These are, quite literally, the only June review books I have. So enjoy them, for I did!
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.
But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.
From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.
Oh, this was such an unexpected gem for me! Sure, I assumed I’d enjoy it, but the level of unputdownability (that is now a word, because I said so) was off the charts. That said, it isn’t perfect. There are issues that may hinder some readers’ experiences, which I feel it’s only fair to mention, even though I loved it and am basically salivating waiting for the next installment.
What I Loved:
- The world is so enjoyable! It’s complex without being confusing, and because it’s based on our current world, it’s quite easy to get the hang of. Selah starts in Potomac (basically Washington D.C. I figure) and then heads to Europe where things just get even more fabulous.
- Selah is a good main character, one I could root for but who also had a ton to learn. Her growth throughout the book was great, too. She really started to come into her own, and I assume there will be much more of that in the next book.
- Forget Selah, the side characters were everything! Okay I did really like Selah, but I enjoyed the side characters in every single location.
- Perhaps because of how enjoyable the characters and world were, I became really invested in the plot. Honestly, I want to know what the deal is! What’s the deal with Imperiya Yotne? What’s Selah’s crappy stepmom up to? I cannot wait to find out!
- All the romance and friendships! Seriously, if you like the swoons, this book is absolutely for you! And if you dig friendships, this one has them in freaking spades.
What Holds It Back:
Like I said, these are all things I was able to overlook because I was so wholly engrossed in the story. But it is a bit tropey, and pretty predictable. I knew a lot of what would happen, but inexplicably, I did not care. I was just that into it. 🤷♀️
Bottom Line: Despite some flaws, this is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in quite some time. I think if it sounds appealing, you should go for it, because I had so much fun reading it!
That’s the amount of time until Lezah’s execution.
She’ll die never knowing what got her locked up in this godforsaken prison in the first place. Her only chance of survival is to escape. Except the monitoring bracelet that digs into her wrist, the roaming AI, and the implant in her neck make freedom close to impossible.
Her best chance is to team up with the four other inmates who are determined to break out, even if one of them is beyond (gorgeous) annoying—oh, and in for murder. But he has a secret of his own. One that could break Lezah if she finds out, but could also set him free.
Figuring out how to work with him and the rest of this mismatched group of criminals is the only way Lezah will survive to see the outside world again.
But nothing in this prison is as it seems. And no one.
Breakout was fun and entertaining, but that was about the sum of it for me. It has vibes of The Hunger Games, but I don’t fully understand the “why” of the story. I would have liked a bit of a deeper connection with Lezah, but the story is definitely more action-driven. While the plot is engaging, we don’t really get a sense for the world in which it is taking place. Obviously some Bad Stuff™ has gone down, leading to underwater cities and random imprisonment of teens, but there’s definitely room for more exploration.
I don’t know if this is part of a series, but if it is a standalone, the ending felt a bit unfinished. But the book in general is still gripping, as it seems that absolutely no one is safe in this world.
Bottom Line: Entertaining, if not particularly memorable. I enjoyed it, but would have been much more invested with more world-building.
Critically-acclaimed author Leah Thomas blends a small-town setting with the secrets of a long-ago crime, in a compelling novel about breaking free from the past.
In Samsboro, Kentucky, Kalyn Spence's name is inseparable from the brutal murder her father committed when he was a teenager. Forced to return to town, Kalyn must attend school under a pseudonym . . . or face the lingering anger of Samsboro's citizens, who refuse to forget the crime.
Gus Peake has never had the luxury of redefining himself. A Samsboro native, he's either known as the "disabled kid" because of his cerebral palsy, or as the kid whose dad was murdered. Gus just wants to be known as himself.
When Gus meets Kalyn, her frankness is refreshing, and they form a deep friendship. Until their families' pasts emerge. And when the accepted version of the truth is questioned, Kalyn and Gus are caught in the center of a national uproar. Can they break free from a legacy of inherited lies and chart their own paths forward?.
This book is an absolute can’t-miss. That is it, you need to read it. It is so wonderfully quirky and completely full of heart. There is diversity bursting at the damn seams, and it features one of the best platonic friendships I have ever had the pleasure to read about. There’s discussion about a crapton of social issues that are really important for kids to read about. Gus and Kalyn’s families both play such a huge part in the book too, and their stories are equally important. I am keeping this short and sweet because there isn’t much more to say- it’s so much about the evolving relationship and debunking stereotypes. You just need to experience the thing, okay? Great.
Bottom Line: You need Gus and Kalyn in your life so… go forth and obtain them!