Category Archives: Review

Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer Donaldson

Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer DonaldsonTitle: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson
Publishing Info: May 29, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: May 11, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.

Quiet, shy Elyse can't believe it when she's cast as the lead in her Portland high school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn't sure she's up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye--someone she knows she absolutely shouldn't be with--she can't help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable--breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She's not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

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LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME was definitely an interesting book but my first impression was actually that I think it could have benefitted from more editing. I’m no expert in the editing/publishing process, is something I feel a lot nowadays. I think some of the structure and even a whole plot point could have been improved upon a little bit and I really think that’s more editing.

Let’s think of non-spoilery things to talk about first… I did find the direction of this book really interesting! There was a nice twist and that light bulb moment when I finally realized exactly where this book was heading and what these two stories had in common was a very fun moment and I had flails and a freak out! That was really nicely planned and it was fun not to pick up on it right away. (Ah, the perks of multi-tasking — my brain doesn’t try to guess twists and plots when it’s distracted by other things!)

What I did find irksome was the sort of red herring of the book. There are two major things that happen to change the lives of Elyse and Gabe and the second thing seemed like it was more there as a distraction than something that was actually a part of the story. It just didn’t quite seem like it fit in, or thinking about it a different way, it felt like a separate story that didn’t quite merge with the main point. (Confusing? It’s hard not to spoil!)

I also wish that things had started picking up juuuust a little sooner. I knew it would be a dark, twisty book and I didn’t lose interest but I did find myself looking for those jaw-dropping moments, waiting for them to happen. Sure, they don’t need to be in every chapter but it just felt like it took a touch too long for a couple things to unravel.

This was a really interesting book and it looks like my other Goodreads friends have really enjoyed it so far! That red herring feeling did stick with me a lot so that’s why I didn’t enjoy it AS much but I am absolutely interested in other books from Jennifer Donaldson and I’d be so interested to see what else she comes up with!!

If you really want to know, here are the spoilers, so look away if you don’t want to get spoiled on some main plot points and twists! My light bulb moment was figuring out how Gabe’s story and how Elyse’s story are actually connected. I actually won’t even full on spoil this one if you’re looking out of curiosity and not because you’ve already read it. That single point in time when I figured it out was REALLY FUN (and actually terrifying).

I really didn’t like Sasha as the red herring of the book. I didn’t feel like Sasha’s crazy and possessive nature really fit the book. We already had Elyse’s story about her running off with her teacher (side note: ICK) and his possessive craziness and Sasha just felt off and like her form of crazy was in there as a red herring. All of these strange things happen to Gabe and the reader questions if it actually is Sasha like he predicts or if it’s Catherine (sorry, I listened to the audiobook so I don’t know how that’s spelled) or her over protective father. Looking for the twist, I tried to move away from Sasha because that was too obvious and aside from jealousy, there’s no reason for her to go full on nutso, but nope, that’s it. She’s just insanely jealous. I felt like the book didn’t do her story enough justice to really include it in the plot except to throw readers off the other things that were going on and put off making the CONNECTION. These crazy things keep popping up so you follow those. If that whoooole thing was taken out, I think the book could have been even better, focusing more on Gabe and Catherine and Elyse and her teacher. Many things could have been done on Gabe’s side with Sasha totally removed from the scene and the book could have been even better for it, hence the editing comment. It felt underdeveloped and I don’t think it was necessary.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Thrillers with twists that connect. I love when books can come full circle and connect two seemingly separate stories. (This isn’t a spoiler — obviously these two stories have to connect somehow otherwise it wouldn’t be the same book).
Left Me Wanting More: Getting to the point. I didn’t like being intentionally misled, to a certain degree. The author needs to point the reader away from guessing a twist or mystery, of course, but things felt like they were pushed too far just to distract the reader from guessing anything and upon seeing how things clicked into place, it felt unnecessary.

Addiction Rating
Try it

This book really was interesting and twisty! If a few things had been set up or edited different, I think this would have had much better flow and felt a little more grounded.

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BOOKS LIKE LIES YOU NEVER TOLD ME

              

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) – Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) – Becky AlbertalliTitle: Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) by Becky Albertalli
Publishing Info: April 25, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: April 24, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

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Bee doo bee doo, unpopular opinion alert! For as much as I adoooored Simon (both the book and the character) and as much as I appreciated Leah in Simon’s story, I didn’t really connect with her like I wanted to in this book and I was really, really surprised by that.

