Dangerous Alliance by Jenniek Cohen

Title: Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance
Author: Jennieke Cohen
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: December 3rd 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Fiction

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

I found Dangerous Alliance to be an enchanting story.

The thing I found about the book is that it felt like it has what I love about Regency Romance that I would typically read but in the YA setting. The book is both light but also deals with more serious issues. I also love when you read the Author Note (which I highly recommend when an Author has one) that she really studied about Divorce in this era. It was fascinating to have the actual history presented in this way where you are learning something while you read.

Besides dealing with divorce in this era, it also deals with abuse and the impact it has on someone through their life. It’s sad how the repercussions for such were very different back then.

Then of course there is the mystery surrounding poor Vicky and her family. Who would want to do them harm? It’s amazing to me that this story was able to pack so much in but still stay light hearted at times. I really enjoyed the story and the rhythm that the moving parts fit together.

I think what draws someone in to read Dangerous Alliance is the fact that the main character of Victoria is a great lover of Jane Austen’s novels. She often references them throughout the story and the different characters who she at times tries to emulate in real life. If you are a big fan of Austen it’s a lot of fun to have her go through the comparisons of her life to the stories.

I loved Vicky has a character, she probably has all of Austen mixed into her a little. She’s very strong, kind and understanding. She loves her family and will do anything for them.

We also get the perspective of Tom whose own story is also interesting. After struggling with the abuse of his Father and the legacy he left behind. He is trying to repair their families reputation and holdings. At times I was frustrated with him but you can also understand his view point.

It’s a mystery so you can’t say too much about all the characters because where is the fun in that. I really enjoyed the story and it’s that great read if you are looking for a stand alone and a fan of historical fiction.

Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kah CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual.

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Prize: Win (1) of (2) copies of DANGEROUS ALLIANCE by Jennieke Cohen (US Only)
Starts: 27th November 2019
Ends: 11th December 2019
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Crown of Oblivion by Julie Eshbaugh

Title: Crown of Oblivion
Author: Julie Eshbaugh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 12th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Astrid is the surrogate for Princess Renya, which means she bears the physical punishment if Renya steps out of line. Astrid has no choice—she and her family are Outsiders, the lower class of people without magic and without citizenship.

But there is a way out of this life—competing in the deadly Race of Oblivion. To enter the race, an Outsider is administered the drug Oblivion, which wipes their memory clear of their past as they enter a new world with nothing to help them but a slip of paper bearing their name and the first clue. It’s not as simple as solving a puzzle, however—for a majority of the contestants, the race ends in death. But winning would mean not only freedom for Astrid, but citizenship and health care for her entire family. With a dying father to think of, Astrid is desperate to prevail.

From the beginning, the race is filled with twists and turns. One of them is Darius, a fellow racer Astrid meets but isn’t sure she can trust. Though they team up in the race, as Astrid’s memories begin to resurface, she remembers just who he was to her—a scorned foe who may want revenge. Astrid also starts to notice she has powers no Outsider should—which could help her win the race, but also make her a target if anyone finds out. With stakes that couldn’t be higher, Astrid must decide what is more important: risking her life to remember the mysteries of the past, or playing a cutthroat game in order to win her—and her family’s—freedom.

Crown of Oblivion is a fast-paced story with an MC that doesn’t fit into a perfect mold. I love that the story does indeed mainly focus on the race, that’s what we are here for.

I loved Astrid’s character. I found her very interesting and also the fact that I realized even though we read the prologue. Time passes, that as a reader we don’t experience, and we start at the race. So it took me a bit into the race to realize that I didn’t really know Astrid in the race. I knew the Astrid that was before her brother left. When people made comments about her, which I would get highly offended on her behalf, I realized I didn’t know what she was like before losing her memories. I also really liked that even though she is strong and resourceful she can’t magically just solve every riddle on her own. Sometimes she is like, I have no idea what that’s supposed to be. I loved that!! She is such a complicated and imperfect character. Some of her choices are made out of her desire to protect her family not necessarily because she wants to be a hero. Very interesting. I’d be curious how her decisions would have differed with her memories.

There are a lot of characters that surface around Astrid. Being that she doesn’t have her memories she has to piece together who they are and we do that with her. It's an interesting idea to think about that losing your memories except for you basic knowledge of life and life skills can shape you into this person that when you get your memories back you are not the same anymore. So we got to know the different parts of Astrid’s life in the same way she gets to know them again.

