much less than last month. I also only “bought” one ebook because it was part of a free promotion on Amazon. The most shocking thing, however, is that I only bought five physical copies this month, which is quite low compared to recent months. I did use the library a lot, though. I checked out five digital books and three physical ones. Overall, I’m glad I was able to give my shelves a break for a bit, and I hope to continue this trend in July because August is an absolute smorgasbord of new releases I’ve had my eye on for a while.

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Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 Books of 2022… So Far

Hello everyone! It has been a while since I participated in Top 5 Tuesday. So, I thought I’d give this week’s prompt a go. The prompt for today is my top 5 books of 2022… so far. Of course, it had to be a hard topic. lol. I’ve read 90 books so far this year, and I don’t really know how I’m going to narrow it down to five. I’m gonna give it my best shot, though. I’m also going to restrict this to books I’ve read in 2022 that were also published this year to try to make it a little easier. Here we go! Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, and is now being hosted at Meeghan Reads!

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Most Anticipated July 2022 Book Releases

It’s almost a new month, which means it is time to look forward to new books being released! July is much quieter than usual for me. There are only three books I’m really looking forward to this month, which is probably for the best because August is going to be WILD with all the new releases coming out. Without further ado, here are the top three books that I am looking forward to the most next month!

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ARC Review – Heat Wave

Hello, everyone! I’m excited to be reviewing Heat Wave, the conclusion to The Extraordinaries trilogy by TJ Klune. I’ve had this ARC for a few months staring me down on my Kindle, and I just couldn’t wait to read it any longer. I love superheroes and queer YA stories, and this series blends those two things together into something completely unforgettable. If you missed my reviews for the first two books, The Extraordinaries and Flash Fire, be sure to check them out too!

Heat Wave is the explosive finale to the thrilling Extraordinaries trilogy by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author TJ Klune!

Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz are back in action bringing justice, protection, and disaster energy to the people of Nova City.

An unexpected hero returns to Nova City and crash lands into Nick’s home, upturning his life, his family, and his understanding of what it means to be a hero in the explosive finale of the thrilling and hilarious Extraordinaries trilogy by New York Times bestselling author TJ Klune.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Teen for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I adore the first two books in this series so much, and this finale did a great job of wrapping everything up in a satisfying way. I’m a little disappointed that Nick’s journey is over, but it has been one hell of a ride. So, I guess I can’t complain too much. As with the first two, this book made me laugh A LOT, cry, and cringe hard. The writing exuded Klune’s wit and charm, as always, and I never wanted to put the book down.

One of the main things I love about this series is the absolute extra-ness and cringe associated with the comedy. Klune is an absolute master at writing crass humor and scenes that make me so embarrassed for the characters. If you liked the humor and mortifying sex-ed components from the previous books, you will continue to find a lot of enjoyment here, as well. There was a scene between Nick and his dad that included prolonged instruction on enemas, which had me almost rolling on the floor laughing because it was so awkward. I lost count of the number of times the term ‘fecal penis’ was used in this book, and I’m still chuckling and cringing thinking about it now.

This cast of characters was really just perfect. One of my favorite additions from the second book, the drag queen superhero Miss Conduct, was back with a bigger role, and I enjoyed every second of it. Jazz and Gibby were their usual awesome selves and kicked a lot of ass in this book, which was awesome. Seth continued to be the super reliable boyfriend and the rock for Nick to lean on. Their relationship deepened considerably in this book, and it was nice to see them grow as a couple. Of course, there was also Nick, precious Nick. He was still a damn disaster, but I wouldn’t want him any other way. His character arc was probably my favorite in this book because he matured quite a bit without losing any of his flair for the dramatic. He struggled to accept his new reality of the things he found out about himself in the second book and really learned what it means to be a hero. He faced a lot of obstacles, internal and external, but ultimately he prevailed by rejecting the need for vengeance and relying on those around him who loved him.

I’m not going to say much about the plot because of spoilers, but the second half of this book really kicked things into high gear. There were some epic fights and showdowns that had me reading frantically to see what was going to happen. The first half of the book, though, was a bit weaker. There were still plenty of great moments, but it all felt a bit aimless. There was something happening that the reader was aware of but the characters weren’t, and it took way too long for the characters to find out. It felt like a drag on the entire first half of the story, and once they found out it seemed kind of pointless. It didn’t ruin the book for me; I just think that aspect of the story could have been tightened up considerably.

I also really loved all of the social and political commentary in the book. It got a bit heavy handed and preachy a couple of times, but even then it didn’t feel out of place for the characters to say or think those things. A bunch of topics were tackled, including police brutality, body image issues, and the role of prejudice and fear in the rise of fascism, among others. While the delivery wasn’t always perfect, I appreciated Klune’s willingness to confront such important topics and his ability to make them fun to read about while showcasing important lessons.

The main heart of this novel was the parent-child relationship. The relationship between Nick and his Dad has been front and center throughout this series, and this book was no different. I have enjoyed seeing their frank, open relationship because that isn’t something I often see in YA books. In a lot of YA lit, parents are usually absent, dead, or neglectful to some degree. So, it has been refreshing to to see Nick’s dad be there for the ups and downs, even though he has been far from perfect over the course of the series. This book took it even further and made the parents of the other kids a huge part too. The dads even came together to form the Dad Squad, which was one of the most hilarious things ever.

Overall, if you are looking for a hilarious, heartfelt story about teen superheroes who are queer AF, then this is the series for you. Despite being a bit rocky in the first half, this book pulled off a fantastic finale that brought the story full circle and allowed the characters to learn some important lessons about themselves, the people they care about, and the world around them. I cannot recommend this series enough.

First Lines Fridays (53) – June 24, 2022

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
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