The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen Simmons

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen SimmonsTitle: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publishing Info: May 14, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: May 30, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

bookreview1

I really wish that the synopsis of this book had made note of the Norse mythology inspiration because I honestly didn’t pick up on that at all but once I knew about it, it seemed really obvious and I think that would have been a fun thing to pick up as I was reading. That’s no fault of the author but I guess that’s what happens when I don’t do a lot of looking into things before I read a book (and I guess whoever’s in charge of making the synopsis/making sure that info is on Goodreads). I didn’t know about it until I started reading reviews after I was finished. Since I never read reviews before I start a book (in case of spoilers and I don’t want anyone to influence my opinion), there’s really no other way I would have known about that and I bet a lot of other people may not be aware either.

That may have helped how much I enjoyed the book but I still think I would have come out relatively the same. I was irritated that it was labeled as “Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11”. I don’t know PLL but Ocean’s 11 is one of my favorite movies and if we’re talking about the 2001 version…. that movie is WAY too sassy and not even close in tone. I was expecting some super clever sass, cheeky cons, and an overall heist feeling. This really wasn’t a heist book. I guess it was more of a “long con” but it wasn’t really a plan we were in on from the beginning and we learn a lot as the book progresses. This was just not the tone I was expecting and would compare it more to Deadly Class (the SyFy TV show), THE FIXER by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, TRUST ME, I’M LYING by Mary Elizabeth Summer, or new Adriana Mather book KILLING NOVEMBER. It wasn’t ALL serious but it certainly wasn’t quite as light or funny as I had expected.

Mostly, the book was just kind of slow. We picked up some interesting facts along the way, sure. But it unraveled a bit more like a mystery than a heist/con concept (which is more of what I was expecting with the Ocean’s 11 comparison) since we got some reveals about characters in the end and unraveled a little mystery that tied all of the characters together. It’s just a different way of putting that story together and it makes a difference of how I read/approach/experience a book.

I was also really disappointed that there wasn’t much happening to show us the school itself. It’s a con school which is AWESOME and really all we see are little snippets of Brynn’s intro to her classes with glimpses of what she might learn there but the book doesn’t really spend much time there at all. Aside from convening in each other’s rooms and using it as a base to get all of the students together, there wasn’t much about the school at all and it really felt like a missed opportunity. I felt like the book took entirely too long to set up Brynn’s family life and introduce the compromising situation that she’s in and I felt like things just dwelled there for an unnecessary amount of time. I get it. We’re supposed to be uncomfortable with Pete. She needs an escape. The school is it. But there was just too much time wasted in the beginning when the book could have set up that school world more to really pull readers in some more.

It seems like this book gets some mixed reviews. Its core was still solid and it had a clear story to tell. Some of my friends absolutely loved it and others, like me, felt a little underwhelmed. At least it seems like no one really hated it, which I agree with! There were a lot of good elements there and some appreciated the structure and tone more than I did, but if you don’t have the expectations that I carried into my read, maybe you’ll enjoy it more!

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Mythology retellings. I didn’t even realize this for what it was while I was reading but looking back, it was a fun way to adapt some Norse mythology as a modern retelling!
Left Me Wanting More: Time in this awesome school! I felt like it was a real missed opportunity to make this series about Vale Hall and then not even really spend time in this unique and interesting school! I really wanted to see more of the classes, especially in the first book.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I have a few friends who really loved this book. Maybe they knew more about it than I did before starting, maybe not, but it seems like I might be the minority with my reservations!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE DECEIVERS

             

Top Ten Tuesday – June 11, 2019: Unpopular Bookish Opinions

TOP TEN TUESDAY
June 11, 2019

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader GirlThis week’s topic was Unpopular Bookish Opinions

I don’t think I have too many unpopular bookish opinions or preferences when to comes to reading, book formats, or general reading habits so I guess we’re mostly just left with all of my black sheep opinions on popular books/series… Yikes.

I know we can all get fiery about our favorites so please keep it civil and let’s only comment if you AGREE. I’m not here to debate and fight! We’re all entitled to our opinions!

