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The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us #3) – Maggie Hall

The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us #3) – Maggie HallTitle: The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us #3) by Maggie Hall
Publishing Info: July 18, 2017 by Penguin, Listening Library
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 20, 2017
Related Posts: The Conspiracy of Us (The Conspiracy of Us #1), Map of Fates (The Conspiracy of Us #2)

The Circle is hers. But Avery West has lost everything else: her mother, the family she’d just found, and the one boy she trusted. In their place are unfathomable power, a staged relationship that makes her question every real feeling she’s ever had, and a mission to find the cure to the virus that’s made her own blood a weapon.

Then disaster strikes, turning Avery, Stellan, Jack, and Elodie into the most wanted people in the world. To clear their names and the growing rift between the families of the Circle before the world dissolves into World War Three, they’ll have to make a desperate, dangerous final race for Alexander the Great’s tomb. What they will find inside will mean the world’s salvation—or destruction.

Avery will have to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice—for the world, for family, and for love—in this conclusion to the Conspiracy of Us series.

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That was such a solid ending of this series, and done just right, I think! I often times worry with series-enders because it’s so hard to wrap things up. I think THE ENDS OF THE WORLD was just the right amount of action, romance, resolution, devastation, and consequences all rolled into a solid conclusion.

I listened to the first two books back-to-back on audio and I almost wish I had waited until this book was out so I could have binged all three because I always forget a little bit from the previous books, so I did have a tiny bit of a gap in remembering exactly what happened! Fortunately it wasn’t a lot since I read them not TOO long ago, but it still did affect my reading experience just a tiny bit. What I really did love is that Maggie Hall kept all of her characters true to themselves. They really grew throughout the series and their decisions were normal and logical for everything that they had been through. Avery is a very different person from the beginning of the series and I loved how she said it herself — she’s definitely not the same but her experiences changed her and she grew from them. I really loved how the characters evolved but really stayed true to their personalities and beliefs. It happens all too often that things start to really stray from the first book by the time you hit the last book so I’m so happy that Maggie Hall kept a very cohesive feel to this series all around!

Being the last in the series, obviously things had to take some dire turns before they could wrap up! I really liked the amount of danger present in this book and the sacrifices that were made. It wasn’t always easy to read but everything resolved really well, I think, and it was a satisfying ending without being too cheesy. I loved the extra few sentences that stated that even though it was a positive final result, everyone had still gone through so much and it would take a long time for everyone to be okay, if ever. It really put that into perspective that these characters went through some STUFF and it’s not all fluff and cotton candy after it was all over. They have a long road ahead of working to put things back into place, sorting out a lot of political stuff, and working on relationships as well. It was great to see some reality brought into a happy ending while still feeling a little gooey about it.

Without talking about any spoilers, the plot did take a turn that I wasn’t so crazy about? Not bad in any way but I guess you could say it that was one step further that took things into more of a jump outside of reality that I just didn’t know if I could wrap my brain around it. It wasn’t paranormal or fantastical or anything like that but it was an added element to the story that really affected the plot and I was just like of like HMMM. How do I feel about this? I think it took one step past the international espionage and added almost a mild sci-fi element? Ugh, it’s hard to explain without giving things away but anyway, that was my one very small hang-up, and totally a personal opinion.

Overall, I LOVED this series and I love international thrillers like this! There aren’t a lot of really good YA espionage/modern political novels like this (I guess for lack of a better term, a sort of Da Vinci Code concept) and I would love to see more of this in the YA world! I’d absolutely pick it up. No matter what Maggie Hall is writing next, I am totally on board! I loved the details that went into this series, the feel and atmosphere were fantastic, the characters were strong, and the whole series stayed true to itself. Highly recommend and can’t wait to read more from Maggie Hall, whatever that may be!

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Kept Me Hooked On: International thrillers. I hate having to compare every international thriller like this to THE DAVINCI CODE so I’m gonna make a reference to this series from now on! We need more books like this!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality? It was fun but I also felt like the plot went a little too outside of my comfort zone to wrap things up. I understand where it was heading but I also wasn’t the biggest fan. I think I want more thriller less… mythology I guess.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This series is so well done. I love these characters, the locations, and the action!

book_recommendations1

     THE FIXER     HEIST SOCIETY

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin Cashore

Jane, Unlimited – Kristin CashoreTitle: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Publishing Info: September 19, 2017 by Penguin, Listening Library
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternate Reality, Parallel Universe
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 6, 2017
Related Posts: Graceling (Graceling Realm #1)

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

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JANE, UNLIMITED is literally the most unique book I’ve ever read. It’s unlike anything else, with a unique concept, characters, plot, and structure, and this both enhanced my reading experience and left me utterly confused.

