Furyborn by Claire Legrand

2018 really is the year of great books. Every book I pick up seems to be my new favorite, and Furyborn is no exception.

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Title: Furyborn (The Emporium Trilogy #1) {512 pages}

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: May 22, 2018

Summary:

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

Review:

I think I’ve said this before, but there was a time last year where I was burned out on the same old YA fantasy story. I wanted something new, something fresh, something exciting. I didn’t it know it then, but what I wanted was this story.

Rielle and Eliana are badass. There is no other word for them. Rielle, a close friend of the royal family of Celdaria, must stand by while the love of her life Audric marries their best friend Ludivine. But that doesn’t stop Rielle from saving Audric’s life, and in the process, outing herself as one of the two possible queens of a prophecy. Rielle has to pass a series of tests to prove that she is the Sun Queen, the good queen, and not the Blood Queen, the one that will bring death and destruction. As she goes forward in these tests, she is aided by her friends and a voice which only she can hear, a voice of a creature named Corien, a creature that could be her downfall.

Eliana is a trained assassin who works for her kingdom, all so she can keep her family clothed and fed. She must shut down her heart in order to fulfill her duties, and that makes Eliana, in simple terms, one tough cookie. When her mother is kidnapped – one among many – Eliana sets out to get her back, making a pact with the dangerous Wolf, an elusive figure with his own seedy reputation. Eliana and her younger brother Remy must quickly figure out who to trust and who to fight if they ever want to see their mother again.

I’m going to be honest: the link between the two women is pretty immediately known, although the rest of their backstories is not. I think I figured out who they were within the first couple of chapters, but that didn’t stop me from devouring this book. It’s not about who Eliana is, or her connection to anyone, but the journey these two young women must go on before they can understand themselves. There might also be some sexiness during their journey, and that’s just something that they’re going to have to deal with.

And, oh, boy, do these women deal with it.

Since we’re talking about sexiness for a moment: the honesty in the book is refreshing. Rielle and Eliana have lovers, and the sex scenes are kind of explicit, and as weird as it sounds, it was nice to read. I’ve never been one for the fading out sex scenes, or the ones where it ends with a coy smile and a wink. We know what’s going to happen next, and if the scene gives us more insight in the relationship between the two characters, then go for it. Audric and Rielle are hot, and by the end, I knew I needed more than just a chaste kiss or two between them. Eliana believes she has no heart, but that doesn’t stop her from falling into bed with her hot assassin friend Harkan. She’s honest with what they are about, and neither of them are expecting more.

It’s fresh and new and that’s terribly sad to think about.

These women are fighting for their lives against crazed men who have nothing better to do with their lives than put women through trials and tribulations. Rielle has a legitimate excuse to kill every man around her, and Eliana doesn’t wait for the excuse. I mean, sign me up, right? These two are amazing, and it only makes sense that there’s going to be a hundred books about both of them. Oh? No? Well, I guess I’ll have to live with three.

You have exactly one week to pre-order this and then wait at your mailbox for it to come. Seriously, that’s how good this book is. You honestly won’t even care that you missed school/work/graduation/your own wedding for this book.

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

The weather has gotten ridiculously warm, and I guess this is the part where I make a cute joke about things heating up outside and in my reading realm. But really, warm weather sucks and The Favorite Sister decidedly does not.

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Title: The Favorite Sister {384 pages}

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: May 15, 2018

Summary:

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.

Review:

To say that I didn’t like any of the Goal Diggers wouldn’t be enough. None of them were good people, none of them had any redeemable qualities, and all of them made for good TV.

Because of their lack of likeable personalities, I want to concentrate on the questions this novel raises, mainly about feminism, the morality of lying, and reality television.

The purpose of the show Goal Diggers is to give young businesswomen a platform to establish themselves and their businesses. Ideally, the women work together, support each other, and boost each other up in something like a feminist Shark Tank. Stephanie is the only one to question how feminist Goal Diggers really is, because the show also thrives on putting these women in dramatic situations. They cannot boost each other up in these conditions, Stephanie believes. But this is exactly when we should be supporting each other the most. Brett and Jen are in the same industry – health – and they are at each other’s throats. I understand competition {TRUST ME} but in this world, in this climate, shouldn’t we women be helping each other out? Now, if there are women out there supporting people or an agenda that goes against women {side-eyeing the US Government right now}, then maybe we should band together and figure out what to do.

In a perfect world, right?

