Reviews in a Minute: Birthday Books

These books are all celebrating their book birthdays today! I liked all of them too, so happy book birthday!

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser
Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau
The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone
The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson

Reviews in a Minute: Birthday Books Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser
Series: Song of the Current #1
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on June 6th 2017
Pages: 373
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.


Really, I mostly liked this book. It was unique, with what amounts to a road trip on the river, of sorts. It was full of adventure, family ties, and yes, romance.

Things I Liked:

  • Loved Caro and Markos, both as individual characters and together. They both have strengths and weaknesses, and when they come together… banter, friends. It’s fabulous. The side characters are great too. I loved Fee, wanted and needed more Fee. I love that there is a lot of family dynamics in play during the book too.
  • The atmosphere was on point. No question, this book had the feel of a bad situation on water. There was magic involved, and the whole world had such an ominous feel toward it.
  • It was engaging, I was never bored. I definitely wanted to know more about the world as the story went on, but the part of the book that was the biggest hit for me was the character development.

Things I Didn’t:

  • While I liked the book, some of it felt a little too easy– even though the stakes were high, I never got that sense of urgency, it seemed like a given that everything was going to work out somehow.
  •  I didn’t really understand all the world-building and the different kingdoms either. Thank goodness for the map or I’d have been totally lost. I went back and forth quite a bit to try to figure out where Caro and company were headed.

Bottom Line: Definitely enjoyed this book set on the water! The characters were fabulous, and I look forward to reading the sequel!

(P.S.- Stay tuned tomorrow, for you can win this!!! 😀 )

Reviews in a Minute: Birthday Books Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau
Series: Dividing Eden #1
Published by HarperTeen on June 6th 2017
Pages: 336
Format:ARC, eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss, ALAMW

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Testing trilogy comes a sweeping new fantasy series, perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sarah J. Maas.

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?


This is going to be a really short review, and here’s why: I liked this book a lot while reading it. Carys and Andreus were quite different characters, and I loved that I never could completely tell who I was supposed to be rooting for. I loved that they had to compete for the crown, and I loved the idea of games and betrayals and all that good stuff. There was romance involved too, of course. I read it really quickly, because I was excited to know what would happen next.

Thing is, when I was done, it didn’t leave a lasting impression– in fact, I had to skim through it just to remember the characters’ names and such. But, even so, I enjoyed the book and will most definitely be looking forward to the sequel. I just simply don’t have a ton to say about it- but that’s okay sometimes, right?

Bottom Line: A solid fantasy with a host of secrets, challenges, politics, and fighting. I’ll be quite looking forward to the sequel! 

Reviews in a Minute: Birthday Books The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone
Published by Little Brown Company on June 6th 2017
Pages: 336
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review

Five teens embark on a summer of vigilante good samaritanism in a novel that's part The Breakfast Club, part The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and utterly captivating.

Rising high school senior Sadie is bracing herself for a long, lonely, and boring summer. But things take an unexpected turn when she steps in to help rescue a baby in distress and a video of her good deed goes viral.

Suddenly internet-famous, Sadie's summer changes for the better when she's introduced to other "hometown heroes." These five very different teens form an unlikely alliance to secretly right local wrongs, but when they try to help a heroin-using friend, they get in over their heads and discover that there might be truth in the saying "no good deed goes unpunished."

Can Sadie and her new friends make it through the summer with their friendships--and anonymity--intact?

This rich and thought-provoking novel takes on timely issues and timeless experiences with a winning combination of romance, humor, and wisdom.


This was a super cute, pick-me-up sort of story. Sadie is just a nice girl who happens to do a nice thing for someone (and sure, kind of risks her life in the process) when she’s suddenly catapulted into the media spotlight. She gets nominated as a “hometown hero”, and through that is introduced to four other people her age. They’re all very different, which is nice, but they come together to try to do some good- plus, they genuinely seem to enjoy each other’s company.

While some of the events that occur in the book were a bit far-fetched,  I think that in this type of book it’s not a terrible thing. The group tackles issues like cyber bullying, even drug use. They just want to do good, and help people feel better. Sure, they get in over their heads, but they do mean well. I also liked that it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies- not everything that Sadie and her friends did turned out the way they’d hoped.

I loved the friendships that were formed during the course of the book, and yes, the romance too. And I absolutely adored the romance. But the focus was definitely more on the platonic friendships, which I appreciated. There’s also some focus on an unhealthy relationship, and friends trying to work together to overcome that, too. Family is also very key in this one- not just Sadie’s family, but the families of others too.

