Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerick


When she was a child, Joey Kinkaid, assigned as a boy at birth—wearing Mom’s purple sundress and an imaginary crown—ruled the Baker Street neighborhood with a flair and imagination that kept the other kids captivated. Day after day, she led them on fantastic after-school adventures, but those innocent childhood days are over, and the magic is gone. The princess is alone.

Even Eric Sinclair, the Prince Eric to Joey’s Princess Ariel, has turned his back on his former friend, watching in silence as Joey is tormented at school. Eric isn’t proud of it, but their enchanted youth is over, and they’ve been thrust into a dog-eat-dog world where those who conform survive and those who don’t… well, they don’t. Eric has enough to deal with at home, where his mother has abandoned him to live in isolation and poverty.

But Eric can’t stay on the sidelines forever. When Joey finally accepts her female gender and comes to school wearing lip gloss, leggings, and a silky pink scarf, the bullies readily take the opportunity she hands them, driving Joey to attempt suicide and leaving Eric at a crossroads—one that will influence both their lives in not just the present, but the future.

Is there a chance the two teens can be friends again, and maybe even more?

Add to Goodreads –



Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Harmony Ink



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Sarah☆☆☆☆
This is the story of two childhood best friends whose relationship is nearly destroyed by social pressures in middle school. While Eric is determined to make himself as invisible at school, Joey finds it impossible to keep pretending to be a boy.

This story is told from Eric’s perspective and I kinda love that he isn’t a hero – he’s just a kid trying to survive middle school without drawing attention to himself or his increasingly scary home life. Eric makes some awful decisions and keeps some pretty huge secrets. Joey is both stronger and more vulnerable than Eric. Joey refuses to compromise herself but the reactions of her father and the kids at school soon destroy her self-esteem. And while Joey suffers emotionally, Eric starts to suffer physically as he attempts to manage on his own without food, electricity, or heat.

The one aspect of this story that doesn’t ring true for me is Eric’s mum’s transition from absent parent to supermom. As an experienced foster carer, I’ve never yet seen anything like the miraculous turnaround Eric’s mum makes in a relatively short period of time. I worry that this storyline could give kids like Eric unreasonable hopes and expectations.

Mia Kerick always makes me cry. Her writing is beautiful, and I love the way she makes Eric’s voice feel authentic in this story. I think the author captures Joey’s sense of identity well, but her experience is pretty brutal. At the moment, I’m caring for a child the same age as Eric and Joey and I know from their stories that not every trans child has experiences as difficult as Joey’s.

As an English teacher, I think this story is useful for kids who are learning lessons about acceptance and inclusion. I like the way the book explores friendships, peer pressure, and loyalty. However, I do worry that Joey’s story could cause unnecessary fear and anxiety for kids who are already struggling with gender and identity. I do like the sense of hope that infuses the end of the story and I really enjoy the resilience we see in both Eric and Joey.



Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children, a political Progressive, and a writer of multiple award winning YA LGBTQ fiction that focuses on emotional growth in complicated relationships.

Her books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine, have won a 2015 Best YA Lesbian Rainbow Award, a 2017 Best Transgender Contemporary Romance Rainbow Award, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, a YA Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural.

Connect with Mia

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


https://www.harmonyinkpress.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Princess of Baker Street by Mia Kerick to read and review.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Spartan Promise by Jennifer Estep


Hunting for the bad guys has never been so dangerous...

My name is Rory Forseti, and I attend the Colorado branch of Mythos Academy, a school of warrior kids, powerful artifacts, and mythological monsters.

I’m a student, a fierce Spartan warrior, and a member of Team Midgard, a group of kids and adults tasked with stopping the evil Reapers of Chaos. There is one Reaper I’m determined to hunt down above all others: Covington, the man who murdered my parents.

So when the Midgard gets a tip that Covington is going to try to steal a dangerous artifact, I’m ready to fight. But the situation is far more complicated than it seems, and the Reapers aren’t my only enemies.

I’ll have to use all my Spartan strength and skills to survive this. And even then, it might be my blood that gets spilled...

Add to Goodreads –


Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Sarah☆☆☆☆☆
It is impossible for me not to love a heroine who can look the guy she fancies in the eye and tell him she’ll rescue herself. Rory is pretty special. Adult urban fantasy has had a few heroines who rescue themselves, but there is something special about this teenage warrior who doesn’t feel the need to prove herself to anyone. Rory is her team’s most skilled warrior and she expects to be respected for her abilities. Rory’s clever, she’s brave, and the feminist in me wants a set of these books in every school library.

I’m revealing my age when I compare Rory to Buffy, but this second book gave me a few flashbacks. Apart from the Mythology twist, the framework for these stories is quite similar. And I swear I saw the episode where the characters follow underground chambers up to a graveyard… I have to say that I’m actually finding Rory a more interesting character than Buffy and her innate confidence is a better fit for the post #metoo generation.

