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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

              

The Final Six (The Final Six #1) – Alexandra Monir

The Final Six (The Final Six #1) – Alexandra MonirTitle: The Final Six (The Final Six #1) by Alexandra Monir
Publishing Info: March 6, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 10, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

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First of all… I did not know this was a series going into it and it really does affect how you view a book. I kept waiting for things to lift off (quite literally) and this just didn’t have the action that I was expecting. It really felt like THE HUNGER GAMES meets Space Camp and I was looking for way more (or any) space action actually IN space. The ending was a surprise and I didn’t realize that we were going to get zero answers or resolutions, which even for a cliffhanger was kind of disappointing. There really was no wrap up even for the first book and it was just left totally open on nearly every account.

Besides my series rant, this book was… okay. I’ve been in a YA slump because maybe I’ve read too many books (GASP) or something but I feel like a lot of books have really been misses for me lately with concepts that have been done before, books that need more meat on their bones, or tropey romances/plots that have been done way too many times. Obviously you can’t please everyone, but I think this book could have benefitted from less romance and I’m not saying take the romance away but I would have loved that personal bond that wasn’t all head-over-heels. BUT ALAS, that is often how teenage love goes so it’s not like it’s unrealistic. I don’t like using the term instalove because I don’t not believe in REAL instalove that lasts but this felt like a more… shallow instalove that I just didn’t latch onto. I felt the connection and I actually liked it, but then it reached a point where it was that “can’t live without you even though we just met” thing again and I was over it at that point.

And for a book that’s all about going to space……… no one spent any time in space, and that’s what I was here for! Okay, okay, I get it. It’s a series and you didn’t know that, Brittany, blah blah but we could have spent like, a little time in space. In transit? Just a little? I was really expecting something to happen in that respect and to be honest, I was expecting the whole book to take place on a moon/planet so the fact that none of that happened in the first book was a let down. The ending also rapidly got very cheesy and a little silly and after my other frustrations, it just wasn’t enjoyable after that.

THE FINAL SIX started off well and had my interest but a lot of things added up to just really miss the mark for me. It was still an interesting concept but grand ideas turned into believable plot for which I just couldn’t suspend my reality enough. Will I read the next book? I’m really not sure. I didn’t love the writing in THE FINAL SIX but if we’re actually getting to the space part, I’m definitely interested. But the instalove might kill that desire to read it because the love story really turned me off near the end of this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Space Race. You see so many things about Jupiter’s moon having the ability to host life forms so I’m kind of a sucker for anything where people try to inhabit it or terraform a planet. It’s just fascinating (and maybe a little terrifying).
Left Me Wanting More: Friendship. The romance here just really brought me down. Things got way too dramatic so quickly and it ended up being annoying.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

I really like the concept for the series but I REALLY wish this book had been combined with whatever is coming in book two. I felt like there was far too much time spent at training and not enough getting to the point of things. As with a lot of books lately, I feel like this could have benefitted from better editing to really push the story forward.

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BOOKS LIKE THE FINAL SIX

              

Far From the Tree – Robin Benway

Far From the Tree – Robin BenwayTitle: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
Publishing Info: October 3, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: May 9, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Also Known As, Going Rogue (Also Known As #2), Emmy & Oliver

A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

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I’m really glad I read FAR FROM THE TREE because this was such a lovely book. I’ve been skirting away from more “serious” contemporary fiction lately but I love Robin Benway’s books and I already knew from EMMY & OLIVER that I enjoyed her more realistic fiction style as well as cute, quirky spies.

I’m really glad I didn’t skip this book because of its serious content. Too often with tough, sensitive, or emotional subjects, I’m just not in the mood or the place mentally to take those on in book form or the writing ends up being a little too much for me, so I loved how Robin Benway crafted this story. It is a serious book but it’s written beautifully and the characters really shine and carry this book. Not every book dealing with real life topics have to have characters who are solemn and I loved the sarcasm and slight comic relief that still came through from some of these characters. Robin Benway really does a great job at making sure her characters are well-rounded and that they come off as real people and not just a character in a book and I really loved that in FAR FROM THE TREE.

