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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

             

Kill the Boy Band – Goldy Moldavsky

Kill the Boy Band – Goldy MoldavskyTitle: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Publishing Info: February 23, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audible, ALAMW16
Genres: Young Adult, Satire
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 19, 2016

Just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That’s why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying.
We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him—his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets.
We were not planning on what happened next.
We swear.
From thrilling new talent Goldy Moldavsky comes a pitch-black, hilarious take on fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make—or break—the people we call “celebrities.”

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KILL THE BOY BAND was actually really, really enjoyable. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book and I think a lot of it was that people didn’t know quite what to expect but this totally met my expectations and I had so much fun reading it! To set the scene for you, picture this book like Teaching Mrs. Tingle meets 2gether meets Drop Dead Gorgeous — satirical, laugh-out-loud funny, and some delightfully dark humor.

This is one of those books where the more I think about it, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it. It’s a book unlike anything I’ve recently been reading and I love books that do a little something different than the rest of the community! The voice felt true and I just loved the dark humor. The satire and poking fun at boy bands was so much fun because it was silly with some hilarious exaggerations (that’s where that 2gether feel comes in) and yet serious in showing how intense being a fangirl can be and how some things get taken way too far. I really enjoyed the mix of silly and serious and how well that shaped the overall story!

I personally think the author did a great job with this book but it also definitely has a specific audience and it will probably bit a big hit or a big miss with a lot of people. I personally was on the hit side and surprisingly, the more time that passes, the more I think about how much I enjoyed it. I just had so much fun listening to this (I bought the audio in an Audible sale) and I ended up being the perfect audience! I was a bit unsure at first and there were some points where it got to be a bit much but I still really enjoyed it overall!

The characters were shallow and for once in a book, I actually kind of liked it? It was part of the point that the book was making. The guys in the band were mostly shallow because not all boy bands were formed with love and happiness and some are just the product of marketing. (Girl bands too.) The fangirls are shallow because the extents to which these fangirls were portrayed is totally shallow, so it made total sense to me! I’m not saying fangirls are shallow, so please don’t take that the wrong way! I simply mean that the book took the more surface level of being a fangirl and magnified it. As an avid reader and big fan of many authors/fandoms/series, I am totally on board with the flailing and following of an artist! The point that this book makes is how far it can be taken and when it gets taken too far how it can become dangerous or make the artist feel uncomfortable. The fan/artist relationship is really interesting and mutually beneficial in so many ways. It also can be a very rocky road if the mutual respect isn’t there and this book crossed that line on both sides. KILL THE BOY BAND took that darker side of fangirling, amped it up a notch, and created a bit of satire out of it. This was also amplified on the boy band side of things too. The Ruperts (the fictional band in the book) are reminiscent of One Direction (who I literally know nothing about except a few of the band members’ names) and also pieces of 90s boy bands like *NSYNC and O-Town, which I’m using a my references here because my older sister was an *NSYNC fangirl and because she was, I was in a way too, so I ended up with a lot of boy band knowledge. I won’t give you a boy band history lesson but I saw a lot of similar things in KILL THE BOY BAND that has happened in real boy bands as far as band drama, members not getting along, some members getting more attention than others, and how each member treats fans, managers, and everyone in between. Everything was exaggerated and satirized but very interesting, especially if you have some previous knowledge or experience as a boy band fangirl!

Long story short, I think I was just the ideal audience for KILL THE BOY BAND! It was dark, funny, and just really enjoyable. I’ve been dealing with a lot of serious things in my personal life and KILL THE BOY BAND was a refreshing and funny read when I needed something a little less serious and a little more removed from reality without being a heavy fantasy book. I think you may need know exactly what you like before reading this one because it may be a hit or miss concept for many people, but if you enjoy dark satire, this could be a really enjoyable read for you!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Satire. There isn’t a lot of satire in YA and this was refreshing and enjoyable! I thought it was a lot of fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. Things were quite exaggerated so at times I did wish for more reality but I really did enjoy the dramatization of things as well!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think you need to be the right audience for this book, but if it sounds like your cup of tea, I highly recommend it! I actually had a lot of fun reading it!!

