Nirvana by J.R. Stewart (ARC)

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When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Larissa Kenders lives in a world where the real and the virtual intermingle daily. After the supposed death of her soulmate, Andrew, Larissa is able to find solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world where anything is possible – even visits with Andrew. Although Larissa is told that these meetings are not real, she cannot shake her suspicion that Andrew is indeed alive. When she begins an investigation of Hexagon, the very institution that she has been taught to trust, Larissa uncovers much more than she ever expected and places herself in serious danger. Her biggest challenge, however, remains determining what is real – and what is virtual.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review for the updated version of the book can be found here. The following review is not representative of the final book.

There are good books, bad books, and then there are disappointing books. Disappointing because you have so much hope for them and you believe they can be good, but they ultimately fail in one way or another. Nirvana was unfortunately a disappointing book. And what a crying shame, because I firmly believe that Nirvana could have been an excellent book.

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Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

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At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is absolutely gorgeous. Of the books that I have read in 2015, I do not think a book has warmed my heart more. For anyone who loves an imaginative fantasy interlaced with undisguised socio-political awareness and commentary that features endearing, loveable characters, Sorcerer to the Crown will be a chocolate box – delightfully unexpected and satisfyingly sweet.

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Lullabies by Lang Leav

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Set to a musical theme, love’s poetic journey in this new, original collection begins with a Duet and travels through Interlude and Finale with an Encore popular piece from the best-selling Love & Misadventure. Lang Leav’s evocative poetry speaks to the soul of anyone who is on this journey.

I have no doubt that the feelings and fleeting moments that Lang Leav write about may be authentic. I’m a believer in the authenticity of feelings – including unwanted feelings, conflicting thoughts, and injurious wishes. The issue is that in the hands of an incompetent poet, the poems reduce these feelings to something puerile and deplorable. So instead of something complex, we have these poems that appear to dignify reckless, harmful ‘love’.

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Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

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When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

I have loved every book that Stephanie Kuehn has written so far, including her latest: Delicate Monsters.

Delicate Monsters is a psychological thriller that does not tiptoe around the perversion of human nature. On the contrary, Delicate Monsters is a psychological thriller that stares into the darkness face-on with wide, curious eyes, takes it and explores it layer by layer. There are some authors that imply the wickedness of their characters leaving you to imagine the extent of their depravity. And then there are some, like Stephanie Kuehn, who bare it all – mind, thoughts, intentions, behaviours, everything – and will still find ways to surprise you. There isn’t a place Kuehn will not venture, and the results are unflinching, graphic, and at times disturbing. Her writing and its subject matter will make you uncomfortable and squirm, but it is what makes her novels so effective and powerful.

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