Start Here by Trish Doller

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Start Here by Trish DollerStart Here by Trish Doller
Published by Simon Pulse on August 13, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Two teens go on a life-changing sailing trip as they deal with the grief of losing their best friend in this heartwrenching, hopeful novel from the author of Something Like Normal and In a Perfect World.

Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving them with a twenty-five-foot sailboat, a list of clues leading them to destinations along the way, and a friendship that’s hanging by a thread.

Now, Willa and Taylor have two months and two thousand miles to discover how life works without Finley—and to decide if their own friendship is worth saving.

From acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a poignant tale of forgiveness, grief, and the brilliant discoveries we make within ourselves when we least expect it.

Trish Doller is one of my favorite authors who writes books that don’t necessarily sound like my thing. Emma Mills and Tessa Dare, for example, right books that sound 100% like books written for me. Doller’s tend to sound much more intense and darker, so, while obviously they’ve been interesting enough for me to pick up, it’s always accompanied by a frisson of nerves. Start Here unsurprisingly didn’t sound totally like my thing, but on the knowledge of how good all her prior books were, I downloaded a review copy. As expected, the book focuses less on romance and more on the emotional and physical journey, but it’s also very excellent.

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Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-BrokaAlways Never Yours by Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka
Published by Penguin on May 22, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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Shouldn't a girl get to star in her own love story?

Seventeen-year-old Megan Harper is about due for her next sweeping romance. It's inevitable—each of her relationships starts with the perfect guy and ends with him falling in love . . . with someone else. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Megan focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream college's acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

So when she’s cast as Juliet (yes, that Juliet) in her high school’s production, it’s a complete nightmare. Megan’s not an actress, and she’s used to being upstaged—both in and out of the theater. In fact, with her mom off in Texas and her dad remarried and on to baby #2 with his new wife, Megan worries that, just like her exes, her family is moving on without her.

Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright inspired by Rosaline from Shakespeare's R+J. A character who, like Megan, knows a thing or two about short-lived relationships. Megan agrees to help Owen with his play in exchange for help catching the eye of a sexy stagehand/potential new boyfriend. Yet Megan finds herself growing closer to Owen, and wonders if he could be the Romeo she never expected.

In their fresh and funny debut, Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka break down the high school drama to find there's always room for familial love, romantic love, and—most importantly—self-love.

Dahlia told me to read this one even before it came out, but I didn’t have a review copy, so it just didn’t happen until now. I may not be the most timely in reading recommendations, but it’s not that I’m ignoring them! The covers for their next couple books were also strong inducements; this one looked a bit less fluffy, especially paired with the title. Friends, I am happy to report that this book is, in fact, quite fluffy and with points of delicious depth of literary analysis.

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Innkeeper Chronicles, Books 1-4 by Ilona Andrews

Innkeeper Chronicles, Books 1-4 by Ilona AndrewsClean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #1
Published by NYLA on December 2, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Adventure
Pages: 225
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night....Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

I’ve been trying to work my way through Ilona Andrews’ backlist, and I picked this one up after finally giving in and DNFing the final The Edge novel. Let’s say I went in with somewhat lowered expectations, and I was so freaking happy to find that the humor and fantastic narrative voice I find so intrinsic to Ilona Andrews is present here.

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Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffAurora Rising by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Aurora Cycle #1
Published by Knopf BFYR on May 7, 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Adventure
Pages: 473
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They're not the heroes we deserve. They're just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

Aurora Rising is excellent fun, and a good start to a new series by dream team Kristoff and Kaufman. If you liked The Illuminae Files, you definitely want to be reading this series as well, which has the same quality of writing, humor, plotting, and world building as the prior series. That said, it’s not quiiiiiite as good as Illuminae, but it’s pretty great and I have high hopes for the following books in the series.

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Only Ashes Remain by Rebecca Schaeffer

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Only Ashes Remain by Rebecca SchaefferOnly Ashes Remain by Rebecca Schaeffer
Series: Market of Monsters #2
Published by HMH BFYR on September 3, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Dexter meets Victoria Schwab in this dark and compelling fantasy about a girl who seeks revenge on the boy who betrayed her, a sequel to the critically-acclaimed Not Even Bones.

After escaping her kidnappers and destroying the black market where she was held captive, all Nita wants is to find a way to live her life without looking over her shoulder. But with a video of her ability to self-heal all over the dark web, Nita knows she's still a prime target on the black market. There's only one way to keep herself safe. Nita must make herself so feared that no one would ever dare come after her again. And the best way to start building her reputation? Take her revenge on Fabricio, the boy who sold Nita to her kidnappers. But killing Fabricio is harder than Nita thought it would be, even with Kovit by her side. Now caught in a game of kill or be killed, Nita will do whatever it takes to win.

Not Even Bones was a surprise hit with me last year, gruesome and disgusting and 100% unputdownable. Much as I enjoyed it, I wasn’t sure how the sequel would hold up or even if I’d still enjoy it on reread. Answer: yes, I would enjoy it again on reread, because I very much did. Only Ashes Remain delivers exactly what was needed from a sequel to Not Even Bones. The stakes are higher, the morality is blacker, and the pacing is still fast as hell.

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