I need to go into books blindly so I don’t ruin the twists and the overall experience for myself so I did some reading up on the book immediately after finishing to help ground me a little bit, and I found (which I actually had heard before and completely forgot) that the concept originally started as a sort of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel and developed into what it is. It’s quite impossible to really discuss the book without mentioning specific spoilers so for spoiler-free thoughts, I’ll say that it was quite a wild ride and listening to an audiobook may have made it even more complicated, not able to SEE what was going on with the print on the pages, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the audio performance (one of Rebecca Soler’s best, in my opinion).

Without knowing the CYOA concept, the book seemed unmoored — flowing from story to story not really knowing where one ended and the next began. Once I understood that these were actually telling different parts and weren’t following a chronological timeline, it made a lot more sense to me and I was able to appreciate it more. I thought at first that things were just non-sequential and I kept trying to put each part back into the first to follow through with the same timeline and it was just so confusing, but again, that probably would have been more easily deduced if I was reading a print copy and not the audio version. It also made a LOT more sense once I figured out that these were being told in different parts because I was thinking as I was listening that this story feels like it’s wrapping up but holy cow, I have a LONG way to go to finish this book haha!

That being said, I enjoyed most of the adventures. The first few parts were more enjoyable than the last few because things really started to go off the deep end towards the end of the book. It sort of starts in the more probable and drifts towards the more fantastical with each story and it was hard to grasp so many different genres within the same book as possibilities all at once, but I will say that it was incredibly interesting and I found them all fascinating, even if I didn’t particularly love each one. I DID love that each part revealed a little something and tied back to a point that was made in the beginning of the book or a part of another story. There were so many things going on in this peculiar house and Jane ended up discovering them all… just not all in the same version. I’m really glad the readers get to see why the characters are doing peculiar things, why the house feels a little bit emotional, and why the art plays such a big part of everything. Though I still don’t know why umbrellas are such a big deal.

One of my disappointments with the book was just that I needed a little something more from the ending. I would have been really impressed if the book had wrapped up with a singular ending that sort of put all of the stories at peace because none of them really ended and I would have been SUPER impressed if Kristin Cashore somehow tied them all up, sort of how the beginning set them all up. Instead they all kind of just taper off and there’s not a solid conclusion for any of them. I don’t mind open endings but I think this was a little TOO open and I would have been super impressed with something closing all of those open doors.

Usually when I’m confused about a book, the more I write about it, the more I realize how disappointed I was but I’m actually finding the opposite with JANE. The more I talk about it, the more fascinated I am and I wouldn’t be opposed to another collection of JANE stories somewhere down the road with even more possibilities. It’s a story with infinite worlds to explore and I’m sure even more things could be touched upon that I haven’t even thought of. I don’t think it’snecessary to know the structure of the book before starting but it did help me understand it more after finishing and helped me appreciate it more. I still would love that one last thing to tie it all together though.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Listening Library has basically been my reading savior this year. With so many candle things to do, I just don’t have time to sit and read anymore and they are so kind as to keep me on their reviewer list for audiobooks. I’ve been listening to one right after the other this year and I was so excited to see JANE, UNLIMITED as one of the options!

I knew I was in good hands with Rebecca Soler as the narrator. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because she narrated The Lunar Chronicles audiobooks but personally, I feel like this is her best audiobook performance yet. I think her voices were more distinct in this book than in previous books and her voice and tone just really fit the overall feel of JANE, UNLIMITED.

The audio was probably a little bit harder to follow than the print copy due to the nature of the book but it still totally works and probably isn’t confusing if you don’t go into reads blind like I do!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Extremely unique formatting. I love seeing new and unique things not only in YA but anywhere in the literary world. This book cobbled together the different decisions that Jane could have made and it was interesting to see each one of them play out!
Left Me Wanting More: Closure. I didn’t really feel like the ending of the book really closed it off. I guess the point is kind of that the choices really are unlimited… I’d totally be up for another book full of possible endings though!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was so clever and so unique. The tone was also a LOT of fun with a neat cast of characters, including a house that was a character in itself.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE JANE, UNLIMITED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Warcross (Warcross #1) – Marie Lu

Warcross (Warcross #1) – Marie LuTitle: Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu
Publishing Info: September 12, 2017 by Penguin, Listening Library
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 10, 2017
Related Posts: Legend (Legend #1)

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

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WARCROSS is only my second Marie Lu book (I’ve only read LEGEND. I know, how horrible am I? I loved it too…) and I’m so glad I had the chance to get back into her writing! Every since READY PLAYER ONE, I’ve been dying for more video game/virtual reality-type adventures and I know there are others out there but WARCROSS was one that really caught my eye, both because of author and concept.

