Author Archives: Brittany

Serious Moonlight – Jenn Bennet

Serious Moonlight – Jenn BennetTitle: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Publishing Info: April 16, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 3, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Starry Eyes, Alex, Approximately

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

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This was such a fun read and another great story from Jenn Bennett! She has such a way of making her characters into real people and I absolutely adore the families included in each book as well. I feel like each of her books contains a different family dynamic and it’s so great to read. I also want to take the time to appreciate the cover and how the characters are actually portrayed as they’re described in the book! Daniel even has a ponytail (something I don’t even think I noticed until I read the book) and I always love to see the cover actually match the character descriptions.

SERIOUS MOONLIGHT was just a really great book. I really enjoyed getting to know Birdie and her love of mysteries as well as getting to know what it’s like to live with narcolepsy. That was another great addition to the story to bring narcolepsy into the minds of Jenn Bennett’s readers which probably isn’t something that a lot of people consider. I really appreciated getting to know more about it and I also liked how the characters handled what Birdie was going through. Even if they weren’t the “right” decisions, they all felt really realistic. It’s hard to address a medical issue sometimes and you don’t want to admit something is wrong if you don’t have to, and I’m sure many of us have gone through that mindset of thinking in our own ways, so I could totally relate to that.

The romance was also very cute and something you don’t see a lot of in young adult! I kind of liked that Birdie and Daniel started off with a physical relationship (or I guess encounter, since they then had to decide if they wanted a relationship) and that for once a YA book that started with sex wasn’t about being pregnant. I liked that she had a supportive maternal figure (Mona, friend of the family who was like an aunt and helped raise her) that she could talk to about it and she had some really positive support. I also kind of liked the absence of a best friend in this book and that Mona was kind of like Birdie’s best friend. It made for a more interesting relationship between the two of them and I like eliminating the possibility of that friend fight that almost always happens in YA novels (because it almost always happens in real life). It was just a great way to sort of break that mold that so many books repeat, just because it is so relatable, but Jenn Bennett brought a new relationship to the pages of this book and a different sort of friendship.

Jenn Bennett is definitely an auto-buy author for me and I really enjoyed SERIOUS MOONLIGHT! I’ve enjoyed every one of her books that I’ve read so far and each one really has a unique story with a great variety of characters and situations.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique families. I love seeing different, unique, and realistic families represented! I love seeing these special relationships and different types of families being included.
Left Me Wanting More: Chemistry. I really did like the relationship here but I think if I had (personally) felt a liiiittle more chemistry, it would have been even more wonderful!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Jenn Bennett is definitely an auto-buy author for me and I’ve enjoyed all of her books that I’ve read so far! SERIOUS MOONLIGHT was a great addition to her contemporary collection and I can’t wait to read even more!

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BOOKS LIKE SERIOUS MOONLIGHT

             

As Seen on Bookstagram | Book Spirals (and other book structures)

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!

 

 

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Have you ever made any shapes or structures out of books for Instagram?

I don’t usually spend too much time on my Instagram photos anymore but sometimes it’s fun to try something new and go for a big, epic book structure! The other week, I decided to try my hand at making another book spiral!

My spiral was kind of small compared to some of the other big ones and it was pretty unstable once I got to the top — but it held up long enough to get some good photos! Creating a book spiral is a lot harder than it looks! If I turned the books too tightly, it wouldn’t be much of a spiral at all. Too far apart and it doesn’t even look like a spiral — just a bunch of messily stacked books — and it was super shaky if they were too far apart. This was my happy middle ground! I feel like there wasn’t a lot of spines facing out and I was hoping for more spine color than seeing the pages, but I’ll take it!


Do you do anything special like this for Instagram? Which accounts do you follow that make some cool book structures?

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! 

What I Loved [June 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

This month was another not good month and not bad month! I had some enjoyable reads but still nothing too stellar, aside from MEMENTO which was just the perfect extra/novella for the Illuminae Files! I didn’t read as much this month because I started read An Ember in the Ashes and those books are longer than my usual audiobook reads, plus I’ve been coming home earlier to work instead of being in the hot shop since the temps have been rising!