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BOOKS LIKE KILL THE BOY BAND

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    MY LADY JANE

Caraval (Caraval #1) – Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval #1) – Stephanie GarberTitle: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Macmillan, Flatiron Books
Source: ALAMW16, BEA 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 14, 2016

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .
Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

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Welllllll it’s another black sheep moment. CARAVAL didn’t really work for me and I know a lot of that was a personal preference. It had a Wonderland sort of feel in the sense that everything was so whimsical and Caraval itself kind of didn’t have any rules. Well, I should say that there definitely was a rule set but it was one of those fantasy situations where the characters find them out whenever something happens, so it really seems like there aren’t any rules until something happens. Really it’s just a matter of personal preference — when I’m in a fantasy setting, I really do need rules so I feel like I understand the structure of a setting and that was a bit much to really reach and understand how the magic worked.

I love books with a strong sibling aspect but I was actually disappointed with the sister relationship. They did care for each other more than anything and yet it still felt very surface level for me and that the reader was told how much the sisters loved each other and aside from the grand gesture, I didn’t really feel it. I felt like it could have gone much deeper with things like details, history, and special moments instead of them immediately being separated and the readers being told they have a special bond instead of really witnessing it.

This is maybe a mild spoiler but also happens very early on in the book so really not… But I also had a very hard time with their father’s abusive actions. I felt like there could have been so many reasons these sisters wanted to escape their father and their island and I didn’t feel the physical abuse was necessary. It was mean and nasty and the reasoning for everything really didn’t sit right with me. Surprisingly, this was a really big turn off for me, especially since it was the entire motivation of the book. It just felt a little too super-villain for me and I had a hard time seeing the father as a legitimate character. He seemed more like a caricature and not a realistic character.

I did love Julian and his interactions with Scarlett (the nickname thing was actually very cute, which sometimes doesn’t go well) and he was very suave. The romance was complicated and interesting and I loved the chemistry between Scarlett and Julian. That was something that was really great and consistent throughout the book for me!

CARAVAL was a quick and entertaining read but I’m not really sure if I want continue the series as of right now. I really wasn’t a huge fan of the writing because it definitely did feel young to me. I may see if others who had similar feelings ended up enjoying the sequel once the time comes. Really when it came down to it, I felt like CARAVAL had several places to really shine and it all kind of fell flat for me. The setting was very vivid, but didn’t feel structured. The ending was very lacking and could have happened so differently, felt like an “easy” way out of the conflict, and left me rather disappointed. Most of the characters felt underdeveloped. Most of it just didn’t quite click for me and the vivid descriptions just weren’t enough to dazzle me to make me overlook the things that I was missing.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Bad boy romances. Julian was a little rough, snarky, and kind of a bad boy and I really enjoyed his character a lot!
Left Me Wanting More: Structure. I have trouble with fantasy worlds like this where characters figure the world out as they go along. It really ends up feeling like the author kind of figured it out as they went along too, even if they had everything plotted out from the beginning.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

People LOVED this one but I just didn’t click with it. It was a quick read for me but I just didn’t totally love it.

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BOOKS LIKE CARAVAL

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HEARTLESS    CRUEL BEAUTY

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 // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 2, 2016
Related Posts: Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2)

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

With Malice – Eileen Cook

With Malice – Eileen CookTitle: With Malice by Eileen Cook
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: ALAMW16, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 11, 2016

For fans of We Were Liars and The Girl on the Train comes a chilling, addictive, compulsive read about a teenage girl who wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember the last six weeks of her life, including the accident that killed her best friend--only what if the accident wasn't an accident?
Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident...wasn't an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

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Line up here, mystery and thriller fans — you won’t want to miss WITH MALICE! I’ve always loved mystery/thrillers and any book that can surprise me, get that adrenaline going, or keep me on the edge of my seat. So far 2016 seems to hold so many young adult titles like these and I’m trying to gobble up every single one! It’s been a while since I’ve been so hooked and particularly invested in a thriller and I have a feeling that WITH MALICE will be one of those special books that holds readers and sucks them in!