I’M A BLACK SHEEP READER…

1 | SARAH J. MAAS HAS LOST HER MAGIC. I looooved THRONE OF GLASS, CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, HEIR OF FIRE, QUEEN OF SHADOWS, and A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, but things started to quickly go downhill for me with A COURT OF MIST AND FURY. I didn’t love it and things started to bother me. I was so let down with EMPIRE OF STORMS. I hated TOWER OF DAWN and didn’t finish it. A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN was terribly painful but I finished. I did read KINGDOM OF ASH and it was enjoyable for what it was but it could have been better. I really don’t have any desire to read any more Sarah J. Maas books and I’m super disappointed how everything has turned out to be a big love letter to her series instead of really digging in and developing some of the world, plot, or characters more.

2 | I DNFED AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. I tried reading the ARC when I first got AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. I tried listening to the audiobook with two of my favorite narrators… I just couldn’t do it! The characters felt flat and there was a cheesy prophesy that felt too convenient and I just never picked it back up. I do kind of want to try again someday since the series is so loved by so many, but I tried twice!

3 | CARAVAL WAS JUST OKAY AND LEGENDARY WAS …. NOT GOOD. CARAVAL was such a pretty and vividly written book but I wanted to much more structure to Caraval itself. LEGENDARY felt so sloppy, poorly organized, and kind of unnecessary in many ways. I was really disappointed that it got more whimsical and loose. The addition of the Fates felt like they were mostly out of nowhere and I wanted more of a lead-up to that plot line in CARAVAL to really tie the books together.

4 | I DIDN’T GET THE APPEAL OF TRUTHWITCH. I was so excited for a big adult fantasy series from Susan Dennard but I just never got into TRUTHWITCH. I struggled to get through the book and I finally did. I just felt like so much was missing. Everyone loved the friendship and I couldn’t stand the voices of the main female leads. I really, really, really wanted to like it and I kept trying but I just never got into the world and wanted so much more from it.

5 | TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE IS WAY BETTER AS A MOVIE THAN A BOOK. Well, other people might actually have this same opinion but Lara Jean was soooo immature in the books (all three) and it really, really bothered me. There are certain liberties taken for a rom-com for the main girl to put herself in silly situations or intrude where she doesn’t belong, but especially in the later books, Lara Jean was stepping on other people’s toes WAY too often and it was so annoying. I LOVED the first movie and am anxiously awaiting the second! I hope it continues to be super cute and the actors maintain that movie magic that I loved.

6 | WE WERE LIARS WAS PREDICTABLE. When I first heard about WE WERE LIARS, everyone was going on about the twist at the end (which honestly, already ruins a twist for me. If I know it’s coming, it’s a little less exciting), so naturally when I started reading, my brain started guessing at what it would be. And I guessed it quickly in. Everyone was blown away and it was this big five-star book for them but it turned out to be a really predictable book for me.

7 | THE FAULT IN OUR STARS WAS OVERRATED. THE FAULT IN OUR STARS was my first John Green book and I had big expectations! I found the voices of the teens to be way too pretentious to be realistic and I just really didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone said they had.


That’s only seven and I have a couple more but I don’t like being negative (most of the time haha)! I tried to look for the reverse — where I loved a book and people didn’t — but that was harder to search for than I expected!

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners – Christina LaurenTitle: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publishing Info: May 14, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Date Completed: May 30, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

bookreview1

This book was so cute! Another great hit from Christina Lauren and I think maybe my favorite one yet. I adore a good hate-to-love story and this book was cute on so many different levels.

The beginning really reminded me THE HATING GAME with its adorable hateful tension and the way the two main characters, Olive and Ethan, interacted with each other. I think the beginning with that spiteful tension was one of my favorite parts of the book. The snark and sass was just perfect and it really had that HATING GAME vibe like I mentioned. I am glad that it sort of moved away from that feel because I wanted the book to be unique but I did also kind of miss it when it did haha!

