Time-Traveling Thieves, Soulmates & Books With Cool Concepts

Time-Traveling Thieves, Soulmates & Books With Cool ConceptsMeant to Be
by Julie Halpern
Release Date: October 24th 2017
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Fantasy, YA
Format: eARC
Pages: 320
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Source: ARC received for review purposes

In a world where the names of MTBs—"meant to be" mates—appear on the body at age eighteen, a girl must decide whether to believe the phenomenon or follow her heart in this YA novel.It started happening a few years ago: the names of MTBs—"meant to be" mates—appeared emblazoned on the skin at age eighteen. Agatha's best friend has embraced the phenomenon and is head over heels in love with her MTB. But Ag isn't so sure. As she searches the interwebs for her MTB (who has a common name, no less) she finds herself falling for a co-worker at the local amusement park. Is he a better match? What does Agatha really want in a mate, and moreover, what does she want for herself?

With her trademark wit and irreverence, acclaimed author Julie Halpern explores an age-old question: Who are we meant to be with? Readers won't be able to resist knowing the answer.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I read Julie Halpern’s The F-It List a couple of years ago and adored it. I haven’t picked up anything else by her since, but when I came across Meant To Be, I got curious. Unfortunately, for me, this was one of those books that has an interesting concept that’s just not executed to its full potential.

In Halpern’s world, on your 18th birthday, your soulmate’s name becomes etched onto your skin, a phenomenon that’s gone unexplained. Isn’t that such an interesting story line to explore? Anyways, our protagonist, Agatha, wants nothing to do with this soulmate. She wants to make her own choice on her own terms. Agatha wasn’t the easiest character for me to get behind. She has a very dry sense of humor, and is also very sarcastic. Typically, I enjoy these sorts of heroines, but I don’t know, Agatha rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe, because I felt like she tried too hard at times? She mentioned her farts, her giant breasts frequently throughout the story, and it was done in an obnoxious way. I also feel like she thought of herself as above everyone else because she didn’t want to give in to the idea of her soulmate. Her relationship with her best friend was a perfect example of that. She constantly judges her friend for going after her soulmate and falling in love with him, and doesn’t particularly make an effort to understand her friend’s point of view.

Even though Agatha was kind of annoying, I pushed through the story because I wanted to know more about her MTB (soulmate). Unfortunately, that never happens. In fact, we don’t find out much about him until the very end. Most of the book involves Agatha’s relationship with one of her co-workers at the amusement she works at. That relationship didn’t work for me. Though Agatha claims to be very much attracted to him, I just couldn’t feel the connection. I really wish the book had focused more on Hendrix, Agatha’s soulmate because from the glimpses we see of him, he sounded like a far more interesting character.

I did finish the book, but by the end I was left with an overwhelming feeling of “what was the point?”. Unfortunately, I’m just not sure I can recommend this one. :/

Time-Traveling Thieves, Soulmates & Books With Cool ConceptsInvictus
by Ryan Graudin
Release Date: September 26th 2017
Genres: Sci-Fi, YA, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 464
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Source: ARC received for review purposes

Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Invictus is my first book from Ryan Graudin. I’ve heard absolutely wonderful things about her books, so I decided it was finally time to read something by her. I’m not usually one for science fiction books that involve time traveling or multiple universes, but I’ve got to admit that that this one of the well-written ones. I was hooked to the story from page 1!

I have to start this review talking about that prologue. It was absolutely brilliant, and completely reeled me in. Invictus is the sort of story that’s pretty impossible to put down once you start reading it. And when you do have to put it down, your mind drifts back to the story and the character. I mean it’s hard to for a book about time-traveling thieves going on heists to be boring, and Graudin uses her material and words to amp up the story. The book is pure fun, and it’s got plenty of interesting twists and turns to keep you glued to the story. The world building here is also outstanding. Ryan Graudin clearly understands the importance of building up her universe from the foundation and she does it brilliantly in Invictus. I think that’s one of the reason why the science fiction elements did not put me sleep as they normally would!

Of course, the cast also plays a role in making Invictus an enjoyable read. I adored each and everyone of them, and I especially loved that we get to see so much of all their personalities throughout the book. They all come from different backgrounds but they clicked well together. I have to admit though that as much as I loved all of them, I did have a favorite and that was Farway. He was intelligent, a strong leader, but also had his vulnerabilities that made him approachable. Priya, his love interest and the medic on the crew, perfectly balanced out his intensity with her softer, yet determined nature. Then, there was Imogen, Farway’s cousin, who was vibrant, quirky and very funny. Her love interest was a shy and awkward historian, Gram, who brought a smile to my face with his adorableness! The one character I had a hard time with is the new and mysterious Eliot. For most of the book she rubbed me the wrong way, and I never felt like I could trust her. Thankfully though, her character did not take away from my enjoyment. How could I not enjoy this book full of funny moments, great banter and realistic character dynamics?