I also really enjoyed the three different POVs that shared three different experiences with adoption, family, and just life in general. Each character was so well-rounded, different, and really well represented. I really appreciated each situation and their respective hurdles and hardships and I’m glad that readers got to see each situation from that character’s perspective. It wouldn’t have been the same to have one narrator sharing this experience as an observer and I love that we got to see all three siblings in their own voices.

The ending was just perfect also. It wasn’t a book that needed a fairy tale happy ending, but it was a great way to wrap up this adventure and it just felt right. It wasn’t too sad and it wasn’t overly, cheesily happy. I really appreciated and enjoyed the writing and whether Robin Benway is writing a fun spy novel or a serious realistic story, I’m here for it!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Realistic fiction. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book specifically about adoption — it’s usually used as a twist or point of sadness in a book — and I really liked how it was accurately portrayed in three distinct ways here.
Left Me Wanting More: History. I don’t feel like this book was missing anything, really, but I also would have enjoyed getting to know even more about each family. 

Addiction Rating
Read it

I thought this book was very well done and it was a great representation of the adoption process on so many levels and all of the things that go into that decision.

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BOOKS LIKE FAR FROM THE TREE

              

Alex, Approximately – Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately – Jenn BennettTitle: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Publishing Info: April 4, 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: February 23, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Starry Eyes

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

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I had heard so many good things about ALEX, APPROXIMATELY and I had been wanting to read it for a long time! Not able to read as many print copies as I would like, I started binge-reading audiobooks and it was finally time to read this one when I found an audio version from Hoopla! (Bless you, Hoopla.)

This book was really cute! I also recently read STARRY EYES from Jenn Bennett and I just love there realistic situations and characters that she captures in her books. There were so many realistic family and relationship moments that I really connected with and that felt very true in so many ways. I also had so much fun with the romance from start to finish! I knew what was happening with Mink/Alex/Bailey/Porter as soon as it started to unfold (although I don’t think that it was really secret to the readers) and I was totally there for that!

There was a little bit that just didn’t have me 100% in love with the book and I think at times it was just a little over-the-top, but just barely. Some parts were a little too dramatic for my tastes but really most of it was so incredibly realistic and I was easily able to connect with all of the characters, even the secondary ones. I loved the supporting cast of friends and family and they really added so much to the book, which is always something that I love.

I really enjoyed this book a lot and it lived up to the hype! I’m so glad that I finally got around to reading it, and it also led me straight into STARRY EYES, both of which have kicked off my new-found love for Jenn Bennett!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Realistic fiction. I kind of shy away from contemporary sometimes, depending on the content and author, and this was fun and refreshing!
Left Me Wanting More: Maturity. Yes, yes, it’s young adult, I know. There were just a coooouple teen drama moments that were irksome but I guess that is really true to the teenage years! I just forget about them because I never felt like I was that dramatic. (I totally was.)

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really, really enjoyed this book and there was a lot to swoon about! I’ve become an instant fan of Jenn Bennett and I can’t wait to read more!

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BOOKS LIKE ALEX, APPROXIMATELY

              

Together at Midnight – Jennifer Castle

Together at Midnight – Jennifer CastleTitle: Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle
Publishing Info: January 22, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: March 1, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

What does it really mean to be kind . . . and why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world to do? High school senior Kendall, who just returned from a life-changing semester in Europe, and Max, who is drifting his way through a gap year before college, struggle with these questions when they witness a tragic accident in New York City during the holiday season. Racked with guilt, the two accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two teens, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a vibrant city filled with other people’s stories and secrets.

Kendall and Max can’t deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight?