Bottom Line: This book had a very uplifting message, and characters who were just good kids trying to make a positive impact on the world. Add to it friendships and family relationships, and it was a win, despite some unbelievability.

Reviews in a Minute: Birthday Books The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson
Published by HarperTeen on June 6th 2017
Pages: 464
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

When all hope is gone, how do you survive?

Before the war, Eden’s life was easy—air conditioning, ice cream, long days at the beach. Then the revolution happened, and everything changed.

Now a powerful group called the Wolfpack controls the earth and its resources. Eden has lost everything to them. They killed her family and her friends, destroyed her home, and imprisoned her. But Eden refuses to die by their hands. She knows the coordinates to the only neutral ground left in the world, a place called Sanctuary Island, and she is desperate to escape to its shores.

Eden finally reaches the island and meets others resistant to the Wolves—but the solace is short-lived when one of Eden’s new friends goes missing. Braving the jungle in search of their lost ally, they quickly discover Sanctuary is filled with lethal traps and an enemy they never expected.

This island might be deadlier than the world Eden left behind, but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.


I liked a lot of things about this book, but there was one pretty significant thing that dampened my excitement. But, let’s talk positives first!

The Good:

  • loved the plot! I was constantly kept guessing as to what was going on in this world- and how it could be fixed.  Also, I didn’t see any of the twists coming (except one or two minor things) and was incredibly eager to know the outcome.
  • Eden was an awesome character. While I wasn’t quite as connected to her as I wanted to be, I felt for her certainly, and admired her bravery and courage trying to get herself (and then her friends) out of a really awful situation.
  • Survival is one of my favorite book plots, and this one had lots of survival happening. Plus, it was survival on an island, and the atmosphere was incredible! I loved the sinister island feel, and the author did a great job of making me feel like I couldn’t trust anyone or anything.
  • The story moved at a great pace, I was constantly excited by the story and the unfolding of the plot and world building.

The One Thing I Didn’t Like:

  • Literally, this. It seemed really not okay that people of a lower socioeconomic class were the villains just because they were salty at rich people. I felt really uncomfortable with that message, and I strongly hope there’s more explanation (or an outright debunking of this) in the sequel. This could have been at least a 4.5* for me, as I really loved most of  the book, but this really just didn’t sit well with me, and I had to adjust accordingly. Especially considering our current social and political climates, it was off-putting.

Bottom Line: Overall, a really solid book. I loved the plot and the action of the book, I just wish that the reason behind the war hadn’t been “because poor people”. It left a bad taste in an otherwise enjoyable book.

Have you read any of these books? Planning on it? Let’s talk about them! 

Posted June 6, 2017 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 34 Comments

34 responses to “Reviews in a Minute: Birthday Books

  1. Love good banter, and an adventure set on the water… Song of the Current definitely sounds good. Plus I love that cover, it’s amazing. Just the way the moon is reflected in the water, and the stars… that’s one of those covers that would make a good art print. Glad it was good. Ooh and a map too? I always need a map. 🙂

    I liked the Charbonneau book I read a while back so I may have to give this one a try. And it has a Conclave… er, sorry Trial of succession. Bummer it wasn’t super memorable, maybe I’ll wait on it. And The Unlikelies just makes me want ice cream. Or a green popsicle.

    The Sandcastle empire is one I’ve been wondering about every time I see it pop up. Survival plus island= yay, but yeah poor people=bad? That’s problematic. Sounds like a serious thorn in an otherwise good book. Hopefully that gets straightened out in book two.

    • The cover is SO pretty, I want to see a finished copy, honestly. The characters were really great in it too. And the map is SO important- I’d have been lost if I read this in ebook format.

      I am moderately nervous about the next books in the Dividing Eden series, because the last series I read by the author started out strong for me, and then declined. But that was years ago, so I’ll give it a chance. I did remember more of it as I skimmed it, and I liked the book enough to keep it- and I have been getting picky about what I keep hah.

      The Unlikelies is a really great summer book- though I would have liked more ice cream 😉 As for the Sandcastle Empire, I will say that the book itself is awesome, and I couldn’t put it down, but that trope REALLY threw me off. I am kind of surprised that no one else said anything? And maybe it will work itself out in subsequent books, but for now, I am really shocked that it’s not faced any criticism.