I really loved the whole set-up of the book. How these two managed to get stuck together on a not-honeymoon was very cute and very well planned! The perfect way to stick them together and have everything really make sense, plus some funny family hijinks in the beginning as well. I would have liked to see maybe a little bit more family throughout the book but I also did like that it didn’t take away from the main characters and their story as well. They made little appearances here and there but I think that could have added a little more depth to the story by adding just a little more family history!

The romance was positively adorable and I loved every minute of it! The unfolding was just lovely and these two characters had great chemistry. I think I could have used juuuust a little more tension (I’m a sucker for that hate-to-love chemistry) but I did like spending sometime in the cute moments of the romance too!

I also really appreciated how there were other plots in the book as well, not just the romance. Olive is dealing with being laid off and finding a new job. There are stressors in her sister’s brand-new marriage and things that she finds out that are very concerning. All of these things also put a stress on her evolving relationship with Ethan. It’s a great mix of real-life feels and grounding real-life situations.

I highly recommend THE UNHONEYMOONERS and I can see why so many people have loved it already! I’m really enjoyed all of the Christina Lauren romances I’ve read and I think this is my favorite so far.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Hate-to-love romances. I love a good hate-to-love romance but there’s something so special when it’s done just right! Christina Lauren totally nailed this one and it was so much fun to read!
Left Me Wanting More: Family history. I feel like we could have had a few more appearances from the families since both of them played a role in the story. I would have loved that extra little layer of family/character/world building to really have me connect with the characters that much more.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was such a fun story and I really enjoyed it from start to finish! A lot of other readers have been enjoying it too so I don’t hesitate to recommend this one along with some other romance favorites if you’re looking for a fun love story this summer! (Or any time)

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE UNHONEYMOONERS

             

What I Loved [May 2019]

In an attempt to get back into the blogging swing, I wanted to revisit my monthly recaps but in a much more casual way! Instead of focusing on stats and posts, I’m sharing some of my favorite things about this month, from books to merch to life and everything in between!

BOOKS

I thought it was going to be a small reading month because I took almost two weeks to binge watch Game of Thrones from start to finish, but I actually managed to finish some physical copies on my weekend reads and sneak a few more audiobooks in there!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

BOOKS READ (12):

APRIL READING STATS

  • # BOOKS READ: 12
  • # BOOKS DNF: 1 (LAIR OF DREAMS by Libba Bray)
  • RATINGS:
    • 5 STARS: 0
    • 4.5 STARS: 0
    • 4 STARS: 4
    • 3.5 STARS: 3
    • 3 STARS: 3
    • 2.5 STARS: 1
    • 2 STARS: 1
  • FORMATS: 
    • AUDIOBOOK: 11
    • ARC: 1
    • HARDCOVER: 1 (TIME OF DEATH split between hardcover and audiobook)

EVENTS

I got to meet Jay Kristoff at his event at Anderson’s Bookshop in the beginning of the month! The event was a lot of fun and Jay is such a great person to see at events!! He’s funny but so straight to the point and of course, I love his books!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

 

MOVIES & SHOWS

I started a bullet journal this year in part because I wanted to make my own reading journal but also so I could keep track of TV shows! I realized how much I actually watch while I’m working and when Shane and I sit down to watch things at night so I started keeping track of the shows I’ve been binge watching!

Here’s what I watched in May:

  • Game of Thrones (HBO Go): Season 8, episodes 4-6 (series complete)
  • Shameless (Netflix): Season 5, episodes 11-12; Season 6, episodes 1-2
  • iZombie (Netflix, CW Seed): Seasons 1 – 5 (caught up through current live season)
  • The Society (Netflix): Season 1 (caught up through only premiered season so far)

We all have our FEELINGS about Game of Thrones. I really enjoyed every episode but I also really didn’t like the last episode… I think I COULD have been okay with everything if it had been presented differently and it just didn’t work for me the way that everything unraveled. I really did appreciate everything else about the show and it’s still so incredibly stunning!

My new obsession this month was iZombie! I really enjoyed the whole series and I’ve had such a fun time watching it! It’s light, has some dark humor, and really has a great cast of characters!

I also watched The Society this month and it was so interesting! I really wanted some more answers from this season to see what exactly was happening but it has some great things going for it and really great actors! I immediately got hooked on the characters!