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So when I first added this book to my TBR, the synopsis for this book was… not this. I thought this was cute and fluffy and feel-good and I still had that impression in my mind before I started reading it. I don’t usually got back and read synopses before I start a book because sometimes things are updated that include the most mild of spoilers and I really like going into books relatively blind, so it would have been helpful if I had gone back, but then I also probably wouldn’t have read it. It’s not a heavy book per se but it’s also not light and fluffy, so I was super surprised to hear about the accident (not a spoiler, or well, I guess it’s not a spoiler if you read the synopsis (unlike me)) and how much it set things into motion.

The book was interesting and it was very good and despite not realizing what it was supposed to be about when I started it, I still didn’t connect to it as much as I thought. I really did appreciate the reality and diversity represented in a lot of different ways. The characters had a lot of depth in that respect but I still didn’t quite connect to their personalities like I had hoped. They were fine characters but I had a hard time finding a depth that I connected with and sometimes it felt like they were more characters than having me believe that they were real people, breaking that story feel and heading into that soul connection.

As much as I liked all of the realistic situations, the storyline just wasn’t something that I was really interested in reading, or at least at this point in time. I was torn with the little asides to the people that the characters helped with the RAKs. I thought it was neat to see how those acts of kindness really affected people in ways that we don’t really know and yet it also felt like it took me out of the story and didn’t quite fit.

This is a weird rating for me because there actually were a lot of things that I liked about the writing and the style and yet there were also things that threw me in those same areas. It was a good book but still not a book that really hit the spot for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Realistic fiction. I tend to stick towards light and happy for realistic/contemporary so I probably wouldn’t have picked this up otherwise, but I’m glad I read it.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. I’m writing this review several months later and I just feel so disconnected from this book.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

This book really wasn’t for me but a lot of my friends have given it a solid four stars. It wasn’t that it wasn’t a good book for me but it just wasn’t something I was into.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE TOGETHER AT MIDNIGHT

          

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) – Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) – Alison GoodmanTitle: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman
Publishing Info: January 26, 2016 by Penguin
Source: Audible, Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Date Completed: February 21, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

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I had heard a lot about THE DARK DAYS CLUB and seen it around many places and actually didn’t pick it up until I had read a little bit more about it. Demon hunting in the regency era? Heck yeah that sounded interesting, so I grabbed this book in an Audible sale!

THE DARK DAYS CLUB started off interesting for me and then quickly hit a really big stall. It was such a weird read for me. I knew what I was getting into and yet the pacing really took me by surprise. For the first 100+ pages, really nothing happened. There was a lot of set-up but not even the demon-hunting side of things. There was a lot of Regency Era story and set-up but honestly, that wasn’t why I picked up the book so I really wasn’t interested without the demon-hunting part.

Things really did finally start to pick up around 40% and I really did end up enjoying the end. I was hoping more would happen throughout the course of the book but it finally did hit its stride and I surprisingly do want to continue the series. I almost DNFed this book, actually, with so little taking place at the beginning but now that things have been established, I actually am looking forward to seeing what else happens.

I’m still  little hung up on the fact that it felt really slow to me so although I enjoyed the ending, I’m not sure when I might continue on in the series. I liked where things were going and yet writing this review quite a bit after finishing, I don’t really feel that pull to keep going.

I’m also not really sure about the love triangle here… but it did give me feels on both sides. I have a lot of thoughts. I didn’t really think it was necessary to throw in there and one part of it seemed odd to me. I guess all of these factors combined may have me skipping the rest of the series.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Regency era. I really don’t read a lot of historical fiction or paranormal/urban fantasy period books so this was interesting! I don’t think it’s my favorite time to read about but it was fun.
Left Me Wanting More: Action. This book did have some good action but the beginning and middle just really dragged. I actually wanted fewer pages instead of more of something.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

This is highly rated by many of my friends but it didn’t quite do it for me. It was an interesting read but I struggled with it in more than one way. Something for which you might want to check out reviews!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DARK DAYS CLUB

          

If You Liked… Stranger Things

One of my favorite parts about being a book blogger is sharing the books that I love with others. I absolutely love sharing my favorite reads and recommending them to others who are looking to fall in love with a new book!