The writing is stronger in this second book than it was in the first. As the characters develop and the world building gets more complicated, this series is turning into something memorable. I’m really enjoying the mythology aspect of the book and the references to so many ancient cultures and theologies. The concept retains the action and power dynamics I love in Urban Fantasy while providing a welcome break from vampires and werewolves. The plot feels tighter in this second book and I like the way the wider story is starting to unravel. I’m very excited for the next book in the series!


Erica☆☆☆☆
Spartan Promise is the second installment in the Mythos Academy: Colorado series, a sister series to Mythos Academy. First, I suggest reading the main series first. Second, I strongly suggest reading this series in order, as everything ties together in a continuous plot.

After slightly struggling with Spartan Heart – simply because it was no longer a good fit for me like it was nearly a decade ago, reading-wise – I was apprehensive to begin Spartan Promise. I told myself I'd read a little bit and put it down if the book wasn't doing anything for me, reading a little at a time. I sat down with my Kindle and didn't come up for air until I was finished.

Beyond fast-paced, the pages flew by as I immersed myself in the young adult fantasy world Estep has created. Rory is a member of the Migard team, an offshoot of the Protectorate, battling the insurgence of Reapers in Mythos Academy, stealing artifacts to advance their cause.

Set in the backdrop of a school academy catering to those blessed by the gods, be it Spartans, Valkyries, or Vikings, Rory battles beasties, delves through the angst of unrequited crushes, connects deeper with true friends, and wages war against the very man who murdered her parents.

A true page-turner, the novel was exciting, highly descriptive, with deeper world-building than its predecessor.

Definitely recommend to fans of Jennifer Estep, readers of Young Adult Fantasy, and those young at heart who want a little dose of first crushes while saving the world from impending doom and gloom.

Young Adult age-range: 13+. Be warned of fantasy violence.


Also Available in the Mythos Academy: Colorado Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Spartan Heart post.




JENNIFER ESTEP is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

She is the author of the following series:
The Elemental Assassin Series
The Crown of Shards Series
The Mythos Academy Spinoff Series
The Mythos Academy Series
The Bigtime Series
The Black Blade Series


Connect with Jennifer

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


Sarah and Erica reviewed their personal copy of Spartan Promise (Mythos Academy: Colorado #2) by Jennifer Estep for this post.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Spartan Heart by Jennifer Estep


New school year, same old problems...

At Mythos Academy, everyone knows exactly who I am: Rory Forseti, Spartan girl and the daughter of Reapers.

Even though I fought alongside my cousin Gwen Frost to save the mythological world from Loki and his evil Reapers of Chaos, I’m still the most hated girl at the academy because of all the horrible things my parents did. I had hoped that this school year would be different, but the other kids just won’t let me forget about my parents.

But something strange is going on at the Colorado academy. First, I run into a Viking guy who dislikes me more than most. Then I notice some odd artifacts in the Library of Antiquities. And worst of all, I start hearing rumors about a new group of Reapers who can summon mythological monsters.

I might be the most hated girl at Mythos Academy, but I’m also the only one who can save it...

Add to Goodreads –


Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Sarah☆☆☆☆
The mythological warriors in the Mythos Academy stories offer a welcome reprieve from the myriad of Urban Fantasy vampire and werewolf stories. A spinoff from the original Mythos Academy books, Gwen’s cousin Rory begins this first Colorado book as a grieving social outcast before finding her place and growing into her potential.

I have to admit that Rory grew on me. She’s a little bit wet and a little bit maudlin at the start of the book. Self-pity doesn’t look good on anyone and Rory is wallowing at the beginning of her story. But as Rory’s confidence grows, she quickly becomes more interesting and more likeable. I like the team around Rory and I look forward to watching the characters and relationships grow as the series progresses.

This is good young adult urban fantasy writing. The genre tropes are pretty familiar and there isn’t anything particularly remarkable about the story, but it is well written. I love Jennifer Estep’s adult writing and while this lacks the complexity of her mind blowing Kill the Queen, this is still decent quality young adult storytelling with a strong female lead.

My one issue with this book is with Rory’s Aunt Rachel. At the start of the story, Rachel is 27 and Rory’s new caregiver. She’s described as more of a big sister than a parent. Which makes sense considering the ten-year age gap. However, through the rest of the book she comes across as a maternal matron who chaperones school dances and prepares healthy balanced meals. It doesn’t work for me. Aunt Rachel is supposed to be younger than Taylor Swift. She’s the same age as Selina Gomez. The domestic maternal thing really, really doesn’t work.


Erica☆☆☆☆
Spartan Heart is the first in the Mythos Academy: Colorado series. However, it is a spinoff of the Mythos Academy series. While it's possible to read as new, I do believe that it would cause massive confusion, as events that happened in the previous series were mentioned almost on every page.