As Seen on Bookstagram | Enamel Pins

After five years of blogging, sometimes it’s hard to come up with new ideas. So much has changed over the years, including my blogging style, many times over, and I’ve gotten so much more into taking photos and posting on Instagram as a part of my love of books and bookish merch!

In an attempt to keep things interesting and fun, I wanted to started a little something new for me where I take a post that I had originally shared on Instagram — or “bookstagram” for those in the book community — and took it a little further in a blog post. There’s a limited  number of characters that you can share on Insta and the point of those posts is more to get to the point, rather than writing a whole narrative, but sometimes each post deserves a few extra words, and “As Seen on Instagram” is a fun way for me to do that!

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

Are you a fan of enamel pins? I didn’t used to be but my collection started slowly growing!

I ended up getting a few pins from book boxes and publishers as promos or pre-order bonuses but I wasn’t really into collecting pins. I had a bunch of buttons but didn’t have a good way to display them. I actually previously posted on an “As Seen on Bookstagram” about Ardent Adornment and their creation of the “pin pals” which were hoops covered in fabric (like the one seen here) designed to hold pin collections! If you check out my previous post which was a little under a year ago, I barely even had enamel pins and almost everything on that hoop was a button!

Since then, my collection has grown quite a bit. I’m a collector at heart so I usually end up obsessing about one thing or another. I have to work through a lot of my candles and burn the ones I do have and I’m at max capacity on my shelves to add any more new candles (or really just about anything there). I don’t have a good way to display any bookmarks and I already had too many mugs that are just decorations as well, so pins ended up being a fun new way to keep a bookish collection going with minimal space! I don’t have a lot of room on my walls and I’m constantly rearranging my hoops with what pins I want and where so they’re not hung up just yet, but the stack is mighty small and when they’re hung up, all they’ll take up is wall space!

Admittedly, I kind of got into it when I started making my own enamel pins! The first one I made was for the Novelly Yours Stranger Things-inspired box back in June 2018 and I’ve been adding them to the boxes consistently now since the beginning of 2019. The ability to create them definitely fed to the desire to collect them and now I’ve got a pretty decent collection of my own!!


Are you a collector of enamel pins? Do you have any favorite shops or pins that mean something special do you?

If you want to read the original post, check it out above or head to my Instagram page where you can follow for all kinds of bookish photo updates! 

The Last Time I Saw You – Liv Constantine

The Last Time I Saw You – Liv ConstantineTitle: The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: March 23, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Dr. Kate English has it all. Not only is she the heiress to a large fortune; she has a gorgeous husband and daughter, a high-flying career, and a beautiful home anyone would envy.

But all that changes the night Kate’s mother, Lily, is found dead, brutally murdered in her own home. Heartbroken and distraught, Kate reaches out to her estranged best friend, Blaire Barrington, who rushes to her side for the funeral, where the years of distance between them are forgotten in a moment.

That evening, Kate’s grief turns to horror when she receives an anonymous text: You think you’re sad now, just wait. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll wish you had been buried today. More than ever, Kate needs her old friend’s help.

Once Blaire decides to take the investigation into her own hands, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Baltimore high society. As infidelity, lies, and betrayals come to light, and tensions rise to a boiling point, she begins to alienate Kate’s friends and relatives with her relentless, accusatory questions, as she tries to find Lily’s killer. The murderer could be anyone—friend, neighbor, loved one. But whoever it is, it’s clear that Kate is next on their list. . .

In The Last Time I Saw You, Liv Constantine takes the lightning pace of The Last Mrs. Parrish and raises the stakes, creating an exquisitely tension-filled and absorbing tale of psychological suspense in which innocent lives—and one woman’s sanity—hang in the balance.

bookreview1

THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU was an interesting read! The book kicks off with the death of main character Kate’s mother who was well loved and well off when Kate finds out later that her mother was actually murdered. The book continues on with a killer tormenting and threatening Kate and Kate slowly starts to unravel. I wasn’t sure how much I’d be into the concept since the concept was dealing with the “high society” and I wasn’t sure how that would all play into it. I feel like those society rules make the characters feel a little stiffer and I did feel that with each of these characters, but it also adds to a more secretive element because with so many niceties and manners involved, there’s a lot of unspeakable things that get/stay hidden.