Either this book was shorter than I thought or time just flew by as I was listening! I listened to the audiobook (thanks, Listening Library!) while I worked and it seemed like this story just flew by, which I guess means that I was really enjoying it! I really enjoyed WARCROSS! It was a fun, futuristic read that reminded me of READY PLAYER ONE meets THE HUNGER GAMES but still in its own original way. I loved the game aspect behind it and I think games within a story really pull me into the action! There were plenty of action-packed moments, especially during the games themselves, which were not at all like Quidditch but reminded me of the action breaks that Harry Potter took to play out a Quidditch game. It brought some fast-paced scenes to the book and added more the the character relationships, meanwhile adding a dash of plot all at the same time. The game sequences also really added to the world-building, showing exactly how Warcross worked and why everyone was so excited for these competitions. It’s essentially like everyone playing sports and then the tournaments featured here are like the Olympics.

I really enjoyed all of the different relationships throughout the book! Emika is kind of a loner to start and as the book progresses, she learns how to work on a team and finally starts to let people back in. She also lets go of her heart a little bit and ends up with an unexpected relationship (or at least more than friends) with a prominent figure in the book and the romance was sweet and exciting all at the same time! I really liked the team aspect and how that really brought Emika in, as much as she didn’t want or expect that, and I always love gangs of characters who might not have otherwise been friends coming together like that.

I’ve only read one Marie Lu book but I feel like she’s good at keeping readers on their toes! One thing I really enjoyed was a nice set of twists that she incorporated into the plot. I totally saw one twist coming and was like, “Oh yeah, predictable…” and then BAM! A totally different twist caught me by surprise. I’m not sure if I was supposed to see the one coming but I definitely appreciate that it threw me off for the other one, thinking I had already caught the “twist”.

The book ended before I knew it and I was so engrossed in the audiobook that I didn’t even realize it was coming to a close! Marie Lu left us on a hell of a cliffhanger which I loved but also whyyyyy! I’m so anxious to read the next book and as much as it sucks to be left on a cliffhanger sometimes, I’m definitely left wanting more as soon as possible!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Gaming books. I’m not a gamer but I actually love reading about virtual reality and gaming-type books. I love the sense of competition and how reality and games meet!
Left Me Wanting More: Oomph. I loved the book but it was missing just a touch that would have pushed it towards the edge for me. I’m not sure what it was, but either way, it was still a great read!!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

What a fun start to a series! I can’t wait to read more, I love where this is going, and this was such a solid beginning.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE WARCROSS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud – E. LockhartTitle: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
Publishing Info: September 5, 2017 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 19, 2017
Related Posts: We Were Liars

The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

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For many, WE WERE LIARS was an epic, twisty, and gripping read but it never really stuck a chord with me. Being my first E. Lockhart book, it had be a little hesitant and yet also curious to read more of her works. I didn’t grab a copy of GENUINE FRAUD at ALA because of my hesitation but when I was offered a review copy of the audiobook from Listening Library, I knew this would be a good way to read the book!

GENUINE FRAUD was so different than what I expected! It was highly unique and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it to be honest… It’s just book that’s really hard to put a rating on because of how different it was and what it turned out to be. I love reading Cait from Paper Fury’s reviews on Goodreads and she kind of summed up exactly how I felt as well — “This book is very very good but I also didn’t like it.” It was so incredibly interesting and very well put together but I also still had a hard time liking it.

The set-up of this book is wholly unique and I don’t think I’ve read anything like it. I received the audiobook for review from Listening Library and since the format is a collection of files, I thought something was wrong with my file when the book started with Chapter 18 (because that’s happened to me before when a book got jumbled up and I couldn’t straighten it out)… but it really does start with Chapter 18 works its way backwards to Chapter 1. The screwy timeline and twists and turns were very akin to movies like Pulp Fiction and Memento, where stories work themselves backwards and all around from a certain point rather than moving in chronological order. It was super interesting to watch the story unfold in reverse while still unfolding forwards and I’m so impressed with E. Lockhart’s writing in this book!

