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.

Mid-Month NetGalley Check-In – June 2022

I’ve once again made some progress in the last month. I read and reviewed eight books, and I’ve been approved for nine new books in the last month. You can see where I was last month in my most recent check-in post. My feedback ratio thankfully managed to climb another two percent to 72%. I’ve completed 62 ARC reviews out of the total 86 for which I have been approved. I’m excited that I am still managing to keep my percentage at 70% or above, and I’m going to do my best to keep it there while I work to reach the coveted 80% threshold. I now have 24 books available to review on my shelf, which is a slight increase from where I was this time last month. Many of the books I’ve recently gotten have been sequels of books I haven’t read. So, I’ll be starting a lot of new series/duologies in the near future, which I’m pretty excited about while also finding the shear number of books I need to read a bit daunting.

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ARC Mini Review – My Mechanical Romance

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth, which is a YA Romance that will be released on Tuesday. I didn’t plan to review this one until its release day, but I flew through it much quicker than expected. So, I figured…why not?

Opposites attract in this battle-robot-building YA romance from the NYT best-selling author of The Atlas Six.

Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn’t seem to like her either.
 
Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they’ve made more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made each other and the team better. Because girls do belong in STEM.
 
In her YA debut, Alexene Farol Follmuth, author of The Atlas Six (under the penname Olivie Blake), explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty. With an adorable, opposites-attract romance at its center and lines that beg to be read aloud, My Mechanical Romance is swoonworthy perfection.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Holiday House Publishing for a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This was a cute, quick YA read. I finished it in less than a day (mostly in one sitting) because I didn’t really want to put it down. The writing was very contemporary with lots of fun pop culture references, which I enjoyed. I was honestly a bit surprised by how complex the characters and themes were in this book. Through the POVs of the two main characters, it tackled the effects of divorce on children, the hardships faced by girls and people of color in STEM, how others’ expectations can shape who we think we should be, and the negative effects that high-stress academic environments can have on children, among other issues. Both of the main characters kept me engaged with the story, and I liked that the story came from a combination of their two very opposite POVs. However, my favorite character was Dash, the funny, friendly best friend who needs to be protected at all costs. These types of secondary characters are often my favorites, and while reading, I found myself really wanting a book with that type of character as the star. So, if anyone has any recommendations, let me know! Although I enjoyed the depth and personal growth of Bel and Teo and think the messages in this book are important and well-delivered, I couldn’t help but feel like their romance was a little lackluster. It didn’t begin until pretty late in the book, and I didn’t find there to be a ton of nail-biting build up to it either. The relationship felt like it took a back seat as the catalyst to the characters’ personal journeys, which was fine but just wasn’t what I expected from a book with romance in the title. Overall, this was an enjoyable YA novel with powerful themes and an important message about the importance of working hard to make your life what you want it to be regardless of others’ expectations. I enjoyed it quite a bit despite my reservations about the romance element. Therefore, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

ARC Review – If You Change Your Mind

Hello, everyone! Today I am reviewing If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber. This was another ARC that I’ve been looking forward to a lot but just didn’t get to read before the publication date. On the bright side, that means it is out now, and you should go buy it if you are looking for a gay summer romcom!

In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel, an aspiring screenwriter learns sometimes love has its own script.

Harry wants nothing more than to write Hollywood screenplays. He knows the first step toward achieving that goal is winning a screenwriting competition that will seal his admission into the college of his dreams, so he’s determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script. After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway.
 
But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything—not to mention, there’s a new boy in town, Logan, who is so charming and sweet, he’s making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As he tries to keep his emotions in check and stick to his perfect plan for the future, Harry’s about to learn that life doesn’t always follow a script.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This was a wonderful ode to the romcom with delightful summer vibes. In general, the book felt like a relaxing day at the beach. It had its emotional and tense moments, which definitely had me in my feelings, but it was all so easy to read and felt familiar and comfortable. I also just really like books with writing and bookish themes. This book had both with the main character being a writer (of screenplays) and a bookstore employee. I liked the inclusion of Harry’s screenplay and thought it provided an interesting window into his psyche. However, I think it would have worked better if it had been included in fewer, longer interludes and wasn’t after every chapter. It just made the story feel too choppy and got annoying at certain points where I just wanted to read the next part of the main narrative.

Harry was such a great protagonist. He was a bit of a mess, but let’s be honest. Weren’t we all as teenagers? Or if we’re being REALLY honest… aren’t we all still a bit of a mess? Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I definitely found it to be relatable. lol. I think the author did a great job of using the character of Harry to tap into that quintessential teenage (and human) struggle of trying to figure out your path in life. Harry starts out his journey like a bulldozer intent on sticking to his master plan no matter what gets in his way, but he learns an important life lesson: there’s more than one path to reaching one’s dreams, and the path you choose to take can make all the difference. He also learned the significance of being present in one’s life and enjoying the things and people right in front of you.

The love interests and other characters were all great too. Grant had tons of charisma, and Logan was just absolutely adorable. I also really loved Foster and wish the author had played up the character and the relationship between him and Harry a bit more. I liked that Harry had three very different guys who were into him because it kept things from feeling like the run of the mill love triangle. However, Foster got so much less time compared to the other two that it did feel a little like he was the fourth wheel in an otherwise super passionate threesome (Important Note: This story doesn’t have polyamory or threesomes, but I wouldn’t have been mad if it did. lol.). Harry’s relationship with his best friend was also a highlight for me. I loved how close they were, but their relationship also added lots of drama to the story while putting Harry in a tight spot that I definitely didn’t envy. I didn’t agree with his choice, but I can understand why he made it. I just kept waiting for it all to blow up in his face. I do think his friend got over the situation a bit too fast, but it also illustrated how conflict can be resolved through honest, open communication. So, I can live with it.

Overall, this was a fantastic romcom and the perfect summer read. The characters were relatable, and I just really enjoyed seeing Harry grow over the course of the story. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

ARC Review – Eyes of the Void

Book review
Eyes of the Void cover; Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky; Publication Date: May 3, 2022; Print Length: 608 pages; Reads Dates: May 18, 2022 - May 22, 2022

Hello, everyone! I’m excited to finally be reviewing Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I enjoyed the first book in The Final Architecture series. So, I was really looking forward to reading this sequel. I’ve been a bit behind on my ARC reviews, and I was hoping to get to this one earlier. I kept putting it off because I knew it was going to be chonky and super dense (but in a good way). It took almost a whole week of reading, which is a long time to spend on one book for me, but I’ve finally finished it!

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Mid-Month NetGalley Check-In – May 2022

I’ve once again made some serious progress in the last month. I’ve read and reviewed more NetGalley books in the last month than ever before. I’ve been approved for quite a few new books, as well, but I’ve still managed to raise my feedback ratio by a bit. I read and reviewed NINE books, and I’ve been approved for eleven new books in the last month. This is the first month where I’ve been invited by publishers to get their books, which was an awesome feeling. Four of my new books were invitations, and one of them was a granted wish, which I didn’t even know was a legit thing until it happened. You can see where I was last month in my most recent check-in post. My feedback ratio thankfully managed to climb two percent to 70%. I’ve completed 54 ARC reviews out of the total 77 for which I have been approved. I’m hoping to keep my ratio in the 70’s or above from now on, but we’ll see how that goes. I now have 22 books available to review on my shelf, which is a slight increase from where I was this time last month.

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