The suspect list went around and around a few times so I wasn’t really sure whodunnit or if there was even more than one person involved. It was also interesting with Kate possibly being an unreliable narrator. There was that added question if she WAS an unreliable narrator or if the perpetrator was doing all of these things to mess with her head. I actually really liked that addition to cast some extra doubt and throw the reader off-course if they already solved the mystery.

I almost wished there had been some other clues earlier on in the book, not necessarily to give things away but to give some better ties to the actual answer. I like being left in the dark and not being able to guess the ending but there were a few things that kind of came out of nowhere that were a little too covered up. It was interesting but I also didn’t quite love it — not in a bad way, just a personal preference.

This was a quick read for me! I felt like it took a while to really get into the fast-paced section of the book and wished the pacing had been a little bit quicker form the start, but it was an overall enjoyable read.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Brand-new adult thriller reads. I enjoy a lot of adult thrillers but this one was a totally random pick for me! I was able to select this one from a list of available audiobooks for review from the publisher so I wanted to try this one based off of its genre, not knowing the author or the title or even anyone who had read it first.
Left Me Wanting More: Reveals. I do like when I’m in the dark on the answers to the mystery but I also like being able to see some things revealed along the way to keep me interested and keep my mind racing. I could have used just a bit more.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It was a quick and enjoyable read, and while it wasn’t my favorite in a few different ways, it was still worth the read and I loved taking a chance on a new thriller book and author!!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU

             

Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffTitle: Aurora Rising (Aurora Rising #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Unearthed (Unearthed #1), These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3), Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They're not the heroes we deserve. They're just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

bookreview1

 There was so much hype for AURORA RISING, from the reading community and I admit, my own hype since there’s so much love for Amie & Jay! I think this was a really fun first book and an intro to the main characters, setting up for the rest of a great series.

I’m not sure if I was just unfocused or if it was something other readers experienced/will experience, but I found the beginning to not flow well in some spots. I did listen to the audiobook while I was working, but since I do that all the time, even with complicated fantasy, I found it a bit jarring in some spots where I actually had to go back and re-listen to a couple things to make sure I didn’t have a track out of place or anything. It wasn’t bad but it was just something that didn’t really seem to fit in sequence so I had to adjust to some transitions or lack thereof.

I also just found the beginning to be a little lacking. Going into AURORA RISING after reading NEVERNIGHT and reflecting on The Illuminae Files, I kind of feel like some of the YA plot lines are held back to not overwhelm readers with detail, but I personally love how detailed worlds and characters can get, especially when designing worlds to include alien races, new planets, and even more space! Obviously adult novels and YA novels will differ and this is a project with Amie and not just Jay alone, but after reading NEVERNIGHT, the book just felt like it was being held back and cut down where I would have loved so much more world-building and expansion.

The book was very enjoyable and a lot of fun to read! I always love the misfit crews and classic sass and sarcasm! It just makes everything so much fun and creates a great character and crew dynamic. The story was interesting and I didn’t guess where it was going and how everything was connected! I didn’t totally love it but it was unique and I’m curious to see how everything fits in later on in the series!

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Science Fiction. I’ve been wanting to read more sci-fi and I felt like I was… but looking back on my reads I need to read so much more! Books in space are always so much fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Plot flow. I just didn’t feel like things flowed as well as they could have. I was hoping for a little more development in the beginning as well.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This is still a really fun read even though it’s hard to live up to the hype and creativity of Illuminae! It was a lot of fun though.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE AURORA RISING

             

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne Young

Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) – Suzanne YoungTitle: Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks #1) by Suzanne Young
Publishing Info: March 19, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Program (The Program #1), Just Like Fate

The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved—it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance. Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there—and who they really are—the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

bookreview1

** This review WILL contain spoilers for the book. The paragraph with major spoilers is clearly marked. ** 

I was SUPER excited to pick up GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS expecting some crazy stuff because more than a few of my most trusted reviewers (and good friends) rated this book five stars so I was expecting to finally be in for a treat and not be the black sheep on a hyped book (again). Aaaand then came the awkward moment where I realized I’m yet again just not getting on the hype train.