Renya is a character I’m very conflicted about. I don’t think she necessarily didn’t care about the fact that Astrid is her surrogate. That is too much of an easy answer. I think when she did things that cause Astrid to be whipped it wasn’t because she didn’t care it was more that she selfishly didn’t think about it. I know that sounds like the same thing but it’s not. It wouldn’t be the punishment for Renya if she didn’t care at all, it would not make sense. I think there would probably be thoughts like oh I won’t get caught it’s okay. It’s easy not to fear as much when you are not the one taking the brunt of the abuse. Astrid could be punished because Renya in the heat of emotions does or says something stupid. It’s a very complicated relationship and very complicated character.

There are many components to the world and I found it interesting. We see much of it through the race but not everything. We have a Monarchy, a rebellion and a group of people who are simply hiding out. This shapes the landscape. There is also a hierarchy of Outsider versus Citizen, which defines how the Monarchy works.

There is romance, sort of but I would consider it a slow burn. Astrid isn’t there to fall in love with anyone, she is there to gain her freedom.

I really enjoyed Crown of Oblivion.

Julie Eshbaugh is a YA writer and former filmmaker. She made two short films and then spent several years producing an online video series for teens which received several honors from the Webby Awards. Her new YA fantasy standalone, CROWN OF OBLIVION, is coming from HarperTeen November 2019. IVORY AND BONE (HarperTeen 2016) and OBSIDIAN AND STARS (HarperTeen 2017), her prehistoric fantasy duology, are out now. You can learn more about Julie’s writing escapades by visiting www.julieeshbaugh.com.

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Prize: Win a finished copy of CROWN OF OBLIVION by Julie Eshbaugh (US Only)

Starts: November 12th 2019
Ends: November 26th 2019
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Cover Reveal: Scammed by Kristen Simmons

In Kristen Simmons's young adult thriller Scammed, the stakes are higher. The cons are riskier. And nothing is what you think it is.
Brynn Hilder is living a life she never dreamed possible: She lives in a mansion, getting a top-rate education at Vale Hall. She has friends and an almost-boyfriend. Anything she wants, she can have.

The only catch? To stay in this life, she has to help the director of Vale Hall take down the bad guys of Sikawa City by collecting secrets and running cons.

Getting everything she wants and fighting evil doesn’t seem like such a bad deal. The thing is, she’s not so convinced anymore that Dr. Odin is really going after bad people after all. And the friends and almost-boyfriend that have made her life so different are all liars and con artists—so can she trust that any of it is real?

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.
When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials—because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark—a senator’s son—and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head.

Find Me Their Bones by Sara Wolf

Title: Find Me Their Bones
Author: Sara Wolf
Published: November 5th 2019 by Entangled: Teen

No one can save her.

In order to protect Prince Lucien d’Malvane’s heart, Zera had to betray him. Now, he hates the sight of her. Trapped in Cavanos as a prisoner of the king, she awaits the inevitable moment her witch severs their magical connection and finally ends her life.

But fate isn't ready to give her up just yet.

With freedom coming from the most unlikely of sources, Zera is given a second chance at life as a Heartless. But it comes with a terrible price. As the king mobilizes his army to march against the witches, Zera must tame an elusive and deadly valkerax trapped in the tunnels underneath the city if she wants to regain her humanity.

Winning over a bloodthirsty valkerax? Hard. Winning back her friends before war breaks out? A little harder.

But a Heartless winning back Prince Lucien’s heart?

The hardest thing she’s ever done.

Find Me Their Bones is the perfect sequel to Bring Me Their Hearts. Fast paced and heartbreaking, much like the first book. I couldn’t put it down.

Zera is such a great main character. Maybe because most of the time she has nothing to lose but she is so funny and witty. I love the way she banters herself around any situation. I also feel sad about the way she never gives herself a break. Even after everything she wants to protect the people she cares about but she finds herself in a position where trust is difficult.

Even though we get interactions with Lucien, Fione and Malachite. We aren’t with them enough to really know what they are doing. We spend more time with new characters like Varia, Yorl and
Evlorasin. Who I really enjoyed getting to know all of them. I hope to see some more of a couple of them in the future. Maybe not Varia. Not sure if I like Varia very much.

My poor heart when it comes to Zera and Lucien push and pull between one another. They were killing me, if only they could just sit and hash it out but not the easiest thing to do. I love them so much though separately and together but I of course want them to be together.

I loved the progression of the plot from the first book. War is closer than just on the horizon anymore and the race to stop it continues on. I felt like the story has been developed so well from first book into this sequel and now I can not wait for book 3. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to wait for it!!! I need to know. I won’t give anything away because there are so many moving parts that need to come together in their time but it is so fast paced you find yourself cruising the pages.