Speaking of perfect worlds, let’s jump into lying and morals. Spoiler alert: everyone lies in this book. Some are little white lies, while others could destroy the Goal Digger world. But every character believes she is lying for the god of someone – or something – else. All these lies to is create more problems and drama both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. But it’s not the drama that caught me. It was the ease and normalcy with which they all lied. Our society has become one where we all encounter a lie – or many – on a daily basis. These women lied for many reasons: fame, family, love. But their lies came so easily and frequently that when one finally started telling the truth, she was branded the crazy bitch.

It hit a little too close to home to be funny.

That’s the perfect segue into reality television. Look, I am not immune to the charms of reality TV. I love Cops. But while all that show does is make me want to catch some bad guys, shows that we actually think of when someone says reality TV can be a bit more harmful. Brett, Jen, Lauren, and Stephanie admitted that they became hideous people because they were determined to stay on Goal Diggers. They knew what the audience wanted and they gave it to them. I don’t know when everyone decided that they wanted to be famous, but those people are terrifying. But what happens after you finally get that reality show? What happens when everything of yours is suddenly laid out for the entire world to see?

You better have a great puppet master like the Goal Diggers do.

All of this is to say: I liked this book. Any book that gets me going like this is either really good or really terrible. Thankfully, with The Favorite Sister, it’s the former. This is definitely going to be one of those books that makes you think long and hard after reading the last word, but it’s going to be worth it, I promise. Stick with the horrible people and the situations they put themselves in. You might even discover a few things about yourself along the way.

Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos

Happy May, my lovely book nerds! Are we sick yet of Justin Timberlake telling us it’s going to be May? Maybe I should have ended that question after Timberlake. But today is not about Timberlakes or overused memes! Today is about fat girls and skinny girls and what happens when those girls are the same girl.

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Title: Fat Girl on a Plane {304 pages}

Genre: Young Adult

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Summary:

FAT.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat too fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track.

SKINNY.

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?

Review:

Fat Girl on a Plane is one of those stories that lives hidden deep down in my heart. Every time I get on a plane, every time I’m sure the belt won’t buckle, every time I cross my legs as tightly as I can so I don’t bother the person next to me, this story gallops through my veins like a thousand wild horses. Now, I’m not as big as Cookie, so I don’t understand the daily harassment she goes through, but I get the gist of it. Mostly because, like Cookie, the worst of the worst comes from myself.

But Cookies “turns her life around,” as the saying in celeb magazines goes. She loses weight – the “right way” – and believes that everything is going to be okay. So it comes as a complete surprise to her that skinny people have just as many problems as fat people {shock, I know}. Not only does her best friend not drop his obnoxious and cruel girlfriend, but Cookie is still being ignored by her supermodel mother and stabbed in the back by those people who promised to help her. Cookies has to grow up a little and realize that she can still have everything she wants, even if she’s not a size six. At the risk of sounding like a Disney movie, Cookie could have achieved her dreams all along.

This book felt a little like a Disney movie, except, well, with some sexy scenes involving Cookie and the extremely handsome designer Gareth Miller. Cookie lives in rags most of her life. Well, no, cut that. She lives in Cookie Vonn originals, clothing she has made because, as all of us plus-size girls know, clothing out there for us sometimes really sucks. But Cookie perseveres and does things her own way, and even then she gets shunted aside for skinny, rich Kennes Butterfield. Kennes takes the high school by storm and tries to get Cookie under her thumb.

You can guess how Cookie takes that.

Now skinny, Cookie lives out her dreams and fantasies, believing that now that she can comfortably fit into a plane seat, her entire life will be sunshine and rainbows. But life still sucks sometimes, no matter what size you are. You can either let it consume you, or you can fight back and make your mark.

You can guess what Cookie chooses.

The story is sweet, the message even sweeter, and the ending the sweetest. Cookie is ferocious and strong, and she makes mistakes all over the place, making her even more real. The icing on the cake is Piper, Cookie’s best friend that she met at fat camp. Piper is the president and CEO of “giving no fucks,” and she is truly a sight to behold. I didn’t enjoy Piper’s boyfriend story, but I got why the loser was there. Still, if I could have thrown Brian and Kennes into rushing waters, I would have. In a heartbeat. Does that make me a bad person? No, because they were both terrible people and I’d be doing this world a favor.

Oh, let’s toss Gareth and Tommy in there, too, because Cookie doesn’t need them in her life, either.

This story is all too relevant right now. And this is only one example of the kind of this kind of discrimination. I don’t know when it happened that people started to classify fat people as different. It’s disgusting and wrong, and not only that, but it’s mean. Fat Girl on a Plane reminded me how mean people can be to those who are different from them, and I cried steadily throughout the fat parts of Cookie’s story. So, if you take anything from this, please let it be this: read this book, challenge you way of thinking, and remember to always be kind. That is definitely something that this world could use a little more of.