First Line Fridays: “Foul is Fair” by Hannah Capin

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hoarding Books.


It’s been a long time since I’ve done FLL and I missed it dearly. While I can’t promise to do this more regularly, I will endeavor to try; it’s a new year, a new decade after all. I think it will also help me be accountable for the monthly reading list I created for myself (more about that in my 2019 recap post, which I’ll try to write this weekend.)

Anyway, today I’m going to be featuring a book that mashes up MacbethCruel Intentions and Kill Bill. Hannah Capin’s second book, Foul is Fair tackles rape culture and violence. It centers on Elle/Jade and her friends, and their plot to take revenge on the boys who raped her.

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Sweet sixteen is when the claws come out.

We’re all flash tonight. Jenny and Summer and Mads and me. Vodka and heels we could never quite walk in before, but tonight we can. short skirts – the shortest. Glitter and highlight. Matte and shine. Long hair and whitest-white teeth.

I’ve never been blond before but tonight my hair is platinum. Mads bleached it too fast but I don’t care because tonight’s the only night that matters. and my eyes are jade-green tonight instead of brown, and Summer swears the contacts Jenny bought are going to melt into my eyes and I’ll never see again, but I don’t care about that either.

Tonight I’m sixteen.

I started this book late December, but, with the hecticness and stress of the holidays, I had to put it down. I am back at it and am about 70% through. This one is just as dark and gritty as it promised, and I’m both excited and afraid of how Jade’s story ends.

Foul is Fair releases February 18.

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Have you read this book? What are you reading? Let’s chat!

💗💗💗

Rachel

Review: “Jane Anonymous” by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Book CoverTitle: Jane Anonymous
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Publishing Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
Content Warnings: Abduction, Stockholm syndrome, manipulation, PTSD, obsession, stalking
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Compelling and haunting, Laurie Faria Stolarz’s explores trauma, healing, and hope in her newest novel Jane Anonymous.

Then, “Jane” was just your typical 17-year-old in a typical New England suburb getting ready to start her senior year. She had a part-time job she enjoyed, an awesome best friend, overbearing but loving parents, and crush on a boy who was taking her to see her favorite band. She never would’ve imagined that in her town where nothing ever happens, a series of small coincidences would lead to a devastating turn of events that would forever change her life..

Now, it’s been three months since “Jane” escaped captivity and returned home. Three months of being that girl who was kidnapped, the girl who was held by a “monster.” Three months of writing down everything she remembered from those seven months locked up in that stark white room. But, what if everything you thought you knew – everything you thought you experienced –turned out to be a lie

Aware of the theme of this book, I went into this story with a prepared heart. But, alas, it was to no avail.

As gut-wrenching as it was gripping, Jane Anonymous is one story that’ll get under your skin and get through your heart. It explores trauma – its effects on both the victim and the people around them – healing and hope.

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LAURIE FARIA STOLARZ: I love that you’ve chosen this text. I struggled so much with it. I didn’t want it to reveal too much, and yet I wanted a degree of retrospection here. I rewrote this text again and again, trying to get the right balance – just enough insight but not too much. 

Gutsy main character “Jane” narrates the story, going back and forth between then, which covers the time before and during her seven-month captivity, and now, three months after her return home. She has a compelling voice, honest and raw and vulnerable. It was so easy to empathize with her.

The exploration of trauma, and the long and varied road to healing is at the heart of this book.

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LFS: I really wanted to show that therapy isn’t one-size-fits-all. Brave acts as therapy for Jane, giving her a sense of purpose. Brave also cries out when Jane can’t, and helps Jane see that life is worth fighting for; despite all of the abuse Brave has lived through, she still hasn’t lost her will to live. It is her instinct – something Jane admires.

Jane, at the beginning of the story, was in pieces: isolated, made to question her own experience. All throughout the book I felt like Jane stood alone. Her parents, even her best friend Shelley, seemed to expect her to just go back to her normal self once she returned home. It could be because they don’t know how to deal with it, but I don’t think they ever understood what Jane has gone through. The only one who was open and willing enough to try was Jack.

Bleak her start may be, Jane ends the book at a hopeful place. I think she started coming to terms with what has happened to her, ready to start healing and take back control of her life.

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LFS: In this scene, Jane is overhearing her father talk to a nurse at the hospital. Jane doesn’t feel she has a voice in her own life. People are talking about her in the third-person, as though she’s not even there, not even part of her own healing. Jane uses their words here to convey how alone she feels (the notion of luck feels so foreign to her at this point.) The point here is that people talk about her, as though everything is about her (her health, her growth, her safety, etc.). But things aren’t about her at all – not really. They’re more about them – how Jane’s time in captivity affects them/their lives.