Right off the bat, the reader is hit with an unreliable narrator. After a terrible accident, Jill wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of what happened so the reader really has no idea what happened either — and trust me, even though this review just presented you with the synopsis, don’t read it right before you read the book. I hadn’t read it since I added the book to Goodreads and I got hit with a few surprises that are in the synopsis that I didn’t remember. It really started the book off with a bang! The whole book was so exciting and it was interesting to try to fit the pieces together of what happened to Jill. Since Jill is the main character, obviously you want to root for her and help her prove her innocence and that the accident was not her fault but the question that remains from the police, the hospital staff, and even Jill’s parents and friends is: Is Jill really to blame? No one really knows exactly what happened and Jill has to piece the puzzle back together and hope she gets some memories back to try to find an answer.

I loved the slow reveal of clues, facts, and reports. Jill really has to dig for some things that no one else can answer since she was one of the only people involved in/on the scene of the accident. Along the way, she has to deal with lawyers, reporters, and even family that doesn’t quite trust her. As the evidence slow starts pouring in, Jill has to come to some hard realizations about herself and how she’s treated other recently as well as if that means that she really is guilty.

I don’t really want to say too much about the book because it’s really best to experience. I was honestly hooked from start to finish and I ended up finishing it in a single day! (Thank goodness our internet was down that day, huh?) WITH MALICE definitely had a DANGEROUS GIRLS feel in a lot of ways and although they were similar in content, the book was unique enough that I never really knew where it was going to go. I mean, with any book like this, who can really say what will happen in the end! I really enjoyed the ending as well and I think readers are going to love this one!

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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!

with malice gr updates

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Jill // Character Obsessions: Memories, healing, friends, secrets 
I loved having an unreliable narrator like Jill. I was so on the edge of my seat to see if something insane happened or it was just a horrible mistake. I really felt for Jill in a lot of ways but I was always still so dang suspicious of her!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Dangerous Girls read-alikes. I am obsessed with DANGEROUS GIRLS and I will take all the read-alikes I can get!
Left Me Wanting More: Conclusion. The ending happened a little quickly and I could have used a couple more sentences/paragraphs to really wrap things up but it was still quite interesting!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed this one and I think if you’re a fan of thrillers, it’s a must-read!

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BOOKS LIKE WITH MALICE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

DANGEROUS GIRLS    GONE GIRL

Wink, Poppy, Midnight – April Genevieve Tucholke

Wink, Poppy, Midnight – April Genevieve TucholkeTitle: Wink, Poppy, Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Publishing Info: March 22, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: ALAMW16
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 8, 2016

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

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When a book is blurbed as a novel that has a Raven Cycle feel, that’s certainly a lot to live up to. I was definitely interested in WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT with its possible unreliable narrator and great atmosphere and the Raven Cycle comparison both sealed the deal to read it and also made me extra wary of what I might find between the pages. I tried not to set myself up for any expectations and while I think I did a good job of that, I found that WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT still fell short of what I had hoped.

Let’s start with the good things: WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT has an amazing atmosphere. It’s one of those books that really sucks you in from the start and as a reader, you get totally entangled in the world and the characters. I was listening to the audiobook (thanks, Listening Library & Penguin Random House Audio!) and I even finished the audio in a single day. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before with a full-length novel and not a novella. Granted, this was a shorter audio too but still — I found myself really curious about where the book was going and since the blurb essentially told me there was an unreliable narrator, which character that was exactly. The setting really sweeps you away and I spend most of the book unsure if it was supposed to be little bit of a mystery or if there was a touch of magical realism throughout.