I would not call this the debut in a brand-new series, as a new series to me means the reader can just pick it up, with no backstory ever told elsewhere. This is a continuation, set in another campus of the Mythos Academy. I suggest reading from Touch of Frost onward.

Having read Touch of Frost almost eight years ago, I was rusty on what had happened, but Estep does a good job on jarring memories without doing too much info-dumpage. Gwen's cousin is the narrator, Rory, who lost her parents, discovering they were Reapers.

Rory is carrying a ton of guilt, even if she helped the good side win a battle in the never-ending war against the Reapers in the previous series. She has to face her peers on the first day of school, when no one trusts her. Not only has she lost her parents, her faith in her abilities to accurately judge a person's character, but she has no one on the planet on her side, worrying about her welfare, except for her aunt.

Spartan Heart was nothing but endless fast-paced action, from page to page, with a bit of everyday life thrown in, but mostly it gave a rundown on what happened in the previous series and how it connected into the current situation.

Reapers are stealing artifacts, and Rory gets caught up in the action.

Rory has a reluctant love interest, where I am beyond thankful there isn't even a hint of insta-love. However, the enemy’s banter was a bit forced, as it also felt irrational. If anything, Ian would have seen Rory as a kindred spirit, not hated her on sight. So the romance angle simply felt forced to me.

While I do believe young adults will find the novel beyond exciting, I will admit that I believe I'm not the target audience anymore. Had I read this almost a decade ago, when I first read Touch of Frost, I would have been captivated, but today I'm a different sort of reader. This doesn't invalidate the novel, just that it wasn't exactly my cup of tea anymore.

There was a bit too much going on at all times for me to truly relax and fall into the story. Like Rory didn't even get to catch her breath before she was being attacked by more mythological beasties. One battle would be over, yet another would start three pages later, in an endless loop, feeling redundant after several battles. As this was book one, I knew Rory would come out on the surviving end, so that took away from some of the heart-stopping action.

Recommended to fans of the author. New readers, I strongly suggest against reading this without reading the original series first.

Young Adult Age-range: 13+, parental discretion as there is nonstop fantasy violence.




JENNIFER ESTEP is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

She is the author of the following series:
The Elemental Assassin Series
The Crown of Shards Series
The Mythos Academy Spinoff Series
The Mythos Academy Series
The Bigtime Series
The Black Blade Series


Connect with Jennifer

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


Brought to you by


Sarah and Erica reviewed their personal copy of Spartan Heart (Mythos Academy: Colorado #1) by Jennifer Estep for this post.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards


Mallory didn't want to leave home, but it wasn't safe to stay. So she sleeps at her best friend's house and spends the rest of her time at the library, doing her online schoolwork and figuring out what comes next. Because she's not going live in fear like her mother.

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it's community service for a stunt he pulled, but he likes the work. And it's the perfect escape from his parents' pressure to excel at school, at ice hockey, at everything. Especially after he meets Mallory.

Then there is a tragic death at the library. Suddenly, what was once a sanctuary turns sinister. Ghostly footprints, strange scratching sounds, scrawled messages on bulletin boards and walls... Mallory and Spencer don't know who or what is responsible, but one thing is for sure:

They are not as alone—or as safe—as they thought.

Add to Goodreads –



Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica☆☆☆
3.5 Stars from the adult reading young adult. I do believe younger readers would enjoy this more.

Natalie D. Richards is a new-to-me author.

What You Hide hooked me from the start, especially watching Mallory try to convince her pregnant mother to leave her abusive husband. I empathized with Mallory, her story resonating in me, as she struggled with the injustice and her need to protect her mother, as her mother became a passive passenger to not only her own abuse but that of her daughter. Nothing but pure gaslighting, and it was as frustrating to read as it was realistic.

Mallory's mother is pregnant, believing she's making the right choice by staying with her husband, thinking she is also in a position with little choices. But as a mother, she is taking both Mallory and her unborn child with her on these decisions, proving adults and teens alike are not infallible. While I could sympathize in a been there done that manner, I was frustrated to read how easily she let her daughter go, believing the lies her husband was spinning. With Mallory so adamant, Mom should have taken stock in her protests a lot more.

A strong role model, determined and focused, Mallory runs away from home to stay with her friend, has to quit school because her stepfather works for the school district. Attempting to get her diploma with an online school, Mallory uses the library computer bank to study and connect with her classes.

Spencer is indulged by his affluent parents, lashing out by doing outlandish things because he feels pressured into making a decision on which college to attend. While I found the guy likable, he wasn't very relatable, outside of pressures to perform. He has whatever he wants and is treated with respect and unconditional love, so the juxtaposition to Mallory's life is jarring.

