Better Than Perfect | Seven Black Diamonds | The Lure

Mini Reviews of the audiobooks of Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor, Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr, and The Lure by Lynne Ewing.

I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Better Than Perfect | Seven Black Diamonds | The LureBetter Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
Also by this author: Maybe One Day
Narrator: Caitlin Davis
Length: 7 Hours 44 Minutes
Published by Harper Collins on February 17th 2015
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Family, Marriage & Divorce, Social Themes, Friendship, Romance, General
Pages: 336
Format: Audiobook, eARC, Hardcover
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062279255

From the acclaimed author of Maybe One Day, Melissa Kantor, comes a poignant coming-of-age story that skillfully captures the singular experience of being a teenage girl. This beautifully woven tale will appeal to fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen.
Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.
But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she's always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there's Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who's totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn't all it's cracked up to be?

Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor totally hit my sweet spot. Looking at Goodreads though, it appears that I am an anomaly. Thankfully, I went into this book awhile after the release date. I also read it via audiobook instead of the physical copy I had right in the house. I WAS SO ENGAGED BY THE AUDIOBOOK. Like, I listened to this in basically two days and actually wanted more.

Better Than Perfect is all about Juliet, a senior at a high school in Long Island. Her life is seemingly perfect until her family life falls apart. Her dad leaves her mom and her mom straight up has a break down. So, one day over the summer Juliet comes home to see her mom and it turns out her mom has tried to commit suicide. So, her mom goes inpatient. Juliet feels she’s losing it, so she goes to visit her best friend Sophia at the country club where she works — also where her boyfriend’s family are members. By twists of fate, she ends up meeting Declan and his siblings who are all in this band. Juliet finds herself attracted for Declan for a few hours and escaping her perfect seeming life.

So, I was really into the plotting of Better Than Perfect. I mean, you see how hard Juliet tries to have the perfect life – she’s aiming for a perfect SAT score, she’s in the perfect extracurriculars. Her boyfriend also has a bit of that perfect vibe to him. Yet, she wants to just rebel against the pressure and do something for herself. Not to mention, her home life is not what she wants it to be. AND ALL the resisting of Declan. Basically if you want a contemporary book that is juicy but also feels serious, you should read this book.

Actually, you should really listen to Better Than Perfect. Based on goodreads, I think that part of why I was so into it was Caitlin Davis’s narration of the audiobook. Davis has an authentic voice. I felt she embodied Juliet so well, to the point that I was really rooting her on to just do something for herself. For real though, this audiobook elevates the actual book.

Other reviews of Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor:

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I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Better Than Perfect | Seven Black Diamonds | The LureSeven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr
Also by this author: Graveminder
Series: Seven Black Diamonds #1
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Length: 10 Hours 3 Minutes
Published by HarperCollins on March 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, General, Romance, Fairy Tales & Folklore
Pages: 400
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062239211

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds—and the people who must thrive there. The combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen will have longtime fans and new readers alike at the edge of their seats.
Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she's half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born her very blood has been illegal. A war has been raging between humans and faeries, and the Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of the fae courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir due to the actions of reckless humans.
Lily's father has always shielded her from the truth, but when she's sent to the prestigious St. Columba's school, she's delivered straight into the arms of a fae Sleeper cell—the Black Diamonds. The Diamonds are planted in the human world as the sons and daughters of the most influential families, and tasked with destroying it from within. Against her will, Lilywhite's been chosen to join them . . . and even the romantic attention of the fae rock singer Creed Morrison isn't enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the familiar world she knows.

Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr is the first book in her Seven Black Diamonds series and for awhile while listening to the audiobook I kept thinking of it as Seven Blood Diamonds and well, I imagine that would have played out so much differently than this book. So, I’ve read a handful of Marr’s other books – a spin off from Wicked Lovely, Graveminder, and two of the Blackwell Pages series she writes with Kelley Armstrong. I certainly enjoy her books but I have yet to find one that makes me feel like a super fan or evangelist.