There were a lot of things that I loved about LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT. I always enjoy the relationships that Becky Albertalli crafts and there are just so many amazing ties and connections going on there, whether those relationships are romantic or platonic or familial. Leah has a great relationship with her mom, the obvious friendship with Simon, and we get to see some new friendships from Leah’s perspective here as well.

There is, obviously, a noticeable difference in tone from Simon to Leah, which is great that they don’t feel the same because they’re quite different in so many ways. This book doesn’t get stuck in the rut of the same tone no matter the character focus and I think Becky did a really great job of making this Leah’s book and Leah’s voice. I love her sarcasm and her voice is so much fun to read! But it was also sort of weird seeing things from her point of view. On the one hand, it’s great to see the insecurities from Leah’s voice since a lot of what we see in SIMON is her confidence in her friendships and I feel like she was such a strong presence. On the other hand it was kind of weird to see everything so exposed like that! It is really great to be able to see how well-rounded this character is.

I don’t know how much people are supposed to know about the romantic aspect in this book so I don’t want to give any spoilers away but something about it didn’t click for me. To be fair, I haven’t yet read THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED, so although that was just more of a companion/not as related, I don’t know if there was something that I’m missing… I think there was also conflict in SIMON that I latched onto and never let go of so I had a hard time being in the right mindset for this pairing. (I also think maybe the movie didn’t help that conflict/what I remember about it either.)

It was an enjoyable book for sure, and I read it (listened to the audio) all in one day. I loved being able to spend more time with these characters and to get to know Leah better! Ultimately, something just didn’t flow for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Creekwood… verse? These characters are so much fun and it was wonderful to see some familiar ones as well as meeting new friends too!
Left Me Wanting More: Flow with the timeline of SIMON. I just feel like there was a bit thing in SIMON that was totally glossed over and even changed from that book to this one. Maybe we only got things from Simon’s perspective and that’s why it felt off? I think I just feel misled on Leah’s connection with another character from that book to this one and it didn’t feel right.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you loved SIMON, I think you also need to read Leah’s story! I’m really bummed I didn’t make the connections that I wanted to here but for some reason I just didn’t feel like certain parts of the book felt right. I mean, obviously I’m not the author and she knows best but I personally had some qualms.

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BOOKS LIKE LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT

              

In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) – Alexandra Bracken

In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: April 24, 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Amazon, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Date Completed: April 23, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1), Passenger (Passenger #1), Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2)

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

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Mehhhhh. I just did not enjoy the conclusion to this series at all. I’m so far past my dystopian fascination that I just wasn’t really interested after so much time went by but. I really did want to finish the series but I was worried about all of that going in.

Aside from the genre qualms, I really did feel like this series didn’t really need to be a trilogy. I think it could have done fine at two books, maybe even one depending on editing. Things felt incredibly dragged out in IN THE AFTERLIGHT and there were a lot of things that I thought could have been addressed in NEVER FADE, and things that I really wanted to be addressed the previous book, like more about the cause of the abilities. As far as action and content, I think a lot could have been cut to be a two book series but I guess trilogies were really hot at this point in time.

The thing I feel with a lot of dystopians nowadays is that that everyone feels whiny and everyone feels SO dramatic. I get it — it’s the literal end of the world, but things like that tend to need a bit more comic relief or a little less “dude that I love is my life and soul.” Teenagers are dramatic as well bu sometimes it’s just too much for me.  Ruby took on a lot of this for me and characters like Chubs and Vida were more fabulous and provided some of that relief, but the drama still took the spotlight. Liam was maybe TOO good for my tastes. It felt a little too polarizing for Liam to be GOOD and Cole to be the BAD boy. At least Cole had more going on. The villain became a bit too villainous and everyone was just so black and white when I would have loved more human grey areas, as is natural. I found myself just wanting to be done so I could finally be done and move on. If I hadn’t listened to these as audiobooks, it would have taken me forever or I may have not even finished.