Invictus was a very entertaining read and I highly recommend this one! After reading it, I’m convinced I need to read more books by Ryan Graudin.

Have you read a book that had an interesting concept but was not executed properly? What are some of your favorite heist books?
Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Ah i was excited about Meant to Be because of the premise but it sounds like that was the least explored part. What a bummer!!! Great reviews!

    • Yes, exactly. I was confused as to why it wasn’t explored more.

  • kindlemom1

    Such an interesting story line for the first book, I can see where it would have had a lot of potential, too bad it didn’t go well. 🙁
    So happy you loved Invictus too though! Wasn’t it fun?

    • Right??
      It really was!

  • Bummer, for book one. I liked the premise and feel bad it fell flat. Invictus sounds more to my liking!

    • Yeah, such an interesting concept but bleh!

  • Mentioned her farts and big boobs? Okay no, I’m all for being comfortable and open, but seriously, she talks about it throughout the entire book? I’ll strongly pass lol. Invictus sounds really good! I have Blood For Blood by Ryan, but I haven’t read it yet since I don’t own the first book. I’m thinking about starting with this to see what her hype is all about! Atleast this one wasn’t a bust for you!

    • Not throughout no, but she’d bring them up at random times and I’d be like what was the point of this piece of information??? She did frequently mention her giant boobs though.
      I hope you like Invictus. It’s a fun book for sure!

  • Invictus sounds so amazing…Ughhh…I have no room on my TBR!!! lol

    • Haha! This is all of us!

  • The premise of the second one sounds really intriguing

    • It really was!

  • Hey Nick, sucks to hear that you didn’t enjoy the Halpern book more but Invictus sound like a great read so I’m putting that on my wish list.

    Thanks for the reviews!

    • Yay! I hope you like it, Rowena. 🙂

  • Invictus was my first book by Ryan as well and now I’m super curious about her other series. I agree with you about the prologue. Super short but also packed a major punch and helped set up the whole book.

    • I’ve heard such good things about that series! I need to give it a try.

  • I do find the concept of Meant to Be to be intriguing, but the MC sounds awful. I have been seeing Invictus around, and I now I have to read it after reading your review.

    • Yeah she was very irritating. I think you’d like Invictus, Heidi! 🙂

  • How disappointing! I was looking forward to Meant to Be but now that I’ve read your thoughts, I’m uncertain. Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it! I’m definitely adding Invictus to my TBR list, though. This is the first time I’m hearing about it.

    • I hope you have better luck with it, Jessica. Invictus is great! 🙂

  • A Novel Glimpse

    My favorite heist book is probably Six of Crows. I’m not sure if I’ve read any other ones…;)

  • I am kind of sad about Meant to Be. I was really excited about this one. *sad face*

    • I hope you like it better than I did!

  • Sorry, Meant to Be was a bust. Glad you enjoyed Invictus. It is not my thing as I am not a fan of sci-fi.

    • Understandable!

  • Bookworm Brandee

    It’s too bad Meant to Be didn’t live up to its potential. Kudos for finishing it. Invictus sounds pretty great though. I don’t read much of scifi but with the world building and characters…I’ll have to check it out!

    • I hope you like it!

  • I’m sorry Meant to Be didn’t live up to it’s potential, especially when the concept sounds so interesting. Invictus is among my most anticipated books. I love Graudin’s Wolf by Wolf trilogy so I can’t wait to see what this book has lined up for us. I’m so happy to hear that each character has a distinct voice and personality within the group and the dynamic between them sounds awesome.

    • I know how much you love Wolf by Wolf, Lois, and if it’s anything like Invictus, I need to read it asap!

  • I’ve never heard of Meant to Be, but I’m sorry you didn’t end up liking it! And yay about Invictus! I have been hesitating about picking that one up because I didn’t necessarily LOVE the authors first book, Wolf by Wolf, but now I’m convinced that this one will be better!

    • Oh interesting. I think you might be the first person I know that hasn’t liked that series. I’m curious to see what you’d think of this one.

  • Meant To Be sounded like it should be awesome. I mean, soulmates are one of my favourite fanfic tropes so it should totally work for me when it comes to normal books as well, right? Sadly, it sounds like it wouldn’t work for me either. I mean, the MC sounds annoying and like she’s trying too hard and she definitely sounds a little judgey. Also, the sound of the romance isn’t working for me either. I hate when awesome premises turn into lacklustre stories.

    Invictus is a book I started to read before I went on holiday but I really wasn’t in the right mood for it and I just haven’t gone back to it. I think the problem is I’ve loved everything Ryan Graudin has written so far so I have high expectations so I think I keep talking myself out of reading in case I’m disappointed. I will try again because I got an ARC, also I plan on buying the book anyway, if I can, so I will read this and I will love it. I am determined.