Though heavy, I enjoyed reading Jane Anonymous. It was fast-paced and suspenseful. The story flowed really well even with all the switches between Jane’s then and now. Stolarz was able to handle trauma with care and sensitivity.

That said, there were a few things that didn’t work for me. Most characters, with the exception of Jane, were two dimensional. You really don’t get to know them much – Jane’s parents, Shelley; “Mason” and Jack were a little bit better but not by much.

Still, overall, this was a good read. Readers of crime and suspense YA thrillers will find something to love in this one. I highly recommend this especially for those who love Courtney Summers’ Sadie and Kathleen Glasgow’s Girl in Pieces.

about the authorLaurie Faria Stolarz

LAURIE FARIA STOLARZ is an American author of young adult fiction novels, best known for her Blue is for Nightmares series. Her works, which feature teenage protagonists, blend elements found in mystery and romance novels.

Stolarz found sales success with her first novel, Blue is for Nightmares, and followed it up with three more titles in the series, White is for Magic, Silvers is for Secrets, and Red is for Remembrance, as well as a companion graphic novel, Black is for Beginnings. Stolarz is also the author of the Touch series (Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, and Deadly Little Lessons,) as well as Bleed and Project 17. With more than two million books sold worldwide, Stolarz’s titles have been named on various awards list.

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January 7th

January 8th

Musings of a (Book) Girl – Meet The Characters
BookishGeek – Review + Favourite Quotes
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Life With No Plot – Review
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January 9th

Pages and Pugs – Deleted Scenes
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The Reading Life – Guest Post
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Kait Plus Books – Character Interview
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To All The Books I’ve Read Before – Video Interview

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January 13th

A Book Addict’s Bookshelves – Top 5 or 10 List
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Review: “The Athena Protocol” by Shamim Sarif

The Athena ProtocolTitle: The Athena Protocol
Author: Shamim Sarif
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC access provided by the publisher as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour. All opinions expressed are my own.

Shamim Sarif serves up fast-paced, action-packed spy thriller in her YA debut The Athena Protocol.

Jessie Archer is a member of the Athena Protocol, an elite organization of female spies who enact vigilante justice around the world.

Athena operatives are never supposed to shoot to kill – so when Jessie can’t stop herself from pulling the trigger, she gets kicked out of the organization, right before a huge mission to take down a human trafficker in Belgrade.

Jessie needs to right her wrong and prove herself, so she starts her own investigation into the trafficking. But going rogue means she has no one to watch her back as she delves into the horrors she uncovers. Meanwhile, her former teammates have been ordered to bring her down. Jessie must face danger from all ides if she’s to complete her mission – and survive.

This was one of my most anticipated books this year. A spy thriller featuring female spies? You got my attention. Someone from the team turns rogue and the other members are ordered to bring her down? SIGN ME UP!

The Athena Protocol was an enjoyable read. Thrilling, fast-paced, so full of heart-pumping action and delicious plot twists. I gobbled up all the spy part – the cool gadgets, Jessie’s amazing ways with a computer and the net, all the spying and sneaking around and bringing down the bad guys.

But more than all the kickass stuff, this book is about female bonds: the strength of it, the depth of it.

The Athena Protocol #3

The bond between the three female spies – Hala, Caitlin, and Jessie – was easily my most favorite part of this book. They weren’t perfect: they fight and argue and have differing opinions and ways of doing things. Coming from different backgrounds and factoring in their unique personalities, it’s something that couldn’t be helped. Caitlin acted as the lever, balancing and tempering her teammates, oftentimes running as a mediator and acting as team leader when they are out in the field.  Hala was closed-off and guarded, controlled and distrustful, cold even. She’s had it toughest among the three and her beginnings are a big part of who she is and how she processes things.

Then there’s Jessie.

Jessie is a compelling protagonist. Fiery, headstrong, and soldier-like in efficiency, she is a competent agent with a deep sense of justice. Her impulsiveness, however, led her to break rules and cross lines, her decisions blowing right back in her face and putting her at odds with her teammates and superiors.

I admit I didn’t like Jessie – her impulsivity and her immaturity both are strikes against her in my book – but it does not take away what a good character she is. She’s an effective story mover. She advanced scene after scene and, with her unpredictability, kept everything exciting while doing so. However, for all her talk of wanting to do better, Jessie’s character growth was minimal at best. She kept on committing the same mistakes throughout the book, never learning from them, and it stagnated her progress.

