Again, But Better by Christine Riccio Review

A young woman yearning to follow her dreams and overcome her shy nature finds herself far outside her bubble and struggling with new friendships, possible romances and a road very few travel in author Christine Riccio’s novel, “Again, but Better”.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman yearning to follow her dreams and overcome her shy nature finds herself far outside her bubble and struggling with new friendships, possible romances and a road very few travel in author Christine Riccio’s novel, “Again, but Better”. 

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The Synopsis

From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that? 

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! 

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. 

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

The Review

This was an amazing read from a wonderful new author. The author perfectly captures the raw emotional struggle of those who struggle with self-doubt and reservedness that makes it difficult to put one’s self out there for friendship, love or any social life whatsoever. As someone who frequently struggles with this to this day, it was a novel and protagonist that truly spoke to me and I believe many readers will be able to identify and relate to as they read this novel.

One of the fun and interesting aspects is the sudden introduction of a magical or supernatural element of the story halfway through the novel, taking readers by surprise. This story element does a remarkable job of bringing a new understanding not only to the characters but to the concept of fighting for your dreams and overcoming that struggle between shyness and confidence. Readers will love this new element of the novel and will grow more with the characters overall as the story progresses. 

The Verdict

This was a fantastic novel from a promising new author that has a deep understanding and command over the YA genre. Protagonist Shane is a beloved character that readers will instantly root for and relate to, and the novel itself is an evenly paced read that will keep readers on the edge of their seat as the narrative comes to its end. This is a top contender for YA Book of the Year, and a wonderful read that will have readers excited to read more novels from the author in the years to come. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “Again, but Better” by Christine Riccio today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christine Riccio has been on a quest to encourage more humans to read since the third grade. No one really listened until she started making videos about books on Youtube in 2010. Now her channel PolandbananasBOOKS has over 390,000 book-loving subscribers. She makes comedic book reviews, vlogs, sketches, and writing videos chronicling the creation of her own novel. She’s also one of the three YouTubers behind BOOKSPLOSION. Originally from New Jersey, Christine graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in Film and TV and now lives in Los Angeles, CA. Other hobbies include hot yoga and oatmeal. 

https://www.youtube.com/user/polandbananasBOOKS

https://www.instagram.com/xtinemay/

https://www.facebook.com/CMRproductionz/

https://www.christinericcio.com/

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Northfighters: The View From The Christallis by Colm Dowd Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Worlds collide in author Colm Dowd’s debut YA novel “Northfighters: The View From The Christallis”. The first in what hopes to be a powerful new YA series, a world filled with magic and creatures unlike anything our world has ever seen merges with our own world, and four kids find themselves thrust into a war they never asked for. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

What happens when you start to write a book for your kids to compete with Pokémon but you take so long to write it, it ends up more influenced by Smallville, Lost, Lord of the Rings and The X-Files? (To name a few) You end up with ‘Northfighters – The View from the Chrystallis’.

This is not your typical fantasy book, but it is a fantasy. And it has it all.

Eleven year old Chris Talbot is the likeable protagonist, with his nerdy friend Josh, his bully nemesis Mike, and his heart’s desire Sylvia. All four of them end up avoiding near death on their school trip near Seattle. They are being pursued by ghoulish monsters that have been sent after them by the charismatic yet maniacal super villain Salazon. Salazon ‘The Evil’ as he would prefer to be known has supreme psychic powers and a pretty big chip on his shoulder. He has an elaborate scheme to trigger a massive battle between two of his world’s people that, he just doesn’t want to have around anymore.

Salazon has been given a forewarning that this boy Chris is somehow going to be a thorn in his side. Luckily for Chris and his friends, they are taken through a portal to a strange and beautiful land by the heroic Talbar, a lord of the Northfighter people. Talbar, with three of his fellow men, make it their duty to guide the children on a trek with war and deceit all around them, to try to find the real reason the kids have ended up here.

The spectre of Salazon builds throughout the book, but he is not the only stuff of legend that is to be found in this land. Fables tell of great and powerful beasts, the true Northfighters, namesakes of the people that came after. Do they exist? Salazon and Talbar both believe that they do. And this may be where the children are to come in.

Back in the real world the tough and cynical detective Janet Lansing is perplexed by the mystery surrounding the missing kids. Where this is all going and why is anyone’s guess. But it’s an entertaining ride, come jump on.

The Review

This was a fantastic read. Some of the most original fantasy driven characters and creatures I’ve read in a long time, this novel blends the real world drama of four children disappearing from a school field trip and the police investigation that sparks as a result, to the heroic adventures of a rag tag group of warriors and four children who try to stop all out war between various nations. The mythological scale of the battles and the power of the villain Salazon will keep readers entranced throughout the entire story.

While there were brief areas within the story that held some minor grammatical errors, the overall story and mythology built by the author was so powerful that these moments never deterred from the overall story. The characters were relatable and engaging, while the setting felt like the YA equivalent to Game of Thrones. The blend of fantasy and drama felt natural and helped the story flow smoothly, making this read truly amazing.

The Verdict

Overall I loved this book. Filled with action, character development and shocking twists and turns, readers will love to get lost in this new fantasy world created by author Colm Dowd. With a cliff-hanger ending that leaves room for a hopeful sequel, this is a must read YA adventure like no other. If you haven’t yet, pick up your copy of Northfighters: The View From the Christallis today!

Rating: 9/10

https://www.amazon.com/Northfighters-View-Chrystallis-Colm-Dowd-ebook/dp/B07J1Z5TXM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1540436403&sr=1-1&keywords=9781999466602