The book is also hard to rate because of this concept. It was so fascinating but it was kind of in that way where I was in awe of the writing and the absolute debauchery that was happening in the book that I just couldn’t tear myself away. The characters are actually mostly unlikable, which isn’t a turn-off for me because those can be some of the most interesting characters, but sometimes I do have a hard time connecting to them. There were also moments where action abruptly started or stopped, cutting off the flow and picking up at a different point in time, so some things were a little hard to follow, and I didn’t even realize the end of the book was coming when it happened!

It was really different than I expected, but in a really neat way and yet I still can’t quite put my finger on how I feel about it. I feel like it’s worth the read with its sinister plot, moments of action, intense thrilling points, and morally complex characters, and yet at the same time, I still didn’t love it. I think if I had made that one connection where a character really pulled me in, it would have blown my mind.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Twisty writing styles. Man, this was sooo unique and very cool to read! Once I realized there wasn’t an issue with my audio I was like, okay. I’m here for this! I love seeing stories not follow a chronological timeline and still progress the plot forward.
Left Me Wanting More: Character Connection. Almost all of the characters were unlikable and that doesn’t always deter me but here it did a little bit. It wasn’t like a morally gray character that you know you love, but more like, “Wow, these people are actually awful human beings and yet I’m kind of rooting for them?” I think I wanted a little more sinister or a little more like.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

It’s a very cool book, and if you make that connection, it could be a total five-star read for you!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE GENUINE FRAUD

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Little Monsters – Kara Thomas

Little Monsters – Kara ThomasTitle: Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
Publishing Info: July 25, 2017 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: ALAAC17, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 13, 2017
Related Posts: The Darkest Corners

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

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LITTLE MONSTERS caught my eye because of the author and concept. I had first read Kara Thomas’ work with THE DARKEST CORNERS and enjoyed her writing and I’m always looking for more YA mystery/thrillers! I’m very glad to have read LITTLE MONSTERS and I continue to be pleasantly surprised at the conclusions of Kara Thomas’ books, not always able to guess the ending!

I enjoyed LITTLE MONSTERS from start to finish and it was hard to stop listening to the audiobook. (Thanks to Listening Library for the review copy!) The concept reminded me of what I imagine Pretty Little Liars is like (I haven’t read the books or watched the show) combined with A GOOD IDEA and THIS IS OUR STORY — a little bit frenemies, a little bit mental health, and a little bit small-town mystery. I always find thrillers involving fatal friendships fascinating, especially when it comes to young adult thrillers. Teenagers are quickly trusting and throw themselves into their friendships and relationships, so it’s easy to completely trust someone that you feel is your best friend. When a friend’s character gets questioned, it’s so interesting to watch the other side of the story unfold and see what secrets were lying beneath the surface the whole time.

I certainly didn’t figure out the ending of this book, that’s for sure! Being a mystery lover, I tend to read a lot and I can therefore guess a lot of endings but LITTLE MONSTERS was very well-crafted and I had no idea which way it would go! There were lots of pieces to throw the reader off and lead me in a different direction and it was really interesting to see the ending unfold!

I wasn’t AS hooked as I had hoped to be but it was a very solid read and very enjoyable. I’m always looking for solid young adult thrillers and/or mysteries and LITTLE MONSTERS is definitely a solid, well-crafted read. I love being able to see how an author started with a concept and worked their way backwards to keep the big reveal moment at the ending, and it’s always so neat to see a mystery unfold. I’m definitely up for anything Kara Thomas writes and I’ll continue to look forward to more books from her!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Frenemies. MAN, frenemies in thrillers just get me. I kind of really don’t like it in contemporary fiction because I don’t like when things get catty but in thrillers? BRING IT. It’s so sinister and usually ends up being horrifying which I… kind of like. Ha.
Left Me Wanting More: Magic. Not literal magic, but there’s just that little something that didn’t WOW me. It was still such a solid read but it didn’t quite blow me away.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you enjoy mysteries or thrillers, this is an interesting read and I’m confident recommending it! Add this one to your TBR.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE LITTLE MONSTERS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Curious Minds – Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton

Curious Minds – Janet Evanovich & Phoef SuttonTitle: Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1) by Janet Evanovich, Phoef Sutton
Publishing Info: August 16, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group, Listening Library
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 2, 2016
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), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1)

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.
What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

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CURIOUS MINDS is the first book I’ve read from Janet Evanovich that wasn’t Stephanie Plum, which makes it really hard for me NOT to compare it to Plum after reading 22 novels featuring her wacky crew (and even some novellas). I guess in a way, I have to since it’s my frame of reference for her writing.

