Reviews in a Minute: More March Manuscripts

Yay, more March books! Another pretty good batch, too!

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora
Body of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter
Namesake by Adrienne Young



Reviews in a Minute: More March Manuscripts The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Published by Simon & Schuster on March 9, 2021
Pages: 320
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

Two former best friends return to their college reunion to find that they’re being circled by someone who wants revenge for what they did ten years before—and will stop at nothing to get it—in this shocking psychological thriller about ambition, toxic friendship, and deadly desire.

A lot has changed in the years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads “We need to talk about what we did that night.”

It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past—and the people she thought she’d left there—aren’t as buried as she’d believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester. This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused—the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else, and the girl who paid the price.

Alternating between the reunion and Amb’s freshman year, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a shocking novel about the brutal lengths girls can go to get what they think they’re owed, and what happens when the games we play in college become matters of life and death.

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You probably already guessed this, but the girls are really really not nice here. Like, at all. And vying for the title of Least Nice™ is our very own main character, Ambrosia. Now, this is a mystery/thriller situation, so I’ll keep most of the plot pretty vague. But for those of you who’ve been to college, especially far away where you didn’t know anyone, remember how that first semester is? That feeling of being so completely alone and out of your element? That’s Ambrosia. I, personally, cried myself to sleep for four months, but Ambrosia decided instead to try to pack in as much awfulness as she could within her first five minutes of school.

And I get it, on some level! It’s that pivotal moment that we’ve all experienced in life: When someone gives us a choice to do the wrong thing with a promised “reward” of fitting in, we have to decide who we want to be. And frankly, spineless Ambrosia didn’t waffle that much. And you won’t be surprised that she did either. Her life now is so perfectly constructed to look like what Ambrosia thinks she’s supposed to want. A nice apartment with a cute husband, a well-paying job. But she’s wholly unfulfilled, because as always, she’s seeking what she assumes to be measures of success rather than looking inward at what she actually wants to do.

The reunion looms, and Ambrosia is afraid to take her husband to this past chapter of her life. And we start to see why as the reunion unfolds. But honestly, I don’t even think she much likes the husband anyway, so maybe she ought not worry. I found myself totally immersed in what kind of debauchery Ambrosia took part in, and what she could have possibly done that was so wretched that she couldn’t stomach the thought of facing it. So yeah, I hated her, but I was also completely compelled to find out what happened.

Bottom Line: Get ready to be appalled by a fascinating character who you hope never to cross paths with in this exciting thriller.


Reviews in a Minute: More March Manuscripts Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora
Published by Flux on March 9, 2021
Pages: 352
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

Sixteen-year-old Nate is a GEM—Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue created by the scientists of Gathos City as a cure for the elite from the fatal lung rot ravaging the population. As a child, he was smuggled out of the laboratory where he was held captive and into the Withers—a quarantined, lawless region. Nate manages to survive by using his engineering skills to become a Tinker, fixing broken tech in exchange for food or a safe place to sleep. When he meets Reed, a kind and fiercely protective boy that makes his heart race, and his misfit gang of scavengers, Nate finds the family he’s always longed for—even if he can’t risk telling them what he is.

But Gathos created a genetic failsafe in their GEMs—a flaw that causes their health to rapidly deteriorate as they age unless they are regularly dosed with medication controlled by Gathos City. As Nate’s health declines, his hard-won freedom is put in jeopardy. Violence erupts across the Withers, his illegal supply of medicine is cut off, and a vicious attack on Reed threatens to expose his secret. With time running out, Nate is left with only two options: work for a shadowy terrorist organization that has the means to keep him alive, or stay — and die — with the boy he loves.

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**The author very kindly provided content warning**

So, I mostly liked this story, especially once I got into it. It’s about Nate, a young man who was genetically engineered. In Nate’s world, not only is he looked down upon, but he could be tortured or killed for his mere existence. And oh yeah, his existence can straight up kill him right back. So things aren’t looking great, you see.

I am going to get my negative out of the way right now, and that is that I was kind of lost and overwhelmed at the start of the story. Like, I understood what was going on with Nate to some extent, but figuring out the different factions of the world while trying to keep track of who’s who in Nate’s friend group was… a lot. But as the story went on, I did get a handle on it- mostly. I did absolutely fall in love with Nate’s friends, but I was still left a bit confused by the world. I liked what I did get, but I felt like there was a lot more going on behind the scenes, so to speak.

Anyway, Nate is racing to save both himself and his friends and any other randos he stumbles upon. When we meet him, he’s worried about his increasing level of sickness, he’s worried about his friends getting caught by baddies, and when he stumbles upon a train accident, he’s worried about those guys. Nate is a good dude, is the basic gist here. And I loved that! Like, someone who actually just wants to be a good guy, it’s refreshing. As is his loyalty to his friends. Granted, he often tended to this loyalty at his own expense, which is not what his friends would want, but his intentions are good.

There were some great twists along the way, too. Some I saw coming, some I didn’t, but I quite enjoyed the overall tone of the story, as well as the characters and their journeys.

Bottom Line: After a bit of a slow start, my heart was definitely captured by this group who just wanted to protect their found family, and wanted to make the world tolerable.


Reviews in a Minute: More March Manuscripts Body of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter
Published by Dutton Books on March 18, 2021
Pages: 368
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

An exploration of fate and female agency in a world very similar to our own--except that the markings on women's bodies reveal the future. A piercing indictment of rape culture, a read about what happens when women are objectified and stripped of choice--and what happens when they fight back.

