Book Review: A Good Kind Of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

Book: A Good Kind Of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

Published March 2019 by Balzer + Bray|368 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

From debut author Lisa Moore Ramée comes this funny and big-hearted debut middle grade novel about friendship, family, and standing up for what’s right, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and the novels of Renée Watson and Jason Reynolds.

Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she’d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)

But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Wait, what?

Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn’t think that’s for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.

Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn’t face her fear, she’ll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.

I really liked A Good Kind Of Trouble!  There’s a lot of heart in this book, and if you like The Hate U Give or All-American Boys, you’d really like this one.

I really liked Shay, and how scared she was to do the wrong thing but also scared to do the right thing.  It was interesting to me that her hands felt really itchy, whenever she had to face her fears, and I wish it were explored a little more.  It wasn’t, of course.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s middle grade, and there just wasn’t the time to explore it more.  But there were so many other things going on that I didn’t mind it wasn’t explored in depth.

I liked seeing Shay navigate middle school and changing friendships and being a part of the track team.  There are a lot of changes in her life, and she really does open up to new things and new people.  I loved how her parents encouraged her to use her voice instead of ignoring it, even when it would have been easier for them to do the opposite of what they did.  She has a great family, and I wished we saw more of them.

I really came around to Bernard, and he ended up being a great character.  He wasn’t what I thought at all, and I’m glad Shay gave him a chance, and saw he wasn’t as bad as she thought he was.

I wasn’t a big fan of her friend Julia, but I am glad that they worked things out.  Julia did want to fit in, and I can see how she got caught up in that.  I really liked Isabella as well, and she’s so sweet and thoughtful.  All three girls really seem to balance each other out.

A Good Kind Of Trouble is a great middle grade book!  It has some of the issues we see on the news and in YA, so it’s great to have a middle grade book that’s about social justice and standing up for what you believe in.  It’s worth reading!

4 stars.  I really liked A Good Kind Of Trouble, and it’s perfect for fans of Angie Thomas and Jason Reynolds.

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Book Review: Game Of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta

Book: Game Of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta

Published February 2019 by Scholastic Press|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Kiranmala And The Kingdom Beyond #2

Genre: Middle Grade Re-Telling/Fantasy

When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it’s been four months since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a reality show is taking over, and her friends are in danger.

However, things are a lot less clear than the last time she was in the Kingdom Beyond. Kiran must once again battle witches, solve riddles, and avoid her evil Serpent King father – all while figuring out who are her true friends, and what it really means to be a demon.

Games Of Stars is a really cool book!  I really liked the first one, and knew I had to pick up this one.

It didn’t feel like a middle book at all, and I loved seeing Kiran save her friends and deal with her Serpent King father and a reality t.v. show.  There’s a lot of fun adventures in this book, and I’m glad that continued from the first book.  She really wants to do the right thing, and she’s really determined.  Kiran is a great character, and I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for her in the next book.

I really liked the world and what we see in this book really adds to the world we were introduced to in the first book.  We see more creatures and myths, and I loved the author’s note at the end where DasGupta talks about her inspiration for the book.

Things are not black and white, and we definitely see Kiran learn that in this book.  While she trusts a few rakkosh, she’s not trusting of all them, but we see that change over the course of the book.  I don’t blame Kiran at all for how she reacts to some of the things in the book, but we see a lot of growth and change in her.  She really does give everyone a chance by the end of the book, and that was nice to see, because sometimes, it seems like books don’t always do that.

It’s action-packed and a fast read, and it went by so fast.  But I didn’t mind at all, because I had such a great time reading it.

4 stars.  I really liked the world and the characters, and it really added to the series.  It’s fun and full of adventure.

Book Review: The Fever King by Victoria Lee

Book Review: The Fever King by Victoria Lee

Published March 2019 by Skyscape|375 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Feverwake #1

Genre: YA Sci Fi/Dystopia

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

The Fever King is an interesting one!  I’m really glad I read it, and I ended up really liking it!

The setting was really interesting.  It’s a futuristic America that’s been torn apart by a magical virus, and there’s elements of fantasy and sci-fi.  It seems like there’s a lot to explore in Noam’s world, especially since America isn’t the America we know.  At least in terms of geography.  In terms of refuges and immigrants, the world Noam lives in is all too familiar, and very, very real.

I really liked Noam, and he’s such a different character than Dara.  To a certain extent, he’s more trusting of others than Dara.  That surprised me, considering how Noam grew up, but I also don’t blame him.  I feel like I might have done the same thing if I were him.  I do get his decision to stay behind, though.  I mean, no one would ever suspect him, and he definitely seems like the sort of guy who is underestimated.  I can’t wait to read the next book to see how things turn out for him.