  2. Great reviews as always, Shannon! It’s a shame Diving Eden didn’t leave a lasting impression, but it does sound really interesting and I LOVE that cover; it reminds me of the cover of Royal Bastards, actually. Perhaps thrones are the new ball gowns of book covers. 😉

  3. AHHH I AGREE WITH YOUR SONG OF THE CURRENT POINTS!! (I probably shouldn’t be shouting but I loved that book so. Ya know. Excitement. ?) I never was worried about anyone’s lives particularly either?? Like I just felt lowkey concerned when bad stuff happened but never actually freaked out…which is a negative because I want a book to get my heart beating. #BookwormLogic But the ATMOSPHERE. THE AESTHETICS. THE PIRATES. *is wildly in love*

    Also I should’ve read Dividing Eden by now, whoops.? I’m glad you liked it though!!

    • YES! That is exactly how I felt too! Like- I knew that there were dangerous shenanigans and such but… I never had any doubt that everyone would be fine, which like you said, was a bit of a bummer for me. But overall it was definitely strong! Curious about what you’ll think of DE, too!

  4. I am planning on reading Song Of The Current because I’ve heard positive reviews and the story seems super cool/mysterious aka what I like! ALSO THAT COVER! And OMG I hadn’t heard of The Unlikelies before but will be adding it onto Goodreads, thank you!

  5. I really enjoyed The Unlikelies it was super uplifting right when I needed that type of book. I totally agree some of it was far-fetched but worked for that book. I haven’t heard of Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau , but it looks interesting I am sorry it didn’t have a bigger remembrance. Happy Reading!

  6. Great reviews! Song of the Current seems very interesting, too bad you had to go back and forth with the map to get a sense of the world and where the characters were headed – good thing there is a map, ahah 🙂
    I have The Unlikelies on my TBR and am looking forward to reading it – it sounds like a really cute book with good relationships, definitely my kind of book 🙂

  7. I love, love, love the cover for The Unlikelies. I’m on a contemporary kick all of a sudden, and I want to read anything that involves summer. It sounds really cute. I usually get annoyed when a book is a little far-fetched, but I can let it slide for a feel good friendship story :).

  8. Song of the CUrrent sounds really good! I just found out about this book yesterday, I think.
    Looking at Dividing Eden’s book cover, I thought it was part of the series of… Scorpio something? I don’t know. Never read the book but I know it has scorpio in the title and released maybe last year or two years ago? But now I see that it’s a different series altogether! I totally get liking a book but not having much to say so that’s fine! I’ll have to check this one out 🙂
    The Sandcastle Empire sounds cool but I get what you’re saying. Hopefully it gets fixed in the sequel or some explanation for it.
    The Unlikeliess sounds like a cute summer read! Plus, the cover screams summer for sure.
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

    • Oooh I know which book you are thinking of, definitely not the same series! I hope that there is a better explanation in the Sandcastle sequel too- because otherwise it was a REALLY solid book, but I felt really uncomfortable with that particular situation. And The Unlikelies is a PERFECT summer read!

  9. I;ve been curious about Dividing Eden. I have that sometimes where I really enjoy a book in the moment but then can’t remember all that much afterward. It’s frustrating for review purposes, but fine otherwise. I’m glad you enjoyed The Unlikelies too because I picked that one up for review and I need to get to it soon. I actually wasn’t that big of fan of Firestone’s last book, but I wanted to try another.

    • YES I agree with you completely! Like, I didn’t even mind that much, and I don’t have anything BAD to say about it. It was worth the read IMO. I thought The Unlikelies was SO cute, though I haven’t read her other book. I hope you enjoy it, I look forward to your thoughts!

  10. Ooh I’m intrigued by Dividing Eden! And I’m glad The Unlikelies was a cute uplifting story because I totally love the cover and would have been sad if it didn’t match haha. Great reviews, Shannon!

  11. I absolutely adoreeeee the cover of The Unlikelies, which is why I’m tempted to go after it. BTW, is any aspect of it about ice cream? Necessary questions are necessary. I removed Divided Eden from my TBR, a bit ago, after a bad review traumatized me but I’ve always been obsessed with the survival aspect, so I’m tempted to re-add it!!

  12. So many books releasing on the same day! Songs of the Current sounds really promising! I’m not a huge fan of books which are too convenient though – it makes me feel like they are a bit cheap and it exasperates me. But it sounds good nonetheless. And even though Dividing Eden wasn’t one with a lasting impression, I don’t mind that too much in my books, so I will probably pick it up. It sounds like all of these were good or decent. No bad books released that day!

  13. I’ve been seeing “Dividing Eden” around the blogosphere, so I’m curious about that one! Its cover is sure epic in a simplistic, “clean” way. Recently picks up ‘Sandcastle’ too so I’m curious to see what that one is all about! 🙂

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