Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy | rachelbrittain.comBook: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

Author: Kathryn Ormbee

Genre: YA / fiction

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Tash loves two things: Tolstoy and filmmaking. Unhappy Families, the low-budget web series she’s co-creating with her best friend Jack, is the perfect culmination of those loves. When a famous vlogger mentions Unhappy Families in a video, their views suddenly go through the roof. But this newfound fame comes with a lot of stress and haters, too. Tash has to figure out how to balance being a good friend and daughter with managing a breakout web series. What would Leo do? Other than help a bunch of serfs and write a few best sellers, that is. Tash struggles to keep it all together as the filming for Unhappy Families wraps up, they get a nomination for a kind-of big deal internet award, and she tries to navigate unexpected crushes and complicated family relationships.

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Book Review: Invictus

Book Review: Invictus | rachelbrittain.comBook: Invictus

Author: Ryan Graudin

Genre: YA / sci-fi

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: Farway Gaius McCarthy is a boy out of time–literally. He’s the son of a 24th century time traveler and a Roman gladiator, born in the Grid, the timeless space used to travel between eras. All he’s ever wanted is to become a time traveler like his mother… but when his final exam is tampered with, he’s forced to settle for a different way of exploring history: as a thief snatching valuables from the moment of disasters where they’ll never be missed. But a run-of-the-mill heist on the sinking Titanic changes everything. A girl steals the goods before he can get to them and then insists on joining his team. But why–and what she isn’t telling them–could change the course of time forever.

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Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Book: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Genre: YA

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Dimple Shah wants two things this summer: to go to Insomnia Con and win the chance to work with her programming idol and for her parents to forget about her finding an Ideal Indian Husband. When her parents agree to send her to San Francisco for the summer to attend Insomnia Con she thinks they’re finally focusing on her intellectual pursuits. Rishi Patel is a bit of a romantic, and he is ecstatic to be attending Insomnia Con where he will meet the girl his parents have arranged for him to marry…Dimple Shah. The only problem is Dimple has no idea and no interest in dating, much less marriage.

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Book Review: False Hearts

Book: False Hearts

Author: Laura Lam

Genre: Sci-fi

Rating: 4/5

What it’s about: Tila and Taema never realized just how unusual they were until they escaped the Hearth. At sixteen, dying of heart failure, the conjoined twins raised in an anti-technology religious cult escaped to have life saving surgery. Surgery that separated them and gave them mechanical hearts. San Francisco is entirely unlike the world they knew, but it’s not without it’s own dangers. In a future where civilian murder is almost unheard of, Tila becomes the first person arrested for murder in decades. But Taema isn’t convinced she did it. With her sister in jail and awaiting trial, Taema agrees to go undercover with the Ratel–a notorious organized crime syndicate–to help clear her sister’s name. Danger, drug-altering dreamscapes, and surprising connections to the cult they so long ago escaped await her as she goes undercover. The real question is if she’ll be able to come out of it–and if she does, will she ever be the same?

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Book Review: The Beauty That Remains (ARC)

Book Review: The Beauty That Remains | rachelbrittain.comBook: The Beauty That Remains

Author: Ashley Woodfolk

Genre: realistic fiction / YA

Rating: 4.5/5

What it’s about: Autumn, Shay, and Logan are connected through music—and grief. Autumn, who lost her best friend just weeks ago, is struggling to find herself without Tavia here to guide her. Shay’s twin sister Sasha died after years of fighting Leukemia, but the debilitating panic attacks she’s trying to hide from her family and friends are threatening to undo her. Logan is drinking and lashing out, unable to cope or heal after the suicide of his ex-boyfriend Bram. He hasn’t been able to write a song since. They all used to be connected through Unraveling Lovely, the epic band put together by Logan, managed by Shay, and always cheered on by Autumn. With so many griefs and secrets separating them now, will music be enough to bring them back to themselves and maybe even back together?

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Book Review: Everything Leads to You

Book: Everything Leads to You

Author: Nina LaCour

Genre: realistic fiction / YA

Rating: 5/5

What it’s about: When Emi’s brother leaves his apartment to her and her best friend Charlotte for the summer, he makes them promise one thing: to do something epic here before he returns. Emi isn’t really sure what that might be. As a wunderkind set designer, she spends most of her time as an intern on movie sets, but when she and Charlotte discover a letter from a silver screen film legend it leads them to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi’s ever met before, and the two have an almost instant connection. But Ava’s tumultuous past and Emi’s ideas about what makes a perfect hollywood romance complicate things. Will Emi be able to make things right, get the girl, and fulfill her promise of doing something epic, all before the end of summer?

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Book Review: Warcross

Book: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: ya / science fiction

Rating: 5/5

What it’s about: Emika Chen is a bounty hunter living paycheck to paycheck. She tracks down people who’ve placed bets on the popular virtual reality game Warcross, and if she doesn’t catch a break soon she may be living on the streets. But then Emika accidentally hacks herself into the opening games of the international Warcross tournament. Next thing she knows, she on a plane to Tokyo by personal invitation of Hideo Tanaka, the elusive creative of Warcross himself. He wants her help to find a hacker messing with the Warcross code…but doing so puts her in the crosshairs and leads her to a plot that may destabilize the very foundations of Warcross and the world that is so obsessed with it.

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Book Review: Artemis

Book Review: Artemis | rachelbrittain.com

Book: Artemis

Author: Andy Weir

Genre: science fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

What it’s about: Jazz Bashara is a smuggler, using her connections to bring in contraband like cigars and pure ethanol to the lunar city of Artemis. But when she’s offered a job with a payout too good to refuse, she suddenly finds herself in way over her head. With the EVA guild on her tail, threats of deportation, a murderer on the loose–and after her–, and a conspiracy with the potential to topple the entire city, Jazz has to figure out some way to save it.

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Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit

Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit | rachelbrittain.comBook: A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2)

Author: Becky Chambers

Genre: science fiction

Rating: 5/5

What it’s about: When Lovey’s programming was corrupted, the factory version of the AI known as Lovelace replaced her. The problem is Lovey’s plans to (illegally) obtain a nonorganic human-like body and pass as a sapient was already in progress when Lovelace came on the scene– which means Lovelace now finds herself in a body instead of a ship, trying to pass for human in a universe which views AIs as things. With the help of her friends Pepper and Blue, she finds a new home on Port Corial. It’s all very confusing and complicated for Lovelace (who renames herself Sidra), all the more so because her programming mandates that she cannot lie. And it’s difficult to understand why the former version of herself could’ve ever wanted this when most sapients–even her new  friend Tak–have trouble viewing her as anything other than her programming.

Told in alternating chapters between the present, where Sidra (with the help of Pepper, Blue, and her new friend Tak) struggles to come to terms with having a physical body and autonomy for the first time, and the past, where a young Pepper (then Jane 23) recently escaped from the factory where she was made and learns to survive in a world (and universe) she knows almost nothing about with the help of an AI named Owl.

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