There’s not really a good way to talk about this book without spoilers because yes, there is a Big Thing at the end of the book and sharing anything about it or noting any comparisons really gives the big reveal away so I’ll put that all in a spoiler tag later. The one comparison I can make that’s not a spoiler is that it reminded mea little bit of the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano. GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS had a dystopian feel to it like The Chemical Garden books with that same concept of young girls being raised/made to be wives and sold off (or kidnapped) so it had me reeling all the way back to 2012 when I read the first book so hey, 7-year flashback going on and keeping that dystopian hype alive! I was expecting the book to be a little more thriller with some sci-fi aspects and it is creepy and mysterious but I think it feels much more dystopian/dark sci-fi than that thriller aspect, which is really what I was hoping for.

Once you understand the ending, it’s easier to look back at the whole book and see things in a different light, but I was so uncomfortable reading this book until we got to that point. There were some hints dropped but the book was really hard to read with how poorly these girls were treated. A lot of the hype and excitement of the book comes from the girls rising up and smashing the patriarchy but it was just so painful to witness them being treated like property (literally), sexually abused, and trained to be brainless and obedient. This went on for SO LONG throughout the book (okay, really literally through the end) so it was just so hard to read and I was so uncomfortable. There were little rebellions throughout but it was just a constant onslaught of abuse that I found it really difficult to enjoy.

THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS. SKIP IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THEM. Sooo the twist is that this book is basically kind of Westworld but without the western aspect. The girls have all been “born” in a lab with organs and skin that have been grown there but are full of wires that connect to a metal brain and it’s all artificial intelligence. It presents the same kind of question that Westworld did (or does… I stopped watching it because I also found that plot to be slow-moving to get on with the big picture) — when AI starts to adapt, think, learn, and love, it is human and does it have human rights, or is it essentially still just a machine? Is it both? There’s no doubt that these characters are humanized (clearly, since we’re not told that they’re AI until the end of the book) and there are a lot of complicated feelings involved! Did I love the twist? Ehhh. Does it lessen how poorly they were treated? I still felt greatly uncomfortable and didn’t feel any better about reading what I did just because they were AI. It does make more sense to go back and see the “logic” about why they were treated like property but all that really did for me was open up a whole other can of worms. I also kind of felt like it took too long to get there because I would have liked to explore that more in the book.

I don’t know where the series is going but I would have liked to get to the ending a little quicker so we could spend more time soaking it in and exploring those ideas. I suppose it is a series (which I didn’t realize when I first got the book but did know before I started it) so there’s still time for that. I feel like it COULD have been a stand alone. I don’t know where the rest of the series is going but I don’t have any desire to continue on with it, which is also why I rated it down to two stars instead of three. If I had more of a curiosity to continue, I probably would have felt like I was leaving it on a higher note but I just am not interested in more of this story.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Dystopian reads! This was a little bit between dystopian and sci-fi and I had some major early 2000s – 2010s dystopian flashbacks!
Left Me Wanting More: Time away from abuse. Gosh, this book was hard to read with the main characters constantly being abused and controlled. I was uncomfortable for most of the book and it just made it so difficult. I get that that’s also the point but I was just constantly on edge in the way that it was presented for some reason.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Some of my close reader friends really, really loved this one. I just had a hard time reading it. I say check things out and see what you think!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE GIRLS WITH SHARP STICKS

             

These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) – Isabel Sterling

These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) – Isabel SterlingTitle: These Witches Don't Burn (These Witches Don't Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling
Publishing Info: May 28, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Date Completed: May 20, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Hannah's a witch, but not the kind you're thinking of. She's the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she's ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly By Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah's concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah's sure it's the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she's going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem's witches become deadlier by the day.