12 BOOKS FOR STRANGER THINGS FANS

I’ve recently become a huge fan of Stranger Things, having binge watched back in October and watching two more times since then. The show has probably become one of my biggest fandoms as of late and even though it’s not a book-inspired show, it’s taken the bookish community by storm!

I also re-read THE DARKEST MINDS so I could finally finish the trilogy and also because the movie is coming out and as I was reading, I was thinking about how it’s such a good recommendation for Stranger Things fans… and then I finally watched the movie trailer and saw that the Stranger Things producers are involved in THE DARKEST MINDS movie!

If you’re a fan of Stranger Things, check out some of these book recommendations below!



IF YOU LIKED STRANGER THINGS…


Try… THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I just started reading this series again and it’s just so perfect for fans of Stranger Things! A group of kids with abilities band together, form great bonds, and oh yeah, have all kinds of telekinetic powers. It’s great if you’re an Eleven fan and want to see a whole gang of people like her, basically! Plus, there’s a movie coming out in August thats based off the book so now’s the time to read it! There are a lot of different abilities in this book and there’s a whole lot more powers/abilities to enjoy which makes it interesting when every kid (who is left) has the ability to do something out of the ordinary! Imagine a book full of Elevens…


Try… VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

What if you weren’t just born with powers but actually went to the extent of forcing them upon yourself? That’s kind of what VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab entails. Main character Victor Vale is kind of an anti-hero so he’s not the most lovable person but I did come to really appreciate him and his companions throughout the novel and just really enjoyed if from start to finish. This is an adult novel but is great for crossover aspects! I really love the feel here and it’s an interesting take on being born with a power vs coming into one (or, you know, literally taking it for yourself) and how you use it.


Try… THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
Schwab look familiar to you? That’s right — the same V.E. Schwab who wrote VICIOUS above also writes young adult novels under her full name, Victoria. THIS SAVAGE SONG kicks off a two-book series that explores what happens when monsters live among us. It’s not identical to demogorgons and kids with abilities but I think it has the same great horror/paranormal feel with some great family moments, a sweet love story that happens among some crazy things, and other really interesting characteristics along the way! hi


Try… HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER by Lish McBride.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
One thing I love about Stranger Things is that no matter how insane things get, there’s always comedic relief. HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER has plenty of that, as you can probably tell by its hilarious title. NECROMANCER dips even further into the paranormal creature concept with a whole cast of paranormals and weres, including a guy who thought he was normal until everything got turned upside down. It’s a really fun novel, easy to read, and packed with sarcasm, humor, and puns.


Try… THE DEMON’S LEXICON by Sara Rees Brennan.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
Got demogorgons and demons on your mind? Check out THE DEMON’S LEXICON! The story follows two brothers who are demon hunters and have a mysterious, crazy mom (who’s a bit more off her rocker and a whole lot scarier than Joyce Byers) and there are even some good twists along the way! This book was an interesting take on the demon concept and incorporated some folk lore to make up the basis of its plot and how demons surround the characters.


Try… A GOOD IDEA by Cristina Moracho.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
Just craving that 80s/period vibe? A GOOD IDEA by Cristina Moracho is a really interesting thriller that takes place in the 90s! This one is more straight mystery/thriller than it is paranormal but it has a very spooky and dark vibe, has mysterious woods, and no one uses cell phones. I really love when a book or series is set in the 80s or 90s, making it relatable and yet without some of the modern conveniences that make solving mysteries too easy! Things get a little bit crazy towards the end but the whole book is a wild ride getting to find all of those answers you’ve been craving since the beginning!


Try… A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
Whoops, I swear I didn’t realize I was recommending three Schwab books when I made this list but apparently if you enjoy Stranger Things, go check out her books! A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC is definitely more fantasy and not that urban fantasy/paranormal feel of the show but I wanted to pick it for it’s alternate world concept! In this book, there are four different Londons (Gray, Red, White, and Black) that the travelers get to through special abilities able to control doors, or portals. Black London is totally destroyed and the concept of it really reminds me of The Upsidedown in a way! Plus there’s a creepy villain that I won’t talk about because spoilers, but I think there are plenty of aspects for ST fans to enjoy!