Using Parkour to scale the library, Spencer slips and takes out a window instead. His punishment is working in the library to pay off the costs of the window, which is where Spencer and Mallory cross paths.

There's something creepy happening in the library, told from both the perspectives of Mallory and Spencer. They become sidekicks and love interests while they solve the mystery together. Excuse my vagueness, as I don't want to create spoilers when it comes to the mystery aspects.

While I enjoyed Mallory, her characterization and backstory, I wished the entire novel was surrounded by her plight. I found the mystery lacking, not really sparking any interest in me. It did and didn't actually all fit together. It wasn't the driving-force for me, which is why I said at the beginning of my review how I felt this is a novel where an actual young adult would appreciate it more than those young at heart.

While the foundation of the plot is a good one to build from, I'm not sure the execution had it living up to its potential.

Young adult age-range: 14+ featuring violence and abuse.


Avid Reader☆☆☆
M/F Mystery
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

This is mostly a story about Mallory and Spencer's friendship.

Spencer has lived a life of privilege. His parents are pressuring him to choose a path to college, but Spencer feels a little like he's drowning. When he makes a questionable decision and ends up doing some property damage, he is required to volunteer at the library. It's there he meets Mallory.

Mallory is struggling at home. Her mom is pregnant but is with a man who is more than just a little controlling. He's scary and mean, abusive and threatening. While Mallory tries to get her mom to leave him, Mallory knows that no matter what, she needs to save herself.

The friendship that develops between Spencer and Mallory helps both of them figure out where they are going. They lean on each other and become each other's confidants. However, there is a strange mystery within the library and when someone ends up dead in the library, speculation runs wild.

While I enjoyed this story, it felt pieced together. There was the mystery that was underdeveloped, the friendship, which I would have liked to see more of, and the home life of Mallory, which I thought was the strongest part of the story and wished it had been more developed. I wanted more of Mallory's story. I thought that it felt very unfinished. Also, I wanted more from the ending. That, too, felt rushed and unfinished.



After years as a professional paper-pusher, Natalie D. Richards decided to trade in reality for a life writing YA fiction. She lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously furry dog named Yeti.

Connect with Natalie

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


https://www.firereads.com/


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards to read and review.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Audio Assault by Jeff Adams


For teenage secret agent Theo Reese, summer break isn’t a time to relax. In addition to his duties for Tactical Operational Support, Theo’s got a school project and, more than anything, wants to spend time with his boyfriend, Eddie.

A family trip to New York City is the last thing Theo needs.

But a friend of Theo’s father is in need of the Reese family’s special skills. Oliver Glenwood heads a music empire, and his daughter, Sofia, is a rising pop star—one who’d drawn the attention of kidnappers.

During the investigation, Theo discovers the threat poses more danger than originally suspected. Someone has planted code in Glenwood Music’s songs that can steal information from any personal device—or play a tone that can rouse uncontrollable rage. The consequences will be disastrous if the infected songs are downloaded by the public. Preventing worldwide catastrophe becomes even more difficult when Eddie arrives in the city, hoping to spend some quality time with Theo.

No one ever said being a covert agent would be easy.

Add to Goodreads –


Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  Google Play  ~  Kobo
Harmony Ink



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆☆
M/M Thriller, Mystery
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Theo is at it again. Only this time, he follows his parents on a mission that changes their lives forever.

While his parents are normally okay with Theo having more autonomy than most high schoolers, when his dad's old friend calls with security concerns, Theo is told, kind of asked, to help his parents out.

This is more of a tale of the who done it than the others, I thought. It was filled with twists and turns that had me on the edge of my seat. I loved how Theo and his family, along with the other operatives, were racing against the clock.

Without giving too much away, everyone's lives will change in this story and I can't wait to see where the next book takes us. There are unanswered questions and unanswered paths that need to be discovered! I am so excited for what's to come!


Also Available in the Codename: Winger Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Harmony Ink

For reviews & more info, check out our Tracker Hacker post.


Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Harmony Ink

For reviews & more info, check out our Schooled post.



JEFF ADAMS has written stories since he was in middle school and became a gay romance writer in 2009 when his first short stories were published. Since then he’s written several shorts and novels and he plans to keep writing as long as wonderful readers keeping picking up his books.

Jeff lives in rural northern California with his husband of twenty years, Will. Some of his favorite things include the musicals Rent and [title of show], the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey teams, and the reality TV competition So You Think You Can Dance. If forced to pick his favorite book, it would be a tie between Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and David Levithan’s Every Day.

Jeff is the co-host of Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast, a weekly show devoted to m/m romance as well as pop culture. New episodes come out every Monday at biggayfictionpodcast.com.

Connect with Jeff

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


https://www.harmonyinkpress.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Audio Assault (Codename: Winger #3) by Jeff Adams to read and review.