Hi everyone and welcome back to another Bites From Out Backlist where we share reviews of books whose release dates have already passed us by.
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah RochonThe Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
on June 9, 2020
USA Today bestselling author Farrah Rochon launches a new series about three young women who become friends when the live Tweeting of a disastrous date leads them to discover they've all been duped by the same man.
Samiah Brooks never thought she would be "that" girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she's been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other "girlfriends," London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men, no dating, and no worrying about their relationship status . . .
For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she's always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy, honey-eyed Daniel Collins at work. What are the chances? When it comes to love, there's no such thing as a coincidence. But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?
What I Loved: I have consistently found that contemporary romances are great palette cleansers when I am finding it difficult to focus on any one book — which feels all too common right now. I loved how light, quick and predictable this story was. It was just so comforting and I loved seeing the female freindship and capable heroine at the center of the story. As someone who knows very little about tech I was intrigued by that aspect of the novel as well as the work Daniel was doing. It added an element of suspense to the story that I was not expecting.
What I Didn’t Love: I think my only complaint about the story was that some of the dialogue felt a little forced or contrived and sometimes it pulled me out of the story. However, it’s a minor thing and I still gave this fun rom-com 4.5 stars. It was just so fun and light.
The Court of Miracles by Kester GrantThe Court of Miracles (Court of Miracles, #1) by Kester Grant
Published by Knopf Children's on June 2, 2020
Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris's criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina's life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father's fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger--the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh--Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city's dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice--protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.
What I Loved: This Les Mis retelling– a term I would apply loosely since the story borrowed very little from the source material– was complex and gritty. Alternate histories are a genre that I don’t frequently dip into but I enjoyed it. The main character of Nina was complex. I found the concept of the different courts intriguing. Lester’s writing is gorgeous and lush and those who love in depth descriptions will adore it.
What I Didn’t Love: Despite all the praise, I felt that at times the story was slow and the lush descriptions became a bit wordy. Also, it took some time to get into the story and at times I had no idea where things were going, which frequently made the narrative confusing an convoluted. I do plan to pick up the sequel when it comes out but I will likely be getting it through the library.
Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve TucholkeSeven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke
on April 28, 2020
In this gorgeous standalone companion to the critically acclaimed fantasy, The Boneless Mercies, April Tucholke spins a bold and blood-hungry retelling of the King Arthur legend that is perfect for fans of Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, and Laini Taylor.
On the heels of a devastating plague, Torvi’s sister, Morgunn, is stolen from the family farm by Uther, a flame-loving Fremish wolf-priest who leads a pack of ragged, starving girls. Torvi leaves the only home she’s ever known, and joins a shaven-skulled druid and a band of roaming Elsh artists known as the Butcher Bards. They set out on a quest to rescue Torvi’s sister, and find a mythical sword.
On their travels, Torvi and her companions will encounter magical night wilds and mystical Drakes who trade in young men. They will sing rowdy Elshland ballads in a tree-town tavern, and find a mysterious black tower in an Endless Forest. They will fight alongside famous Vorseland archers and barter with Fremish wizards. They will feast with rogue Jade Fell children in a Skal Mountain cave, and seek the help of a Pig Witch. They will face wild, dangerous magic that leads to love, joy, tragedy, and death.
Torvi set out to rescue a sister, but she may find it’s merely the first step toward a life that is grander and more glorious than anything she could have imagined.
What I Loved: the strong, independent female characters at the center of Tucbolke’s novels are amazing and very reminiscent of other favorite novels like Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrabd and Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner. There is some thing so cozy and warm about the female freindships, even as their band of misfits is splintered by tragedy and opposition.
What I Didn’t Love: My complaints about this book are the same complaints I had about Boneless Mercies, which is funny because in theory I should love these books. On paper, they tick all my boxes: strong female leads, atmospheric, strong sense of place where the setting is very much its own character. But ultimately my struggle with this book deals with the fact that the plot is as meandering and slow as the journey the characters take. It kind of feels like playing an epic open world video game and spending hours going on side quests. It’s fun , but it’s not as interesting as the overall storyline.
Santiago’s Road Home by Alexandra DiazSantiago's Road Home by Alexandra Diaz
on May 5, 2020
S&S/Wiseman has bought a middle grade novel, provisionally titled Santiago, by 2017 Pura Belpré Honor author Alexandra Diaz. The story is about a boy's search for a family and a home as he navigates the perilous border between the U.S. and Mexico. Publication is slated for spring 2020.
What I Loved: Santiago’s experience is a difficult one to read as he struggles to cross and then gets detained by ICE and kept in a “holding facility” in less than ideal conditions. One of the main reasons I read is to empathize with experiences that I have never had and therefore do not have first hand knowledge of. Santiago’s story was so difficult to read but a must read for anyone wanting to understand the LatinX immigration experience.
What I Didn’t Love: Honestly nothing. I think this ownvoices novel is extremely timely and important and speaks to the horrors of what it’s like to cross the Mexico border into the US.
What About You?
Have you read any of these novels? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!