Truthfully, it was noticeable for me that it was a new series that was not Plum. I guess it wasn’t different in a bad way, but I’ve been reading Stephanie Plum for at least five years and that series just has so much personality and CURIOUS MINDS felt just a little flatter. I know that Evanovich has other series that aren’t Stephanie Plum and now I wonder how those feel — was it this book specifically or am I feeling a Plum-hangover? I liked that it wasn’t as silly as Plum novels get sometimes and yet I found myself wanting a little more from the characters and from the plot. The plot was much more detective-like versus crazy antics which I liked! I always like a little bit of a mystery to solve. I did feel that I was getting just a touch confused with so many characters having their hands in the cookie jar.

I also wonder, since this was co-written with Phoef Sutton, how much that really changed the tone. Did a co-author bring the silliness down or would that have happened anyway? Who was responsible for what? An overall picture written together? Or Sutton responsible for X characters and Evanovich responsible for Y characters? I always wonder how co-written books go! Janet Evanovich’s trademark tone was prevalent throughout the book but it was also noticeably different.

Riley was definitely a Plum-type character although quite toned down. There’s still a lot of classic Evanovich jargon and characterization there but Riley Moon was much more put together. Emerson Knight was a Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory-type character (and was even specifically compared to him) but has just a bit more social skills then Sheldon and his science is toned down just a bit. He’s basically a wealthy genius, overtly labeled an eccentric, and makes for a lot of comical moments with his awkward social responses. I did like this better than outright silly, though!

CURIOUS MINDS was fun, a quick read (aka listen — I listened to the audiobook) and just some brain candy. Like Plum novels, it didn’t really stand out for me but it was fun to experience. It’s not knocking anything out of the park for me but still enjoyable and I’ll continue the series.

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Riley Moon // Character obsessions: Her new job, junk food, reputation
I liked Riley! She was fun without being over the top. I think especially because the audiobook narrator was the same as the Plum series, she had a Stephanie Plum sort of feel except her life wasn’t quite as in shambles.
Emerson Knight // Character obsessions: Logic, science, curiosity.
Emerson was very Sheldon Cooper except maybe with a few more socials skills and less emphasis on the geeky side. He was actually really fun! I liked all of his logic and how that played into things from a comedic side.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Non-Plum Evanovich. I know, I know, that’s like the main focus here but it’s hard not to compare after reading 22+ books by the same author! It was fun though, and a nice change of pace.
Left Me Wanting More: Clarity of characters. The detective work got a little muddy for me when there were so many characters involved and five of them were family members. I had a hard time keeping track, especially when it’s a brand-new series and I’m still getting to know existing characters!

Addiction Rating
Try it!

If you enjoy Evanovich’s other books, this one has a pretty similar feel and tone. If you’re tired of Stephanie Plum, you don’t find too much different here. It’s a light, fun, and a little bit silly read but I enjoyed it!

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BOOKS LIKE CURIOUS MINDS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    BODY MOVERS

How to Hang a Witch – Adriana Mather

How to Hang a Witch – Adriana MatherTitle: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group, Listening Library
Source: ALAMW16
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 2, 2016

It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?
If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

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** This is a spoiler-free review EXCEPT for the last paragraph about the romance in the book. It’s a very minor spoiler (and some may not even consider it a spoiler) BUT if you don’t wish to know any details, avert your eyes at the end! ** 

I first heard of HOW TO HANG A WITCH at ALA this past January and was instantly attracted to the “Mean Girls meets Salem Witch Trials” pitch. When I saw an audio review copy from Listening Library, I knew I wanted to read it soon and I quickly dove into the audiobook. I was surprised to find out that the author, Adriana Mather, narrates it herself! It was such a fun experience overall and I really enjoyed the entire vibe of the book.

The “Mean Girls meets Salem Witch Trials” pitch is pretty spot on. I was actually reminded a lot of The Craft as far as the Mean Girls aspect went with Sam having several conflicts with The Descendants, a group of classmates who are actual descendants of the families involved in the Salem Witch trials and who may or may not dabble in actual witchcraft. They dress in all black and are generally surly bunch and this totally reminded me of the movie The Craft! (And I loved it.) I also totally picked up a Hocus Pocus vibe with Sam moving to Salem from the city and being the new kid in school. She meets a boy, has a crush, communicates with spirits, and gets involved with witches. Not to mention the whole thing takes place during the fall and I was just totally pining for autumn and Halloweentime! My only regret about reading this book when I did is that it wasn’t fall already! I absolutely loved the overall feel of the book — movie vibes included — and really enjoyed how it was a contemporary take on the witches without being historical fiction or total fantasy world. It had that perfect modern feel that fit so well with the book’s overall tone.

