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I Woke Up Dead at the Mall – Judy Sheehan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Skip it

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

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BOOKS LIKE I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL

             

The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas

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

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

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BOOKS LIKE THE CHEERLEADERS

             

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it

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

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BOOKS LIKE AURORA RISING

             

Mini-Review: Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

Mini-Review: Dark Matter – Blake CrouchTitle: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: July 17, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

From the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy, Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

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DARK MATTER was a little different than I thought I’d be but it was so cinematic and entertaining with an excellent sci-fi thread! I was expecting it to be more psychological and almost a little scary like a thriller and it was much more sci-fi and alternate universe, which I also love. The book went through an number of different scenarios and changed tone a few times, still consistent with the Book’s overall tone but adapting with what the characters had experience and changing so we could follow what would happen next.

The audiobook was also highly entertaining and I was engaged the whole time! I think because of my expectations I was looking for some particular thrill in there but I really did enjoy it from start to finish, and I also really enjoyed Blake Crouch’s writing style! There was a lot of great story there and the details all felt pertinent.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Interesting sci-fi concepts. This book felt really unique and packed with sci-fi elements that I wasn’t even expecting!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. I thought this was going to have a few more thriller elements in it, and while it was jam-packed with things, for some reason I was just left wanting a little bit more.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I  really enjoyed this one and I think other sci-fi fans who like a fast-paced story will too!

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BOOKS LIKE DARK MATTER

             

Review in a Tweet | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews!

Today’s Review in a Tweet is actually more of a book review that could fit in a tweet instead of actually tweeting it… Oops! I haven’t been on Twitter much lately because frankly, it’s not a place I enjoy much anymore so I often forget to post. I miss the fun and interaction I used to have there but I’ve felt like it’s become much too negative for me to enjoy it anymore so I’ve been sticking to Instagram recently, but I did like this quick and easy review format where I still get to share feelings about a book without a full review write-up!

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING had been on my radar for a long time, but the concept of it wasn’t really something I was interested in jumping into right away. I finally picked it up before creating a contemporary-inspired candle box because I like to read all of the books for which I create candles and other items, so I wanted to give EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING a try. I thought it was going to be much heavier than it was and I was afraid of really feeling sad or heartbroken, but instead it had a fun romance, a good message, and even a twist! Here were my initial reactions to reading it that could probably fit in a long tweet:

That was a lot different than I thought it would be and I really enjoyed it! I liked how the story developed, I really enjoyed the characters, and there was even a twist I didn’t see coming. There was a lot to appreciate here and I was afraid it would be sad or dramatic, but it was very realistic and down-to-earth. Quite a solid read!

So there you have it! Not the most exciting book review, but I really wanted to share my thoughts on it regardless. I’ve been moving away from a lot of serious/sad contemporary or realistic novels and things having to do with disease or dying just aren’t what I’ve been in the mood for, as real-life as they may be, so I’m definitely glad I still read this one!

Killing November (Killing November #1) – Adriana Mather

Killing November (Killing November #1) – Adriana MatherTitle: Killing November (Killing November #1) by Adriana Mather
Publishing Info: March 26, 2019 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Heists/Spies/Espionage
Date Completed: March 19, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: How to Hang a Witch, Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2)

It’s a school completely off the grid, hidden by dense forest and surrounded by traps. There’s no electricity, no internet, and an eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from Knife-Throwing and Poisons to the Art of Deception and Historical Analysis. And all of the students are children of the world’s most elite strategists—training to become assassins, counselors, spies, and master impersonators. Into this world walks November Adley, who quickly discovers that friends are few in a school where personal revelations are discouraged and competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits into the school’s bizarre strategy games before she is found guilty of the crime…or becomes the killer’s next victim.

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I absolutely loved Adriana Mather’s debut HOW TO HANG A WITCH and followed up with the book’s sequel so when I heard that she had a new book coming out, I knew I had to pick up KILLING NOVEMBER!

If you’ve watched SyFy’s show Deadly Class, you may be the perfect audience for this book. If you haven’t, well obviously you can still enjoy it and maybe you’ll want to watch Deadly Class after this because I continued binge watching after I finished! KILLING NOVEMBER finds titular character November in a new, mysterious school after things are shaken up at home. November doesn’t exactly know how serious it is but she’s dropped in the middle of nowhere full of prominent badass/ninja/assassin/secret agent-type families (except they’re not allowed to talk about it) and she’s not entirely sure why she’s there, but we all know there’s some sort of reason!

I loved the sort of mafia/assassin/secret agent feel in KILLING NOVEMBER, especially at a boarding school specifically for the families who work in this type of secrecy or espionage. It was such a fun read with a really fun concept, full of a great balance of the severity of the situation and levity at how weird it would be to be dropped there, plus some great character sass.