I loved Find Me Their Bones, I love Sara Wolf’s writing and I’m so excited for the next book.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

Title: The Light at the Bottom of the World (The Light at the Bottom of the World #1)
Author: London Shah
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: October 29th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Hope had abandoned them to the wrath of all the waters.

At the end of the twenty-first century, the world has changed dramatically, but life continues one thousand feet below the ocean's surface. In Great Britain, sea creatures swim among the ruins of Big Ben and the Tower of London, and citizens waver between fear and hope; fear of what lurks in the abyss, and hope that humanity will soon discover a way to reclaim the Earth.

Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Leyla McQueen has her own problems to deal with. Her father's been arrested, accused of taking advantage of victims of the Seasickness-a debilitating malaise that consumes people,often claiming their lives. But Leyla knows he's innocent, and all she's interested in is getting him back so that their lives can return to normal.

When she's picked to race in the action-packed London Submersible Marathon, Leyla gets the chance to secure his freedom; the Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. The race takes an unexpected turn, though, and presents her with an opportunity she never wanted: Leyla must venture outside of London for the first time in her life, to find and rescue her father herself.

Now, she'll have to brave the unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a secretive, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If she fails, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture-and her father might be lost forever.

The Light of the Bottom of the World, immediately fascinated me. What a cool concept. The world is remade by an event that raises the sea levels above the land levels. I can’t help it, I love stuff like this and what a unique idea for a dystopia type story.

The world is really interesting. A Submersed Great Britain and people who are dead set on holding onto the past as much as they can. It’s actually intriguing how hard they try to. There are people who are plagued with something called Seasickness. Which almost sounds like they miss the land. If they have been there for quite some time, I’m surprised they haven’t adjusted to living under the waters. This comes out more in the book about Seasickness and the cause of it. Also the world under water is just an interesting visual. When I first started doing Graphic Design so many moons ago. I used to love to take pictures of cities and make them appear submerged and under water for decades. With algae, oxidation and decay. Plus if you have ever looked at pictures of and studied Atlantis you get that same feeling with this story. I loved that London Shah goes into a lot of details about what the building and things look like. I also think it’s really interesting that her friends family owns hotels that emulate the “Old World” which is the time above land. If you think about it, we often have resorts and themes that emulate the deep sea. So it’s like flip flopping. A really great idea.

So there is a bunch of different action that keeps that pace moving. The Submersible Marathon, different battle scenes as Leyla travels the ocean to find her dad. There are actually times that I forgot they are underwater and not in space. Ha ha. So if you are a fan of Sci-fi, I think you would really enjoy this! Of course there are government secrets as well because what government doesn’t have secrets. It’s really interesting how the information unfolds because we still don’t know everything at the end of the book. So I’m really intrigued as to why the government has made some decisions and can’t wait to see if we find out in the next book.

So what I also love is that some of my Science questions are addressed. In theory there is not enough water on the planet to completely submerge all land under water. (side note: I also had a lot of questions about underwater volcanoes and new landforms but that had no relevance to the story.) So the reasons that everyone stays underwater is also woven into the book as we find out more about the surface and what’s left of it. Also as to what lead to them being underwater in the first place. I hate when a story just leaves stuff like that open ended, so I was so happy to see that included!!

I liked Leyla, even though at times she seemed really immature. I don’t think that necessarily is a bad thing, she’s a teenager who lost her dad. I think I would go to great lengths to get my dad back too even irrational great lengths. So I liked that she is not perfect and makes mistakes. I think that she is really strong and true to herself. I also think it’s crap that so much stuff is kept from her and so of course her reactions are what they are.

I also really like sotic Ari. He’s got his reasons for being the way he is too. I really like some of their interactions too. Especially because they approach obstacles in different ways.

I really enjoyed The Light at the Bottom of the World and can’t wait for the next book to see what happens. I really wish I could see pictures of the world. Someone do some artwork, I have no artistic ability. I would really love to see the submarine!! I need a blueprint!! Such an imaginative world.

Author London Shah is a British-born Muslim of Pashtun ethnicity. She has lived in Britain's capital city for most of her life via England's beautiful North. When she's not busy re-imagining the past, plotting an alternate present or dreaming up a surreal future, then she's most likely drinking copious amounts of tea, eating all the sweets and cakes, strolling through Richmond Park or along the Thames, getting lost on an evening in the city's older, darker alleyways—preferably just after it's rained—listening to punk rock, or losing herself in a fab SFF book or film. If she could have only one super power, it would be to breathe underwater. THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD is her debut novel.

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