I’m not sure how I feel about Dara.  I did feel for him, and it sounds like things weren’t easy for him.  I do get why he acted the way he did, and I did like him a little more by the end of the book than I did when we first met him.

I don’t have anything else to say about The Fever King.  The world is pretty interesting, and I’d love to see more of it.  I really liked how magic was used in this book and I feel like there’s more to it than what we see.  Especially with how everything came about.  I’d love more backstory on that, but I don’t have a lot of hope we’ll see it.  Either way, I hope we get at least a little more with the magic.

4 stars.  I really liked The Fever King, but I didn’t love it.

Book Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed

Book: Internment by Samira Ahmed

Published March 2019 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|387 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.

With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.

I absolutely loved this book.  It was heart-breaking and terrifying but I loved Layla’s story.  I don’t do this often, but if there’s one book you’re going to pick up this year, make sure this is one of them.

Layla’s story was terrifying because it felt so real.  I can see this happening, and Ahmed really drew from real-life/current events with this book.  Throughout the whole book, it was clear that Ahmed was drawing on everything leading up to the election and everything that happened after.

I did like the author’s note at the end of the book, and how she gave some additional resources to check out about the Japanese interment camps.  It gave a lot of insight on what inspired the book and it really added to the book.

I really loved Layla, and though she was really trusting at times, I understood it.  I didn’t always agree with it, but I did understand it.  She was determined to fight for what was right, and she wasn’t willing to stand by and let things happen to her friends and family, even if that would have the easier path.  So many other people in her camp were willing to go along with everything but she wasn’t.  Even when things went very, very wrong, it felt like she became more determined to make things right.

It went by really fast, and it felt like it happened over a really short period of time.  I’m curious about the time period, and if it happened over a few weeks or few months.  Especially in the internment camp.  The book seemed a lot shorter than it really was, and while it wasn’t really in-depth, you got a clear picture of what was going on.  It did skim the surface at times, which is the only thing I didn’t particularly care for.  But it also wasn’t enough to get me to dislike the book, or warrant a lower rating.

5 stars.  I loved Internment, and though it was heart-breaking and all too real, it’s also worth reading.

ARC Book Review: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Book: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Expected Publication Is May 7, 2019 by Farrar, Straus, And Giroux|Expected Number Of Pages: 320 pages

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

I really liked Somewhere Only We Know!  I swear, Goo writes the cutest books, and this one was no exception.

I will say, it took me a while to get into it.  Jack and Lucky both narrate, and I think that’s why I had a hard time with the book at first.  It was hard to get into each character, but as the book went on, I got more settled into things, and I ended up really enjoyed the story.

It happens over a pretty short period of time, and it’s quite the adventure for both Jack and Lucky.  There really isn’t a lot of romance- it’s more hinted at than anything else, and while father-daughter relationships are pretty important in her other books, it’s not something we see in this book.  It has the same feel as her other books but it doesn’t have some of the same elements I’ve seen from her.  Still, it was really fun and really cute, and I really liked seeing them explore Hong Kong together.

The Sun Is Also A Star is a pretty good read-alike for this one, in the sense that it’s the one-day romance where they’ll never see each other again…or find each other years later as adults.  Even though we get an epilogue, and see what happens after the events of the book, part of me wonders how things worked for both Lucky and Jack.  Romantically, of course, but also in their personal lives.

As for Jack and Lucky, I really liked Lucky but I was not a fan of Jack.  I think having his perspective really hurt, because we see and know things Lucky does not.  It made it really hard to like him and even though we see him change, it was really hard to get behind it knowing what we, as readers, know.

4 stars.  I really liked it, and it’s a cute book.  I wasn’t a fan of Jack, but I really liked Lucky.  I also wish I had more to say about this book, but I don’t.  It’s definitely worth reading, especially if you like K-Pop.

Book Review: Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Book: Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

Published January 2019 by Balzer + Bray|454 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Circle Of Shadows #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

A thrilling new fantasy series full of magic and betrayal—from Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of the Crown’s Game series.

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.

I was excited about Circle Of Shadows, but it ended up being okay for me.  I wish I liked it more, because it’s a really cool idea, and I really liked The Crown’s Game.

I’m really torn about the world- on the one hand, the world and history is really cool.  But at the same time, I felt like everything was just there, and wasn’t really explained.  The gemina part of the story made no sense, and wasn’t explained.  Were they supposed to be working together or were they supposed to have something a little more romantic?  It was really weird, and I wasn’t sure why everyone was paired off.