The Raven Boys - Maggie SteifvaterTry… THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

THE RAVEN BOYS has a lot of magical realism but I could also categorize that as paranormal! It also has the most amazing friendship and group of tight-knit friends which tugs at my heartstrings as much as Eleven, Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas do. There are a lot of crazy things that happen throughout this book and although Eleven isn’t psychic, it has that same sort of feel with main character Blue’s psychic mother and family and the world that they’re able to tap into because of their true psychic powers and the energy that they surround themselves with. I love this book for its plot but I REALLY love it for its characters and relationships, even for the family aspect too, which is something I love so much about Stranger Things. I also love how much I got invested in the romantic side of things by actually FEELING them without it reading like a romance novel. Sometimes less is more, which is how I feel about how much emotion is packed into Mike and Eleven’s little romance.

Try… NIL by Lynne Matson.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

This is another book I chose for a sort of “Upsidedown” concept. The island of Nil isn’t quite so obvious as a sinister alternate world but it does come with gates that take kids to the island and your time there comes with an expiration date. It’s not an exact parallel to Stranger Things but I like how the concept reminds me of the show a little bit (or rather, vice versa since the book came out first). It actually really reminds me of Lost, but the concept of the island has some interesting origins that I think ST fans could enjoy! The island also only takes teens so you’ve got a great group of kids who are working together to figure out this crazy island, sold problems, and of course, stay alive.


Try… THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD by Emily Henry.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
It’s hard to talk about this one without spoilers since I don’t know how much would give the ending away and what readers might pick up on it before then. It’s more of a contemporary story with bits and pieces of … something off. The main character ends up seeing flashes of things that aren’t there (sound familiar, Will?) and may be coming from a different time or place or just from her head alone. The boy she meets along the way changes her world, but she needs to find a way to hold onto him. There’s so much about this book that I loved and I can’t say more except that if you’re into the love story side of the show, this is one filled with more romance for you!


Try… THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER is just that perfect twisty book where you have no idea what’s going on but can’t wait to find out, which is exactly how I felt when I was watching the show! Something strange is happening to Mara Dyer and she can’t quite figure out what it is. I loved being taken along this trippy ride and was constantly guessing what might happen next! I also think it has that great same dark, mysterious feel that the show does. This kicks off a three book series that has you guessing the whole time! Like Stranger Things, I ended up bingeing it because I couldn’t stop to see what happened! It definitely gets a hold of you and keeps you on your toes.


Try… LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE by Paul Krueger.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
And lastly, we have LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE. This one is an adult/new adult read, more focused on the demon hunting… with cocktails! I don’t think it has a direct parallel to the show aside from demons and mysterious creatures but it was such a fun and quirky read (its publisher is literally Quirk Books) and it’s a great book to have fun with the darker side! It’s a shorter book, quick, easy, and just plain fun, complete with cocktail recipes and illustrations. I had a lot of fun reading this one and although it’s not a direct relation to Stranger Things, I still think fans could love it!


I always have a blast picking out recommendations and I hope Stranger Things fans agree with these! There are some recommendations that are a little outside of the box but I like the elements that connect to some fundamental Stranger Things themes!

Looking for more recommendations? Check out my previous list of recs below!

 

 

Starry Eyes – Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes – Jenn BennettTitle: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Publishing Info: April 3, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: April 6, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Alex, Approximately

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

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Jenn Bennett is a new auto-buy author for me! I thoroughly enjoyed ALEX, APPROXIMATELY and STARRY EYES was just as good if not better. I loved all of the real teen issues tackled in this book from friendships to romance to sex to family, and everything in between. It was a great representation of realistic life and I love any contemporary romance novel that doesn’t go over-the-top with issues and keeps the drama within the normal realm of relatable experiences. (Not to say that over-the-top things don’t happen in real life, because obviously it happens, but I like to keep things more every day and not too dramatic. It gets to be a bit much if you only ever read about the extremes.)