Aside from my insatiable curiosity, there wasn’t really too much else keeping me connected to this book. I’ve heard that April Genevieve Tucholke’s books are either not for you or they are. I’m all for an interesting and unique writing style but I just don’t think I jived with the technique and styles in WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT. There was that sense — especially with Wink and the way she went through life — that the book was leading up to something magical or paranormal and really, it was just Wink’s personality and nothing magical ever happened. My issue wasn’t that it was absent but that I was led to believe there was something else going on when there wasn’t. Once I found out that there was nothing magical driving any part of the plot or characters, I became even more frustrated with Wink and how fanciful she was about her family and her daily life. She lived as if she was a part of the fairy tales she grew up reading and I just really wanted her to get a grip on reality. I know that’s an issue that I have with characters though and I really tend to struggle with people who are just off in a dreamland.

I also had a hard time with how the book unfolded. The first half of the book had a lot of character development and set-up which is great but then smack in the middle of the book, a turning point happens. The feel changed from a character-driven book to a plot-driven book with this one event and it really threw me off. I really had to adjust to how I was interpreting the book and how the characters were involved with one another. When the resolution to everything finally rolled around, I was also a bit disappointed with each character and where they ended up. I think I had an issue with everyone seeming so selfish and I really had a hard time with the characters. Although I was incredibly interested and curious, I felt like the book never really took me anywhere. Or rather, it was less conventional and rather than following a twist, the book seemed to take me down a totally different path and ending up in a spot I didn’t even see as an option. I felt like I was being led to plot point A, waiting for a twist to lead me to plot point X, Y, or Z, and ending up at plot point Blue. They just weren’t quite in the same realm. While that’s interesting, I felt like I was constantly trying to find a purpose for the story and fit it into something and I just couldn’t.

I can see why the comparison was made to The Raven Cycle but really in so many ways, this book was not that. Thankfully I wasn’t really expecting it to be so my disappointment doesn’t really stem from that but this is one of the many reasons why I hate general book comparisons! WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT didn’t really work for me stylistically but I can easily see why the people who loved it did! I think readers will either like this one or be really disappointed by it but it’s all to do with what styles of writing you enjoy. For me, this one was a bit too much.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I received this audiobook from Listening Library for review (thank you!) and despite my hesitance about the book, I really couldn’t stop listening! It was also helpful that the audio was so short because it made me want to keep going until I had finished the whole book! The narrators were Michael Crouch, Alicyn Packard and Caitlin Davies, none of which I had ever listened to before and I really enjoyed each narrator’s voice for their selected character. I actually think I liked Poppy’s voice the most because there was so much extra inflection for her character to really bring her personality to life. The narrators actually kept me hooked to the story which was great! I wonder if I had read this in print if I would have been as involved.
view_from_goodreads1

“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!

wink poppy midnight gr updates

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Wink // Character Obsessions: Fairy tales, family, stories. 
I just didn’t like Wink at any point in the book. She was just strange and I felt like her character totally had her head in the clouds. It was annoying and frustrating, especially since it drove a large part of the book and seemed to mess with other people for no reason other than her own delusions.
Poppy // Character Obsessions: Herself, popularity, control. 
Poppy was a real Amy Dunne, huh? Except I was actually hoping for less redemption and more insanity. She was almost the character I rooted for the most, somehow? I actually was hoping things would be more insane since I didn’t like the other two characters. Might as well get messy!
Midnight // Character Obsessions: Poppy, Wink. 
Midnight felt like such a shallow character. He was easily manipulated by Poppy, then swayed by Wink, and he never really knew who he was, often playing off of how his brother would react and not really thinking for himself. It was really frustrating and I had a really hard time with him.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unconventional stories. This book was definitely out of the ordinary which is great! I always love seeing boundaries expanded. It just didn’t work for me.
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. Considering this really wasn’t magical realism or paranormal, I just needed a bit more reality to ground the book.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Usually I would say pass but I know some people LOVED this book. It really depends on what reading styles you enjoy! If this sounds like your kind of book, you may end up loving it. If you’re wary, it may not be the book for you.