But at last, it’s done and I am happy that I did finish the series. Dystopians have just lost their sparkle and appeal to me. I’ve read so many books since I fell in love and out of love with dystopian that it’s just all so tropey to me. Plus, this was Alexandra Bracken’s debut series and I think her writing was still growing. (Although I didn’t love Passenger either…)

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Kept Me Hooked On: The last of my dystopian loves. I really did LOVE dystopians — hardcore — back in 2011 and 2012. I wanted to inhale them. I liked heading back to THE DARKEST MINDS after all these years.
Left Me Wanting More: Developed characters. I just didn’t feel like anyone had depth! I actually feel like Chubs was the more relatable character. I didn’t connect with Ruby, Liam was too good, and everyone was so black and white.

Addiction Rating
Finish it

I think it’s worth finishing the series to find out why everything happened but I just had a really hard time with it.

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BOOKS LIKE IN THE AFTERLIGHT

              

Sky in the Deep – Adrienne Young

Sky in the Deep – Adrienne YoungTitle: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Publishing Info: April 24, 2018 by Macmillan, Wednesday Books
Source: Borrowed, ALAAC18
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: April 21, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

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There’s no question that SKY IN THE DEEP is one of the most buzzed about books of 2018 in the book community, especially on Instagram! I had so many friends who loved the book before it even released so I borrowed an ARC from my friend Kori so I could read it (and make a candle for it haha!) and see what the buzz was about!

With any popular release, the hype scared me, and I think it got me a little bit. I really did enjoy it but when there’s a lot of hype, I tend to expect a lot of big twists or surprising elements and SKY IN THE DEEP was a little more quiet, despite its ferocity. The book doesn’t really shy away from the more gory and brutal elements of the Viking traditions and battles but there’s also quieter aspect that allows relationships of all sorts to unfold and doesn’t have the book showing all-out action all the time. It wasn’t something I expected but the more I reflect on the book, the more I appreciate it.

I really enjoyed the different feel that SKY IN THE DEEP provided. It has that blend of fantasy and historical fiction that I enjoyed so much in books like THE WINNER’S CURSE. It’s a fantasy world but it doesn’t necessarily focus so much on a magic system. The author gets to create her own clans, traditions, and setting without being stuck in an actual place, historically or geographically. I’m really starting to appreciate settings like these and it was a great thing to read in SKY IN THE DEEP!

I wanted a little bit more from the ending in a couple of different ways but I also wasn’t dissatisfied. I felt like the book ended but still left room for more to come and I’d definitely pick up more! I can totally see why so many people loved it.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Low-magic fantasy. There’s a word for this. Low fantasy? I never know the actual terms aside from high fantasy haha. But I enjoy reading fantasy that isn’t totally dependent on a magical system as a part of the plot!
Left Me Wanting More: Action? There was something about the pacing that I wasn’t expecting. I think I was just looking for a little more of something in the beginning of the book and a lot more developed in the second half, so I didn’t start connecting as much until then.

Addiction Rating
Read it

There’s definitely a reason why SKY IN THE DEEP was so popular this year! It was very well-written and I had a couple of pacing issues but it really was enjoyable and well worth the read.

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BOOKS LIKE SKY IN THE DEEP

              

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) – Alexandra Bracken

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) – Alexandra BrackenTitle: Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken
Publishing Info: October 15, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Audible, BEA 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
Date Completed: April 18, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1), Passenger (Passenger #1), In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

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After many, many years, I finally re-read THE DARKEST MINDS and then continued on with the rest of the series. I hadn’t loved THE DARKEST MINDS on my re-read as much as I did the first time around and it’s been a long time since I’ve really been interested in dystopian so I had no idea how the rest of the series was going to go for me.

A FIVE QUESTIONS REVIEW

In an attempt to do a quick review style, and not get hung up on a traditional sense, here’s a review in five questions!

WHO? NEVER FADE separated our crew for a bit and you know how much I struggle with that. I enjoyed getting to know more about Ruby and following her story more in this book. We also learn a whole lot more about the Children’s League and their loyalties as well as meeting new characters who play an important part like badass Vida and sweet Jude. And then, of course, there’s Cole who teaches us a whole lot about… well, I guess I won’t get into all of that because of spoilers!

WHAT? The actual concept of the disease played a lot bigger part in this book and I liked how that added to the overall series development. I was glad we got to know more about why the kids started developing abilities but I also wish that we had gotten a bit more in this book as well. We also get to know more about Reds and what happened to them, and if any of them really still exist.

WHERE? A lot of this book takes place with the Children’s League and their territory. There are a lot of mixed feelings about them and their cause and I felt myself going back and forth trying to pick apart the true intentions.