The plot kept me hooked and entertained from start to finish. There were a lot of interesting twists and like your average book, some were predictable and some totally weren’t. I liked that the past played a really strong part in the present and there are so many ways that Sam’s current situation is intertwined with the actual history of the Salem Witch trials. Some twists really surprised me and I had a long-standing theory for a couple things that were happening that turned out to be incorrect, which I actually love because I think it’s great when an author can surprise or mislead me to keep a big reveal for the ending! There were a couple spots that got a little confusing or convoluted with some extra details that didn’t end up playing a part in the book but those details also kept me on the trail of something that turned out to be a red herring and maintained the element of surprise, so I guess that was good in one way!

The really, really neat thing about HOW TO HANG A WITCH is Adriana Mather’s actual, real-life relation to the Mather family of the Salem Witch Trials. She really is a direct descendant and there’s a neat author’s note that I listened to at the end explaining a long and rather important family history in which her ancestors played big roles in some major historical events. I thought it was really neat how she used her own family connection to create this story! Obviously some historical elements were changed to tweaked to accommodate a young adult novel as well as creating into a modern work of fiction, but there are a lot of general concepts and even some specific facts relating to the Salem Witch Trials and the Mather family specifically that are totally true! With Adriana Mather’s narration of the audiobook as well, it was just really neat to see so many specific elements of involvement in the production of her book and it felt like such a personal touch and connection.

(Possible spoiler paragraph) The one thing about the book that I really had a hang-up with was the romance. I was really accepting of everything — witches, ghosts, paranormal activity, a gang of descendants — up until this romance thing took a turn. It started out sweet with Sam and neighbor boy Jaxon slowly starting to develop a little bit of a romance but then Sam’s involvement with Elijah, the ghost that follows her around, starts to become romantic. And then you lost me. I can handle fond feelings for the ghost-boy but Sam wanted to actually start like… dating him. Sweetie. You realize he’s a ghost, right? Sam has the ability to physically interact with him and it’s pretty consistent  but things get weird when you start kissing ghosts of boys who have been dead for hundreds of years. Thankfully, that resolved itself but why throw in a love triangle angle with a ghost? That was my one big turn-off.

HOW TO HANG A WITCH was an overall fun and enjoyable read! I just really dug the whole vibe of the book, from The Craft and Hocus Pocus feel to the contemporary take to the sarcasm and snark, the book really just fit with me! Some readers will probably be anticipating a little more depth because for all of its history, it did still feel on the lighter side but I personally really liked that about it. I really enjoyed the levity while still digging into actual history (with a little bit of creative licensing) and having a book that was easy to breeze through and kept me entertained! I think this is a really fun fall read and should definitely be on your reading lists this autumn if you love reading spooky or seasonal reads before/around Halloween!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Yes, I used a gif in my status update. Look at those skills! (ha) 

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Sam // Character obsessions: Her father’s health, being a loner, solving mysteries.
Sam was a fun character for me! I loved her sass and snark and with Adriana Mather’s voice narrating the audiobook, she kind of reminded me of the middle sister Mandy in Last Man Standing… Except not dumb haha. (That’s what her voice reminded me of!) I liked how she grew Elijah // Character obsessions: Protecting, watching, seriousness.
I had kind of a love-hate relationship with Elijah. I kind of liked his presence but I also got annoyed by it. I enjoyed how he interacted with Sam but I also really disliked it at times. I’m still on the fence about him but I’m glad things wrapped up the way that they did at the end of the book!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Modern History. I really liked that the history was so involved in a contemporary setting. It was fun to see witches but in a contemporary fashion and still have that Salem Witch Trials connection!
Left Me Wanting More: Platonic relationships. The romance aspects of the book felt a little forced. I think this is a book that could have done really well with little or zero romance at all! Instead there was a little too much and things got a bit carried away.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was just a really fun book from start to finish. If you’re into The Craft or Hocus Pocus, I totally recommend it because I had friends who picked up on those vibes as well! It’s a fun fall read and one I’ll be recommending come Halloweentime!

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BOOKS LIKE HOW TO HANG A WITCH

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    possess