There were a lot of little details that could have added to the book.  There were a lot of descriptions I could have done without, and I definitely felt like we didn’t get the details we should have had.  It definitely didn’t have the same appeal as her previous series (though I definitely enjoyed the first one a lot more than it’s sequel).  It just didn’t have the same level of detail or world-building as her other series, and I felt like we were missing out.  To me, it felt like a step backward in terms of the world.

It’s too bad, because I liked the story.  There’s a lot of potential, and I’m sad this book wasn’t for me.  I just had too many questions about the world.  The history of Sora’s world seemed pretty interesting, and there were a few moments in the book where I couldn’t stop reading.  Those were few and far between, and for the most part, I was bored.  There was one moment at the end that was really hard to read, and even though I had the feeling it was coming, it was a little more gruesome than I expected.  If I could have read it peeking through my fingers, I probably would have.

The characters were okay, and no one really stood out to me.  The names stood out, but I think because they were not names I was expecting.  While I’m fine with taking on a new name once you become an apprentice, I also thought the names Skye went with were a little odd.  Fairy and Broomstick?  Spirit and Wolf?  The names seemed like a place-holder or a childhood nickname as opposed to a name bestowed on a magical apprentice.  But that’s just me.

It started off really well, and the interesting, while predictable, was also interesting.  It meandered a lot in the middle, and I got pretty bored.  I probably would have been a lot more interested in the ending if I hadn’t lost interest in the middle.

2 stars.  While I didn’t actively dislike this book, it was still okay.  I wanted different details than the one we got, and I had a hard time getting through it.

Book Review: Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz

Book: Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz

Published October 2018 by Starscape Books|288 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

An uplifting middle-grade debut about perseverance against all odds, Marie Miranda Cruz’s debut Everlasting Nora follows the story of a young girl living in the real-life shanty town inside the Philippines’ North Manila Cemetery.

After a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila’s North Cemetery, which is the largest shanty town of its kind in the Philippines today.

When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone.

With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places.

I liked Everlasting Nora!  I really felt for Nora, and she has a lot to deal with.  There’s something very hopeful about this book, and I definitely finished the book feeling like everything was going to work out for Nora and her mom.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a shany town set up in a cemetery.  Even though everyone seems to be living where they have family members buried, I wonder if that’s the case for everyone, and how it works if it’s not a family member and their family comes to visit?

We do see in one or two scenes where they have to move so that they’re not seen at a funeral service.  Granted, it was at a different cemetery than the one Nora lives at but it still highlighted things that Nora possibly had to deal with.  That was an interesting detail, and it made the book seem more real somehow.

She has to rely on others when her mom disappears in order to pay off her gambling debts.  Nora has to help out too, and I felt so sad that she had to leave school when her father died, and they ran out of the money they had after his death.

We see the difference between having money and having nothing and needing to help out by working in order to survive.  It’s not a new concept for middle grade or YA, but I liked the setting of living in a graveyard.  It showed that life is different in other countries, and that everyone is going through something.

I’m glad things got better for Nora, and I hope things continue to work out for Nora and her mom.

3 stars.  I wish I had more to say about Everlasting Nora, but it don’t.  It’s pretty hopeful, and I definitely recommend it.

Book Review: The Love And Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Book: The Love And Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Published January 2019 by Scholastic Press|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life? 

I really liked The Love And Lies Of Rukhsana Ali!  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I really liked Rukhsana’s story, and how supportive some of her family and friends were.

Her parents weren’t the most supportive, at least initially, and I think it’s important to note that not of all her family thinks the way they do.  They do come around, though I was sad it took a really big event for them to see things differently.  I felt so much for Rukhsana, and everything she went through.  I hated what her parents did- I know they thought they were helping, and they were definitely more worried about what other people thought.  And even though I am not a fan of what brought them around, it was a wake-up call that they could have lost Rukhsana.

Her friends and her girlfriend were pretty frustrating at times.  They didn’t seem to get how hard it would be for Rukhsana to come out to her parents, and what would happen if they did.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have supportive, caring parents, and it seemed like her friends brushed off what she was telling them.  I don”t think they realized the gravity of what would happen when she came out, and we definitely see what happens when her mom finds out.

I really loved her grandma, her brother, and her cousin.  She had a couple of other people who were really supportive, and it was obvious they cared about her, and what happened to her.  She had some great people in her corner, and she’s lucky to have them in her life.  They definitely encouraged her to hear her parents out after what happened, and I get why she wasn’t willing to talk to them at first.  She did change her mind, but it also seems like they have a long way to go before things are completely better between them.