WHEN? There’s a little time after the end of THE DARKEST MINDS and we pick up with Ruby after she’s been working with them for a while.

WHY? This book is clearly a bridge to the finale and it did feel like a middle book. I don’t really like when series separate main characters like this one did so it kind of really stuck that middle-book feel.

This story was okay but I did notice myself tiring of the dystopian factor already, even before book three. I had a hard time wanting to finish the series but it was so close anyway. NEVER FADE wasn’t as appealing as THE DARKEST MINDS and it kind of didn’t go in the direction that I was expecting, but I also should have expected it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Liam. Liam really is one of the best parts of this series. He’s so good and he truly has a good heart which is so refreshing compared to the nice guy who picks fights or turns bad.
Left Me Wanting More: Book One Feel. I missed the chemistry between Ruby and Liam from the first book, which I loved so much!

Addiction Rating
Continue on

The series is worth continuing but this really wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE NEVER FADE

              

Girls on Fire – Robin Wasserman

Girls on Fire – Robin WassermanTitle: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Publishing Info: May 17, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: April 4, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

On Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in the region.

In the wake of this incident, bright but lonely Hannah Dexter is befriended by Lacey Champlain, a dark-eyed, Cobain-worshiping bad influence in lip gloss and Doc Martens. The charismatic, seductive Lacey forges a fast, intimate bond with the impressionable Dex, making her over in her own image and unleashing a fierce defiance that neither girl expected. But as Lacey gradually lures Dex away from her safe life into a feverish spiral of obsession, rebellion, and ever greater risk, an unwelcome figure appears on the horizon—and Lacey’s secret history collides with Dex’s worst nightmare.

By turns a shocking story of love and violence and an addictive portrait of the intoxication of female friendship, set against the unsettled backdrop of a town gripped by moral panic, Girls on Fire is an unflinching and unforgettable snapshot of girlhood: girls lost and found, girls strong and weak, girls who burn bright and brighter—and some who flicker away.

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Anything that’s about toxic friendships is an immediate draw for me. When I first read about GIRLS ON FIRE, I knew I wanted to read it so I had some high expectations upon starting it! Things started off well and interesting and then the book started to lose me.

This book was what I expected and also took a couple turns. I found myself kind of losing interest a little towards the middle and I felt like things kind of plateaued a little early, even though there still was more to come. It was gripping and also a little horrifying witnessing such toxic friendships but it’s also a really interesting from a psychological aspect. While it felt genuine and plausible, it also was just lacking some element that really allowed me to connect with it and get sucked in like I had hoped.

The pacing really just threw me off and once the middle hit, I was starting to really lose focus. I thought it was an interesting concept and story but the book just didn’t flow and I thought it could have been set up a little bit better.

If you’re looking for a book about toxic friendships, this one definitely fits the bill. There’s also a mystery and other coming-of-age topics (relationships, friendships, family), but it just didn’t quite fit for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Toxic Friendships. It’s so interesting and slightly horrifying to read of friendships like these, mostly because they really do exist in such extremes.
Left Me Wanting More: Flow. The pacing was off and the book really just didn’t flow for me. I found myself losing focus about halfway through.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

It wasn’t a bad book or anything but I just had a hard time staying interested. I just didn’t quite love it and it didn’t help that I had some expectations and it didn’t quite get there.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE GIRLS ON FIRE

              

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) – Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffTitle: Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: March 13, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: March 26, 2018
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)

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

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What an obsession this series is! I also received the audiobook at the same time but I knew I had to read the print copy because of its unique formatting. As much fun as the audiobooks are, I think I enjoy all of the visual effects more (although the audiobook does some really neat things too)! I did listen and read side-by-side a couple of times but I read much faster than I listen so sometimes it was just too slow to do both.

Of course, I enjoyed OBSIDIO but endings are so bittersweet! I didn’t realize before the book came out that main character Asha is Kady’s cousin, and I actually think I would have liked it more if it was a whole separate character without an actual relation. It did help bring things full circle back to Kady and the start of the book, but there were also times where Asha’s story felt forced. I actually didn’t really connect to Asha or main male lead Rhys as much as I connected to any other main character so things just weren’t as exciting plot-wise in OBSIDIO for me.

As much as I love the hate-to-love romance, I was disappointed to see a THIRD one in this book. The first two were fun but oy. It’s overload to read the same trope three books in a row and we knew where it would end up anyway.