Lilywhite Abernathy is basically the main character in Seven Black Diamonds. Her dad is this awesome mob boss. And you know how in Zootopia and in The Godfather there’s always a big party for their daughters? Well, there’s a pretty big party for Lilywhite Abernathy and this famous guy named Creed Morison comes. And oh yes? Lilywhite is half fae and it turns out that is a bad thing in her world. So, anyways, she ends up going to this private school called St. Columba’s. There are six fae at St. Columba’s who are part of a Sleeper cell, infiltrating the human world. Lilywhite’s life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.

I guess I am just not super huge into the fae. I don’t know, I feel like they are kind of mean. So, parts of this book are interesting – like when Lilywhite is learning about her different affinities for the elements and how rare that is. There’s also this whole love square between her, Zephyr, Creed, and Alkamy. I was not so much into that. Actually, the romance was just not my thing because the love interest’s name is Creed and all I could think of was the character from The Office named Creed and that awful band.

The audiobook is narrated by Therese Plummer. Plummer narrates in a competent way. I don’t hold my non-love of this book against the narration one bit. I just think perhaps I am not the right fit. I do think if you love Holly Black’s books, you’re going to really love Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr.

Other reviews of Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr:

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I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Better Than Perfect | Seven Black Diamonds | The LureThe Lure by Lynne Ewing
Narrator: Marisol Ramirez
Length: 7 Hours 58 Minutes
Published by Harper Collins on February 11th 2014
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, General, Violence, Dating & Sex
Pages: 288
Format: Audiobook, ARC, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062206909

From bestselling author Lynne Ewing comes a gritty, sexy novel perfect for fans of books like Perfect Chemistry—about a teen forced to become a "lure," a beautiful girl used by her street gang to seduce and entrap rival gang members.
The Lure tells the story of fifteen-year-old Blaise Montgomery, who lives on the dangerous outskirts of Washington, DC, where a stray bullet can steal a life on the way to school and death lurks around every corner. Drugs and violence are the only ways to survive, so Blaise and her friends turn to gangs for safety, money, and love. And when Blaise is accepted into one of the toughest gangs in the city, she's finally part of a crew. A family.
But as Blaise is put in increasingly dangerous situations, particularly as her gang's newest lure, she begins to see there's more to lose than she ever realized. Should Blaise continue to follow the only path she's ever known, or cut and run?

Okay, so The Lure by Lynne Ewing is a book that I thought was by a Person of Color based on the subject matter, the characters, and the book cover. Alas, this is not an #OwnVoices book in the least. I am not entirely sure how accurate portrayals are in this book.

The Lure has been on my TBR for a wicked long time. Enough time that I felt kind of guilty for not getting to it. Thus, I decided to listen to the audiobook. And well, I will admit the audiobook did keep my attention. So, this book is about a girl named Blaise Montgomery. She lives in the bad part of Washington DC. She sees her only option of gaining respect is to join a local gang, Core 9. So, she basically gets the crap kicked out of her for one full minute and boom is in the gang. The leader of the gang decides that Blaise is really pretty and so, he uses her to be a lure for rival gang members. Alas, this is super dangerous.

Hm, okay, so I literally know nothing about gangs. I grew up in rural America. We had field parties on farms, not gangs. Now I live in an area with like proximity to gangs but I am still in the affluent-ish suburbs. I guess what I am getting at is that I don’t know how accurate this book is. I have this vague sense that there were some stereotypes being promoted. I mean, there’s no real white savior or anything like that. But it seemed like everyone in the book was portrayed as hopeless and never going to leave the projects. I, just, it’s like that Trump speech about all Black people living in inner cities. It just rubs me the wrong way. I mean, I didn’t stop listening to the audiobook or anything. Just, eh, I feel weird about this book. I wouldn’t stop anyone from reading or listening to it though.

The audiobook is narrated by Marisol Ramirez. She’s a great narrator for this book. Her voice sounds pretty gritty, and it is how I would imagine Blaise’s character. The Lure is a relatively fast audiobook to listen to.

Other reviews of The Lure by Lynne Ewing:

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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