4 stars.  I really liked this book, and it was a great read.  Her parents were really frustrating at times, and though I don’t agree with how they handled things, they did start to come around.

Book Review: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Book: Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

Published January 2019 by Rick Riordan Presents|312 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Sci-Fi/Re-Telling

To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.

Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams. 

I liked Dragon Pearl!  Not as much as I wanted to, but I still liked it!

What I liked most is that it’s a sci-fi re-telling of Korean mythology and folklore.  I love re-tellings but they tend to be fantasy or contemporary, and it’s pretty rare that they’re sci-fi so that made this book stand out.  Min travels all over space, and there are pirates and ghosts involved, and you can’t go wrong with pirates or ghosts.  It’s too bad there are no pirate ghosts, but that is definitely not this story.

I liked Min, and how she wanted to follow in her brother’s footsteps and be a part of the Space Forces.  That definitely changes over the course of the book, and I liked seeing her work her way out of some of the sticky situations she finds herself in.  I was most intrigued by the fox-magic, and how people saw it as a bad thing.  I guess it had to be someone, but I liked seeing her rely on her magic more and more to find out what happened to her brother.

I was surprised by what really happened, and it just goes to show you can’t always place your trust in the people.  She meets a lot of people along the way, and things are never what they seem.

There were times (especially at the beginning), where things seem to drag.  It does take time for Min to get into space, but she has a lot of adventures along the way, and even though I didn’t love it, I can see why so many people do.  I had a hard time getting into it, but I still enjoyed the characters and the world.  Especially everything involving the Dragon Pearl.

3 stars.  I liked Dragon Pearl, and it was fun to see a re-telling set in space.

Audio Book Review: We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia, Narrated by Kyla Garcia

Book: We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia, Narrated by Kyla Garcia

Published February 2019 by HarperAudio|Length: 9 hours, 54 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: We Set The Dark On Fire #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

I liked We Set The Dark On Fire!  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next, but I definitely have some mixed feelings.

I’d say it’s The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Belles meets Girls Of Paper And Fire.  I’d say it’s more Handmaid’s Tale than any of the other two books I mentioned, but I think it reminded me of The Belles and Girls Of Paper And Fire because of girls chosen to do be something, and getting trained to it.  Plus the whole forbidden romance you see in Girls Of Paper And Fire.

I really felt for Dani, and what she was trying to protect.  She has to make a lot of hard choices, but I did find myself wishing that we had more with her parents.  I know she wanted to protect her secret, that her parents gave up everything so she could do better, but I never really felt like that was in danger of being revealed.  I felt like her joining the Resistance, and her falling in love with Carmen was more at stake than sacrificing what her parents did.

I really wanted to know more about the school she went to, and how it was decided who was Primero and who was Segundo.  I really wanted to know that.  It was easy enough with Handmaid’s Tale- Handmaidens were the ones who could still bear children, while wives sometimes could not.  But I wasn’t sure how it decided- if it was explained, I clearly missed it.

So, I did listen to the audio book, which I think didn’t help with the world building.  The narrator, Kyla Garcia was really great, and she did an awesome job narrating.  I loved her narration of Joyride by Anna Banks, but having finished this one, I don’t think it completely worked on audio.  At least for me.  There were details, like who was Primero and who was Segundo that were either left out, or completely forgettable.  There were quotes from the guide that the Medio School For Girls had, and they were completely forgettable as well.  I didn’t mind them, but for audio, it didn’t work.

And there was this story at the beginning of the book that explained how the world came to be.  I liked it, but by the end of the book, I had completely forgotten what it was about.  I think that’s what made me think of The Belles.

The idea was interesting, and I liked a Handmaid’s Tale-type story in a fantasy setting.  It’s not at all a Handmaid’s Tale re-telling but it was the only thing I could think of the entire time I was reading this book.  That is partly why I picked this book up, and I did like it.  The world and characters are interesting, and I do want to know where the story is headed.  I think this is the one time that a comparison to another book is dead-on.

I didn’t really care about Carmen, but I did like Dani.  I can’t say I’m surprised by some of the things that happened between them, but I did want to keep listening to see if any of my guesses were right.  It was fairly predictable, but I didn’t mind.  I liked the overall story enough that I didn’t mind the predictability.

3 stars.  If you love the Handmaid’s Tale, you really like this book.  It reminded me way too much of the Handmaid’s Tale for me to love this book, and it’s similarity to it made it hard to see it as a separate book.  Still, I liked the world and the story enough that I want to know what happens next.