 

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BOOKS READ (9):

JUNE READING STATS

  • # BOOKS READ: 9
  • # BOOKS DNF: 0
  • RATINGS:
    • 5 STARS: 1
    • 4.5 STARS: 0
    • 4 STARS: 4
    • 3.5 STARS: 1
    • 3 STARS: 3
    • 2.5 STARS: 0
    • 2 STARS: 0
  • FORMATS: 
    • AUDIOBOOK: 7
    • ARC: 1
    • PROMO BINDING: 1

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 June:

  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Netflix): Season 1, Season 2 (just a couple episodes)
  • Dead to Me (Netflix): All of Season 1
  • What/If (Netflix): Season 1, episodes 1 – 4
  • Stranger Things (Netflix): rewatched seasons 1 & 2

I really, really enjoyed the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend but the second season was just not even interesting to me. I didn’t have as much fun with the new story line and the songs also were not as good.

I really enjoyed Dead to Me! It wasn’t what I was expecting but it was a really interesting watch, full of some real grief, twists, and even some humor. What/If is also proving to be interesting. It’s a little weird but there are tons of mysteries and I think we’re going to get some interesting twists too.

And I had to do my rewatch of Stranger Things! I didn’t really intend to but I didn’t know what watch one day so I figured that would be a great thing to rewatch!!

Mini-Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) – Seanan McGuire

Mini-Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) – Seanan McGuireTitle: Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: January 9, 2018 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Date Completed: July 17, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests...

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.

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This was the book with the most action and forward motion, I think. The first book did have its own murder mystery but the characters actually went on a quest here and we got to see a few different worlds which was so exciting! Seeing the worlds is one of the things I enjoy the most because I just love exploring new worlds and all the world-building! I also really appreciate how Seanan McGuire already designed explanations to be in the book with the characters mapping each world as nonsense/logical and virtue/wicked to really give the whole concept a structure. I also loved that Tor created a full list and a graphic of all of the known portal worlds! That’s definitely the kind of thing that hooks me into a book, especially this one.

I had a lot of fun getting to know more of the characters here and pushing the plot forward even more! I felt like more characters came together, or maybe it just felt like it since it’s the third book and I’m getting to know how they’re all starting to intertwine. This was definitely the book that I appreciated most so far and I think knowing more characters and worlds allowed me to fall deeper into the these worlds, especially considering these stories are so short!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Portal worlds! We got to see a few different doors in this book and I loved it!!
Left Me Wanting More: Pages. I really do enjoy the length of these and how short they are but I was really enjoying this story!!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This has been a fun series so far and I enjoy this book a lot! I’m definitely looking forward to continuing on and getting to know more characters and their stories.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY

             

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter Evanovich

The Big Kahuna (Fox and O’Hare #6) – Janet Evanovich & Peter EvanovichTitle: The Big Kahuna (Fox & O'Hare #6) by Janet Evanovich, Peter Evanovich
Publishing Info: May 7, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 9, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

A stoner, an Instagram model, a Czech oligarch, and a missing unicorn. Nick Fox and Kate O'Hare have their work cut out for them in their weirdest, wildest adventure yet in this latest entry in the New York Times bestselling series by Janet and Peter Evanovich.

Straight arrow FBI Agent Kate O'Hare always plays by the rules. Charming Con Man Nicholas Fox makes them up as he goes along. She thinks he's nothing but a scoundrel. He thinks she just needs to lighten up. They're working together to tackle the out-of-bounds cases ordinary FBI agents can't touch. And, their relationship? Well, there hasn't been so much explosive chemistry since Nitro was introduced to Glycerin.
Next on the docket: The mysterious disappearance of the Silicon Valley billionaire, known as the Big Kahuna. Kate's been assigned to find him but no one seems particularly keen on helping. His twenty-six year old adult actress wife-turned Instagram model wife and his shady Czech business partner are more interested in gaining control of his company. For that they need a dead body not a living Kahuna.
The only lead they have is the Kahuna's drop-out son, who's living the dream in Hawaii - if your dream is starting your day with the perfect wave and ending it with a big bowl of weed. To get close to the Kahuna's son, Kate and Nick go undercover as a married couple in the big wave, bohemian, surfer community of Paia, Maui. Living a laid back, hippy-dippy lifestyle isn't exactly in Kate's wheelhouse, but the only thing more horrifying is setting up house with Nick Fox, even if he does look pretty gnarly on a longboard. If they don't catch a break soon, waves aren't the only thing she's going to be shredding (or bedding).

bookreview1

This was a really disappointing installment in this series. I felt like it totally reverted to Stephanie Plum-type humor and lost of of the clever heist elements. While I enjoy Stephanie Plum for what it is, I enjoyed the Fox & O’Hare books so much more.