Isabel Sterling's delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven--and any chance she has with the new girl--is destroyed.

bookreview1

This was such a fun, witchy read with a great diverse cast! I loved the Salem setting, the involvement of witch history, and the book’s own witchy story. Perfect for fans of books like UNDEAD GIRL GANG and HOW TO HANG A WITCH.

Author Isabel Sterling also did a great job of weaving in a mystery that kept me guessing! When a bad force enters town, first the main characters have to figure out what it is and then they have to figure out who it is, so there were many times where I had suspicions that were totally wrong (and one time I half-guessed correctly).

This was a quick, fun read with a cute romance to boot! With family and coven secrets involved, things get complicated and an ex who was a former best friend-turned-girlfriend who still wants Hannah back, there’s plenty of relationship story to keep readers of romantic plot lines involved too!

With the way things wrapped up here, I’m super curious to see what happens in book two! I wonder if it will follow further into this adventure or start a new concept with a new villain. There are many possibilities and I look forward to spending more time with these characters too!

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Witchy Vibes & relationships! I really loved the magic involved and the coven/group vibes! There was a great realistic representation of romantic relationships, family relationships, and awesome friendships with so many layers amongst all of them!
Left Me Wanting More: Magic use. Don’t get me wrong, the magic use was pretty represented given that most of the main characters were essentially underage witches (is that my TGIF Sabrina talk showing?) but I’m greedy and I want all the magic!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a fun, witchy story with some great characters and an exciting mystery! I definitely recommend it!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN

             

Binge Watch Complete: The Santa Clarita Diet

I’ve been doing a lot of binge-watching lately and I thought it would be fun to stray a bit from books and talk about some more TV shows! With this feature, I’ll be sharing a little bit about my binge-watching experience and things I liked about the show! 

** Disclaimer: These posts may contain VERY MINOR spoilers for the shows in discussion. I will never reveal big twists or plot points but if you haven’t watched the show, there may be some very broad plot points discussed. **

THE SHOW: THE SANTA CLARITA DIET
METHOD OF VIEWING: Netflix (Seasons 1 – 3)
SHOW COMPLETE? No, but caught up through currently released seasons

I really love a good dark comedy and surprisingly zombie shows seem to be getting added to my Netflix watchlist. I’m not usually a big zombie person but add some comedy into it, and I am so there. (I’m also currently watching iZombie right now. I think I’m almost done with season 2). I had heard good things about The Santa Clarita Diet and I’m so glad I finally watched it!

I zipped through the first two seasons so quickly! They’re so easy and fun to watch and it was a great show to watch while I was working. Light enough that it kept me motivated and my focus was able to drift a bit but still with an interesting plot and that great comedic punch. I love that Drew Berrymore took on this role and I think it’s so much fun seeing big actors taking on roles for Netflix movies and TV shows! I feel like Netflix originals were kind of low-budget at first and not something people really cared to be a part of (maybe that was just my perception? Who knows) and I love how they’re kind of the most amazing shows out there right now. So many of my favorites are Netflix originals and we’re starting to see a lot more big name actors bringing them to life!

Anyway, I digress. The show is just absolutely delightful. I love the entire cast and I think Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant have a great chemistry.  I really, really love how the zombie concept isn’t hidden from their daughter as well and it’s really a whole family affair. I love the nerdy boy next door and how his zombie folk lore knowledge really starts to help everyone out.

It’s also just a really fun take on the zombie concept! I was never a fan of zombie stories but this has a bit more of a different plot line and I like how each season takes the characters a little bit closer to discovering why and how this happened and if there’s anything they can do to stop it or reverse it. There are little mysteries that each season solves and leaves open to pick up in the next season and nothing is solved too quickly. We meet other undead/living dead and see how their interactions with main character Sheila (Drew Barrymore) affect the entire crew.

If you love dark comedy and haven’t watched this one yet, I highly recommend it! I’m sad that I flew through season 3 so quickly because I always want more of this show but I’ll be anxiously awaiting its next season!


Have you watched The Santa Clarita Diet? Tell me some of your other dark comedy favorites! I always want to watch more!