I also really enjoyed the topics that the book did cover. Main character Zorie has anxiety issues and planning is the way that she copes with them, to the extent of planning nearly everything. She lives with her dad and stepmom and I kind of loved that she was actually really close with her stepmom and really considered her to be her mother and called her “mom”. I love seeing step-parent relationships that aren’t negative or angsty, and Zorie actually was closer to her mom than her dad. She wasn’t close with her father, and without spoiling specific things, she ended up having some issues with her dad throughout the book and I really enjoyed how Jenn Bennett tackled all of these issues and situations!

I LOVED the wilderness and camping aspect since that’s something that’s near and dear to my heart. I always went camping with my family as a kid but we always stayed at campgrounds. My husband (before we were married) loved the legitimate wilderness camping and introduced me to that when we started dating so it was really fun to see that atmosphere and see that knowledge put to use on the pages. It’s also great to put things like that into perspective because there’s a lot that you don’t think about as a teen, or even as an adult, being out in nature like that and it makes you really responsible really quickly. I liked seeing that in a teen setting to show some maturity and responsibility, as well as the sense of freedom it provides (and even a few moments where you’re not quite honest with your parents).

STARRY EYES was a wonderful book and I inhaled it in two days! I really enjoyed reading it and Jenn Bennett’s characters are just wonderful. I loved even the secondary characters and how much they supported the stories of the main characters and how they came to life as well. It was so well-done and I enjoyed it from start to finish.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Positive step-family environments. I’m so over the evil stepmother concept! I loved how much Zorie really treated Joy like her mom and Joy always said that Zorie was her daughter. It’s a lovely feeling and I had so much appreciate for that support.
Left Me Wanting More: Zing factor. That’s not a thing, but bear with me here. So I loved ALEX, APPROXIMATELY and I loved STARRY EYES, both so very much. But I didn’t loooove them. They were fatalistic and solid and beautiful four star books but there was just that oomph that didn’t launch them to five stars for me. I’m not sure what’s “missing” (nothing is MISSING but you know?) but regardless, I’m loving Jenn Bennett’s books!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re looking for a new auto-buy/auto-read author, this is my new one! I’m enjoyed Jenn Bennett’s books so much and her last two have launched her onto my radar! I need to go back and read THE ANATOMICAL SHAPE OF A HEART now!

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BOOKS LIKE STARRY EYES

          

I Have Lost My Way – Gayle Forman

I Have Lost My Way – Gayle FormanTitle: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: March 27, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: March 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

An emotionally cathartic story of losing love, finding love, and discovering the person you are meant to be, I Have Lost My Way is best­selling author Gayle Forman at her finest.

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I am a big, big Gayle Forman fan but for some reason, I just really didn’t connect to this one like I had hoped and expected. I wonder if maybe the fact that I read it as an audiobook affected anything? The narrators were fine, some of which I’ve heard before and enjoyed, but I just didn’t make that emotional connection that I get with all of her other books.

The book did follow three different narrators, which is different from Gayle Forman’s other books, and the narrations also switched tenses, from third person while telling the story to first person while recounting each character’s past. I listen to enough audiobooks that I don’t feel like listening to it on audio should really make a difference when it comes to the structure of the story (unless it’s something that is very visual like The Illuminae Files) but maybe the physical copy had a different break that would have helped those switches/transitions a little bit more than the audiobook. I don’t really think it would have made a difference, but maybe. I’m trying to reason things out because I don’t want to say that this book wasn’t my favorite, but I guess it’s bound to happen with any favorite author (and really, it has, so that’s okay too).

The stories really were beautiful. Each character has lost their way due to their own unique circumstances and when they quite randomly come together, they each help each other through the toughest points in their lives. I really loved seeing how these friendships blossomed and how total strangers were able to become such key points in each other’s lives. Gayle Forman did a great job at bringing in key phrases from one person’s past and sticking it into another person’s present — a clever tie between the two that makes them seem almost destined to meet and unite.