This was the first book without Lee Goldberg (instead substituting Peter Evanovich) and while I haven’t read any Lee Goldberg books, it really did seem to affect the whole tone of this book. I don’t know if that’s the actual factor of the change but it really does seem like it. Everything turned so incredibly goofy with the new characters and adventure. It was not clever and it was not intriguing.

I also didn’t realize what else it was missing until I read other reviews but I realized that we were missing the fun crew that we’ve seen in the other books! Willie and Boyd were nowhere to be seen and the lack of crew really takes away from the concept of a heist/con book. Also, what in the heck happened to the cliffhanger at the end of book five!? At first I thought maybe I just missed something but that was confirmed by reading other reviews as well. It seemed to just move on and also somehow take a step back with Kate and Nick’s relationship. It was all just very messy.

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Kept Me Hooked On: This series, I guess. I loved the first five books. I’m hoping this was just a fluke and there will be something better on the horizon.
Left Me Wanting More: Heists! Crew! Everything! This was so disappointing. I still enjoyed the book enough but it just felt like a totally different author writing this book.

Addiction Rating
Read it, I guess

This was such a blah installment but if it leads us to the next book where it gets better, then it’s worth it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE BIG KAHUNA

             

I Woke Up Dead at the Mall – Judy Sheehan

I Woke Up Dead at the Mall – Judy SheehanTitle: I Woke Up Dead at the Mall by Judy Sheehan
Publishing Info: March 22, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: ALAMW16
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts
Date Completed: August 8, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When Sarah wakes up dead at the Mall of America, she learns that not only was she murdered, her killer is still on the loose.
When you’re sixteen, you have your whole life ahead of you. Unless you’re Sarah. Not to give anything away, but . . . she’s dead. Murdered, in fact. Sarah’s murder is shocking because she couldn’t be any more average. No enemies. No risky behavior. She’s just the girl on the sidelines.

It looks like her afterlife, on the other hand, will be pretty exciting. Sarah has woken up dead at the Mall of America—where the universe sends teens who are murdered—and with the help of her death coach, she must learn to move on or she could meet a fate totally worse than death: becoming a mall walker.

As she tries to finish her unfinished business alongside her fellow dead teens, Sarah falls hard for a cute boy named Nick. And she discovers an uncanny ability to haunt the living. While she has no idea who killed her, or why, someone she loves is in grave danger. Sarah can’t lose focus or she’ll be doomed to relive her final moments again and again forever. But can she live with herself if she doesn’t make her death matter?

bookreview1

This wasn’t a BAD book but it really could have been so much better in so many ways, so that’s where my feelings and review end up. I was hoping for dark comedy, black humor, ghostly sort of story. It turned out to be a little too cheesy, a little too immature, and I didn’t like the ending. It just felt very typical YA and too tropey.

All of the main characters in this book ended up at the Mall of America after their death, all came from New York. But… why? Because the Mall of America is a big and a lot of people get murdered in New York…? Even if there was logic there, it wasn’t worth making that connection and there really wasn’t a reason for the mall concept except to make a mall walker joke and associate dormitories with stores. It added a certain cheesiness to the story that I didn’t find cute and I felt like it could have been a lot more meaningful in a different setting instead of creating a silly atmosphere.

I also never really understood why Sarah was murdered and the details of her murder were… odd. It all made sense, all was revealed, but the motive was just so flimsy and too obvious. For that to be the whole reason behind the WHOLE BOOK? Eh. Overdone. Come up with something new.

I didn’t hate the book — I finished it and I didn’t stop reading — but this could have been something delightfully campy and/or dark but either way, a whole lot of fun. Instead I feel like it was underdeveloped for the sake of being “fun” and it lacked the cleverness that it could have had.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Interesting “afterlife” stories. I like that sort of “interlude” concept where we see characters after they die. It’s an interesting place to explore!
Left Me Wanting More: Seriousness or sass. One way or the other, it had to break. I was looking for more camp or more serious turns of events. It didn’t seem to commit either way.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

It’s an interesting concept but I didn’t love the writing and I felt like there were some holes that really needed to be addressed.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL

             

Foundryside (Foundryside #1) – Robert Bennett Jackson

Foundryside (Foundryside #1) – Robert Bennett JacksonTitle: Foundryside (Foundryside #1) by Robert Bennett Jackson
Publishing Info: August 21, 2018 by Penguin Random House
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: July 29, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic--the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience--have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

bookreview1

This book was so enjoyable from start to finish! Right off the bat, I connected with it. Sancia and really her whole gang throughout this book are sassy, clever, and such personable characters. I absolutely loved spending time with them, even the… inanimate objects? Robert Jackson Bennett really brought everything to life in this book and it made for such an enjoyable reading experience!