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BOOKS LIKE WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE ACCIDENT SEASON    PAPER VALENTINE

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) – Alwyn Hamilton

Today I’m sharing my review for REBEL OF THE SANDS as a part of the book’s blog tour! I was more than happy to share my gif review for today’s stop because as much as I can gush, you just need some visuals for all of the feels that I experienced while reading! Plus this book was so good that you’ll need to check out all of the other blog tour stops to get every possible angle on this book!

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) – Alwyn HamiltonTitle: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton
Publishing Info: March 8, 2016 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 10, 2016
Related Posts: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.
Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

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REBEL OF THE SANDS, you guys… It’s phenomenal! 

It’s been a long time since I’ve had some good, solid FEELS for a book and I am ecstatic that REBEL OF THE SANDS was that book for me. It was truly love at first page for me and things only escalated from there!! I loved fierce, bold, and confident Amani who is ready to make a life for herself and get out of her small and useless town. She masquerades as a boy when she goes out to compete in the local shooting competition because it’s the only way she’ll be allowed to participate. Heck yes, I love girls that can run with the boys! I’m a little bit of a tomboy myself so I immediately loved Amani who is all desert and fire and gunpowder. 

I really loved the entire feel of the book. Amani has this amazing spirit that really shines throughout and her need to escape and find a better life for herself really keeps the action moving forward. When she meets a handsome stranger, I immediately fell in love with him because they just had the best chemistry. I won’t say too much about him because it’s best to discover as you read, but he does become an incredibly important part of the book (this happens early on — no spoilers there) and he and Amani just have the best connection, both as friends and that spark to something more. Their banter is excellent and we all know how much I love banter! It easily captures me, makes me feel like the characters are that much more real, and I always love a humorous side to keep even the direst of situations light.

Every character really brings something special to the book. From Amani to Jin to the secondary characters like Shazad and Bahi, each person really comes to life, their personality adding so much to the atmosphere and feel of the book. I’m always especially impressed when supporting characters add so much to a book because I feel like they’re too easily pushed aside for main characters. These characters are just so well layered and they truly form the perfect team. There’s a little bit of everything captured within this cast of characters and they came together so well.

#squadgoals

Honestly, everything in this book was so well done and it’s exactly what I want in the first book in a series. The world is built up and explained but I never felt like there was a case of infodump. Everything progressed so perfectly and the plot moved along at such a natural pace. The characters were amazing and immediately pulled me in. There’s just enough romance with some truly perfect moments that make you ache without going over the edge of instalove. There are some awesome reveals that keep readers flipping those pages but there’s still promise of so much more to come. I absolutely loved the book and I am so excited that it’s a series because I can’t wait to read and devour the rest!

view_from_goodreads1

“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!

rebel of the sands gr updates

character_breakdown1

Amani // Character Obsessions: Shooting, freedom, independence. 
I LOVED Amani. She felt like a truly strong and confident character without going overboard to a cocky or aggressive sort of feel. I really loved her spirit and how much life she brought to the book. She was strong and kickass and always easy to relate to, no matter how different we really may be.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Genre blends. REBEL OF THE SANDS is definitely a fantasy but it really has a Western feel as well. The book sort of blends fantasy, Western, and even a bit of mythology with some Middle Eastern culture and mythology as the basis and inspiration for the series.
Left Me Wanting More: Tender moments at the end. Honestly, that’s just nit-picking. I really loved the book from start to finish but oh. Those moments between Amani and Jin that are heart-stopping. I melted. I could have used just one more good one towards the end to seal in my feels.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I’m so pleasantly surprised how much I got swept away by this book. I expected to enjoy it but I didn’t realize how captivated I would be. This one is proudly going on my shelves!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE REBEL OF THE SANDS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

SHADOW AND BONE    THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

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www.iceybooks.com IceyBooks 3/25 – Review & Giveaway