The Athena Protocol quote #2

This book took a while before it hooked its claws on me. Especially considering that this was told from a first-person POV, an almost infallible way to draw my full attention in, it moved like molasses. The narration felt more like a rundown of what a character, blurring the details – the feel and movement of the scene playing in the MC’s background – that add texture to the story. This lasts until the halfway mark where things, thankfully, start to finally pick up.

The F/F relationship between Jessie and Paulina, the daughter of the story’s villain, added an extra kick to this story. The pair’s dynamics kind of reminded me of Killing Eve’s Eve Polastri and Villanelle, only they’re a lighter version. The twist involving these two right about the last 50 or so pages of the book was something I did not see coming and truly surprises me in a very good way.

The Athena Protocol quote #1

Overall, The Athena Protocol stayed true to what it advertised itself to be – a compulsive YA thriller that’ll have its readers biting their nails. The bond its characters had is this book’s greatest strength. However, the slow start and the lack of character growth took its toll on me and impacted my reading enjoyment. Still, even if I didn’t love this book as much as I thought I would, I think it will find its audience in YA thriller fans especially those who crave spy stories.

about the author

Shamim SarifSHAMIM SARIF is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and director born in the UK.

Her debut novel, The World Unseen was inspired by her family’s South African Indian heritage. The book won a Betty Trask award and the Pendleton May First Novel award.

Shamim has adapted and directed the films of all three of her novels including, most recently, Despite the Falling Snow. The book was published by Headline in the UK and St. Martin’s Press in the US. The movie stars Rebecca Ferguson and Charles Dance in a story of love and betrayal in cold war Russia. Her films have won 47 awards internationally.

An accomplished speaker, Shamim has spoken at TED events worldwide, at the INK Conference in India and DLD in Munich. Corporate speaking events have included Deloitte, Goldman Sacs, Citibank, and Disney.

Shamim lives in London with her wife, Hanan, and their two sons.

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Giveaway

Win a copy of “The Athena Protocol” by Shamim Sarif (US only)

Giveaway ends October 16th.

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October 2nd

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Kait Plus Books – Guest Post
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Phannie the ginger bookworm – Review + Favourite Quotes
Utopia State of Mind – Review + Favourite Quotes
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Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
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Confessions of a YA Reader – Review + Favourite Quotes
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Cafeyre – Review + Favourite Quotes
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In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
The YA Obsessed – Review

 

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “Now You See Her” by Lisa Leighton and Laura Stropki

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tessa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


I’m a sucker for twisty stories. You know? Those stories that make you think you know what’s gonna happen, then another thing happens and it’s all a mess? I don’t know what that makes me but I like them for some reason, and today’s CWW feature looks like another one of those twisty stories I’ll fall all over for.

36300978AMELIA has always felt like a happy life is just out of reach. Having moved every few years with her mom and sister, she’s always had a hard time making and keeping friends; there’s never enough time, and never enough money to stay in one place. And now, in her senior year, right before tennis season, Mom wants to move again.

SOPHIE has a perfectly curated, Instagram-ready life, from her first singles wins to her cute, long-term boyfriend to the beautiful, landscaped home where she lives with her parents. Though they’re tennis teammates, the two girls almost never speak.

But then one night changes everything. When Amelia’s car breaks down on the side of the road in a rainstorm, a man she thinks is a Good Samaritan pulls over to help her. When he tries to abduct her instead, she escapes into oncoming traffic.

In one inexplicable moment, Amelia and Sophie switch bodies. Amelia wakes up in Sophie’s body. Amelia’s body is in a coma. Now Amelia needs to find a way to switch back into her own life—but before that, she must retrace her steps to unravel the mystery of the accident, her attempted abduction, and how it’s all tied to her mother’s secret past.

Now You See Her sounds like a scarier version of Freaky Friday. I love it! I saw its e-ARC available for request on Edelweiss last week but I didn’t request for it because it’s just too close to its release date and I don’t want to have to rush myself reading it. 😕

This book comes out June 26, published by Katherine Tegen Books. In the meantime while you wait for it to come out, you can add it on your WTR shelf on Goodreads. (Or maybe, pre-order it. I have 😉)

💗💗💗

Rachel

Were you one of the lucky people who got to read this in advance? Link your reviews on the comments section. I’d love to read your take on it.

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