I did appreciate so much of this book and yet, I just didn’t feel that pull on my heart like I have with previous novels. I definitely felt for each character and was rooting for each one, but I feel like I just didn’t connect with the writing and the structure like I had hoped. The book was definitely good but it’s that personal connection and emotional grab that didn’t get me. I’m also sure that my expectations were ya know… WAY HIGH so that never helps why I hype books up for myself!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Beautiful connections. I loved how these three characters came together to essentially save each other’s lives. The connections were wonderful.
Left Me Wanting More: Personal investment. I think I just didn’t personally connect to the characters for whatever reason, as much as I wanted to.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I will always recommend Gayle Forman’s books, even if they aren’t my favorite! I can objectively see how wonderful these stories were, even if I didn’t feel emotional about them. I’m just used to sobbing away haha!

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BOOKS LIKE I HAVE LOST MY WAY

          

The Boyfriend Bracket – Kate Evangelista

The Boyfriend Bracket – Kate EvangelistaTitle: The Boyfriend Bracket by Kate Evangelista
Publishing Info: June 19, 2018 by Macmillan, Swoon Reads
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: March 31, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Stella has had a hopeless crush on Will, her older brother's best friend FOREVER, but now that Cam and Will have graduated and are going off to college, this year is her chance to really strike out on her own. Without her overprotective brother and his sidekick around to distract her, she can focus on having all the typical high school experiences that she's always dreamed of—starting with finding a boyfriend! With the help of her best friend Franklin, she comes up with the perfect plan to have a boyfriend by Christmas: The Boyfriend Bracket.

Or it seems like the perfect plan...right up until Will starts showing up again. How is she supposed to find the perfect boyfriend when none of her dates measure up to the one boy she can never have?

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To be 100% honest, I made it about 30% – 35% of the way through and then skimmed the rest of the book because once it hit a certain point, there was no point in reading the rest.

Heads up, because we’re gonna have some spoilers here.
So the book is called The Boyfriend Bracket and… we do away with the bracket after 30% when Stella gets together with her longtime crush (and surprise surprise, he’s had a crush on her forever), Will, who is her brother Cam’s best friend. So there really was no point to the bracket other than to get a gimmick to get Will to confess his feelings on the page because “he couldn’t stand to see her with another guy”. Thankfully for him, uber protective big brother Cam has shooed away every boyfriend up until that point (ew). And thankfully for him, he gets together with Stella post-makeover (in fairness, he liked her before but UGH. Now she’s sexy! And irresistible)!

I looove friends to more stories but this was not exciting and all tension was lost when the two get together basically right away. The rest of the book was hiding their relationship from Cam, which was annoying. Throw in some typical teen things like dances and college and that’s the rest of the book. It was just so cliche that I had a hard time wanting to read it, so yes, I did skim the rest. I picked up on the major points and I’m glad I didn’t actually spend the time to read each and every word.

Things COULD have been cute if we went through the bracket and found that all of the guys weren’t the right fit and voila! There’s Will! The old brother thing was creepy, kind of? And just flat out annoying because it was way too much forced interference. Not to say this doesn’t actually happen to teens because oh lord, I did some immature stuff back in my teen years, but I enjoy the books that make it more into a story than just recounting teen moments that we’ve all lived through because who wants to live/re-live those cringe-worthy decisions?

Anyway. I’m just really disappointed with this one because it really had potential but it was way too immature for me and the writing was a little cringe-worthy. There wasn’t much that I enjoyed here, other than broad concepts. This was pretty much the definition of “fluff” with not much substance there.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Friends-to-more. I actually did like some of the cute-factor between Stella and Will, so that was something.
Left Me Wanting More: So much more maturity. This book was just so immature on so many levels. It was really bothersome.

Addiction Rating
Skip it.

I don’t usually say to skip things — often times I’ll suggest getting a second opinion — but this book just made me so mad and irritated. I was really disappointed.

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BOOKS LIKE THE BOYFRIEND BRACKET