I didn’t realize this was a series when I started it but thankfully this book has that sort of feel anyway! I could tell by the pacing that it was setting up for a series and I am totally here for it! There’s a little bit revealed in this book about the overall series plot and some little hints of things you see coming, but there’s still a whole lot more to explore and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Assassin School. The whole assassin/espionage concept was just so much fun! I loved the assassin school and all of the secrecy surrounding it.
Left Me Wanting More: Reveals. Even though it is the first in a series, I did want juuuust a bit more history and reveals in this installment!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I had a lot of fun with this one and it really hit the sweet spot of so many things that I enjoy in a book! I’m really looking forward to continuing the series.

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BOOKS LIKE KILLING NOVEMBER

             

Skyward (Skyward #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Skyward (Skyward #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: November 6, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Amazon, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: February 5, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Spensa's world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what's left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa's dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with that of her father's—a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa the daughter of a coward, her chances of attending Flight School slim to none.

No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.

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Well, this is awkward. I seem to be one of the only people so far who hasn’t really loved or enjoyed this book. SKYWARD was just…. fine. I’ve read all of Sanderson’s major published works (minus some of the latest Alcatraz books since I’m not a big MG reader) and this one fell really flat for me. I’ve come to know Sanderson’s writing and no matter what kind of book he’s writing, there’s still that typical style that packs a novel with punches and sass. SKYWARD did have some enjoyable moments and it did have its great sassy characters, but nothing really stood out for me while reading.

I felt like SKYWARD, in short, was slow. I kept waiting for things to get interesting and they kind of never did until the very end, by which time my interest was long gone. I’m used to picking up more things along the way and I kept trying to grab those pieces as I read but the “clues” either felt really obvious or weren’t divulged at all, making for a frustrating reading experience. It almost felt like he toned down the world-building for this, and I won’t say it’s *because* it’s YA but it felt like he aimed to write this younger than his adult novels, which is fine and that appeals to the actual teen audience, but I also felt like it was a little too muted. I really missed a lot of his incredible writing style where there are so many layers to the book and I just didn’t really feel it here. The big plot twist (towards which the whole book is building) happens at the very end, but even then I didn’t quite love it. I felt like all of the flight school and repetitive mentions of how the main character’s father was a coward was overkill. There were a lot of action sequences with fighting off the bad guys where I felt the book could have benefitted from other important pieces of plot or world-building.

I also didn’t love the character relationships here either. I did like the friendships created but I still didn’t feel connected to them, like these characters were really a squad. They did come together and I enjoyed it, but I don’t know… they just never felt totally cohesive where I wanted to shout “#squadgoals!”, you know? I liked that this book didn’t really have a romance because I really don’t need a romance to enjoy a book. Things did start building in a certain direction but I also think I would have enjoyed it more if that tension had started building a little bit more in book one. I don’t need characters to get together right away but that development felt slow to me also. I wanted to see more on-screen time with the two we know are building towards a love interest to really build their relationship for me and there were only small portions of that here with the two of them alone. I did see the chemistry but it was in too short of a timeframe.

SKYWARD was a fine read and it wasn’t a bad one by any means, but compared to the other books I’ve read from Brandon Sanderson, it’s by far my least favorite. I just felt like it could have used a lot more development and a lot fewer details and fight scenes. I’m sure I’ll continue the series because it’s Brandon Sanderson and that would be hard NOT to continue but I’m also really bummed that I didn’t love this book and it’ll be hard to go into the next book with an open mind.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Space Adventures. I really, really love adventures in space, especially ones that take us to new corners of the galaxy.
Left Me Wanting More: Advancement of plot. Brandon Sanderson has the great concept of some serious twists but I wanted it to lead up to it a little bit more. I felt like there was some poor hinting and then it just happened. I wanted more of that adult-feel with the plot development and it felt too easy or quick.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It was enjoyable even though it wasn’t a favorite of mine. A lot of people seem to still like it so I’d say give it a shot!

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BOOKS LIKE SKYWARD

             

Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl

Neverworld Wake – Marisha PesslTitle: Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Publishing Info: June 5, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Magical Realism
Date Completed: May 14, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her six best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim—their creative genius and Beatrice's boyfriend—changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world—hoping she'll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death. But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions. Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers... and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

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I was not quite sure what to expect from NEVERWORLD WAKE and from the cover and synopsis, I was picturing a much more atmospheric read with a spooky, twisty vibe. There were definitely twists in this book but I think I would have enjoyed it much more if it had been a straight mystery/thriller or straight magical realism with no mystery. I think magical realism is probably the most accurate way to describe what the Neverworld Wake is in this book… it’s a tricky sort of in between life and death but the way that it plays out, it had that feel for me.

I think it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting or hoping for. It was an interesting story with a complex ending but it didn’t stir up any feelings. I was hoping to feel suspense, thrills, and shock but it ended up being an evenly paced story that was solid but didn’t really stand out in many ways. It was really lacking that atmosphere that I was expecting, in part from the spooky vibes from the cover. Instead the tone was much younger than I expected and had more of a quirky feel to it but not in the way that I had hoped.