For me, Kady, Ezra, Nik, and Hanna were where it was at! Amie and Jay like to give their readers heart attacks and my favorites were facing some close calls and serious situations! I also loved AIDAN’s involvement and how he was still such a big part of the series overall! I could have gone on reading this series forever but I did like the conclusion. I think I would have liked things to really focus more on the plot rather than the romance in this book and I kind of feel like a third couple wasn’t necessary, but naturally, I enjoyed OBSIDIO overall.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Amie & Jay duo. They’re just such a good writing team and their teamwork is so seamless. I love how I can’t tell who wrote which parts (although we found out that Aidan is all Jay).
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. There was a lot of romance and couple focus in this book and with such an epic series to conclude, I was hoping for more of the plot all throughout.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you loved the first two books, of course you need to finish! I think this is my least favorite read of the series but I do love them all so much.

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BOOKS LIKE OBSIDIO

              

The Magician’s Land (The Magicians #3) – Lev Grossman

The Magician’s Land (The Magicians #3) – Lev GrossmanTitle: The Magician's Land (The Magicians #3) by Lev Grossman
Publishing Info: August 5, 2014 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: March 6, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Magicians (The Magicians #1), The Magician King (The Magicians #2)

Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose, he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic, but he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, and a new Fillory--but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.

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I have a hard time with endings so this was a little bittersweet! I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot more with the set-up but I actually appreciated how well the beginning set up the ending without the reader knowing it. I always really love when authors have everything come full circle and this book did that for the book itself and also for the series. It really shows how well an author can craft plot and really know where the series it headed right from the beginning.

I actually also really appreciated that we get to see exactly why Quentin is the main character of this series. Up until 75% of the way through the final book, it still seemed like this series could have been about Julia or even Eliot or Janet, but we finally get to see in the end why this is Quentin’s story and what made this so magical and a perfect fit for him, so I’m really glad we got to that point! It’s interesting to see how the series follows all of the main characters but then how the focus really comes back to Quentin in the end.

It was quite interesting starting the TV show after this book and having finished the whole series. Obviously this review isn’t about the show, but watching something that’s inspired by the series and doesn’t follow the exact storyline also gave me more appreciation for how things wrapped up in the end and put things into perspective. The show really focuses on all of the characters and since I read the series, I already have that feeling that Quentin is the main focus but he’s really not in the show — it’s everyone. Actually, I guess the series really still spotlights Julia, Eliot, and Janet (who is Margo in the TV show) and they have their own stories as well but it’s just so interesting to note the similarities and differences.

The TV show was actually the inspiration for me to read this series (so I could watch the show) but there was something that I really connected with in terms of the whole feel here. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my all-time favorite series but there really is something that tugs at my feelings and it has that sort of obsession quality, so even though it’s not the greatest and best, I still have so much love for it!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult fantasy that’s not high fantasy. Is this low fantasy? Urban fantasy? What do you call it? I’m horrible with genres like that. But I loved that this was magical and fantastical but it wasn’t a WHOLE fantasy world. It has that sort of Harry Potter feel that takes you away to a magical land but the real world is still there, and I really loved it in an adult setting instead of children’s or YA.
Left Me Wanting More: Character interaction. I’m actually thinking back on this having read it months ago but I feel like I wished the characters had been together a little bit more for some of their timelines… But there were other character reunions that I also loved!

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I just really enjoyed this series and the TV show honestly made it even better. They’re different but really great in their own ways and I loved the original story of The Magicians.

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BOOKS LIKE THE MAGICIAN’S LAND

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    ALEX VERUS

The Magician King (The Magicians #2) – Lev Grossman

The Magician King (The Magicians #2) – Lev GrossmanTitle: The Magician King (The Magicians #2) by Lev Grossman
Publishing Info: April 9, 2011 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: March 4, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Magicians (The Magicians #1), The Magician's Land (The Magicians #3)

Quentin Coldwater should be happy. He escaped a miserable Brooklyn childhood, matriculated at a secret college for magic, and graduated to discover that Fillory—a fictional utopia—was actually real. But even as a Fillorian king, Quentin finds little peace. His old restlessness returns, and he longs for the thrills a heroic quest can bring.
Accompanied by his oldest friend, Julia, Quentin sets off—only to somehow wind up back in the real world and not in Fillory, as they'd hoped. As the pair struggle to find their way back to their lost kingdom, Quentin is forced to rely on Julia's illicitly-learned sorcery as they face a sinister threat in a world very far from the beloved fantasy novels of their youth.