Celeste Morton has eagerly awaited her passage to adulthood. Like every girl, she was born with a set of childhood markings--the freckles, moles, and birthmarks on her body that foretell her future and that of those around her--and with puberty will come a new set of predictions that will solidify her fate. The possibilities are tantalizing enough to outweigh the worry that the future she dreams of won't be the one she's fated to have and the fear of her "changeling period" the time when women are nearly irresistible to men and the risk of abduction is rife.

Celeste's beloved brother, Miles, is equally anticipating her transition to adulthood. As a skilled interpreter of the future, a field that typically excludes men, Miles considers Celeste his practice ground--and the only clue to what his own future will bring. But when Celeste changes, she learns a devastating secret about Miles's fate: a secret that could destroy her family, a secret she will do anything to keep. Yet Celeste isn't the only one keeping secrets, and when the lies of brother and sister collide, it leads to a tragedy that will irrevocably change Celeste's fate, set her on a path to fight against the inherent misogyny of fortune-telling, and urge her to create a future that is truly her own.

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*CW: Sexual assault/rape

Body of Stars was quite a unique and thought-provoking take on a dystopian world in which women are treated terribly. Much like the greatest of dystopian worlds, it takes the characters a hot second to see that their world is, in fact, trash. Because when you are raised hearing the same vitriol preached as gospel, what else could you possibly believe? And there is the rub: even in our society, we often don’t notice oppression happening right before our eyes.

In this particular story, Celeste, like every female, has a series of markings on her body that people believe predicts the future. And there’s a whole gross ceremony surrounding it, and people basically take these predictions as set in stone. Which is, of course, a super convenient way to trap women, but that’s a whole other discussion. Anyway, when Celeste and her friends start hitting puberty (which happens oddly late, and was never really explained), they become, for a short period of time, extra… appealing. And as always, it is the burden of the women to keep themselves covered, to stay away from men, to not go out alone. It’s absurd to read about, but then… think about the messages women in the real world get every day. Yeah, same. And then, if the young woman does get assaulted (or even worse and quite frequent, kidnapped, drugged, and raped), she’s considered “tainted”. Can’t go to college, can’t get a decent paying job… all because some monster hurt her.

The crux of the story lies in whether Celeste can come to terms with this whole societal structure being total bullshit. That it is the fault of the attacker, never the person attacked. She’ll encounter people all across the spectrum, from those who staunchly defend the mistreatment of women, to those who vehemently oppose it and spend their life’s work trying to defeat it.

Bottom Line: It’s so very thought provoking, and especially introspective. In such a unique world with some very familiar vile ways of thinking, would we rise against the oppression, or side with barbaric “tradition”?


Reviews in a Minute: More March Manuscripts Namesake by Adrienne Young
Series: Fable #2
Published by Wednesday Books on March 16, 2021
Pages: 368
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

Trader. Fighter. Survivor.

With the Marigold ship free of her father, Fable and its crew were set to start over. That freedom is short-lived when she becomes a pawn in a notorious thug’s scheme. In order to get to her intended destination she must help him to secure a partnership with Holland, a powerful gem trader who is more than she seems.

As Fable descends deeper into a world of betrayal and deception she learns that her mother was keeping secrets, and those secrets are now putting the people Fable cares about in danger. If Fable is going to save them then she must risk everything, including the boy she loves and the home she has finally found.

Filled with action, emotion, and lyrical writing, New York Times bestselling author Adrienne Young returns with Namesake, the final book in the captivating Fable duology.

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I found myself quite enjoying Fable last year, and very eager to dive back in with Namesake. (Ha, get it, dive? Such a bad pun, sorry.) It had been a minute since I read Fable, and I do admit that I was a bit lost at first. It took me some time to remember who was on what side, and so on, but eventually, I did! And then the book really picked up.

This series is a great example of why duologies work so well. The first book was exciting, with a good setup for a second book. But since there’s no middle book to worry about, the action continues throughout, and the story ends in a very satisfying way. It’s enough time to grow to care about the characters, to understand the world, but never feel bogged down by either.

I was never bored while reading this series, and was engaged and excited to find out what would become of Fable (and frankly, the whole Marigold crew). I wanted to know her family secrets, and see her finally find some peace and happiness. This series fully delivered, both in terms of action and satisfaction.

Bottom Line: It’s a fun and engaging duology with an awesome cast of characters and tons of excitement. Definitely recommend.

Have you read any of these books? Plan to? Let us chat about them!  

Posted March 15, 2021 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 10 Comments


10 responses to “Reviews in a Minute: More March Manuscripts

  1. The Young book was the only one on my radar. The others are new to me. The Girls… sounds like one of those books with really unlikable characters but good plotting.

  2. As always, I find your reviews to be some of the only ones I will actually read–you never give too much away and always give some concrete things that made you like it more or less. I’m now super interested in The Girls and Body of Stars.

    • AW Wendy! I just saw this now (Idk what the heck I was doing back then, whoops?) and this made my DAY, you have no idea! ♥♥ Also, I agree about Girls! My mom is currently reading it (because I am evil like that hah) and I can’t wait to see what she thinks- I agree wholly with you! Like glad I read it, also glad I never have to know those people ?

  3. I kind of want to read Namesake to find out why she dyes her hair ??I also feel like I figured out a twist from book 1 so I need to see if I was right ahhh must get onto that ? I love y our reviews as always!! ?

  4. Ah I’m glad you liked The Girls Are All So Nice Here, honestly I’m SO intrigued by that book? I’ll have to try it out sometime. and yay! I’m happy to see you enjoyed Namesake as well. I was surprised by how much I liked Fable, I can’t wait to read this sequel now 🙂

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