The actual concept of the Neverworld Wake and its set-up seemed a tiiiiny bit cheesy for me and I would have loved for the characters to discover some things themselves versus an all-knowing authority figure who knows the rules. It didn’t quite fit for me and ended up feeling sort of like a Hot Tub Time Machine scenario where someone sends everyone back to discover their wrong-doings. I think it would have been much better to have everyone sort of take their own journey rather that have some inexplicable man show up to guide them along and be generally ominous.

I did enjoy the mystery for the most part and I found it interesting. There were a few things I wasn’t expecting but it didn’t really surprise me, just that it turned out differently than I would have pictured. I was really hoping for quite a different direction here but the book was still enjoyable in its own way.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism, I think? I think we’d call this magical realism. There was a sort of real, magical feel to it but I’m not sure if that would be more magical realism or paranormal. I think the magical element fits better.
Left Me Wanting More: Getting to the point. I didn’t like being intentionally misled, to a certain degree. The author needs to point the reader away from guessing a twist or mystery, of course, but things felt like they were pushed too far just to distract the reader from guessing anything and upon seeing how things clicked into place, it felt unnecessary.

Addiction Rating
Try it

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

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE NEVERWORLD WAKE

              

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

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) – Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffTitle: Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: March 13, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: March 26, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Unearthed (Unearthed #1), These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1), Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Rating
Read it!

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

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BOOKS LIKE OBSIDIO

              

Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) – Pierce Brown

Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) – Pierce BrownTitle: Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown
Publishing Info: January 16, 2018 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: February 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Red Rising (Red Rising #1), Golden Son (Red Rising #2), Morning Star (Red Rising #3)

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

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WELL. This book has given me quite a number of confusing feelings. MORNING STAR was my favorite book of the Red Rising original trilogy and I’m not ashamed to admit that part of the reason was all of the stunning punches that Pierce Brown packs into those pages. I wouldn’t say I was let down because that’s silly and harsh but the twists of the first three books did really set up for IRON GOLD to follow suit and I just didn’t feel as floored by the plot. I guess it makes sense with IRON GOLD really being the new start and taking place ten years after MORNING STAR, that it restarts the three-act process and reestablishes stories from the beginning, setting a new series arc into motion. I’m back at square one where I was with RED RISING where I enjoyed it quite a bit but there was still that smidge of something that I was missing where I didn’t QUITE love it.

That being said, Pierce Brown is an amazing, AMAZING character creator. These characters are some of the most in-depth fictional characters that I’ve ever met. There are things that I hadn’t even though about, running through so many emotions, turmoils, and logical thoughts, that really just don’t make it into the pages of books. These characters carry grief and love and purpose well beyond the pages that we witness. One thing that I love is that for example, as Darrow grows, his grief grows with him. His heartache changes based on the things he’s learned in life. His view of people like Eo and his father and Mustang and Pax constantly change based on his experiences and that’s something that really hit me in the gut reading this book. So often we see characters who carry their grief along but it’s just this empty hole that can be all-consuming… and that’s absolutely true, but Darrow and Ephraim and Lyria and Lysander — they all experience these things so deeply and go through so much that their lives change perspectives and change the way they look at their past. It just feels like Pierce Brown is able to take this to a layer that I’ve experienced very few times and I’m wholly impressed with the emotion that it leaves behind.

For some reason I just wasn’t connected it IRON GOLD like I had hoped, even after binge reading the first three books. I still felt taken out of this world because of the character shift (Darrow’s first-person to four different first-person narratives) as well as the shift in purpose, maturity, family focus, and so much more. It was an adjustment for a while and I did enjoy the other POVs but there was still something that wasn’t quite cohesive for me. It picked up with POVs started merging and things really got interesting and then it seemed like everyone started to fall back apart again and things lost momentum.

Also like RED RISING, there were a lot of new characters who weren’t necessarily BRAND new but who we started to see take on more prominent roles. I’m not sure if it’s an audiobook thing but sometimes I have a hard time keeping track of all of the names and families (though that did seem to be a RED RISING issue and I read that in print) so there were times I forgot who was related and why they were important. I don’t think I would have changed anything because obviously their stories are so very important, but it was something that took me out of that experience enough to be noticeable.

Overall, the writing is just brilliant but I think IRON GOLD may be my least favorite book so far. That may change as the series progresses and I get more of a grip on this new story arc but I don’t feel as invested as I did with the previous story arc… but this same exact thing happened with my reading experience with the Red Rising books. It took until GOLDEN SON to really start to connect with everyone and everything and then MORNING STAR blew my mind, so there’s still the overall series experience to look forward to. This is only part one (or part four… I feel like Star Wars here) of much more to come and there’s a lot left to experience, that much I know!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Series continuations. It was really interesting to see these characters grown as adults and how they deal with the aftermath of everything from the original trilogy!
Left Me Wanting More: Twists. Is that greedy? There are just so many great twists throughout the first three books and I just wanted more!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Obviously if you’ve ready the original trilogy, I recommend it! It wasn’t my favorite of all the books but I’m interested in where this set of books goes!

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BOOKS LIKE IRON GOLD