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THE MAGICIAN KING was absolutely a better book than THE MAGICIANS. I felt like THE MAGICIANS was just pieces of a story all cobbled together and didn’t really follow one long thread to make it feel like a cohesive novel and THE MAGICIAN KING actually feels like a story, moving with purpose. It’s an interesting series to get the hang because it’s not like there’s one obvious conflict that carries throughout all three books, as is often the case with trilogies, and yet they’re also not independent of each other. I did like the developments here and where the story went, delving further into the magical world and the elements of Fillory.

I think the thing I enjoyed the most about this book was Julia’s story. Honestly, it was much more interesting the Quentin’s and if you read any review of THE MAGICIANS, you’ll probably read how whiny and unappreciative Quentin is of his time and experiences at Brakebills. It really didn’t bother me as much as it could have but I felt like Julia’s story was much more interesting. THE MAGICIAN KING introduces Julia right off the bat as a completely changed person. There’s something much more unearthly about her and the book spends its time going through flashbacks of Julia’s life after that fateful day when she was presented with the Brakebills entrance exam, working its way forward to explain how she got the way that she is. She has many more hardships, a much more developed personality and story, and the more interesting side of the magical developments. That was really the biggest draw to me and this book.

I also liked the reappearance of several characters, plus a few new ones along the way. I had actually forgotten a few of them with the show clouding my memory and I enjoyed seeing them again! I’m also looking forward to seeing what they do with the TV show. I already know it doesn’t follow the books closely since we started getting way into Julia’s story right away and it doesn’t follow the events from THE MAGICIAN KING either, but I definitely wanted to read the books first and get a feel on the “real” story before moving on to an adaptation. Both are interesting and I’m appreciating both in their own ways!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Book-to-TV adaptations. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the book and the TV show differ here! I really appreciated both individually and I’ve also enjoyed comparing the two.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection to the first book. I actually preferred THE MAGICIAN KING to THE MAGICIANS and I liked how much more it developed, but I wish the books really flowed together more.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I thought this was the best book in the series. I think if you hated THE MAGICIANS, you may still not enjoy this series as much but I do think this book got better!

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BOOKS LIKE THE MAGICIAN KING

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    ALEX VERUS

Undead Girl Gang – Lily Anderson

Undead Girl Gang – Lily AndersonTitle: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Publishing Info: May 8, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Zombies
Date Completed: April 24, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There's not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley's favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.

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This book was a lot of fun! Ever since I finished UNDEAD GIRL GANG, I’ve been thinking about how much I enjoyed this book. This is exactly the kind of book I was looking for and always have a craving for! I really enjoy dark comedy and campy-type books and UNDEAD GIRL GANG had all that and more.

I really loved Mila as the main character in this book. She was just a real person, from not hiding her witchy ways to having a normal plus-sized body to her family interactions to her on-and-off interactions with the popular girls. Everything about her was enjoyable and relatable and I loved her as the book’s heroine. It was great to see a mystery added in the book too. It really carried the paranormal plot when the recently dead girls accidentally get brought back to life and gave them a purpose and a timeline.

I also really liked Mila’s friendship with Riley. It’s easy to idolize the good things about someone when they’re gone and on the flip side, it was great to see how much her friendship changed after Riley’s… change. I just really appreciated seeing all of the different sides of friendship and how it’s not always perfect.

I really enjoyed the story-telling style, looooved the sarcasm and humor, and it was an overall fun feel with the witchy/paranormal aspects. There was even a good twist that I didn’t see coming! Books like this are just so much fun to read and always something I enjoy — campy, funny, sarcastic, but still with great style, flare, and characters. I’d definitely recommend this one, for fans of KILL THE BOY BAND (but with a paranormal twist) and How to Hang a Witch (with even a bit more sass)!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dark humor. Give me alllllll the dark humor books! Tell me more! I want more!!!
Left Me Wanting More: Pages! I just had so much fun reading this. There really wasn’t anything I was missing!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you love some good sarcasm, dark humor, paranormal elements, and a great book about friendship topped off with positivity towards being yourself, this is a great book to pick up!

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BOOKS LIKE UNDEAD GIRL GANG