The setting was refreshing yet familiar all at the same time. Having read a lot of fantasy/high fantasy lately, I had grown a little weary of the medieval take on things and had switched to some urban fantasy for a while to experience fantasy in a more modern setting. While FOUNDRYSIDE still maintains that old world/technologically inadvanced feeling, the concept behind scrivings really gives it that feel of a sort of industrial revolution coming about and it was fun to see the progress as well as the more spiritual side behind things (gods and mythology and the like). There’s a lot of world-building present and I love how the reader is taken along the road of exploration to figure out how the scrivings work, where the concept came from, and how they could change the world entirely.

Everything just felt like it unfolded naturally. Key points were revealed at just the right moments. The crew came together in a perfect way that brought misfits together but everyone seemed to fit perfectly despite how different they all were. It was natural the way that they ended up finding each other and felt like they should have been together all of their lives.

This book also gave me a very Brandon Sanderson vibe. I love Sanderson’s books so much because of how much world-building he packs in and how perfectly timed his reveals are involving the secrets of his worlds. Robert Jackson Bennett has a similar style — in context as well as character tone — that really reminded me a lot of MISTBORN and THE WAY OF KINGS. I can’t wait to see where the next book goes because with everything that we learned in this book, I can only imagine getting even more lost in the politics, worldly secrets, and more hijinks!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult fantasy with attitude. Misfits! Cons! Sass! This book had all of my favorite elements combined with a fun and creative fantasy world.
Left Me Wanting More: Character relationships. I did like the character relationships that were there for sure! I feel like I wanted just a liiiittle bit more deep connections somehow!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was so enjoyable and I can’t wait to read more of the series!! This felt a little bit introductory and I’m excited to continue this and get even deeper into this world!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE FOUNDRYSIDE

             

The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas

The Cheerleaders – Kara ThomasTitle: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
Publishing Info: July 31, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: July 23, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Darkest Corners, Little Monsters

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

bookreview1

I think this was Kara Thomas’ best book yet! I really, really loved the writing style and the whole set-up of this novel. It reminded me much more of my adult thriller reads rather than the YA, while still maintaining a YA atmosphere, characters, and setting. Things are set up right from the beginning to come full circle at the end but I couldn’t tell how they were going to come together and I kept trying to piece the puzzle together. What I loved about this book was that I was able to follow along and start putting little clues together but it took until the end to really realize what exactly had happened and how they really impacted Monica and why she was involved in this story from start to finish and every piece in between.

I actually thought that this was going to be… a little sillier. The deaths of the five cheerleaders years ago was thought to be a sort of curse and I actually had that Fear Street mentality in the back of my head (there was a Fear Street Cheerleaders series after all), but this read much more maturely than I had anticipated. I think I would have enjoyed it either way but I’m really glad that it read the way that it did and I really enjoyed this type of structure.

I actually think I already want to re-read it because there’s so much that I’ve forgotten writing my review (way, way later… my review schedule has been all over the place with new reviews and old reviews!) and I think I’d enjoy reading it all over again to experience those discoveries like new. Even if I don’t remember all of the details, I do remember how much I enjoyed listening to this audiobook and it’s one I knew I wanted to recommend!!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Mature YA mystery/thrillers. Young adult novels can contain any array of tones and topics but sometimes young adult is still just too young for me. Obviously that’s not a bad thing (and let’s not get into it because that’s a whole different topic) but I loved how this one just had a more mature tone that teens can still appreciate but I felt like it reached out more to the adult audience too.
Left Me Wanting More: Cover representation. Between the title and the cover, I felt like this was going to be a campy horror story and while I would have appreciated that too, I’m so glad it was the story that it was! The cover definitely did throw me and I think it might throw off other readers as well. I’d love to see a cover redesign somewhere down the road.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I thought this was such a solid novel! Writing my review has only made me want to re-read it again soon.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE CHEERLEADERS

             

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen Simmons

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) – Kristen SimmonsTitle: The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) by Kristen Simmons
Publishing Info: February 5, 2019 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Heists/Spies/Espionage, Retelling
Date Completed: June 3, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom's loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials--because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that's before she meets her mark--a senator's son--and before she discovers the school's headmaster has secrets he'll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she's in way over head.

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!

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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!

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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!